8 Steps for Creating a Customer Service System

Have you ever interacted with an organization that provided great service in one area and terrible service in another?  How can there be such a cultural disconnect in the service that is provided by the same organization? Every interaction a customer has with an organization is an opportunity to win or lose that customer.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem with organizations that do not have a strategy for customer retention.  Organizations need to focus on how the system supports the customer.  It doesn’t matter how well trained a salesperson is if the product getting to the customer is delayed by a poor order fulfillment or delivery process.  All systems should work together with one goal and that is to make the buying experience as positive as possible for the customer.

8 Steps to Creating a System for Service?

1. Communicate the Vision

Consistently communicating the vision to employees is the first step in creating a system that is focused on the customer experience. Employees should understand how the organization started, where the organization is and where the organization is headed.  This includes helping employees understand how what they do impacts the the customer experience – which is critical to achieving corporate objectives.

2. Connect the Dots

customer process1Departments that are interdependent should have overlapping responsibilities to ensure good coordination of efforts resulting in a seamless customer process.  The reality is, customers don’t really care why the order fulfillment department allowed their packaging supplies to get depleted – which created a delay in the delivery of the product.  Customers only care that they did not receive the product when it was promised.

3. Set Expectations

Make sure employees have job specific goals that support the business goals of the organization.  This should include explicit customer objectives for both internal (other departments) or external (buying customer) customers.  These goals should be very specific and employees should be held accountability for meeting customer requirements.

4. Take Ownership

Train employees to take ownership of customer issues.  Every employee should feel responsible and empowered to help a customer as they go through the service experience.  Help employees understand that when they have an interaction with a customer, it is their moment to tend to the customer until they can successfully pass the customer off to the next department or person.

5. Process Improvement

Use cross functional teams to collaborate on process improvement opportunities identified through customer feedback.  Incorporate the Focus PDCA model for customer focused efforts to create a culture that embraces continuous improvement.

6. People Skills

Not very person is good at dealing with customers because we all have different frames of references. Meaning, unless an employee understands what great service looks like they may not be able to demonstrate it. Help employees develop customer friendly people skills by using customer service standards as a tool to communicate service expectations.

7. Draw a Picture

A great way to help employees understand a system is to draw it out for them.  Use a flow chart or organizational chart to show how departments interact and relate to each other to support the customer experience.  This picture of the customer experience process can be instrumental in helping employees understand the effects of what they do.

8. Performance Management

It is important to hold employees accountable for job requirements, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of the customers.  Employees who don’t take responsibility for caring for the customers (whether internal or external) should be managed appropriately.  Poor customer service at any level should never be tolerated.

Finally, employees need to understand that it is the customer who pays the bills and ultimately their salary.  Help employees get the revelation that creating a great customer experience is everyone’s job!

photo by:  info.ibs.us