In Part I on how to create a successful customer service infrastructure within your organization, I wrote about paradigm shifts and process requirements. In Part II, I want to introduce 10-key infrastructure components that are required in order to facilitate, support and sustain a long-term customer service strategy.
Noticed I used the words: long term and sustain, not short-term and program. As I wrote in Part I, most customer service initiatives are program oriented, they have a start and end date. If you really want your company to stand for great customer service then you must think in terms of process not program. In this article I’ll discuss components 1-5 that make up a winning customer service infrastructure. Components 6-10 will appear in Part III.
Customer Service Infrastructure Components:
You need to make a conscious decision - you’re either going to be committed and stand for customer service or you’re not. You can’t be half pregnant with a customer service strategy. Companies who stand for customer service have every fiber of their organization focused on the customer. It’s part of their corporate DNA. Customer service is their north star providing direction, guidance and dictating behavior within the organization.
2. Appoint a Champion:
You must drive customer service ownership throughout your entire organization: every person at every level. Ultimately, everyone must own the customer, not just your frontline team who interacts with your customers.
Ownership takes time to permeate throughout your organization, and in most cases it can take years. That’s why in the interim, until you achieve customer service nirvana, you need to assign a Champion within your organization to carry the flag, lead the charge, and drive the process. Ideally, the individual you assign should have a high-level position that has the respect and clout within your organization to make things happen. The higher the level, the easier the road, because it sends out a strong message to your organization that customer service is important.
3. Identify your Moments of Truth:
Moments of truth or “touch points,” are contact points that a customer has with your company. Customers are constantly making both conscious and unconscious value judgments about each of the moments of truths they encounter. These value judgments are recorded into a mental report card on your company. Identify each of your company’s moments of truths: stores, employees, answering the phone, delivery trucks, etc., then develop a strategy around each one that will ensure a consistent world-class customer service experience.
4. Assess: Policies & Procedures – Systems & Processes:
Outward thinking vs. inward: start with the customer and work backwards. Do your policies and procedures serve the customer or organizational bureaucracy? Are your policies and procedures customer friendly? Are your systems designed to make it easier for you to do business or for your customers to do business with you? Do your processes put your frontline employees in a position to succeed or fail in the eyes of your customers?
5. Develop Meaningful Metrics:
If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it! Measure meaningful metrics that your frontline employees have direct control or influence over. Things like: store sales, appearance, retailing, mystery shopper scores, and customer comments are meaningful frontline metrics that drive customer service behavior.
In Part III I’ll conclude this series with infrastructure components 6-10. In the meantime, give serious thought to components 1-5. If not through customer service, then what other way do you plan to differentiate your business from your competitors?