What customers want?

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In today’s world the expectation of customers can be categorised into many segments but it is simple the customers want……..SERVICE QUALITY and transparency of knowing that the organization will go the extra mile to deliver the same.However this simple demand has the organizations reeling into hysteria.Is service so difficult to provide to the simple demand of our ever evolving customers..thats right as the customers evolve so should the method, approach, strategy of providing services.

Big organizations like Motorola, GE have evolved overtime and so have many other Indian and International organizations and mind you there is no single way or MANTRA to meet the demands of the customer.They vary from organization to organization depending on the company blueprint.

In my blog I would be concentrating on SERVICE industry-evaluating , listing , enabling friends, acquintances and strangers in my circle of influence to cope up with this pressure by concentrating on whats important and critical in this multi dynamic environment.

In Service Industry and business world everyone is aspiring for providing the best in class of customer service to their customers. But how do we achieve this excellence? A question which has continued to intrigue the minds in the customer service world; this blog is an attempt to look at opportunities within your reach and are easily achievable. While everyone is trying the inside out approach its important now to start having an outside in approach i.e. viewing the capability of producing the right service, product at the right cost and adopting the right method basis customer’s requirements thus fundamentally improving the bottom line. In order to achieve this balance it’s important to look at all the available means, experience,IT framework, processes and tools qualitative and quantitative at one’s disposal.

In a rush to make the stakeholders and internal customers happy we forget the most important link to the core achievement is the customer and his/her perspective. The annualized costs of any organization are determined basis what can be achieved basis past performance and not basis “what does my customer want today”. Whilst some organizations might dangle between both of these ideologies some might determine cost basis past performance in an attempt to achieve the future customer requirements thus leading to diminished bottom line and poor IT infrastructure. This incidentally is like a black spider web which one cannot come out of as it’s a web of casted spell!

Diminishing margins lead to immense cost reduction which invariably impacts business and customer experience. While the pressure for providing exemplary customer experience is on from all quarters the organizations are fighting to meet the ends by eliminating workforce, making changes in the process/applications without prior testing the outcome, unjudicial hiring, …a remedial measure? Short term solutions..A difficult question to answer since everyone is aware of the side effects of such decisions but what the heck atleast the comp.any balance sheet looks good for a while. And then there are experts in the organization who would justify this course of action! Right? This short term measure might keep atleast some of our customers happy.

However I would take your attention back to the real problem…Customer Satisfaction! While doing what looks and sounds justified are we not compromising on the simple demand of the customer…since all short cuts have an impact and the biggest on our POOR CUSTOMER who is paying us for his/her services.

As I mentioned all our available means and methods should be tied back into understanding what my customer wants and we will first focus on our internal measures but looking outward at the requirements of the customer.In my next couple of blogs I will be writing about Quality Assurance..Keep in touch!

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Managing in a multi-dimensional environment

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Recently in an interesting discussion with a colleague on managing expectations  in a multi-dimensional, layered, stakeholder, location environment ,the most important aspects that came to the fore were:-

Documentation of processes and policies-Processes are optimized when best practices are documented.They do not become person-dependent – any new employee knows how to do the work when responsibility and accountability is clearly assigned.Written changes in procedures and policies reduce ambiguity and increase change control in the environment.Better understanding of processes ensures compliance in service delivery.

Proactive approach to events and incidents-Its very important to have a proactive approach to subsequent event or incidents which has the potential of blowing up in your face.How does one develop a sixth sense to track these damages before it reaches the management, client or customer? To begin with one does need to know the business very well to get the sixth sense in order to evaluate or analyse a particular situation or multiple situations. A particular day needs your attention on multiple levels/layers ,there are certain situations that are common to business while some are special.In order to assess and address daily common situations/causes its very important to start your day by studying the current and historical trends of your line of business and business overall.Appraising oneself  with daily report updates is as critical as serious business acumen sized up with a garnered sixth sense. While all special causes/ situations and actions deployed to handle them should be documented for future references.

