Customer service success

Five wrongs to turn right for service strategy success

8th Nov 2018

Tackle these common customer service issues to dramatically improve your customer experience

Socrates once said “I cannot teach anybody anything. All I can do is make them think”.

I hope the thoughts below will get you thinking about how you go about creating a strategy to deliver sustainable customer loyalty.

1. If you focus on the WRONG GOALS, you’re unlikely to get the RIGHT OUTCOMES

A key focus for many organisations currently is customer experience. Yet recent research from America suggests that, just as happened with customer relationship management programmes, many of the customer experience programmes in the USA are failing to achieve worthwhile outcomes. In fact, in the last research I read, it was actually most programmes, because there appeared to be a roughly 80% failure rate. I think a key reason for this is that in many of these programmes the focus and goal are wrong.

Customer Experiences are an important element of success and are a vital step in the right direction. But I think customer experience is the wrong ultimate goal. I believe the right goal should be customer loyalty. My point is that customer experiences alone, even great ones, are unlikely to build lasting customer loyalty. Many experiences may be nice to have, and customers may really appreciate them, but they could have little or no impact on customer loyalty.

But if you focus on the right mix of managed experiences, those that build customer loyalty, coupled with managed expectations, ensuring they never exceed your ability to deliver, and managed memories, so customers remember the experiences that will build loyalty, my experience indicates that you are more likely to be in the 20% of programmes that produce the desired outcomes.

2. If you hire the WRONG PEOPLE, you’re unlikely to get the RIGHT BEHAVIOURS

There’s a common belief that the key to great service delivery lies in designing and delivering great training programmes for front line service people. But I think that’s wrong. Great training will help, but it is not the key to success.

I believe the right key to success is ensuring you start by recruiting the right people for service. That’s not people who need lots of training to do it, it’s people that have a natural flair for doing it. Then the only training they need is in the systems and processes they must master to do the job well. Knowing how to treat colleagues and customers well will be something they will have learned growing up, and they will do that naturally.

I know this is right, and I know that it works, because I’ve witnessed it in many of the organisations I’ve studied and worked with. So for many organisations, I think the focus and budgets need to move from trying to train the wrong people to making sure you recruit the right ones.

3. If you adopt the WRONG MEASURES, you’re unlikely to get the RIGHT INFORMATION

Most organisations invest heavily in systems, processes and people to measure and report on the financial performance of the organisation. Financial performance is something that obviously must be closely monitored for lasting success. But if service is of strategic importance, they are the wrong measures for success. They are measures of outcomes when what is needed is measures and management of the vital customer loyalty building inputs.

The inputs for strategic service success are:

  • Leadership focus and style.
  • The right people in the right roles.
  • A service focussed organisational culture.
  • Systems and processes designed for customer service.
  • Whole organisational education in loyalty management.
  • Investment in and support for all loyalty improvement initiatives.
  • Measurement that will lead to action on the things that will create and sustain customer loyalty.

Get these right and the information to generate the right actions will follow That will lead to the right actions being taken, and through that, the right numbers being created.

4. If you offer the WRONG REWARDS, you’re unlikely to get the RIGHT ACTIONS

Recognition and rewards signal to people what really matters in any organisation and there’s no doubt that rewards motivate people to earn them. Yet many organisations that claim customer experience and loyalty is strategically important for long term success don’t offer worthwhile rewards for achieving it. Instead they provide rewards for things like sales, turnover and profit.

But if you want customer service and loyalty to be seen as what really matters, you must make sure you provide worthwhile rewards for the actions that will lead to it and for those people that excel at achieving it. It needs much more than the odd box of chocolates or bottle of wine. It need a sustained investment in programmes to motivate and educate people in the right behaviours, in clear career paths into senior roles for people get it and can inspire and motivate others, and in worthwhile financial rewards for the service stars.

5. If you ask the WRONG QUESTIONS, you’re unlikely to get the RIGHT ANSWERS

Questions elicit answers, but the wrong questions are not likely to produce the right answers needed for success. I have in mind the customer research that many organisations spend fortunes on. Most of it that I’ve seen, tends to be focussed on questions about how ‘satisfied’ customers are with a particular product or service. Yet research from numerous sources indicates that there is little or no connection between a feeling of satisfaction and that person’s likelihood to repurchase and be loyal in the long term. So in many cases the answers such questions generate are practically worthless.

Instead, questions should be focussed on the things that measure and predict customer loyalty. Things like:

  • What customers expect from you and how you deliver against it.
  • How you make customers feel when they do business with you.
  • What customers remember most about the experiences you provide.
  • How easy customers find it to get what they want from you.
  • How loyal to you customers are likely to be in the future.

Answers to these questions will enable you to make any necessary changes to existing systems and procedures and create the correct ones and the right behaviours to create worthwhile, lasting customer loyalty.

All these thoughts stem from my research and experiences working with organisations of all types and sizes during the past 20 years. I am therefore convinced they are right, and I hope they will get you thinking about the issues they address, and perhaps cause you to change some of the things you do and so help you to produce improved customer loyalty and organisational results.


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