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Service principles guide customer experience
Service principles are powerful tools to unite departments to deliver a coherent customer experience. Strong service principles are customer-focused, but leave enough room for each department to work within its own means towards the shared mission. An ideal scenario is that your external business partners also adopts the same set of service principles, so that your customers are delivered a truly fantastic overall experience.
When departments within an organisation do not agree with each other on what really matters to its customers, the customer experience likely falls apart. Service principles effectively unite teams to deliver a coherent customer experience. When a new initiative is in the making, service principles help an organisation create a shared language that carries a strong customer voice.
A set of common rules
Service principles help everyone understand what creates value for customers. These principles are also a set of common rules on which different teams devise solutions to their specific challenges.
In highly personalised services such as private banking, and complex activities such as mergers and acquisitions, service principles set a clear direction for all involved. The strength of the principles is in the clarity of purpose. The result is to consistently deliver high-value outcomes without detailed guidelines or predetermined procedures.
Keep everyone focused
It is easy to get lost. One of our clients was dealing with potentially upset and angry customers. The client realised that businesses were lost when customers felt they were not trusted. Ironically, their first principle simply states, “It is important for the customer to be trusted.”
Strategic service principles keep everyone in an organisation focus on what is truly important to customers. For instance, a clear principle “ensure the customer is informed about the next steps and is capable of continuing his process/activity”. This principle guides how the staff, internal processes and systems are organised, and how customer-facing and back-office staff in key activities deliver the service.
35-to-45 percent of customer contacts don’t need to happen at all
Improve customer experience and efficiency
On an operational level, service principles are working tools that help set priorities, and make decisions of how systems and processes should be designed. Service principles serve two purposes here: enable a better customer experience, and increase operational efficiency. For example: “The most important thing is that you [customer] are clear about what you are going to do and what I [staff] will do, and not do”.
Effective service principles don’t focus on KPIs such as how many service calls are answered or how quickly they are completed. Successful principles convey customer insights in a way that truly serves what customers need and want.
Commitment beyond slogans
Service principles should be more than slogans when the entire organisation is committed to them. One of our clients regularly reviews their service principles with the top management, and provides training to all employees to make sure the principles are understood. The effect of this dedicated commitment is beyond the ordinary. Today, even its business partners have adopted those principles. The result is that customers have a consistent experience, even when dealing with its partners.
Ensure that the needs of customers become a common thread across all initiatives.
See the bigger picture together
Strong, customer-focused service principles get people out of their silos and see the bigger picture. These principles are built on customer insights, offer a shared vision that inspire and unite departments, and enable everyone to contribute to a good customer experience. These principles are also clear rules, on which managers can drive service delivery consistently.