Overall, continual service improvement (CSI) is about improving the service you deliver to your customer base. In a recent CSI webinar, John Noctor, Director of Customer Success at Cherwell Software, discussed that in his view, to make improvements impactful, you should improve a lot of things by a small amount, rather than one thing by a lot. By improving each process by 1 percent, you will improve the business overall. Based on historical data, you may think you’re already at the top of your game and therefore don’t need to make any improvements, but there is always room to grow.
John gave a good example of this: a well-known U.K. retail brand that had always prided itself on its excellent customer service feedback noticed that this positive feedback was starting to slip despite their service levels and quality not actually changing. This was simply down to their competitors getting better. So, although this retailer continued to deliver a high standard, comparatively, the perception was it was no longer the best.
The following are John’s top tips for implementing and managing a successful CSI program:
Idea 1: Set up an internal CSI User Group
- This will encourage everyone to have a stake in CSI.
- Ideas and obstacles should be discussed openly—showing you are listening and willing to take ideas on board.
- Involve your customer success manager—ask him/her to attend your user group meetings every few months to provide insights on the industry and what other people in your space do.
Idea 2: Set up a CSI business object/ticket
- This enables staff to log improvement ideas in real time.
- Record information and use standard functionality such as task management.
- Track ideas and show you are paying attention.
- Link this to your new CSI user group!
Idea 3: Stop reporting and start reacting
- Sometimes, you can become too reliant on reports. Often, real time information is better.
- Think about the volume of reports you produce. Do people read them?
- Dashboards allow you to make timely decisions.
- Historical information is important but real-time information shows you what is happening right here, right now. Sometimes, people can suffer from the three-month ache: you report one month and find a problem, implement a solution the next month, and then have to wait for the following month’s report to see any changes.
Idea 4: Align CSI to goals
- Improvements should be in line with what you are trying to achieve.
- Goal management is key to success, and success drives CSI.
- Record goals, and have clear targets and deliverables that underpin achievement.
- Goals can help to drive maturity.
Idea 5: Consider a best practice audit
- Target the product you use. Look at the best practices around the use of your specific product.
- Look at the day-to-day workings you have with a piece of software and capture the views on this software from every level—senior management right down to the service desk itself. .
- This will help you discover how aligned (or not!) the areas are and everyone’s opinions. The result of an audit should be to show you how to get better at what you do.
John notes that CSI is often not shouted about, but people need to have visibility of what you are doing so they can see the improvements and realize you have listened and taken their feedback on board.