Exceeding your customers' expectations
Your company’s brand is everything, and it goes well beyond a logo or tagline. Your ability to develop and nurture the identity of your organization in the eyes of a consumer or stakeholder can often mean the difference between wild success and major organizational challenges. Customer service plays a huge role in this ever-fluctuating evolution of an organization — and the benefit of making informed decisions with valid, reliable and current customer insights is invaluable to the vision and direction of all organizations.
We have provided customer service support to clients in both the public and private sectors for more than 40 years. During that time, we have developed a sense of the implications that management styles and decision making can have on employees, customers and public opinion.
There is no magic formula for an excellent customer service program. Ultimately, your employees must understand and “own” the effort, and commit to provide superior service. Our team will work closely with you to design a plan appropriate for your customers and services, and help transform your most valuable assets into champions for your organization and models for excellence in customer service.
What ultimately drives a successful for customer service improvement project? Here are a few of the measures we may take to guide your organization’s customer service efforts:
Customer Service Assessment
We review relevant documents and interview key personnel to observe operations and examine systems that support your current customer service effort. This assessment will help us to tailor our training programs to the unique needs of your organization.
Facilitation of a Team-Based Approach to Improvement
We help you develop a committee of executives, key department leaders and staff members who are familiar with front line issues and concerns. We work closely with this committee to develop a customer service philosophy, program elements, and the overall vision or target for the program, and then “sell” the program throughout the chain of command.
Employee Surveys and Focus Groups
We use surveys and focus groups, both internal and external, to determine current service levels and perceptions of customer service through custom instruments designed to uniquely address your organization’s challenges or issues. After conducting an analysis of the data collected, we present the findings in an easy-to-understand, comprehensive statistical report with recommendations for future actions.
Develop Service Standards
Our consultants understand the distinct challenges private and public organizations may face when working to improve customer service. We will work with you to facilitate the development of processes and scripts to support your customer service representatives in providing a consistent quality of service to customers.
Customer Service Training
From frontline employees to senior leadership teams, we offer customized training to drive full understanding of the concept of “customer service” and the benefits of championing such efforts. While the goals of these training sessions are the same for all organizations, the overall content of the program is typically determined based on training needs identified through a customer service assessment, surveys, focus groups, or any combination of the above.
Measuring and Rewarding Success
An effective customer service plan requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance in order to be successful and drive lasting change. We will work with you to collect and communicate feedback, track your plan’s progress and make necessary adjustments. And to keep staff members committed to continuous service excellence, we will help you design reward and recognition programs to reinforce success as milestones are reached.
► Covenant Health System | Improving Patient Satisfaction
The merger of two major Texas-based hospitals resulted in the creation of Covenant Health System (CHS), the fifth-largest health system in Texas at the time. The union of the two fiercely competitive hospitals with distinctly different cultures, combined with significant management changes, created an unsettled environment. Both organizations’ reputation for quality care and good patient satisfaction changed drastically after the merger, with CHS’ Press Ganey Satisfaction scores dropping below the 30th percentile in their peer group. In addition to low patient satisfaction scores, employee and physician satisfaction scores dropped sharply as well.
SSA researched national best practices, and then helped CHS form a Customer Satisfaction Steering Committee comprised of various employees and hospital stakeholders. With guidance and assistance from SSA, this Steering Committee then developed a bold vision for success and four design teams to assist in the development of the improvement plan. The teams worked with SSA to create a program that addressed teambuilding, employee physician and patient respect, the patient’s awareness of a job-well-done, and CHS’ contribution to the community. In addition, SSA designed opportunities for celebration at every success point to acknowledge employees’ contributions towards overall improvement.
CHS’ customer satisfaction scores improved from the 30th percentile to an impressive 96th percentile just one year after the SSA-designed program’s rollout. Shortly thereafter, Press Ganey recognized the efforts and results of this program by awarding CHS with the prestigious Compass Award for Excellence in Patient Satisfaction, which recognizes the greatest improvement in patient satisfaction scores in the large hospital category in the nation.
► Nonprofit Community Hospital and Medical Center | Refining Service Excellence
This nonprofit community hospital and medical center sought to expand its current market share and enhance opportunities for future growth, but recognized a driving force behind any expansion plans would revolve around an improved focus across the organization on customer service excellence. To make this a reality, the 193-bed, general acute care center engaged SSA to develop a customer service delivery plan to position the center as the “go-to” hospital in the area.
SSA implemented a three-phase approach to develop the center's new customer service delivery program. In the first phase, SSA formed a core service team comprised of key executives and stakeholders to champion the development and implementation of a formal customer service strategy. The core team assisted in the design and recommendations for the following items that would form the foundation to this new program: development of a revised interviewing and selection process, development of service standards, identification of service recovery opportunities, scripting for frontline staff, and development of a reward and recognition program. For the second phase of this effort, SSA worked with the center's staff to develop a skills development program, which was guided and refined through weekly conference calls with executive staff to review progress on this and other elements of the overall program. Using a train-the-trainer model, scripts, role-playing, training aids, and service recovery elements, the core team, with guidance from the SSA project team, began to roll out the center's new customer service delivery plan. Finally, in the third phase, SSA conducted additional training, problem-solving sessions, and core team and senior executive meetings to ensure the program’s success would be long-lasting and sustained.
Upon full implementation of the new service excellence program, the center asked SSA to monitor and measure the program’s results over the course of one year. The SSA project team observed a work culture and environment that fostered an understanding among all employees about the need to “own” the hospital’s new customer service delivery efforts. In addition to an increased understanding of the concept of customer service and the resulting benefits of such efforts, staff members also reported new skills and techniques they had developed to deal more effectively with the challenges and obstacles associated with delivering excellent customer service.
Customer Service Excellence Training Program