How I See Customer Service Domestically Gearing Up for Growth Despite International Political And Economic Risks
Learn more about Dan Reeve.
Last week, I attended an Order-to-Cash Seminar in Dallas. During this event, a number of companies running SAP shared how they have used improvements in “People, Process and Technology to ensure they remained efficient, competitive and able to absorb growth”—yet still remain agile and able to service their customers. It seems ‘Do more with less.’ remains the mandate for customer service leaders in many industries ranging from Life Sciences, Agricultural Chemicals through to Domestic Pipe Equipment.
Some compelling results were shared during the event:
- A medical device manufacturer absorbed 31% growth over 5 years, without the need for new hires despite the customer service team dropping from 12 to 5 staff members due to natural attrition and internal departmental moves. ($742,000 saved, 7.5% increase in customer service, 4.4% increase in profits).
- A fertilizer producer absorbed a 30% growth in order volume over 3 years, without the need for new hires and slashing order confirmation times from minutes to under 10 seconds.
In fact, I learned that technology was the last component applied in most cases. First, the highly successful customer service directors went about ensuring a couple of things for their teams. The worked to ensure that:
- The staff felt valued.
- The staff received training.
- The staff received recognition for their efforts.
These efforts lead to a higher sense of belonging. The company also experienced a reduction in turnover, and the elimination of a vicious training cycle. And, thankfully along with knowledgeable CSR’s that cared about the customer experience.
The results the medical device folks achieved were possible due to a decrease in employee turnover from 10% to 2% and a corresponding improvement in employee satisfaction (60% to 81%). Clearly, it is easier to sell change management and deployment of new technology if employees feel appreciated. It also help if the changes are designed to make it easier for them to satisfy their customers and in the process they become more valuable and their jobs become higher skilled—and thus, more secure.
In A World Of Uncertainty…
The morning of the event, I noticed the Dow Jones pass the 17k mark for the first time in history. Meanwhile, Russian involvement in Ukraine, continued hostilities in Gaza, ISIS activities and Ebola could all combine to significantly dent growth or even spark a recession. I truly hope that does not happen, yet history tells us that recoveries can be smothered by international events and investor fears such as those I listed above.
My long winded point is that companies are going to continue to be pressed to do more with less, there is still concern after such a long recession, firms are extremely shy about hiring new staff despite falling unemployment numbers. There are smart technologies out there that can help companies absorb growth whilst eliminating errors and freeing up staff to better serve and analyze customer needs. But technology alone is not going to cut it. Getting staff on board so that they help suggest process changes and contribute to the of deployment of technology projects is the right approach for me.