Perfecting Service Management

Issue #77

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Customer Advocacy Framework - Internal Management Review
by Craig Bailey

Continuing on our Customer Advocacy journey, this edition completes the process framework by ensuring that management is keenly aware of the nature, resolution status, root-cause, and sustained costs of escalated customer issues. To do this, we will cover the topic of Internal Management Review.

Internal Management Review is a critical aspect of the Customer Advocacy framework that ensures senior management is aware of:

  • at-risk (even explosive) account situations so that decisions can be made about engaging the customer to demonstrate the level of internal awareness of the situation and the commitment to resolve the matter
  • progress being made to resolve the customer situation, to enable senior management to assign greater attention and resources if things are not on track
  • root-cause issues that disrupt the customer experience and the business so that appropriate attention can be given to root-cause resolution
  • the costs to the business resulting from escalated customer situations
  • the effectiveness of the process and the organization's response to the situation

To address the above objectives, we will now cover the components of internal management review: meetings and supporting tasks.

Internal Review Meeting

Like any meeting, the internal review meeting is most effective with the right participants, frequency, and agenda.

Participation in the internal review meeting consists of customer advocates who are actively engaged in a customer situation. Mandatory participation will typically include senior management (Director, VP and above) from Sales (Account Management), Service, Technical Support, Professional Services, Engineering and other organizations that have a direct impact on the customer experience. Other participants are requested on an as-needed basis.

The internal management review meeting is typically conducted on a weekly basis, but may be adjusted to occur more or less frequently depending on the nature and volume of escalated customer situations at your firm.

The agenda will include a review of all issues that have required Customer Advocacy engagement. During the meeting, the team will review new situations, provide a situation update (progress and conditions that may have transpired to exasperate the situation) on previously identified items and finally confirm which situations have been closed out.

Supporting Tasks

During the review process, it is important to identify factors contributing to the situation, obstacles to resolution of the immediate issue and support needed to achieve timely closure. Once the immediate customer situation has been addressed, it is then important to obtain management commitment to put in place the improvements necessary to resolve the root-cause issues and a date that an update will be provided to the group on progress against that commitment.

The main documents that will support this review include the list of open customer advocacy engagements and the individual situation summaries prepared by the respective customer advocates.

The following measurement criteria are suggested to monitor (and demonstrate) the effectiveness of the process and the impact sustained by the business because of the need to engage a customer advocate:

  • Ratio of customers to customer advocacy engagements. This measurement will help determine if there are increasingly fewer customer advocacy engagements as your customer base continues to grow.
  • Count of customer advocacy engagements by "reason for engagement." This measurement will help determine if the root-cause issues are being resolved and where attention is warranted.
  • Duration of customer advocacy engagements. This will help determine if you are responding in a timely manner to resolve escalated customer situations and the right resources are being applied.
  • Customer Advocacy engagements by customer segment, business unit and product line. This will identify any troublesome trends with regards to a customer segment, business unit or product line that needs heightened attention to ensure customer retention and ongoing profitability.
  • Level of effort and expenses incurred as a result of each engagement. Quantifying the impact (from a dollars and cents perspective) is the icing on the cake to ensure effective prioritization of initiatives that will need to be undertaken to resolve root-cause issues.

This closes out the reactive/responsive aspects of customer advocacy, which is often required by firms as they embark on the journey of improving their customers' experiences. By implementing a process similar to that which we have described, you will ensure that escalated customer issues are responded to in a consistent, methodical and timely manner. And, more importantly, that root-cause resolution takes place to ensure that similar incidents don't occur to the same or additional customers. The result: increased customer satisfaction and retention along with improved operational efficiencies that provide a direct impact on profitability!

The next edition will begin covering the proactive aspects of customer advocacy, enabling you to get into the heart and mind of your customer to build long-term profitable relationships.

View previous articles in this series.


+ Customer Advocacy Framework - Internal Management Review
+ Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading
Our Customer Advocacy series has discussed the importance of root-cause analysis and elimination. How many times has bad or missing data been the root-cause of one of your customer problems? "Excellent customer management depends on getting the right information to the right people at the right time in the right format" writes William Blundon in his CRM Magazine article Building a Single View of Customers. Accurate customer data is critical for so many reasons. Mr. Blundon takes readers through the steps for creating a single view of customer information. With this in place, everyone - employees, managers, customers - will be much happier.

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