Collaboration is the key to any service organization delivering an experience to their customers that delights. Take the Beatles as an example. The Beatles are #1 on Billboards’ “The Hot 100s Top Artists of All Time”. On the same list Paul McCartney, as a solo artist, ranks 12th, while John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr don’t make the list at all. On the RollingStone’s “100 Greatest Artists” list, the Beatles rank #1. John Lennon ranks 38th. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr didn’t make the list. In the “Every Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee” ranked from best to worst, according to Cleveland.com, in the top 100 list the Beatles rank # 1. John Lennon ranks #57, Paul McCartney is #74, George Harrison and Ringo Starr didn’t make the list. As individuals, John, Paul, George and Ringo are great musical artists in their own right. Collectively as the Beatles, they epitomize the genius of collaboration. Working together they turned the music world on its head by having the right stuff, in the right place, at the right time.
Customer Service is about having the right stuff, in the right place at the right time. Okay, so as a segue that is a bit of a stretch from the Beatles, but there are certainly parallels! Let’s explore.
“Never assume you know what your customers think about your company, products, or services and what is important to them.”
Your Brand is Measured by The Sum of All Its Parts
Many organizations recognize the achievements of individuals. Professional team sports are littered with individual achievement recognition driven by player statistics. But in team sports, individuals don’t win championships, teams do. Within every customer service organization there are individual achievements that are worthy of admiration and recognition. However, service teamwork is what makes the difference between a customer issue being resolved in hours rather than in days and weeks. Unfortunately, silos do exist within customer service organizations. Individual groups often view their customer responsibilities in a compartmentalized way. When one service group is done, the customer’s issue becomes someone else’s problem.
Here are 5 steps that you can take to create satisfied and loyal customers by improving the customer service experience, tearing down silos in your organization, fostering collaboration, and building a team that will rock your customers!
1) Launch a voice of the customer survey that includes customer satisfaction, customer effort and net promoter score. Customer surveys are an invaluable tool for organizations to measure satisfaction, loyalty, and areas of opportunity. Better yet, it provides customers with a direct line of communication to your company that shows that their feedback is essential. Customer needs and preferences are constantly changing. Never assume you know what your customers think about your company, products, or services and what is important to them. The ability to make data-driven decisions is one of the most important capabilities of any successful organization. This starts with conducting customer surveys to guide customer service, sales, and marketing strategies. Without this insight, businesses are more likely to make ineffective changes while wasting time, money, and resources. Remember, happy and loyal customers are those who have been heard and perceive your company as a valuable partner in their success.
“Customer Service is about having the right stuff, in the right place at the right time.”
2) Conduct customer service journey mapping sessions (value stream mapping) which will help you to better understand your survey results by identifying how your customer service processes positively or negatively impact the customer experience. Align your customer service team’s goals, objectives, and metrics to focus on what the customer wants. Your journey mapping team will include participants from the various organizations within your company who are customer-facing and are engaged at the customer touch-points. They will have an opportunity to gain a common understanding of each other’s work and the effect it has on the customer, good or not so good, as the business processes are analyzed. Your team will determine what needs to be done to correct the issues, eliminate waste, reduce customer effort (CE) and design a customer experience that delights. It is during this collaboration that proposed changes are mapped out (future state) that will align your business with what your customers want.
3) Evaluate and optimize your customer service processes and documents. Customer service processes are not always created with the customer in mind. Many are driven by internally focused operational metrics. While process and efficiency improvements are good to do, the wrong focus can result in customer dissatisfaction and the risk that your customers will look elsewhere to do business. What your team has learned from the customer survey and the customer service journey mapping sessions will help keep them focused on what is most important during this phase, which is making it easier for your customers to work with you.
4) Create an action plan with goals, objectives, and strategies, and include milestones, assigned actions and due dates. Creating an action plan is key to successfully implementing all the positive customer experience improvements identified in your customer service journey mapping sessions. An action plan will help you stay on-track with the process and documentation changes that your organization will need to put in place to fully implement your customer experience improvements. Effective execution of your action plan is not only critical for your customer service team achieving their goals and objectives, but also for achieving your company’s goals and objectives.
5) Establish "metrics that matter", and specifically key performance indicators (KPIs). This is an important step to ensure that you can monitor how your team is doing and how well the new improvements are working. KPIs should be those metrics that have the most significant impact on your business from a customer satisfaction, revenue, and profitability standpoint. Set up recurring team cadence meetings to review how your team is performing on the KPIs with an eye toward continuous improvement.
Collaboration… now that is the “ticket to ride”!
Patrick Sandefur is the Founder and Managing Director of Bass Harbor Group / Customer Experience Solutions. His 30+ year career in Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Product Management and Business Development has given him a unique perspective of what customers want and expect when interacting with a brand.
Read more from Patrick Sandefur by clicking on recent posts below.