This article gives a guide on how to make profits from an enterprise’s Customer Supports function. Two advanced business opportunities are discussed. It also describes the impact of technology, process and strategy in the business renovation.
Customer Support: From the traditionally cost sector…
Customer Support function has long been considered a cost to business, as it rarely brings more values.
Well, is it the case? If it is accused to not bring values, is it possible that they did not attempt to get value from it?
…To getting golds back from the star-fruits quezacotl
“Vietnamese folklore goes that once upon a time, a man was very annoyed by a strange large bird eating the star-fruits in his garden. He tried to trap the creature and when he succeeded, the bird offered to carry him to a gold island to be released. The man became prosperous with the gold he picked from the isle after then.”
You can get a high Return on your Investment into Customer Support.
Many entrepreneurs know that good customer support is what makes customer happy and thus more willing to buy more and/or spread the good words. Customer Support has been recognized as a PR tool rather than.
Customer Support can be exploited to:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Develop customer loyalty
- Make the current customers spread the good word: the famous word-of-mouth marketing technique
- Build a community of customers
- Enhance the brand of the enterprise
Now, let’s push it further than that.
(1) Customer Support to increase employee satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is an intangible value of any enterprise. In real life, business development and employee growth is generally mutual exclusive. A way to solve the dilemma will be discussed.
(2) Customer Support as competing Strategy
Becoming the first in the industry requires good Strategies. Maintaining the position requires better Strategies. With the rapid flourishment of the knowledge economy, technology has come in place to revolutionize strategic planning. More on strategies coming next…
How? The five steps
1. Just read
Before actually doing it, it’s advisable that you explore what need done in order to achieve your goal. This article’s got it all for you from a very high level view.
2. Automate it
Employees who do the Customer Supports are agents with specific customer management and troubleshooting skills.
Agents’ tasks are repetitive and require a high level of concentration and accuracy. On the other side, managers want to be updated periodically and recurrently without having to micro-manage. This can put a lot of pressure both employees and team leaders.
Ultimately, now that we are setting the business objective very high (remember all the items covered above?), it would be next to chaos if all things are done manually.
The work must be automated. It is then agents are provided with tools to complete their works, checklists so as not to miss any item and instant support when they need it. Managers receive reports, statistics and figures to analyze and make decisions. Furthermore, automation saves man-hours so the firm may concentrate on developing the most talented workers. Eventually, automation frees all levels from tedious and repetitive works to spend more time on thinking how to improve the process.
A system should be in place to do the harder works so that people can work smarter.
3. Establish a process to support it
For any system or workflow to work properly, the process must be modified to support it.
Process has to be defined so as to gradually switching from paper works to entering and obtaining information from the systems installed.
Re-defining the process is the next investment an enterprise has to spend. However, the Return on Investment shall be well worth it. With automation in place, costs of some processes themselves will be cut down significantly.
For example, it used to take at least 15 minutes to search for a file of a customer in a heap of documents. Now it takes maximum 15 seconds to get all information of that customer by searching in database. That makes it 32 times faster!
So far, Statement (2) has been explained.
4. Mean to really support it
When the system and the process has been in place is the time for training and changing the habit of users. Training effectively has been difficult enough, making a change is even more.
It requires high commitment and strong confidence from Board of Management to request, encourage and motivate employees into the new environment.
Eventually, only if the change is seen as the key strategy to compete will all of its potentials be unlocked. Nothing is more powerful than union between all attending parties, strategies, processes and the product.
5. Let the whole world know
Just what are you waiting for? Let the whole world know
that you’re different,
that you have leaped ahead of all your competitors,
that your customers will be served the best way possible.
Life Business prospect has never been as bright.
Suppose you’re the owner of an electronics retailing chain.
You may want to know the level of satisfaction of your customer. You will conduct a survey using Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). Since most of your market segments use the Internet regularly, it is easier to release the survey in electronic format.
To ensure that the survey is done correctly, you may want to arrange your agents to help/guide your (potential) customers through the survey. How do you know if your agents are doing well? Start the Quality Monitoring (QM) System. It will track the interaction between you agents and customers, be the media text chats, audio or video. After saving the interaction, you can always review and remark the performance of any specific agents.
Oh! Some agents are not doing as well as you expected. What will you do? It’s suggested that you review their skill set and portfolio in the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) to make judgment on how to grow them to the required level.
After obtaining the information on the agents, you may want to send them to Training. Today, training doesn’t have to be formal classes with costly instructors from outside. For your information, thousands – I mean hundreds of thousands – training courses, from business to technical, from soft skills to customer management, have been packaged in the form of e-Learning, delivered to your PC, and always ready to launch.
After the training, expect “Wow!” expressions from your beloved customers!
Now that your employees receive adequate feedback of their performance and personalized training addressing their gaps. Their productivity and loyalty will increase proportionally. Happier agents, happier customers too. By the way, has this solved the problem (1) listed above?
The whole process covered above should always be put under supervision. Thank goodness, software can do the micro-tracking for you. With information collected, it is time for Information Analytics power to shine. You can ‘teach’ the software to ‘know’ your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and it will compare the actual performance against your goals to produce conclusion, warnings and predictions.
At the very end of the process, Reports only need to be generated for You to know everything you want, with as few key hits as you want.
Please note that while I described this scenario for Customer Support only, similar approach can be used on a wide range of business functions: sales to production management, delivery to marketing. Software can be much more powerful if you know how to exploit them.
The case above involves several systems/modules. Theoretically, CRM and HRM systems are typical of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems; Quality Monitoring, Training, KPI are typical of Workforce Optimization Systems.
It can be concluded that from my analysis, Customer Support should no longer be considered a cost. Instead, it brings more opportunities if it is used the right way, is supported with functional systems and appropriate processes and is lead by a clear strategy.
with special thanks to:
Gideon Schipper, Business Analyst Manager, First Consulting Group Vietnam
Minh Nguyen, Business Analyst, First Consulting Group Vietnam
Phuc Nguyen, ASEAN System Manager, Procter & Gamble