Consumer demands and expectations are ever-changing and the need to improve customer service is increasing. As we step into 2024 the cost-of-living crisis is still affecting many households and businesses big and small are continuing to feel the pinch. This continues to have a significant impact on the satisfaction of customers across business sectors.
Some sectors are naturally experiencing greater challenges than others. Retail continues to feel the impact of reduced consumer spending and the hospitality sector is facing a 48% increase in insolvencies year on year. However, some are showing signs of potential growth. The travel sector, for example, is expecting sales to reach pre-Covid levels this year despite the cost-of-living crisis.
Regardless of their fate in 2024, organisations need to introduce the processes necessary to improve their customer service, whether that be to cope with an increase in sales or to encourage a customer base to grow. Those failing to do so are risking losing out to competitors that go above and beyond for their customers. So, here are the top 5 sectors we think need to focus on customer care in 2024.
It might come as no surprise that customer service will be important to retailers this year. But as a growing number of major retailers unfortunately fall into financial difficulty, providing an effortless customer experience is paramount. In times of difficulty, good customer service is a particularly powerful reputational tool. In fact, our research revealed that 86% of consumers said a customer service conversation had negatively impacted their relationship with a brand or business. This begs the question, as many retailers continue to face losses, can they afford not to protect their reputation?
This sector has faced some unprecedented challenges in recent years. Just as the pandemic ended it was confronted by reduced consumer spending at the hands of rising inflation rates. This has left many restaurants, bars and hotels unfortunately facing collapse. With this in mind, flexibility will be central to the industry’s success in 2024. Flexibility is required within the establishments themselves, for example making spaces more versatile to accommodate different offerings such as events, workshops, or experiences. But also, in its customer service. Offering flexible booking options, personalised guest services and 24/7 customer support can boost customer satisfaction and in turn sales.
This January some travel firms are expecting to see sales return to pre-Covid levels. The travel trade body, Abta’s research suggests that around three in five people are planning to go abroad this year despite tightened budgets. While this is great news for travel companies, coping with an influx of enquiries from hopeful holidaymakers can put further pressure on customer service teams. Tips for coping with rising customer demand include extending customer service hours, bringing on temporary seasonal support and utilising technology to speed up waiting times.
As inflation remains high, customers are changing how they interact with financial services providers. This year, the industry is likely to see the continued trend of people needing greater access to advice, relief options and reassurance. This requires transparent and flexible communications, and well-trained and confident customer service representatives who can tailor customer recommendations and offer easy, convenient access to customer service.
This is another sector that has faced significant disruption and transformation in recent years and 2024 is likely to be similar. With the energy price cap increasing by five percent amid an already challenging economic climate, many customers are likely to be concerned. To enable as many customers as possible to raise enquiries, energy firms should offer a wide range of customer service channels, ensure that agents are confident in handling often sensitive customer concerns, and use assistive technology to respond to simple queries where appropriate.