Henning Ahlert, Managing Director at Junokai, the consulting subsidiary of Majorel
How to translate strategic goals in customer service into the right organization and management
With this tip of the week, I would like to address a topic that is essential for the successful management of customer service units. However, in practice we observe time and again that the derivation of consistent action from a previously defined strategy unfortunately falls short in the service areas of many companies.
True to the motto that you can’t change the wind, but you can set your sails differently, acting should come before always reacting. But especially in service units, the reality looks different: Much starts with an unspecific or even missing strategic goal planning. What purpose should customer service serve in the coming years? What vision does the company have for its service? It is obvious that the answer can range from customer service as a “necessary evil” to one with “strategic importance as a competitive differentiator and sales driver,” but it should already be clearly defined and communicated to everyone involved in the company. Only when it is clear how high the bar is, will employees know what needs to be achieved to actually cross it in a targeted and sustainable manner.
Subsequently, the dimensions should be derived from the vision, which one wants to drive with measures and the key figures, which are used to work on the achievement of the tactical goals. Dimensions and metrics can be related to the customer to be served as well as to internal efficiency, productivity or even profitability (e.g., when it comes to sales).
A practical example - achieving customer satisfaction
Let’s look at a practical example: The vision or purpose of customer service for the company is defined as “outstanding customer satisfaction with which one wants to clearly differentiate oneself from the competition“.
One dimension that, therefore, needs to be permanently addressed with measures that need to be defined and sometimes change is “customer satisfaction”. This in turn can be measured with key figures such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the transactional NPS, a Customer Effort Score or customer satisfaction indices – individually or in a scorecard with several criteria. It makes sense to break down the dimension of customer satisfaction into satisfaction drivers and dissatisfaction drivers in order to specifically build on strengths and eliminate weaknesses. Focusing is the order of the day. Time, money and the patience of superiors vis-à-vis customer service for implementation are in short supply. As the person in charge, you should think carefully about which drivers really pay off on the selected dimension and what is perhaps less important – no matter how exciting or interesting it may seem, whether it’s new technologies or new contact channels that you want to offer. Accordingly, it is important to set up the right measures in a target-oriented manner for a (hopefully positive) influence on the identified drivers.
The effect of the measures on the drivers and thus the defined key figures for measuring the dimension can be observed over time in permanent monitoring. Depending on the effect, measures can then be intensified, deselected, or changed.
In theory, this sounds simple, and in practice it is, if you structure it carefully and then implement it in a targeted manner. A major advantage is that the entire project, with its objectives and implementation steps, becomes more transparent for all those involved and affected in the company. Everyone knows what is being worked on and how the results will develop.
Unfortunately, in practice, people often act mindlessly and initiate measures without a clear target focus. In addition, there are often abrupt changes between individual measures. In addition to the failure to achieve results, this also leads to a lack of orientation within the organization and a feeling of lack of planning, which is then rightly blamed on those responsible.
The year-end spurt is approaching and plans for 2022 are being drawn up. Perhaps a good opportunity to rethink your own planning.