Step 2. Live the Frontline Experience. Everyone in the organization, including senior management, should live the frontline experience, both as an employee and as a customer. Spending even a day fulfilling the role of an entry-level frontline associate will provide managers a much more intimate sense of how customer experience is delivered and what will make it as good as possible, and periodic undercover “customer visits” from management are also a must to ensure everything looks as good to the customer as it does to the employees.
Step 3. Smart Tasking. Smart Tasking clearly defines the critical tasks/processes that support the customer service offering and the deadlines by which they must be completed. The most important factor is completing the necessary tasks/processes without impeding the delivery of a customer service experience that shines through the darkest gloom of a recession. Smart Tasking creates a harmonized balance between completing the tasks/processes and delivering a World-Class customer service experience.
To effect Smart Tasking in your organization, simply keep a careful eye on the frontline tasks your employees perform, the order in which they prioritize them, and periodically review them to ensure that they are appropriate and add value to the customer experience. Actively involve the Frontline Employees in Smart Tasking and encourage them to speak up when they find themselves performing tasks that are inefficient, ineffective, or just plain unnecessary.
Whatever time you may “lose” in careful observation and review will more than pay for itself in higher levels of employee efficiency, customer satisfaction, and corporate profits.
Step 4. Create a What-If Arsenal. Inevitably, the frontline employees delivering your customer experience will come across unpredictable circumstances outside their immediate control, such as an out-of-stock product or on-site accident. When fastballs of everyday life are thrown at you and your organization, you need to have a strategy for hitting homeruns in unstable conditions. It’s called life, and the What-If Arsenal is a strategy for life success, regardless of how the economy is doing.
The What-If Arsenal toolbox should be filled with techniques, strategies and scenarios generated by the frontline employees who encounter them every day. Management should then help frontline employees put these ideas into action. The Arsenal constantly grows as the organization grows, and customers will feel confident returning knowing that whatever problems arise, they will be solved quickly!
Step 5. Make-It-Right Power. Once you have given your employees a What-If Arsenal, equip them with the Make-It-Right Power to put that arsenal into action. Make-It-Right Power puts the ability to deliver a world-class customer service experience in the hands of the people who are best able to deliver it: The employees who interact with the customers. It’s about empowering and positioning employees to be able to instantly solve customer problems and view them as opportunities to Make-It-Right now for the customer.
Even once a What-If Arsenal is in place, managers will not always be on hand to supervise employees in executing it. Make-It-Roght power means they don’t have to be.
Step 6. Focus the entire organization on customer service. The entire organization needs to be focused on providing a World-Class customer service experience. The quicker you solve the problem, the greater the opportunity for making the customer happy and keeping him or her coming back. Every program, strategy, and initiative should have an automatic space carved out for providing a World-Class customer service experience.
If the front line is not empowered or it does not have immediate access to someone who is empowered to provide an instant solution to the problem, the problem will remain with the customer longer and fester into something greater and cause him or her to be even more dissatisfied with the experience. And in an ultracompetitive environment for limited customer dollars, dissatisfaction is unacceptable!
Step 6.5 Just Make It Happen. This is a half-step simply meant to remind you that the first six steps do you no good unless you actively put them into practice today and then constantly follow up to ensure they remain in practice (and continue to improve) throughout your organization. It’s one thing to “commit” to fresh customer service, it’s another thing to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.
The cost? Whatever the market rate for elbow grease and determination is these days. Like so many of the most valuable things in life, there is no financial value you can put on them, but they’re worth more than anything you can put a price sticker on. And in a time of scarce resources, they are more precious than ever.