Ever wondered what is being said to your existing clients?
Are your customer service representatives fully aware of your company’s capabilities?
Have you joined the dots between your business units?
Does your business development team understand the end-to-end processes?
Do your staff development plans tie in with your business strategy?
Does your branding really communicate what you do?
These seem pretty simple questions right? Well in my travels I have seen so much political action within companies that the answers to the above questions aren’t as positive as you would expect.
Since my post is actually about Customer Services teams I’m just going to spend a few paragraphs explaining why your CSR’s are the front-line of your business and how, with very little effort and a little reward, these business peripherals could win you more business from existing clients.
First of all and most critically your CSR’s have daily if not hourly contact with the customer. If they don’t have a clue of the full range of capabilities within your business (and I mean more than the one day tour of your facility when they joined) then how the heck are they in a position to recognise additional business opportunities with your client. They may only be an interface to say artwork origination, yet the customer may also be dealing with the marketing communication and thus have a requirement for multi-channel output. Well wait a minute, your CSR’s are working for a pre-media company who deals directly with multi-channel communication…!
Your CSR’s inevitably get very close to the customer and I’ve even know a couple that got married from a client/supplier relationship that went a little further! They go to business meetings, socials, drinks and events together, places where your CSR’s could leverage your clients friends or connections to sell your company without even breaking a sweat! Look at the statistics for Facebook or LinkedIn and see just how incestuous our industry is. Look at mine as an example; connections in every type of supply chain vertical for our industry and I am always getting asked to make introductions for new business opportunities (should really take commission, but never do!)
How much research do your CSR’s do on your competitors beyond looking to see if there are any jobs available where they could increase their salary? We know that business intelligence is paramount to your success regardless of the source and that information could merely be the ‘movers and shakers’ in the business that expose vulnerabilities in the competitions armour.
And what of Social Media? Most companies by now will have banned the popular social media site citing that their staff are wasting precious company time and resource on what would be considered as ‘playing with their friends on-line’. Yet in the past 12 months we have seen a massive rise in businesses using the popular social media sites to connect with their audience. The fact that you are reading this blog tells you that you need social media in order to find stuff out, read opinion or offer your own opinion (all comments welcome btw!). Huge corporates like HP and Dell have used it to listen, learn and realign their business propositions to the end-users and without using social media they wouldn’t have heard what people have to say about their products and their problems (I just wish more would listen, then maybe they wouldn’t offshore their call centres!)
It’s all about communication – communication between every level of your business. I’ve seen companies where you wouldn’t dream of saying “good morning” to the CEO let alone discuss the football result with them at the water machine… Why? Is the CEO not human? Would they not value the opinion of the lowly paid CSR who they probably don’t even know the name of? As the CEO, CFO, Chairman, VP this or CP that they should be integrating into their everyday operation, they should be mingling with their CSR’s who are the front-line to their business, they should be encouraging the CSR’s to spend time with other departments to ensure they have the full scope of business capabilities. A lot of senior management are so removed from their staff that they are in turn removed from the customers and market that their company is supposed to be servicing!
It’s also essential that the CSR’s know more about any customer portal than the customer does and are able to provide suggestions for improvements. That is of course without talking to the brick-wall that is sometimes referred to as the ‘business prevention department’. If your CSR’s want to improve the way your customer uses the system then this is surely a good thing and what’s more it’s an opportunity to possibly make a bit more money out of the client.
Remember, your clients are both open and accessible via your CSR’s, they know how to approach the client, they know what the clients daily routine is and they should know how to add the spin on whatever it is you want to show. There’s no point innovating if you have to retrospectively add what your client wants after you have developed it.
When it comes to individual’s development and annual targets ask yourself if you utilizing your front-line artillery the way you could be? Do their personal development targets fall inline with the business strategy? Or do you just let the HR department handle that sort of ‘touchy feely’ stuff? We’ve already discovered that those lowly paid CSR’s probably have more business intelligence that the majority of employees and some customers even look at the sales guys just as golf buddies rather than business partners. That task is falling more and more on the CSR’s, so it is a good time to start thinking strategically about how you upgrade their status from ‘front-line artillery’ to the deadly accurate ‘sniper’ that you really need for your business!
Try tapping one of your CSR’s name into TouchGraph and see how connected they are out there on the web; below is an unexpanded search on Tunicca!