Sector focus: Customer service part 2

Customer service

In our previous post, we explained how the job market in the customer service industry is doing.

In part two of our sector focus, it’s time to look at some of the news stories that impacted on the industry.

The good news

Many companies have been on a recruitment drive this year and lots of customer service employees have been employed across a range of sectors.

One industry in particular which has increased need for customer service staff is mobile and online sectors, especially with the recent introduction of 4G technology which has seen further business and demand from customers. One place in particular which has benefited from this trend is Merthyr Tydfil, Darlington and Tyneside, as phone company EE have recently created 300 customer service and sales jobs there, including 15 apprenticeships.

As well as Merthyr Tydfil, several places in Wales saw a rise in customer service vacancies as many call centres are based in Wales, and as a result this industry makes a large contribution to the Welsh economy. The demand for call centre jobs in Wales was recently highlighted when 2,000 people applied for just 60 call centre jobs in Cardiff.

And this employment trend looks like it may stay, as TUI Travel, which is the largest leisure travel company in the UK, has recently announced it’ll be looking to fill 1,500 customer service vacancies next summer. This has come as a particular surprise as they’ve recently had to close its Swansea call centre (which lost 48 staff).

Customer service satisfaction

The annual Which? survey rates 100 of the largest companies based on their customer service, and asked people to rate brands based on several aspects of customer service including staff knowledge, ability to deal with issues and feeling like a valued customer.

According to the latest survey by Which?, companies including Lakeland and First Direct came top for their customer satisfaction levels, the latter being particularly praised for their ability to deal with difficult issues. Cosmetics company Lush in particular came out on top, as their customer service scored them 88% overall due to knowledgeable staff.

Despite many employers being praised by the survey for their good customer service, not all customers were impressed. In particular Npower, Royal Bank of Scotland and Talk Talk were voted the worst by customers, although they didn’t do as badly as Ryanair, which came out worst overall for customer service as they only scored 54% for customer satisfaction.

Changes in the industry

Social media and new technology has clearly changed how companies use their customer service teams, and while staff are still needed to talk to customers over the phone or meet them face-to-face, many companies are making the most of sites like Facebook and Twitter in order to interact and help customers quickly online.

As well as social media changing customer service, there have also recently been new codes of practise and schemes put in place which could change how customer service employees work in the future. Although they are currently only voluntary, the new scheme would force companies to provide customer protection, including providing an ombudsman to resolve any disputes. Once companies sign up to the scheme, if they don’t offer this they could face heavy fines or even imprisonment. It’s hoped this new scheme would protect customers and encourage businesses to give excellent customer service at all times.

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