I was again invited to chair the roundtable discussion on the subject of back office performance at this year’s Customer Engagement Day event at Heathrow on the 27th of June organised by the Directors’ Club (GB & NI). This year’s theme was ‘Back Office Performance: Forget the back office at your peril’. All about how underperforming or broken back office processes can have a significant impact on customer engagement and drive spikes in avoidable customer interaction. How a mix of new technology, employee engagement and a culture of simplification can identify and fix broken processes.
During the day there were some great presentations on customer service subjects including:
- Engaged employees create engaged customers. Disengagement kills brand equity and shareholder value – Derek Williams, Chief Executive, The WOW! Awards
- How mobile devices are revolutionising the relationship with the customer – Steve Rosier, Director of Analytics, EMEA, Verint
- How to avoid customer engagement silos. Finding common ground between service and marketing – Martin Hill-Wilson, Director, Brainfood Consulting
Other roundtable themes included:
- Multi-channel Becomes Omni‐channel: The start of a whole new chapter
- Twitter & Facebook: Social media has proven its service delivery potential
- Clash Of The Metrics? Contact centre performance metrics vs. customer experience performance metrics
- Customer Analytics: A barometer of customer and employee engagement
- Mobile: The world will be very different in 5 years’ time….it all starts now!
- Live Chat vs. Email: Out with the old and in with the new?
- Customer Feedback: Can we make customer love giving feedback?
- Back Office Performance: Forget about the back office at your peril
Feedback from these general themes centred on the rapidly growing use of social networks and the importance of social media in today’s world; the opportunities as marketing channels and the threats posed by organisation’s receiving poor customer feedback and failing to respond in a proactive and positive way. Another interesting subject centred on using customer feedback awards to support employee engagement and drive the Service Excellence agenda.
The back office discussion opened with some recent experiences of poor service where an account was given of a savings account provider wrongly mixing up a personal account with a business account and changing the customer’s postal address in error. The error was discovered by the customer when personal account correspondence arrived on their desk via the post room and several other departments in their company before finally reaching her. It was already opened and had personal account details open for all to view.
The customer rang to get it rectified only to be told by the savings provider that they needed a written letter from the customer to amend their own error. The natural response was ‘you didn’t need a letter to amend the address in the first place’ and the fury experienced at having to go to extra effort to write after several unsatisfactory calls to correct an internal back office error discovered by the customer. A classic example of ‘failure demand’ i.e. unnecessary effort on the customer’s behalf to use the provider’s services and to report an error that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
This stimulated a lively discussion and the main themes that emerged in the BO discussion were:
- Clarification of what the back office was for many organisations: Processing centres, shared services, offshored services, sales &marketing, administration, HR or IT. All of which were there in support of front-line services that had a dependency on them getting their part of the end-to end process right to prevent avoidable interactions and poor customer experience.
- The challenge the attendees faced linked to the distance the back office was from the customer experience, the difference in the way front office and back office were measured (C-sat vs. efficiency) their perception of quality and their role in receiving, making or passing on poor quality work when working in silos, and the broad lack of awareness of ‘failure demand’ i.e. a failure to do something or do something right for the customer, and commonly not using this as a starting point for improving staff and process performance.
- Some of the ‘best practices’ discussed included:
- Service Excellence training for back office staff to build their awareness,
- Work experience and job rotation in the front office centres to experience the customer more
- Introducing common measures of performance linked to customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores and customer effort metrics across the back office
- Creating blended teams, departments or service centres to reduce the silos between them
- Improved complaints handling with ‘true’ root cause analysis linked directly to staff performance and process improvement activity.
- Mapping the end-to-end process to understand the customer’s journey and improving it to enhance their experience, provide better quality services and affordable cost
In response to these common challenges ChangeWise has launched the ‘Achieve Excellent Customer Service’ training course to cover some of solutions to the challenges posed. The course covers the concept of customer demand split into ‘value’ and ‘failure demand’, you will understand the ‘Voice of the Customer’ and the principles of Lean Consumption to reduce the effort a customer has to exert to use your services and in turn improve your service levels and customer satisfaction scores. In addition, it covers improved complaints handling, ‘true’ root cause analysis and most importantly how to link-back to performance and process improvement activities to prevent it happening again
Combined with the ‘End-to end Process Review Workshops’a bespoke and comprehensive review of the end-to-end processes across wider sections of an organisation in order to design, pilot and implement an improved future state focussed on providing the best customer value these two activities provide a powerful way to improve your customer’s experience of your services and are ideal for all customer service providers and the public sector.
If you would like to know more then visit our website or please call Mike Williams on 02380 464 153 or 07866 537 580 for more information about this and our other public training courses.
For further information on the Directors’ Club (GB & NI) go to their website. It was founded in 2010 with a simple, yet powerful mission to facilitate cross-discipline conversation and discussion among senior customer-centric professionals by networking, discussing common issues and challenges, and sharing knowledge, best practice and experiences.