Embedded service excellence
Do you expect customer service excellence only from your customer-facing staff?
Then it is very likely that your customer and your organization will suffer…..!
During the annual budget process that I attended, HR was asked to come up with some financial details and a breakdown of their training proposal. It was good to see that the HR director already prepared herself by asking all departments for their training need analysis. This overview was shared with the budget committee so we could clearly see how the requested budget would be spent.
These departmental requests were pretty obvious as the finance department wanted to have finance-training and the technical departments asked for technical-trainings. Only the sales and service departments -that had customer-facing activities- asked for training in service excellence.
Although the overall impression may be that the training proposal made a lot of sense, this approach of asking departments for their preference also could have some pitfalls that should be addressed.
Balancing between employee and organization interest
Departments already tend to work in silo’s and by further expanding their own expertise, these islands may even drift further apart. There is, of course, a need to understand the latest developments and requirements for their own field of expertise but in many cases, experts already read expert-magazines and talk expert language with their expert colleagues because they share the same expert interest.
Being best-in-class in terms of expert knowledge is an important ingredient for success but only by exploring this knowledge during interaction with other departments, the real benefit, and added value will be achieved for the organization. In other words, as long as the expert department has no clue what the needs and ambitions of other departments are, the investment in expert training will only be an investment in individuals instead of an investment in both individual and organization.
Service consistency by internal and external engagements
You may recognize the experience that I had many times whereas the service level of my contact person (waiter, account manager, bus driver, etc.) was pretty good but I could sense that they were struggling to offer better service due to their internal organizational challenges. They did not have the right tools and lacked the required internal support and sometimes even expressed their frustration: ‘…Those guys in head-office don’t seem to care and they definitely have no clue… ‘
is little engagement between customer-facing departments and internal departments. It is therefore important that there should not only be a common service-excellence training throughout the organization but also a well-structured process for internal engagement. Like front-office should try to understand and act on the needs of the internal customers, a similar engagement should be organized on a regular basis to make internal departments understand the needs of the customer-facing departments.
Benefits for service and development
There will be a number of benefits for the organization once the process and training for embedding service excellence are in place and supported by the entire leadership team.
- Front-line employees will feel more confident, more proud as they are better supported once they experience that internal departments care about their challenges.
- In the past, internal departments had to investigate a drop in sales or an increase of returns, after getting the monthly reports but now they already could know and act on improvement based on frequent engagement with front office staff, even before numbers start to show a declining trend.
- Product development and second line support will get direct feedback from the user experience by getting front-office input, therefore being able to become more pro-active in terms of improving products or develop new solutions.
Embedding customer service throughout an organization is crucial for achieving service excellence. Internal departments are also part of the service chain and the weakest link in the chain…. Embedding customer service is however not only important to protect the business but also to grow the business as a better understanding and faster responding to customer need’s is a strong competitive advantage.
Embedding Service Excellence in your organisation
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