It’s particularly important  to proactively monitor both the objective statistical performance and the customers’ subjective perception of service quality. This monitoring is vital because one can only improve what you measure. So service metrics—especially when used in conjunction with service level agreements (SLAs) and/or other benchmarks—are essential for achieving quality and productivity gains.

Additionally,there are proactive monitoring tools which assist in gathering real-time and historical information, identifying patterns of interest, and distributing notifications to individuals, groups, dashboards, or other systems so that issues can be resolved quickly.Over a period of time this will not only build trust in your stakeholders but also a strong belief that they can entrust your organization with more work.

Transparency in contracts and communication-Every SLA is made up of certain, key components. It may vary depending on the company or specific SLA but there are some basics that you should consider for each individual Service Level Agreement.

  • Exact Service(s) Being Provided: This helps eliminate any potential communication mishaps or confusion from the beginning.  If you list the exact services you will be providing with no loopholes, the customer will not expect more than you are going to give them per the SLA.
  • Responsibilities of Both Parties (supplier & customer): Let the customer know what they should expect from you and what you expect from them.  This goes along with the first component but each party needs to communicate effectively from the beginning of their business relationship so no one feels like they’ve been taken advantage of.
  • Timetable for Delivery:  SLA’s will give customers a timetable to let them know how long it will take the service provider to get back with them via phone call, email- whatever your agreed upon method is. For example: “If you submit a help-desk ticket, we will call you no later than 2 business days after it is received”.
  • How Disputes Are Handled: This lets the customer know what your procedure is for any disagreement and how exactly you will approach it. Even if your procedure will vary depending on the dispute, putting a section in your SLA overviewing how disputes are handled, it gives the customer peace of mind.
  • Payment Terms:  Like an apartment lease contract; they let you know when you’re expected to pay and if you don’t pay by that time, what the repercussions will be, the same goes for a SLA

A two-way communication is more helpful in building an environment of continuous improvement, trust and partnership then one way communication. In my experience I have often seen one way communication becoming harbors of distrust and dichotomy. It only instills  a behaviour which is reluctant to change and obey and no-one wants rebels in today’s work environment.Communicating and listening is a behaviour which one unlearns to learn.

Instilling a Win-Win approach-I had attended a workshop on 7 habits of highly effective people very early in my career. Then the approach seemed very easy to understand and follow.But as days and years passed practising this approach in reality was as difficult as taming a bull! It doesn’t come easy.

As rightly said by Stephen Covey- Many people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that–to achieve that balance between courage and consideration–is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.

It’s very critical to place a maturer and rational leader to co-operate in such an environment.A leader with superficial mature outlook comes to the notice of everyone sooner or later and then lets not forget WYGIWYG( saw it somewhere and found it very catchy and apt) this means What you give is what you get 🙂

Developing a co-model of partnership and co-operation-Why do we need partnering and co-operation in multi dynamic environment that’s because the number of people deployed to manage strategic relationships, partnerships,accounts are limited and even if one would wish for a 48 hour day that will never happen and then there are costs,expectations,reputation involved.Thus, to ensure that maximum is achieved in limited hours ,with maximum output, the energies should be diverted towards building cohesive and conclusive relationships that leads to successful ventures.All of you would agree that this thought and gesture does gets lost somewhere along the way.In our attempt to achieve customer satisfaction and perfection we forget that this is the foundation for faster and quicker results. My suggestion for any 2 organizations entering into a partnership would be to always place two people of equal maturity and  knowledge alongside for higher productivity and better results.

Best Practices,Innovation and Re-engineering-To survive in the multi-client and location environment it’s very critical to build teams and groups which harness the energies of individuals working in silos all over the organization.Timely Recognition for best practise replication,innovation and re-engineering is very important to build up the morale of the employees and create a environment of constant evolvement.Hiring /training of SMEs to drive this excellence will definitely give an extra edge to business.

