Customer service excellence best practices: Tip #6

In the final tip of the series, learn about customer service best practices and read case studies of organizations that achieved customer service excellence.

Customer intelligence best practice organizations are able to respond positively to the following statements:

  • We encourage and act on feedback from customers.
  • We understand the drivers of customer satisfaction.
  • We are recognised as innovators in our market.
  • We build long-term profitable relationships in our chosen markets.
  • We monitor and track customer retention and repurchase intention.

Operational effectiveness -- summary

Tip #6, Customer service excellence best practices, is excerpted from Chapter 7 of the book Business Success Through Service Excellence, by Moira Clark and Susan Baker, published by Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, 2004.

Chapter 3 (Tip #2) established that customers continue to turn to particular companies because they are easy to do business with. For organizations, achieving this means creating their value offering around an understanding of exactly what it is customers desire. Best practice organizations express this in terms of the four Cs (customer needs and wants, cost, convenience and communication), rather than the four Ps (product, price, place and promotion). This understanding then forms the focus of the organization's activities. In many respects, it means turning the supply chain on its head and thinking about taking the customer as the point of departure for the organization, and not its final destination. Making this an operational reality is then dependent on the effectiveness of service delivery processes and programs.

For many organizations, the aim of operational effectiveness is to deliver the "perfect customer experience" on every occasion. This is not, however, a single event but is best conceptualized as an ongoing process. And in order to ensure that service delivery processes and procedures are optimized, best practice organizations use one or more sets of tools and techniques to promote continuous improvement. These may include benchmarking, the International Standards Institute's ISO 9000 series or Six Sigma. This latter approach, based on established techniques developed in manufacturing, has been popularized through the impact it has had on the Motorola and GE businesses. Essentially, Six Sigma is a statistically based, organization-wide approach to quality improvement that aims for a maximum number of error-free transactions, generally expressed as so many per million occurrences.

Operational effectiveness has become a lot more complex in light of the proliferation of media and channels. And for organizations with a multimedia/multi-channel strategy, their goal is to ensure that the customer has a perfect experience across all the media and channels they offer. Each time the customer comes into contact with the organization, they should feel like they are talking to the same person. Too many organizations forget this when it comes to integrating the web into the service offering -- for them it offers an opportunity to cut costs rather than enhancing the customer's experience.

Finally, organizations need to manage their customer complaints -- excellent complaint handling consists of three key operational activities: dealing with the customer, solving the problem for the customer and dealing with the problem within the organization. A philosophy of proactive service recovery can work to improve service excellence.

Download the rest of this chapter on customer service best practices.

Customer service excellence: Six tips in six minutes

Home: Introduction
Tip 1: Using customer intelligence in a service strategy
Tip 2: Improving customer service with effective business processes
Tip 3: Employee satisfaction and customer service excellence
Tip 4: Building a service strategy with organizational leadership
Tip 5: Change management in a customer service strategy
Tip 6: Customer service excellence best practices

These chapter excerpts from Business Success Through Service Excellence, by Moira Clark and Susan Baker, are used by permission from Elsevier Publishing. Published by Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, 2004.

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