Services and Retail
Enterprise ExcellencePeople and Organization

5 big things that make the difference in a human-centric service organization

What does a company have to do in order to empower and enable their employees to be a dominating force in a competitive space ?
Vincent Defour

Human-centric services means that the company is committed to providing you tailor-made services and solving your issue through understanding your business and what you need.

This type of service approach is focused on building a relationship with you and your business. It dramatically differs from the more traditional product–centric service that focuses on pushing your products or solving the issue and moving on. Generally, human-centric support means that you will experience a warmer and more “real”  conversation about the services and issues that you are having, allowing for a positive relationship between you and your service provider.

Many of our clients are moving in the direction of human-centric services as it allows for a better understanding of their customers hence providing an near personal experience that adds value to their customers problems. Skipping old fashioned segment approach, but value you for your needs and expectations and that specific point in your “customer life-cycle”. It’s an area in which I had the privilege of assisting my clients to think human-centric, not only from a customer point of view, but also think employee-centric. As they are the key to delivering real human experiences, off course assisted by the technological innovations that are available today.

If a company wishes to improve their services, why can’t they do it? Super service is a tough thing to measure.

Usually i start this type of projects by asking my clients the following question :  “What makes a great customer experience?” it is typical to get numbers and statistics back. There are off course Net promoter scores ( NPS ) ,  service level agreements (SLAs), or key performance indicators (KPIs). In contact center support “95% first contact resolution (FCR)” is typical. “Average speed to answer (ASA) of less than 30 seconds” is another favorite goal.  In customer service support “One hour time to resolution (TTR)”, and target referrals rates. I’ve even heard a mind-numbing “Our objective is to keep more than 90% of all types of calls to under five minutes.” Sometimes I’ll hear algorithms that crunch combinations of these stats i. It sounds simple, you can measure it with software, math, and automation. Perfect.

But if we are trying to care for customers, why are we only measuring performance using such hard measures when communication and service is a soft skill? 

Teams are made up of real people, with hearts and minds. Successful employees will deliver results against whatever thresholds that management sets.  What’s going on in those places where their service is delivered with a heart?  How is it that those teams really love what they do, care for each other, and genuinely feel for their customers?  What’s special there? Can we also measure this and what is the main pillar here?

It has been my experience that a leader in the heart of service teams can increase the quality of customer experience more than the manager who is adept at only using statistics. In this age of big data and metrics available from omni-channel in our service organisations, could it be that stats are better suited for understanding the operational aspect , rather than being the basis for rating customer experience in it’s totality ?

May I suggest : look for different standards of excellence, those with a more human-centric viewpoint. I further challenge us to look at how we lead through inspiring our people to really care about the way they interact with customers and how we can measure culturally aligned

So what does a company have to do in order to empower and enable their employees to be a dominating force in a competitive space ? Besides dedication and commitment, it takes specific structure and focus on certain things. I’ve identified 5 big things that make all the difference, and all 5 must be present.

Here’s how a company supports and builds a highly functional service organisation that can consistently deliver a world-class customer experience:

Education

The service employees must be well-trained and totally comfortable with the parameters of their job and beyond! They must be aware, adept, and curious of things outside their immediate job description. This means a complex matrix of curated documentation, knowledge transfer programs, peer coaching, ongoing education, attending customer sessions, and more.

Simplicity

Simplicity comes from sleek, stable, mature services. Robust self service options and agent-centric tools are paramount. 360 degree customer views are a necessity today, as is clean accurate customer data. [note: If yours is an omnichannel organisation, this is a tricky one, from its sheer inherent complexity.]

The company should make sure the support teams have bug-free tools, and be willing to implement tools that employees expresses interest in getting. Employees will think of things that the company never thought of, for their own processes as well as customer-facing processes and even service features. Listen to them. This is gold. Engage in bottom-up continuous improvement programs. Think lean culture!

Satisfaction

Businesses do not innovate or service, people do! Your employees are the ones servicing your customers. From sales to logistics, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform on a daily basis, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged and satisfied employees are, the more happy they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.

Altruism

It is a systemic structure that continually offers new knowledge or understanding to the customer in a passive way. In other words, the customer who calls in for support gets something more than just the removal of an irritation. They get something in return; maybe it’s an offer, or a tip or shortcut. But it’s something. And the company needs to make sure the employees can have these things ready to go for customers. Employees should not feel like they have to ‘ditch it’ when a customer calls, or when there is a new service launch.

Empowerment

Cultivate employees’ ability to fix stuff and make people happy, or even decline a problem customer’s unreasonable demand. Take on abusive customers yourself, away from your employees. Your employees usually are in support roles because they like to help people. Service & Support is where loyalty happens. This is where relationships are built. It’s also what feeds your employees’ souls and makes their days memorable. Empower them to have control over their choices, then reward the great ones they make. Celebrate great saves.

 

Management Summary

When the service teams are constrained through micromanagement of process, policy, and budget, it is opportunity missed and money wasted.

Blind adherence in a randomly selected metric will usually cause unintended consequences. Constraining resources, and discounting service teams’ potential value will yield apathetic employees; the good ones will leave because they are doing the majority of the work for no payback from the organisation, even if they love their colleagues. Without continued efforts to free teams from mundane tasks, the creative ones will exit, making retention of high performers impossible.

If these unfortunate things happen, you will see it. Symptoms of missed opportunity may include high turnover, increased staff absenteeism, missed SLOs/SLAs, declining morale, and declining reputation.

If you see this, fear not. The good news is that it is also entirely reversible, because support personnel genuinely want to see things get better, and they are full of ideas on how to make that happen.

When an organization empowers that service teams to function like a cherished, valued asset, that company’s service is poised to be a powerhouse of excellence, generating positive reputation and customer loyalty.

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Vincent Defour

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