What would a consumer expect from a product or a service that he had paid for — Quality, Value for Money, and most important of all Satisfaction. Right? But, in today’s cut-throat market, a consumer also expects good, if not excellent, customer service, post the purchase of a product. The quality of service that you get from a manufacturer or a service provider determines whether you would stay loyal to that brand or switch over to something else. In other words, it is the quality of service that determines whether a manufacturer or a service provider can hold on to its customer base in the long run.
Companies that invest time and energy in providing excellent customer support not only create a brand value for their products but also increase their revenues in the long run. Excellent service that satisfies the customers in one hand and meets the strategic intentions of the company in the other is usually the result of a careful design and delivery of a whole set of interrelated process.
Any business manager would agree that retaining existing customer is far more economical than seeking new customers. Read on to find out how Service Processes play a pivotal role in creating brand value and a loyal customer base.
It is a misnomer that Service Processes are only customer-centric. They are equally important towards materials management, information sharing, and even staff management. Many service processes are therefore quite complex, involving many interrelated processes, departments, people, decision and activities.
A Service Process is not limited to the point where the customer receives and serves. It is a much broader term that embodies a chain of processes from start to finish (often known as end-to-end process), rather than focusing only on the final stage of delivery to the customer. The process starts from identifying the customer requirements and moves on to touch upon other crucial areas such as ensuring quality, sticking to the budget, and maintaining deadlines. Most service processes fail frequently because they are either inadequately designed or improperly executed.
A Service Process is a collection of interrelated process, some of which predominately process customers, while others process entities such as information or material. For an easier understanding, let’s divide the organizational processes into front-office and back-office processes.
Front-office activities first attract the attention of the customer. For example, greeting and receiving the customers are activities that are easily visible. In contrast, there are back-office activities that take place in the background, away from the customer, and hence they are rarely visible. For example, managing payroll, human resources departments, accounting services, managing IT, data entry and administration are a few examples of back-office processes.
All the departments are interrelated here, even though the front-desk executives are more likely to communicate with the customer. Customer experience comprises cost, reservations, welcome greet, check-in, room design facilities, room service, food, housekeeping, laundry, billing, and checkout. It is very important to follow the procedures in each department to attain excellent customer service.
Front-office processes involve more interaction with customers and more visibility. These may include personal interaction with the customers through, telephone calls, and mail correspondence. Customers are an integral part of front-office processes because it is they who provide the all-important information. Involving the customers in the front-office processes can be double-edged sword — in one hand, their feedback can be vital for staffing, recruiting, and training purpose; while on the other, the process itself may have to undergo frequent modifications to suit their requirements.
Some of the front-office processes are simply a routine procedure (like call center executives), however there are some service providers (for example, lawyers, doctors) who should be experts in their field. Management Consultant Processes can be a little tricky, as the approach is very important to diagnose the problem of the client and offer a solution accordingly.
Converting a prospective customer who is on a landing page by navigating him to goods selection and finally to the payment section can be expensive, as it requires meticulous design and sophisticated technology. Such processes are designed to reduce the transaction cost and encourage the customer to do more, provide more information, and compel them to buy the products at their convenience.
Back-office processes do not involve customers, and hence they are less complicated and more efficient in terms of producing results. If the customers get to interact with back-office staff, then it would be next to impossible to manage the process. For example, imagine the chaos it would create if the customers get to interact with the chef in a restaurant!
Some organizations move front-office processes to back-office to reduce the rush of giving an immediate response to customers, for example, cheque clearance in retail banks. It is because having front-office executives with the varied skills to respond the customer requests can be quite an expensive affair. Usually, in such cases, a customer expects less service for a less price.
That being said, there are organizations that prefer the actual back-office processes to get in front of the customers. Some services need an expert’s help to simplify the customer’s issues which affects the customer decision to buy the product or service. For example a technician, but technicians rarely have customer handling skills, so they are normally kept far from customer sight as a second contact level in customer care. For example, in a car showroom, the customer care executive will not help you with all the technical details of a product; in such cases, a customer would prefer to talk to an expert before taking a decision.
It is important to pay attention to each and every step of a service process – from designing phase till the delivery phase – to attain excellent customer service. Dividing the processes into front-office and back-office can make it easy to concentrate on each process. Every process in a service will have their own pros and cons, but the processing of the services should ultimately reduce the issues and provide optimum satisfaction to the customers.