Times are tough and many organizations are looking for ways to reduce costs. However, even in difficult times, investing in the people, processes and technology used to serve customers is sure to reap a positive return. National Customer Service Week (NCSW), held October 5-9 in 2009, provides an excellent opportunity to explore ways to better serve your customers. It is also an excellent time to let the employees who serve your customers know how important they are to the success of your organization.
Always the first week in October, NCSW is designed to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays within an organization. It is also an opportunity to say thank you to those who work in customer service for a job well done. Organizations take part in NCSW by hosting events in their workplace. These events can be large or small, serious or fun, they can be held all through the week or just on one day…. it's up to each organization to decide how to celebrate.
Many organizations use this week as an opportunity to provide training and refocus the efforts of their staff on the needs of their customers. In IT, a common misconception is that the Service Desk is responsible for customer satisfaction because of its role as a single point of contact. However, every team in IT is part of the value network that creates value for customers, and each team must understand the importance of its contribution.
Celebrating National Customer Service Week doesn’t have to cost a lot. It really just takes a little creativity. For example:
- Begin each meeting or training class with a review of team goals and how they contribute to customer satisfaction.
- Celebrate achievements such as an increase in your customer satisfaction rating. Food is always a fun and easy way to celebrate!
- Send a daily email with positive customer feedback and inspiring customer-related quotes.
- Offer a “lunch and learn” series focused on the soft skills needed to deliver excellent service such as listening skills, communication skills and customer service skills.
- Launch a project aimed at creating better relationships between your Service Desk and second- and third-line support teams by creating Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) that clearly spell out roles and responsibilities.
- Review your policies and processes and ensure they are not standing in the way of excellent customer service. Begin with a review of recent customer satisfaction surveys and complaints to ensure changes fully address your customers’ needs and expectations.
Best practice frameworks such as ITIL® and ISO/IEC 20000 are aimed at ensuring the focus always stays on customer needs and expectations. In fact, customer satisfaction by definition is “the difference between how a customer expects to be treated and how the customer perceives he or she was treated. Achieving high customer satisfaction begins with understanding customer requirements. It also involves determining how best to manage expectations in terms of the service levels that can be delivered given existing capabilities and resources.
Join me next week for a look at how to ensure your processes are “customer friendly.” In the mean time, get planning! National Customer Service Week is two weeks away and so you’ve got plenty of time.
What have you got planned?