Whether it be digitally driven interactions or those over the telephone, customer experience has been in a tailspin for some time. Consumers around the world are beyond fed up.  The excuses of not enough staff, high wage rates, and so on do not really matter to an end-user who needs information on a utility bill, help changing a flight, or finding out when an online food order may arrive – all to no avail!

Lawmakers are not blind to the level of rage that so many consumers have at the moment.  The political environment of 2024 and beyond is one that politicians will seize on for an advantage over their rivals. With customer satisfaction tanking in so many different countries, nobody should be surprised to see minimum standards of CX become a potential electoral hot potato.

This has been most recently witnessed in Spain. A law passed in 2022 that comes into effect this year mandates that all companies operating in the country with over 250 employees (or €50m or more in revenue) must provide consumers with live support during business hours and have a wait time of no more than 3 minutes.  To comply with the legislation, the issue must be settled within 15 days.  Refusal to follow this new regulation means fines of up to €100,000.

While the enforceability of such legislation is debatable, the spirit of the law comes from somewhere, and that is likely the frustration found among Spanish consumers.

The question then becomes: What is preventing other jurisdictions from following suit, and passing their own requirements for how private businesses must address customer service needs? Very little, really…. indeed, given the political atmosphere of 2024, it could happen sooner rather than later.

Over the next 11 months, there will be a significant number of elections around the world.  Two will occur in countries where consumer satisfaction has been running at abysmal levels in recent time. In the UK, The Institute of Customer Service reports that end-user satisfaction is at its lowest point since 2015. In the USA, there was admittedly a net CX improvement in Q4 2023, but the ghosts of terrible service that cratered the American Customer Satisfaction Index not even two years ago still linger.

Alas, enterprises have done little to help themselves of late.  With more half-baked automated systems pushing the limits of end-users’ patience, and a growing number of companies simply refusing to offer voice-based service, politicos on either side of the pond have every opportunity to make better CX a ballot issue.

No one likes frivolous government regulation.  In the current business environment, there is simply no reason for enterprises, regardless of sector, not to offer a decent level of support to consumers.  To avoid more laws like that in Spain, CX decision-makers must take action immediately.  A logical first step would be to tighten up poorly designed / deployed chatbots that don’t work.  The frustrations outlined by South Korean consumers in this article are almost certainly felt by end-users around the world.

Then, ditch the digital-only contact center and find the means of ensuring a decent level of staff support for callers.  Martin Lewis’ campaign to call out firms using the excuse of unusually high call volumes in the UK as a reason for prolonged hold times has gained notable media coverage, and could easily become a political lightning rod.  Working with a BPO partner to source talent onshore or further afield would be an effective manner of addressing this in the near-medium term.

These are just two things that firms can do to stave off political scrutiny and greater regulation.  If efforts are not made by enterprises to internally police the quality of customer service they offer, parliaments and legislatures might just do it for them.

Image sourced from Marco Verch under Creative Commons license