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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Every business, no matter how large or small, is faced with the need to make ongoing decisions about the direction and approach it will take. Strategic decisions and directions inform planning processes and the day to day work carried out by employees. In a competitive marketplace, it is vital that business leaders and management are always mindful of new opportunities, products and services, as well as committed to providing the leadership and foresight that is necessary to bring an organisation success and an edge over its competitors.

Making business decisions, particularly those related to customer service strategy, is an ongoing process. A customer service strategy should remain a primary concern, so that businesses of all types, sizes and purposes are able to adjust to change and experience success as well as a strong and healthy presence.

The need for evidence and relevant data:

When making important business decisions, too many leaders and decision makers fail to gather and focus on data that provides critical and pertinent information about their business and its performance. While different sources of information may sometimes provide a reasonable assessment of a situation, more often this data is not sufficiently accurate.

High quality service auditing tools and systems are specifically designed to equip an organisation with data that is reliable and insightful when planning and making important customer decisions. For example, what interactions are creating the strongest impressions with your customers? Are these interactions creating a positive or negative brand perception? Service related audits are valuable and unlike a customer surveys in that they go beyond the overall impression and break down the elements of interaction that lead a customer stay or leave, or to recommend or not recommend a business to their friends and colleagues.

Customer service metrics, such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS), provide tangible information about customer experiences and insights that should guide strategic decisions and approaches because they correlate to revenue, customer loyalty and referral of business. Specific service quality audits can also highlight whether issues are resulting from the skills or cultural challenges of a business, indicate the benefits that are likely from employees receiving quality customer service training or sales training and whether these need to be top priorities for a business. Similarly, the information provided through service auditing may show that organisational improvement is more likely if a focus on team building or performance training is adopted.

Equipped with concrete evidence, a business’ leadership and management team is in a far better position to make appropriate and effective decisions and know the areas of the business that will benefit most from investment. With high quality evidence and data, decision makers are in the ideal position to justify and explain the rationale for the actions taken and the directions that will be pursued.

The need to consult and draw ideas from teams:

When making customer service strategy and broader business strategy decisions, it is important that consultation occurs and the perspectives and ideas of teams and people at all levels of the organisation are invited. Innovative and respected leaders actively seek the ideas of teams within their organisation and appropriately manage the contributions received so that a useful evaluative process takes place.

Wide consultation (often including internal and external perspectives) shows that a business is serious about improvement and ambitious to achieve greater levels of success. It is also shows that the business values its employees and partners, and is committed to establishing collaborative and dynamic ways of operating and managing issues.

In fact those who have had ongoing and direct involvement with customers are in a prime position to reflect on customer service practices and what the business has previously done, including: what has worked and what has not. Gathering intel from these people to learn from the past, celebrate achievements and improve on practices can be a cost effective way to look at service overall.

The need to make good strategic decisions in relation to customer service is critical to every business, regardless of its purpose or size. There is great benefit and many advantages in using relevant data generated through service auditing processes to support decisions and establish the direction a business will take as it moves into the future.

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