VoC Presentation Available for Download
Craig Bailey's presentation at the 7th Annual Voice of the Customer
is available on the Customer Centricity
here to download the presentation.
Becoming Customer Centric - Obtain Input from
by Craig Bailey
We continue our series
on leveraging the Voice of the Customer as a key element to
becoming customer centric with a discussion of the next aspect within the
step of "obtaining the pulse of the customer": Obtain Input from
Obtaining input from customer-facing personnel at your firm can be a rich
source of input to identify opportunities for improvement. After all,
customer-facing personnel (sales/account management, service, etc.)
"should" know the customer and their use of your firm's products and
services better than anyone. Depending on the nature and complexity of the
business, this could occur on an informal or formal, frequent or
An effective, yet simple, approach to obtaining this input is to bring
together a number of customer-facing personnel and ask key questions like:
What do you feel is working well in terms of how we
relate with/serve our customers?
What are some of the most common/frustrating
challenges that our customers have in working with our firm, products
What do you observe as obstacles that prevent you from
delivering the kind of service that you feel we should be providing to
If you were in charge of this company, what would you
Doing the above, however, requires:
Creating an environment of trust for providing this
Setting expectations with personnel about what may and
may not result
Wading through anecdotes
Creating an environment of trust –The discussion outlined above
should be facilitated/hosted by a senior manager of the firm - someone
that is not "too close" to the action and can serve as an objective
sounding board and recipient of this input. On the other hand, those that
participate in this discussion will typically be the "front-line"
personnel who often hold some of the lowest-level positions in the firm.
As such, there may initially be some level of anxiety to openly sharing
this feedback as personnel may fear that they will implicate themselves
and/or their organization. The senior manager should position the
discussion as critical to the success of the organization, where open and
honest dialog is key and indicate that there are "no sacred cows."
Setting expectations – These discussions invariably yield volumes
of thoughts and ideas. It is important for the senior manager hosting this
discussion to set expectations about what will and will not be addressed,
and (where possible) in what timeframe. Doing so will ensure that the
personnel don't have inaccurate expectations such as "now that s/he knows
about this, it will go away in no time."
Wading through anecdotes – An important aspect of this exercise is
to balance the feedback received with quantitative information to back it
up. If quantitative data is not readily available, yet the feedback
received suggests a significant problem exists, it will be important to
determine how to confirm the problem and/or scope of the situation.
In our next edition we will discuss the fourth approach to "obtaining the
pulse of the customer" and in subsequent editions we will cover how to
take appropriate and responsive action.
View previous articles in this series.
Support Manager's Top Ten Holiday List
As the holiday season is upon us, support centers supporting the retail
industry lead the way in watching their incoming call volumes skyrocket.
At the same time, the incoming requests and problems reported to support
centers in other industries may tend to slide downward. One of the most
difficult tasks for a Support Center Manager is staffing during these
potentially quiet times. The key word here is potential, as a Support
Center Manager must always staff for the unexpected.
If you're a Support Center Manager whose incoming calls are reduced during
the holiday season, this is the perfect opportunity to complete some of
those projects that you haven't had time to get to during the past year.
The projects you choose must be challenging and their value easily
recognizable, not the mundane, time-fillers that the analysts may have
witnessed in their past. This is a great reason to have your analysts pair
off into teams and commit to a common deliverable. The ultimate benefit is
that the chosen deliverables will keep their minds focused and their
self-esteem high during slow times. The one gotcha you must look out for
is not to try and change the world in six weeks. The goal should be to
improve your Support Center's people, process and technology through some
Here are my Top 10 suggestions to get you started:
Assess the quality of your job descriptions and update
them based on the past year's responsibilities.
Create a new-hire boot camp agenda, defining the
technical, business and customer service training required for new
Create analyst incentive programs for 2005. It doesn't
have to be costly, but does have to be fun and effective.
If you do not yet have an Operational Guide,
documenting your workflow processes, service level agreements and
troubleshooting techniques, why not get the ball rolling. If you have
one already that's a little outdated, spend the time bringing it
Create an escalation matrix, containing tier 1 and
tier 2 contacts for each specific functional area supported by the
Create or update your
marketing card, an important vehicle for informing your customers who
you are, how to contact you, when you're available and what services you
provide to them.
Perform some workspace housecleaning; not just in your
cubicles, but also in your team's physical area. Pick up clutter around
the fax and printer, rearrange clogged aisles, play musical cubes and
let your analysts get a new view and perspective for 2005.
Evaluate your call tracking system's categories and
sub-categories. Run a six-month query of all calls, sorted by those two
fields. Eliminate those categories seldom or never used and add new ones
that will enhance your trend analysis.
Are you using standard solutions or closure codes in
your call management system? If so, run a Closed Incident Summary Report
for the past six months, sorted by closure code. Make adjustments
eliminating those that are not used and add new codes where appropriate.
Give the support area of your corporate web site a
facelift. Start by taking thirty minutes at your next staff meeting and
bring it up for all to see. Brainstorm improvements for twenty minutes
and then look for a couple of volunteers to take the suggestions and run
As a team, identify the areas you want to improve
Ask for volunteers, or assign to teams of 2-3 people
Have each team report on their progress at each week's
Provide feedback and guidance
Have the entire Support Center Team approve the
Document the changes and implement
Have a super
holiday season and be thankful for the wonderful people you work with!!
+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ Recommended Reading
+ Support Manager's Top Ten Holiday List
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This week's recommended reading comes from the Ivey Business Journal.
Robert Angel's article
Sustaining Profitable Customer Relationships Requires Real Leadership
focuses on the importance of strong leadership to create a truly
customer-centric company culture, in order to build solid customer
relationships. Too often, according to Mr. Angel, poor technology choices
and poor technology implementation are blamed, when instead the leadership
and culture should be examined closely.
CCI wishes you and your
families a happy holiday season and a healthy, prosperous New Year!
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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