MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS – DAY 9 OF A 30 DAY BLOG (RANT?)

The Oasis strategy (which is what these 30 days of entries are about) is an approach to business which puts those you serve at the centre of everything you do. Your customers, your employees. They’re the ones who need to have an oasis experience if they are to continue doing business with you, working for you. So it is their needs and desires you have to serve.

So, start with your customers and step back, though each process and contact point, unscrambling things as you go so that you can objectively assess how you are doing.

We did this around three years ago and found that our customer service wasn’t up to scratch. People were waiting too long for support calls to be answered and the quality of the answers was less than ideal. Our own view of ourselves at the time was that we were in good shape. We compared ourselves to others and assessed we were better. Mum doesn’t care about the other kid though. (My mother used to say that when I told her about trouble I was in and I tried to use ‘the other kid’ to deflect attention.) Our self assessment was inadequate.

Our customers, when asked, told us we needed to improve. Sales weren’t affected but if we did not act they could be.

So we invested. Brought on more people to our help desk function, made support accessible through a variety of means, ramped up our user meeting process and became more open with our customers.

While we’re still on the journey it’s paying dividends. Our independent market research (conducted by AC Neilsen) has shown what our customers think about us. Sales show us as well. As does direct client feedback at user meetings and in face to face meetings. In fact, the commercial impact was such that the clear take away was do more of this and less marketing and you’ll grow even more. And that’s what we are doing.

In a help desk sense, given that this is where we have most day to day client contact, we focus on:

Access. We aim to answer calls when received or within 15 minutes.

Quality. We train our help desk team in a structured way and unstructured by having them work in our newsagency.

Follow-up. We try and get to 25% of our customer based every 8 weeks in an un-requested follow up call just to see how they’re doing.

Increased value. Through software updates we always look beyond the requested and try and deliver new tools to enhance their business and personal experience.

Comfort. We try and make each contact comfortable. We’ve brought in some foreign language experts to help in that area. We’ve added more people to the help desk than needed – so we can devote more time to calls.

All of this is well and good but it is not enough. To create the completely unexpected Oasis experience for our customers we need to reinvent the help desk. Here is some of what we are about to deliver: (I won’t detail everything because one should only give so many free kicks)

Structured time out. So that our team is not ground down in an 8 hour shift.

Better traffic management. Watching for businesses calling out of their usual habit – suggesting a more serious problem.

Further improving the room. Our call centre looks good already but we want it to be better.

Better phone system. Allowing better use of our interstate team.

Online training. Using Internet technologies – helping our customers learn more about our products and without cost.

Our goal is for the caller to, once they have hung up the phone, be thankful that they’re with our company. If we do the things listed above and the other things we’re thinking of we’ll continue to be a bright star in our marketplaces and that creates a win for us, a win for our team and a win for our customers.

In our business we know we’re only as good as the last call. Hence the need to focus on the help desk. It’s a key measurement point.

We process between 200 and 300 calls a day so the pressure is on.

This Oasis thing is serious for us. We’re in the hunt for an regular/consistent exceptional customer experience and to achieve that we have plenty of work to do. There, in that moment, everything is worth it.

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows paintin’ our faces
And traces of romance in our heads

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