You are a typical SME with an established name and have been serving a large group of customers for years. Contact with the outside world takes place through a service department, where a dedicated team of employees answers the phone and answers e-mails. But then the organization is taken over. Or the organization will have to deal with a considerable growth spurt. Or there are serious signals that the organization is difficult to reach. What to do and where do you start?
Especially in SMEs there are many companies that are surprised by the effects of radical changes: think of takeover, independence, strong growth in turnover or structural expansion of activities. For example, think of a webshop. One of the symptoms: overburdened customer service, plagued by complaints and arrears.
Two of our customers also had to deal with growing up. At Kärcher, a stronger regional focus led to the need for more and better steering means, at Westfalen, growth in turnover and activities led to a larger organization, which required more control. Whether it starts with a larger workload or a larger team: more coordination is needed in both cases.
Sometimes increased pressure on the organization also leads to technical problems, not being able to handle all the extra customer traffic. If there is no provision for fall-back options, you will continue to run behind the facts as an organization.
How do you know when your customer service organization needs to professionalize?
Customer contact is relatively modest in size. As a result, the customer service organization is also relatively simple: think of a team of ten to twenty employees who perform all kinds of activities – including the completion of contacts. Because of this limited size, the team is well able to arrange a lot based on informal coordination. Sometimes the management of the customer contact operation is in the hands of a cooperating supervisor. The department is often both front and back office. Tasks for other departments are also “added to” regularly, such as reception or administration.
But as volumes and / or the supply of the organization increase and the department grows, challenges arise. For every organization, customer contact requires an adjusted organization over time. As volumes increase, teams become larger, costs become higher and processes become more complicated. There is a need for control information and control options. How do you ensure good accessibility? How do you schedule employees? How do you keep control over the quality of an increasingly large team?
Often there is also no more than a basic IT environment for customer contact. The IT environment for customer contact then consists of a telephone exchange where incoming traffic is distributed via a hunt group. There are no queues and few routing options. Such a simple telephony environment provides very little management information, which means there is no insight into accessibility for customers and productivity of the department. It is precisely when you are confronted with ambitious objectives from this starting point that process quality often comes under pressure and the need for steering information increases rapidly.