2013-07-19

How leaders can help develop customer service strategies

Drake Editorial Team

A customer focused business, whether B2C or B2B (we all have customers), is more profitable and has greater longevity. Period. Research has proven that businesses that aim to be more customer-centric have a 24% higher net profit, and have a higher profit per employee than ‘the other guys’ (those that aren’t customer focused).


Let’s not concentrate on this however. Let’s assume you’ve already decided, as you should, that you’d like to be more customer-centric. How do I do this you might ask yourself? Well, that’s where we’ll begin. To become a successful customer focused business, your leadership must develop a holistic strategy that impacts every department, and revolutionizes the way you do business.


Leadership is the driving force of strategy. It is generals that craft military tactics, so it must be your executives that develop a business strategy. Only your business leaders possess the unique interdepartmental knowledge that is needed to make a unified pan-department approach.


It’s your leaders who best understand your business culture and values, and whether or not they must be changed to accommodate the new customer-centric tactics.


And it’s your leadership who is in the best position to see the course of the strategy from above, to analyze the results, and to let the strategy evolve as is necessary. It’s not enough to just craft a strategy, it must be seen through until the end, analyzed, documented, and hopefully systemized. This will make it easier to scale your customer service process, and to increase your profitability.


Here are a few tips in developing a customer service strategy from the top down:


1. Find out what your customer wantsThe first step in creating an interdepartmental customer service strategy is to find out what your customers want, what they’ve been asking for, and what they’ve been talking about.


The easiest and arguably the best way of doing this is to conduct interviews with your customers. If possible, have a specialist or an executive do this as they will be in a better position to detect and understand patterns in your customer’s comments.
Another way is to make it easier for customers to complain and comment. Complaints are a window into your customer’s mind, so make it easy for them by setting up phone lines and an active social media that can respond. Once you have your information, find patterns and analyze the best course of action.


2. Set realistic goalsFrom there, set measurable, realistic goals that will help you track your strategy’s process. You should have a goal to mark each milestone in your strategy. Goals can take the form of reduced customer complaints, increased monthly revenue, or just better customer interactions.


3. Create an appetite for dynamismTo turn a short-term strategy into a long term, successful system, you’ll have to affect your team culturally. Reanalyze and possibly redefine your company values, your mission, and your approach. Is your company dynamic? Does it have an appetite for change? Can it roll with the punches while keeping profits and systems strong? If not, your team’s culture has to be reworked. To ensure this works, make sure that your executives and team management are not only part of the change, but act as the motivational leaders, paving the way through example and confidence building.


4. Document your processWhen results begin to pour in, map out the process. This will create a template for every new strategy, and will outline what has been working and what hasn’t been. The documentation should be an ongoing priority, and is never complete until the strategy has been seen through and analyzed.


5. Analyze your resultsThis is the most important step. Without analyzing the successes and failures of your customer service strategy, the entire process will be wasted! Go through your results to find the strongest feature and the weakest feature in your strategic process, after identifying the criteria through which to judge. Then refine your focus using this insight.


Improve on failures, or narrow your focus and just expand on your successes. If you find you are presented with too many failures, you should revisit the above steps and reinvent your strategy.


6. Develop a CRM strategy

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a somewhat tricky piece of technology. Use it inappropriately and it will simply be just a costly risk, but use it right and it can improve your customer service management monumentally. This in turn will benefit your bottom line.


A CRM without strategy and leadership will do you little good, so make sure its management isn’t left entirely to your IT department. Your CRM should span departments, and will hopefully unite them better in your customer service values. That is why it is key that leadership oversees the CRM process. Only they have the bird’s eye view of the operations. Finally, ensure your CRM strategy is a branch of your overall customer service strategy, that it is a tool in your arsenal and not the entire arsenal itself.


Remember to keep your long-term goals in mind. Leadership is about looking at the present while thinking about the future. Always be strategic with your thinking! Your customers will thank you, your employees will thank you, and you’ll end up giving yourself a pat on the back.


Adrian Davis is a business strategist, keynote speaker and trusted advisor to business owners and chief executives. He is the President and CEO of the management consulting firm Whetstone Inc. Adrian is often called upon to address executive management teams and sales groups to discuss corporate strategies, competitive advantages and sales excellence. For a free chapter in Adrian's book, Human-to-Human Selling, call 647-977-9047 x102. www.adriandavis.com

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