References:

http://www.phaseware.com/phaseware-Successful-CXO-Committed-to-Customer-Service/bid/76895/5-Key-Components-to-Your-SLA

Customer Retention-A necessary evil?

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Why do we need to retain our customers and when is the right time to initiate retention? Most of the times retention activity kickstart when an organization starts observing high percentage of customers moving over to competition or faces periods of extremely poor VOC. Do we need to wait for the inevitable to happen? This will eventually happen in any business cycle when organizations miss out on golden opportunities to:

1) Deliver services as per the TAT/promise made to the customers.

2) Provide shorter turnaround time for customer requests and priority revert for resolving complaints.

3) Use VOC for improving services, setting priorities for customers, employees and business overall.

4) Assess  and address gaps in processes, services, products leading to customer dissatisfaction.

5) Analyze reasons for customer dissatisfaction leading to neutral-poor survey results. 

6) Benchmark internally and externally to remain on top of customer experience score movement and how competition is treating its customers for similar products, services.

7) Tune in marketing and organization strategies with customer wants and requirements.

8) Proactively inform customers of any anomaly in business and ensuring timely compensation in case of any network, service and product outage.

9) Celebrate customer loyalty by inviting and felicitating customers at scheduled customer meet forums.

10) Know the customers better by implementing  KYC and personalizing customers interactions to make them feel special.

11) Provide requisite empowerment to customer service and retention teams across the organization.

12) Invest in applications which support real-time customer feedback and generates analysis.

13) Plan combination of  packs/product/service depending on the customer segment, share of wallet and predictive behaviour modelling.

14) Learn from historical retention and churn patterns.

The tactic should be to acquire-strengthen-retain.

While these might happen in intent the real value of these activities can only and only be extracted when it’s implemented in its “TRUE SENSE”. A lot of these activities get lost in the bureaucratic folds of the organization and that what needs to be completely avoided. These are “CAN DO” critical activities, if these are being avoided and the organization aims for bigger one shot kill for retaining customers,chances are that the customers might question the authenticity of such an approach.Some of them might get retained but not for a very long time. Thus, retention is a continuous activity and cannot be and should not be treated as a one time/once in a while activity.

A lot of organizations have recognized this aspect and created verticals for managing retention but if this vertical does not have the autonomy to co-exist and operate among other departments and verticals then there is nothing very significant coming out of this so-called privileged non empowered group especially when a lot of retention activity has to be proactive. Thus, the group would require to act immediately before the retention moves from a proactive to a reactive mode and that nowadays does not take very long..thanks to social media and massive availability of competitively priced products and services !

To avert the above mentioned scenarios it is imperative to receive immediate alerts of dissatisfied customers:

This will prevent market damage, provide service recovery opportunities damage,provide service recovery opportunities,detect process and services which are flawed.

And now for some statistics:

4% of the dissatisfied customers complain, 91% of the customers will not do business with you,80% will tell 10 people and 20% will tell 20+ more and so on and so forth thus leading to poor VOC.

It can cost 5 times more to buy new customers than retain existing ones.Reducing customer complaints can boost profit by 25% to 85%.

Whats important is to understand the reasons for voluntary and involuntary churn on a regular basis.Accurate reasons for customer discontent or moment of truth can aptly be recorded via instant surveys (Email, SMS ,OBD, IVR) or regular transaction monitoring.A deep dive or 5 why analysis is important to understand the actual cause of discontent and deploy the right retention tool.Organizations could also deploy churn management solutions to study and analyze reasons for customer churn basis change in variables such as usage pattern, time spent with the organization, revenue generated by the customer.

Typical churn reasons could be  due to unsatisfactory customer service leading to repeat calls for –

a) Getting the right solution for the query, request or complaint of the customer and on time resolution.

b) Accurate product or service related information.

