Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Three Practices for Customer Service Improvement

From outside-in viewpoint, customer is the focal point; from inside-out, employees are the key to execute strategy.

Being customer centric is the strategic focus for many forward thinking organizations today, however, it takes both disciplines and practices to continually discover customer value, strike the right balance between customer satisfaction and business profitability; and more specifically, what are the best practice for customer service improvement?

Walking the talk is critical for top executives or management. The best way to test your processes is to experience yourself. Everyone needs to see themselves as a customer. Then they can better understand the psychology and expectations of their own customer. Charity begins at home and it begins with how well internal customers/staff members are treated in organizations. Listening and total involvement by sponsors are key. Testing end to end experience on your own skin, then you can understand if it corresponds to the vision being defined. 

Gathering feedback: How would you understand your customer especially if there are more than you can personally talk to? A single ''ordinary'' consumer might not know exactly what they want, if you asked them outright, but when you get groups of people together, and show them that you are trying to add value to their lives ... the group result can be quite enlightening! And then think about that forums can be large and you need a way to analyze what they really need in the future.

"Anticipate needs" is critical, but often forgotten. Make yourself understand the customer and anticipate their needs is a powerful innovation tool. The focus is generally on "fixing problems at hand" and how the existing touch points work or can be improved. However, the real customer value comes when you "surprise" your customers by providing them service before they need it or a service that helps the customer accelerate to the next step or, even better, make some of their manual routines redundant, and useless processes should be modified or eliminated. It is as "convenient service" to get the emotional flavor of what you should create.

Last, but not least, “Happy employee = Happy customer”. Although there’s chicken and egg debate: Employee satisfaction or customer satisfaction, which comes first. They are interlinked elements in the organization, From outside-in viewpoint, customer is the focal point; from inside-out, employees are the key to execute strategy, the successful organizations should look at both lenses, and leverage management practices in exploring cause & effect.


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