5 CRITICAL themes that Leaders should pay attention to in the 2021 UKCSI Report

It’s not easy to find the time to digest all of this great insight

“Here’s a report I’m forwarding Jason, have a look it may be useful”. I had lots of this when I was employed in large corporates. I can remember getting the Customer Service Institute reports landed on me, having a read and then getting back to the list of things I already had going on. I wasn’t paying enough attention. The truth is, this research is out there in the public domain and it’s extremely useful in helping leaders to think about their Customer strategies.

On receiving this years, I decided to do a short write up around some of the critical themes from my own perspective. Leaders may have received and read the full report or maybe haven’t even realised it was out there as yet. This short article will help Leaders to think about their current strategies and maybe go back to the report for the full breakdown.

Here’s the link to the full report and the key findings from Customer Service Institute perspective

The 5 critical themes that I believe Leaders should pay attention to:

1. Purpose, again! But even more critical now

Or as the report puts it – ‘Organisations need to be realistic and clear about their core proposition, who they serve and the sustainable impact they seek to achieve’.

There is a big call out here around organisational purpose being even more critical to success than in pre covid times.

I don’t think it’s just C-19 that’s shaped this current landscape, it feels like there is a genuine movement towards sustainability goals and that time is running out. Making money whilst saying you are doing but not actually doing is going to be called out more and more. There is a whole other discussion here about the purpose of the marketing department in current times as it’s easy to distort reality with a misguided reason for being in this area of a business.

What work is being done to align to core purpose? Is everyone aligned? Are efforts genuine?

“For organisations, this is a critical time to take stock of lessons learned during the pandemic and to redefine future priorities, linking everything we do back to purpose, relevance and the long-term impact or legacy we seek to create” Jo Causan


2. C-19 impacts aren’t as straight forward as they may seem

The report highlights that Covid-19 has heightened the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and innovation. Organisations need to learn from the enforced changes of Covid-19, retain the benefits and develop the mindset and capabilities to enable ongoing innovation.

When this all started in March 2020 we were fully face to face and a month later we had adapted to full remote delivery. Great achievement in such a short space of time with everything that was going on.

The thing I’m hearing now though is a concern from a growing number of managers about the locking in of more remote working. It appears there is a gap between the thinking at senior leadership level and that at middle management level.

So, I guess it’s important that leaders do the thinking around this to broaden out a view of benefits and disbenefits beyond what might show up on the bottom line.

What is the current understanding across all levels of the organisation around the benefits of how we might be looking to work in future?

“Developing flexibility and innovation to respond to change and create new opportunities – As organisations plan for hybrid models of working, there will be a need for flexibility and adaptability to find sustainable solutions that work for customers, employees and organisations. The ability to respond effectively to change and create new opportunities requires developing a culture of openness and innovation to generate, qualify, test and operationalise new ideas.” – excerpt from report


3. Measures need to evolve, the opportunity exists now

I picked the following out of the report – “As a result of the impact of Covid-19, conventional finance measures of revenue growth and ebbtide alone may not be reliable as current indicators of sustainable business performance. In this context, customer satisfaction, employee engagement and productivity are increasingly important measures of an organisation’s performance and sustainability”.

 I’m really interested in the language around this. Is this only now a thing because of Covid or have other measures being good indicators in the past also. Maybe it’s just shone more of a spotlight on the obvious now. There’s always being data available to suggest a strong link between company performance, its customer performance and its employee engagement.

Here’s a link to a long list of them

If companies are going to take this as standard, then IMO there needs to be an evolution of thinking around how some of this is done. Arbitrary measurements using dodgy measurement systems at frequencies of 6-12 months should be in the past but still hold as a staple in a lot of companies. Leaders need to find new ways to ‘Get Knowledge’ and in touch with the reality of the organisation performance for Customer and Employee linking their own impact on improving these.

How well do your current measures tell you about Customer? How well do your current measures tell you about engagement? What level of importance does leadership place on the improvement of these measures and how is the answer to this backed up by consistent, solid action?

For organisations looking to build more trust with customers this statement should be interesting

“A 9 or 10 out of 10 for customer satisfaction drives greater loyalty, recommendation and trust – Across the average of all organisations in the UKCSI, achieving a 9 or 10 (out of 10) for customer satisfaction has a much stronger effect even than an 8 out of 10 in generating the highest levels of trust, recommendation, loyalty and reputation. – you can be getting an 8 out of 10 but your customer still doesn’t have high trust in your brand”

4. Future Skills honed towards people as well as process

We’re really passionate about this one, so much so that we did a piece of research with water leaders recently around exactly this. Here’s what the report said:

“Organisations increasingly recognise that, as they emerge from the pandemic, they need to develop the skills and capabilities of their existing employees to succeed. – Effective managers have recognised that productivity and business results require spending time and effort to engage and build trust with employees”

Developing new capabilities for the changing world is huge. This statement talks about employees, I would narrow the conversation a little around that of managers. I believe that for employees to be able to grow, build the required skills and thrive then they will need managers and leaders to be doing much of the same. I would go as far as saying that the old style of management is currently under threat and hopefully a positive to come from this pandemic might be that it struck a blow to this out-of-date thinking. A recent article on the impact of one of the big consulting firms throws some real insight onto this topic

Talking about empathetic consulting and leaders being more switched on. It appears that genuine empathy has gone up the food chain and that can only be a good thing, at least for those leaders that are able to adapt in this way.

There are several questions relating to this that leaders should really be thinking about if not already. Here’s a link to the report we produced in water, although the learning is completely transferable in any current context as the basis for this is leadership and management.

5. False improvement will hold you back

It looks like something got better but in fact things probably got worse. Fair play to Jo Causan for the following:


“Much of the improvement can be attributed to better complaint handling and service recovery. Indeed, satisfaction with complaint handling is at its highest ever level, even though record numbers of customers have experienced a problem with an organisation. What this demonstrates all too clearly is that we have got better at dealing with issues but not necessarily better at preventing them impacting customers in the first place”  – Jo Causan

I added this one in as I always find this fascinating in any company I’ve worked in over the years, great news isn’t always great news only maybe for one department and maybe not for the overall company performance. To be fair companies have got better at talking about complaint prevention since I was in my 20’s but I can still see a less than joined up approach to improving work is getting in the way of a high % of companies. I only have to site my own experiences of dealing with a few (I won’t name them) in both private and public sector.

Is improvement made E2E or within functions? Is the work optimum, how do you know? If it’s not, why not?

Food for thought?

Hopefully, that gave you some additional food for thought. The UK Customer Service Institute does some great work around creating these insights but its down to leaders to take those insights into strategy development and deployment.

 We’re always trying to start conversations, if you have your own views on the critical themes, drop a note in the comments.


1 Comment

  1. Bev Wills

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts on the five critical themes. The links to other relevant blogs and articles was also very informative.


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