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Article 3 min read

Highlighting your customer service capabilities

By Laura Shear

Last updated March 4, 2024

Business interactions today are all about the customer. Which means the pressure on customer service—the keepers of the customer relationship—is enormous. Using every trick of the trade (and these days there are plenty) customer service teams are charged with creating, tracking and measuring the all-important customer experience. Companies must bring their “A game” to improve their customer service capabilities, or risk losing out to competitors who do it better.

So, what exactly does customer service “A game” look like these days? A newly revised report from Forrester lays it out in detail. The report sheds light on best practices related to myriad functions and capabilities within customer service, from omnichannel support and customer analytics to customer data management and technology infrastructure. Interactive self-assessment sheets embedded in the report contain over one hundred fifty statements that drill down on industry best practices. The result is an essential guide for any company looking to assess how well it’s playing the customer relationship game.

Today’s consumers bear little resemblance to consumers even five years ago. Customers want to receive help quickly and—this is crucial—expect the same level of service across every communication channel at their fingertips. Is your customer service team reacting and responding in all the right ways given this new reality? In a lengthy section examining Omnichannel Communication Capabilities, Forrester highlights best practices via detailed statements relating to communication channel strategy, web self-service, phone channel delivery, mobile customer service and several others. These range from the simple – “We allow our customers to request customer service via mobile devices”—to the more complex—“Our routing engine incorporates contextual information such as data from CRM, case management, and other enterprise data stores. We route calls using this information to provide individualized routing decisions for each customer.”

For each category, the report includes insights that are based on extensive research. Case in point: a discussion about social channels notes: “When consumers reach out via social, they are expecting next-to-immediate resolutions. If they had time to be put on hold, they would dial a phone agent.” It may sound intuitive on its own, but when such insights are combined with clearly stated best practices outlined in the self-assessment tool, the result is a journey through Customer Service Best Practices 101.

As consumers continue to demand better and more efficient customer service, the gap between those organizations that listen well to customers and those that don’t will continue to widen. Thus, it’s crucial for companies to determine how they rate when it comes to customer feedback. Forrester lays out capabilities for collecting, analyzing, and acting upon customer feedback that comes in via traditional tools (phone and email) as well as social listening platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They make it real with self-assessment statements like “We collect feedback by communication channel and compare customer satisfaction scores across communication channels. We use this data to address deficiencies in our communication channel strategy.” If your organization rates as a 1 (poor), 2 (below average), or 3 (average) in this area…it’s probably time to start listening in smarter ways.

At the end of every self-assessment module there’s a place to include the average score from each sub-section. When those scores are averaged together, an organization’s current capabilities within the main categories is summarized in one of three predictions:

  • Little use of best practices is evident. Odds of success are low

  • Some use of strategy and alignment with best practices. Improvement opportunities are evident in some areas.

  • Strong capabilities and use of strategy and alignment with best practices. Changes of success are high.
    And just like that, companies gain expert insight into where their customer service strategy is winning and where it’s lagging behind. By analyzing their scores across all major categories, an organization can set priorities for short term successes.

    Are you ready to bring your A game?

    1. Download Forrester’s report and accompanying self-assessment tool.Distribute the spreadsheet to your team and score your company.
    2. Looking at your scores, identify the top ten areas that need improvement.

    3. Build a plan that focuses on strengthening those capabilities.

    4. Define metrics to measure success.

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