In Be Your Customer’s Hero, I laid out the elements of Hero-Class® service:
In the years that have followed, I’ve worked with many organizations and spoken with many more and have found that almost all of these organizations struggle with getting their teams to consistently deliver customer service to the standards they expect.
A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, but executional consistency is a fundamental cornerstone of Hero-Class® customer service.
Fortunately, we can greatly in improve consistency in service delivery by focusing on a few key areas of operational execution. Below are three of the most important aspects of making sure your team delivers consistent customer experiences that live up to your service vision.
You must have the systems in place to enable the customer experience you expect your team to deliver. You need the systems and infrastructure that facilitate a smooth flow of communication, that provide product and customer knowledge, and that make hassle-free service delivery possible. The systems that underpin your service delivery should be up to the tasks required and should be well maintained.
You can have the most motivated, highly-skilled customer care team in your industry; if they’re always struggling to find information or to work around an inadequate system, they’ll always be playing catch up.
You need strong, efficient, and effective processes for the majority of the activities that create your customer’s experiences. And while some policies are necessary, it’s important to focus on process over policy — on giving your team a roadmap for how to create great customer experiences and how to resolve difficult customer service situations — but also empowering them to go off the map when needed to take care of the customer.
Without strong processes, many reps will fumble around figuring out how to do things as opposed to executing a well-conceived playbook designed to provide consistency across the organization.
Unfortunately, so much of the training offered by organizations does not prepare teams adequately to deliver consistent service. To begin, most training is centered on operational issues — how to use the computer system, what forms to fill out, how to enter certain contracts, etc. — and even when that training is effective, often the experience fails because of a lack of fundamental customer service training, in particular, training on how to deal with tough service situations and difficult customers.
Your team’s training needs to be as consistent as the service you expect them to deliver, and it needs to address the real world skills that will enable them to deliver consistently even when the customer or the circumstance takes the experience off the normal path.
Across industries and organizations, consistency is probably the most challenging aspect of service delivery. It can be difficult to get a team with different personalities, hired at different times, working in different departments, buildings, or even countries to deliver consistent experiences.
However, by beginning with these three fundamental experiential pillars, you’ll be able to improve your consistency, consistently.
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.