Having a well thought out and planned customer service strategy is critical to the development of a strong service culture. Organizations need to incorporate customer service into their business goals and those strategies should be incorporated into employee goals to help the organization reach their corporate objectives.
Churches are becoming more aware of the need to identify who their customers are and developing processes and systems to meet customer requirements.
So what are the 7 steps to developing a customer service strategy?
1. Customer Service Vision
The first step in creating a customer service strategy is communicating the customer service vision to employees. Employees need to understand what the vision and goal for customer service is and understand their responsibility to help achieve that vision. For example, ministries that shares a customer service vision and teaches customer service skills is very different than churches that leaves the front-line employees untrained and unprepared for dealing with customer issues.
2. Assessment of Customer Needs
Organizations can’t meet the needs of their customers without a good understanding of what the customer needs and expectations are. An assessment is done by soliciting customer feedback through customer focus groups, satisfaction surveys, or customer comment cards, and developing a comprehensive plan to meet and exceed the customer needs that fall within the scope of the mission and vision of the church. The first step in any customer improvement initiative is to talk to the customers to find out their perception of the services and programs being provided and what their needs and expectations are. Organizations often fail because they put together services and programs that they thought the customer would value, only to find out it was not what the customer wanted. Time and money are wasted on developing programs and services that do not meet customer expectations. The trick is to find out what it is the customer wants and put together plans to meet those needs. Keep in mind that customer needs and expectations are a moving target. What a customer wants today will be very different from what the customer wants a year or five years down the road. As things change, expectations and needs change also.
3. Hire the Right Employees
Hiring with the customer in mind is another step in an overall strategy for strong customer service. Screening employees and ensuring that they possess the disposition and skill set to help support a strong customer service environment is important. Skills can be taught but attitude and personality cannot. It’s a fact-of-life that not everyone has the skill set to represent the ministry and interact with customers.
4. Customer Service Goals
Once customer needs and expectations are identified and customer satisfaction is measured, it is time to create goals for achieving customer satisfaction. Employees need to understand what the target is so they can help the organization reach their strategic objectives.
Good customer service skills are innate with some people, but we can all benefit from practical teaching on the organization’s approach to customer service. Much of the training should be practical teaching for how the organization would like the employee to behave in every situation. Things like how to respond to customer complaints, how to be responsive to customers, how to meet customer needs, being empowered to perform service recovery, how to answer the phone and customer service standards are all pieces to a customer service training curriculum.
Employees need to be held accountable for achieving customer satisfaction goals. This is part of a comprehensive performance management system and should be culturally expected. Employees should have a good understanding of how their service to the customer affects the organization’s overall performance. For example, the person over the information technology function of a church should understand that addressing the issues of the secretary’s computer is important and that he/she will be help accountable for doing so.
7. Reward and Recognition
There should be a well thought out system for acknowledging and rewarding employees for good customer service. Employees need positive reinforcement when they demonstrate the desired behaviors of a strong customer service culture.
Having a strong vision and strategy for customer service is a critical component to the success of any organization. Organizations need to identify who their customers are, what they want and develop strategies to achieve those customer requirements. A strong customer service strategy is what separates the successful organizations from the rest.
Does your organization have a customer service strategy?
For more information on customer service check out Customer Satisfaction: Tools, Techniques and Formulas for Success.
photo by: tilitran