Customers expect quality, value and more. If one organisation cannot fulfil its requirements, it is very likely it will turn to one that can.
Unfortunately, in my experience UK businesses – especially those in IT repairs – are struggling to meet changing customer service requirements.
Provision is slower and there may often be disagreeable approaches from competing partners within the supply chain.
Instead of being a strong, interlinked structure, the supply chain is more commonly a disjointed collection of processes, people and products. Often, one link in the chain operates to the detriment of the others.
This can leave the customer mired in complexity or relying on quick-fix answers that don't hold up over time.
The problems and issues companies face are often multifaceted and complex. They may require rapidly developed, integrated solutions – but many provider organisations no longer have the required internal capabilities to adequately serve customers.
Many industries have suffered from the throwaway mentality that many exhibited particularly during the last economic boom. People threw away TVs, microwaves and business equipment when they broke down, rather than repairing them.
The skills to repair electronic items were therefore not in high demand and began to disappear. Many related industries essentially began de-skilling their workforces.
But many years of de-skilling has resulted in many people entering the workforce without the necessary skills in the first place.
Current economic, environmental and financial pressures mean businesses can no longer afford to simply replace hardware when it fails.
Many are also stripping away other costs where possible – for example, by consolidating their partners throughout the supply chain.
This has been called an age of austerity, and it is encouraging businesses and individuals to reject the throwaway mentality of the last decade. Companies are now looking to repair their hardware, instead of ripping it out and buying new.
So we now need a workforce with the related skills.
And if companies don't deliver what customers want, they may well go to another organisation or even abroad. Some studies have suggested that customer churn could be losing the business world overall many billions of pounds.
Post-recession, new growth areas will surely appear that require workers to learn new skills.
Companies must keep an eye on this long-term horizon and develop their workforce capabilities for the future, perhaps by investing in training programmes and other professional development.
This can aid service provision immeasurably – as well as encourage staff retention.
There must also be more emphasis on ensuring that the next generation has the tools, skills and knowledge that will be needed. This means investment in youth training programmes and apprenticeship schemes in particular.
We must implement a culture of service for success. This will not take place overnight, but by modernising our approach to our workforce we can develop highly skilled employees with the ability to improve all areas of the organisation.
Every journey has a beginning, and I truly believe this is a trip worth taking.
Mike Heslop is the owner of Centrex Services
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