Many municipalities are taking on the dual goals of streamlining operations and improving customer service. It’s an interesting set of goals since so many people in business assume that improving customer service means adding people, adding services, and adding costs.
But customer service done right should facilitate cost reduction. It should do this primarily because of two different outcomes that effective customer service should achieve. The first is that improved customer service should reduce complaints and redundant contacts from customers. Processes are a huge part of customer service, and if the property bill is right, the resident is less likely to call to complain. If reserving the park shelter online worked, there is no need to place a complaint call to the municipality. If the caller calls in and gets to a person without an undue wait, they’re not going to abandon the call and make a second call. Doing things right the first time reduces contacts and other efforts that result from customer complaints.
The second way that great customer service facilitates cost reduction is that customer service done right implies having standardized and efficient processes which allow less room for individual employees to do things wrong, for errors to occur, for rework to be required. Customer service done right means that the self-service processes which customers use are simple, self-evident, timely, and attractive enough that the customer often prefers doing their own work over contacting an employee to do it for them.
Streamlining operations and improving customer service can co-exist…they SHOULD co-exist.
If your organization can do it right the first time, and if you can make your processes quick, simple, efficient, and high quality, you’ll notice customers are happier, and the workload will decrease.
It’s the win-win-win that customer, company, and employees all want.
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