Some softer issues could be related to rude behaviour,the way the customer is heard and responded to ,in appropriate answers, inadequate system knowledge,actual problem not captured thus leading to inappropriate resolution of customer issue, non assurance of resolving customer issues, conveying the right communication in times of system errors etc.

While these are some of the issues which might lead to customer churn due to inefficient and ineffective customer service but the root causes run deep.In order to rectify these issues its important to engage the staff in:-

1) Trainings across hierarchy on systems, products, services and processes.Everyone should be trained to have the same understanding across the board. 

2) Empowerment to assist the customer better at all the right layers.

Customer service should be practised from top to bottom management, from backend to front end and from acquisition to retention.The complete customer  life cycle should be customer oriented.

Management processes should be build in such a manner to lead to more favorable outcomes, systems should be integrated and simpler interface should be made available to the customer service staff for speed and efficiency.Policies should be established to improve staff responsiveness to customer needs.

Setting the base for Customer Satisfaction.

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Different organizations have different strategies to achieve excellence for providing services. Customer Satisfaction has many facets and many bases to cover to give that ultimate experience to the customers and thus many view points.However, there are some basics which should be in place before and after deploying any strategy to work successfully to achieve satisfaction.

In my earlier blogs I wrote about cultural excellence, customer centricity, establishing balance between authority and responsibility, understanding what customer wants.These all assist in creating the right kind of environment congenial for providing service excellence to our customers.

Once the environment, culture and team are established then we start focusing on the core ingredients which culminate into means of providing services , these further move into the cycle of continuous process improvements which help in keeping the customer retained and happy in a long-term association.

What are these Core Ingredients:-

1) Reviewing internal processes and technology platform:-before embarking on this journey it’s very important to review internal processes and map them to current work environment and future requirements.All gaps should be addressed, clarification sought and given, changes incorporated, document version updated and closed with interdepartmental teams for seamless implementation, thereafter.Any necessary technology updates should be reviewed keeping the vision , strategy and customer VOC into perspective.

2) Data collation and analysis:-Simultaneously with the above activity, data collation and analysis should be initiated. Post data collation and analysis one should consider the top 10-20% areas impacting the performance and leading to poor VOC. This could be looked at for different segments provided the company has invested in segmentation of their customer base and if not then this could be the right time for a consolidated activity to:

a) Identify customers basis the available information:-Any information that helps in knowing the customer better should be updated in the systems such as salutations, age, gender, date of birth,identification proof, occupation,any service specifications.Mostly the basic information should be updated on priority and then KYC implemented for a more customized approach.While the basic customer data would be available either in an integrated system or in bits and pieces, in case of no integration, where it would be important to have parity and authenticity of information on applications being used by sale representatives, documentation agencies, field force and frontline.

b) Identify the customer segments basis their spend and longivity:-At its simplest level, a segmentation may be based on service usage.  Some segmentations are based on demographic or attitudinal characteristics, or a
combination of both. Exploratory qualitative research can also be used to tease out how different customers use a service.

c) Developing employee view of service priorities:- by conducting open forums with the frontline to understand their perspective of customer behaviour. In order to make the life of frontline easy a VOC module could be introduced within the CRM software to capture information regarding customer problems, difficult service situations and sources to customer anxiety by the front line.

3) Developing customer view of service priorities:-The customer view of priorities could be captured through focus groups,one on one interviews, these not only provide a realistic view of customers perception of the company but also highlights its strengths and weaknesses.The other way of capturing customer priorities would be through customer satisfaction form which evaluates customers overall experience with frontline, showrooms, products and processes, overall satisfaction and loyalty with the organization.Some recent methods of capturing information would be through IVR or email, instant customer surveys through sms or  capturing VOC through social media.Research carried out in the UK organisations suggests that there are five themes that are likely to be relevant to all organisations:
● Delivery of the service (how problems were handled, reliability, outcome etc)
● Timeliness (waiting times, number of times contacted)
● Information (accuracy, enough information, kept informed)
● Professionalism (competent staff, fair treatment)
● Staff attitude (friendly, polite, sympathetic)

These could vary basis priority and importance set by the organization.

