by Sofie De Coninck and Suzanne Schöningh, Business Consultants, Möbius Business Redesign
Delivering a valuable customer service is a matter of staggering complexity as customers’ expectations are constantly growing. Companies, regardless of the sector they operate in, aspire to offer a consistent experience through any channel (via phone, in person, online and / or via social networks). In addition, according to Zendesk (a worldwide supplier of customer service software), 50% of customers want to be able to solve product or service issues themselves. However, in case of a crisis or when customers need a solution to a problem, research from McKinsey shows more than 50% of customers want to interact with a human.
As a result, modern customer service needs to be multichannel and multidisciplined, with a smooth cooperation between different departments, in order to guarantee end-to-end value throughout the entire customer journey. This challenge also represents the opportunity for organizations to transform customer service from a cost center into a strategic weapon and differentiator for their business, resulting in a potential revenue growth of 4 to 8%, as indicated by Bain & Company.
We defined some essential principles of modern customer service based on proven methodologies, research, innovative thinking and our experience. We structured our findings in six components and share a summary of the most important takeaways in this article. The mini-guide, that further explores the challenges per component, best practices, cases from different organizations and hands-on canvases, can be downloaded for free, here.
Strategy & organization
Every organization proclaims a corporate strategy. The customer service department is required to comply with this one. Nevertheless, a strategic customer service plan is essential. Involve your customer in defining your customer service strategy. Do this by utilizing appropriate research method(s), as it allows you to identify the current gains and pains of your customer service and to prioritize any future projects and investments.
People & team
Your customer service employees are the ones your customers interact with when looking for help. The communication between your employees and your customers has a profound impact on the customer experience and how customers perceive your organization in general. Customer service employees should make these human moments matter. To enable your employees to do so, make sure to:
- Support and invest in the soft skills of your employees;
- Determine the right team structure to address customer inquiries;
- Remove any hurdles your employees might encounter when executing their job and support them with the appropriate equipment.
Forecasting, planning & workforce management
Forecasting and planning are indispensable for the smooth organization of customer service teams, regardless of their size. It enables a company to staff accordingly and to provide the right set of customer service employees in order to meet the customers’ wishes and organizational goals. Take into consideration all elements that can influence forecasting and planning. With the current technological evolutions, analyze the current workflow of your customer service employees and determine which of those tasks are slightly or highly value-adding. Seek opportunities to automate low value-adding interactions to optimize staffing.
Routing, process & channels
Customers can reach out and interact with companies via a wide range of communication channels. Traditional channels are complemented by new possibilities, made possible by digital evolutions. Companies should embrace an omnichannel transformation in which different channels are used depending on the different touchpoints in the customer journey. The choice of channels, routing and underlying processes is influenced by different elements. Use your customer service strategy and customer insights as a basis to define your channel strategy. Implement the channel strategy gradually to ensure a consistent customer experience.
Technology, systems & infrastructure
Recently, a lot of technology terms are popping up, claiming to be able to replace humans and take over customer service completely. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most frequently mentioned. However, the complete disappearance of human interaction in customer service would be hasty and unrealistic. Artificial intelligence and employees must work together in order to improve activities in customer service, the efficiency of the customer service representatives and customer service excellence in general. To integrate AI in your customer service, identify which problems or difficulties you encounter today in interaction handling and analyze which solution(s) can help you in addressing these.
Quality management & reporting
As digitization is transforming customer service, coaching of customer service employees is becoming increasingly important. Analyze the time that team leads/coaches currently spend on coaching. Eliminate or reorient certain tasks to increase time spent on coaching and provide coaches with the adequate training to improve the quality of coaching. Formulate clear objectives, create a feedback loop and follow up on defined actions. Performance, feedback and improvement opportunities must be tracked and can be visualized via digital boards.
What’s in it for you? The ROI of your investments in customer service optimization.
- Actionable insights: KPIs are defined, mock-ups for (real-time) dashboards are created and the suitable number of employees is calculated to reach your desired service levels.
- Fast implementation: Obtaining a fast implementation implies realizing quick wins and eliminating unnecessary actions. Implementing other opportunities besides quick wins runs smoothly and simply since actions, responsibilities and milestones are crosschecked with the employees involved and clearly defined in the implementation plan.
- Think beyond cost savings: Customer service projects create value in areas such as customer service quality, knowledge management, processes, division of roles and responsibilities, adequate tooling and employee satisfaction.