Transforming Customer Service to an Excellence and Profit Centre

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“Effective customer care specialists can upsell and cross-sell organically, offering advice around complimentary products or service upgrades. Modern customer support centres can both deliver strategic value and improve the business bottom line,” – CIO.com

Most business enterprises view customer service operations as a cost centre that can potentially limit business profits and boost losses. The cost centre typically consumes business resources, requires staff salaries, adds marginally to business outcomes, and generates no profit for the business. However, modern business thinkers are re-evaluating customer service operations and transforming customer service paradigms to match the outcomes delivered by a profit centre. In the following paragraphs, we will examine some of the techniques to achieve such outcomes.

Customer service operations can be overhauled to include processes that train agents to upsell products and services to calling customers. This approach to transforming customer service can be implemented in any business that operates a customer service centre. For instance, a commercial telecommunications service provider can elect to train its customer service agents in the art of upselling. Customers that call in with queries can be informed about the provider’s latest products and services, which may include higher-priced service tiers. The benefits of such tiers may encourage customers to avail of the advertised opportunity. We note that this is an active approach to transforming customer service and enables customer service operations to sell additional products and services, thereby boosting the business bottom line.

Training customer support teams to offer additional value to the customer is intrinsic to transforming customer service operations. We note that business heads and business managers must sensitise and educate customer service representatives in the art of selling. In this context, staff training and employee development programmes are important because these enable business operatives to appreciate and practice the finer points of customer conversations. The outcomes include soft sell, a very effective tactic when deployed by trained operatives. Further, brands and businesses must underline the importance of gentle persuasion as a business tactic that encourages sales. Thus, for instance, a customer that calls to avail product-servicing plans can be gently persuaded to invest in an annual product-servicing contract. When convinced customers opt to invest in these, we may state that transforming customer service has been set in motion.

The tracking and monitoring of customer preferences is a useful tactic that can enable transforming customer service into a valued business operation. Customer care operatives should peruse customer purchase histories in a bid to delineate customer likes and dislikes, consumer preferences, and adapt this information into their work. Modern technologies such as predictive analytics and big data can help said operatives to discern the tastes of an individual customer. Once this is accomplished, the operative can put forth useful suggestions that may appeal to the customer’s sensibilities. Further conversations can lead to a sale or create the prospect of regular sales. We note that this tactic hinges heavily on technology and the aptitude of the operative. This clearly represents an instance of successfully transforming customer service into a sales and profit generating mechanism.

Businesses must offer their operatives certain incentives for closing each successful sale to a customer. We note that businesses that incentivise sales operations are more likely to succeed in transforming customer service into a profit-driven operation. A fixed incentive on each product or service tier can ignite competition among agents that want to sell products and services. In addition, we note that business managers must ensure that operatives are fully aware of the value of existing new products and services. The prospect of winning incentives can also help to drive the quality of service in customer service centres.

Customer service operatives must realise the importance of creating a top-notch customer service experience when they converse with customers. This assumes significance owing to the fact that an excellent service experience will raise the profile of the business in customer mindscapes. In addition, returning customers will be more amenable to a sales spiel and may result in a commercial transaction. Further, a competent customer service experience can help to spark customer recommendations, which may help to expand the customer base of a company. In light of the above, we recommend that brands and businesses must instruct and train their customer service staff to create and sustain top-notch customer service experiences. We note that this is one of the effective means of transforming customer service into a centre of service excellence.

Customer segmentation is an important aspect of doing business in the modern age. Brands and businesses typically segment their customers on a variety of metrics in a bid to understand customer requirements. Therefore, businesses can create special service categories for their local customers in a concerted attempt at transforming customer service into a business profit centre. For instance, an e-commerce business that has extensive operations in a certain town can choose to invite its local customers to a weekly or bi-weekly chat session on its business premises. Buyers and customers can voice their requirements, suggestions, and complaints in person, thereby enabling customer service executives to interact personally with their customers. Additional customer support can be provided to attending customers, thereby upgrading the brand profile and transforming customer service into an area of service excellence. When such exercises emerge as profitable, brands and businesses can replicate such exercises across all regions where they operate.

Employee motivation represents a key aspect of transforming customer service into a profitable venture. We note that motivated and enthusiastic employees are more likely to be successful staff members, and more receptive to management mandates. Therefore, commercial organizations should work to boost employee motivation through remuneration, perks, incentives, and encouragement. This approach to employee motivation assumes importance because employee attrition has emerged as a major concern. In light of the above, we note that business organizations must invest in their employees so that the transformation to a profit centre is executed admirably.

Customer service centres may need to invent some revenue streams as a precursor to the transition to a profit centre. For instance, service operatives may elect to drain fewer company resources by maximising the return on each customer conversation. We note that this approach can be refined and moulded in the context of a particular industry. However, the basic objective is to initiate a change in employee mentality. In keeping with such objectives, we note that brands and businesses must encourage such transformation by quantifying the gains accrued in the course of each month. Additionally, the numbers can be plotted on a graph to illuminate the progress of transformative processes.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the techniques that can help to transform a customer service operation to a profit centre and a centre of excellence. The transformation may not be achieved overnight, but brands and businesses must persist in the pursuit of such objectives. The overall outcome may include a more flexible and responsive customer service support organization that makes a significant contribution to the annual bottom line of the business. That said, we note that business managers and process executives must share the same page in terms of process objectives and the road map adopted to achieve said goals. Management support and a commonality in efforts should spur the said transformation and enable the overall business to achieve its mandate.

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