Learning from others. 5 steps to consider before embarking on your customer service excellence journey.
NGR
Nadège Grall, Marketing Manager at Renault-Nissan Consulting shares the 5 steps organisations should consider before embarking on any customer service excellence journey.
 
Today, organisations that want to get an edge over their competition must embrace a customer service excellence strategy to ensure that customers receive stand-out experiences that will win their loyalty for the long-term.

Every business is created to fulfil a need for its customers – and this is where the business’ value lies. However, in the modern world, customer needs are always evolving and organisations must continuously re-evaluate precisely what customers are expecting from the business, for, at the end of the day, value will always be measured by what customers are willing to pay for.

Continuously improving customer value in-line with evolving wants and needs is difficult for any organisation. This is true partly because there is often resistance to change within companies, often from those who view service improvement as a slower route to competitive advantage. And this feeds into the problem of companies being organised around functional silos, within which, managers are focused primarily on optimising their own department’s performance – with too much attention paid to next quarter’s numbers – rather than delivering value to customers through ongoing investments in process improvement.

These issues, and more besides, place barriers in the way of continuous improvement initiatives, preventing customer service excellence and the competitive advantages that come with it from being realised.

What this means is that there’s no magic wand to be waved that can overcome these obstacles and achieve an immediate customer service excellence breakthrough. Instead, a strategy must be formed before you embark on your customer service excellence programme – one that establishes an effective continuous improvement process that will constantly benchmark, monitor and improve the customer experience, while simultaneously preparing for the changes that will become necessary.  

Here are five steps you need to consider before embarking on a customer service excellence programme.


1. Measure current state of performance and gather customer insight

Organisations can’t meet the needs of their customers without first gaining a proper understanding of what they want. The first step of a customer service excellence improvement programme, therefore, is to do your research. Talk to your customers – and your employees that serve them – to find out their perception of the services being provided and determine precisely what their needs and expectations are.

You can conduct your customer needs assessment by soliciting feedback through satisfaction surveys, customer comment cards, focus groups, or even by getting out there and talking to your customers and staff yourself.

With the insights you gather, identify the current level of performance for each customer service process; which processes are currently achieving targets, which aren’t and what is the extent of performance gaps that need to be addressed.

This will provide you with a solid base from which you will be able to understand the current state of each customer service process that requires improvement, enabling you to flag up where issues are occurring, and the improvement opportunities you should be focusing on.


2. Identify goals

Once you have your pool of feedback and your data and insights, it should start to become clear what changes need to be made and where you need to make them.

But now you must identify clear goals for each potential change. Ensuring clarity from the outset will not only better prepare you for the oncoming changes, but will also allow you to start assessing how you will measure the impact of those changes once implemented.

But it’s also important to prioritise potential improvements that will lead to customer service excellence and result in the biggest benefits for your business. All companies, large and small, have limited resources, and so identifying a small number of the most critical goals to focus on will enable you to maximise those limited resources and drive optimal efficiencies.

Priority goals to consider include improving customer service processes that will reduce the number of customer defects, attract new customers and increase the capacity of the company so that it is able to serve more customers and increase revenue.
 
In addition, and if resources allow, you may identify some smaller changes that you could push through your improvement process and notch up some quick wins – such as improving staff morale – while you’re working towards your larger goals. 


3. Assign roles and responsibilities

Realising any lasting change in customer service will be practically impossible without the buy-in from senior managers and leaders. Your senior team members will be responsible for motivating employees and communicating the objectives of your customer service excellence strategy when it’s in place. In addition, they will be pivotal in ensuring that all process improvements are kept on-track, and reinforcing the principles of continuous customer service improvement at every turn.

In short, your leaders and managers need to become your organisation’s service champions – so you need to assign the right roles and responsibilities to the right people. They will need to lead by example, because it is service leaders and managers that can make or break an organisation’s customer service value.

Assess which of your people will successfully create a customer-focused culture as you implement your customer service excellence programme. Ensure that they have the training, skills, dedication and passion for customer service excellence, in addition to being results-driven.
 

4. FORm an internal communications strategy

As you now map out the various stages of your change programme and begin to form a clear picture of who’s responsible for what and where, you will need to ensure that you have an internal communications strategy in place to keep everyone informed of progress, changes to the plan, and any upcoming initiatives.

This is important, for when organisations undergo any major change, employees can be left feeling alienated if they feel (rightly or wrongly), that they are being kept out of the loop. Morale may drop, which will, in turn, affect how your team interact with your customers.

As such, you will need to plan for a communication management system that includes key messages, timings, delivery methods and channels and assign team leaders who will be responsible for handling all communications as they flow between frontline staff and management, and back again.


5 Establish a performance measurement and improvement plan

With all of the above in place, you will next need a strategy for how you are going to monitor the project. Clearly defined metrics need to be selected at the outset to ensure that the measurements you take are relevant. For a customer service excellence programme, these should be selected with customer needs in mind, for the goal is of course, to determine how the project is improving the customer experience and not to measure various internal performance statistics.

Set a timeline for the project and establish incremental performance targets per month to maintain momentum and the focus on continuous improvement. You will also need a system in place that will identify whether customers are indeed happier with the service being provided, their level of satisfaction, where they perceive improvements, and where else further improvements still need to be made.


Achieve customer service excellence with Renault-Nissan Consulting

The steps above provide you with guidance to start forming your customer service excellence strategy. They revolve around principles of continuous improvement, which is essential for realising operational excellence of any nature. By implementing a highly strategised customer service excellence programme, the goal will be to gradually improve your services and your business, so that what begins by being “exceptional” eventually becomes the norm and the expectation.

It is for this very reason that you always need to bear in mind that customer needs and expectations are moving targets. As you make improvements, what a customer expects today will be different one year, two years, five years in the future – and that’s precisely why your customer service excellence programme needs to be based on continuous improvement, not just a quick fix.

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.

Our consultants will identify the changes required in your organisation to ensure that it works more efficiently and effectively, cascading throughout the organisation and implement the right tools and methodologies for continuous improvement and 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.
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