When Competing With Disruptions, Focus On Your Customers!

Feb. 22, 2023

When Competing With Disruptions, Focus On Your Customers!

-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 the fashion, apparel & smartphone industry and how the airline industry is getting impacted by the evolution of video conferencing. Disruption by any organization is attributed to 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 touchpoints. In most organizations, people are trained and motivated to follow processes while handling customer queries; some have been successful too. This approach is, at best, segmentation in the dawn of individualization and hence not a future fit strategy. The process will always have a limited reach as historical data, trends, and past events mostly influence it. Post published a new process; it must be flexible to accommodate new scenarios due to 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 a customer's pain, and that is where humans need to take over and override process.

 Let us look at a few examples of why a personalized approach will be prudent in the future,

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

2. I sometimes ordered two bottles of honey through an E-commerce website, but when I received the delivery, one of the bottles was broken, and I immediately complained. The next day I received a full refund on my purchase, but I was surprised to discover that it was for two bottles while I was expecting only 1. This is again a situation where the process was followed for a 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 the process and empowerment defined by the organization. This denotes that most of the employees are bound by the processes, which may sometimes result in service denial 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 behaviour today as they are exposed to best-in-class services and compare everything with their favourite brand rather than the competitors. This is a significant change since most companies are used to benchmarking with their industry peers. Companies who desire to stay ahead in customer service must design and implement strategies around the following pillars,

1. 100% Query handling within a short interval

2. Giving a 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 by simplifying and fulfilling customers' needs. Organizations that will empower their service teams to deliver personalized services through preferred customer channels will be a potential winners in the coming times.