Perfecting Service Management

Issue #83

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Customer Centricity Partners with

Customer Centricity, in partnership with, is offering a free ROI calculator to assist customers in obtaining approval for investing in contact center improvement initiatives. And, for those who would like to take the ROI analysis to the next level, Customer Centricity is offering a no-cost / no-obligation 30 minute consultation. Check it out for yourself!

Customer Advocacy - Navigating the Organization
by Craig Bailey

Continuing our series on becoming a highly effective customer advocate, we provide this article sharing practical approaches to enable you and your service team to navigate your organization in support of meeting customer expectations. While the objective of any service team is "first touch" resolution for as many inquiries as possible, some number of inquiries (escalated or otherwise) will require the engagement of other resources within and even outside of your own firm.

Navigating the organization to respond to and resolve customer inquiries involves the following:

·  Doing your part

·  Using your interpersonal management skills

·  Dealing with non-responsive people

·  Knowing who to go to before you get the ball

Doing your part
The first step to ensure you get the support you need from the rest of the organization is to set the example. Are you easily accessible to others when they are in need of your support? And, when you are away (briefly, or for an extended period such as vacation) do you let people know how to get the support they need?

There are two basic steps you can take here:

1) Set up your standard voice-mail greeting with a message indicating an alternate contact number (your cell) and/or a person whom others can contact in the event of an emergency or when you are not immediately available.

2) When you are going to be away for an extended period of time, indicate so in your voice-mail greeting, and set up an email auto-responder with full details of an alternative contact. In both cases, you will want to make sure that you have "cleared" the coverage with your alternate contact to make sure he/she will be available during your absence.

Using your interpersonal management skills
When you have been "lit up" by a customer due to a particularly troublesome issue that requires support from others in your organization, your interpersonal communications must be kept in check. Remember that it is not only what you say but how you say it. People are busy, so being respectful of this fact when requesting their support will go a long way to obtain their buy-in to respond to the customer situation.

Dale Carnegie said it best: "you can get more with a teaspoon of honey than a gallon of gall." In fact, if you haven't read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie I suggest you do so.

Dealing with non-responsive people
If, or should I say when, your attempts to engage someone results in a non-response, there are 3 steps to consider:

1) Remain focused on the client, who is the reason why you are both employed at your company.

2) Explain to the person you are attempting to engage what's in it for him/her. For example, resolving the customer's situation may support your firm's customer satisfaction or revenue goals, for which you are both "bonused." The situation could provide an opportunity for two cross-functional organizations to demonstrate effective collaboration and bridge building. Finally, if you still meet with a lack of response or willingness to help then...

3) Go up the food chain. The person you are relying on likely has a specific set of skills or subject-matter-expertise. Not being available might not be his/her problem, nor is it your, or the customer's, problem. But, it is the problem of the supervisor or manager of the organization whose resource you are attempting to engage. So, you can take the next step of contacting the "next level" in the management chain and indicate something to the effect of "We have [this customer situation] that needs the attention of someone with Chris's skills. However, it appears that Chris is extremely busy and unable to get involved. Who would you suggest that I work with from your team on this?" The supervisor can then make the decision to reprioritize Chris's work list or allocate an alternate resource to engage.

Too frequently people are afraid to take this step because they feel that they will damage relationships. But, considering the approach outlined above, have you actually "told on" Chris? No, not really. You have actually acknowledged that Chris is a very knowledgeable and valuable employee who is extremely busy.

Knowing who to go to before you get the ball
When coaching baseball, we tell the players that they need to know what to do with the ball if it is hit to them, before the pitch is thrown. The same applies in business.

If your business has achieved any measure of success, you have realized that you can no longer deliver highly effective and responsive customer service by simply leveraging long-held personal relationships. In fact, you may no longer know everyone else in the company, or at least who is in the office and when. As such, there needs to be a formalized "who-to-call-list" that provides key contact information for each functional area that is directly involved in impacting the customer experience. To be clear, this is NOT a corporate directory or phone list.

The "who-to-call-list" is a matrix that contains the primary point of contact, backup, manager, director and VP of each functional area along with 24x7 contact information for each. While the primary points of contact and backups may rotate from time to time, the manager, director and VPs will remain static unless there are organizational changes. If you'd like a copy of a who-to-call-list template, please let us know. We would be happy to share this with you at no-cost.

In closing, we are continuing to "share the basics" that are absolutely critical / foundational items that must be in place to perform as a highly effective customer advocate. And, there is more…See you next edition...

View previous articles in this series.

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

This column is devoted to memorable customer experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This issue provides an example of exemplary customer service.

I wanted to go to
Cape May, NJ to enjoy the southern beach and warm ocean water. I found the hotel on the Internet. The woman on the phone who took my reservation couldn't have been more helpful, spending much time talking to me about weather and activities in town. When I arrived, the people at the front desk were exceptional during my whole stay. I will be back!

(And, wonder of wonders, it was a family owned and run place. The campground I return to every summer in Maine and the dude ranch I return to every Thanksgiving are both family owned and run. There is a secret here! When a front line employee has a vested interest, they are far more responsive to the customer, as compared to just an employee collecting a paycheck.)

Editor's note:Unless you are receiving money directly from customers, it can be easy to forget that it is the customer who is really paying your bills. Family-owned businesses get this because they have to. Employees just collecting paychecks might not, so it's up to management within customer service organizations to help employees get this, by sharing the voice of the customer with the rest of the organization and implementing appropriate reward and incentive mechanisms. Download our whitepaper Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives for more information on this topic.

Have your own customer service experience to share?
Email us. Names will be changed to protect the guilty....

View previous Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down articles.


+ Customer Advocacy - Navigating the Organization
+ Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
+ Recommended Reading

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Embarking on the Journey to Customer Centricity
CCI President Craig Bailey has been selected as the winner of AFSMI's Writer's Award in the category of Consultants and Professional Writers, for his recent Sbusiness magazine article Embarking on the Journey to Customer Centricity. This annual award specifically recognizes Consultants and Professional Writers for providing readers with the broad perspective of someone who has studied the industry objectively.

Recommended Reading
Because it never hurts to reinforce an important point, this edition we recommend CRM Magazine article Customer Service Failures: Not Always a CRM Problem by Rashid Kahn. Too often, technology is implemented as the silver-bullet solution without considering the fundamental supporting processes. The reality is, without good, well-defined processes, automation simply makes bad things happen faster.

Seminar in Malaysia
Join Customer Centricity Founder and President Craig Bailey for a seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 10-11 April 2006. Rescheduled from October 2005, the seminar covers both strategic and tactical approaches for a company to become customer centric. At a strategic level, we will clearly outline a road-map for creating a customer centric organization. At a tactical level, we will cover practical approaches to enable customer service representatives to deliver top-notch service. Please contact us for more information.

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 possible.

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