Customer Service Improvement – The First Step

Posted December 29th, 2009 by dsnow and filed in Importance of processes, Service Analysis
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Over and over we see customer service initiatives stall because of impatience. The key players involved in the improvement process take on too much at one time, overwhelming themselves as well as the organization. Everyone ends up frustrated, the initiative is abandoned, and employees are rightly skeptical of subsequent initiatives.

A planned, step-by-step approach dramatically increases the likelihood of success of a service improvement initiative. Most organizations should plan on 2-5 years before feeling that the elements of the service initiative are “inculturated.” While that may seem an unreasonably long time, the reality is that the organization’s current culture took years to evolve and expecting instantaneous change is simply unrealistic.

In practice, once management agrees a change is needed, they want the change to happen right now, with no fuss. But change with no fuss is probably no change at all – at least not one that is going to result in a significant improvement. Real change has moments of confusion, pain, doubt, argument and even tears. Letting go of the “old way” is never easy. And the more angst the change is causing, the more likely the change is needed. Complacency in today’s marketplace can be fatal to an organization.

Take the time to plan each phase of the initiative, following the chapters of Unleashing Excellence as a guide. While the chapters aren’t strictly linear, they’re pretty close. Do the work of each of the Leadership Actions in the order presented; you’ll be rewarded by an improvement initiative that actually results in improvement.

High Touch Wins over High Tech

Posted November 24th, 2009 by tyanovitch and filed in Importance of processes
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After weeks of stalling, I finally went out this past weekend to purchase a new computer and a new phone. Both rather challenging purchases because with all the various options and features on each product, I knew it would be a difficult decision in both cases.     
The first stop was Verizon Wireless early Saturday afternoon. Upon entering the store, I was quickly greeted and asked if I needed help. I was taken under the wing of the salesperson who began asking pertinent questions as to my needs and usage for the phone. Within minutes; it was easy to make a choice, after which I was escorted to the checkout counter and introduced to Kim. Kim processed the purchase and before I could even form the question, she asked if I’d like her to transfer my contacts. Within minutes, she had activated my email, transferred my contacts, provided all the information to receive a rebate and I was out the door – a very happy customer with a brand new fully functioning Blackberry.

Now charged up after such a wonderful experience, I headed to Best Buy for the computer. I received my greeting upon entering the store and was shown to the computer section. A salesperson asked if he could help. With his knowledge and expertise, I felt comfortable and confident in choosing the right fit computer. He processed the transaction, gave me my receipts and thanked me for my business. I felt great again about this experience! What do people mean: high tech, no touch? Well, it was about to begin…. I asked if the information from my old computer could be transferred to the new one. Certainly, was the response – our Geek Squad can take care of that for you.

Promises made of 2 hours became 2 days. In trying to determine the status of my computer, I found that reaching someone in the department was nearly impossible. Questions that should have been asked were not, so the process was dragged out even longer. Finally, I went to the store and sat in the waiting area (they now have chairs provided so you don’t have to stand while waiting). Six people were waiting, one employee was working. After 20 minutes the line hadn’t moved, the gentleman next to me stood and said to no one in particular “OK, you win, I’m outta here”.  I slid over one spot – all I wanted to do was pick up my computer! 45 minutes later out the door I walked only to be stopped by the greeter to “check” my purchase. A bad final taste was left with me, the high touch definitely missing after the product had been sold and ended up tainting the entire experience.

A Service Map is a tool to examine all the points of contact throughout the entire experience one has with an organization. Its purpose is to identify what is mediocre service at each point and how to raise the bar to make it Excellent at all possible and potential points, not just the “sales” point.  See example Service Map