Strategies for deploying customer service excellence at scale
Nadège Grall, Marketing Manager at Renault-Nissan Consulting, uncovers strategies and tactics to deliver customer services excellence across the organisation, at scale.
Often, the very best marketing strategy an enterprise can employ is ensuring that customer service excellence is delivered at every turn.
One poor customer service experience can turn a consumer off a product and the company that produces it – forever. Moreover, they will likely share their thoughts with other consumers (often via public online channels, such as social networks) as well.
One exceptional customer service experience, on the other hand, can turn that same consumer into a lifelong, loyal and vocal brand advocate.
Continuously improving brand loyalty amongst your customer base is of vital importance if your company is to remain competitive and continue to grow. Consumers spend more with the brands that they’re loyal to, and further express their loyalty by recommending those brands to family and friends. What’s more, the majority will remain loyal to the brands they recommend for the long-term – provided, of course, that those same brands continue to deliver customer service excellence.
However, as your organisation expands and employee numbers increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to simply keep track of – let alone ensure – the quality of service that your employees are providing to every customer at each touchpoint.
Thankfully, customer service excellence isn’t just something that happens. Rather, it is something that can be created and developed through company culture, expert training, dedication to continuous improvement processes, and operational change.
There are many strategies that you can deploy to achieve customer service excellence at scale, enabling you to provide an industry-leading, customer-oriented experience very quickly. Let’s consider three that will immediately put you on the right track.
Gain Customer Insight
In order to develop a customer service excellence strategy that puts customers at the heart of your business, it’s imperative that you truly get to know your customers and understand exactly what it is that they expect from you. Many companies often fall into the trap of assuming they know what their customers want, and never take the absolutely necessary step of actually getting out there and asking them.
Real customers are the very best information source available to a company, and they should be your first port of call when identifying what needs to be improved as you begin to form your continuous service improvement strategy.
There are many ways to gather customer intelligence, and companies should put in place methods of garnering feedback from customers – ideally covering both qualitative and quantitative outputs – which can then be measured against at the end of the change project’s cycle.
In the first instance, feedback can be collected using surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups. However, organisations must be careful how they go about this, for there is always the danger of creating surveys and questionnaires that only ask the questions that will highlight their good practices, and therefore reveal nothing about how service and standards can be improved. In addition, survey results can be misleading due to the fact that customers have pre-existing expectations – for example, a budget airline might score highly on a customer survey due to the fact that customers have low expectations, whereas a luxury airline might score lower since those same customers would have higher expectations of it.
Though surveys and such like are valuable if conducted correctly and scientifically, organisations still need a much more reliable way to evaluate the customer experience and glean the insights necessary to implement processes for continuous improvement. And this means actually getting out there and talking to both your customers and your employees – your internal customers – to get the information you need.
This was the strategy employed by one the country’s top building societies a few years ago. The organisation’s top executives took it upon themselves to travel up and down the country to speak directly with their customers and their staff to identify precisely what was important to them, and what needed to be put in place to satisfy all of their requirements. They then amalgamated and analysed all the information and insights, and developed their customer service excellence strategy on the basis of what they had learned. Once it was in place, they went back on the road to communicate the new vision to customers and employees alike. An excellent strategy, which showed full commitment to continuous improvement right from the top.
Empower employees, and build a functioning customer service excellence framework
Naturally, it is your employees who are on the front lines of customer service. They are the ones that leave a first impression on your customers – and first impressions are lasting. Your people also intimately understand your customers’ frustrations, and they often know how any issues – either recurring or singular – can be resolved, yet are not empowered to make the necessary changes.
To rectify this, you must first include all of your employees in your customer service process improvements, no matter what department they work in. Everyone must be onboard, and understand that they each play an important role in earning customer loyalty. In addition, by building a learning and development framework, you will begin to identify how your organisation is going to go about delivering on its customer service excellence mission.
Such a framework can be implemented through expert training in the first instance, and then developed through an ongoing programme of reward and recognition. Celebrating success is a key motivator for employees, and customer service performance improves when organisations provide support through valued reward and recognition systems.
This is a strategy employed by one of the world’s most recognised luxury hotel chains, which builds customer service excellence into everything it does. Through a sound and systematic continuous improvement process, the hotel chain has created a culture of service, performance and operational excellence that is ingrained throughout the entire organisation, and is known, owned and energised by every single employee.
Leaving nothing to chance, over time, the chain has developed a customer service excellence framework that clarifies to employees exactly what actions and behaviours are expected of them in driving excellence every day, thus creating customer loyalty. Through an ongoing learning and development framework that begins at the recruitment stage, and then on into performance management, reward and recognition and incentive programmes, the chain integrates, reinforces and re-emphasises its customer service excellence philosophy every step of the way. The end result is a workforce that is customer-focused, dedicated and passionate about service excellence, results-driven, with each member empowered to think creatively and work independently to solve customer problems.
Design and execute customer-centric processes
Customer-centricity is not just about offering great customer service, but treating each of your customers like a valued business partner. Your customers, after all, are the very lifeblood of your business, and all processes should be designed from the customer’s viewpoint, seamless, and continuously reviewed to make sure all interactions – from purchases to complaints – are as streamlined, stress-free and delighting as possible.
With ongoing process reviews and commitment to continuous improvement, designing and then implementing customer-centric processes will make doing business with your company easy for customers.
Importantly, this includes making it easy for customers to complain. It must be remembered that complainants can become your most loyal ambassadors, provided, of course, that you handle the complaint professionally, value the feedback, and manage the process to implement change.
Beyond professionally handling complaints, however, to become truly customer-centric, organisations need to develop a deep customer empathy and immerse themselves in the whole customer journey – from discovery through to the purchasing process and onto the post-purchase stage. In order to truly understand what matters to your customers, you must be able to put yourselves in their shoes at every touchpoint.
This is something that a business and financial software solutions company has done from its very earliest days of existence. Employees are encouraged to observe customers and look for ways to solve real-life problems they may encounter when using the company’s products and services. In fact, they even conduct product tests outside of the work environment in order that they may see how well the product functions at home.
Using the information that employees gather, the company then creates a comprehensive list of options and runs more tests before deciding upon the most optimal solution to each problem that’s been identified. This true commitment to continuous improvement has led to the company developing outstanding customer-centric processes, and has enabled it to create a culture that is constantly looking to improve the customer experience, and one that puts the customer first in every regard.
Achieve customer service excellence with Renault-Nissan Consulting
At Renault-Nissan Consulting, we provide Business Process Improvement consulting services and training, designed to help you create a customer experience that encourages brand loyalty and increases sales at every turn. We begin with an assessment, which includes ‘walking’ your customer journey, through which we provide objective analysis of the factors that will lead to a better-engaged workforce that is equipped to realise customer service excellence at your organisation. Using a range of tools and established methods to identify where there is a need for business process improvement, we help you develop and sustain a superior customer experience that will lead to increased customer satisfaction and repeat sales.
Achieving customer service excellence means making customer service a part of your organisation’s mission, and, in turn, making your mission a part of everything your organisation does.
It begins with employee engagement, and must then be continuously developed to embed customer service excellence right at the very core of company culture, with ongoing training initiatives, campaigns, and continuous improvement processes engrained.
Our consultants will identify the changes required in your organisation to ensure that it works more efficiently and effectively from top to bottom, and implement the right tools and methods for ongoing customer service excellence success.
With 28 years’ experience and 300 consultants working in a range of sectors, become more successful and more profitable with Renault-Nissan Consulting, and reap the benefits of world-class customer service excellence. Get in touch today to find out more about our Consulting Services.