Managing Priorities for Better Customer Service

“Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have” – John C. Maxwell

The quote is the reason that this article is not about time management – it is about managing priorities. Within the business world, in the realm of customer service those companies that do a great job of managing priorities would know that their top priority must be to serve customers exceedingly well. The common mistake that companies probably make is to hire more staff such that customer service is speedier and more efficient. The mistake is to think that more staff means enhanced efficiency. The smarter thing to do would be to look at everyday processes and operating procedures to see what could be done better. By simply managing priorities, they would be able to reduce time wastage and get important tasks done faster and more efficiently. A study showed that by managing priorities better a company could raise productivity levels by 8.3% and improve efficiency, allowing it to devote more time towards better customer service – something that would please customers.

When a company focuses on managing priorities for better customer service they would not need additional staff, fancy equipment, major changes to their office and other such things to please customers. By managing priorities, better they would use time effectively to meet customer demands, provide timely service and be able to focus on innovation and creativity. The need to constantly ‘fight fires’ would be reduced leading to lowered stress levels and higher employee morale. Employees would be energized, produce more and better quality work in lesser amount of time, allowing them to focus also on personal and professional development. Managing priorities is an important tool and skill to have in the realm of customer service. When a company understands what customers view as important, they would plan and prioritize such that not only do they meet the demands of their customers but would also be prepared for any exigencies and unforeseen tough situations.

 

Managing priorities puts employees and the leaders in control, leading to processes that are more efficient, better handling of tasks, effective management of unexpected situations and translates to better customer service. When employees succeed on a daily basis, they feel more confident, allowing them to be more courteous and empathetic when dealing with internal and external customers. High efficiency is a catalyst – people feel invigorated, more willing to help each other and overall contribute to a happy work environment, which in turn translates to enhanced levels of service to customers. In business, a happy workforce and satisfied customer base are perhaps the two most critical factors for a company’s success.

Managing the number of hours available is part of the broader realm of managing priorities. When better customer service becomes a top priority, whatever a company does would be directed towards ensuring it. It would translate to ensuring that customers receive top class service in the least possible time and that their problems / queries sorted out the first time. With so much competition, similar products and pricing and restricted resources, simply by managing priorities, a company can not only provide better customer service but also use this as their unique selling proposition. There is enough evidence by way of research and statistics to show that customers are attracted to and stay with a company that understands their needs and provides for them better than anyone else would. For customers, a company that values their time and makes it easy for them to do business would be scored high and in order for a company to do this successfully every time, internally it should be efficient at managing priorities.

Any company would have its own business priorities as well as those that concern the customers directly. In managing priorities, businesses work more efficiently internally, which translates to improved performance on the customer service front. Wait times see a reduction, the number of complaints drop, there would be a spurt in first time resolutions, service staff would be able to manage their workloads more efficiently leading to less stress and more energy. As employees become more efficient, customer experiences would become more pleasant, encouraging customers to keep coming back to the company to provide more business and to find solutions to their business related problems. With time as they receive the kind of service they want, the level of trust and dependability with the company would rise, leading to loyalty, profitability and referrals.

In managing priorities well, a company would be able to do more with time. In the fast and frenzied business world, possibly the most hated thing for customers is having to wait for service and not having any knowledge of how much time they would need to wait. While customers do have choices, many times switching to a competitor would not be feasible and or possible. Waiting turns to frustration and could further translate to customer anger, which the customer might vent on highly visible platforms such as social media sites – a single negative comment here could damage a company’s reputation and lead to more customer churn. When a company works hard at managing priorities to ensure better customer service, they would ensure complete transparency in every aspect. Customers would know exactly what to expect both, in terms of wait times and problem resolutions. Such clarity keeps customers at ease, trusting that the company would deliver speedily and with the most effective solutions to their problems / queries.

In managing priorities, what a company does is convey an unspoken commitment to its customers, letting them know that their time and resources are as valuable to the company as their business. Customers who believe that they are made to wait or do not receive good customer service, will, over time, leave the company for another. Even if one or two customers leave, they could potentially destroy the trust other customers may have in the company and stop prospective customers from turning to buying customers. This would be a significant loss and damage to a company, which no company would be able to recover from completely.

Customer service is a factor of many things and transparency and respect for the customer’s time are but a small part. If the customer facing representatives have not been trained in managing priorities, they would repeatedly fail at serving customers well. They would be clueless of what customers deem as important, find it tough to meet deadlines, they would fall behind in their work resulting in work overload and other such negative aspects. Customers would become frustrated and vent their ire frequently on these representatives resulting in high stress and lowered morale. All this is highly preventable by simply ensuring that everyone in the company understands and is equipped in managing priorities – of the company and its customers.

For customers, great customer service is about making life simpler for them, raising their business efficiency and allowing them peace of mind when dealing with the company. They are not interested in following up on things that ideally would be the responsibility of the company. All this is extremely possible for any company as long as they set their mind to understanding their customers – their needs, preferences and wants – and then go about tightening their internal process and managing priorities. This would be the key to gaining success for the company and the customer – the ultimate goal for any company.

 

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