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Not all customer questions or problems are easily resolved.
This statement should come as no surprise. Everyone has experienced a scenario where self-service options like a knowledge base search or an online chat or phone call with a customer service agent did not resolve the issue on that first contact.
This usually happens for one of two reasons. The first is that the problem is new to customer service and may require another service to triage or help diagnose the problem and develop a solution. The second could be that the problem is complex and requires the assistance of a specialist elsewhere in the organization.
As any customer service manager will tell you, time is the enemy of customer service. Indeed, customers do not care whether their problem is new or complex, they expect a quick resolution. And this outside dependence on other departments and specialists can slow the pace. This is where having strong customer operations makes the difference.
What are customer operations? Behind the scenes, many operational roles support day-to-day customer service activities: staff scheduling, contact volume analysis, knowledge base curation, and more. These are all essential functions to ensure the delivery of quality front-line customer service. However, customer operations here refers to how customer service operates beyond its walls –with other government departments to address these new and complex issues. Executing customer operations well can be challenging, and focusing on three attributes can help ensure its success.
Log in internally
“Customer obsessed. “Customer-centric.” “Continuous improvement of the customer experience.” These are common goals for many organizations. Yet, despite how it might be said, they often struggle to achieve these goals. And if departments across the business aren’t working together to solve customer problems, no amount of technology or process improvements will make a difference.
How can this attitude or culture be changed? Ideally, it starts at the top, with senior leaders breaking down barriers to align resources across the organization. This commitment to working as a team elevates the importance of customer service and customer support operations throughout the company, fostering cooperation between departments.
If not led from the top, customer service managers can always take steps to improve customer operations. They can take the initiative to build and maintain relationships with business teams. This gives everyone involved the opportunity to demonstrate how stronger connections and commitment to customers can lead to better results not only for customers but also for the organization.
Review and improve processes and systems
Even with a strong customer focus, organizations can struggle to succeed. This is due to outdated processes and legacy tools that create their own set of obstacles. These can slow employees down and prevent customer issues from escalating quickly.
The way around this is to build on small successes. Start by selecting a few common customer issues that require cross-departmental collaboration to resolve. Review these processes, from the time a customer contacts customer service through resolution. Do agents need to perform manual steps? Do they need multiple systems to find the data they need? How is the consultation with the other teams going? How often are service level agreements missed? This audit process helps identify where processes and systems can be streamlined and sets the stage for a continuous improvement mindset for the future.
Think about the workflow
It helps to streamline a process and minimize the number of steps and systems needed to provide customer service. This can still make things difficult to track and measure.
Workflow solves these challenges. His nature allows him to go from uncommon problems affecting individual customers to widespread problems. The workflow routes the issue to the service that can help you. Tasks are assigned to people in these departments. If no progress is made or the time to complete the task has passed, the task may be redirected to others. All work and collaboration on the issue is tracked, ensuring visibility from start to finish. And at its conclusion, the report reveals the performance of a workflow.
As with auditing processes and systems, start small; Select a few issues that involve teams outside of customer service and create workflows to resolve them. Evaluate and discuss results with all teams involved and refine as needed. Then continue to digitize more processes with the workflow.
Working behind the scenes
When customers have problems, they look for quick solutions, whether it’s through self-service or by contacting a friendly customer service agent. While this may be possible for simple issues, new and more complex issues will require assistance from specialists and teams outside of customer service.
Organizations that don’t cooperate to provide customer service in these scenarios will struggle and customer satisfaction will suffer. These types of customer issues can only be resolved quickly when the internal culture is aligned, processes and systems are continuously streamlined, and the workflow orchestrates a collaborative resolution process. Only then can customer operations kick into high gear to accelerate resolutions and improve customer satisfaction.