This book is about 'Total Customer Service' .It applies to all types of organisations large and small, private or public .It considers the ongoing changing context and circumstances such as technology, social media and remote buying which influence the relationship between the selling organisation and the buying customer .It introduces 'The Customer Service Hallmark', a unique Customer Service Quality Standard and guiding implementation and benchmarking framework. It takes Customer Service beyond 'Have a Nice Day 'and the obvious 'Surface' approaches to Customer Service. It positions Customer Service as having its roots in the cultural heart of the organisation. The book adopts a holistic view of organisations incorporating Organisation Development approaches to managing improvement interventions .It positions 'Total Customer Service' within and across all organisation functions and boundaries and includes a proactive stance to managing external environmental influences .The book provides reflective reading plus new and refreshed ideas, tools and models. The interesting presentation of the book takes the reader through the development of a practical methodology which guides, improves, sustains and maximises the provision of 'Total Customer Service' and organisation improvement.
Anyone who has an interest in 'Total Customer Service' and organisation performance improvement will find this book valuable and enjoyable. 'Vision to Action', 'Sub System Synergy' , 'Hilltops' ,'ERUDITE Leadership,' 'Futuristic Thinking' , 'Competitive Integrity ' and 'Triple E' touch point management all contribute to Customer Service' and are some of the innovative concepts included in this book.
The book brings together organisational capacity and capability and reflects a synergistic approach which promotes cross functional cooperation and harmony .The 'Four Dimensions' of the Customer Service Hallmark provide an integrated framework which positions 'Total Customer Service' as a coordinated strategic response to achieving organisation improvement and strategic intent.
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The 4 Dimensions of Total Customer Service
By Stuart McKechnie
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Stuart McKechnie
All rights reserved.
What It's All About
The customer-service hallmark takes customer service beyond "have a nice day" and what we often see as the usual, obvious, surface approaches to attracting and retaining customers. The framework addresses the concept of total customer service and provides a unique customer-service quality standard that is appropriate for all types and sizes of organisations. Adopting a holistic view of organisations is a recurring theme of this book. The customer-service hallmark has been developed by taking this view and by considering organisation-development (OD) approaches to managing improvement interventions.
The framework provides a practical and flexible methodology that guides, improves, sustains, and maximises customer-service effectiveness. It identifies four key integrated dimensions of customer service. The dependencies and interconnectivity of the four dimensions take into account functional relationships that position customer service as a coordinated strategic response from within and across the total organisation. Specifically, the four dimensions of customer service are as follows:
Value stance to customers. Dimension one is concerned with ensuring that the organisation believes in and takes action that engages in satisfying customers' needs, wants, and expectations, and that customer service is positioned as a dominant value stance within and across the organisation. Beliefs and values influence an organisation's culture and climate. They drive macro (organisation) behaviour and influence micro (individual) behaviour. Most people will agree that what is openly valued and promoted is more likely to be adopted as something to be strived for.
Service delivery. Dimension two is about making good the espoused value stance through the provision of meaningful customer-focused service-delivery action. Service delivery is concerned with all aspects of the organisation that influence or have the potential to influence quality and customer perception. Service delivery sits in the leadership-accountability box of "things I have to make sure are done." For everyone else, service delivery sits in the responsibility box of "things I have to make sure I do." Service delivery is concerned with continually trying to improve all aspects of organisation performance, including internal touchpoint management.
Relationship management. Dimension three is concerned with maintaining ongoing mutually beneficial long-term relationships with customers. Relationship management involves continuous customer contact, generating information that enables understanding of customer needs, wants, and expectations—and then meeting them. Relationship management supports customer loyalty and retention.
Customer perception. Dimension four involves proactively seeking and responding to information concerning customer perception of the actual felt experience of dealing with the organisation. Customer perception arises from the experience of being touched by the organisation. It influences customers' decisions on being involved in future business. Customer perception influences the wider view of the organisation's image. It is about managing access to customer feedback that can enable an organisation to build on positive perception and to take action that addresses and resolves identified negative customer perception.
The customer-service framework is synergistic. Each dimension reinforces and contributes to the synergy created by the framework as a whole. Each dimension reflects the cyclical and integrated nature of the framework and contributes to the overall impact of the framework. The presentation of the customer-service hallmark and its guiding framework is supported by a wide range of contributory concepts, approaches, theories, tools, techniques, ideas, and experiences that together weave a mesh of strands and threads that support the achievement of total customer service.
