Usman Ghani (September 19, 2014)
In order to establish and run a successful business, the quality of customer service experience must be maintained, monitored and constantly improved. As businesses around the world become more and more homogenous in terms of products and services, one of the few differentiating factors is customer service, where one particular company can hope to stand out, hence grabbing a greater share of the market. In order to improve the service experience, the company must focus on monitoring and analyzing, which will help determine what is wrong with the current system in place and what are the key areas which need to be revamped.
Monitoring is not simply observing, but it includes crucial expert analysis by comparing different numbers taking into account both, qualitative and quantitative data. In today’s competitive environment companies cannot keep repeating the same mistakes and survive. Monitoring helps identify the shortcomings and gives an opportunity to amend the weaknesses in the system. Employees are likely to bring more quality to their work if they know their work is being monitored. Additionally, monitoring also gives valuable information that can be effectively used to train and educate customer service representatives. Some of the ways in which companies can monitor the progress and performance of customer service representatives are as follow:
All the written communication with the customers from the point when first contact is made to the point of after-sales services, leaves a paper trail, which could be in digital form too. The correspondence may include letters, emails and live chat records. Analysis of this crucial information could provide insights as to how well the customer service representatives are handling customers. Employees could be informed that their correspondence is being monitored, this will ensure vigilance and better attitude from the staff. All these documents could be collected on weekly or monthly basis, after which the data could be used to create charts and graphs, hence making it more presentable and comprehensible for managers. The results should be shared with the staff so that problems are identified and rectified accordingly.
Most businesses around the world still rely on telephonic correspondence for customer support. The phone calls could be recorded and representatives could be asked to listen to their own conversations in order to improve their performance in the future. Moreover, these recordings could also be used for teaching and training purposes. If representatives know that their calls are being recorded and monitored, they will be more careful and offer best possible support.
Probably one of the best ways to gauge the performance of the customer service team is to ask the customers how they feel about the service experience. Customers are in a perfect position to effectively pinpoint the problem areas and their feedback is likely to be objective since they are part of the process and improvements in the system will benefit them directly. A customer could be called specifically for feedback purpose or asked to complete a questionnaire. Surveys can also be used, which is one of the most tried and trusted methods to collect feedback. Surveys and questionnaires provide an unbiased picture of how satisfied or unsatisfied customers feel about the services since they are anonymous. In order to encourage customers to take part in these surveys, they could be offered discounts or the chance to win a prize through a lucky draw.
Mystery shopping is a growing phenomenon being used by many companies in order to evaluate the quality of customer service and overall customer experience received. The employees don’t know who the mystery shoppers are and when he/she will be entering the store, so the chances of special treatment is minimum. This technique involves employing mystery shoppers, who perform transactions and then report level of service they receive. It is a very effective technique as mystery shoppers are professionals and know exactly what areas are of significance when it comes to customer service. The shoppers after the transaction is complete, are asked to complete a questionnaire that records specific, measurable information, which can later be used to assess and improve the performance. The drawback to the mystery shopping technique is that it only provides information for that one particular moment in time, the data collected is not recordable for longer periods of time.
Another way to measure the quality is analyzing the financial data of the company, which include sales, visits by customers, complaints, number of inquiries and cross sales. This data could help a company paint a picture of the overall performance. For example, when a service representative upsells or cross sells either over the phone or in person, performance should be measured. The financials of a company is a crucial set of information which directly reflects how well the company is performing overall. These numbers could be conveyed when training representatives which will also help motivate the employees.
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