Perfecting Service Management

Issue #66

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Becoming Customer Centric - Implement Customer-Focused Changes
by Craig Bailey

Now that you have obtained customer input, analyzed it and socialized the results, it is time to implement customer-focused changes. This implementation involves several steps:

  • Management attention and commitment
  • Conducting formal cross-functional reviews
  • VoC tracking and reporting
  • Forecasting

In this issue, we will expand upon the first two items above.

Management Attention and Commitment
Senior management (Director and VP-level) of several critical organizations must be engaged to participate in the VoC program. This includes the following organizations:

  • Marketing
  • Product Management
  • Engineering/Development
  • Sales/Account Management
  • Professional Services
  • Training and Education
  • Service and Support
  • Accounting/Finance/Billing

This level of commitment requires senior managers to "personally" review the VoC information as well as ensure their areas are fully represented in all elements of the VoC program. Additionally, it is crucial for them to determine the key performance indicators of the organization that the VoC program is targeted to improve, such as:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer retention
  • Churn
  • Revenue and profitability
    • Overall
    • By customer segment
    • By customer
  • Product/service diversity by customer

Obtaining management attention and commitment to this program, and what will be measured, demonstrates leadership and the level of importance given to the VoC program.

Conduct Formal Cross-Functional Reviews
This step involves conducting a periodic (monthly/quarterly) cross-functional discussion which includes the following steps and activities:

  • A formal review of VoC data with a team of resources from each department previously identified as having the most significant impact on the customer experience.
  • Obtaining organizational commitment for putting in place action-plans to respond to troublesome trends and/or close the gap between current state and goal (level of satisfaction, retention, revenue, product/service diversity per customer, etc.).
  • Obtaining updates on previously established action-plans. Because this is a recurring discussion, it is important not only to identify new action-plans to address new trends and observations, but also to obtain status of previously committed action-plans to ensure accountability and follow-through.

To support this, each organization involved in the VoC program needs to receive the monthly reporting package and perform a detailed review to identify trends observed and determine actions in advance of this review meeting.

This could include individual organizations identifying the need to follow-up with the customer to apologize for lack of performance by the firm, reset expectations or obtain additional details regarding a comment. For chronic trends that are impacting many customers, you will want to define initiatives to improve the organization's level of performance experienced by the customer.

Each team must come to the cross-functional review meeting prepared to discuss the VoC results respective of their area and comment on actions that have been, or will be, taken.

Finally, this meeting should be facilitated by an "unbiased" member of the firm who is not "within" a customer-facing organization. This role could be referenced as the VoC program manager. This person must be assertive, diplomatic and empowered to "ask the tough questions." Because this person has no vested interest in the customer-facing organizational camps, he or she can tease-out key areas that need to be addressed to get at the root of issues causing customer dissatisfaction and/or defection.

In the next edition we will expand upon the items of VoC Tracking/Reporting and Forecasting.

If you'd like to review an outline of the complete VoC program, feel free to download the presentation recently delivered to PDMA's VoC conference.

A Word From Our Readers

We received the following feedback to last issue's article The CRM Mutiny. The area of Customer Relationship Management is important to so many of our readers that we felt this feedback should be shared with all of you. (See sidebar for our new reader-input incentive program).

Thanks for the newsletter. I would add to Kurt's great "mutiny" article an observation from my experience.

The new system almost always embodies some new work, new processes, and perceived tighter management control. Management usually wants pipeline data, the ability to intercede on some key sales, and consistent sales process implementation (to make the pipeline data useful).

If this type of work were being done consistently without the support of an automated system, then sales people would be more likely to see it as an improvement that they would support.

The system features, support etc. take more heat than they deserve because of the underlying resistance. The successful implementations take account of how the work will change and what this really means for people. And that may not be an IT or system feature discussion at all.

Bill Scott
Operations Executive

+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ A Word From Our Readers
+ Recommended Reading

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Reader-Input Incentive Program
Do you have opinions or input on any of our articles? Send us feedback you think might be useful to our readers. If we publish it, you'll get your pick of an item from the Customer Centricity Online Store.


Recommended Reading

This issue's recommended reading comes from CNET, via the McKinsey Quarterly. Telcos: See you online discusses how telecommunications companies must follow the lead of other industries, such as airlines and retailers, to create strong online customer-service capabilities, in order to reduce call-center costs while providing an enjoyable customer experience.

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