Once the information has been collated from VOC modules and survey the data will need to be interpreted to provide actionable insights for the organisation. Finally, the results will need to be communicated across the organisation in such a way that the findings are taken on board and action taken as a result. For many organisations this process will form a continuous cycle of improvement.

The results should be customized while sharing with the target audience. The senior management would be keen to know about key findings such as how does the customer perceive the performance of the company, information that would help the management decide on targets for transformations. While the middle management and frontline would be able to build operational actionable and engage in trainings with the help of in-depth findings on each and every parameter impacting the customer service function.

4) Benchmarking internally and externally for continuous improvement:-One question that often gets asked, however, is “x% of customers say they are
satisfied with the service, but is this good or bad?”Benchmarking against other sources can help to answer this question. There are two possible ways to
do this:
● Comparing over time with previous surveys about the same service
● Comparing with other surveys about other similar services.

With all these activities being run parallelly its important to check the impact and the implementation status on the services being delivered to the customers. Customer Satisfaction Surveys and benchmarking activities are not conducted everyday but are scheduled activities .Thus meanwhile, its important to keep the leadership informed via:

1) Regular call listening by the management team or mystery shopping.

2) In house Quality audit and process compliance routine:-This will enable the management to track any deviations at the frontline through regular audit check and process audits at various levels i.e. people, technology and process compliance on new, revised processes, upgraded technology platforms, ease of usage by frontline in adopting to new processes, technology and assessing customer behaviour through them.

3) Internal audits should be a mirror image of the external surveys:- This enablement is not as easy as it sounds, as this would involve creating a very highly focussed customer oriented team which can think exactly like the customer.This will not only involve highly evolved training sessions which enables the frontline or any customer facing group or technology team responsible for creating frontline applications to think like a customer but also to gain thorough knowledge about products and processes with all its strengths and weaknesses. Once any organization is able to achieve this feat the data that will be captured through VOC module will be highly authentic and could be used by marketing, IT, customer service or senior management without filtration. The audits conducted will then be close enough to give us a surrogate customer satisfaction score giving time and scope for improvement, if required.

4) Comparing between customer spend “then” and “now”-The organization has invested in setting up or improving customer satisfaction strategies, upgrading technology platforms, revisiting training, customer service, backoffice and enabling frontline. While it is  reviewing the change in customer satisfaction levels its important to check any comparable improvement in the spend by the customers. A considerable time should be allocated in understanding what segments of customers are showing a higher allegiance to the brand post the changes were implemented and towards which products or services.This will also provide another view and that of retention in case certain segments of customer refuse to accept  or are unhappy with the change.

Sometimes the then implemented solutions might not work now. In such scenarios the next step is to go right back to the start, review where you are now, and start a new cycle of research to assess the success of your interventions.

Authority or Responsibility..Way to Success?

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The most complex yet undeniably important inter-relationship between authority and responsibility, paves the way to success if and only if the relationship can be understood and used to create a harmonious and rewarding environment.

Lets look at the definition first:-

au·thor·i·ty n

  1. the right or power to enforce rules or give orders
  2. somebody or something with official power
  3. power to act on behalf of somebody else or official permission to do something
  4. somebody who is accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject, or a book in which such information is given

re·spon·si·bil·i·ty n

  1. the state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or for something
  2. the blame for something that has happened
  3. somebody or something for which a person or organization is responsible>authority to make decisions independently

As seen in most of the cases any authoritative position comes with responsibility. Responsibility to authorize, delegate, monitor and be responsible for the end results. So the job does not end if you have passed on your responsibility to your team/team member, infact it becomes all the more critical and takes up your ownership towards the task a few notches up.

To understand this better I have categorized individuals with Authority:-

1) Individuals who pass on the authority and forget.

2) Individuals who pass on the authority and keep a hawk’s eye on the task delegated.

