Consistency is one of the greatest challenges in customer service. Whether you are a solopreneur or a Fortune 500 company, consistency can be hard to get your arms around.
Consistency is hard because it takes effort and discipline, not only on the individual level but on the much trickier team level. For example, have you ever experienced amazing customer service from one employee of a company, then the other employee of a company is less than stellar? And that is just one way to look at an inconsistent customer service experience.
Another example is this: You receive an amazing customer service experience from a company for a few days that you have grown accustomed to (and love), then after a while it stops. I am pretty sure you can relate to that experience as a customer, or you are the customer service provider that is struggling with it. Customers certainly notice when it happens and may even call you out on it.
Customers should never become use to a certain positive experience, then have that experience fluctuate or worse completely stop.
Why consistency is such a challenge
Coming from my own customer service experience, as well as training on the topic of customer service for more than 10 years, I know first-hand how difficult consistency can be. Creating a consistent service that is also customized and individualized presents many challenges. Here are just a few of the dynamics that have to be considered in creating a consistent experience:
What aspects of the service are uniformed?
What aspects are personalized around the service provider’s unique skills or personality?
Are expectations set consistently so that when a client uses another service employee they have the same expectations?
Which policies are hard and fast rules (safety, liability, etc.) and which are guidelines? Does every service employee see the lines the same way and respond to customer requests consistently?
Which communication pieces are consistent and which are not?
Are the other aspects of the experience consistent?
And that is just a partial list to consider.
Three quick tips for improving consistency
As evidenced by the partial list of questions above, a huge assortment of variables goes into making a customer experience consistent. I’m a firm believer in the Pareto Principle – starting with the vital few inputs that will give you the most results. For most organizations, the following three areas of focus will yield the most results in the quickest period of time.
Core product or service
If you are in a product business, then maximizing the consistency of your manufacturing or vendors is the most important step in consistency. The product has to meet or exceed expectations, end of story. Otherwise, the rest of the experience tends to not matter much. For service businesses, the principle is the same. You want to make sure that the service is delivered up to a certain set of standards and in some cases via a fixed procedure. Adjustment is often important for customization, but the core service must deliver to the core expectation, no matter who the service provider is.
Systems and processes
Having systems that are adequate for the experience you are trying to deliver is crucial. Obviously, capital investment in information technology is no small matter, however, it is important to realize that when your system is outdated or not up to the task at hand, one of the first casualties is consistency of experience. An easier but no less powerful win is having processes that give your team the playbook to deliver experiences consistently across time and geography. Systems and processes are the only way to deliver consistency at scale.
Nothing is more challenging than getting a multitude of human beings to behave in the same way, regularly, over time. Adam Torporek, founder of online customer service resource Customers that Stick says: “Fixing a line of code is easy; changing human behavior is hard.” Customer service training is crucial in trying to maintain consistent execution of your service standards and consistent delivery of the ideal customer experience. It must also be the right type and format of training in order for it to be effective. Customer service consistency is not a destination, it is an ongoing journey that organizations must embark upon anew every day.
Make sure you always consider the customer’s experience first. If you think about how consistency or its absence will affect your customers’ experiences with your brand, you will always have a good idea of where to focus first.
National Customer Service Week is recognized during October 2-6, 2017 in the United States. As a customer service trainer for more than ten years, I want to do something about ensuring this week is recognized in The Bahamas. Consider one or more of the following activities.
Evaluate: Take a moment and evaluate the state of your organization’s service delivery and customer experience. Arrange brainstorming sessions to address your top 3-5 customer service challenges and produce an action plan to resolve.
Ask yourself and/your team this question: When it comes to giving my customers a consistent and complete customer service experience, what is the single biggest problem, challenge or frustration I am struggling with right now? Email your answers email@example.com and receive a free gift.
Attend: I am hosting a free webinar on the topic “The seven service triggers that damage a consistent customer experience”. For registration details, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Listed in The Nassau Guardian’s Top 40 under 40, Keshelle Davis helps companies and individuals improve their productivity and performance. She is the CEO of The Training Authority, an entrepreneur and internationally recognized speaker and author. Formerly she served as executive director of the Chamber Institute – the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) and has impacted thousands through her mission is to educate, empower and inspire. Contact Keshelle at email@example.com.