Technology’s Service Edge

Can Technology change the Service Experience or does it only Enable Service?

With today’s fast paced growth and exploding customer base, technology has become an inseparable element for any Service Design in an Organization. And there are plenty of claims of “Technology drives the Customer Service Experience” by various IT companies (hardware & software).

However, I have some experiences contrary to the claims made by these companies. In more than one project & throughout my corporate stint I have experienced that the most intelligent & intuitive technology can fail to meet the needs of an Organization.

There’s more to this disappointment with Technology, than meets the eye. Why does excellent & highly evolved Technology fail to bring about a sea change in the Service Experience that an Organization provides to its Customers?

This typically happens, due to lack of a comprehensive design and a thorough strategy to build & cash-in on the tools that technology can bring. Technology as a tool for Service needs to firstly be designed well, by those who understand the customers’ needs & the service operations thoroughly. It needs the many verticals in an Organization to work in tandem & design requirements, as a single team.

They need to map their Customers’ expectations, the Organization’s policy, processes & gaps, as well as the future roadmap before they establish their Requirement Set.

The selection of the Technology must keep not only features & cost in mind, but also have the necessary expertise & support that will fit well as a partner, to the Organization’s needs. 

Finally the customization made during implementation needs to be detailed well, kept flexible to future proof it & tested thoroughly for accuracy & robustness.

Technology has never “enabled service”…it can only help in meeting the speed to serve & accuracy challenges to a large extent. This will be the result of a well thought through strategy & robust implementation. What enables service is having a “Customer Experience” mindset. It is when everyone in the organization thinks about the nuts & bolts of what makes for great service.

Technology is an effective tool to improve efficiency. It acts as a bridge between Customers, the Organization’s Policies & Processes and the Service Delivery team.

Advertisements

Integrating “Knowledge-Learning-Actions”

An organization that values learning never gives in to the temptation for blindly sticking to “business-as-usual” way of thinking and continuously challenges its methods and traditional way of doing things.

Knowledge: Primarily comes from past experiences, benchmarking and the talent pool

Learning: A result of what the organization did or did not do coupled with environmental learning

Actions: What an organization actually does with the knowledge & learning

If you ask me, “Actions” is the area what distinguishes a leader & laggard. A company’s learning agenda generally focuses on being more effective at delivering its products and services. But leading-edge organizations ensure time to action is minimal and therefore a great opportunity to improve all aspects of corporate performance.

Successful companies ensure that the resources they allocate to learning endeavours are taken to the logical end of execution or “Actions”. They also use tools like mystery audits, process audits in addition to the statutory audits to reflect their belief that execution is as important as knowledge & learnings.

Additionally, the companies provide employees with different learning avenues as a way to encourage them to seek knowledge and expand their horizons continually. Such organizations also create environment where employees are encouraged to take personal ownership for their performance.



Once upon a Time ….

Few days back, I saw a surprised blank and lost look on my friend’s face. I had just replied to his question “So what are you doing now a days?”

I’d said “I run an organization which works on customer retention and revenue enhancement and our modus operandi is Mystery Shopping. ”

He was not able to comprehend “Mystery Shopping” and fumbling, with a quizzical look on his face, he said, “Please solve this mystery of ‘Mystery Shopping’ for me”

I narrated him a story….

Once upon a time there was a king, and all was well in his kingdom. There was peace, prosperity and all were very happy the way king ruled. A traveller came to the kingdom from far off lands, he too was amazed at the prosperity and peace in the kingdom.

He asked the king, how he manages things so well? The king said you come to me tomorrow evening, I will show you. The traveller reached the palace in the evening and someone patted at his back, he turned, and saw an unknown face staring at him. “What can I do for you?” asked the traveller.

The strange faced man said, “It’s me The King, I have changed my appearance so that no one can recognise me, come with me.”………

I am sure there is no need to narrate the whole story. My friend got the point immediately!

