How to secure customer loyalty and profits through providing an excellent customer experience.
By Steve Shellabear • Director • dancing lion training & consultancy
As business becomes increasingly competitive, brand loyalty decreases and customers enjoy greater level of empowerment and choice, giving value through advice in the customer interaction has been shown to be key to building and maintaining the customer relationship.
But how can a business ensure it’s frontline staff are truly able and committed to delivering the customer’s brand promise, give real customer value, as perceived by the customer and maximise opportunities to deal with enquiries and complaints well?
Below is a snapshot of some of the most important areas for you to consider:
Do you have the right people in the role? Many people have traditionally entered work in a customer service environment because they enjoy helping people. (In fact, to help another is a natural human inclination.) Most people want to make a positive contribution at work, however, providing the ‘wow’ factor in a customer experience takes more than this. A proactive, committed approach and the required skill set is required to truly care for customers.
Many front line staff jobs have potentially routine tasks that can become repetitive and boring unless the focus is placed on maximising the experience of the customer. The truth is, each customer is unique and each transaction and conversation is also unique. An organisation can quickly differentiate itself from its competitors by prioritising the customer’s experience, differentiating between levels of service provided and investing in training in the key behaviours and know how to influence that experience.
Key components are:
- Delivering on the service promise
- Meeting and exceeding customer expectations
- Dealing with queries and issues
- Giving value through advice
- Giving a personal touch
Can you train someone to care? No.
Of course, you can show people how to be polite, empathise, build and sustain rapport, give value through advice and deal with complaints professionally. But true caring is based on showing kindness and concern for others. Giving value through advice can be encouraged in a supportive environment where a long-term view is maintained in managing the customer relationship. This is not just some altruistic nice to have. Customer analytics, such as the life-time customer value metric, clearly show that where a customer feels recognised and valued they will become an advocate, remain loyal, increase their spending over time and recommend to others.
Effective management and coaching
Research has shown that support from the immediate manager or frontline supervisor is critical in building a sense of belonging, engagement, responsibility and transferring know how and skills to front-line staff. For the supervisor or team leader to be effective, they in turn must enjoy the support of their line manager. Mentoring, coaching, personal development plans (PDPs), regular performance reviews and appraisals all have their part to play in maintaining optimum service levels.
Although you may not see it, there is an invisible chain of service that runs throughout the organisation with the external customer reaping the final benefits, or otherwise. This chain of service will be influenced by the culture of your organisation. Any chain can only be as strong as its weakest link. The chain may be strong, weak or broken. If you don’t know how strong the service chain is then that is a sign a review may be required.
A major factor that influences the service chain is your organisation’s culture. This is underpinned by the predominant values that are held by everyone who works there. Of course, the more senior the people are the more likely they are to be major influences on how things are done. Many of these values will be embedded in policy and working practices that are accepted as normal. Unless they are subject to regular review not all may serve the organisation or its people fully.
If the culture does not encourage open communication, and fear of speaking up is prevalent then a lack of challenge can result, even when people know something is awry. Evidence of this is the many examinations of the black box found after a plane crashes which have shown the crew were aware of faults long before the plane went down but did not speak up because the captain was in charge.
Where positive values are upheld in an organisation all staff will benefit, which in turn will increase the feelings of rapport and cooperation between managers and their reports. This positive internal flow of communication will in turn positively influence the way staff members feel about the company and how they interact with external customers.
Systems and procedures
Are your organisations systems and procedures employee friendly? Is the company easy to do business with? With new technology many business processes can quickly become out of date as customers seek new ways to interact with your organisation. The complaints systems should be well designed to enable staff to respond quickly and professionally. Staff should understand the consequences of commercial decisions and be empowered to compensate customers where key criteria has been met. The systems and procedures should support the frontline staff to ensure that the customer experiences the organisation as easy to do business with and has an enjoyable time.
Certainly your employees can deliver a value added customer service and shareholder value, if they are allowed to do so. The focus of management should be on ensuring that staff receives effective training & coaching, the organisation’s systems are well designed and the culture is truly values based and customer centric. For organisations prepared to do that, customer satisfaction, profit, return on equity and profit per employee will naturally follow.
