Should your organization have a customer service plan? The simple answer is yes!
Developing a Customer Service Plan
While implementing specific customer service initiatives and programs is essential to creating a positive customer experience within an organization, these efforts need to be developed together as part of a customer service plan to increase their effectiveness and make sure that they are strategically aligned. Taking the time to develop a comprehensive customer service plan can help to ensure that your efforts are customer-centric, sustainable and consistent with each other.
Over the years, I have developed customer service plans of all shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny, digestible plans for single departments to the massive, voluminous plans needed to serve large companies or city governments. As part of my Customer Service Officers Program within the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director’s Office, I walk designated customer service officers through the process of creating a customer service plan for their individual departments. Let’s walk through the steps in how to create a customer service plan:
As it is first, getting “Buy-In” is probably the most important step to creating and implementing a customer service plan within your department or organization. As a customer service leader, you need to communicate both the importance and urgency of a strong customer service plan to the people who have the power to make changes. Buy-in ensures that your efforts will have enough resources to get off the ground. It also ensures that your organization’s leaders will make these efforts a priority in their implementation phase and will not ignore them once real changes are made.
Understand your Customers
Understanding your customers is a vital step in creating a customer service plan and ought to take up most of your time prior to actually writing the plan. Getting to know your customers means mapping out who your customers actually are (every internal and external customer you might have) and getting real feedback from them on their wants and needs.
Far too often leaders within an organization say something to the effect of “Well I know what the customers want.” Developing an effective customer service plan, however, means actually hearing and understanding what the customers want and catering to their real, not perceived, needs.
In the Customer Service Officers Program, officers conduct at least 5 focus groups of both internal and external customers to better understand their department’s current service and customers’ expectations. As part of the requirement, all of the focus groups need to be conducted prior to creating the actual plan, allowing the feedback to be the driving force behind its development.
(Sometimes, real customer feedback can help to get buy-in from your organization’s leaders)
Want to know more about how and why your organization should have a customer service plan? Stay tuned for “Should Your Organization Have a Customer Service Plan? Part Two” !
Rosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at www.rosettacarringtonlue.com