Sixty percent of customer service managers say it’s going to be “the toughest winter yet” as they worry about losing customers in the run up to the holidays. That’s according to new research from gig customer service (GigCX) platform Limitless, which surveyed 250 customer service leaders in the UK and US to determine whether the industry has reached a ‘tipping point’ amidst recession fears.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index reported that customer satisfaction levels have dropped by 5% since 2018—the largest descent in the 28-year history of ACSI. Meanwhile, the Institute of Customer Service in the UK reported recently that customer service complaints have hit their highest level on record.
As the industry reaches a ‘tipping point’, the research highlights that nearly half (48%) of customer service managers have seen customer willingness to buy, repeat purchases and retention rates drop as a result of the potential recession. Additionally, two thirds of respondents report that customers are becoming more difficult to deal with and that customer expectations are higher than ever.
The data also revealed that nearly half (44%) of customer service managers feel that C-SAT scores have been difficult to maintain in the last 3 months in comparison to before the pandemic. Of this group, 61% say they have fallen as a result of frustration due to recession fears or staff shortages. The drops were revealed to be quite drastic, with over 40% of respondents saying scores have fallen by 5-10% in 2022, with another 34% revealing they have fallen 10-15%.
When asked what their biggest fear for 2023 was, respondents indicated that employee mental health suffering was identified as the top concern, at 28%. This was closely followed by staff shortages and falling sales. On a more positive note, 74% say they are looking for alternative models to staff service and keep customers happy.
“With customer loyalty and attrition now at its most fragile, leaders need to look for models that provide flexibility and empathic customer service,” said Megan Neale, CIO and Co-Founder at Limitless. “The GigCX model, which uses brand advocates who are customers themselves, may just bridge the gaps we are seeing.”
To ensure customers aren’t lost as we head into the new year, empathic customer support (36%) followed by flash sales, incentives and discounts (34%) rank as top business strategies. Interestingly, the majority of respondents in the UK (57%) said they are just trying to survive these challenges and make it out the other end. However, 56% of the US surveyed see this period as a ‘time to shine.’