It’s not enough to get your support team to shift from a mindset of Customer Representative to Customer Advocate/Advisor; you have to get buy-in at the organizational level as well. Below are some things to consider as you launch a program of Customer Advocacy/First Choice Advisory:
- Communicate to the organization your intentions, solicit their buy-in and offer opportunities to be a part of the solution.
- Create a new customer-focused mission statement for the support organization.
- Identify who your customers are and their specific needs.
- Assess how and to what extent customer needs are currently being met. Identify critical success factors and performance metrics to measure customer satisfaction.
- Assess the staffing and skill set of the support organization to deliver service.
- Designate a point person from your organization to work with the customer to negotiate and establish Service Level Agreements. SLAs should clearly define conditions and terms.
- Define Service Level Agreements to include specifics on the service level deliverables, how the deliverables will be met, measurement of the deliverables, expectations and responsibilities for both parties, and a process for change management during the life of the agreement.
- Establish Service Level Agreements that are attainable and applicable to the client’s needs, promoting reasonable expectations for both parties.
- Solicit involvement from support staff and other relevant members of the organization in the process of developing SLAs.
- Communicate SLAs to support and delivery staff and provide the appropriate training and tools to ensure successful implementation.
- Make your support desk a One-Stop-Shop or Single Point of Contact. This approach allows customers to reach out to the support desk for whatever they need and the support professional becomes their Customer Advocate and takes ownership of the issue, also known as Total Contact Ownership, and makes sure that the customer’s needs have been fulfilled even if they are not the resource who provides the resolution. This individual takes responsibility for updating the customer on the status of the case throughout its life and ensures that the issue has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. This type of incident management takes time but is worth the investment and pays dividends in long-term customer satisfaction and relationships.
- Clearly define and communicate the support professional’s role to other members of the organization and the right and responsibility of the support desk personnel to request status updates from assigned resources.
- Make the goal about getting the job done for the customer, not assigning blame.
- Take advantage of the tools available with your incident tracking software to make the job easier.
- Involve support desk professionals in the process of measuring performance and have senior resources coach and mentor others on the team and participate in planning for changes or improvements in the program.
- Continue to evolve and improve the existing program by engaging all levels of your support team and other members of the organization. To ensure the on-going success of the program, the concept of Customer Advocate/First Choice Advisor should be seen as a change in your firm’s culture and all members of the organization should look for opportunities to improve this process.
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