This got me thinking …… The ease with which we forget or not able to utilize what we learnt / experienced as children, amazes me. Perhaps this is the oldest form of Mystery Shopping and we all know how powerful these inputs were in key strategic decisions and day-to-day administration.

Similarly Mystery Shopping not only highlights “Conformance to Standards” but also helps in charting out a strategy for service, expansion and competition.

Its Always Time for …… Back to the Basics

Last week I wrote about my personal experiences with some Big Brands & asked you “Do Big Brands disappoint you? ”

My experiences tell me that as Brands grow & start their journey with standards, processes & systems that need to keep their focus on the purpose of building Customer Relationships rather than just the activity. It’s always time for Back to the Basics….

I see a ray of light too but from unexpected corners. These were lesser “know”, less “sophisticated” growing setups and it was a delight to see the kind empowerment given to the frontline and how beautifully the frontline uses it.

I would love to put down those brand names as: iBall (mobiles, computer & peripherals) and GM Bells (makes remote calling bells).

iBall Experience: Had my iBalls popping out and left me in disbelief. iBall designed a mobile for senior citizens a while ago– iBall Asaan, loaded with very practical and easy to use features. One of my colleagues had bought a handset for an elder member of the family and it was working perfectly until one day when she was out town and the phone’s ringer gave away. Since that was the only means to communicate with the elders at home, left with no alternate, she called iBall customer care and explained the situation & why she was so worried.

True to the spirit of service and level of commitment, iBall representative came to the house to collect the phone (as iBall understood and did not want a senior citizen to travel to the customer care centre). Offered a standby phone, repaired the phone and gave it back the very next day (realizing the urgency and utility of device for the senior citizen). And of course this was an exception and not the company policy.

GM Bells: The remote controller of the bell stopped functioning and there was no way it could be repaired. We wrote to the company asking if there is anything that can be done as the bell was not in the warranty period anymore. The response was quick and we were requested to visit the nearest dealer and get it replaced.

The person who replied from the company was not the MD or the owner; it was an empowered team member who cared to understand the issue and was graceful enough to make the service gesture without spending too much time on investigating and making the replacement sound like a big favour.

Something is going right for these companies; I guess it is the culture coupled with the hunger to stay ahead in the market. Perhaps they have a lean operation with plenty of ownership.

My sincere hope that while their businesses see plenty of growth, they don’t lose sight of what they are really doing well besides their products. Someone in their team has found the road to success for their organization. Here’s hoping they will cherish those employees & teach others to operate on a similar instinct

Do you have the most amazing & unexpected service experiences when you least expected them?

Share your inspiring stories here. As a silent Thank you to those Brands – small or large, that made their space in our hearts & minds

Get paid to shop



Get paid to shop… be a Mystery Shopper

If you have an eye for detail & a mind that finds opportunities in all you view…..

Then, all you need to do for us is give us a detailed report ….. after you shop, eat, visit places everyone likes to hang out at or use

We are looking for aware & responsible shoppers to evaluate customer service & sales efforts for our clients. We use consumers, just like you, across industries, to act as eyes & ears for our clients

Register as a Mystery Shopper

There are plenty of assignments coming your way! All you need to do is fill the enrolment form. Visit this link

Strategic initiatives for a customer driven organization

                      

Building a customer driven organization is an inward journey through the following steps, with each step being a building block it is critical to ensure these are imbibed well in each individual of the organization:

  • Establishing direction and alignment
  • Strengthening the internal service chain
  • Building quality culture
  • Motivating and rewarding people
  • Attracting & retaining people
  • Customer satisfaction measurement & management
  • Voice of the customer
  • Improving customer satisfaction
  • Innovating new products & services
  • Measuring business excellence

Customer focus does not happen by itself………Most important role in establishing the customer focus in any organization is that of the top leadership.

The leaders of the organization must provide clear direction to align the entire organization with regards to the expectations of the customers.

