6 steps to Customer Relationship Managementcontinued from page 1
Developing, Motivating and Managing your PeopleEven though you have hired the right people, there is still a need to orient them into the organisation's customer relationship culture and define key communication skills. In Call Centers and Technical Support departments, there is a tendency to rely on technical/functional skills and neglect interpersonal skills development. This can result in providing acceptable material service, the more tangible aspect, yet unacceptable personal service, the competitive differentiator.
Therefore to build a customer relationship culture, it is important to:
- Provide training in key areas required to deliver exceptional personal service
- Reinforce these skills using ongoing coaching and feedback
- Measure current performance levels
- Reward performance using a combination of monetary awards and non-monetary recognition
Establishing Effective Service Delivery ProcessesEffective processes and procedures provide the foundation for smoothing or inhibiting the material service element of the customer interaction. Efficient service delivery systems appear transparent to the customer. Poor systems create those 'speed bumps' that necessitate personal intervention in order to satisfy the customer requirements.
The critical elements in ensuring a positive material customer experience are:
- Mapping the service delivery processes
- Evaluating critical success points in the process
- Defining service standards and objectives for these essential points
- Establishing service delivery procedures to optimise material service
- Creating service level agreements to smooth internal service delivery
Building in Continuous ImprovementNo matter how effective the service delivery processes, or well-trained the service deliverers, things go wrong. Products have faults. Customers get frustrated. Things slip through the cracks. The organisations that are built around managing the customer experience are able to resolve these issues effectively. This process known as "recovery" is an important differentiator in building customer loyalty.
In order to recover effectively, it is necessary to:
- Actively seek customer feedback and complaints: you cannot improve if you don't know what went wrong in the first place.
- Train staff how to handle customer complaints effectively using the correct mix of empathising, apologising and resolution.
- Make sure that the real problem is solved, not just the symptoms.
- Focus on proactive (prevention) as well as reactive (cure) problem solving.
Ensuring Managers are the Key Change-AgentsAs consultants, we observe that senior management often has the vision, intention and commitment to introduce a comprehensive customer relationship management system. The "make or break" element is in involving middle management in the change process, and empowering them to be the key change-agents.
To do this, it is important to:
- Engage the management team early and often in the process
- Involve management members in articulating the customer experience strategy
- Teach managers coaching skills so that they are able to articulate and reinforce the key personal service skills
- Use managers as facilitators when rolling out interpersonal skills training
- Reward managers on establishing, monitoring and updating service delivery processes
- Ensure managers are able to act as an example to their teams.
ConclusionAs you can see, in order to deliver outstanding service, it is essential to build a customer relationship focused culture. This can take up to two years and can involve changing the way the company operates in all aspects of service delivery. The time investment can be high, but the pay-off can be enormous building long-term customer loyalty and helping to ensure business profitability.
For more information, contact Susan and Derek Nash.(c) 2005 Susan and Derek Nash