Becoming Customer Centric
by Craig Bailey
Becoming customer centric is a multi-faceted endeavor, as
outlined in the previous two newsletter editions. In our continuing series
on this subject, we will further expand on the topic of "aligning the
resources of your firm."
We often hear clients say something to the effect of "if we can't work
well with our own internal resources, how can we expect to work well with
our external customers?" THAT is a key question with many implications.
One way to look at this is to consider that EVERY person in an
organization is both a customer of, and supplier to, someone else.
Moreover, these relationships could be between personnel within your
organization or relate to an external entity.
You have undoubtedly heard the proverb "treat others as you would like to
be treated." This rings true in your endeavor to become customer centric.
However, it is much more complex than reciting a proverb. One approach to
internalizing what it means to be customer centric is to perform customer
centric training for everyone in your firm. This is NOT your typical
"customer service skills" training. It is all about how to work
effectively with other people.
Key aspects of an effective customer centric training program include:
Performing a pre-training assessment that involves all
levels of the organization, from executives to the front-line customer
service personnel. In this assessment, it is important to learn what is
working well (to reinforce) and identify opportunities for improvement.
This includes capturing case study examples of customer scenarios,
internal and external, that have been particularly emotional and/or
difficult to deal with. Once genercized (removing names and details that
would relate to a specific "incident"), these can serve as an effective
tool to "workshop" in a safe (training) environment.
Providing multiple modules, allowing people a chance
to receive a handful of new skills, and go back to their job to try them
out. By doing so, personnel have a chance to try the new skills and
where they realized unanticipated results they can discuss in the next
training session for clarity. They would then learn the next set of
skills and so on
Limiting each training session to no more than 15
cross-functional personnel. By mixing it up, you will enjoy a rich
training experience, in which case study examples can be explored from
the various perspectives of the organization. A by-product is that
personnel gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by other
organizations. This can create empathy and more importantly generate new
ideas for resolving common cross-functional challenges that impact your
ability to effectively serve the customer.
Engaging participants with a mixture of exercises,
including lecture, role plays and individual and group activities.
Focusing content on the following four topic areas,
which we have found to be most effective:
people and styles of communication
and communicating effectively
conversations with ease
opportunities and capitalizing on them
EVERY person in the firm should attend this type of training, if you are
truly committed to becoming customer centric.
The result: you will hear people talking in the halls about the new-found
skills that have helped them in their professional and personal lives.
Coupling this training with the other activities being suggested will be a
major step in your journey to becoming a customer centric organization.
In summary, a key to becoming customer centric is ensuring that all
personnel in your firm develop and maintain excellent interpersonal
communications skills. After all, a customer is just another human being,
not too unlike yourself
View previous articles in this series.
Exploring Outsourcing: Managing the
We conclude our
series on "Exploring Outsourcing" with a discussion of what you should be
thinking about post-launch of an outsourcing arrangement. Once
implementation has occurred and calls are flowing into the call center of
your outsourcing partner, you need to consider how to manage the
outsourcing relationship to extract the maximum amount of benefit. Of
course, there is a learning period which will require a considerable
amount of attention. However, as the program is fine-tuned, leveraging the
information your outsourcer gathers helps you maximize the relationship.
Below are examples of areas that require engaged management and can, in
turn, provide opportunities to enhance your outsourced program.
Service Level Commitments
hopefully your contract captured a significant amount of service level
commitments. These important check points are key performance metrics
and require dedicated attention each month.
New Product Introductions
new product introductions produce new types of calls and related
situations. Much like the original roll out, you are going to need to
work very closely with your outsourcing partner to ensure successful
launch of each new product.
calibration between you and the outsourcer regarding agent quality can
take place as frequently as required. As personnel move through your
center, maintaining quality is an important way to promote consistent
Forecasting your outsourcing partner will require a
decent forecast of anticipated volume. This, in effect, means the
Program Manager will need to be plugged into anything which may increase
or decrease contact volume.
Hours of Operation
reviewing inbound arrival patterns will help you decide if you have
the right coverage or you need to adjust your hours of operation. For
example, if you are missing calls prior to opening you may need to add
an hour (increase in cost). In contrast, if calls start an hour later
than when staff is available, you may want to consider reducing coverage
Call Types reviewing the types of contacts (the 'why'
of a customer contact) provides a wealth of opportunity! Some specific
understanding why customers call is the first step in developing a
standardized response and provides the agent the opportunity to
resolve the inquiry at first touch.
defining standardized responses help to reduce Average Call Handling
time (a significant cost driver).
quantifying the types of contacts provides priority as to what
should be addressed proactively (e.g. education) or with self-help
consistent questions or complaints can be important clues regarding
adjusting or improving a product.
One often overlooked opportunity is almost too simple to mention: ask your
outsource partner for their opinion! Within every Contact Center, there
are always one or more team members with fantastic ideas to enhance
service delivery. You have likely selected an outsourcer who provides
incentives for ideas to enhance service delivery for your program
leverage this opportunity to the fullest extent!
Contact us if you would like to share outsourcing or RFP experience.
If you are thinking about outsourcing, we can help you manage the process,
while you focus on your business!
View previous articles in this series.
+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ Exploring Outsourcing
+ Recommended Reading
+ Speaking Engagements
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View previous newsletters
This week's recommended
reading, CRM Magazine article
Do You Know What Your Customers Are Really Thinking? by Terri Schepps,
stresses the importance of active customer follow-up, rather than
just passive customer analysis, to truly understand your customers' needs.
You must reach out to your customers to know what they are thinking.
President Craig Bailey
will be a speaker at PDMA's (Product Development and Management
Association) 7th Annual
"Voice of the
Customer" conference on December 7-10, 2004, in San Francisco CA.
Presentation materials will be available for download from CCI's website
closer to the conference date.
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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