Thursday, 11 December 2014

Improving the Customer Experience

In December I find I am particularly more aware of the need for an excellent service experience than at any other time. Due largely to holiday shopping either at the shops, or online doing the same thing without the need to fight traffic, find parking, and be swarmed with mobs of people. Did I also mention I leave this to the last minute?

With that said, whether you are looking for the most popular toy for your kid, that especially ugly Christmas sweater for someone special, or if your leveraging services through your company, you are looking to receive exceptional customer service. While you may not view your business as a customer in the traditional sense, you are still providing a service to them which they consume.

Think about the way in which your business interacts with you today. Would you describe it as a consumer focused experience? In other words from the consumer perspective how would they categorize their experience. More and more people are given several options in the way in which they can interact with the service provider. It can be done through self-service, social media, or by email and phone. The challenge is that when outside the workplace the options are really diverse while at work we generally only using email and phone. Why is this you might ask? Well primarily the teams which are determining the delivery model are the same teams which manage it, the "this is the way we have always don it" mentality. Whether it is IT or HR you have to start thinking in terms of the customer experience.

Sounds simple enough but how do we do that?

The first thing you need to do is first take a hard look at the ways we provide service today and break it down to understand what it looks like 'by the numbers'. You might identify that 95% of requests are through email while the rest is via telephone. Because of this current state we have our service desks staffed to accommodate that work type. Important top note if we want to make changes in that dynamic down the road.

Next start asking your customers about was is working well and where opportunities for improvements exist. Gathering a list of challenges will allow you to see if there are any quick wins. For example an item identified might be that while the customer sends in an email they may not have visibility on the status of the request. Something as simple as an email sent back to the customer indicating that the work is underway might go a long way to improve the customer experience.

Another component to look at is the “who” is interfacing with the customer. Some people are just better at talking with customers. Where the opportunity exists have these people dealing directly with people via phone for example.

Soliciting feedback is a continuous loop. Just because you have gathered some feedback from people once doesn’t mean you should stop there. The goal is to continually make small adjustments, measure the results, gather feedback, make some more improvements and repeat the steps.

Be sure to share the findings within your shared services. More often we approach the service delivery in silos such as HR and IT and rarely share our findings so that each team (who shares the same customer base) can make improvements without re-inventing the wheel.

Feel free to share what improvements you have made to your service delivery that went well. Also feel free to share your pain points.

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