As humans, we are engineered to favour comfort over disruption, familiarity over uncertainty and clarity over ambiguity. We are biased, as well, to favour tradition over change. Hence, in our lives and in our workplaces, we lean into our comfort zones to give us a sense of stability and continuity.
But what if the times require us to delink from our traditional beliefs, behaviours and habits? Well, some of us will welcome change, some of us will need to be forced into the change and many of us will remain riveted to our customary patterns. Just think back to the pandemic as a recent reference if you need an illustration of the responses to change.
The future of service delivery and customer experience requires businesses to unthink their traditional approaches in the pursuit of customer happiness. In some cases, this will mean incremental adjustments, whilst in the majority of cases, it will require radical shifts.
The future of service delivery and customer experience requires businesses to unthink their traditional approaches in the pursuit of customer happiness.
Shifting away from a reactive customer response pattern is a good start. Some businesses only swing into action when triggered by a service failure or customer complaint. A better way would be to prevent the complaint and the failure in the first place. Every department in every business should be mandated to maximize its efficiency and should be provided with a list of key performance indicators for sustaining performance efficiency on a daily basis. Of course, policing this arrangement at executive level, will become the accountability system.
The big win for the business with this proactive approach that champions an obsessive commitment to efficient operations, is the opportunity to eliminate upwards of eighty percent of service failures.
Next up is the need to unthink the belief that the customer service department has sole duty of care for service quality, service delivery and customer experience in a business. I encounter this mistaken positioning of responsibility all the time. Invariably, this causes the customer service department to be responsible for acts over which it has zero control and to become the docking station, many times unfairly, for customer fury.
Shifting away from a reactive customer response pattern is a good start.
A more correct positioning would be to ascribe to the customer service department, responsibility for driving the creation of a customer-centric infrastructure, defining service delivery standards, diffusing customer engagement practices across the business and measuring compliance with this framework. This configuration will hold every department responsible for its contribution to duty of care in producing great customer outcomes. The customer service department becomes an oversight unit that keeps the entire business under surveillance and calls out those departments that are in violation of service-centricity codes.
Another mistaken belief is the thinking that the back office or back-end employees do not interact with external customers. Why do these employees and these departments exist if they do not contribute in some way to customer outcomes?
Next up is the need to unthink the belief that the customer service department has sole duty of care for service quality, service delivery and customer experience in a business. I encounter this mistaken positioning of responsibility all the time.
The new thinking required here, is to ensure that this geographic group shares the same sense of urgency as its front-end colleagues, so that the internal value chain is not impaired and can flow without interruption. As a matter of fact, it’s often because of the efficiency of back-end departments and employees, that some businesses deliver outcomes that exceed their customers’ expectations. So, can we please stop undervaluing the back-end groups?
Businesses need to unthink the practice of being tethered rigidly to employee specialization and to blend a case management approach with a first-point-of-resolution practice. Employee specialization promotes a pass-along, hand-off and forget the customer practice when the employee completes his or her particular part of the customer’s transaction. The case management approach engenders the practice of employees tagging themselves to customers from first point of contact, to closure of the transaction.
Another mistaken belief is the thinking that the back office or back-end employees do not interact with external customers.
This approach networks the employees who “touch” the customer throughout the journey and they become “co-owners” and “co-connectors” of the relay experience, ensuring no loose ends and communicating any changes that may disrupt the expected outcomes along the line of contact. Employees along this journey understand and execute their agency over their leg and do whatever they can to accelerate success in the follow-on legs.
Finally, businesses need to unthink the belief that somehow, all employees should have an inbuilt sense of care for customers. The reality is that some employees do and others do not, giving way to spotty customer experiences.
How does a business begin to reverse this trend?
Three options come to mind. Build a better employee mousetrap, nurture care as a non-negotiable part of the business mission and eliminate circles of unhappiness across the business.