No doubt brows were wiped with relief as Westminster announced a tiny but essential 0.3% growth in GDP. We had narrowly avoided the dreaded ‘triple dip’ recession. Closer scrutiny revealed that it was in fact the service sector gains which cancelled out losses in other areas.

There was some irony in this for CCA as we were in the midst of our two day partner event just a few miles along the Thames, near the Tower of London. We were considering how organisations can discard the shackles of process driven customer service and instead make room for more personalised and common sense responses to meet the needs of today’s ‘always on’ mobile enabled customers.  
This event was part of a bigger programme of activity looking in detail at four sectors: utility, retail banking, insurance and retail. Following the influential 2012 report on the ‘Future of Customer Service’, this year’s programme: again in partnership with Kcom; is delving deeper to compare and contrast the real issues in a sector specific way.
So what progress have we made and did we uncover anything unexpected?  The issues common to all appear to be siloed structures preventing true customer focus - no surprises there then. The degree to which loss of trust has led to high levels of unnecessary and expensive contact was an issue raised by all. However, the prospects for change ultimately depend on boards being brave enough to allow the personality of their organisations to shine through in a channel agnostic fashion, unfettered by internal politics and legacy issues. A tall order indeed, but an issue which all four sectors tackled with great gusto, providing real insight into what can happen.  
We set each sector a ‘dragons den’ scenario of convincing a board to invest in the necessary changes; assuming austerity will be less of an issue in 2-5 years. This allowed us to indulge in the art of the possible rather than being limited by the constraints of our current economic crisis. We learned that there are some things which organisations simply can’t control: the changing demographics of our population, and the extent to which we will remain ‘hard wired’ to austerity behaviour - even if/when things get better.
But we also learned that the efficiencies gained by a relentless push to understand where you need to be present in the customer journey, can free up the necessary investment to have the right experts on hand in an increasingly differentiated market-place. Good service doesn’t necessarily have to cost more than bad service.
We are looking forward to launching the full report at Convention in November and to agreeing a plan for change - we really hope you will take part in the process.