Friday, November 25, 2011

Take the 'easy route'

Matt Dixon and Lauren Pragoff in their HBR article ‘Call Center Confidential: The Underbelly of Customer Centricity’ remind us of the following 3 statements you always hear when you call into a Contact Center


·         "This call is being recorded for quality and training purposes" 
·         "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
·         "How satisfied are you with the service you received today?"
When you hear them, these phrases are good warning signs that you're dealing with an organization more focused on internal priorities than on what customers actually care about.      
The true problem here is that these questions help in determining certain metrics which are religiously churned up but never converted into anything concrete.  Companies concentrate way too much on numbers which are really internal measures and not looking at specific customer needs which begs the question – ‘Are you reducing effort and making interactions easy for your customer?’
Companies obsess over metrics such as post call CSATs, quality assurance ratings and call closure. They have people working on just improving these stats but rarely is anyone working on making that conversation, which generates these stats, easier for the customer. Efforts need to start shifting to reducing customer effort. A customer should admire a company for quick response and resolution time as it is surely, what they want.
There is an urgent need for top management to start looking at metrics that indicate ‘ease of use’, ‘lack of effort’ and the like. They need to realize that customer centricity can be about metrics such as reducing customer effort and that driving these numbers up can also considerably improve service delivery.

So can customer service leaders begin to usher in an era where ‘Ease of Use’ becomes the defining metric?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oshawa's Customer Service Strategy

We as consumers are tuned to demand good customer service from product vendors we deal with. Yet never seem to expect the same from our government and municipal bodies. We resign with an attitude that ‘this can never change’. This sentiment holds true across the world. We always seem to expect a lower standard from our government bodies. When we go to pay our utilities bill or enquire or complain, the response is far from satisfactory. Generally, having several contact points or multiple locations offering government service may cause a barrier to efficient service delivery for citizens.  As a result, service delivery strategies that worked in the past need to evolve to reflect changes in attitudes and expectations of customers. So why aren’t we demanding better service? And more importantly are our elected bodies looking for solutions?

The city of Oshawa in Canada is an exemplary example of a city that made customer service a priority. The city hired RBosch Consulting to execute this impressive plan. A study was initiated through interviews with the Mayor, city councilors and a Working Committee instituted for this purpose. Using data from these interviews, RBosch designed a set of guiding principles which define Oshawa’s customer service. They identified opportunities for service improvements and finally delivered a roadmap for them. Goals were drawn up which would be assessed time to time and a plan for a Contact Center implementation was also put into place to enable a centralized service delivery mechanism.

Many elements came together for the city of Oshawa to get it right. The critical success factors for this ambitious project were:
  • Senior Management and Political Support
  • Adequate Resources
  • Staff Buy in and Communication
  • Clear Vision
  • Enabling Technology
The above points are important for any customer service strategy implementation irrespective of the scale and scope of the project. This initiative by the city of Oshawa isn’t unique because it is a city municipal body realizing the importance of good customer service, it is because when expectations are low on that parameter, they still went ahead and executed a strategy that can only improve customer satisfaction and goodwill in the long run. That is true vision, something many service and product vendors need to learn.

So why is customer service not as important a priority for companies jostling for market share and mind share today?