Setting the base for Customer Satisfaction.
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
● 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.