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One in three organisations axes customer service training to survive the recession

A third of organisations have slashed customer service training this year – but with Christmas looming it could spell trouble at the tills.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

One in three organisations axes customer service training to survive the recession

A third of organisations have slashed customer service training this year – but with Christmas looming it could spell trouble at the tills.

The “slash and burn” approach to cost cutting could damage relationships with customers at a time when competition is fierce and high satisfaction levels are vital to survival. That’s the stark warning issued today by the Institute of Customer Service following its recent poll.The Institute found 30% of organisations surveyed have cut investment in customer service training and 21% have laid off customer-facing staff in 2009.

That is despite the Institute’s research that companies with a reputation for service excellence and committed frontline staff have a 24% higher net profit margin than same-sector rivals who do not enjoy similar standing, and can achieve 71% more profit per employee.Jo Causon, the Institute’s chief executive, believes it is dangerous to see training as the place to cut costs because in the current climate there is more competition for customers than ever. In fact Retail Week recently reported that a third of consumers intend to spend less this Christmas than they did last.

Therefore it is those who develop the talents and contributions of all their staff that will motivate their people, improve customer loyalty and boost profits, Jo Causon says.“Investing in your people is a key differentiator in business today. An organisation that emphasises customer service, through training and development, goes a long way to retaining staff – which motivates them to satisfy customers.”

The good news from the poll is that one in five organisations increased investment in customer service and a fifth said the recession had no effect on their business plans. And earlier this week Tesco announced plans to invest over £3 million to develop their senior managers and directors through the Tesco Academy during the next 12 months.

 Jo Causon adds: “Experts predict we are looking at a flat Christmas, particularly in retail, and our advice is to embrace a strong service culture to keep customers satisfied. I applaud Tesco for its investment in training at this time.” "Techhology can only take you so far in customer service delivery. It is your people who are on the front line and they need to be highly trained and motivated to consistently meet and even exceed a customer’s expectations, with technology working in parallel, so that people, processes and strategy are truly aligned around the whole customer experience.”

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