Strategic Solutions: Overcoming Common Challenges in Customer Service Process Improvement
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excellent customer experience is imperative for all consumer-facing businesses.
If your customers aren’t having their needs met in a pleasant and efficient
manner, they can very easily go elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you need to get
this right straight out of the gate.
Few successful businesses don’t dedicate time
occasionally to making targeted customer service process improvements. Change
is difficult, though. There can be hurdles to overcome along the way. The good
news is that by getting to know why process change initiatives tend to fail and
making plans accordingly, your team can develop a customer experience that truly
influences your success.
Get to Know the
Reasons for Failure
Whether this is the first time your business
is planning to make customer service process improvements or you’ve adjusted
before, it’s important not to simply focus on what components could influence
your potential success. Rather, you should also get to know the challenges
you’re likely to face. This enables you to better prepare your change
management process and make more informed decisions.
There are some relatively consistent reasons the majority of process improvements fail. Many of these don’t necessarily
result in the immediate downfall of an initiative but rather may arise after
some initial apparent success.
The issues to be aware of include:
- Overcomplicating the improvement process: Not
all change has to be elaborate to be effective. If there are too many
unnecessary steps toward executing actions or instructions aren’t easy to
follow, you may find your staff relatively quickly abandons the new processes.
- A lack of clarity in communication: If all
stakeholders aren’t able to understand both the imperatives for change and how
to achieve it, it’s unlikely that your adjustments will take hold. This is why
it’s so important to communicate your plans as clearly as possible. Don’t just
explain verbally. incorporate visual forms of communication that enable
everyone to see the route forward and how they fit into it.
- Refusal to adapt or change plans:
Unfortunately, some leaders can be so wedded to their ideas that they aren’t
open to adjustments when the early signs of potential failure first arise.
Accept that things can go wrong. It enables adaptation before things get too
While these common reasons for failure are
useful, it’s also important to establish what challenges may be present for your
specific business or industry. Review data on what has negatively affected
attempts for change in the past. You can then utilize this information in
conjunction with an understanding of the more general issues to create a solid
Collaborate with Staff
While customer service process improvements
need to be driven by leadership, they shouldn’t simply be dictated from above.
Overcoming challenges during a process change often involves collaboration and
feedback from everyone — including all staff members. Remember that their
interactions with consumers and operational tools every day often mean they
have customer service insights that leadership may not.
Approaches that can help you overcome process
improvement challenges could include:
- Discuss the causes of process change
difficulties: Make time to regularly sit down with customer service departments
and adjacent departments. Outline the reasons that process changes are
important and the difficulties that often arise when implementing them. Invite
insights from staff members on the subject and what they find to be problematic
both in the current processes and when changes are introduced.
- Communicate about performance-related concerns
and how changes relate to these: Often, the best way to understand where there
are customer service problems is to look at consumer feedback. This could come from various sources, including
in-person interactions, social media comments, and survey data from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Avoid blame-oriented meetings. Use
the feedback as an opportunity for everyone to collaborate on a
solutions-driven approach to change.
Remember that communication and collaboration
shouldn’t simply be tactics you tack onto your processes. Rather, you should
build them into your company’s overall change management protocols. The more
integral these elements become to your operations, the more naturally and
positively they’re likely to impact change planning, the adjustments you make,
and customers’ experiences.
Once you have a good awareness of the
challenges and gain insights from all team members, you should proceed
mindfully with your changes. Effective customer service change requires a great
deal of attention to the details of adjustments and how both consumers and
staff are responding to them. This can certainly be a challenge in itself, as
there are likely to be various other aspects of your business that also require
Therefore, some of the actions that can help
make your changes a success include:
- Utilizing effective time management practices. By being strategic with the time you have
available, you can handle your essential tasks while making space to focus on
actions that can improve your business. Review your everyday activities and
identify which you can delegate to trusted individuals or perhaps even take
advantage of automated tools. Setting clear goals and crafting your schedule
around these can also ensure you have visibility over your work and can
dedicate time slots to change management activities.
- Incorporating set periods of assessment. Analyzing your customer service processes regularly can be key to meaningful
improvements. However, part of proceeding mindfully is also analyzing the
progress of the change period. Commit to dedicated assessment sessions every
week, perhaps shifting to monthly once processes settle in. This enables you
and your team to spot issues early on and make adjustments.
- Creating channels for employee and consumer
suggestions and concerns: Alongside communicating the changes to stakeholders,
you should also make a point of inviting them to raise issues as the
adjustments are implemented. This can also communicate to employees that you
value their opinions, which may boost motivation and engagement. Set up communications channels specifically for
this purpose, including email accounts, online chatbots, and members of
management for one-to-one conversations.
It’s worth also bearing in mind that
implementing your changes mindfully doesn’t tend to be a quick process. Don’t
expect immediate results. Having a little patience gives you and your staff
some space to thoroughly plan, adopt, review, and give feedback on your
adjustments. This tends to set you up for the most positive outcomes for
Change is good. For customer service
processes, the right changes can help meaningfully boost experiences in ways
that affect engagement. It’s important, though, to take the challenges of
change seriously. You need to examine what hurdles stand in the way of
effective process adjustments and involve your stakeholders in identifying the
best route forward. This takes a serious commitment of time and energy, but it
can also garner new operational practices that are right for staff, consumers,
and — ultimately — the success of your business.