As the terms “engaged” and “engagement” are popping up in almost every customer service blog post and seminar, it’s become increasingly clear that a high level of engagement is not only necessary but essential to effectively serving today’s customer. Today’s customer wants to be engaged by meaningful interaction, convenient channels and employees that care. I’ve found that the public sector is no different—constituents want more than a phone number; constituents want a relationship with city government. All customers, across public and private sectors, want to be fully engaged.
This engagement requires coordination and effort across your entire customer service operation, not just one or two functions. Let’s take a look at the checklist and the questions that follow to see if your customer service operations are fully engaged with your customer.
Multiple Channels. Have you opened as many channels for your customers as possible? Are those channels convenient? Have you made provisions so that those channels can be “self-service” if the customer chooses? Using a multi-channel approach to customer interaction helps your organization cater to all of your customers, letting them know that you’re listening and care about their needs.
Mobile Strategy. Have you adopted a mobile strategy and done research on how many of your customers have adopted a “mobile lifestyle”? What will customers gain if they download your app? Does the app facilitate meaningful interaction? Is it robust enough to give the customers the functionality and information they need? Adding a mobile app to your customer service operation can literally put a customer service rep. at the palm of your customer’s hand. (Just make sure the app speaks to the actual wants and needs of your customer.)
Employees. Engaged employees are equally as important (if not the most important) factor in a customer service operation. Have you communicated your commitment to customer service to all of your employees? What benefits do employees gain from providing customer service excellence? Do you give your employees the tools they need to be successful? Does your hiring strategy reflect your customer service values? As your employees are one of the most important pieces to your customer service operation, it’s essential that employees are fully engaged. This means that your organization needs to properly communicate values, provide training and empower employees.
Metrics and Feedback. How can you fully engage with customers if you aren’t listening? Metrics and feedback can be the lifeblood of your engagement efforts if you let them. Make sure that customer satisfaction surveys provide the customer with a chance to meaningfully express his/her concerns. It’s also essential that your operation’s focus on metrics that actually speak to the customer experience. Just as important as collecting the metrics and feedback, however, is internally communicating the results. If results are taken and ignored, no changes can be made. To fully engage, the entire organization needs to hear from the customer so that it can adapt and provide better service.
Programs and Initiatives. Does your organization interact with the community? Does your organization have programs or initiatives that empower customers? Do these initiatives push self-service or education? Or both? Programs and initiatives (such as the Neighborhood Liaison Program or Citizens Engagement Academy) can make your customer service operation multidimensional and allow your organization to interact with customers past a phone call or online form.
Social Media. Although social media could technically be placed in “Multiple Channels” its importance makes room for its own category. Social media is quickly becoming one of the best tools to properly engage with customers; but to do so, social media needs to be used in the right way. Are your social handles responding to customer “tweets” or “posts” in a human way? Are these actually interacting with users or just pushing information? Are you using videos and other visuals to help educate your customers? Do your social media handles speak to your brand or enhance it? And most important, if you were a customer, would you follow your organization’s social media handles?
I hope this checklist raised a few questions or awareness to the possibilities of how your customer service operations can fully engage with customers. Want to discuss your methods of engagement? Leave a comment.
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