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As customer service is key to competitive advantage, what is the first step you think a company needs to take to start improving their customer service processes?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Get a very senior sponsor who should care about customer processes. My vote: the CEO
Comment
Unfortunately, and rarely, does a senior stakeholder at the CxO level get involved in this stuff directly. They'll pay lip service to it for media quotes, but sponsoring any such initiative that directly touches people - employees or customers - really isn't their schtick.
  1. Ian Gotts
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4513
Patrick, In companies that are truly customer centric, the CEO is leading the charge, setting the culture, holding the management team to account.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 1
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To remain competitive, efficient and innovative in relationships with customers it should be recognised this is a continuous process. As such the ability to implement changes as required is a high priority and any company will want assurance this capability will be embedded into the software selected. Given IT's record for inflexibility and their failure rates business will need some convincing!
With emergence of no low code in software it should be possible to explain in business language just how this will be achieved. This then quickly followed by build of example of their choice to see in action. We are talking hours not weeks. Once they see the future where there are no constraints to business ideas then the start of a new journey begins with confidence the supporting software will deliver future proof solutions empowering both internal workers and customers.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 2
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I'm gonna go with "talk to the customer(s)."
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Damn you Mr L, you beat me to it!
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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The very first thing to do is to get very clear about why they want or need to improve those processes. Here are four questions they might ask:

As a result of improving our customer service processes, (1) what is it we hope to achieve, (2) what is it we should be careful to preserve, (3) what, if anything, should we work hard to avoid and (4) what, if anything, do we want to eliminate?

With the answers to those questions in hand, the next steps should be apparent.

Fred Nickols
References
  1. http://www.nickols.us/goals_grid.pdf
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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Give employees $5000 a month to spend on anything they think is needed to give the customer a wow experience. They talk and listen to customers and are in the position to understand that customers need holes, not drills.

What when they run out of the money? Give them another 5000.

Stupid idea? Yeah, maybe it's better to spend that money on consultants like me who can draw a nice customer journey map for you.

In a room on the third floor. Without the customer.

To decorate the walls of the boardroom.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 5
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6
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Here is another vote to talk with the customer...
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
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By all means "talk to the customer" (B2B market research in IT was my original career). Absolutely amazing what you will learn. And certainly a lot of people "get it" now. However, bear in mind the famous aphorism attributed to Henry Ford such that if he had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said "faster horses". Any vendor has an obligation and opportunity to show leadership. Customers know their pain. They don't necessarily know how to fix it. Or that BPM process technology is highly likely to be the foundation technology for any successful customer service improvement programme.
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  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4512
By the way, anyone wanting to read up on whether or not Henry Ford actually said anything about "faster horses" can refer to this 2011 HBR article: https://hbr.org/2011/08/henry-ford-never-said-the-fast ("Henry Ford, Innovation, and That 'Faster Horse' Quote").
(There's an interesting discussion to be had as to whether or not the "horses" quote reflected Ford's views, even if he didn't actually say it.)
It's interesting to note though that Ford's anti-market research approach didn't serve the company well after the arrival of General Motors, in the 1920's. GM was especially good at market segmentation -- driven by market research.
I think it's possible to derive the wrong lesson from GM's success-through-market research though. Ford's leadership for the phase of automobile "category creation" was enormously successful (his statements about his intentions of building affordable mass individual transportation are fascinating and even touching). Later, when the category was established, the criteria for market leadership changed.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 8
Jim Sinur
Blog Writer
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I think working through customer journey mapping processes with clients and combining that with real cases to analyze is a great way to start. While a good process should have started with journey mapping for customers, employees and partners, they rarely do and the get caught up in resistance later. I've seen it too many times.

Check out some blog posts below
References
  1. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/09/do-you-need-technology-to-assist.html
  2. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/09/a-you-proud-of-your-customer-experience.html
  3. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/09/future-proof-your-customer-experience.htmlhttps://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/08/journey-listening-newest-digital-era.html
  4. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/08/journey-listening-newest-digital-era.html
  5. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-dangerous-disconnect-between.html
Comment
  1. Ian Gotts
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4514
A customer journey and your operational processes are different. The customer journey map should help you understand how to redesign/tweak your operational processes. Customer journey maps can be designed by a team i one room - sol old school works. Operational processes touch the whol company, so need to be distributed.
Which is why people don't use Elements.cloud for journey mapping.... but they need it for the operational processes (or they can use paper and post in notes if the whole company lives in one office!!).
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 9
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Understand the problem space, I think. If you want to build a complex system with some emergent desired characteristics then you start from the analysis of the problem space to be solved by the system. Talk to customers, abstract from their "faster horses", find patterns, build a model and apply the systems approach.