3) Individuals who do not pass on any authority but believe in working themselves to complete the task.

Who do you think will be most successful.There might be different opinions as in all the three categories the situation might differ and so would the leadership style.

Lets try and evaluate some situations which have led to the above categorization:

 In the first category the person in authority has delegated and forgotten because:

1) (S)He is basically forgetful.But will remember after a month that there was a task which was delegated and starts inquiring when at that point some other task might be more critical.

2) Has too many tasks on hand and less time to attend to all the open tasks thus these are delegated and forgotten. This usually happens when there is an overlap of responsibilities or less people compared to org. structure.

3) Has a very mature team and (S)he knows that the task wll be completed without any reminders.

In the second category:

1) Absolutely distrusts his team; does not value their involvemnt , knowledge or experience levels.

2) Has a team which requres constant follow up..Its either new or there are fitment issues.

3) Does not have the right knowledge for the job thus constant intervention not only allows him(her) to understand the task better but also present the completed task in front of the management.

In the third category:

1) Believes in his work more than his team’s.This could be because of inexperience, fitment issues or (S)he is a control freak.

2) Does not want to share information with the team fearing better accomplishment by the team/team member.

3) Knows that passing on the authority could add on to the workload so the shortcut is to finish the task on his/her own.

What is the best way to find the right balance between authority and responsibility:

It is important to pass on the authority but its also important to adequately empower the team to handle those tasks by way of:-

1) Training and bridging the gaps in the improvement areas so that the team is able to participate in your success to make way for themselves eventually.

2) Paving the path by the co-ordinating and collaborating with interdepartmental teams for seamless work co-ordination and closure by your team members

3) By creating an environment of mutual trust and respect within the team.

4) Building team passion and maturer outlook by inculcating team work so that if you succeed the team should know that they benefit from your success too.

Some words of caution do not expect the job to be completed without authority as this will not only hamper your performance evals but will also seep in layers of demotivation within your team/team members.

Rest as one says KEEP ROCKING!!

Building Cultural Excellence

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In my experience as an Operation and Quality head I realized that there always was a gap between the vision and understanding of Cultural Excellence. The management agenda and vision digressed and disintegrated by the time it reached the middle management layers.Why was it so? Lets try to understand the reasons for such dichotomy:-

Where did the middle management layers miss BIG opportunities:-

1) Transparency within their teams,

2) To give full autonomy for any task.

3) Believe in the credibility of actions of one’s team.

4) Give space for innovation and best practices.

5) Share knowledge and information for the benefit of the team.

6) Try and build a stress free environment.

7) Listen to new ideas and give way for implementation.

8) Keep the lines of communication open

9)  Build a congenial environment which is open, responsible and felicitates proactiveness.

10) Collaborate and communicate with inter-departmental teams for higher and better efficiencies.

11) Closeloop what has been promised to be delivered and be responsible for your actions.

12) Seek solutions to problems, rather than ways to lay blame.

13) Eliminate gossip and complaining.

Now all these factors could or not be present  in the thinking and actions of the responsible layers..But even ONE factor can have a negative impact.Alas, the vision of the management though present at the top has not trickled down appropriately.It is key that senior management be an integral part of the process, and that — from the CEO to the clerk — all employees are engaged.Its important to understand that just creating a vision will not be enough thus its criticalto demonstrate vision practically and visually not once but ALL the time by the top management. The organization on the whole should participate in such events where they get to see examples being set and felicitated. A vision is a thought but to give this a practical shape requires focus, determination and conviction.

A Concentrated effort to build prioritized focus areas is a great step towards achieving excellence and getting attention for eg: FOCUS AREA 1-Developing positive and productive relationships, FOCUS AREA 2-Communicating and Collaborating efficiently and effectively. These should be explained well by further breaking up the focus area into groups and sub groups in short and concise manner  for better and clear understanding at all layers.

