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Ensuring that your organization is getting maximum benefit from the effort and investments you're putting into customer service is an important leadership opportunity. Let's explore ways you can boost the value of customer service.
There are three levels on which effective service creates value.
The first is efficiency. Accurate workload forecasts and schedules, good quality that prevents rework, and effective self-service systems are all aspects of ensuring that customer service is efficient.
A second level of value is contribution to customer loyalty. If you measure customer satisfaction before and after a customer service interaction, effective service should translate into higher scores. In a study often cited in business schools, Marriott found that 89% of customers who had no problems were likely to return, while 94% of customers who had problems that were resolved were likely to return.
A third level of opportunity is strategic value. Here, customer service contributes value to other functions across the organization. Let's look at this one a bit deeper—this is where customer service can drive innovation.
Every day, your customer-facing services have visibility on the organization's products, services and processes. I love discovering inspiring examples of how organizations leverage these opportunities. For example:
- The Australia Zoo turns customer inquiries into ideas for custom visitor packages (such as the koala experience and the wombat encounter), which has boosted revenues per visit and repeat visits.
- Moen, a manufacturer of faucets and fixtures, mines customer interactions to guide how-to videos on YouTube.
- Intuit uses customer insight when designing accounting packages for specific types of businesses.
- Bose Corporation analyzes customer inquiries for ideas on simplifying product design and improving the clarity of user guides.
A practical way to identify these opportunities is to build a cross-functional team to analyze the reasons for customer service interactions. Graph the frequency of top drivers to discover trends. And then act on what you're learning.
There are two categories of information that are essential. One comes from the interactions themselves. What are the drivers of customer service issues, the reasons customer need help? And what do you learn in the course of handling interactions?
A second source of information comes from assessing the impact of improvements. For example, how many calls are avoided as you improve self-service? How are customer reviews influenced by service improvements? While there's no one report for cross-functional benefits, it's important to make estimates on the value of these contributions.
Candidly, only a small percent of organizations harness the potential value of customer service. And only some go the extra step to quantify the impact. So as you develop this area, you'll be among the few and the best. And you'll be taking the conversation around the value of service to a whole different level.