Top Customer Service Strategies – No.7 Look at Processes from Varied Viewpoints


This article investigates how to improve broken processes. It is the seventh strategy presented in our article: The Top 10 Customer Service Strategies

The late, great customer service and contact centre expert Paul Cooper wrote this article for us and here he examines how getting multiple perspectives into certain processes can really improve customer service.

The Importance of Having Multiple Perspectives

Think about to all the conversations that you’ve recently had regarding customer service complaints.

The one category that will no doubt group most of them is a failure of process in the organisation involved.

Ever since quality programmes were the rage in the 1980s and 90s many organisations have had an obsession with process – mapping, procedures, systems and the like.

Most make the big mistake of trying to “improve” their process from the inside out…

However, most make the big mistake of trying to “improve” their process from the inside out, implementing and changing things whilst not considering either the whole process from start to finish, or, more importantly, ignoring the views and practices of customers.

If you’re looking to introduce new processes, the lessons in this article will help you to gain buy-in from your whole team: How to Better Introduce New Contact Centre Processes

Here’s an Example

A senior manager in a large organisation has direct internal access to anyone in that organisation, so if something needs doing, the process is easy.

However, if a member of the public (a customer!) tries to get the same thing done they must do so via a website that goes in loops, drops out on you, or worse, takes all your extensive details that have had to be typed in.

Then, just imagine in the system says that they can’t help: a regular occurrence for things like insurance and credit card applications.

Why weren’t those killer questions asked first?!

Or, when ringing an organisation, having navigated the ridiculous automatic telephone system with four options, then six options then four again, none of which apply to the query, one gets through to a person whose scripted answers and limited ability to help are set by “company policy”.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way!

Firstly, those bosses could be forced to use the same system as the customer to get something done. I bet it would improve rapidly then.

Next, constant listening to calls and using speech recognition systems would highlight bottlenecks, areas of specifically concentrated aggro, and process improvement opportunities.

Agents Know About the Process Problems

The staff in the contact centres will always know when there is a process problem long before anyone else, as they have to suffer the wrath of the customer time and time again over the same thing.

Giving more empowerment, having regular listening sessions and internal focus groups, seconding front-line staff onto project teams and the like will all improve the processes in the right way.

Involving front-line people right from the start, instead of just the IT department, can turn a poorly performing CRM system into a really valuable tool…

And the same goes for new kit. Involving front-line people right from the start, instead of just the IT department, can turn a poorly performing CRM system into a really valuable tool – for no extra cost.

In the last six months I have encountered a motor insurance company where the link to DVLA for the agent when I phoned took several minutes to connect whereas when I got the quote online the connection was instant – why aren’t they using the same link in the contact centre?

I’ve just had a utility company refuse to let me do something for my account over the phone that I discovered I could do easily online. Why?

I’ve had a bank ask me to type in my account number on the phone and then at the first encounter with a human being they ask me my account number. Why?

And so on.

For more on using agent insight to improve processes, read our article: Involve Agents in Operations and Strategy

These Things are Just Dumb

These are just dumb, and, believe me, I’m not a difficult customer, honest, just one who writes these things down for a living to try to get organisations to listen and improve.

Paul Cooper

Paul Cooper

The “crime” is not to make the mistake. The crime is to make it over and over again, and not know you are doing it (or, worse, know and not care!).

Hope it’s not you I’m talking about, but there is a lot of it about.

This article was written for us by Paul Cooper a valued and not-forgotten member of customer service and contact centre industries.

Read the next three articles in the series by following any of the links below:

Author: Jo Robinson

Published On: 3rd Oct 2012 - Last modified: 26th Mar 2020
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , ,

Follow Us on LinkedIn

Recommended Articles

A photo of a chess strategy
The Top 10 Customer Service Strategies That Stand the Test of Time
interview panel
Top 50 Customer Service Interview Questions - with Answers
Top Tips for Broken Processes
A red cog being placed among other cogs acting as the keystone
23 Key Processes Call Centre Automation Can Simplify
  • Good article Paul!

    As an observation, whilst the front line agents know the major internal process issues, they usually dont have a “voice” to push these back into the organisation. Issues are often fobbed off as there is no quantifiable data to indicate how big the issue is, so they are ignored by the rest of the organisation as one-offs. The agents are often driven by call volumes and dont have the time or energy to try and escalate issues via team leaders to managers to the rest of the organisation.

    Speech analytics can be of huge benefit in this area, allowing not only the identification of issues, but the quantifying of them too. This can provide very powerful ammunition to the call centre manager when trying to drive through process change. Some studies in which I have been involved in the past uncovered some startling insights that have driven major reductions in call lengths and improvements in customer satisfaction through the identification and fixing of simple process issues. Driving these back into the rest of the organisation became much simpler with quantifiable data.

    Dave Lee 4 Oct at 12:19
  • We have developed a Contact Centre solution which works directly off the business process using IBM BPM.

    We found that companies were spending fortunes on designing the process behind their website/ecommerce systems. A completely different group were designing their contact centre processes. Then a third group were designing the in-branch/in-store process.

    Yet customers were often switching between all three methods. No wonder they aren’t getting a good experience.

    By designing the custoemr experience you want your customers to have, then implementing it through all of the methods by which they interact with you you create a seamless, optimised experience. And save a fortune in duplicated effort.

    Peter Johnston 5 Oct at 16:24
  • Paul,

    You are spot on, having worked in the Customer Service Industry for 19 years there is nothing more that I can add to your wise words.

    Until your next article…………….

    Julie Thomson 5 Oct at 22:04