While it is critical to provide great training for your customer contact personnel, both soft skills and task-specific skills, it is immensely important to create efficient customer service processes. This is key to both internal and external customer satisfaction.
The goal should be:
1. To create processes that allow customer service personnel to provide timely service to the customer, yet not negatively impact other internal customers.
2. To create processes that allow the customer to efficiently conduct business with the company.
Efficient processes allow your customer service personnel to feel good about the level of service they can provide. Their ability to provide a high level of service creates satisfied and loyal customers. During my career on the front line, I found it very frustrating to attempt to provide great customer service while working within an inefficient system.
Review your processes regularly to insure they remain efficient. Identify all process participants and stakeholders. Hold process improvement sessions to identify areas of opportunity. Look at the process from the external customer’s viewpoint. Become the customer to determine if the process is customer friendly.
When your customer attempts to do business with your company via “self-service” avenues such as your website, it is critical that this is not an arduous task. Calculate the financial impact of rework – how much does it cost to do the same task a second time due to an error? Where you can gauge how many customers opt out of a self-service avenue to interact with your customer service personnel, and identify the reasons for their doing so.
Don’t allow customers to take the ultimate option out to your competitors because of an inefficient process. Determine what each customer is worth and the financial impact of a lost customer. This should help to guide your decision regarding evaluating your processes.
Process reviews and improvement projects can be time-consuming tasks but are well worth it in the long run. A by-product of process improvement projects is a heightened sense of teamwork as well as a positive impact on employee morale. Customer service personnel usually have the answers to inefficient processes and more likely than not have developed undocumented “workarounds” with an eye towards preventing negative customer experiences along with making the process easier for themselves.
Efficient and customer-friendly tasks help to insure that your customer is satisfied with your service. Consider the financial impact of inefficient processes. How much is a typical customer worth to your organization? How many customers can you afford to lose because of non-customer-friendly processes? Don’t forget that you can lose employees for the same reason.
How much investment in training and benefits is lost due to employee frustration with an inefficient system? Think about a cumbersome experience with a service provider and ask yourself how that experience made you feel as a customer. Remember that a person is impacted by your processes – hopefully in a positive manner. Take the time to review your customer service processes step by step as this will help to maintain a high retention level of both customers and customer service personnel.