Coronavirus caught everyone off-guard and businesses had to adapt and embrace different ways of working to survive. Staff have been furloughed and everyone has struggled to deal with it all in one way or another. It has had a profound impact on everyone’s lives. Consumers know and accept that and have factored this in to complaints that have been lodged for refunds. It’s now almost September and firms have had ample time to adapt and deal with refund requests but the delays continue. Has customer service got worse? Are we subject to more fob offs  than ever? Consumer Champion Scott Dixon has taken a closer look.

 

 

I know from personal experience that Coronavirus is the new fob-off and catch all excuse for poor customer service. Consumers will make reasonable allowances but they won’t put up with fob offs forever and a day. They will want a refund and redress sooner or later and their patience will wear thin. We are likely to see a rising tide of complaints being referred to regulators and the Ombudsman as a result.

This points back to customer service and loyalty. Customers will remember which firms did the right thing by their customers, treated them fairly and went above and beyond what was expected in line with their obligations, consumer laws and policies. They will also remember which firms did the polar opposite with their staff and customers.

 

 

 

 

In an era where everything is much the same, the one thing that sets a firm apart is great customer service. Firms that don’t treat their customers fairly will eventually find that they have none at all.

Firms are struggling as it is and fobbing off loyal customers is a short-sighted approach. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about how to complain on social media and their consumer rights. Bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences, some of which can and do go viral within minutes on Twitter.

The culture of an organisation comes from the top. CEOs are the figureheads and they are paid to lead, inspire and set an example for everyone else. British Airways and Currys PC World are firms that spring to mind for all the wrong reasons. Currys PC World’s reputation is dire everywhere now and I see the same complaints every day on Twitter. Consumers are familiar and know their fob offs inside out. Their arrogance, ineptitude and complacency will be their downfall.

It’s easy to think of firms that are simply so bad when it comes to Customer Service and Customer Experience, and cutbacks in training and investment in staff is evident.

The British have been renowned for not wanting to make a fuss and to just accept poor Customer Service and Customer Experience as ‘par for the course’ in this country. I reckon the tide is turning now though, and firms need to raise their game if they want to have a future.

The underlying message here is that consumers are becoming increasingly vocal with complaints and expect much better. If firms want to survive, they need to adapt accordingly.

 

 

Many thanks to Scott for this guest post. The inspiration behind which came from talking about life post-coronavirus on BBC Radio Scotland and what he misses after falling ill with it. All views and opinions are not necessarily my own.

 

Stuart Nicol Photography, 2020

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