The challenge for any business leader is to ensure that all parts of the business are performing at their optimum. So you want your sales team to generate great sales and marketing has to be delivering great leads. Then there is the customer service department that has the function of serving your customers when there is a standard inquiry, a simple problem or worse an urgent problem. The tricky bit for any business leader is how to make sense of the impact of service for the success of the business. If sales is concerned with converting customers, marketing is attracting customers, then where exactly does customer service fit in the success of your business. We have been working on this issue for the last 20 years and the key to success for any service department is the triple bottom line.
So what exactly is the triple bottom line? The triple bottom line is a pretty simple concept that states that a high performing and profitable service organisation exists when they are excelling in three areas, the customer, employee and business. So in a nutshell if customers are receiving consistent quality service, employees are well trained and engaged, and the cost of service is low for the business then the overlap between all three is where you have a high performing and profitable service organisation. It’s not good to just focus on the customer while your staff is leaving in droves, or simply focus on your employee, nor is it good for the business to simply cut costs without thinking of the customer or employees. Its only when companies are focused on these three areas that they are able to see the value of service to their business. Let’s look at each of them in a bit more detail to get a sense of how to create a high performing customer service organisation.
The interaction between the customer and the business
It’s only natural that we start with the customer, they are the key ingredient to the success of any business and are the main focus of any customer service organisation. So as a service organisation you want to ensure that when customers call your contact centre they are getting consistent service. You don’t want your customers to call in to the contact centre and get the same service regardless of whether they are talking to Bob or Jane. So if your customers are getting inconsistent service based on agent to agent then that affects your brand experience.
Its not only consistency of service that affects customer satisfaction, but is it easy for a customer to get their actual problem solved. Are your customers calling in to the centre and being pushed from one agent to the next? Do your customers have to jump through hoops for a problem to be solved? If your service organisation isn’t able to solve customer problems with minimal effort then that will impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.
At In-gage we developed our quality tool that helps service organisations measure the consistency of service. The quality tool allows service organisations to measure the consistency of service based on the individual agent, teams and team manager. With our quality tool you can get individualised feedback on how your agents and team managers are performing and recommendations for improvement.
The importance of engaged and well trained employees
While the central focus for any business is the customer, the people that enable your business to give your customers the best experience they ever had are your employees. If your employees are motivated and well trained, then they will be able to handle customer inquiries with enthusiasm and professionalism.
It may seem self explanatory but highly skilled and well-trained employees are the keys to developing an exceptional customer service. The problem for most companies is how to actually create an engaged and well-trained team. Most business leaders know that happy employees’ equal happy customers but often times there isn’t anyone on the frontline team that is in charge of taking responsibility for engagement. The result is that employee engagement becomes a nice thing to have but not necessary. Globoforce estimates that 36% of businesses see employee engagement as a top priority.
While the HR team will get some of the job done but they are often detached from the frontline service team and so they really can’t make an impact on the teams performance. The most the HR team can do is send out the yearly survey of employee engagement and by that time maybe you have lost half your team to resignations.
The reason for this attitude towards employee engagement is because companies haven’t been able to link employee engagement to business outcomes like financials. So even though you may care about employee engagement it’s not clear how this is related to the financial outcome of the business. It can get so bad that some organisations set aside recruitment costs into their yearly budget because they know they will lose 50% of their staff in a year. The Engagement Institute estimates that disengaged employees cost organisations between US$450 billion and US$550 billion annually.
If you’re constantly replacing members of your team then its highly likely that you will a have a poorly trained team. Your average contact centre will have multiple systems and procedures that take time for new employees to get a handle of all these systems. If systems and procedures are laborious and cumbersome not only does breed employee frustration but also imagine the distress of the customer relying on that agent to solve a problem. Aberdeen market intelligence estimates that companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue. So it literally pays for companies to have engaged employees.
At In-gage we have developed our Team Engagement and Learning tool that’s allows companies to have real time measurement of employee engagement. It also recommends and gives individualised feedback on the learning and development needs for members of your team and team managers. This allows for companies to tailor and develop individual coaching based on the specific needs of the agent or manager. In addition we are able to connect employee engagement and training to financial metrics. So companies can measure the financial return that comes from having a highly trained and engaged team.
Bringing it all together: Loyal Customers, Engaged Employees and increased profits for the business
All of this leads to the interaction between the customer and business, and the interaction between the employee and the business. Let’s first discuss the interaction between the business and the customer. As a business you want to understand what the customer is feeling after an interaction to get a sense of whether your business is creating satisfying customers. As a business you want to get all the feedback that you can from your customer, so this is purpose of feedback forms and NPS. As a business you want to know if your customer will stay or go, will they recommend your business and then ultimately how does that financial affect your business.
So let’s look at a hypothetical scenario. If we see that 90% of customers stay with the business after a particular transaction type, that’s already a great score, right? What if the business improved that score to 93% satisfied after a purchase that could mean millions of additional revenue for your business. To use an analogy it’s the equivalent of plugging a hole in the bucket that is pouring out 3% of your customers every year! Customers that are loyal and satisfied tend to buy more products over time as they develop trust in the company.
Loyal customers then become the biggest source of additional revenue through word of mouth sales as they speak with friends, family and colleagues. When your customers are acting as references for your business they are putting their reputations on the line making it far more effective than traditional advertising. The challenge for any business is actually making the link between customer loyalty and satisfaction to key metrics such as financial outcomes. That’s one of the main reasons that we developed our salesforce app, we wanted to prove the value of service to the bottom line. In the app we created some analytics that is able to link customer feedback and loyalty to key financial metrics. So instead of guessing the impact that happy customers are having on your business you can actually get a true financial figure.
Then there is the interaction between the employee and the business. What does the business expect from the employee and what does the employee expect from the business? Are people well trained in the processes that exist? Are the systems that employees use cumbersome and difficult? As a business you want your employees to be well trained on the systems and processes so that they are able to deliver great service to customers. However if your employees are not trained appropriately or if the systems are too cumbersome this will have an impact on the quality of service. The lack of appropriate training means that there is a high likelihood of mistakes and this just increases the cost of service for the business.
It not only increases the cost for the business but also affects your employee engagement. If your employees are constantly frustrated because they aren’t getting the right coaching or due to cumbersome systems the result will be a high staff turnover. The resulting turnover will mean a decline in the quality of the service that the business is able to deliver to customers. Research conducted by the HayGroup reported that “the offices with engaged employees were as much as 43% more productive”. In addition to this a recent study by Wyatt Watson revealed that highly engaged employees produce 26% higher revenue per employee. The In-gage app allows businesses to monitor employee engagement in real time. Our app helps businesses for learning and development giving clear guidance and feedback on which employees need guidance and assistance. Because the In-gage app is native to salesforce it means that we can link employee engagement to financial metrics.
In short if your employees are engaged that creates happy customers and increases profits for the business. So the triple bottom line occurs at the intersection of the business, customer and employee. When each one is performing at their optimum then you have a high performing service organisation.