In the Second Screen Era, the need for speed is no longer an option. People’s lives are more harried and hectic than at anytime before, and the fastest way to turn customers from raving fans to raging detractors is to waste their time.
Speed does not mean rushing the customer; speed means delivering the customer experience in the time frame the customer expects — or better. To do that, we need to ensure that our customer experience processes are as efficient and effective as possible.
Here are 7 ways to go about it.
The shortest distance between two points is usually a straight line. Sometimes steps or entire processes are involved that are not critical to the customer experience. Take a look at your processes and ask yourself “do we really need to do this?”
Perhaps every process or step you have is necessary. If so, we need to ask if they are in the most effective order? Instead of having customers come inside first when they drop off their car for service, perhaps you could move a computer terminal near the service bay door and route customers directly there.
Are you still running your business on a Commodore 64 computer with dial-up Internet through Compuserve? Of course not, but I bet some piece of technology you are using is out of date. Upgrading technology is usually the hardest change to make due to budgetary restrictions, but you can look for simple fixes that do not cost much. For more on this, see our post on Thursday: Upgrade Your Customer Service Technology on a Budget.
Big data meet big time suck. As businesses, we want data. We want to know as much about our customers as possible so that we can customize the experience. But customers want to give as little information as possible, both out of privacy and time concerns. When I run into the gas station to grab a Coke, I don’t want to be asked my phone number and zip code. Here, balancing the competing the desire for information with the quality of the customer’s experience is key.
At some point, you will have gathered data on your customers, so use it. Data can be used not only for personalization but for greater speed. (Most companies actually are pretty good at this step.) Hello Mr. Lincoln, I see you ordered 10 titanium widgets a week ago, would you like to place the same order?
Adequacy of resources is perhaps the greatest challenge to the customer experience that exists today. Costs are increasing, budgets are decreasing, and we are all trying to do more with less. The first step is understanding what the ideal level of resources is. The next step is acknowledging the reality of reaching that ideal, and structuring your approach accordingly.
Efficient systems will not be effective in the hands of a team that does not have sense of urgency. Team members must embrace the concept of speedy, quality service delivery. Now, speed cannot be the only metric that matters, or you will find speed increase at the expense of everything else. To be useful…
Speed must be balanced with other aspects of the customer experience.
Some processes should not be eliminated; some data should be gathered. Lean processes should neither be starving nor stuffed to excess. Lean processes should strike just the right balance between speed and depth.
Despite these constraints, focusing on speed is an important exercise, because the natural tendency is for things to grow. Steps are added, new reports are required, forms are lengthened.
Nothing in business gets smaller without a specific attempt to make it so.
Use the above 7 concepts to audit your customer experience processes. Try one a week if you like.
If that’s fast enough for you.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.