By Donna Fluss
Last year was a wonderful year for the world of service. It was the year that executives finally realized (or accepted) the important role of quality service in building their brand and differentiating their company and offerings. This has been reflected by a willingness to invest in initiatives to enhance the customer experience.
Just as important, management now also acknowledges that delivering outstanding service, including sales, is not just the responsibility of their service organization or contact center. Instead, great service needs to be an integral part of a company’s culture, the overarching operating imperative that guides every employee’s interactions with customers and prospects and dictates how departments work with each other.
Below is a list of ideas for building a corporate structure dedicated to delighting customers. Some of these can be accomplished by changes in best practices, organization, and training, while others require major investments in people, processes, and technology. Many of these suggestions are strategic and will have a broad impact on your company, while others are tactical.
DMG recommends selecting two or three from the list and including them in your plans for the remainder of this year:
- Make It Easy for Your Customers to Conduct Business: This is an extensive and ongoing initiative that requires a company to review and analyze every step of the customer journey
- Look at Business from Your Customers’ Perspective: Stop trying to force your customers to adapt to your business practices; they are going to do things the way they want, with or without your cooperation.
- Personalize the Service and Sales Experience: Figure out how to give every customer or prospect what they want.
- Be Transparent: This is both strategic and tactical. Train your employees to “own” customer service: if something’s wrong, fix it; if it’s good make, it better.
- Take Down Organizational Silos: If your organizational structure stands in the way of progress, it results in extra effort for employees and customers; it’s time to take it down and rebuild it.
- Enhance Your Self-Service Solutions: There are new and effective self-service capabilities and apps. It’s time to update five- to ten-year-old applications, particularly if they are your primary interface to customers. Look at interactive voice response (IRV) and websites, too.
- Go Social: Social media is the least expensive focus group and method for capturing the buzz about your company and competitors. It’s also time to use social media for social customer care.
- Build Customer Engagement: Reach out and interact with your customers in their channel of choice; be there for customers when they want or need you.
- Actively Listen and Acknowledge: Create a closed-loop feedback process to solicit and respond to feedback from customers and prospects.
- Deliver Random Acts of Kindness to Your Customers: Let your customers know you appreciate their business.
- Create Customer-Friendly Rewards Programs: Use rewards and incentives to show your customers you appreciate them and their business.
- Encourage and Reward Employee Advocacy and Engagement: Invest in your employees; they are your best advocates.
- Fix Known Problems: Identify and fix any problems; all companies have them. Reward and recognize employees and customers for helping you resolve issues.
- Reward Innovation: Recognize and reward new and creative ideas and concepts.
These are a few of the initiatives companies should consider on an annual basis. The most customer-friendly organizations are not those that think they have all the answers, but rather those that are willing to work with customers to find new approaches and solutions.
Donna Fluss is the founder of DMG, a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that analyzes contact center and back-office technology and best practices. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have or to learn how to make today’s innovative and powerful technologies and best practices work for your organization.
[From Connection Magazine – March/April 2016]