Headlines: October 3rd, 2006



The Institute of Customer Service is lobbying senior directors at town halls and county councils and challenging them to go back-to-the-floor in a front-line customer service role. The challenge is designed to hammer home the message that customer service involves all levels in an organisation. The Institute believes that if senior directors across the board shared this front line customer service experience it would give them a valuable insight into the customer perspective and help them to appreciate the difficulties their staff cope with day by day.

The challenge comes at the start of the National Customer Service Week which is aimed at boosting standards across private, public and voluntary sectors. Organisations will mark it with seminars, roadshows, and an emphasis on fun. Among the public sector organisations participating are Aberdeen City Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Essex County Council, Medway Council and many of the London boroughs.

To support the campaign the Institute has produced a report which describes customers’ top priorities in determining their satisfaction as: quality of the product or service supplied, friendliness of staff, handling problems and complaints, speed of service, helpfulness of staff, handling enquiries, being treated as a valued customer, competence of staff, ease of doing business and being kept informed.

According to the report, different sectors deliver widely varying levels of customer satisfaction. Service businesses, such as hairdressers, household services like decorators and professional services, are best at satisfying customers. The public sector and ex-nationalised industries bring up the rear.

Building on this research, the Institute is calling on the government and public and private sector organisations to partner with it in developing national customer service standards. The standards will be an overall measure of an organisation’s success in satisfying its customers, and will provide valuable information to organisations that take part. Standards developed in the US are used by government and economists as a lead indicator of economic growth.