How to improve customer service: align the company with shared goals

By Laura Shear

Published April 4, 2017
Last modified June 29, 2020

As head of customer service, you know better than anyone that you need to provide a great customer experience. Today’s business climate is fiercely competitive. Savvy consumers are empowered by powerful new technologies (like social media) and emboldened by cultural trends that offer them more control than ever. They can afford to be fickle and demanding, staying loyal only if their customer experience remains rewarding. Plainly put, the stakes are high for you to deliver. Great support is everyone's job, from success to support to marketing. A new assessment tool from Forrester will help you learn how to improve customer satisfaction.

In a perfect world (or a simpler time), when you laid out your organization’s customer service strategy, every employee (even marketing and sales) worked from a playbook of proven customer service best practices. In this ever-shifting business landscape, however, identifying such customer service standards is extremely challenging. Fortunately, a newly revised report from Forrester, Pinpoint opportunities for better customer service, does just that. It offers an in-depth analysis of the range of customer service capabilities every organization must perfect in order to provide great customer service time after time. Self-assessment modules embedded within each section offer statements that shed light on where an organization is in line with best practices and where they’re falling behind.

Armed with real insight into your organization’s and employees' customer service capabilities, you’re well-positioned to educate key stakeholders within the company about the importance of customer service and the skill to deliver it. This is especially useful because when it comes to implementing a successful customer service strategy, the magic word is “alignment.” For your team to be successful, you must step up and ensure management understands and believes in your customer service strategy. Without taking ownership of the strategy and ensuring buy-in across the organization (and each employee), your chances of success are small.

According to Forrester, company alignment should center on programs related to Customer Management, Vision and Strategy, and VoC Strategy. Meaning that your customer experience has clearly defined attributes that are consistently delivered via all communications channels (phone, chat, social media, etc.) and you have “the right set of metrics to measure success and uphold the company’s brand proposition.” When it comes to capturing customer feedback, your organization must define how you capture sentiment across multiple channels (phone, email, website, chat, social) and how information is routed to the right place so it truly becomes actionable.

The self-assessment sheets embedded in this section of the report further emphasize the importance of working hard to align your entire company around a solid customer service strategy. Analyzing your own efforts against these customer service standards will provide a roadmap for how to improve the customer experience. Importantly, areas where your organization’s efforts currently fall short are also likely to be the practices that will yield the highest ROI once implemented. That’s good news for every customer service employee and team that could use a quick home run.

Using Forrester’s interactive self-assessment spreadsheets, you’ll rate how well your organization is aligned on key elements of customer service strategy. Statements like, “We know what we want to accomplish with our customer service strategy; every employee, especially those who interact with customers, clearly understand it,” and “We have a strategy in place to deliver a consistent customer experience across all locations and across all communications channels” cut right to the chase, highlighting missed opportunities, weaknesses, and problem areas in a customer service strategy.

It’s up to you to ensure your organization can provide a unified customer service strategy. Selling your team’s initiatives and successes is that much easier when a) you know how to measure them and b) they reflect customer service best practices.

To use Forrester’s comprehensive research on best-in-class customer service capabilities to bolster your team’s initiatives:

  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 customer service areas and skills that need improvement.
  4. Build a plan that focuses on strengthening those customer service capabilities.
  5. Define metrics to measure customer service success.