[Written for Replicon blog]
In a highly competitive market, service-based businesses need to capitalize on any opportunity to set themselves apart from their (often very similar) competitors. While implementation, system details, and service management are all important, perhaps the best way to distinguish your business is to foster strong customer relationships based on the quality of your service. Below we outline a few ways to drive growth in your company by re-committing to exceptional service delivery:
Err on the side of communication
When it comes to customers, there’s no such thing as over-communication — your clients feel more comfortable when they know what’s going on. That being said, the amount of communication is not so imperative as the timeliness, its context, and its ability to clearly identify the value addition to the client. In a world of constant connectivity, your ability to cut through the flood of subpar information with quality and timely answers can go a long way.
Service definition is vital to service management. You need to make sure that you and your customer are on the same page regarding what to expect (or not expect) from your service offerings. This includes what your services do and don’t encompass, eligibility, potential limitations, costs, how to get assistance when needed, and more.
This level of definition shouldn’t stop with the customer — the best service organizations also clearly delineate any internal efforts needed to provide and support their service.
Automate when possible
As services like IT and HR become increasingly digitized, it’s important to capitalize on your ability to automate formerly headache-inducing processes. For example, once you’ve carefully defined onboarding and offboarding, these types of consistent, easily-broken-down processes can be automated into a new customer welcome (or, in the case of offboarding, an exit after the completion of a service).
In general, service delivery automation is high return and low risk, and more and more service organizations are finding ways to cut costs and provide a simpler customer experience by reducing human involvement.
Track employee availability
Like any business, your company has a finite amount of resources and you want to use these wisely. To understand your current resource needs (and to anticipate future resource needs), service organizations need to be able to track employee schedules and capacities. With this visibility into your resource utilization, you can schedule in accordance with current projects and sales forecasts, and ensure that no resource is over- or underutilized.
Foster strong culture
After establishing a feasible service concept, there is no other factor so instrumental to the success of a service organization as its culture. Employees should be aligned when it comes to a specific set of overarching principles — and, while methodology is crucial to service delivery, this should feel more like a philosophy.
Don’t take it for granted that your culture is strictly internal — it shows up in your service delivery, your methodology, and your relationships and interactions with customers. And customers know this, it’s one of the reasons why people ask for RFPs. The better you understand your value prop and what your company’s about, the more that translates to your customers. More often than not, your customers will know if you and your employees aren’t on the same page.