Practices that Foster a Culture of Excellence.
Specific practices may seem mundane after lofty discussions of the culture of excellence you are creating. Nevertheless, it is often in“the little things” that great shifts are effected. Ultimately the practices that make a lasting difference in the culture of an organization fall into three categories:
1. Those that generate alignment,partnership and a powerful place to stand,
2. Those that foster effective communication, and
3. Those that maintain an environment of experimentation, creation and
invention. 

A final note:-

Throughout this process its important to imbibe and foster the vision as this would act as THE ingredient to SUCCESS! All circumstances should be seized as opportunities for learning.To keep oneself motivated be sure to capture the changes in the environment that positively impacts productivity and effectiveness and makes your organization different from others.

So don’t forget that you are not just working but INVENTING , STAYING ENGAGED and BEING ALIVE  in a Culture of Excellence.

Understanding Operational Efficiency

Improving Operational efficiencies improves profitability but also customer satisfaction.The trick is to balance between profitability and customer satisfaction.These two are often seen as disparate aspects of business solutioning…rather than 2 sides of the same coin.

Before I proceed there are some critical definitions one should be clear about:

1) Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness  –

Efficiency – “A measure of whether the right amount of resources have been used to deliver a process, service or activity. An efficient process achieves its objectives with the minimum amount of time, money, people or other resources.”

Effectiveness – “A measure of whether the objectives of a process, service or activity have been achieved. An effective process or activity is one that achieves its agreed objectives.”

So using these definitions in order to be efficient we must also be effective.

A common practise to achieve operational efficiency is by reducing the costs of delivering service,this could be applicable in any business environment i.e. B2B or B2C. Though this could have an immediate negative impact to an extent of going out of business as  the customer realizes the drop in services and moves on to competition, publicizing across known social media leading to poor VOC.

Most organizations have a knee jerk reaction.This also happens when timely action is not taken to correct recognized and acknowledged issues.Typically in a  service industry the operational issues could arise due to 

– Inappropriately designed contractual agreement,

-Hasty resource hiring due to high attrition or mismatch of demand vs supply,

-Short cuts in training due to high inflow of manpower and sudden increase of volume /new business opportunities,

-Ineffectively designed  training modules impacting Operational KPIs and eventually Customer Satisfaction.

With all or some of these prevailing travesties the most common action to reduce cost are:

-Permanent Headcount Removal

-Travel ban,cancellation of bonuses or postponement of promotions

-Loss of key headcount resulting in stretching of existing resources

-Reduction in motivation and thus productivity impacting service quality leading to loss of customers and revenue.

This forms a cyclic pattern usually taking place between six to nine months. Very often all such issues can be resolved by  focussing on tools and people, redesigning processes and making them clear & repeatable , investing in automation and overall improvement in Service Quality.

 The key of providing the right kind of Quality at optimal cost is:

-Using the available resources and tools efficiently to deliver cost effective service in the best possible manner.

-Pick up the top call drivers and products driving maximum revenue to improvise efficiencies rather than lower value products.

-Management buy-in to strike a balance between cost and quality, thus building a culture of driving efficiencies.

– Promoting a realistic thought process that prevails across all lines of businesses i.e. cutting cost will not lead to efficiencies.

-Standardization and implementation of processes which are baselined across competition so that best practises can be replicated.

-Improvement should be planned not only be at strategic but also at tactical levels.

-Considerable Improvements can be attained at operating core levels by bridging gaps in AHT,Forecasting,Shrinkage,Attrition, revisiting support spans.

  -Timely testing of products and services and launching them for the right customer base also giving the partner teams appropriate time to plan for resource  hiring and training.

Whats important is to learn from good and bad experiences and appropriately plan realistic targets. Its not important that success is achieved in the first attempt thus any new solutions should go through a documented pilot phase before moving into full fledged implementation stage. All phases of implementation should be subjected to internal governance and regular checks.

The balance between providing services and managing costs is critical to survive in today’s highly competitive world.

