Constraints in Delivering Great Customer Service

Great Customer Service

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In all walks of life, we all acknowledge one truth – there is scope for improvement. In the workplace too, the opportunity, to improve performance and deliver great results, is enormous. Focusing on the customer service realm, this opportunity or possibility to do or deal with something seems unlimited. However, the tough truth is that where there is the scope, it also means that there are hindrances/constraints/bottlenecks/stumbling blocks. That work against being able to deliver optimum service.

It’s, therefore, obvious, that the first step towards great customer service would be to eliminate these hold-ups. Identifying and isolating common constraints could be the first tangible step you take toward making those improvements. However, the effort you need to make to do away with any such hindrance must be worth it. The results that you want to improve performance should be visible and impactful. There are constraints in delivering great customer service, but with focused attention, these constraints can be done away with. With the right tools, like interactive decision trees, you can recognize constraints in customer service.

Constraints in customer service

Customer service is a very impact and stressful function in any organization. The links in this chain that requires reconstruction are – insufficient skills or training, inadequate staffing, and high attrition. Prioritize, if you notice that these constraints are causing a significant dent in delivering service to your customers. Minimizing constraints provides the boost required for everyone to work toward increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. It thereby helps in attaining the goals of your company.

How to manage customer service constraints

Once you have been able to isolate the constraints that require immediate fixing, the next step is to control limitations. There is no set way how you can increase efficiency in the area that is constrained. It would depend on the company’s long-term strategies, goals, and plans for the customer service department.

After identifying ways to reign in this constraint, assess the improvements made depending on the remedies you put in place. If there is significant and continuous improvement, you should move on to remedying the next identified constraint. If there are no tangible improvements, then go back, reassess, and tweak the controls you put in place. The sooner you can fix these problems, the faster you will be on the road to success. “A stitch in time does save nine”!

Identify customer needs and wants

Improving your customer service levels means that you should have identified what your customer wants and expects from your company. Each customer is different. Therefore, an umbrella cover or solution for all your customers will not get you closer to delivering excellent levels of service. Customers would like to have superior service and support.

They also need excellent products or services that are safe and within regulatory norms. Products that are competitive and cost-effective and a wide range to choose from. Despite a seemingly exhaustive list of wants, it would be detrimental to provide one solution to all your customers. The solutions must be customized based on the customer’s business and demand.

You should also consider your cost, goals, the improvements necessary, and the resources at your disposal. You need to work hand-in-hand with the customer service staff. It aligns and gets them on board with the changes you are about to implement. Buy-in and cooperation from your employees would be the foundation to eliminate the constraints and make these remedies successful. Accumulate daily and consistent data then compare it to make informed and effective decisions.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction (or the lack of it) is expressed through survey feedback, customer calls, emails, or Short Message Service. This tells your company to step up or lose out. The customer is also providing you with indications of possible hiccups in service that you could remedy. Your customer service team has daily interactions with customers. The data they collect is indispensable in determining whether your company is delivering superior or sub-standard customer service.

Constraints in delivering customer service

Some of the main constraints that seem to stand out more than others are:

Budget constraints

When companies prepare the budget and allocate funds to various projects and departments, customer service is left out. They try to squeeze in new ideas and processes aimed at increasing the customer base. An increased customer base means more business, more issues, and more calls to customer service. However, with no allocated budget to increase the number of associates to take on this extra business, customers are meted out shoddy service. It soon becomes a vicious circle. Irate customers mean that employees will be unhappy, and the attrition soars. Re-hiring and training take time and money. Due to this, the budgetary constraint remains undone.

Expert employees leaving

Given the above, when long-standing employees leave, you can be sure that your experts are leaving. Years of handling your customers and understanding your company’s perspective are wasted. Since they take this indispensable knowledge and skill with them, they remain irreplaceable for a long time. The new hires or the less experienced within the team cannot fill the slots or manage the customers’ overwhelming demands. This has a serious and adverse impact on your customer service levels. It leads to disgruntled customers who threaten to take their business elsewhere.

Lack of supervision

Lack of supervision and monitoring of ongoing and fundamental processes within the customer service realm. This could be because the majority of your customer service representatives may not know about them. However, even if they are aware, they may not understand them enough to implement these processes. This can be due to a lack of training. Another constraint within this could be that these processes are not enforced stringently enough.

Failure to meet customer expectations

As companies strive to face and meet the customer’s expectations, they never quite reach the pinnacle. The rising customer expectations and demands constrain them further. Customer service levels in some companies are so exceptional. They are the known benchmarks for all customer service endeavors. Customers have thus begun to expect more as a direct consequence of this. They want better prices, speedy deliveries, customization, easy access, operation, and more. Some companies are able to match up to these. However, the problem arises when most companies are unable to ‘rise to the occasion’ for a number of reasons. These unmet demands are ubiquitous across all industries.

Conflict in policies

Traditional policies and strategies that worked for some companies continue in the present day and age too. This leads to a conflict between these policies and their implementation in volatile market conditions. You cannot expect the same good results using the same methods. The constraint lies in the company overlooking this aspect, yet expecting superlative results.

Providing customer service across multiple channels

A wide and unprecedented number of communication media are accessible to all. Customers can bombard a company and its services with demands and queries from about every communication medium available. They no longer have to take time out to visit the actual building office of their customer service providers.

Customer service representatives face the challenge of providing consistent service and information across all these mind-boggling channels. There is no escape or the possibility of buying time with customers anymore. They want answers and they want them immediately. Negotiating between these channels is even more daunting.

The fact is, a majority of the customer service representatives are probably not used to these mediums. They are completely uninitiated by the latest technology and gadgets. Facing this challenge calls for a different skill set, mindset, and training. It needs to be put in place immediately, or else the company is practically ‘fighting a losing battle’.

The Verdict

Despite all these constraints, the central aspect worth consideration is that companies and their customer service representative must be able to provide the level of customer service their customers expect. They should provide it when the customers demand it. They need to go all out to ensure that they do everything possible to keep the customer appeased. Customer satisfaction and loyalty depend on this service, if companies want to remain successful. There are so many constraints. However, companies now more than ever have to work smart and optimize the usage with limited resources at their disposal.

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

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