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The Shifting Sands of Customer Satisfaction

The Shifting Sands of Customer Satisfaction

It’s time to stop dismissing millennials as mere avocado-smashing selfie-takers.  


These adults aged between 22 and 37 (though the exact age range is always debated) have serious consumer power.  Businesses based in Exeter should pay particular attention to younger demographics: we are one of just six cities in the UK which experienced a drop in the average age of the population in the past 20 years.

There are all manner of statistics out there which could panic businesses into thinking the consumer world has changed overnight.  Over a third of millennials don’t visit bank branches in person.  Half have moved from one company to another based on customer service.  27% of millennials have followed a business on social media following good customer service.

However, a white paper by Nuance 5 found an interesting trend which they termed millenialisation – due to the increasingly always-connected nature of all sectors of society, the differences in generational behaviour are reducing. Millennials are causing companies to change their approach to customer service – not necessarily because they demand different things, but because it’s better for all demographics and for business.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that customer service isn’t limited to how nicely you speak to a prospect.  There’s one ‘top three’ supermarket I refuse to go to because of how they treated people close to me who have worked there.  An indie cafe my friends and I used to frequent hasn’t seen us since they posted something carelessly sexist on social media and refused to acknowledge their mistake or take it down.  Yep, you read that right! We actually got offended by a tweet. Peak millennial, right?

It seems laughable – until you realise that right at the nub of customer trust is who we think deserves our money, and that can change in an instant.

In the midst of this changing landscape, here are three positive aspects of customer service I’ve recently experienced in Exeter, and that I think we’d all like to see more of, regardless of age.




Kindness & Understanding

Each of these people could have kept their head down and carried on their day doing the minimum their job required without showing empathy, but going a step further ensured I was a happy customer and more likely to return.

Getting on a bus the other morning, the reader rejected my Stagecoach Smart card.  Two realisations dawned on me: that my travel ticket had come to an end, and that I had no cash to reload it.  I apologised profusely to the driver and explained the situation.  Before I could make an embarrassing retreat from the bus, he’d cheerfully announced that my journey was ‘on him’ and printed me out a zero-fare ticket.  Without his kindness, I wouldn’t have made it to my lecture at University.

I experienced a similarly breezy gesture of goodwill at The Southern Cooperative in Beacon Heath, where the most enthusiastic checkout guy I have ever met works.  I’d turned down the offer of a carrier bag but was struggling with fatigue to fit my shopping into my backpack.  “Look, I’ve got it,” he said, with a smile, and in flash he’d put my items into a carrier bag.  It was a small gesture but made a big difference to how I felt.

The most outstanding experience of empathy with a customer I’ve ever had was at Aromatika (handmade organic skincare shop and day spa, Queen Street).  Arriving for a treatment gifted to me for Christmas, I was preoccupied by thoughts of a family member’s illness. Assistant manager Clare made me a cup of tea and calmed me down.  Clare and beauty therapist Chloe then talked to me to reach an arrangement that worked. The genuineness of their care was heart-warming.


No Fuss Friendliness

Great customer service isn’t necessarily about saving someone’s day.  It can be as simple as efficiently and amicably providing your services, as I was reminded by the staff at Timpson (shoe repairs, locksmiths etc in Guildhall Shopping Centre).  They’d warmly welcomed me, explained my options, and completed the service to a very high standard (and impressively quickly too), all the while upholding a really friendly and professional manner.  I know I’ll return and recommend based on that experience.

Similarly, the concierge at Dean Clarke House (luxury accommodation, office and event space, Southernhay East) is always very happy to help with queries about directions, parking, Wi-Fi or anything else.



42% of people who reach out to businesses on social media expect a reply within an hour.  I’ve had a reply from the Amanda Marsden team (lifestyle salon, Queen Street) in 6 minutes, outside of core working hours!  I appreciate this isn’t possible (or necessary) for everyone, but in this case, it meant they got my business.

(Tip: want a great haircut, but can’t fork out? Check to see if trainees need models to practice their skills on while being checked on by senior stylists.  I got possibly my favourite haircut ever from a trainee called Jess at Amanda Marsden a few weeks ago, and it cost me a fraction of the price.)

It’s fantastic to see people going the extra mile for customers in Exeter. Looking on social media, I found people had shouted about great customer service at Chococo (cafe and chocolate house on Gandy Street), Vision Express (opticians on High Street), JoJo Maman Bébé (boutique mother & baby clothing on Gandy Street), and Great Western Railway, who run many train services and stations in around Exeter.

With a little bit of extra thought and time, an everyday transaction can be transformed into a positive and memorable customer experience.  Not only does this make the customer feel good, it increases the likelihood of them returning and recommending what you offer.


Written by Rebecca Broad

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