ICF: Meeting Growing Customer Expectations as a Small Organisation

 Customers are demanding more engagement, so what’s the best way for a professional body to meet their ever changing and ever growing needs?

Hester McQueen, Marketing & Communications Officer at the Institute of Chartered Foresters, demonstrates the importance of customer service in 2018.

Hester McQueen
Customers expect top-tier interaction from the moment your institution contacts them. This has become the norm across all touch points – from personalisation to membership quality, customer service to delivery, complaint handling to social responsibility.

So how can small institutions keep up with their customers’ increasing expectations?

Small institutions tend to have limited budgets; it’s therefore important to understand what adds true value to your customers and where it’s positioned against your values and purpose.

A great tool to use to find out how your members value your institution is Survey Monkey. I recommend starting here as you can compare these metrics year on year to see if your members’ perception changes from the moment you put new a development into effect.

The Institute of Chartered Foresters recently completed a members’ survey where we were able to see that 90% of members are proud to be part of the Institute and 92% believe the Institute is a trusted organisation. Do you have a comparison to show growth?

Technology and solutions are crucial to all institutions, although with a small budget you must only deploy the latest technology that adds meaningful value for your customers. It’s okay not to have or use all the latest technology as long as you are adding value with what you do have.

E-Consultancy have stated:

“In 2018, optimising the customer experience once again came out on top as the single most exciting opportunity for organisations.”

You now understand how your members value you. What should I do next?

It would be useful to benchmark your institution against leaders of consumer experience – don’t just look at your sector but outside it too. See what others are doing and see what ideas you could make work for your institution. For example: Lush wants to ‘provide the ultimate customer experience’ – they believe their till system will make the shopping experience more personalised, convenient and simple to increase sales. Amazon has opened the first supermarket with no checkouts at all – providing a shopping experience where consumers don’t have to waste time waiting in line. They have also created the Amazon Dash Button, a Wi-Fi connected device, which reorders your favourite product at the touch of a button saving customers time by not even having to log on to their devices to reorder. Understanding your institution’s strategy will help indicate what innovation to implement but this must be evaluated against customer requirements. Your institution should want to leave a lasting impression that’s unique to you. It’s important that you are offering customers what they want in the simplest – don’t make them work for it – and stylish way possible. Personalisation is key, as long as it’s relevant! Don’t do anything for the sake of it.

To summarise:

  1. Customer survey – identify a few metrics to compare year on year
  2. Benchmark your institution
  3. Leave a lasting impression
  4. Implement meaningful personalisation

Forbes has written an article identifying five trends, which is definitely worth reading.

Forbes states – five trends for shaping customer experience in 2018:

  1. CEOs get more involved in the customer experience
  2. Time is our most important commodity: personalisation aims to respect customers’ time
  3. Companies embrace decisioning and data to find opportunities to add value to customers’ lives
  4. The customer experience cloud gains prominence
  5. Augmented reality makes reality better for customers

Customer experience improvements are about thinking outside the box and adding true value to customers’ lives. Innovation is essential, the key is to deliver richer and more useful experiences for customers. Stay ahead of your customers but not too far, you don’t want your customers to struggle.

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