Customer Service

FIVE ELEMENTS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE


I found this very interesting article on Customer Service by PEARL ZHU, President at Brobay Corporation, San Francisco, and published on futureofcio.blogspot.com, and wanted to share it here.

Great job, Pearl!

At the age of digitization, every company is a Data Company which has been more accurate than ever; in today’s economically challenging, customer-driven business environment, more customer centric businesses cross sectors, no matter what you sell, airline tickets, hotel rooms, consume goods or services, also declare they are at customer service business, how to delight customer becomes strategic imperative to survive and thrive. And customer service is not a job for one department, it’s everybody’s job.

1.    Customer Empathy

  •  “Moments of truth”: Customers experience their service through, some may call the “moments of truth”: which are the moments the great customer service companies earn trust and loyalty as customers invest a high amount of emotional energy in the outcome (for instance, a lost credit card, a canceled flight, a damaged piece of merchandise., etc.)
  • Navigation Point: customer centric businesses should also ask via navigating such 5W+1H questions: Which customer interactions lead to attrition, advocacy, and greater spending? When should we focus on service instead of product or price? What service experiences hurt customer satisfaction the most? Who are the best social influencer for our service, who are our service advocate, and our most profitable customers, How to empower employees to take extra miles., etc.
  •  Entire Set of Touch Points:  Besides moment of truth, defining more critical touch points, identifies the customer interactions,  that drive attrition, advocacy, and greater spending as well as the service experiences that delight customer the best or hurt customer satisfaction the most.
  •  Social Touch: every company and industry is different. It’s a process of being thoughtful about where and how these kinds of exceptions are occurring that are real pain points, and then figuring out where and how social software could be deployed in a very targeted way in design, implementation and optimizing key business processes.
  •  From staff empathy to customer empathy: senior business leaders may not work at front line for customer service everyday, however, the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated, delighting customer by respecting & empowering employees, from staff empathy to customer empathy are positive management philosophy to gain customers empathy by understanding staff first.

2.    Attitude & Aptitude

The business attitude isn’t only about how your front line employees serve customers, it’s about the collective attitude, which is business culture, how business as a whole think and act to delight customers?

  • Passion: From top down, Creating meaning and clarity of purpose for both management and people in frontline work, thereby addressing their thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs, and emotional needs, leaders lead via passion, help team find its true mojo; and deliver service with passion & “take extra mile” attitude;
  • Curiosity: Teams have such curiosity to ask “Big Why” and gain customer empathy when following routine processes to serve customers, with ownership attitude to improve or optimize business process;
  • Learning Agile: Good customer service takes both analytics and in-depth communication, there’s no such thing as repetitive job, continuous improvement in customer service is key;

Besides attitude, collective business capabilities are also crucial for superior customer services:

  • Business Digital Capabilities: web, mobile phone and social platform., etc offer multiple digital channels for customers to connect and engage and have a significant effect on the customer’s experience, how to integrate, enhance such digital capabilities more seamlessly will directly impact business’s long term growth;
  • Collective Human Capabilities: improving the capabilities of employees—and influencing their mind-sets—so that they acquire the right emotional and technical skills to provide premium services; Enlisting frontline leaders to serve as role models and to teach emotionally intelligent behavior, to enhance the intrinsic emotional intelligence of employees
  • Business Service Capabilities: build a service model that enables and motivates the average employee to achieve excellence, and to extend across the whole front-line network about the excellence of exemplary individuals, branches, and offices.

3. Resources and Budgeting

  • Total customer-engagement budget: Many organizations have silo structure and budget on a functional basis, they lack of holistic oversight of their total spending on customer engagement. Hence, they don’t capture the opportunities to make cross-functional trade-offs, or optimize investment portfolio across the full set of touch points. It seems always short of budget because each function compete for limited resources and seeks increased funding to improve their part of customer interaction,  but it may become a losing game at organizational level to improve customer service at the most effective and efficient way.
  • Cost Optimization: Successful service company turnarounds often start with a restructuring of the portfolio to enable management to focus on the core business, they will also focus on cost optimization, product/service revitalization and customer service reinforcement, to ensure both the front line and customers realize that improving financial performance, increasing customer satisfaction, and boosting product/service quality can all go hand in hand.

4.    Continuous Process Optimization

  • Redesigning the Service Strategy. A compelling service proposition focuses on multitude of touch points, which is consistent with the overall value proposition, set service ambition levels and design & prioritize initiatives based on value and cost,  to implement and strikes the right balance across the service, execution, and tone of brand.
  • Training Process: Many frontline employees receive extensive customer service training, businesses create incentives and design metrics to training,  and senior management was evaluated and rewarded on the basis of customer-centric results which emphasize the relationship between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and shareholder return.
  • Reconfigure System & Structure: Putting structures, reward systems, and processes in place to back up the positive changes, to amplify success stories and effective processes, to measure progress toward specific milestones and ensure changes are sustained, and always reward new behaviors and creative ideas.
  • Customer Listening Center: More businesses establish listening centers that monitor what is being said about their organizations, products, and services on social media, blogs, and other online forums, in order to gain the breadth and depth of customer empathy, build up in-depth customer relationships and on translating the resulting loyalty into higher sales of goods and services, as well as a healthier bottom line.

5. Metrics & KPIs

Finally, the measurement systems must be put in place so that management is held accountable for customer service performance and so that success is evident to the front line via asking: What is a customer experience, and how is its improvement measured?

  • Focus on measuring effectiveness. enterprises should shift their focus from tracking KPIs that measure the efficiency of the customer centers to KPIs that measure the effectiveness of the centers via customer-level variables
  • Highest-level metrics that matter to the senior executives, typically they might be financial metrics, which include both top line revenue growth or bottom line result; overall service image and customer retention, loyalty and satisfaction, and the customers’ perception of the service.
  • Operational metrics: this is not a simple question to answer without a thorough understanding of the specific operational details of each business and a view into the broader customer service operation, management may ask what are those operating metrics that are going to drive financial performance, and drill down even further to front line metrics on a daily basis, and figure out how social or optimized process can enhance the performance in line with those metrics

The selection and use of KPIs is a dynamic process that is relevant for measuring efficiency across operations, as well as effectiveness in achieving the financial and customer service goals of the enterprise via evaluating their current performance measurement tools through the lifecycles of their customer centers and supporting customer service functions.

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.    –Peter Drucker

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Systems Engineer, MBA in IT Operations and Marketing Intelligence. Experience and continuous interest in IT Operations, Marketing Research, Social Media, CRM, and Strategy. (My comments, shared articles and interests do not necessarily represent neither my clients' nor former or current employers')

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