Our Customers are in Control: 5 Factors for Success

Until recently, the most significant developments in customer service have been those envisioned and implemented by organizations—e.g., 800 numbers, routing systems, web-based services, multimedia capabilities, and real-time analytics, to name just a few. But we are now seeing a fundamental shift: developments on the customer’s side of the equation — the meteoric rise of smartphones, social media, broadband and mobility—are the most significant factors driving customer expectations and services.

What does your organization need to do to respond to these changes? I believe there are five key success factors:

  • First, ensure your executive leadership team spends time “in the trenches,” observing how interactions are handled, understanding the work of internal development teams, talking to customers, etc. This provides invaluable insight into direction and development priorities.
  • Second, commit to providing a broad range of access choices to customers, enabling them to reach the information and services they need through the channels they want to use (mobile, social, self-service, phone, etc.)
  • Third, tend to blocking and tackling—e.g., manage workloads effectively so that as customer needs evolve, your organization is accessible and provides consistent high levels of service and quality.
  • Fourth, take every opportunity at each customer touchpoint to build customer relationships and capture insight from them that is used for innovation and product improvement.
  • Finally (and this is both a prerequisite to the above and an ongoing responsibility), build a strong organization (hire right, train well) with a cross-functional commitment to understanding and serving customers.

This is a season of significant change. Organizations that understand the trends and respond appropriately have enormous opportunity to differentiate and thrive.