The idea behind the implementation of the customer-service hallmark is to harness and bring together organisational capacity, capability, and commitment; create a synergy of approach within and across all functions; promote cross-functional cooperation and harmony; and enable the provision of total customer service. Synergy considers the interconnectedness between all things. Achieving synergy makes the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts.
By adopting a holistic view, we incorporate environmental management as an integral component of strategic thinking and planning. Environmental management is about making sense of the business world that we live in. Environmental scanning and monitoring of data informs decision-making processes and improves the quality of decision-taking outcomes. By incorporating environmental data into decisions concerning operational implementation and achievement, we are more likely to ensure that structure, systems, processes, and resources are organised to focus on the achievement of strategic intent.
It is important to recognise that strategic ambition is not the same as strategic intent. Strategic ambition needs to take into account contributory conditions and circumstances, while strategic decisions need to take into account external environmental conditions in order to have a chance of being realistic. Making and taking strategic decisions involves understanding and dealing with the wide range of external environmental influences, demands, opportunities, and threats that impact on the likelihood of an organisation's ability to implement action to achieve strategic goals.
Strategic decision-making also includes understanding past and present relationship with customers in order to decide how best to enable continuation of business with existing customers and the potential of attracting and retaining new customers. Strategic decisions require understanding of customer behaviour. Processes to provide and make sense of customer-related data need to be in place.
Generally, I associate the role of management with left-brain activity that engages with logical sequential thinking and analysis concerning organising and implementation of whatever has to be done. Similarly, I associate the role of leadership with right-brain activity that engages in intuitive, creative thinking and enables understanding of the relationships between the constituent parts of organisations.
Right-brain thinking promotes the ability to adopt a holistic view that supports strategic visioning of the future direction of the organisation. Having said that, however, I do not mean to imply that individuals cannot engage with both left- and right-brain activity, and in fact I believe that we should encourage and help individuals to develop the ability to engage in both left- and right-brain thinking. A commonly shared view, however, is that most people predominately favour and engage in one or the other, either left-brain thinking or right-brain thinking. What is clear, however, is that total customer service requires both leadership and management qualities that involve both left- and right-brain thinking.
Visionary leadership encourages the organisation to engage with the important areas of creativity and innovation and sponsors appropriate behaviour that enables innovation to flourish. Focused management guides operational activity, maintains appropriate behaviour, and promotes the delivery of a quality approach to all activity—including, of course, total customer service.
All organisations and markets have their idiosyncrasies, including how they address the potential for future development and the supply of new products and services. Leaders of organisations may not have the desire or ability to be innovative and creative, customers may not be aware of their emerging needs, and both may not be aware of what might be possible. If suppliers can combine knowledge of the external environment, previous market experiences, and all aspects of customer activity with decisions concerning products and service, they can secure a base from which research and development, creativity, innovation, customer focus, and strategic futuristic thinking can become more integrated.
There are many organisational benefits to taking a holistic view when examining operational aspects of what is okay and what is not okay. By adopting a holistic view, we are more able to identify what might be okay today and what might not be okay tomorrow. Taking a holistic view improves the quality of data that informs the process of the making and taking of strategic decisions; specifying strategic intent; formulating short, medium, and long-term planning; and deciding appropriate tactical activity.
The primary purpose of the customer-service hallmark and its framework is to improve the provision of customer service. By adopting the framework, an organisation will also be able to improve overall operational effectiveness and efficiency. The wider aspects of operations management, such as coordination, integration, implementation, developing shared understanding of purpose within and across all functions, and enabling the contribution required of teams and individuals can all be improved by adopting the customer-service hallmark and implementing its framework.
The application of environmental scanning, environmental analysis, and management by organisational leaders and managers in order to assist strategic thinking and planning is not new but may not be that common either. If environmental scanning and analysis is not applied in enough depth or consistency, the result may be a reactive response to events that's too late and therefore ineffective. By being in touch with environmental influences, we are more likely to inspire a proactive and adaptive response to events, enable clarity of focus, engage with the planning and implementation of necessary transformational change, manage the supplier–customer relationship, and provide desired outcomes.
The customer-service hallmark and its framework identify and propose an effective and inclusive approach to managing the interface between organisations and customers. The flexible approach complements, guides, positions, and supports other strategic operational choices—for example, within marketing strategies. Choosing to adopt well-known improvement methodologies—such as Six Sigma, Kaizen, total quality management (TQM), total productive maintenance (TPM), and other feasible concepts—will fit with and support the flexibility of the customer-service hallmark.
