When Competing with Disruptions, Focus on your Customers!

On 07 Dec 2018 No comments

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-By CB Rajesh-

Do your employees own the process or customers? Are they getting rewarded on process adherence or customer satisfaction?

Today, every organization has competition from unforeseen quarters. Case in point is how mobile phones are shaping the media & entertainment world, learning apps & virtual universities are giving competition to educational institutes, how wearable technology is impacting fashion, apparels & smartphone industry and also the way airline industry is getting impacted with the evolution of video conferencing. Disruption by any organization is attributed on how it is making it convenient or driving more value for the customers through its products and services.

This article mainly focuses on customer service delivered at various touch-points. In most of the organizations people are trained and motivated to follow processes while handling customer queries and some have been successful too. This approach is at best segmentation in the dawn of individualization and hence not a future fit strategy. Process will always have a limited reach as it is mostly influenced by historical data, trends and past events. Post publishing a new process, it must be flexible to accommodate new scenarios due to ever changing customer needs.

I am not for once advocating that the process is not important, it will always remain a guiding principle for customer handling, however, in some circumstances, the process may not be sensitive enough to understand customer's pain and that is where humans need to takeover and override process.

Let us look at a few examples on why personalized approach will be prudent going forward,

1. I recently bought a pair of sneakers from a famous brand and realized that after 15 minutes of run, it started biting my right heel. After careful observation I realized that it was a stitching & pasting issue. I decided to write to the customer service reporting the issue and the executive promptly requested me to email the invoice copy, shoe code & photographs of the shoes. Next day I once again got a response from the company stating that my claim has been rejected as there are no physical damage visible on the photographs. Now for this interaction I would give a 100% to the executive for promptness and process adherence, but unfortunately the process refereed only covers an external damage / defect which didn’t help the cause. 

2. Sometime back I ordered 2 bottles of honey through an E-commerce website, but when I received the delivery, one of the bottles was broken and I immediately complained. Next day I received full refund on my purchase, but I was surprised to discover that it was for 2 bottles while I was expecting for only 1. Now this is again a situation where process was followed for full refund, but with no human intelligence to customize the solution and cater to a specific need. 

Each time when the customer care executive opens a conversation, they pledge to listen carefully and try their best to address the queries and concerns. This is based on their understanding of process and empowerment defined by the organization. This denotes that most of the employees are bound by the processes, which may result into a service denial sometimes for scenarios that fall outside of a process. These outliers are in a way, an early warning system for process revision before a large base gets affected.

There is a paradigm shift in customer behavior today as they are exposed to best in class services and compare everything with their favorite brand rather than the competitors. This is a big change since most of the companies are used to benchmark with their industry peers. Companies who desire to stay ahead in customer service must design and implement strategies around following pillars,

  1. 100% Query handling with-in short interval

  2. Giving choice of channels

  3. Keeping the interactions continuous

  4. Power to transact themselves

  5. Make it convenient

In conclusion, the policy/process owners will have to design strategies through simplification and by fulfilling customers individual needs. Organizations which will empower their service teams to deliver personalized services though preferred customer channels will be a potential winner in the coming times.

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