Managing the Enterprise Customer Relationship
(Part 6): The Operations Review Process
This is the sixth article in the series "Managing the Enterprise Customer
Relationship," where we discuss how managed service providers (MSPs) can
effectively manage complex customer relationships while delivering
solutions to the enterprise customer. In this article, we cover the
"Operations Review Process."
In order to
ensure an effective operations review process occurs, with the best
possible outcome for you (the MSP) and the customer, several steps must
take place. These steps are the responsibility of the Operations
Supervisor or the Account Manager, depending on the relative strengths of
each person on the particular account team.
Discuss and agree with the client the purpose,
content, frequency and participants, for the operations review report.
It is important to include participants from all 4 quadrants of the
relationship (as outlined earlier in this newsletter series)
Send meeting agenda to the customer, well in
What will be
participants from the customer
Perform an internal dry-run in advance of the
customer meeting. This should occur 5-7 days in advance for the
"initial" Operations Review meeting that happens with each client, to
allow the account team to become accustomed to their roles and
responsibilities in preparing for this meeting. Subsequent dry-runs for
each client should then occur at least 2-3 days in advance.
Determine who from
the MSP will lead the meeting (Operations Supervisor or Account
Assign ownership of
each agenda item. Who will perform research or pre-work and who will
cover the topic in the meeting?
for capturing meeting minutes.
agenda with each member of the account team reviewing what they will
adjustments to the material covered, the approach taken ("it is not
what you say but how you say it") and assign ownership of additional
research or pre-work that may be necessary to ensure an effective
Prepare a quote for recommended service
upgrades (Account Manager)
Step 2: Conducting the Meeting
Review agenda (items that are on the agreed
upon Operations Review Report) to confirm that everyone is in-synch
about what will be covered
Discuss each agenda item
Review action-items, ownership and due-dates
Schedule the next meeting
Step 3: Post-meeting follow-up
Account team regroups shortly after the meeting
to confirm what was achieved, ownership of action-items and next-steps /
Send meeting minutes to all who are involved
with, and/or have a vested interest in, the meeting. Minutes should
invited vs. attended
Key points covered
(agreements reached, new issues identified)
ownership and commitment dates
date/time/location of next meeting
A good rule-of-thumb for the Operations Reviews meeting is to keep
the frequency and level of detail related to what is covered commensurate
with the complexity (both technical and business-wise) and activity of the
In the next article in this series, we will cover the critical
topic of "it is not what you say but how you say it." If you would like to
learn more about overcoming the common challenges that managed service
providers face with their enterprise customers, feel free to
View previous articles in this series
Appreciating the Value of Front-line Supervisors
One of the most overlooked, most undervalued roles in most call centers
and large customer-facing operations is that of the front-line supervisor.
A great supervisor is worth a bag of gold, and is just as rare. Many
supervisors have made the tremendous leap from hourly employee to the
first step into what they hope will be a management career path. However,
many first-time supervisors are discouraged and disillusioned with their
jobs within a very short period of time. Their perceptions and hopes often
collide with the realities of operational needs and requirements, and the
talent that got them promoted can be wasted.
difference between what a supervisor believes their goals and tasks to be
and what actually happens can be summarized as follows:
Supervisors' perception of job:
'Sit with' and aid new employees with their
jobs as soon as they leave training and begin their jobs.
Conduct consistent and detailed call reviews
with experienced employees for the purpose of increasing call
efficiencies and first-call resolutions.
Teach employees to manage customer problems,
how to appease irate customers with judicious use of financial
adjustments, and efficiently manage the company's financial resources.
Handle escalated calls when needed.
Create the best and happiest call team ever.
Begin learning new skills necessary for further
What actually happens:
Assigned a plethora of reporting chores that
usually add up to baby-sitting duties and HR requirements: reporting
attendance, call volume and results analysis, systems management, and
customer account review.
Responsible for headcount rationale and for
defending their corresponding budget. As call centers and customer
service are cost centers for most companies, this can be a tedious
exercise, both emotionally and politically draining.
