The staff in contact with the customer takes an ambassador role for your organization and represents – to his eyes – the service quality of your business as a whole. The customer is the judge, and his judgment can sometimes be merciless. In order to stand out, organizations must constantly reinvent themselves and innovate – restlessly. The traditional advantages (characteristics, functions, costs) no longer suffice in providing a durable distinctive advantage. This is why more and more businesses aim for quality of service to distinguish themselves. Customer service becomes an element of differentiation for the organization. A customer service-centered staff is an essential element in managing a successful business.
But building a service-centered business is no easy feat.
Quality of Service : The Management’s Challenges
The Management faces numerous challenges when implementing a customer service improvement process. Some of the most common difficulties are:
- working in an environment in constant change
- getting trapped in between the customers’ demands and the organization’s expectations
- helping and motivating the personnel to provide quality customer service, day after day
Businesses based on customer service must worry about the customer, make sure he has an enjoyable experience, as well as improve his satisfaction level. Your team must make your customers feel welcome within your business, and not like a necessary evil they would rather avoid. But the frontline personnel must juggle with more and more demands, requests and expectations, and sometimes this pressure and tension can be felt (and suffered!) by your customers. Therefore, the Management must also worry about the personnel, as happy staff makes happy customers.
The customer relationship is precisely that – a relationship. What’s really important is how people (customers, staff, Management) feel following each exchange. When we establish a service-based culture which puts people at the forefront, we must create lasting relationships by developing experts in customer relations – capable of providing, day in day out, outstanding customer care.
The question we must ask is: “How can we create a service-centered organizational culture?”
Customer service is a culture, a philosophy. It is not a department, nor a program, nor is it a policy. In order to benefit from a satisfied customer base, we must put in place a global improvement process across the business as a whole. To facilitate its implementation and progression, let’s have a look at the steps to be taken towards this philosophy.
Step-by-Step Guide of a Customer Service Initiative
Each organization must adapt its plan to fit its own needs. But above all, it must satisfy the needs of ITS OWN customers. There is no “specification” for an efficient customer service plan. Each will have its differences. However, there are a few common steps which you should take into consideration when elaborating yours.
- Evaluate your SQ (Service Quotient)
- Diagnose where your organization stands and the importance it gives to customer satisfaction.
- Determine the stakes which characterize your market and environment.
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses, and the discrepancies towards a service-centered culture.
- Create your customer vision
- Validate support and adhesion by upper management, and by every level of the organization of the importance they give to customer refocusing.
- Elaborate the mission, values and vision of your organization.
- Measure customer satisfaction
- Know customer needs.
- Understand customer expectations.
- Determine to what extent the customers are satisfied and the margin between needs and expectations of the customers and the services offered.
- Establish your service strategy
- Provide the organization with a pro-customer policy.
- Set service standards.
- Introduce performance indicators.
- Build an infrastructure which supports your service strategy
- Optimize the business’ processes.
- Communicate your vision and your strategy.
- Educate your organization.
- Implement your action plan
- Evaluate and measure the progress
If wisely used, this process will help you put your business in better touch with its customer base and develop a service-based culture. Good luck and keep in mind that customer service is above all a philosophy!