It’s a balancing act to get it right. As we draw to the last half of the financial year, businesses are looking ahead to budgets to find the right mix of investments in areas such as marketing, infrastructure and their people. Meanwhile, learning and development professionals, and human resources managers are looking for ways to improve the return on investment in their selection and training of employees. What about customer service? How has your organisation performed in the last year? As we reflect on the year that was and plan for the year ahead, there are five reasons that organisations are not delivering customer service results they should be.
1. Organisations are unclear about what success looks like.
It’s easy to imagine a world where your entire team has a heart for service at their core. An ideal scenario is a customer service team that arrives at work each day with the passion to genuinely interact with your customers with the full support of the leadership group. But to get to this point can’t be left to chance. A well-defined and calculated plan — not just for this coming year, but the next five years — is necessary for this scenario to come to reality. It’s easy to look at other organisations who do customer service really well and say “that’s what we need”, but the reality is that each organisation is different and leaders need to understand what will work for them.
2. Significant investments of time and resources are required.
Resources are all being stretched as much as possible. It’s definitely not the time to add more personnel to your payroll (although counter arguments could suggest this will cost in the short term, but bring results in the long term), so how do you find the time and resources to invest in driving improvements to customer service? The entire organisation, from the board of directors down must see the value that customer service has at the seat on an executive table. It’s not about appointing a chief customer officer, rather making sure that someone in the organisation can take ownership of aligning customer service efforts. It simply comes down to the prioritisation of goals and resources where working in unison to improve customer service will actually clear many of the underlying challenges that individual departments are experiencing.
3. Lack of credibility amongst business leaders.
Remember the CEO who created Hawaiian Shirt Day? Is it OK for him or her to feel slightly powerless and self-conscious about lacking credibility? This is quite normal, especially when it comes to transforming improvements in customer service as you typically get one chance to get it right so you want to have the message delivered with impact. Communicating the vision, celebrating successes and being relentless in the pursuit of perfection (or illusion of perfection) with customer service must be done the right way to avoid your message losing its impact. It’s not necessarily about hiring a consultant to do it for you, but if the last two points resonate with your organisation, you definitely don’t want to do this alone.
4. Disconnect between customer engagement measurements and internal processes.
“The board wants to see an increase in customer loyalty by 10 per cent this quarter, now go out there and make it happen,” says the CEO in the Monday morning meeting. Organisations who think of customer service as an overarching title of setting metrics and targets throughout the organisation will find these to be very unattainable. Internal processes and efforts need to be aligned with these metrics for them to be reliably measured and provide accurate data to senior leaders on what is working and what isn’t working in relation to improvements in customer service. It is also important to consider the wording of these targets — remember, just because a customer is loyal, they may not necessarily be satisfied.
5. Monitor the changing behaviours of customers.
The previous four points have been largely focused on organisations themselves. However, one thing that organisations need to do more regularly is listen to their customers and be on the front line with them so they can physically see what influences their behaviour. Just because we are experiencing a change in economic times doesn’t mean that customers are not willing to pay a premium for your service and be less price-sensitive. Leaders need to look at each touch point of the organisation, including the way employees are interacting with customers and listen to the unsolicited feedback, to accurately paint a picture of what the customer experience looks like.
Chris Smoje is a customer service speaker, trainer, facilitator and founder of the DIME™ Customer Service approach. Chris works with organisations and their people to develop a common interest and excitement about delivering exceptional customer service results: www.dimecustomerservice.com