Field Service News recently published an article entitled “Are customer service standards in the UK slipping?”. Whilst the details of the particular research cited may be new, the thrust of the article is not. We have heard stories like this before, and all the time there is a ‘dissatisfaction gap’ they will continue to circulate. Likely meaning forever!
Several years ago, I was at a meeting of one of the service industries trade groups and there was a presentation about service standards. The presenter asked the audience whether their service standards had improved over the previous 12 months. Most people raised their hands to signal “yes” and further probing put the rate of improvement in the 3-5% range. A second, similar, question about improvement over the previous five years got even more hands up. However, the presenter proceeded to tell everyone not to congratulate themselves as, in reality, they were failing.
Failing to deliver what their customers wanted. Not because they were, necessarily, bad at their jobs. Or, that their mobile teams were not working hard and maybe genuinely getting better. But, because their customers’ expectations were rising faster than their ability to deliver, the research at that time suggesting an annual increase in expectations more like 10%. So yes, the service providers were getting better – but not quickly enough. The incremental changes they were making, although necessary, were never going to close the gap – the situation would just get worse and worse, until all customers left! Possibly a bit over-dramatic, but you get the idea.