To learn more about how a cost-effective tailored training programme can help your organisation achieve its objectives, please contact:
Steve Shellabear – Director
dancing lion training & consultancy ltd
Tel: +44 (0)1908 644791
Mob: +44(0)7710 407945
CASE STUDY: Reliance jio
dancing lion training & consultancy joins the Merchants team to help Reliance Jio digitalize India:
Steve Shellabear, director of dancing lion has been delighted to assist Merchants in the design and delivery of the Learning and Development framework in this ambitious 14 month programme, detailed below:
Reimagining the customer experience as part of India’s digital revolution
• Create an operational customer service model focused on delivering a world class customer experience
• Develop a pioneering customer experience service model within the domestic Indian market
• Enable customer service delivery through proactive care in an omni channel environment
• Support social change through giving all Indian citizens the opportunity to access to digital services, everywhere
• Comprehensive design of operational and customer experience processes
• Design a transition plan for outsourcing to local BPO providers, with an ongoing governance and innovation framework
• Deploy a differentiated model in India to gain and retain market share and presence.
• Customer experience strategy built on global best practice standards
• Comprehensive design build operate and transfer (DBOT™)
• Provision of ongoing governance and advice to retain the integrity of the model
• Establish Centre of Excellence model to maintain the focus on continual improvement
• Design blueprint within one month for the Customer Care operating model
• Establishment of customer experience management framework
• Creation of phased Omni channel management strategy
• Mapped end-to-end customer experience journeys founded on guiding principles and brand values
• HR and employee engagement framework
• Design and development of frontline to management learning & development capability
• Over 300 customer service processes reengineered in three months
• Set up of management team and phased launch plan
• Ongoing governance and social change framework.
With its headquarters in Mumbai, India, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd – India’s largest private sector company. As the country’s first telecommunications firm to hold a pan-India 4G licence worth over $2 billion, RJIL will provide fourth generation high speed internet connectivity, rich communication and various digital services across the whole of India. Its goal is to provide anytime, anywhere access to innovative and empowering digital content, to propel India into global leadership through a pioneering digital economy.
To achieve its 4G network ambition, Reliance jio needed to work with an experienced customer services expert that could design a service organisation to support the network, and help differentiate its market offering through an exceptional customer experience.
Support social change through modern communication services
In a highly underserviced market, the 4G licence will enable Reliance jio to supply services that empower social change, by supplying modern day communications services to 1.2 billion people across India. Part of this commitment includes providing 2000 schools with free access to 4G internet learning facilities – a powerful move in a nation where 400 million people still live in extreme poverty
India’s poor existing telecommunications infrastructure has added to the complex challenge of enabling the 4G network. With 800 cities in the nation, RJIL has already invested $10 billion into a colossal project to lay cables and build masts in over 86,000 sites for dishes to radiate the 4G network – just to reach 400 major cities. The completion of this mammoth project will see high speed access to services across key sectors such as education, healthcare, security, financial services, entertainment and government -citizen interfaces.
Comprehensive design of operational and customer processes
In India, most people speak at least two languages including English, yet there are still hundreds of additional languages and regional dialects spoken across the sub-continent. To address regional language issues and encourage more proactive digital interaction, Reliance jio needed a detailed blueprint of all operational and customer processes that would focus on creating a consistent world class experience for all its customers and segmented user groups.
This would mean providing an innovative map of all processes to actively encourage self-service through devices or the internet, or through digital channels such as email and web chat.
To supply people and manage the centres in as many as 20 locations across India, RJIL took a strategic decision to engage with four large BPO providers. Where Reliance jio would provide the premises and infrastructure, the team would assume responsibility for the design and build of operations, before transitioning the centres to the chosen outsource companies.
Working closely with the growing Reliance jio management team, dancing lion with Merchants completed the design phase within three months to be ready to engage the BPO providers to build, operate in seven locations initially.
