‘Businesses need to offer more than just discounts to customers’

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Six in 10 consumers say low prices will become more influential when choosing where to shop and what to buy in the next two years, states a recent research, calling on businesses to offer more than just discounts to customers.

According to the Institute of Customer Service, about a third of those asked were still prepared to pay more to guarantee good service. The organisation, which surveyed 10,000 people, said firms should offer value and a choice of ways to pay.

Jo Causon, the institute’s chief executive, said customers did not want products and services that were “just cheap”. Therefore, businesses needed to be flexible and transparent about what they were offering their customers, BBC reported, including being upfront about products and when they were available if the supply was held up. 

Staff needed to be understanding of the financial pressures their customers faced and offer a range of payment options, she said.

Businesses should also consider giving advice to their customers over budgeting or getting the most value out of products. ICS also recommends gauging where technology was the best solution to problems, and when a discussion with a real person was required.

A shortage of skills and staff, problems with supplies from around the world, and the economic environment were all putting pressure on businesses to deliver a consistent service for customers, the research said.

“Organisations cannot avoid these issues. They will need to develop service strategies that are responsive to evolving customer needs but also protect short and long-term business performance,” Causon said.

Causon added that UK firms had got much better at dealing with, and resolving, complaints, but more work was required to prevent the problems in the first place.

A year ago, the institute warned that customers were fed up with companies using Covid as an excuse for long waits on the telephone or late deliveries – but that issue had now clearly been overtaken by the issues relating to the cost of living.