The party's over as they say; Christmas trees down, waistlines up, credit card bills up, bank balances down; is it any wonder that we all get a bit gloomy in January especially if 'the new you' hasn't quite materialised and resolutions have been resigned to the bin.
For most of us, we'll pull through and beat the January blues, however for an increasing number of people the blues are more permanent as they struggle with mental health issues.
This week Theresa May launched a Government initiative aimed at raising awareness of mental health which affects one in four of the population.
The chances are more likely than not that we all know someone or indeed have been affected ourselves. And yet there's still a huge stigma associated with the illness, making it a silent disease no less painful than a physical disorder yet attracting less empathy and care.
Factors blamed on the increasing incidence of mental health problems are varied, and include an ageing population, chemicals and pollution, financial worries and mobile phone usage to name a few; but for those who suffer, research shows that almost 50% feel unable to share their issues in the workplace.
And of course the pace and complexity of transacting our daily lives with all sorts of organisations can be a challenge to healthy individuals; imagine the stress of navigating needlessly unhelpful systems when challenged with mental health problems.
Booking flights earlier this week I experienced problems with the app (was it me, Apple, new iOS, wifi issues or BA?). In any event after considerable wrestling and angst I ended up inadvertently booking the wrong return date, aargh!! I tried to correct online, comforted by a 24-hour window allowed for free changes, but was instead directed to the contact centre. Frankly, given previous experience my expectation was low, so when I was answered promptly by a wonderful, warm lady who laughed and changed the flight within jig time I was bowled over; no need to repeat anything she had all the details. Problem solved, a lovely feel good interaction and importantly I didn't feel stupid; even though it was my mistake after all.
As an ardent app user I would never choose to call for anything flight related, but when things go wrong I need reassurance and empathy; I'm guessing I'm not alone here?
Considering the scale of well publicised mental health issues, it would be naive to assume that there is any instant solution, however I honestly believe that every organisation needs to look at themselves in the mirror and answer the honest question, 'Do we care for all our customers including those who are vulnerable, and do we make it easy for them to interact with us?’.
Given the billions of interactions that take place in our economy, each individual organisation's attitude to this question could make a profound difference to the lives of us all, but particularly to those who find day to day dealings a challenge.
Critically the real costs with sorting out issues in a grown up fashion are likely to be less than inflicting clumsy frustrating process-driven journeys which are increasingly outed in our transparent social media world; ultimately this will drive down brand value.
So let's get back to basics for the New Year, some questions for the Board when planning customer service investment:
CCA Global Standard© helps support organisations ensure they have the answers to these questions in place. For further information see here.