With an estimated 1 million customers a day expected to contact its service centres, RJIL has a clear requirement for ongoing governance of the customer service design. Following the transition, the team would act as trusted advisors to Reliance jio, ensuring the design integrity of their customer experience and operational models.
Customer experience strategy built on global best practice standards
Following a presentation of global benchmarking survey results to RJIL’s executive team, the team was initially invited to conduct a four-day workshop to establish a blueprint for its 4G future in India. The intensive session used Merchants’ Contact Centre Development Model and global best practice benchmarking data to confirm Merchants alignment with Reliance jio‘s customer service goals. The Merchants team shared its methodology for developing a customer experience strategy, supported with a proposal to use Merchants’ Design Build Operate Transfer (DBOT™) model, which would enable the eventual transition of the service operations to four outsourcers.
Comprehensive design build operate and transfer (DBOT™) within twelve months
Merchants was commissioned to undertake a DBOT™ for seven contact centres to four outsource providers. RJIL engaged with Merchants to begin its DBOT™ methodology to scope functional requirements, processes and standards of the operation and to develop a transition plan. A team of 16 consultants were based in India to complete the first design phase in a tight timeline of three months.
Along with building a management structure and defining key roles and responsibilities, the Merchants team worked closely with RJIL to develop its customer experience strategy, a comprehensive organisational design with operational processes, critical roles and reporting standards. Tasked with the design of an management information and quality framework, the detailed implementation plan incorporated all operational strategies including human resources and workforce management.
Design blueprint within three months
The design phase followed the DBOT™ structure to cover customer experience, operations, facilities, processes, management information/business information, human resources and information technology. Each work stream scoped requirements by working closely with subject matter experts and owners in Reliance jio, to achieve a signed-off design in 3 months.
Over 200 customer service processes reengineered in three months
Taking into account the multiple technical and infrastructural challenges, the customer services model -which is based on the industry standard eTom model – was reengineered from a customer experience point of view. A team of Merchants experts laid out the top 10 customer journey maps and designed operational performance measures which would optimise customer experiences and processes and drive additional efficiencies.
The team designed a customer services structure, customer experience strategy, operating model, learning and development framework, and specification for fit out of the centres. The review of over 200 customer service processes was completed while redesigning the human resource strategy and model, workforce optimisation strategy, management information and quality framework. The result is some 219 different manuals, forms and templates which will be used in the customer services operations.
Set up of management team and phased launch plan
In order to service 1 million customers a day during the first 30 days, critical management roles would need to be filled to drive the customer experience across process, operations, information technology, workforce management and project management business areas.
With the contact centre advisor population projected to rise to over 25,000 within 18 months, dancing lion training & consultancy working with Merchants has provided an human resource strategy which includes recruitment processes, job descriptions, competency requirements, performance management, training and career development.
Dancing lion are pleased to be part of the ongoing Merchant’s implementation team.
Ongoing governance and social change
Merchants’ 30 years’ customer service experience has been an important factor in the delivery of ongoing governance and it will go on to support Reliance jio until its first phase launch in November 2015. As a trusted advisor and guardian of the operating model, Merchants’ will continue in its role as design authority over all aspects of the phased build and operations of Reliance jio’s service contact centres. Dancing lion personnel will play a key supporting role.
Throughout its relationship with Reliance jio, the team remains focused on its collective purpose for social change through community involvement in India. Through these experiences, the team has gained a profound insight into Reliance jio’s challenges and future goals to validate dancing lion’s and Merchants’ unique and world class approach to creating exceptional customer experiences.
Regardless of whether you are a classical music fan watching
Benjamin Zander talk to this group is inspiring. He has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. http://go.ted.com/bYXL
Steve Shellabear of dancing lion delivered a tailored Management Development Programme in Mumbai for the leadership team of a leading Telco in April 2015. Due to time constraints and the difficulties attached to bringing senior people together core subjects were condensed to include: Understanding your leadership style, building a value based culture, team dynamics and high touch management/motivation techniques. The training programme has been very well received and will be rolled out in full form to partners.