From Transactions to Interactions:

Workforce Strategies to Support Extraordinary Customer Experiences

The drive to provide great customer service is nothing new. Organizations have been striving to improve customer service for years. However, the drive for outstanding service has taken on a whole new urgency in this decade as customer service stories – both good and bad – go viral. One customer’s heartwarming story about “above and beyond” service can provide the kind of marketing that money can’t buy when that customer decides to post it on Facebook or tweet about it to hundreds of friends and associates. Likewise, one service stumble can cause immeasurable damage as word spreads at Internet speed.

It’s no wonder that organizations are busy plotting social media strategies to maximize good exposure and minimize damages when a bad story surfaces. However, many organizations are  missing an important part of the strategy. They are focusing on the ramifications of the story after the fact, rather than devoting effort up front to creating great customer experiences
in the first place.

Efforts devoted to creating outstanding customer interactions have tremendous payback. The first and most obvious benefit of these memorable experiences is customer satisfaction,  loyalty, and retention. It’s been said it costs four times more to obtain a new customer than to keep an existing one, so focusing on satisfaction and retention strategies have immense  payoff. And of course, the other reason to focus on improving customer interactions is today’s immediate public relations opportunities (or threats).

There was a recent study called the Report on Restoring America’s Competitive Vitality that showed 44% of employees do what is required, but exert no extra effort. Only 23% reported that they performed to their full potential. So how do we get that 23% number higher and have more employees willing to give not just good, but fabulous service?

The Call Center School has written an article on this topic that you can find linked on the home page of the QATC website at under Important Links at the bottom. This  paper explores five important components of getting employees to give that “wow” brand of customer service:

  1. Hire the right people for the job.
  2. Train staff for the “interaction” as well as the “transaction” part of the customer contact.
  3. Coach regularly to fine-tune performance and reinforce desired behaviors.
  4. Develop individualized motivation programs that encourage each employee to excel.
  5. Assemble a system of quantitative and qualitative measures to ensure you’re getting the behaviors you want.

Workforce management professionals need to think about how the workforce planning effort can assist in the creation of these customer-focused frontline staff. Stay tuned to the next edition of On Target for ideas about how you can contribute and be an important ingredient in taking your staff from good to great.