Thanks,
AS
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
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First step toward improving customer service is recognition that all touchpoints cannot be anticipated.

In the case of work done under fixed-price contract, touchpoints are typically precisely defined - i.e. progress review every 2nd Friday; invoices issued within 2 days of completion of each work phase.

Contrast this with time-and-materials job shop orders where, either the customer or the supplier may want/need to talk at any time along an order-mfg-ship-receive-install journey.

The 2nd step (not requested here) is how to set up an infrastructure to accommodate these two opposite-end needs.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 11
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In the realm of BPM, the initial focus for improving customer services processes should be on closing the gap between the provider and the recipient of the realized services. Ironically, over the past years automation in general and BPM solutions in particular have been a cause of said gap to widen, due to rigid standardization and lack of sufficient or just inefficient customer touch points, as mentioned by Karl above.
Making use of modern BPM tools (mobile process access for final customers, predictive pattern analysis and more) should allow for increasing the quantity as well as the effectiveness in all "services perception influencing" business processes.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 12
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I'd subscribe to the "talk to the customers" suggestion. But I believe the spirit of the suggestion is more like "empathize with the customers". Because all the companies talk to their customers, but few of them actually listen and give a damn, beyond the mandatory lip service.
More specifically, "empathize with the customers" could mean:
- be your own customer (aka dogfooding);
- partner with the customer (tie your business model to theirs);
- fall in love with the customer's problem, not with your solution.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 13
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Customer service excellence is not just key to conventional competitive advantage but crucial in digital transformation. And totally agree that if you want to know what customers think, then go and ask them.
Knowing who the real customers are and what they need and value is the fundamental first step in redesigning cross-departmental processes for end-to-end digital transformation. But it's often difficult to start mapping a customer journey from the outset in siloed analogue organisations, for example public sector.
So we begin with two short 'warm-up' workshops with a cross-section of frontline, operational and admin staff. The two structured method workshops focus on different aspects of the same simple premise: "At the end of everything you do there is a customer, consumer, or citizen who is paying, directly or indirectly, for what you are providing. We are asking for your help to find out who they are, and what they need and value." And in the second session a few days later, "Now we need to ask how you think your current work procedures, rules, technology, channels and partners could be changed to provide this service better faster cheaper, both for the customers you already have and for others in the future."
We insist on disbarring managers and executives from attending these initial workshops so staff can talk freely and openly about how they can better help their customers and what prevents them from doing a better & more rewarding job. We have never been disappointed with these sessions, nor have we ever felt we were wasting our client's money or their staff's time. In well under 4 hours we get a wealth of valuable data, insights, as well as both regular and infrequent examples of customers not following expected paths or having out of scope requests.
We also usually end up with a cross-departmental staff team who are much more customer-focused and happy to participate in further sessions. As an immediate payback, we customarily capture a list of simple quickwins that can reduce time, wasted effort and frustration for both staff and customers within days.
So if you can't ask customers, start by asking the next best people.
Comment
Good point "We also usually end up with a cross-departmental staff team who are much more customer-focused and happy to participate in further sessions"

No use going at customer journey piecemeal - this can actually make things worse by dramatizing how poor non-participating silos are (i.e. one unit provides a great customer journey, the others stick with old ways)

I particularly like the metric "..In well under 4 hours we get a wealth of valuable data, insights, as well as both regular and infrequent examples of customers not following expected paths or having out of scope requests. " Not months, not weeks, but 4 hours over a couple of sessions.

Nice setup !
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 14
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My approach is to start to dialogue with four questions:

1. Who is the customer?.... not so simple to answer, typically I get more than 20 relevant answers...everything begins with this analysis..

2. What does the customer try to achieve?.... here the difficulty lies in that, if you have consumer as customer, they typically are not very good at verbalizing this.

3. How does the customer act for the goal?... this is the customer process, every product is a service, every service is a co-creation. This is the easiest part, just observe, what customers are doing, where they straggle, what kind of mood shifts they have....

4. What does the customer need to realize his/her process?.... and then provide it... innovate better, easier and cheaper way to do it... or depending on the case, how to eliminate the whole process....some times the process is more important than the achievement.

br. Kai
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  1. more than a month ago
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