Designing a Customer Service Strategy

randy-fath-G1yhU1Ej-9A-unsplash.jpgA customer service strategy is your roadmap describing how your organization or business will provide excellent service to your customers. While this strategy will be largely driven by your customer service team, it requires company-wide support and adoption.

Here we go.

1. Set a compelling vision

I’ll begin with a vision, which captures the future I have in mind for the customer service team or the organization. Bear in mind that this may not be the organizational vision, but a goal for its service quality.

What do I want the experience of clients to be? What reputation do I expect the company to attain to? What have I set out to achieve for the customer service team? These can be captured in the vision.

A generic vision that I work with is this:

“Creating memorable experiences leading to client retention”

And this would be relevant for every business regardless of the industry.

This picture would drive the activities of the service team, and hopefully inspire the entire organization.

2. Get the right people on board

You need the right people to help you achieve excellent service. I discussed in an earlier post some attributes of a customer service representative. And this is important because not everyone is suited for customer service, and when you have the wrong people you hurt your business even more.

So, select the right team and you stand a better chance of creating those experiences for your customers.

3. Invest in training

Perhaps you are wondering why you should invest in training having selected the right people. Well, training is to develop potential, to fan into flame what is already present, to refine and nurture what already exists. Training will not change the personality – it only shapes it.

Give your team a solid grounding in the practice of customer service. Lay a foundation with a course in service philosophy. Ensure they understand the principles of good communication. Discuss the need for empathy. Demonstrate the need for proper listening. Establish how to do service recovery.

Aside from training in customer service elements, equip them with a thorough knowledge of your products, services, processes and policies. They must understand what your business or company stands for – your vision, mission, and objectives. These are representatives of your brand and your organization; they are your image bearers to customers, prospects and the wider world. They must be able to represent you accurately.

4. Set service objectives

Once you have your clear vision, identify the objectives you need to focus on. The objectives will guide every interaction with customers. While your vision describes what you want to become or achieve, the objectives describe how.

For instance, you could have the following as objectives:

A. Promptness in responding to every enquiry or complaint
B. Maintaining multiple channels of interaction with customers (call, email, chat, social, etc) to ease access
C. Demonstrating warmth and the human touch in every interaction
D. Ensuring that every representative is knowledgeable about the business and its products

Remember that the vision is to create memorable ‘experiences’ leading to client retention.

5. Define service standards

You have your general objectives. Good. Now set definite parameters by which you will measure your performance. These are your service standards.

A. We will respond to emails within 15 minutes
B. We will answer our phones within three rings
C. Every call or email or chat will demonstrate courtesy, care and professionalism
D. We will strive to provide first-call resolution; you won’t have to make multiple calls to get your challenges resolved
E. For every call or chat, we will provide 100% satisfaction
F. When you interact with us in person, we will give you our full attention

6. Get feedback constantly

It is crucial to know what your clients think about your service. And their impression can change over periods of time. So you need to seek feedback constantly.

Employ different channels. Get it via calls, emails, phyiscal forms, and via one on one discussions. And don’t wait to do this quarterly; get it as often as possible.

You want to eliminate the possibility of a dissatisfied customer. A good way to avoid this is by constantly asking what you can do better.

7. Reward often, correct quickly

You have the right people. They have been trained. Objectives and standards are clear. What next?

Constantly reward good performance. This should be a combination of monetary and non-financial benefits. How about a little mid-year or year-end bonus? An instant praise by the supervisor or manager for courteous service will go a long way. Recognise good service at staff meetings; don’t wait till the annual end-of-year party. Give a signed letter of commendation from the CEO. When you reward good performance, you get more if it.

How about when the representative falls short, take action immediately. It could be a chat, coaching, or specific training that is required. Or is it a case of indiscipline or negligence? Would a warning suffice? Must the representative be suspended? Whatever the case, don’t ignore poor performance. Always give it the prompt attention it deserves.

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