Smart companies, large and small, should continually seek ways to drive quality improvements in both product development and customer support processes to keep customer satisfaction high. From the customer’s perspective, not needing service in the first place is best but when service is needed, companies must be ready to respond with fast problem resolution. When the product or solution is working properly, customers are satisfied—and satisfied customers equal repeat business.
For smaller companies with limited resources, the biggest challenge can be pinpointing the issues that cause customer base frustration and finding quick, effective ways to obtain this insight. A management-by-metrics approach is the best way for customer support organizations to get the clarity needed to improve the customer experience almost immediately. The basis for this approach is having one view of the truth across all operations. This provides a common language for discussing issues and sharing best practices. Additionally, the data collected through this approach allows for future refinement and improvements. As you build out your management-by-metrics approach, here are some best practices to consider:
1. Map out all the customer contact points over the life cycle of a service request to understand where customer expectations are set.
2. Collect data on your company’s performance from the customer’s point of view, not to meet internal objectives.
3. Be sure your data collection and measurement is consistent across all your products and all the geographies to which you sell.
4. Set clear benchmarks to measure your performance against and to track improvement.
5. Create a tool to store and manage the information that allows you to track trends but also supports ad hoc queries. It’s important to have only one view of the truth that every organization manages by, but also to allow a few different lenses to get a holistic view of the customer experience.
6. Hold your support personnel accountable for not only resolving customer issues but also for setting expectations.
7. Respond and change. Getting the true value out of the information requires flexibility and the willingness to implement quick fixes and long-term change.
Collecting accurate customer information will be a long-term endeavor, but identifying simple process changes based on the customer view can help you get started now.
Senior Vice-President, Customer Support Services
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.