For professional services firms, a customer-centric strategy drives higher revenue, lowers costs, and increases customer loyalty. Trying to align the customer experience across the customer life cycle and an entire organization, however, is often easier said than done.
An article by McKinsey frames the issue this way: “In the effort to transform customer journeys and refine direct interactions with clients, many companies overlook the need to engage the whole organization, including its support functions, in a customer-centric transformation.”
Tackling the whole organization at once is overwhelming, so start with these five critical areas to frame your thinking about becoming more customer experience-driven.
Any initiative to align the customer experience must start at the project implementation stage. By standardizing your implementation methodology (and enforcing it with project managers and leaders), you’ll provide a consistent customer experience. Within project implementation, focus your efforts on three areas.
First, standardize your project planning with consistent planning tools and templates so each team follows a standard set of tasks. If a customer queries your team regarding project status, milestones, or simply ‘what comes next,’ the response will be consistent from every project manager and lead. Each team member will understand their role and its expectations from the outset.
Second, standardize risk management with explicit identifiers for project types and their associated risks. As soon as a new project is booked, the customer and project manager will see those risks and plan proactive management.
Third, enforce the delivery of consistent and standardized project status reports by project managers. Creating an executive-level dashboard view of all project reports will enable management to reallocate resources across functions and the portfolio.
Just as customers expect standardized project management, they will appreciate consistency. Quality of service is more challenging to align, however, as human factors like work style, education level, skill level, etc. vary between people. To ensure you align quality of service, focus on three areas.
First, document all content to deliver services, including training workbooks, installation instructions, maintenance guides, etc. Capture the qualitative suggestions from your best service delivery professionals and create a formally published document to share with the customer so expectations are set and processes followed.
Next, standardize and document the process of service delivery. An official delivery process ensures all personnel follow the same steps and customers receive the same level of professionalism no matter who they work with.
Finally, certify the people who deliver your services, whether they’re internal employees or partners. Product/service knowledge gaps within your service delivery teams can be addressed quickly with certified trainers.
“Turning support functions into excellent customer-service operations is a powerful lever to sustain and expand a full customer-centric transformation.” – McKinsey & Company
While support is rarely a profit center, many businesses realize the long-term value and customer loyalty high-quality, consistent support brings. To ensure the customer experience is aligned across your operations, deliver support quality at the same level for implementation and service delivery. Support should also become standardized, wherein your support team establishes procedures and sets customer expectations around them.
Support can also serve as a quality-check function to ensure project implementation and service delivery teams are providing consistently high-quality services to customers. By capturing customer feedback during the support process, your organization can benchmark a wealth of performance criteria, such as customer adoption speed, issue volume, and more.
While support teams may capture customer feedback in their normal course of operations, you must make a concerted effort to measure satisfaction with projects and services as you deliver them. This serves to solidify customer satisfaction across organizational functions and identifies where additional services may be needed.
To ensure you capture all aspects of the customer experience, survey customers regarding all significant elements of the service(s) they received, from launch preparation and scheduling to implementation, delivery, follow up, and ongoing support.
A great way to meld surveys into your existing collaboration with customers is to use online tools jointly during project and service delivery. If your teams and the customer already work together in an online workspace, it’s easy to ask the customer to provide survey-driven feedback in that same workspace. That’s crucial, as the perceived value of a service decreases almost immediately after the service is delivered.
Online tools are making it easier for customers to participate in their own success and provide feedback regarding that success. As you strive to deliver closer and more consistent services alongside your customers, the right tools can make that happen. The role-based access that modern ERP, project management, and service delivery solutions provide allow you to standardize and customize customer participation through all stages of the customer lifecycle.
Want to learn more about how you can deliver more quality, consistent services? Contact Sapphire today.
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