Are You Tracking the Customer Service Metrics That Really Count?

The biggest customer service problem for many managers is that they focus almost exclusively on day-to-day tactical customer service issues and fail to develop the latent, strategic customer service opportunities that would lock in and grow their most important customers. Here’s a typical situation.

Several years ago, we facilitated a workshop on customer service for executives. About 30 top managers gathered for a full-day session. We shared our latest research findings and invited leaders from Ritz Carlton Hotels, Disney, and a few other customer service leaders to share their insights. At the end of the day, we led a session in which the participants discussed their thoughts and experiences in turbocharging customer service.

We started the session by asking, “What is customer service?” This straightforward question drew a variety of more-or-less expected responses: line fill, case fill, answering the phone in 30 seconds, no telephone tag, fast order cycles, etc. The thread that linked these responses was that they were all tactical operating measures.

More importantly, they were all internal metrics. This is a common problem. For example, what good are high fill rates if the customer has too much of the wrong inventory? Or if the customer is ordering twice as often as is economical? Or if their phone call about a disruptive service problem that shouldn’t have arisen in the first place was answered quickly?

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