Are your customer experience initiatives working?

Are your customer experience initiatives working?

It’s not news that trends in customer experience have changed dramatically in recent years. New technologies, combined with a world that’s increasingly connected and mobile, have ushered in a wave of new business challenges and customer experience initiatives. What hasn’t changed is the desire to make smart investments that yield a positive customer experience. If your company is flexing to the new reality and ramping up your customer experience efforts, how do you know if your investment is paying off? As the playing field has changed, so have the criteria for measuring success. The old metrics really don’t apply anymore, which means organizations are often at a loss to know what, or how, to measure.

Enter Forrester’s customer service assessment tool: a detailed framework for understanding how your organization’s efforts stack up against more than one hundred and fifty customer service experience best practices. In a newly revised report, “Assess Customer Service Capabilities to Pinpoint Opportunities for Better Service,” Forrester lays out the key ingredients for success. The essential pillars are explained in detail and dovetail with interactive best-practice assessment sheets that are embedded in the report. Meaning an organization can not only learn from Forrester’s deep research in the area, it can also rate its own efforts against industry best practices.

The report finds four areas critical to the success of customer service experience initiatives: Strategy, Process, Technology and People. These are elements of the business that can make—or break—successful programs. How an organization stacks up against best practices in these four categories offers a comprehensive picture of the health of its customer service experience efforts:

1. Strategy
Here, the report puts the onus on customer service professionals within the organization to assume a leadership role and align company stakeholders in the customer service strategy. This section’s self-assessment tool teases out potential weaknesses by asking organizations to score their own performance relative to statements such as “We know what we want to accomplish with our customer service strategy” and “We have a strategy in place to deliver a consistent customer experience across all locations and across all communication channels.”

2. Process
Forrester advocates an audit of business processes, zeroing in on best practices such as supporting effective case management for customer service and optimizing agent desktops. Here, organizations can rate themselves against such fundamental (yet illuminating) statements as “We have time-zone and language support for agents” and “We have tools such as agent-to-agent chat that help agents collaborate with one another to resolve a customer issue and achieve high first-contact resolution rates.”

3. Technology
Unsurprisingly, the report spends a lot time on the third focus area. Specifically, technologies that allow customers to engage with customer service agents when they’d like, where they’d like and via the channels they’d like. In this brave new world, a company that wants to understand how it rates when it comes to omnichannel communication management must evaluate a host of capabilities from web self-service and customer-to-agent chat, to email response management and social channel strategies. The best practices highlighted in the assessment tool focus on ensuring a holistic view of the customer experience, ease of use and integration across channels.

4. People
Forrester examines the role of individuals in creating a customer-centric business culture. Organizations often overlook the importance of things like leadership, management training and employee retention to the success of their business. This section’s assessment tool is no less than a blueprint for tapping into human capital to ensure successful customer service initiatives. After all, it’s real people who “define strategy, gain executive buy-in, build stakeholder consensus, manage customer service agents…and select the right technologies for loyalty-creating customer experiences.” A strong score in areas like customer-oriented culture and stakeholder support and management can be the difference between programs that fly and those that never get off the runway.

Bottom line: Information is power. Organizations looking to deliver better and smarter customer service solutions (pretty much everybody) should start by taking stock of their current initiatives by measuring them against best practices. Doing so is the first step toward offering truly best-in-class customer service experiences. What are you waiting for?

  1. Download Forrester’s report and accompanying self-assessment tool.
  2. Distribute the spreadsheet to your team and score your company.
  3. Looking at your scores, identify the top ten areas that need improvement.
  4. Build a plan that focuses on strengthening those capabilities.
  5. Define metrics to measure success.