energizing breakthrough performance

Cross-Functional Customer Care Teams and the Service Revolution

Within your organization, there are important efficiencies that result. There will be fewer inquiries from customers and less hassling; this means a lowered “nuisance workload.” Considerable advantages of cross-functional learning result. Unproductive procedures tend to be weeded out by on-the-ground teams. Decision making is expedited. Irritants that displease customers are identified early and “disease control” at the earliest stages of difficulty is the rule, rather than the exception. Achieving these and other benefits assumes that the cross-functional Customer Care Team is operating effectively, with clear roles and processes.

For example, the Horizontal Team Leader is responsible for knowing the needs, preferences, and irritants of a customer or customer segment(s) inside and out. This Team Leader must then sensitize each Team Player as to how his or her Vertical Function delivers moments of magic or moments of misery to the customer. The Team Leader must also alert Team Players from each function as to the kinds of cross-functional entanglements that typically arise and how these are perceived by the customer. The Horizontal Team Leader is akin to a musical conductor whose job it is to harmonize the various sections into a seamless and flowing delivery, rather than a disjointed clatter with errant notes and dropped cues.

A brokering of policies and procedures among the various functions in the Customer Care Team is needed at both the Team level and for each Vertical Function. The purpose of this brokering is to ensure that typical issues and problems are identified and resolved on a preemptive basis — before such issues and problems worm their way into the daily life of the organization and the moment-by-moment experiences and evaluations of the customer.

A brokering of “experiences” is also needed — first and foremost, the customer experience. However, the staff member experience, the Customer Care Team Leader experience, and the Vertical Function Leader experience should be interrogated and compared so that all of the players have an intuitive sense of the priorities and processes of all of the other players. The idea is to bring cross-functional alignment to the enterprise, where cross-functional alignment works for customers, staff, and managers alike.

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