Whether you are implementing a customer service program within your department or across an organization, it’s a more intricate process than simply creating a customer service plan. Too often are these plans put to action and quickly forgotten about. Truly implementing a customer service program involves making sustainable changes to your organization’s culture and processes. While I’ve implemented customer service programs across small departments and large organizations, I’ve found that there are essential steps you can take to ensure that the program is not only great but sustainable.
1. Get real feedback from your customers. Conduct focus groups for your internal and external customers to understand their wants and needs. While most of us think we know what our customers want and why they want it, conducting un-biased focus groups can reveal surprising experiences as well as low hanging fruit. This allows you to find sustainable solutions to satisfy your customer.
2. Use the feedback to get buy-in. Getting buy-in from your organization’s leaders can be difficult when implementing any program. Buy-in, however, is essential to your program’s sustainability as it ensures resources, support and push-back when needed. Using feedback from your customer focus groups is a great way to justify the need for your customer service program.
3. Based on feedback and input from leadership, create a vision statement. Create a vision statement that is the perfect blend of “ideal” and “reality.” It should paint a picture of where you hope to be, without ignoring where you think it’s possible to be. Your vision statement should also align with your department/organization’s mission and values.
4. Create a realistic customer service plan. Use your vision statement to guide the initiatives and processes in your customer service plan. Every aspect of your customer service plan should also tie to the Voice of the Customer based on your focus groups. To better your chances for sustainability, do not create a customer service plan with too many wide-sweeping initiatives: this might present too dramatic of a change to your organization’s operations. Instead, choose one large customer service initiative to tackle in your first year.
5. Develop customer service performance metrics to track progress.Based on the initiatives in your customer service plan, develop specific metrics to track performance. Again, for sustainability purposes, don’t implement your customer service plan and expect to track dozens of metrics. Choose 1-5 important metrics to start.
6. Choose the right person/people to be accountable for the program.If you’re implementing a customer service program within your department, chances are you’ll just have one person who “owns” the customer service operations. If you’re spanning across an organization you may have plenty more. Either way, the person/people who are to be held accountable for customer service metrics need to be both educated on the V.O.C. and the customer service plan as well as have some authority to change the customer service operations.
What steps have you taken to ensure your customer service program is sustainable? Let me know in the comments.
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