Customer Service Far Worse Now Than During the Recession
With the US economy recovering steadily, you would think that both customers and the staff working with them would be happier, more carefree, and more relaxed – it makes sense after all. There are more jobs, there’s more money and people feel more secure.
However, the exact opposite is true – customers are receiving worse service than they did during the height of the recession. According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction (particularly in department stores and discount stores) is at its lowest level since 2008, when global recession hit. Specifically, the cleanliness and maintenance of the facilities, the attitudes of staff and the long wait times are the source of their complaints, with the comparatively relaxed post-recession attitudes of employees and employers seeming to be largely to blame.
The improvement of the housing market saw increased competition between rival tradesman’s hubs Lowe’s and Home Depot, and in the UK, their counterparts B&Q and Homebase, but both groups saw drops of between 5 and 10% in satisfaction levels, while in supermarkets sucha s Whoel Foods, hits of 10% or more were common. With Whole Foods in particular, a specific lingering problem seems to be dragging them down.
“Whole Foods cannot shake its reputation for high prices,”the ACSI report states. “Customers have recently reported the perception of increasing prices despite the grocer’s statement that they are trying to align their pricing to be competitive with other grocery stores.”
So how can businesses rekindle their customer service excellence?
Motivating customer service staff and the businesses themselves to provide the best possible service is the key to success here. We saw after 2008 that such extremes were possible, but the motivation provided by the recession is no longer in place. Upping a business’ competitive spirit is the first step to providing excellent deals and offers to the customer, while incentivising customer service staff to go the extra mile is the rest of the battle. Having high standards for customer happiness, and providing rewards to staff who exceed them, will help make sure the customers walk away smiling!