Ensuring customer service excellence for your customers
by Amanda Green 22nd May 2015
According to research by First Direct, inadequate service is costing UK companies £7.7bn a year in lost business, with people increasingly turning their back on brands that don’t deliver. It’s not just the lost profits that companies need to worry about; poor customer service can damage brand reputation, cause customers to defect and in regulated industries, increase the risks of financial penalties.
A common problem is that despite high investment in the training of call centre staff including away-days, workshops and e-Learning, they still make errors when dealing with customer queries or complaints. How can companies address this issue and ensure a consistent level of service excellence?
Understanding the root causes of poor customer serviceWhen customer services aren’t up to par, the first symptoms a business may notice is lower than expected scores on customer satisfaction surveys, increased call backs to the contact centre, and increased customer complaints or a longer than average time to resolve a customer query.
The standard solution of providing more staff training and one to one coaching is unlikely to yield any real improvement unless the root causes of why this is happening are uncovered.
The real nub of the problem tends to be one of the following three situations:
People don’t truly understand what they’ve been “told”
Just because people are given extensive training, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they truly understand how, when and why they should use it.
The typical multiple choice questionnaire handed out at the end of a training course, can only really measure someone’s ability to select the right answer from a list of possible answers. It does not identify if a person truly understands in what specific circumstance they should apply their knowledge.
People are 100% confident they do know and they do understand – when in fact they don’t.
Often people will come to work believing they’re doing a great job. If a customer has a query, they are confident the advice they’ve given is right and they will be happy they’ve followed the correct company process and procedures.
When asked to attend a training or refresher course people can wrongly believe they already know everything, which makes them approach the course with the wrong motivation; a desire and intent to simply “get through it and tick the boxes”, rather than with a genuine interest or agenda for re-examining the subject and challenging their own understanding.
The tools and resources provided are not used to best advantage
Most organisations make significant investment in Learning and Development Systems, tools, materials and expertise and many have made an even greater investment in organising, maintaining and syndicating industry and “Corporate Knowledge” via a central Knowledge Management System.
However, these may not be designed or presented in the best way for people to get the most out of them. The information provided via the Intranet or Knowledge Management solution may be excellent but if the people find it difficult to use or time consuming they will soon abandon it.
The solution: Developing ‘outstanding’ customer service is challenging however, it is not impossible. What is often overlooked in many companies is that organisational effectiveness lies not in how well processes are engineered but whether employees actually understand what they have been trained to do and if they have the confidence to do it in the right way, every time.
Typically 30% of employees in any company misunderstand at least one key aspect of their role, in spite of the fact they have received training.
One issue is that too often companies take a ‘sheep dip,’ approach to training – delivering training that is ‘one size fits all’, untargeted and ineffective. Many companies also fail to benchmark staff or measure what people really understand versus what they think they understand and how their knowledge is actually applied at work.
To meet the challenges of delivering consistently excellent customer service, companies need to assess their employees to ensure they are delivering the right training, development, information and management processes that allow them to excel in their roles and keep customers happy and loyal. One way to do this is using employee assessments designed to test and measure advisors in realistic ‘on the job’ situations.
These types of assessments use situational judgement questions asking people what they would do in certain situations, such as handling a customer complaint. The results will reveal knowledge gaps and unacceptable behaviour thus giving managers a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of every individual.
It is crucial that managers understand not just how competent their staff are, but how they use their knowledge and how they apply this at work. Once gaps in understanding have been identified, companies can design specific interventions, avoiding the one-size fits all approach to training and provide appropriate learning media and resources to address it.
As Principal Cosultant for Cognisco, Amanda provides consultancy to a wide range of public sector, multi-national and blue-chip clients to help them explore employee knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and confidence. Amanda utilises various methodologies for the assessment and reduction of behavioural characteristics indicative of violations and non-compliant work behaviour. Amanda works with clients and associates to design and deliver bespoke assessment solutions and interventions and evaluate the results, in terms of ROI. Clients include: John Lewis, Network Rail, QinetiQ, BP, Centrica, Eurostar, and Heathrow Express to name a few.
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