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Great customer service is key to retaining customers in today’s super-competitive economy.
But despite having moved to the forefront of the corporate agenda, many companies have ineffective service strategies that fail to differentiate between customers based on their value—and thus risk wasting resources and ultimately hampering efforts to achieve high performance.
Accenture examines the issues in depth, concluding that a playbook approach is key to successful service management. We offer five key steps to success.
Customer service has never been more important—or harder to sustain. Today’s customers demand a personalized, consistent and, above all, complete service experience. What’s more, they are empowered by technology to get what they want. And since they often know more about products and services than providers themselves, they can switch to alternatives if their expectations are not met.
To counteract these trends, companies must sustain the customer service promise from contact to consumption. Yet few have the abilities to set expectations and then meet them. In fact, many pursue an ineffective, one-size-fits-all service strategy, with siloed service functions compromising what service is delivered.
The upshot: Overspending on some groups of customers and missed opportunities to attract those willing to pay more for premium product and service bundles.
What companies require is a value-based, differentiated approach to customer service. Companies should differentiate customer service experiences by developing a close understanding of specific customer segments’ expectations and requirements according to the current and potential value of those segments.
They should then establish a central decision engine, based on a common repository of such factors as customer preferences and intentions, product usage, purchase and service history, as well as levels of satisfaction and engagement, to help determine the next best action. Finally all support channels should be more tightly integrated to deliver the differentiated experiences.
This approach would not only help avoid overinvesting in aspects of the experience that customers do not value commensurate with the cost of delivering them. It could also result in more predictable customer behavior and, ultimately, higher loyalty among a company’s most important segments.
It is vital to sustain this differentiated approach throughout the later stages of the customer life cycle, including the post-purchase period. Post-sale service is vital to customer satisfaction and often decides the success of a differentiated service strategy.
Accenture experience shows that an organizational playbook is a key to successful service management throughout the customer lifecycle. The playbook works across all functions in the value chain that affect a company’s ability to provide service, integrating both customer and operational functions.
It defines processes and policies frameworks, organization and job design, governance procedures and authorizations for exceptions, shared metrics and usage guidelines on new system tools—all to help deliver value to the customer in the most efficient manner.
Five steps are fundamental to successfully crafting a service strategy that delivers business benefits:
Know your customers through a mix of observing their behavior and conducting surveys.
Proactively set the service expectation for each customer segment.
Strategically balance the cost to serve so that resources are not spread too thinly.
Create an integrated service chain using the playbook concept.
Monitor and use analytics to sustain high performance.
Accenture helps many of the world’s leading companies deliver customer experiences that build loyalty and ultimately drive high performance.
February 7, 2012
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