Case Study: Customer Service Standards in a Multi-Channel Retail Business

Revolution Learning and Development has recently completed a project delivering customer service standards to a multi-channel retail business. Here’s what we did.

Our client sells it’s products via a SKY TV channel, it’s website, in stores and across other retail platforms such as eBay and Amazon. It operates in the UK, Ireland and the USA. For the UK and Ireland, all customer service and sales calls and emails came into one central contact centre.

Our Brief

Our brief was to ensure that all customer service staff were delivering ‘world class’ customer service. They wanted to ensure that customers got the wow factor. In a highly competitive marketplace, the client wanted to use customer service as the differentiator between itself and its competitors.

Our Approach

The first steps we took in this project was to talk to the client to agree project outcomes, timelines and costs. We produced an initial solution brief to provide some ideas of what we could do. This was almost a shopping list of tasks that the client could choose from.

After agreement was sought, we spoke to a number of other people in senior positions in the business to ask about their objectives and thoughts on this project. This included the Managing Director and Sales Director.

Throughout the process we involved people at all levels to gauge their thoughts and to generate buy-in.

The Solution

The initial part of the solution was to identify what world class customer service and the wow factor looked like for the business. Who better to tell us than the team who dealt with calls and also the customer. We carried out a number of focus groups to talk about customer service standards and what world class customer service looked like in the business.

This then gave us the basis of a set of customer service quality standards. These standards would then become the initial and on-going measure of what level of service the business was delivering.

These standards were written into criteria that could be scored. Each criteria had 3 different levels it could be demonstrated at – Below Standard, Achieving Standard, Exceeding Standard. Because this was to be an on-going process, achieving standard was the first goal and eventually exceeding standard would be the the expected standard.

These standards were then presented to all involved for sign off. A fairly easy process as we’d used a lot of the language from the focus groups and helped the team to understand that they had actually written most of the standards themselves – they would be working to achieve their own standards.

Once the standards were agreed a training course on how to exceed the standards was required. Before this was written and delivered a period of monitoring took place. This consisted of team leaders carrying out side by side coaching and we also carried out a number of mystery calls. All of these interactions were measured against the new standards. This way we could identify what areas needed to be worked on the most.

After the period was complete we took all of the data and identified where there was need for improvement and also where things just needed to be sustained. We wanted to ensure that all of the things in achieving standard were being carried out while keeping an eye on how to get to exceed. From the data we were able to write an experiential customer service training programme that did two things. Firstly it was intended to refresh many of the skills the team currently had, and secondly provide new ideas on how to deliver against the new standards and move toward the exceeds criteria.

The course was delivered and progress monitored. Side by side coaching was carried out and all results were monitored. Coaching was used to integrate the customer service standards into the everyday work of the team and to continuously improve the level of standard delivered.

While all of the other tasks were happening, we commissioned the build of a database system that would hold all of the standards and provide the client with a simple way of capturing data from side-by-side coaching. The database not only held the data but was able to produce reports on progress, averages etc. It was built for us in such a way that we can re-use it with other clients, but more importantly the client can manage it themselves in future by adding new staff members, adjusting, adding and removing criteria etc. The database also uses weightings against each of the criteria to produce a score or outcome for each call that is added to the database.

Finally, we worked with the management team to provide guidance on using all of the tools produced to improve and maintain a high level of service. We talked through coaching skills, using the reports, translating the data into constructive feedback and also how to maintain then drive the standards to the next level.

The Outcome

Initial progress as a result of the project show that the level of service has improved. After putting the customer service standards and training in place, the scores against the standards are showing that the team are delivering all of the achieves standard criteria rather than roughly 75% of it and are now beginning to consistently hit some of the exceeds standards.

Next Steps

This is certainly going to be an ongoing project. The way it was all initially set up means we’ve provided our client with all of the tools they needs to succeed. Our role now is one of support, but also looking now at other areas of the business that may impact on the level of service delivered i.e. warehousing and logistics etc.

Conclusions

This project was born initially by the client asking us to deliver a customer service course to improve service. It’s great that they agreed that if there is no current standard or goal to achieve, then what would be the objectives of the course?

Organisations are constantly trying to improve service but don’t always think about to what level. Having the tools in place to write, achieve and maintain customer service standards is a good starting point. On-going coaching and support is a must if those standards are to ever be achieved.

Can we do the same for you. Do you have a need to stand out from your competitors? Contact us now to find out how we can work with you to achieve your goals.