In his penultimate article, Dennis Gilham discusses five essential management tools for improving customer focus.
In previous parts we looked at the importance of customer insight, putting customers at the centre of operations and aligning key success factors. Now we look at essential management tools/intranet resources:
- Customer complaints logs and analysis
- Customer journey maps
- Insight demonstration
- Website optimisation
- Business planning charts
Customer complaints logs and analysis: When customers take the time to complain they are taking the time to tell us what went wrong with our service. The industry can ill afford to lose committed customers and it is sensible working to keep customers rather than trying to replace them. Answering, analysing and acting on complaints improve customer focus.
We need to listen for the customer need or want behind the complaint; it can actually be the inspiration for a new idea or a new way to approach a problem. It takes real talent to listen and reframe a complaint to discover the gem inside; whilst maintaining its basic meaning, reframing presents the complaint in a way that is more likely to find a resolution.
Complaints need to be managed effectively. One way is triage by level of importance (value of customer) and significance (value of complaint) plus dedicated and empowered response teams. Many straight forward complaints can then be quickly resolved following simple guidelines. Otherwise complaints get escalated for a managed response or executive decision. Log all complaints, analyse and act to avoid repetition.
Customer journey maps: Wouldn’t it be nice to better understand interactions with the organisation from the customer’s point of view? Mapping the customer journey allows us to anticipate problems and helps us to identify improvements to our products and services.
The five steps to map the customer journey: 1) collect internal information; inputs, touch points and insights; 2) develop first ideas about customers’ interactions to test; 3) research customer processes, experiences, needs, wants and perceptions; 4) analyse research results; and 5) map the customer journey.
To get the most from these maps, share and review findings, incentivise action and new ideas and improve the picture over time.
Insight demonstration: Customer insight specific to an organisation is valuable. Business processes can be aligned to deliver ideas, predictions and demonstrations of value. Steps: 1) imagine value – create lots of ideas that offer new customer benefits and rejuvenate the existing value proposition; requires setting challenging boundaries based on customer insight together with an igniting purpose, productive capacity and a co-operative mindset; 2) predict value – research customer preferences and intentions using comparisons, historical models and concept testing to better predict uptake and contribution from promising new ideas; 3) demonstrate value – systematic approach to gathering evidence and building a business case with emphasis on key data and influences (e.g. competitors moves and trends); and 4) learn and improve – feed-back at each step with rigour of analysis, results monitoring, post-phase reviews and driving down waste; lost time, scrapped projects and re-work.
Website optimisation: The world is changing with new tools although the same rules apply when it comes to customer experience. Many websites fail to achieve a dialogue with the customer or the response is too slow. Customers have two important needs when it comes to online experience; personalisation and performance.
Online conversations require relevant messages, text or images that improve the perception of the business. The right landing page and ‘call to action’ on each page are critical for success. A personalised URL (PURL) is a web address that is unique to each individual customer and can be integrated into direct mail campaigns or assigned during an online registration or sign-up. Multiple versions of websites can be created for different customer groups and personalised with slightly different content.
Website tools are readily available for optimisation and providing useful customer analytics. These include tools for testing the speed of a website; after 3 seconds there is exponential drop-off. Images can be compressed plus comparisons between alternative versions and best-in-class websites.
Analytics helps provide consistent views about customers, joined-up services and flag online problems that need to be fixed; it’s about optimising the customer web journey and content experience.
Business planning chart: One of the most challenging tasks for any business is to get everyone in the organisation working from the same page. The best way to keep the team in tune with a customer-relationship plan is to map it out on a single sheet. A strategic plan has a better chance of success when it’s shared and easy to understand by everyone. Using connected bullets: 1) put this year’s two or three big objectives straight across the top of the page (better customer service, stronger branding…); 2) position the goals (cut complaints by half, grow online business by 50%…) beneath with arrows connecting to the appropriate objectives; 3) on the third row describe and connect the strategies required to reach these goals (assign executive sponsor and fix top complaints, add training in active listening…); 4) list the tactics to be used to execute those strategies (launch online expert help, use customer experience surveys, re-engineer customer response processes, deploy new front line support tools, develop certification system…)
A detailed strategic plan can be too complex in word-driven format; it’s easier for everyone to understand when it’s a single page chart.
Next time, the last in this series, we consider five essential customer trends that the postal sector cannot ignore.
Dennis Gilham: Biography
A Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with over 30 years experience of delivering customer facing solutions in the postal sector. Dennis has held senior industry roles as Head of Corporate Partnerships, Group Business Line Director, Group Director of Product Marketing and Director of Research & Development. He has built a unique set of skills and knowledge in promoting new solutions for business customers of all sizes in mail, express and parcels.
Having worked with Posts worldwide, contributing to their business development through customer insight, marketing strategy and innovative solutions, Dennis now has the opportunity to help postal management in his capacity as Independent Strategy Advisor.
+44 (0)79 74 97 50 00
Source: Dennis Gilham