10th October 2019 3 minute read
Today’s National Customer Service Week theme is ‘Leadership: championing customer service in the boardroom’. To get some insight into how customer service is being supported from the highest level of business, we spoke to Capita Customer Management’s new Executive Officer Aimie Chapple. Drawing on the 27 years she’s spent in a variety of roles including board level, Aimie explains why customer service excellence is something that every boardroom should take responsibility for.
Customer service is the outward-facing manifestation of what an organisation like ours is all about. It’s the place where the boardroom’s business strategy touches the public and the customer. It’s about making good on the promises our clients make to their customers through the service we deliver.
I haven’t worked in any organisation, across any industry, where the customer shouldn’t be the centre of focus. As brands have changed their approach to customer service and moved towards digital channels, consumers now have more access to information and people than before, so it becomes even more essential to be really focused on their needs, what we’re trying to offer and how it all fits together.
In the boardroom, customer service should be right at the heart of any strategy created to deliver on the organisation’s vision. You have to translate that vision into real values, activities and actions, and then look at the flow of the vision all the way from the back office and product development, through to the experience of dealing with a complaint or customer question. It’s the job of the boardroom to translate those visions into reality.
Customer service should always be on a boardroom’s agenda. We may spend more time on the big picture, considering the direction of travel as well as the tactics and metrics of how we’re performing while making sure that customer service is right at the heart of the execution of our strategy. But we also need to know any service issues or opportunities are recognised and acted upon.
The human touch
Efficiency and empathy are two things I really value when it comes to customer service - I say this as a consumer as well as an industry professional! It’s great when the customer service advisor I’m interacting with can quickly get me an answer. But when I have to stop and talk with someone about what’s going on, it matters that they have empathy for my problem.
As a personal example, I recently had a brilliant experience with my car insurance company. My provider is an American military insurance company, and I recently needed to make some changes to our policy. One of the things I love about this business is that the experience they provide on their digital channels, particularly on the app, is really consistent with what happens when I talk to them. So the customer service advisor I talked to could see which steps I had already been through on the app and really personalised the service for me.
He was able to reinforce the feeling that insuring a new car is an exciting time and that he would help me to ensure it went smoothly. He wasn’t doing anything extraordinary, but he made me feel like he really knew me and understood what was going on. He managed to add a human touch to the conversation.
Don’t be scared of change
I’m a big innovation person – it’s a topic close to my heart. For me, some of the really exciting topics to keep an eye on and help clients and customers experience in the near future are artificial intelligence and automation.
Many are scared of this technology, but we shouldn’t be! Yes, they will change how we experience work, but they should also make it more interesting. I see AI and automation as helping to enable the ‘super person’. If we can put an AI engine next to an advisor and it can really help them to understand the history, potential and context of a customer, that means we can ultimately provide a better, faster service. And that has to be a good thing.
Personalisation is another thing we need to keep an eye on. We’re always talking about putting the customer right in the centre, so we need to think about how technology can help us to create the right unique experiences for people, and help it to make sense for them.
There’s lots of room to explore how digital innovation will help us deliver an improved customer experience. It’s just about businesses learning to embrace change and be fluid in understanding and describing new technologies. We all need to continue to seek to understand it, as it’s definitely going to be part of our future.