Cross-Functional Collaboration: Use Managerial Input to Make Customer Communications Shine
Managers: they’re an undervalued resource. Besides keeping employees motivated and ensuring your organization maintains cross-functional collaboration, they also provide a perfect point of reference when installing or upgrading customer-facing solutions.
Best of all, these leaders have the up-close-and-personal experience needed to see a new technology’s impact from multiple perspectives, making their knowledge invaluable when reevaluating your customer communications strategy and sifting through prospective communications providers. If you’re searching for a solution that’ll benefit customers, employees, and business interests alike, look no further than a manager for quality input.
Communications, Cross-Functional Collaboration, and Management’s Input
Each party is looking for something different in business interactions. Customers are hoping for the best possible deal, or fairest, fastest possible resolution to their problem. Employees want to hit their quality metrics. Executive stakeholders want efficient, satisfactory resolutions at business scale.
Keeping this in mind, consider the average manager’s role. More than any other cog in the machine of your cross-functional collaboration, they’ve got the greatest incentive to meet all of the above objectives. Actions that please upper management but throw front-liners under the bus could cause a mutiny, while customer-pleasing resolutions that make the company hemorrhage cash will irk the big boss — fast.
But applying this balanced approach to your company’s customer communications strategy is a perfect way to address existing pain points and head others off before they emerge. This isn’t to say you should grant your managers executive power, or take every suggestion they offer up as the single correct way of doing things. Instead, these leaders should be given a chance to provide their input, and their words should be given due consideration.
Let’s say, for example, your customer service call center’s facing long hold times the team has been unable to cut down. As such, you’ve decided to upgrade to a smarter IVR system that handles various rote tasks without the need for human intervention. A trusted leader’s input can help you identify:
- Potential areas for automation
- Complications that may arise
- Common call types you may not have considered
- Problems that take an inordinate amount of employee time
- Areas of the new system that might not hold up in practice
Managers: Operational Efficiency’s Secret Weapon
Another remarkable quality of managerial employees is that they are among the few people in the organization who feel the sting from all directions: above (upper management), below (employees), and beyond the communication touchpoints (angry customers).
However, call centers aren’t the only function that can benefit from managerial input. Any company that communicates with customers can see benefits. For example, let’s say you operate a chain of dental offices, auto repair shops, or any organization that runs on an appointment-based model. No-calls and late arrivals are forcing you to leave other customers waiting without resolution — or worse, sending them to a competitor.
Depending on the length and severity of this problem, a regional manager’s first thought may be to penalize locations that continue to set up appointments that end up being no-shows. But a manager at one of these locations may offer a solution based on his or her experience in the field: a text messaging API that integrates with your system and automatically sends a text message with the appointment time to the customer. This, your floor leader says, will cut down on the most common reason for missed appointments — forgetful customers — by sending reminders of the event directly to the customer’s phone.
How Managers Can Improve Customer Experience
Of course, most customer-facing initiatives should begin and end with the customer. And here, the same unique management perspective can help decision-makers discover unique enhancements that improve customer experience.
For organizations that depend on outbound contact with customers, including pet groomers, caterers, and restaurants, quick notifications are key. People want to know precisely when their dog’s bath is done or their table is ready. Dedicating staff to outbound phone calls takes manpower away from your organization’s core business functions, and management can help you decide exactly which situations could benefit from a touch of automation.
In this sense, you can say one of the biggest customer pain points — waiting for service to begin or finish — is also one of the greatest employee pain points. Although the people making the ultimate decisions regarding communications platforms undoubtedly have thoughts about areas to automate, it’s worth talking to management to get a feel for the finer points; if you’re more than a few years removed from a customer-facing role, there’s a good chance there are realities that have since slipped your mind.
Think of it this way: You trust management to run your organizations, so why not give them input into the communications process that will allow them to take customer service—and even the entire customer experience—to the next level?