Act as the intermediary between their reps and
management, advocating for their reps while attempting to meet
Extensively document their reps' activities,
always with an eye towards defending their company against
discrimination lawsuits or union grievances.
Sit with and guide their reps for only the
company-required periods of time, often no more than once or twice a
month per employee.
Reactive, instead of pro-active, to Quality
Assurance reports, call volume reports and other customer management
Have little contact with the manager to whom
they report, unless an unpleasant incident with customer or employee
demands their collaboration.
How can any organization, large or small,
help their new supervisors be effective, and keep experienced supervisors
- CSR behaviors such as attendance and call resolution are often
rewarded, either financially or with perks. (See our white paper
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives).
Supervisors are often overlooked by corporate incentive programs; they
should be incented for good managerial behaviors such as employee job
satisfaction, team results and objective goal achievement and
Free The Supervisors!
- Allow them to do their jobs. Allow them the time to sit with their
reps. Give them the necessary freedom from paperwork, if only
temporarily, to structure and lead their teams to maximum efficiency.
Let them hand off the reporting to some smart reps, who in turn may be
looking to get a toehold on the corporate ladder. Most of all, free them
from having to constantly defend their headcount. Set your budget and
goals for the year, and stick to it as consistently as possible.
- Have an honest dialog with your supervisors, and help them formulate
their specific goals. Many ambitious supervisors just know they 'want to
be in management'. Help them understand what that means in your company,
and show them other career paths if relevant.
Offer supervisors the tools necessary for promotion. Tell them in black
and white terms what technical and managerial skills they will need for
advancement. These may be advanced and specific IT skills, such as
reporting database skills or updated network security training. They may
need to learn general accounting and budgeting skills. If your company
doesn't offer this type of training, encourage the supervisor to exploit
any available college reimbursement plans.
- Allow your good supervisors the opportunity to participate in non-call
center projects. They'll gain valuable project management skills and get
a better understanding of big-picture company processes and goals.
Perhaps most significantly, they'll have a chance to perform well for
employee ambitious and talented enough to become a supervisor in a
high-volume, stressful environment is worth further development. They
probably don't really need any more company t-shirts or knick-knacks.
Rather, allow them the freedom, the tools, and the encouragement to become
leaders, and you're on your way to creating a powerful management pool
that will contribute to your company's future.
Managing the Enterprise
+ Recommended Reading
+ Appreciating the Value of Front-line
+ Upcoming Panel Discussion: Strategies for
White Paper: Rewarding and Incenting Customer
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Upcoming Panel Discussion: Strategies for Successful Growth
Save the date:
May 7, 2004
For those of you in the metro-Boston area, we invite you to join leading
technology executives for a fast paced discussion focused on strategies
for transforming your technology into a sustainable and successful
business. The forum, entitled
Strategies for Successful Growth: Building the Emerging Technology Company,
is being presented by Gadsby Hannah LLP. Customer Centricity president
Craig Bailey, along with senior executives from some of Massachusetts'
greatest technology companies (EMC, Teradyne, Sonus Networks, Kewill),
will present their perspectives and strategies for leveraging assets for
The event will be Friday, May 7, 2004, from 8:00am -10:45am, at
Babson College's Center for Executive Education, in Wellesley, MA. To
register, contact Dianne Willens at 617-345-6968 or email@example.com, or
click here for more information.
Gribbin, director of global support for Primus Knowledge Solutions,
discusses the "support" role in her CRM Magazine article
"Make Support the Competitive Differentiator." Often companies don't
recognize the role their own support organizations can play in gaining
customers. In the article, Ms. Gribbin discusses ways for a support
organization to promote its services within the company as an added value
to customers and a differentiating factor in customer purchase decisions.
White Paper: Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives
you like our articles, you'll love our white papers! Our editing team has
been hard at work generating white papers from the many articles we've
written over the last year.
This issue's featured white paper is
and Incenting Customer Service Representatives" by
Your people are your biggest asset -- especially in providing quality
service and keeping customers happy. But how do you keep them
motivated and satisfied day in and day out? This white paper offers
innovative ideas that you can put into place immediately.
All of our white
papers are available under the resources section of our website.
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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