In the last post, we took a look at Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits and applied the first habit, Be Proactive, to the processes of customer support. Now we move on to the next habit.
Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind
How many times have you started a project at your company without completely defining what was supposed to be accomplished at the end? Maybe several projects are floating around aimlessly because nobody knows when they are done.
The same is true when determining the need for a technology solution, such as customer support software. Many customer support organizations simply jump into a software evaluation before determining whether or why they need it and what their requirements are. Business goals for an initiative have not been defined. There has been no effort to determine what metrics will tell them if the project was a success.
As they say, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. What they don’t say is how much money and energy is spent meandering around those many roads.
For the customer support organization begin with the end in mind may start with mission statements, goals, road maps, and metrics. The road map (beginning) could cover the next five years and contain detailed milestones leading to the final goal. It should be updated to stay in step with the business goals, and it should be shared with the team implementing the transition. The three primary objectives of the road map (the end you have in mind) are:
- increased customer satisfaction
- reduced customer attrition
- reduced service cost per customer
Each objective must be well defined and be independently measurable.
Goals are great things. They tell you when you have accomplished something. But how are you going to make your goal if it is too vague or unmeasurable….something like “providing better customer service”. How will you measure that? What metric will tell you that the goal has been accomplished? In addition, there is no real link from that goal to the business benefit of accomplishing that goal. Kind of winning the battle but losing the war, or, the operation was a success but the patient died. The end goal of business benefit is not realized using undefined goals that defy proper measurement and will not contribute to a business goal.
The road map (where you begin) requires signposts and driving directions to get to the end you had in mind. If those signposts are found and the directions followed the results will be in line with the company’s overall strategic goal. It may not guarantee success, but when you and your team do succeed, after much hard work, there will be benefits gained that may have fallen by the wayside.
- A clear mission statement backed by well-defined goals is the hallmark of an effective customer support organization and is key to a consistent customer experience.
- A long term plan must be created before investing in any new tool or initiative. Smart help desks begin with a detailed blueprint and add channels and tools one by one, according to those plans.
Have you ever been assigned a project but not told the goals? Or maybe the goals don’t seem to have anything to do with helping the business. How did you handle that?
Tell us any beginnings where the end was kept in mind. We want to know you succeeded.