How to Improve Service Delivery: 3 Key Areas to Look At
Customer experience has become such a popular topic that you might be tempted to dismiss it as just another trendy—and fleeting—business fad. But the truth is, the quality and speed of service delivered to your customers is extremely important. So, getting it right is not just helpful, but critical.
Yet many organizations are still failing. In 2018, Forbes declared customer experience the new brand, maintaining that while “80% of companies believe they deliver ‘super experiences,’ only 8% of customers agree.” Ouch.
Today’s consumers are demanding. They expect instant and convenient service, and tolerance for anything less is low. When expectations aren’t met, customers are quick to let yopu know you aren’t delivering on your service promises. Getting it wrong can cost you—in the time and resources it takes to make it right and in lost opportunities.
But the rising importance of customer experience also presents an opportunistic upside. When Econsultancy asked companies the single most exciting opportunity for 2019, customer experience was number one.
The opportunities and benefits of improved service delivery don’t end with better customer experience. When organizations fine-tune and optimize the ways in which they deliver service, there are also clear operational and financial benefits. Better service delivery systems typically mean staff and other resources become more efficient, saving time and ultimately generating measurable cost savings and a direct boost to the bottom line.
So, what are you doing to leverage the opportunity? What are you doing to improve your service delivery and customer experience?
The Critical Components of Service: People, Processes, Technology
It takes focused and consistent attention in three key areas to improve service delivery. Let’s take a look at: people, processes and technology.
When it comes to an organization’s success, people are your most valuable asset. This includes the people who deliver your products and services (your employees) and the people who use them (your customers). It’s important to carefully examine and understand the needs and motivations of each so you can deliver on promises and meet, or even exceed, expectations.
First, identify the experience you want each of these stakeholder groups to have. Start with these three steps:
· Define the experience you want to deliver.
· Identify current obstacles to providing that experience.
· Strategize how to eliminate those obstacles.
Next, it’s important to discover if your organization is optimizing the strengths and skill sets of your employees. Do this by:
· Seek and listen to employee and user feedback (ask what they do well; what they want to do more of; and what stands in the way of them doing those things)
· Realign or supplement tasks according to their strengths, core competencies, interests and aspirations
In working with our clients, we have found that through this discovery process, organizations find that there is a natural alignment in improving the employee experience and customer experience. You will likely find that your customers and employees are both craving efficient, convenient experiences. They want things that simplify interactions. The experiences of these groups are interdependent – happy employees can lead to happier customers.
Business processes are another key to better service delivery. However, before you can effectively evaluate and improve processes, take a step back and identify your organization’s core strengths and goals. Ask questions such as:
· What do we do best?
· What differentiates us?
· What is our mission
· What are our values
· What are our business objectives?
Then, evaluate your processes. The goal is to uncover a breakdown in process effectiveness and efficiency by identifying:
· What processes are burdened by manual labor, physical paper and other inefficiencies
· Which of these processes directly affect service delivery
Once you understand how your current processes may be negatively affecting your service delivery (and after you dig deeper into your employees’ interests and skills) you can identify whether the best way to improve these processes is to use outside services for some or all of them. In addition to improved service, you may find there are short- and long-term cost efficiencies to reallocating your internal resources.
Answers to these questions will help you make that determination:
· Are your employees wasting time on tasks that a professional services provider could do more easily (e.g., mailroom operations, document processing, imaging, data capture, fulfillment), allowing your employees to focus on serving your customers?
· Is it cost-effective to get help with those processes?
Specifically, using outside professional services can be a smart way to improve your processes because it helps you better forecast costs, reduce backlogs that would otherwise require overtime, and help manage fluctuating demand volume.
Lastly, evaluate your technology and how it can help improve service delivery.
According to IDC, as of this year, 40 percent of all technology spending is allocated to digital transformation investments. A good place to start is to identify where your organization is in its digital transformation. While a complete digital transformation can be daunting, determining where and how to make these valuable investments is essential. When considering if a digital transformation can improve service delivery, answer these questions:
· Are you operating with mostly digital records and content? Or are you still largely paper-based?
· Do you have digital transformation initiatives in process?
· Is a delayed or incomplete digital transformation negatively affecting service delivery?
Next, take a critical look at your current technology to see if it’s effectively serving the needs of your organization:
· Is it easy to find information and digital content?
· Is the technology you’re using intuitive and easy to use?
· Is it easy to train new employees to use it?
· Is it a seamless experience or does it require time-consuming steps and multiple applications to complete a task?
· What technology integrations or improvements would most improve service delivery?
Technology can improve how you deliver service by reducing the burden of manual tasks such as mail intake, imaging, content management and distribution, or payment processing. Digital process automation can also save money, improve speed and accuracy, and free up staff to focus on other tasks.
Develop and Execute an Action Plan for Improvement
Once you’ve thoroughly assessed the effects of people, processes, and technology on your service delivery—and, ultimately, your customer experience—it’s time to develop a plan for improvements in these key areas, then execute it.
Determine what changes will deliver the greatest impact to service delivery and prioritize them for action:
· Identify immediate, minimal-cost changes and implement those changes first.
· Implement changes that may require more investment as your current budget allows.
· Include the remaining necessary investment in your next budget cycle.
Improving service delivery is a multifaceted undertaking. When done well, the benefits are measurable. But it requires planning, diligence, and continuous improvements and investments.
Image API can partner with you to evaluate your processes and technology to identify inefficiencies. Our clients report substantial improvements in service delivery—not just timeframes, but accuracy and quality. We help reduce the burden of paper, which can slow down people and processes. Our professional services and technology solutions integrate into existing processes and systems resulting in a seamless digital experience, both internally and externally.