Strategic planning process
11 / April / 20 Visitors: 117 ★★★★★
Do you think your customer service approach works in the right direction? Do your priorities make sense? How do you improve the level of service? These are important questions, and you will find answers to them by developing an effective customer interaction strategy.
Below you will find a model that you can use to develop your strategy. It is quite effective and includes only seven components, i.e. the steps you must go through when designing your organization’s customer service strategy.
The first step is to shape your vision of customer service. What do you want to achieve? What is your vision and mission, and what values will determine each aspect of customer service?
The second step is to develop a strategy for customer access to your organization. This includes information about your customers, the channels through which you communicate with them (personal meetings, website, application, etc.), opening hours and more. The question is, does your access strategy effectively support your overall customer service strategy, or does it need to be customized?
The following three steps are best considered together. These are people, processes and technologies. Here you determine how your organization is going to develop the skills, knowledge and leaders that you need to provide services. How do you plan to implement operational plans and processes that support your strategy, as well as identify available technologies?
The sixth step is to identify the investments necessary to support your strategy.
The final step is innovation. Customer expectations are developing rapidly, and other organizations continue to innovate, so this last step is the key to sustainable success.
At the last stage, you will review your strategy, as well as priorities and initiatives that make sense. This will return you to the initial stage, where you revise the vision, access strategy of customers, people, processes, technologies and investments that you need. Now we turn to a thorough examination of each stage.
The first stage of the strategic development process is a vision of what you want to achieve. A customer service vision clearly defines the type of service you want your organization to provide. A very common mistake is when leaders come up with too general a vision or mission.
There are three levels at which effective service creates value, and it is very helpful to think about each of them. This will help you see the potential of customer service while shaping your vision.
The first level is efficiency. What do you imagine when you think of effective customer service? You can assume that these are well-trained representatives, or a well-organized self-service process, or preventing problems before they occur. Each of these options is part of the answer. Efficient service provides the right resources at the right time.
The second level is a contribution to customer satisfaction and loyalty. When the service is effective at this level, you can interview customers before and after the service, and they will have a more positive opinion about the organization after the interaction.
The third level is strategic. By strategic, we mean cross-functionality. Every day, the team working with your customers has an idea of the products, services and processes of the organization. When a company receives this kind of information, it is able to improve other areas of its business through innovation. For example, Bose Corporation, which manufactures high-quality audio equipment, analyzes customer requests for ideas to simplify product design and improve user manuals.
Regardless of whether you are a construction contractor, technology startup, government agency, or global airline, you need a customer access strategy that determines how your organization interacts with customers. This is the second step in the strategic planning process.
A customer access strategy is a set of standards, guidelines, and processes that describe the means by which customers gain access to the information, services, and experience that they need. An effective customer access strategy consists of 10 components. And your goal here is to determine how they should look to support your vision.
Consumer segments. In large organizations, this is usually determined in conjunction with the marketing department, where logical customer segmentation is developed.
Type of interaction. This can be placing orders, customer service or technical support. Here you must gather information and determine what skills your team will need.
Access channels Determine how customer service will be provided. It can be personal meetings, social networks, a website, a telephone service, etc. This also includes support hours.
Self-catering. It usually happens through a branded website, but you should still think about other alternatives.
This component summarizes the goals of the organization by its availability. What are your goals, how long will customers wait?
Distribution. Who will work on a particular site.
The next component summarizes the necessary human and technological resources. Which employees and which systems will be involved for each type of interaction?
This component of your plan summarizes the necessary information. What information about customers, products and services should be available? What information should be obtained during the interaction of your service?
Once you learn how to analyze information, you can use it to better understand customers and improve products and services.
Creation of new services. Here you must consider the needs for technology, investment, human resources in order to realize your innovation.
The first two steps in developing an effective customer service strategy are to create a common vision and customer relationship with your company. Once you are done with this, move on to the next steps that go in one group — people, processes, and technologies.
Some managers working on developing a customer service strategy often underestimate or, on the contrary, overestimate the level of efforts required at the stage related to human resources. They believe that it is enough to hire the right people, but then they are surprised how much should be taken into account.
The hiring of labor, their training, remuneration (incentives) and corporate culture are just some elements that are important to consider at this stage. But even here, you have to find a middle ground, because You are developing a strategy, not a detailed operational plan. Let's consider these elements in more detail.
Hiring the right people am the most important element of customer support. They will be the face of your company. Try to find people with interests that are to some extent related to your business. For example, if an airline recruits people to a customer support department, then it makes sense to hire at least some employees who love traveling.
Surveys show that 87% of employees consider career growth and development opportunities to be a very important criterion for choosing a company. Consider providing training courses for future employees, not just introductory training.
Next comes the rewards and incentives for employees. It is very important for workers where they work and in what environment they are. Consider providing free lunches for company employees, a free subscription to a pool or fitness center, etc.
And the last - the creation of a customer-oriented corporate culture. Much depends on how the employee himself feels in the company. You can consider options for giving your employees occasionally work from home, a flexible work week, etc.
Also think about the metrics that best support your customer service vision. Do you want your employees to be in the right place at the right time or to comply with the service schedule? The indicators are also affected by the quality of work, the actions of employees, their decisions and their presentation of your brand.
The next step in developing your strategy is processes. As with all seven components of a customer service strategy, processes should clearly support your vision. Let's look at three important considerations regarding process design in your customer engagement strategy:
The first consideration is a simple understanding of the importance of processes for effective customer service. Customer service is part of the organization, it is an extensive process. Any part of customer interaction, say, data entry, is also a process. Your priority should be the creation of effective processes and their continuous improvement.
The second important consideration is the identification of the main processes that will need to be created and constantly improved. We identified the five most important: resource planning, quality management, measuring performance, customer relationships and using customer feedback. You do not need to go into details, just describe superficially how you will approach each of these processes.
A third consideration is your support for ongoing processes. One of the secrets to Amazon's success is how they approach process improvement. Some point to the technology platform as a competitive advantage. However, this is not only technology, but an incredible attention to processes where communication with customers and their support are part of the transaction, which is just programmed into the technology, and which created them an advantage.
Now consider technology as the next step in developing your customer interaction strategy. Here you must determine how technology should support the concept of customer service. One of the main areas of technology development in this area is the ability to transmit voice and data, as well as cloud services.
Modern technologies allow you to open access for your customers to services by phone, chat, text messaging, social networks, video, as well as get advice from a suitable employee. To optimize processes, you can use technologies in the areas of forecasting, staffing, planning and reporting.
Quality control systems record customer interactions and allow you to analyze data for further training and quality improvement. There are many opportunities that can help you develop customer relationships. For example, some tools allow you to view a summary of all customer contacts with your organization.
Fulfillment modules can manage orders and delivery, as well as send notifications to customers. Work computers are a major area of innovation that includes intuitive graphical interfaces for accessing legacy systems, internal collaboration tools, and more.
Artificial intelligence takes important steps in customer service. AI can provide customers with self-service capabilities or service support for service representatives. A very important area of innovation is what happens on the client side - the incredible speed of development of smartphones, social and mobile capabilities.
Your strategy is really limited only by your imagination. Today, even the smallest companies have access to many of the most advanced features.