Being Customer Centric

customer_centric_approach

Being customer centric has so many facets and all need to fit perfectly like a  rubik cube…Its has trillion permutations for it to look as one similarly in order to achieve co-ordination in any organization for a customer centric approach to evolve and sustain , departmental disengagement and disintegration, has to abstain so that the  right juxtaposition can be achieved  and a true customer centric organization can evolve! The method could be many but the result has to be  BEING -ONE.

BUSINESS-CO-ORDINATION

But how do we get everyone to work together?…Its easier said then done when everyone has a separate agenda driven by their department KPIs , budgetary constraints and even politics! While everyone might agree in principle but is everyone really putting in their bit? The fear of this being reduced to flavor of the month is significant in scenarios where its treated more like a fad than a rigorous drive towards providing the right treatment to the customer.

HOW TO ACHIEVE and SUSTAIN THE DRIVE

We need all hands on deck and that means we need a purposeful agreement not only from Customer excellence team but from Marketing, HR,IT ,Infrastructure and other related departments.The Customer experience team should comprise of individuals from all the departments with the senior leadership team as head of the Steering committee reviewing the performance on regular i.e. weekly/bi-monthly basis.Nothing should compromise the occurance of these review meeting and the core team should be evaluated on the customer experience improvement activities as their primary KPIs.At this juncture its very important to allign departmental KPIs with customer experience. All the internal quality measures/IVR or any kind of outbound , external surveys should be redesigned to measure and capture the actual experience of the customer  throughout the complete customer life cycle.

Not to forget that the leaders should reward anyone and everyone who puts the customer first!

CUSTOMER’s WALLET SHARE

All customers deserve the the right kind of service as per their allegiance and wallet share.Thus its very critical to segment the customer basis the same and provide differentiated services and customized solutions for them. Providing individual solutions can be restricted to the top customer base.

A significant opportunity awaits any organization which delivers what it promises.These opportunities come in the shape of  customer retention and an increased market share and delivery to the customer by way of  incentivizing  them through the loyalty programs.This should be a continuous process of identifying and incentivizing . Thus,Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of easyGroup and founder of easyJet, makes this clear by saying: “You can spend £15m on advertising, go bankrupt and your name can still mean nothing to people. Your brand is created out of customer contact and the experience your customers have of you” .

IMPORTANCE OF SYSTEMATIC TRAINING

There is a lot said about how to achieve customer satisfaction and deliver “the” experience to the customer but do we really need to go through insatiated hours of training or read 100 pages of any manual to instill the culture of being caring, giving ,expressive,having an ability to trust, care and listen when we all are consumers and customers in our own world.All we need is to deliver what we expect to be delivered. Whats important is to grasp the core essentials like how to deliver, identify the right customer, how to analyse the behavioural pattern, spend, likes-dislikes,voice of the customers and priortize.

Its critical that systematic training should be imparted at all customer facing fronts in case of any new product/process launch, changes in technology,customer service vision, brand awareness, upskilling of identified individuals from a perspective of providing consistency in values, service levels and the information/service/assistance provided to the customers.These trainings should not merely be a tick in the box but followed by routine checks and balances.

WHAT DOES BEING CENTRIC ENCOMPASS

Any customer centric solution should be weighted around how customer needs are likely to change over the coming decade; the subsequent impact on the business; and how they could meet these challenges. All these solutions should be multidimensional so as to cover all aspects of business from strategic to tactical and then brand them in such a way as to create excitement and involvement across all lines of businesses.

Checklist for a customer centric organisation:

Map customer journey and lifecycle

· Refine operating model  to enable customer centricity

· Align technologies and processes to support and drive customer engagement

· Engage executives and leaders

· Focus development around target areas and behaviour change

· Integrate disparate business unit cultures

· Transform culture top to bottom

· Measure change using key metrics

· Incorporate customer feedback into processes and behaviours

Till Tomorrow..Wish you great beginings to a great week ahead!!

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