Key Pillars of Service

To implement, deliver and embed the vision, these pillars should be firmly grounded in an organization to ensure that “Processes” run and not the “People”

  • People “Make the Difference”
  • Processes that “Work”
  • Customer “Focused” approach
  • Technology as an “Enabler”
  • Partners are a “Key Support”
  • Service Guarantee the “Bottom line”

We have touched upon the critical aspects of service, each of these when implemented in a synchronized manner, ensure synergistic outcomes which not only ensure better focus for the Service Provider, but also delivers the much needed “Brand Promise” to the Customers.

Contact us , we can make your Brand deliver its promise http://www.servicesolutions.co.in/consulting.html

Care Beyond Cure – what medical services need today

Care in HealthcareI write this article as a complete novice to the medical profession, however, life has given me ample opportunities to be on the other side of the table, yes, as a recipient of the medical services. I have been to a clinic, a nursing home, a big hospital, a super speciality hospital, a pathology lab and of course not to miss my good old neighbourhood medical store.

Right from my childhood I hated visiting the doctor for the dreaded needle and syringe threat that I used to get for not taking medicines when ill (and sometimes was threatened when I didn’t do my home work!). I distinctly remember my first “positive” impression about a doctor came while watching the old black & white classic “Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani”, aired on Doordarshan when I was in my third standard. While I felt very soft at heart when the movie ended, I could not understand at that age, why did Dr. Kotnis not care about himself if he was a doctor? Why he had to die? Why didn’t he take rest? Why did he go in the toxic rain? Infact little did I realise that it was my first encounter with the concept of “Care Beyond Cure”.

I am firm believer in The Power of Care, which all living beings have and especially that human beings can generate for every other living being on earth, and I don’t believe that any medical professional can be successful without having the human values of empathy, love, care, trust & faith. And contrary to most of the people I know, I believe that medical profession is not just about just making money, while many may perceive it so. Much more than how an engineer feels when a beam cracks, how an artist feels when the act is not applauded, how a cook feels when a dish is not appreciated, a doctor feels more miserable to see the patient not recovering.

Today, with all the world’s technology & advancement at hand can we actually say that healthcare has little left to achieve? – The obvious answer is a “NO”.

In fact the need of the hour is to reach out to people not only to cure but to “Cure with Care”. Many big organizations are attempting to do this and have achieved some success, but that kind of service is still out of bounds of an average common man in terms of affordability.

All patients must have some basic access to care. This includes being adequately informed about the diagnosis, the options that are available for treatment, financials and options of that aspect. Equally important, those accompanying a patient to care for him/her must be given information, comforts and access to easy dealing with the multiple healthcare professionals & administrative staff that needs to be coordinated with. So what should be done?

The time is just ripe to build a “Customer Service” blueprint for healthcare. This will not only help in guarantee minimum service, but will also lay the foundation for further development.

Yes, I am talking about “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM). And given today’s scenario CRM should not get reduced to a fancy three letter acronym which is a “Must Have” department for every organization, but in fact CRM should be a strategic initiative by an organization.

What is CRM?

CRM is the business strategy which ensures:

  • Maximum return on spend per customer
  • Reduced customer acquisition costs
  • Motivates customer to be a brand ambassador

While the above definition may sound more “Business Like” and not “Service Like”, but it is extremely important to have self sustainable model, only then it is possible to effect the cultural changes over the period of time.

What does a customer want?

Customer expectations can be divided into two levels:

Level I – The Basics:

  • A human interface & empathetic handling
  • Quick response to a query
  • Clear service standards & guarantees for all services provided
  • Convenience to contact & speed of access
  • Standardized customer service from anyone in the organization regardless of roles
  • 24/7 access to information & emergency services
  • Single contact & reliable resolution
  • Guaranteed quality and reliability of all information provided

Level II – The Delighters:

  • An economical package & fair pricing
  • Proactive & up-to-date information on progress
  • Front line empowered to make decisions
  • Partnership with and gateway to other services like TPA, Medical Store, Pathology etc.
  • Open and fair handling of complaints with agreed remedies
  • Instant access for all possible facilities
  • Speedy & single window handling of all administrative coordination

Just like the medical standards & accreditation, there should be “Service Standards” and “Service Accreditations” for medical institutions also. Hotels are accredited for their service then why not Healthcare? This will not only help deliver better service to the patients but also induce healthy competition and optimize customer expectations.

