Structured contact avoidance – actually the easiest way to optimise service

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Structured contact avoidance – actually the easiest way to optimise service

04.01.2022

Most service organisations see their “core value” in providing the best possible solution to the requests from customers and sales partners that come in every day through various contact channels. Very few service organisations analyse the reasons why a customer/ sales partner contacts the company and support the company in identifying approaches to eliminate major reasons of contact partially or completely. Such a paradigm shift from “we are good at solving individual problems” to “we eliminate problems” would significantly increase the value of customer service for the company and improve customer/ sales partner satisfaction. In the following, we describe how the path “how we work consistently to permanently eliminate ourselves” can be followed and what the critical success factors are.

Find contact reasons and avoid problems at the source

Our project experience shows that in companies more than half of the personal contacts are due to problems customers and sales partners have with the company’s processes, products and/ or services. If you want to optimise this situation, you have to give customers/ sales partners simple ways to help themselves and work consistently on eliminating the relevant contact reasons.

The first step is to collect and analyse the reasons for contact. The volume and processing time should be determined for each contact reason. In addition, each reason for contact should be assessed with regard to the degree of disruption in the customer/ sales partner relationship. This creates a fact-based evaluation system that shows where it is most worthwhile to eliminate causes – namely, contact reasons that occur frequently, take a long time and negatively influence the customer/sales partner relationship. In order for the contact reason analysis to be successful, the following recommendations should be taken to heart:

  • Description of the reasons for contact from the customer’s point of view (e.g. “I don’t understand my bill”) and not the caused processes from the company’s point of view (e.g. “check/ explain bill”).
  • In the first phase of the analysis, a rough structure of the contact reasons should be started (max. 10 reasons). As soon as the rough distribution of contact reasons has been determined, individual reasons for contact can gradually be gathered in more detail (starting with the reasons for contact with the largest share).
  • In addition, the contact reasons should be assigned to “originator areas” at an early stage (e.g. “I don’t understand my invoice” to “Accounting”). This makes it transparent which area of the company causes which and the number of contacts.
  • In order to ensure that the contact reason survey is ensued as completely as possible by the employees, the process should be designed to be simple and quick. Proactive information on why the contact reason survey is useful and regular publication of the contact reason reports increase the acceptance and participation of staff.

After only a short period of analysis, two to three contact reasons can be selected according to the above-mentioned evaluation scheme, possible causes for the for contact can be identified and approaches to eliminate the causes partially or completely can be developed. In this process it is important that:

  • interdisciplinary teams are formed to develop the solution approaches (including service, “area of cause”, IT, neutral unit, possibly also customers/distribution partners)
  • the “areas of cause” do not have to justify themselves but actively and constructively participate in the solution approaches
  • possible solutions are developed creatively in the first step (e.g. with the help of design thinking). In a second step, the most promising approaches (contribution to success and feasibility) are selected by the team and the concrete implementation is planned.

When implementing the initial solutions, care should be taken to adopt pragmatic approaches. It is important to check to what extent the implemented solution contributes to a significant decrease in contacts for this cause. If this is not the case, an analysis should be made as to why the measures have not brought the desired success. If the contacts for the topic have decreased significantly, this should be properly celebrated and communicated. This success gives courage to tackle the next relevant reasons for contact and, if necessary, to refine or consolidate the successfully implemented approach.

The objective would be to further develop the procedure described above so that more and more unnecessary customer/ sales partner contacts can be avoided, so that the valuable resources in the service can be used for value-added customer/sales partner contacts and ultimately customer/ sales partner satisfaction can be increased.

Conclusion

The investment in avoiding unnecessary contacts is worthwhile for every company and the measurable success makes people more. This requires a service organisation that is not afraid of losing contacts but wants to seize the opportunity to create additional value for the company. In addition, the entire organisation must be transparent about the weak points (without justifying itself) and actively help to shape a customer/ sales-oriented optimisation.

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