Consistent world-class customer support is hard to find, but, when a company is successful at delivering excellent service, I find that there are consistently four key areas where they excel. These areas have become so much a part of the culture of these types of companies that they are able to spend their time making process improvements.
#1 – Common Sense
This is the most obvious but it’s the one that organizations overlook most often. Support centers are so wrapped up in trying to implement latest technology, or so deep in problems, that they forget to step back and look at the primary goal: “Answer the customer’s question in a timely manner.”
Customers are a funny group of people; they are just like all the staff in the support center because we are all customers at one time or another. So, as a manager making decisions for your support organization, put yourself in the shoes of the customer.
How? Start with the simple question of, “If I called here for support, what would I want?”
Managers today are placing hope in the latest technology to solve the problems of response times, resolution times and customer satisfaction. However, if there is not already a good process in place, technology can only cause more problems.
For example, if one doesn’t know how to cook, buying all of the latest kitchen equipment and gadgets will not help because one still doesn’t know how to cook. But if the successful process is there, technology can make a good thing great. Technology is not the only area where common sense is lost.
#2 – Corporate Commitment
True corporate commitment to the company’s support center is hard to find. Most organizations have small pockets of total support within the management team, but true corporate commitment, lived by everyone on the management team, is rare.
Executives who are committed to delivering world-class support weave these values into the way they lead an organization. Decisions are made and strategy is set with the commitment of making sure the customer receives the best help possible. It is not easy to find a leadership team like this, and it is very difficult to change the behavior of others.
The best way to begin developing more commitment from the management team is through a constant focus on demonstrating to them how improved customer satisfaction relates to increased profitability to the company. A change cannot be expected too quickly though. This is a process that may take years.
#3 – Motivated Staff
Most people who choose service as a career really love helping people. Every day, this group of people has all the problems of the product or service dumped on them. Stress and burnout is a nearly inevitable result of this job, thus causing a very high turnover rate. When too much stress enters into the job it is almost impossible to motivate the staff to continue.
When the organization commits to delivering world-class support and begins to make the necessary changes, stress will increase slightly until the right processes are in place. Later it becomes a less stress filled place to work. This allows these caring personalities to feel as though they’ve accomplished something, resulting in less burnout and more job fulfillment.
#4 – Industry proven techniques
Most organizations believe they can support their customers and don’t need help, and, for a very few, that is true. Every organization should look to the other companies in the industry to gain insights on how to develop their own procedures, i.e., basing it on the best practices of the industry.
Not only should companies network with others at conferences and associations, but they also should look for valid certifications that help direct them toward world-class status. Certifications should not only include process validation but also measurable results. Without measurable results it is hard to truly know when an organization meets that world-class status.
“All 4” is a good start…
Take a look inside any world-class support organization, and these four elements will be present. If one element is missing, the action plan should be to repair that element beforemoving forward.
While these are not the only elements required, they are the foundation to every success within an organization. Every organization should make efforts to implement these basic four elements on their traveled road to world-class support.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been in a support center that exhibits these four key traits? Tell us about it, and what it was like working in such an environment. Have you found other keys that made the organization work well? Please share your experiences or opinions in the comments below.