Keep Your Service Consistent

Economic developments can lead to new perspectives on what customers need and want. Marketing strategies are redefined based on those ‘new’ insights. In practice, however, those discussions are less about customers than about us. Are you really concerned about what can be done in the customer’s best interest?

Despite what we’re led to believe, the Internet hasn’t really changed what people buy, only why and how they buy it. It has created new service options and more transparency — thus exposing those companies that preach about having their customers’ best interests at heart, but do not actually walk the talk.

Customers have become more sensitive about real service, real added value and whether they are actually getting value for their money.

Too many experts are discussing bricks or clicks and online or offline. Those segmentations are a result of sales strategies, not customer needs. All that the customer wants is the best or most convenient way to contact your organization at a specific moment.

Customers do not understand why service levels vary, depending on the source of contact. For example: why can a phone call be answered within seconds, and why does it take days to answer an e-mail with the same question? Or why does a call center agent give a different answer than a store attendant?

It doesn’t have to cost more to implement sound multichannel tools that supplies each of your employees with exactly the same information at the same time. By doing so, you increase your service levels and customer satisfaction, while also drastically reducing your operational costs.

In the past, companies could survive by choosing between product leadership and customer intimacy while maintaining an acceptable operational level. Those days are gone!

Customers expect your online and offline activities, as well as your back-office systems, to interact seamlessly. The ultimate goal is that each co-worker can move and communicate freely between the various sales and service channels, improving your overall performance, results and customer satisfaction.

You’d be surprised how many right decisions can’t be made simply because the right information is unavailable. If it matters, make it available to everyone who needs it, no matter what. Your future depends on it.

To increase your overall performance, you must know how you are performing right now. Essential to this is knowing which five key performance indicators are essential for customer satisfaction throughout your organization. Then determine how your organization can focus on those same KPIs and how each part of the organization can be deployed to achieve the most efficient process and information flows.

For the customer, new developments and even times of economic tension are a blessing because they force manufacturers, suppliers and service providers to turn their attention to the real source of their prosperity: their customers. Know what matters most to your customer and ensure that your organization can comply to those standards. Then customers will stay true to you, no matter what the economic circumstances are.

Hans Elshout is CEO of S&H Product Fulfillment in Moerdijk, Netherlands.

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