Today, change can be thick and fast. To safeguard your organisation’s continued success, your customer service team needs to be agile and adaptable enough to thrive in a business that’s often complex and uncertain. Recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with experienced Customer Service Manager, Mike Thompson, to dive into the key components of strong customer service. If you’re looking to implement change and transform your customer experience, here are Mike’s pointers on how to successfully overhaul your CX strategy.
What do you believe are the key success factors in building a customer team?
Firstly, you must fully understand what you want your customer experience to look like. That comes from gaining a thorough insight into your customer's wants and needs. This may sound obvious, but an array of customer satisfaction survey results have made it abundantly clear that many organisations make broad assumptions about their customers, and design their support services around these.
Having established your service offering, the next critical factor is bringing the right people on board. Whilst a minimum threshold level of competency is required, I believe the critical element is attitude. Everything else can be taught, or alternatively, managed. To ensure an efficient operation, it is important to have the right systems and processes in place, but nothing will substitute having people who want to do the right thing for your customers. By empowering your people to make decisions you will create a timely and efficient service that will build confidence, engagement and participation in the organisation’s goals.
To maximise your employee’s organisational value, you need to create a supportive "can do" environment, where people are challenged, rewarded and supported, and allows them to realise their full potential and grow. Adopting a less restrictive management style, within a structured framework that doesn't stifle individual initiative, allows people to do their job to the best of their ability and engenders a far more humanistic and personal customer interaction.
What do you believe has been the biggest learning for you in understanding the customer journey?
When understanding the full customer journey for an organisation, the need to take a far broader approach than purely a customers' direct interaction is a huge area of opportunity that became apparent to me relatively recently. By this, I mean that the latent requirement for a product, or service, can result into an opportunistic touch-point that needs to be assessed and understood within the overall experience and mapped accordingly.
Previously, I would have mapped direct interactions that were a result of some degree of customer initiation, yet here was an opportunity to capture a potential customer's attention and deliver against their specific expectations. Marketers understand the above and below the line approach, now we could truly interweave the experience for all organisational stakeholders. The days where marketing initiatives were launched in isolation of customer-facing teams are gone, as the experience now forms part of the overarching customer journey.
What do you believe are some of the key challenges that businesses face in terms of the customer experience?
The best CX programmes have been constructed from a deep understanding of their customers’ expectations acquired by an ongoing flow of customer intelligence. The major challenge for a lot of organisations is achieving the shift in thinking that is needed to transition towards a business driven by customer-input. This shift requires a change in focus in everything the organisation does, both operationally and strategically.
Every aspect of an organisation's operation influences the resulting customer experience, and yet many decisions are made without any reference to the impact it will have on the customer. There is a view that many internal organisational activities can be added, adapted or removed without consequence to the customer. I would strongly disagree and advocate a robust customer impact assessment is a requirement for all organisational change to ensure that any effect on the customer is adequately reviewed, and utilised within the decision-making process.
What are your top tips for businesses when looking at transforming their customer journey/interface and key questions to ask?
Given the broad changes the transformation programme will require, it is imperative that it is fully endorsed and actively supported by senior executives from the outset. The fact that the programme may require temporary and ongoing resource requirements and multiple projects to achieve it, needs to be acknowledged early on. To maximise the programme's traction and support it will also require broad organisational support, and cannot be managed solely by teams that have traditionally been seen to own the customer relationship.
Understanding your organisation’s power core is key to predicting where potential resistance to change may occur, and who needs additional support to enable them to become a change champion. This champion will then endorse and promote the transformation. Completely understanding the financial commitment of the transformation is also crucial, as there will likely be significant technology enablers required to centralise the servicing platform that will drive the experience delivery and customer insight, as well as costs associated with operational and organisational adjustments. Having the right team dedicated to the programme is necessary, as this cannot be delivered with an organisations' existing structure. I think it is worth reiterating that transforming the customer journey to deliver a best in class experience requires a transformation of the business and that cannot be delivered with tacit support, it requires courage, commitment and perseverance.
If you have any further questions about this article or would like to talk to one of our Specialist Recruitment Consultants about building a customer team, get in touch with us today.