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Build your brand with Trust, Ethics & Sustainability

The 09 October 2020 saw the last day of Customer Service Week which is run by the Institute of Customer Service. That day’s theme was Trust, Ethics & Sustainability: Building brand reputation through your actions. And I wrote this article.

This year has seen a growth in the understanding and importance of these areas for consumers. Covid has put a sharp focus on how businesses behave. Whether it’s airlines not giving refunds or businesses profiteering or on the flip side businesses providing voluntary services in the community, consumers are changing their shopping habits.

When I asked people on my Facebook page about this it was quite clear that the pandemic has certainly made people rethink their shopping habits. Those companies that were seen to be doing the right thing and/or diversify where they could are being recognised and are likely to continue to benefit.

There are many more stories of people changing their shopping habits to move away from companies which are not doing the right thing.

Airlines have come under huge criticism for not providing prompt refunds for flights not taken. The regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has done little to help the situation as airlines continue to flaunt the rules. Amongst those is British Airways.

Jane Hawkes, Queen of Customer Service, who has a background in the travel industry says:

“Following data breaches, IT outages, strikes and now appalling handling of refunds for cancelled flights due to Coronavirus, British Airways is no longer the pride of Britain. Instead it has been referred to as a ‘national disgrace’ and is currently fighting for its survival with a policy of profits first, people second and levels of customer service at an all-time low. ’Trust‘, ’ethics‘ and ’sustainability‘ are words which sadly do not exist in its vocabulary, the result being that loyal desperate customers are still battling to get the refunds they are rightfully due.”

trust written in the sand

Refunds has been a huge issue for consumers and although they have generally been more tolerant of companies this year, this was during the lockdown period. Ombudsman Services undertook a survey regarding the effect of Covid-19 on complaints and found that 24% of those surveyed said that they did not complain at all during lockdown, as they were more lenient. 41% said that they had become more tolerant of poor service and 10% said that they were less tolerant. However, this tolerance cannot last and consumers’ patience has started to wear thin when refunds were just not coming when they were due.

Consumers are clearly stating that they will not use companies again that treated them badly. Those companies stubbornly and illegally holding onto refunds will see consumers undertake Section 75 refunds or go to the Small Claims Court and win. In failing to respect their customers they will lose both the money and the goodwill of consumers. And bad news about companies spreads quickly…

In more general non-Covid associated terms, Motoring Disputes Expert Scott Dixon, says that Evans Halshaw has consistently delivered a miserable experience for motorists over the years. “Buying a car is the second biggest purchase you are likely to ever make, yet car buyers are usually seen as a one-off opportunity to rip off with commission based add-ons – usually worthless warranties. Trust, ethics and sustainability are alien to most car sales staff and they are likely to be the least trusted.”

Whilst many car sales staff may disagree, anyone who has ever bought a car will have had the warranty sale experience! Few people know the difference between a warranty, a guarantee and their consumer rights.

Scott goes on to say “Car dealerships should play the long game instead of seeing customers as one-hit wonders. By doing so, they will inspire loyalty and word of mouth recommendations with customers acting as free ambassadors for the dealerships resulting in increased profits and sales long term.”

Many companies in the non regulated area are not members of an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme. Those that are, show that they they are prepared to pay to go the extra to resolve any disputes.

There’s a growing movement for ethical purchasing too. Ethical Consumer is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder co-operative which provides tools and resources to make informed ethical choices at the checkout. It has recently highlighted and continues to work on changing fast fashion practices and works in all sectors for example providing templates on informing banks on why you have switched.

 

So, businesses beware! The number of consumers switching to avoid insurance loyalty penalties is increasing, ethical purchasing is increasing and the tolerance of poor practice is decreasing!

In summary, do the right thing by your customers and watch profits grow. Do wrong to them and they simply won’t come back to you.

More articles on Customer Service Week

Know your customer

Where are your customer service skills? How do you improve them?

How to celebrate and recognise your customer service heroes

Bringing customer service to the Boardroom

The Complaining Cow free support for businesses

Join the Facebook Group Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve complaint handling.

Free download Customer Service: 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce risk to reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you improve your customer service see Services.

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Business Good customer service Latest News

Bringing customer service to the Boardroom

It was the fourth day of Customer Service Week (08 October 2020). That day the theme was Leadership: Championing customer service in the boardroom.

people sitting round table with laptops

Customer service at Board level

How often is customer service discussed at Board level in your company from the point of view of the customer? Do you talk more in terms of “this is how we will do it”, “this is what it will mean for the company”?

Who’s in the chair?

Teddy bear

Try a new perspective. Have an empty chair. You could put a teddy bear in the chair. Name the teddy. Give him or her an age and decide about its family? Is there a partner? Is there a disability? What else do we need to know? When you have finished these types of questions have them written out with Teddy.

With each agenda item ask Teddy what they think. You could discuss what Teddy may think and the impact that has on your decisions.  You could have a number of Teddies. A different Teddy to each meeting, or more than one. Each one will bring you a different and unique perspective on how your decisions will impact on the customer experience and how they see you.

Who has a place in the boardroom?

Shop from a competitor

Have you ever sent someone to do business with a competitor or just another business in a “mystery shopping” exercise? Try it. Mentally log every part of the journey and write it up and try and purchase something similar in your company. What were the differences, what was better, what was worse and what could you discuss as possible changes to how things run in your company? Would Teddy prefer those changes?

Work shadow

Send colleagues in senior positions to shadow colleagues in customer-facing roles. When this happens they often report back some really basic things that they just didn’t realise. For example, when Dave Lewis started as CEO at Tesco he introduced Feet on the Floor. Staff from Head Office went out to the shop floor and learnt a great deal. Lewis recognised that he needed to find out what customers wanted. He needed to discover why customers had left Tesco and what would bring them back. This initiative was key in the turnaround of the supermarket’s fortunes. (See more of my work with Tesco and a consumer champion).

Floor to staff to the Board

Go one step further than Lewis. Bring staff up. Bring shop floor staff into the Boardroom. Ensure that you make them feel comfortable and tell them Teddy told you to bring them to the meeting! Because it is true. When I asked my followers on social media if they thought having staff at a Board meeting would be beneficial, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Staff know what is happening on the shop floor. They can support Teddy to say more too. Data has its place but so does real world recent experience. Ensure that you have systems in place for this that division is not caused.

More articles on Customer Service Week

Know your customer

Where are your customer service skills? How do you improve them?

How to celebrate and recognise your customer service heroes

Build your brand through Trust, Ethics & Sustainability

The Complaining Cow free support for businesses

Join the Facebook Group Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve complaint handling.

Free download Customer Service: 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce risk to reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you improve your customer service see Services.