Improving Customer Service Processes
It is a commonly held view that most businesses have hundreds of processes but only perhaps 20-30 along which the critical value to the customer flows. When these are as simple as possible, and well managed to ensure consistency and reliability, customer satisfaction is invariably higher. Unfortunately, processes almost always flow across and not up and down the organization. End-to-end ownership is often difficult, and consequently various parts of the organization can regress to arguing about who is at fault when the process breaks down, fails to deliver or causes a complaint from the end consumer.
One useful model to think about is that all organizations have only three global or major customer serving processes. These are:
- Demand generation (or creating demand from the customer for products and services – typically, covering functions such as research, sales and marketing).
- Demand fulfillment (or fulfilling customer orders created by the demand generators – typically covering functions such as production, logistics and distribution).
- Cash generation (or funding the business or collecting the money from customers that have bought products or services – typically covering the financial functions).
If this model holds true, it is relatively easy to describe the sub-processes that sit under each of these headings. Once this has been done, a robust mechanism to manage these processes can be set in place and an action-oriented journey to satisfy customers through process improvement and quality methods can begin. While processes need senior management ownership and custodianship across functional boundaries, the primary mechanism for improvement in excellent service companies has been the extensive use of well trained and focused teams. Such teams are skilled in sound fact-based problem solving techniques and coached by trained facilitators and team leaders. This allows the whole organization to potentially work on process improvement towards the overall goal of greater customer satisfaction.
The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Improving Customer Service: An RSB eLearning Course.