New Year’s Musings 2008
Posted by Becky Carroll on December 31, 2007
What are your goals for your business in 2008? Last year at this time, I discussed some suggested Customer Service New Year’s Resolutions. The customer has become much more front-and-center in this past year, but it is about more than just marketing. We need to make sure all aspect of our organizations are customer-focused. I think the resolutions I suggested last year are still valid for this year, so I wanted to share them with you again!
Here are my suggested Customer Service New Year’s Resolutions.
Create a customer strategy for the customer service organization.
While most organizations have a product or marketing strategy, many do not have a customer strategy. A customer strategy addresses who our customers are, how we can differentiate them from one another both in value and needs, and how we will treat them. This strategy should be built around the interactions and relationship that the customer has with your organization. The right customer strategy in your service organization lays the groundwork for the rest of the journey.
Proactively “manage” the customer experience.
The customer experience takes place through all touch points with a customer, including agents, web sites, newsletters, and automated systems. We can think about each interaction as an opportunity to either increase or decrease a customer’s value to us. Example: I recently moved to a new house and needed to contact multiple utility companies. In the first instance, I called the customer service line and waited on hold for nearly 30 minutes in order to tell an agent I would not be able to make the installation appointment that was previously scheduled. At the end of that half-hour period, I was not having a very good experience! The next day, the second instance but with a different utility, I called to cancel the service at our old residence. Wait times again were high, but in this case I was given the choice of receiving a call-back from an agent. An agent called me 25 minutes later, exactly as they had predicted, and a recording of my own voice validated the call. My elapsed time to deal with that call was 3 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes the day before. In both cases, the contact center was scheduling agents to take calls as they come in; however, in the second case my experience was optimized to make the interaction as convenient for me as possible. Which one built a stronger customer relationship and increased customer value?
Formally link rewards with customer-centric behavior.
A hard look at customer-based metrics is necessary in order to retain a balance between customer focus and cost reduction, especially in areas such as the contact center. Activity in the contact center should be reviewed based on measures of both efficiency such as call handle time, and measures of effectiveness such as first contact resolution, the number of repeat contacts, and the share of customer data. These measures have the greatest impact when they are linked to performance improvement opportunities including coaching plans and training as well as root cause analysis activities. The wrong measures can cause behaviors which reduce cost but also reduce customer value. For example, if an agent is measured solely on average talk time but not on how well the customer’s concern is resolved, that agent won’t care that the customer has to contact the organization again. In addition, these customer-based measures need to roll up the management chain so the success of all members of the contact center organization is tied closely to customer success.
(Photo credit: lacreme)