An important aspect for organisations working with the customer-service hallmark is that implementation methodologies are a matter of meaningful choice rather than prescription. For example, the use of systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) to enable information flow, enterprise marketing management (EMM) to support end-to-end internal processes, or marketing resource management (MRM) to support marketing operations can help achieve and support the standards embodied within the framework of the customer-service hallmark if appropriate and desired by the organisation.
Making decisions and taking decisions concerning organisational choices on how to be the best of the best is part of the leadership role. The design of the customer-service hallmark and its guiding framework deliberately enables flexibility of choice in meeting demands.
Sometimes the fresh eyes, knowledge, and experience of people from outside the organisation can contribute valuable assistance. They can work with an informed independence of approach that enables fresh and meaningful insights into positive progress. If external consultancy help is considered to be a worthwhile option in terms of implementing the framework, then I would advise you to seek it. The experienced, nonjudgmental, neutral, and nonpoliticised expertise of an independent qualified external consultant can be beneficial.
It is important, however, that whenever consultancy support is engaged, ownership of any intervention is retained. Avoid help that puts something in place for you rather than with you. There is no point in having consultancy support that might leave you in the position of having to learn about the hidden detail or having to manage any conflict, uncertainty, or personnel and systemic niggles that would have been avoided if you had been involved and taken ownership of the process at the start. If you are the sponsor of the planned change, demonstrate your willingness to consider advice and involve people who have to make any desired outcomes work in practice. Make sure that you are consistently involved and informed. Listen and support the professional consultancy advice you are paying for, but be proactive in leading the intervention process. After all, in this case, you are the customer.
The customer-service hallmark is for executives, managers, team leaders, and personnel from all parts of the organisation. It is for people who are committed to organisation improvement through the delivery of a high level of customer service and who are interested and motivated enough to work with it. No matter our status or level of experience, we can all be students of organisational life if we are willing. Continuous learning and the application of our learning is part and parcel of personal and organisational continuous improvement. Without learning, there will be no improvement.
As CEO of McKechnies Limited until I moved to Australia in 2004 and handed over the role, I admit to often allowing intuition to guide my decision-making, although the process was supported by a working knowledge of the industry we were in, an awareness of what was happening in our business world, and a willingness to listen to the contribution of good people around me. For the most part, it worked out well. I suggest that intuitive decision-making and decision-taking can contribute to creativity and innovation.
All decisions require data to draw on, even when we say that our decision was based on instinct. To that end, several tools, techniques, and concepts—such as environmental scanning and monitoring, strategic thinking, leadership, perception, employee and customer understanding, behaviour, learning, and relationship management—are some of the important topics to address. Involvement of stakeholders, accessing and responding to feedback, ensuring operational synergy within and across functions, and being able to maximise the potential synergy between organisational subsystems are also required.
A crucial aspect of leadership is the ability to create, share, and switch people onto a vision of the future and adaptation to changing scenarios. The concept of vision to action (V2A), moving from envisioning the future to taking appropriate action, is also crucial and requires an appropriate leadership skill set. V2A and the importance of sponsoring legitimate beliefs and values that support a culture and climate that positions customer service up front are also some of the key considerations you will be reminded of as you work through this book and as the customer-service hallmark and its framework come to life.
Excerpted from The 4 Dimensions of Total Customer Service by Stuart McKechnie. Copyright © 2014 Stuart McKechnie. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
What It's All About, 3,
The Customer Challenge, 18,
Futuristic Thinking, 41,
The Emotion of Buying, 53,
Competitive Integrity and Values, 72,
Changing Times, 86,
Introducing Frank, 101,
Frank's Focus, 107,
Thinking of Organisation Development (OD), 117,
Getting Started, 127,
Finding Out, 130,
Positive Thinking and Action, 156,
An Integrated Approach, 164,
Progress: Sixteen Action Points, 184,
Hilltops, Colours, and Working with the Individual Customer, 189,
The Customer Surface Arena (CSA), 225,
Three Categories of Customers, 228,
The Customer-Service Chain, 240,
Remember the Internal Customer, 244,
Values-Based Transactions: Getting to the First Dimension, 251,
Two Dimensions: The Framework Takes Shape, 259,
Three Dimensions, 268,
Four Dimensions, 274,
Dimensions Plus, 278,
KSA and Learning, 302,
Seeking Team Support, 320,
The Final Framework, 330,
Leading Customer Service, 341,
The Informal System, 346,
The End and the Beginning, 371,
About the Author, 373,
Food For Thought – Memory Joggers, 375,