Vijay Jassal

vijay@servicesolutions.co.in

vijay@ragscores.com

Does an “Outsider” view help?

Here’s the upfront admission. As a “consultant” I’m bound to answer with a resounding YES!

But on serious reflection – yes, it does help. Why?

  • Added bandwidth
  • Independent view – no ‘babying’ of internal challenges or ‘parenting’ in house policies
  • Lack of agenda – no internal bias or restraint
  • Added perspective – assuming the ‘outsider’ is an expert with plenty of exposure
  • No competing ‘to dos’ on the list – typically the internal team carries the baggage of many jostling priorities

However – always ensure that the ‘outsider’ is tuned to your organization

  • Values & key focus areas
  • A clear & focused brief
  • Plans that are WIP, to prevent them from ‘reinventing’ the wheel
  • Agreement on intent

PS : If I didn’t believe that an outsider expert view is of immense value, when used in a relevant context, I’d have never dared to cross over from the “corporate” to “consultant” tag! I rest my case 🙂

What do you think? Love to hear your views

Why Mystery Shopping?

As your organization’s Service Leader, why would you bring in outsiders to ‘act’ as your customers & critique aspects of your service? If you are indeed focussed on Servicing & adding Value to the Relationship that exists between your customers & you, you would know that :

  • When location, pricing and product range are not unique, service is key differentiation
  • It costs much more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one
  • One unhappy customer will tell 5 other people of their bad experience with service
  • Four of five unhappy customers leave their service provider

There are business benefits to providing a consistent & outstanding customer experience.

Can you afford a bad service experience, knowing that 4 our 5 customers who have a bad service experience will tell others about it. Others may switch service providers without even giving a chance to rectify the issue.

So how can a service provider (telecom, retail, healthcare, BPO, bank, insurer, or investment firm) demonstrate commitment to customers and continue to win their trust?

By consistently inspecting what you to offer, will help improve service delivery while firmly establishing you as a service provider of choice, a trustworthy partner. Positive engagement will also ensure enhanced usage,opportunity to cross sell & improved retention.

Where do we fit in?

We create customized programs that provide actionable insights to the management They also motivate and enthuse teams to excel in delivering service. Net impact is higher customer & employee retention with increase customer advocacy.

What differentiates our Mystery Shopping Programs? Customized Program – At RAG Scores a Mystery Shopping Program is far more than the typical “Tick Box” activity by going into the detail of what really affects your customers’ experience. As our guiding principle is that the best feedback comes from genuine consumers in a real-time situation only.

Detailed Report – After every mystery visit each location will receive a detailed, yet easy to understand report, which identifies what you are doing well and where the opportunities lie to improve.

Analysis & Insight – Basis our first hand experience in service across industries (Hospitality, Financial Services, Telecom, healthcare and BPOs) we bring you a true outside-in perspective.

Improve the bottom line – Our mystery shopping programs identify the key touch-points in the customers’ journey that will improve sales, customer advocacy and ultimately profit.

Our reporting system,  RAG Track, ensures that you have a real-time pulse of the findings. Unique advantages include:

Objective Measurement – With national coverage, our team of auditors provide independent measurement and the flexibility to rapidly implement campaigns at short notice.

Data Capture near Real Time – You will receive live reports about your campaign as it happens. Photographic evidence and signatures can also be captured and stored online.

Critical Focus Alerts – With observations available near real-time, our RAG ALERTS function, updates the key person responsible in your organization, so any in-store issues are rapidly dealt with and also highlight any issues in the supply chain.

Analysis & Insight – Both during and after the campaign you will have access to report providing you with full analysis and insight highlighting the successes and where improvements can be made in the future