What is the value you are providing to your customers?

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Would you agree that providing value to your customers whether internal and/or external is paramount?

And it’s probably why your centre or division exists and why people have jobs but when it begun, were you clear on why you wanted it?

Do you know what it will be when it grows up and have you given it a red hot go?

The more you can appreciate the way your customers think or act, then you can design products and services that fix their problems but perhaps there have been changes in the external environment or market.

Often in medium to large organisations, management of your customer relationships is mostly centralised, perhaps within a contact centre structure.

Questions may arise like… is this best practice?  Is this the right way to serve customers?  Do the inputs and costs stack up against the outputs and performance?  Is technology being maximised?  Is this investment really worth it?

People across your organisation may have different ideas or views about performance and value, strengths and areas for improvement.

So what if you could use a proven approach that focuses on what is really important?

5 pillars

Well let me introduce you to the 5 Pillar Approach to review your contact centre or customer service division.

5 Pillar Approach

Working on what originally started as a ‘health check’, mainly for contact centres, which was a ‘high level review’ on what was or wasn’t working, over the years we have refined the process to capture the most important ingredients to efficiency and service.  When you understand benchmarks, costs, customers, investment and technology systems you can determine the value you provide to customers and demonstrate this easily to others.

The 5 Pillar Approach can equally apply to any business where the bulk of the cost is labour, which is most service industries.

It’s about identifying and balancing the structural aspects of the business against the output (the product), best shown diagrammatically.  Think of the Parthenon with the roof being your product, the pillars being the support mechanisms to maintain the roof, and the floor or foundation the budget to support the pillars.

If your floor is too weak for the pillars or the pillars too weak to hold up the roof then the roof collapses.  Likewise if some pillars are weak then other pillars have to take the load – it’s a balancing act to ensure the load is spread correctly.

Briefly summarised the 5 pillars are:

  1. People Management – setting your structure and culture (think ‘the vibe of the thing’ from The Castle)
  2. Performance Management – KPIs, measurement, development of staff (Peter Drucker – Important to measure but make sure you are measuring the right thing)
  3. Resource Management – Right people, right skills, right place, right time, right number
  4. Information – Are your systems and processes delivering up to date information to customers? (in the era of social media you need to be minute perfect)
  5. Technology – the right technology to wed the others together

As an approach it works equally well for new or green field sites and for re-engineering, by doing a gap analysis on what exists now – to what could exist.  Compare the two and you have the areas for improvement – or confirmation you are doing it right (Let’s celebrate success!).

Developed for contact centres where the AVERAGE spend on staff is 71% of costs (5th Quadrant), looking at best practice and using our huge combined experience it has been possible to design an efficient system for the review.

If you’d like some assistance on an independent, industry leading view, then your 5 Pillar review can be undertaken swiftly and generally provides a 2 phase solution:

  1. Quick fixes (e.g. workforce planning/resourcing changes, skill shortages)
  2. Identification of areas of future work (e.g. need to tender for new technology, job description or training course development)

The big benefit is by doing this 5 Pillar review first, it limits your expenditure but will uncover some areas immediately for improvement.  The solutions that need more time are also identified so no extra work is required and the fixes can be introduced when you want to, for example in your next budget or planning cycle.

Ensure the value that you are providing is exacting for your customers, understood across your organisation, efficient and ever evolving.

Written by Derek Finch and Wendy Perry, February 2015.

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