Business Efficiency and Time Goals

When you think about your organization's efficiency and time goals in regard to customer service, most people immediately think: “On-time delivery! Of course! What else is there?” But, as you will see, time goals for customer service go beyond just delivering on time.

Efficiency associated with on-time delivery is just one aspect. Think about every activity associated with customer service, from initial call or Web contact through issue definition, resolution, confirmation, and completion.

Each of these activities, along with dozens more related to customer service, has a time goal in terms of how fast they get acknowledged and addressed, or how long customers must wait to be served, or how long it takes to complete a request.

The following guidelines can help you select the right customer service goals — and the right number of goals — for your organization:

  • Pick two to three goals to focus on. You can’t do everything at once — at least, not well — and you can’t expect your employees to, either. Attempt to complete only a few goals at any one time. Setting too many goals dilutes the efforts of you and your staff and can result in a complete breakdown in the process.

  • Pick the goals with the greatest relevance. Certain goals bring you a lot closer to attaining your vision than do other goals. Because you have only so many hours in your workday, it clearly makes sense to concentrate your efforts on a few goals that have the biggest payoff rather than on a boatload of goals with relatively less impact to the business.

  • Focus on the goals that tie most closely to your organization’s mission. You may be tempted to take on goals that are challenging, interesting, and fun to accomplish but that are far removed from your organization’s mission. Don’t do it. (At least, not without acknowledging that they’re removed from your mission.)

  • Regularly revisit the goals and update them as necessary. Business is anything but static, and regularly assessing your goals is important to making sure that they’re still relevant to the vision you want to achieve. Put in quarterly or midyear review schedules. If the goals remain important, great — carry on. If not, meet with your employees to revise the goals and the schedules for attaining them.

Avoid creating too many goals in your zeal to get as many things done as quickly as you can. Too many goals can overwhelm you — and they can overwhelm your employees, too. You’re far better off setting a few significant goals and then concentrating your efforts on attaining them.

Don’t forget that management isn’t measured by one huge success after another. Instead, it involves successfully meeting daily challenges and opportunities — gradually but inevitably improving the organization in the process.

For customer service goals, then, think of defining time goals in the language of the customer, and what they value. The real key is to design efficiency into those key processes and policies that deliver to these goal above all else.

For example, if “timely response to my question on the first call” is a key customer service goal, then you should have systems and processes that enable your customer service reps to respond in a timely manner, with all of the requisite information necessary for a successful response on the first call.

You can quickly see that you need to balance necessity with cost-to-implement in order to design creative, innovative ways that enable a great response while managing expenses effectively. Be careful about designing processes and systems that may enable your desired response, but at a cost-prohibitive price.

Think of the way your company currently responds to customer service requests. In today’s web-based business environment, whole companies buy and sell products and services in a completely virtual environment, using web-based software and systems to provide product and service information, take orders and payment, track shipments, and confirm receipt – even to track customer service issues themselves.

Can you capitalize on this and other technology to enable a better, more efficient customer service experience?

Be careful here. You must always remember the customer service goals, and be sure not to compromise them on behalf of cost savings. If user friendliness or cordiality is critically important to your customer, you want to be careful automating every transaction. Always enable connectivity to a live person who can provide assistance. It may cost more, but ensures that your processes are in line with your customer service goals.

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