As the UK begins to emerge from the latest lockdown, our expectation of quality standards has certainly changed since the first lockdown in March 2019. According to Ofcom’s Online Nation Report, in April 2020, UK adults spent a daily average of over 4 hours online, which represented a 115 percent increase compared to September 2019. However, 76 percent of surveyed respondents said that they felt that not all companies were making enough effort to customise their online experience during the pandemic.
According to Statista, UK online food retail had grown by a staggering 55 percent in April 2020 and online household goods had increased 24 percent in November 2020. This sharp rise in online shopping has placed a wide magnifying glass over the online operations of most companies, with consumers demanding a better, faster experience and a higher level of service than ever before.
The same expectations are also true in the service sectors, where during lockdown, consumers quite rightly demanded a much higher standard of service, particularly where cleanliness and infection control was concerned. Hoteliers responded to this new expectation by providing hand sanitisers, maintaining distancing rules and issuing stickers or leaflets in the room to reassure visitors that the strictest standards of cleaning had been undertaken.
It’s now clear that these higher standards have become the new normal, and having experienced a better level of service, consumers are certainly not going to accept anything less from their service providers moving forward. This knock-on effect has caused many businesses to struggle to achieve this new benchmark in standards, particularly when also coping with strains on their resource.
Within this blog, we will look at some of the areas where service expectation has certainly increased and how we are responding to this ever-increasing demand for better service –
With the increase in online shopping, the demand for better customer service is also more apparent. Consumer shopping is no longer a 9-5 process, and the increasing expectation is for companies to follow suit with their service support. The days of ‘office hour support’ are long gone, and such companies are being rapidly overtaken by brands who are willing to go the extra mile to match the needs of the modern consumer.
As a business, it is imperative that our communication channels are open 24/7/365 given the nature of our services. Our front-line services range from infection control to lone worker safety, so our customer services need to be able to respond quickly to a range of queries, from simple enquiries to emergency situations.
Our Lone Worker services play an important role for the safety of employees working in potentially dangerous environments. The demand for these services has certainly increased during lockdown due to companies adopting remote working policies and social distancing measures resulting in more singular roles. Our Alarm Receiving Centre team manage over 30,000 lone workers each year and due to the nature of the service, it is imperative that calls are answered immediately by a highly trained member of our team.
Example post-fog certification
Cleanliness and safety
Infection control plays a major role in minimising the possible spread of viruses or other harmful bacteria for both businesses and housing communities. As offices begin to populate again, companies are reducing the risk of infection through our fogging services which can effectively eliminate 99.99 percent of all known viruses within a matter of hours. This not only helps to keep businesses operating, it also acts as a reassurance for employees that the safety of the premises has been managed to the highest standards. Similarly to hotels, people now require a reassurance that their health and safety has been prioritised in the workplace, so we also issue stickers or certificates to further reassure our customers and the public.
The process of handing properties back to tenants has also seen significant change. During pre-pandemic times, a basic wipe-over and a visual cleanliness check were often enough to satisfy tenants during inspections. The quality of cleaning detergents were often quite basic and usually based on the cheapest solution rather than the level of bacterial and viral protection it actually provided.
Example post-fog certification
Nowadays, the deep cleaning of properties along with infection control processes are commonplace. Cleaning products are under increasing scrutiny regarding the level of protection it provides, along with other factors such as toxicity. This expectation will certainly continue into the future as property managers and tenants are now demanding this higher level of service for reassurance, risk management and even insurance purposes.
Within the housing sector, estate agents, service suppliers and buyers are looking for the same reassurances when visiting properties temporarily. Alongside the provision of advanced cleaning services, we also help to reduce the risks associated with access control, as delivering accommodation keys to various service providers can be both time consuming and a significant health risk. Our Bluetooth Key Safe technology provides our customers with on-the-spot access for all approved visitors and can even remotely track the total duration of their stay. In the event of a Covid case within a property, this information is vital to trace and inform any visitors at risk.
What the pandemic has certainly taught us, is that cleanliness and safety is now more important than ever before, and these higher standards of health and safety are no longer niceties, but fully expected.
Speed of communication
Not only are customers demanding access to 24-hour support, they are also looking for speed. A recent report by CRM provider SuperOffice, showed that over 33 percent of UK customers expect a response within an hour or less, while 11 percent of customers expected a response within 15 minutes. An ‘always on’ expectation is now standard, and no longer just a nice to have.
Fortunately, our resources are quite vast and consist of a dedicated Alarm Receiving Centre and multiple local branches, this ensures that our telephone response times are virtually instant, allowing us to deal with emergencies and general enquiries with the same degree of efficiency.
A human touch
Customers are usually comfortable using live chat services providing they can quickly and efficiently resolve their problems — unfortunately, as many of us know, that is often not the case. Chatbots are designed to respond to live enquiries through a series of pre-loaded answers in a bid to save companies the significant cost of resourcing call centres. Unfortunately, chatbots cannot answer any queries outside of their programmed list, causing a lot of frustration and even brand resentment when customers find themselves in an endless loop with no clear resolution.
In a report by This is Money, nearly 50 percent of surveyed consumers in Europe, the US and Australia said that automated chatbots were ‘annoying’, while 80 percent said they were ‘too impersonal’. One in five would prefer companies stop using them altogether.
With customer satisfaction in mind, our revamped live chat service is due to go live next month and will be staffed by our helpful team, rather than chatbots, to provide the best possible experience for our customers. We also provide other methods of communication, from online enquiries, social, phone and email, to good old-fashioned physical post. By providing multiple contact points, we can service our entire audience with a communication process that they are comfortable with, therefore enhancing the service that we provide.
During the pandemic, we also saw a significant rise in demand for our Contact Centre services due to businesses furloughing or reducing their customer support teams. Our team, with over 30 years’ experience, currently provide specialist out of hours call answering services to over 400,000 homes throughout the UK. Our team of advisor’s have supported our customers by answering, deploying and responding to thousands of calls per year from their clients. This service helps our customers ensure that their brand reputation and service standards are maintained to the increasingly high expectation from their customers.
Meeting the new standards
We have always strived to deliver the highest possible quality of service, and this has been maintained through lockdown and will continue beyond. The mindset of the nation has certainly changed in the way people conduct their business and the absolute focus is now on health and safety and customer service. Our services are designed to help companies elevate to the new standards, providing complete reassurance for their employees and customers alike.
If you would like more information on our services and how we can help your business reach these new standards, then please get in touch and our team will be happy to help.
About Midland Heart For almost 100 years, Midland Heart has been a key part of the housing community, helping people with their housing needs. Their main goal is to make people's lives better by providing good homes and a range of helpful services. They take care of...
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