Principle #3: The Process Is Where the Leverage Is

The third principle in this series, Improving Quality and Performance in Customer Experience, focuses our attention on the bigger picture – the processes within an organization. A process is a “system of causes.” (Note: in the context of quality and process improvement, “system” refers to the system of causes or processes, not a technology.) Every organization is an expansive system …

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Standards for the Service Operation: Quality and Value

Establishing the right quality standards for your organization is essential to delivering efficient and effective service. In my LinkedIn Learning course “Quality Standards in Customer Service,” I outline four quality standards that can help you define what quality and value mean. Standards for the service operation: Quality and value from Quality Standards in Customer Service by Brad Cleveland

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Principle #2: Quality and Access to Service Work Together

In customer experience, when service is required, quality of service and access to it are inextricably associated with, and complementary to, each other. Accessibility is an enabler. When customers wait too long, they will often verbalize their criticisms when they finally do reach an employee. Valuable time is spent apologizing and delivering service takes more time. Employee burnout can increase. …

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Principle #1: Quality Must Be Based on Customer Needs and Expectations

The need to identify and address customer expectations stems from a widely accepted principle: improvements in customer experience lead to increased customer loyalty, better business results and a stronger brand reputation. Consider the old adage about building the best-quality horse buggy in town: it doesn’t matter if no one wants it. A lesser-known but similarly powerful principle is also at …

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The Leadership Secret to Effective Coaching

In the most engaged teams I’ve seen, there are solid coaching principles at work. But the ultimate leadership secret is to approach training, coaching and performance standards as opportunities to empower your employees to coach themselves. Learn more about how to encourage self-coaching in this video “Coaching for Improved Performance” from my LinkedIn Learning course Customer Service: Motivating Your Team. …

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Build Customer Expectations into Plans and Direction

Anticipating customer expectations is essential to developing effective customer service. In fact, customer expectations ultimately define what good service means. Truly understanding your customers can help you stand out in an environment that evolves every day. So, how do you ensure customer expectations are built into your plans and direction? Let me make some recommendations: First, make sure that your …

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Your Organization’s Personality

Motorcycle company Harley Davidson has incredibly loyal customers. Riders join clubs and wear Harley clothes, and some even have Harley tattoos. Many CEOs and chief marketing officers point to Harley as the holy grail of customer loyalty, and wonder what they can do to be more like Harley. The answer: don’t be more like Harley. Be more like you. Connect …

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Empowering Your Customer Service Team

Many organizations want to do the right thing for customers, but too often put a multi-layered, time-eroding approval process in place to get there. By then, the customer is gone, or the loyalty that could arise from their experience has dwindled. That’s not effective empowerment; in fact, it’s not empowerment at all. Your agents must be able to take action …

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Improving Performance: Two Types of Standards

The cornerstone of an effective quality observation process is documenting specific, observable behaviors and tailoring coaching accordingly. An effective way to consider performance (quality) standards is to categorize them as either “foundation” or “finesse.” Foundation standards measure whether something was done, and can be assessed with a simple yes or no. For example, the agent uses their name in the …

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Time-Tested Tips for Handling Tough Contacts

How equipped are your agents for those situations when something is going wrong? When customers are clearly upset? Here are some time-tested tips: If your organization messed up, acknowledge it in a sincere way—and in plain language. (How often as a customer do you see or hear the scripted words, “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused”?) As writing …

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