No amount of process can perfectly prepare customer facing employees for every possible customer interaction and request.
The unique circumstances of each customer and their various needs, means that the solutions customer facing employees must provide, as well as the corresponding problem solving and process to determine and deliver those results, are limitless.
Having a framework in place that assists employees in decision making is the best way to arm resources with the capability to create solutions for every customer eventuality.
Decision-making frameworks provide employees with broad guardrails enabling them to autonomously make good decisions and create a path to resolution.
Frameworks leverage the fact that employees are smart, competent and typically the most qualified to determine the best course of action for customers.
Whereas rigidly defined, prescriptive processes can restrict solutions thinking and never account for every possible situation, frameworks empower employees to use common sense, rational thinking and their unique understanding of both the customer’s needs and how their company can address them, to come up with creative and effective solutions.
Rather than absolving process followers from the accountability of solving customer issues and turning their work into robotic, one-size-fits-all actions, frameworks provide the fertile ground for employees to come up with amazing solutions.
Empowered employees come up with better solutions, provide faster resolution to customer inquiries, reduce the management cycles spent dealing with customer escalations and they are happier.
This has certainly been my experience managing customer facing organizations for nearly two decades.
I used to think an overly comprehensive methodology was required for employees to handle the broad spectrum of customer needs, however difficult problems that did not fit the process were too often either escalated or forgotten about while the customer was left hanging.
In other words, rigorously prescriptive methodologies inadvertently displace accountability allowing things to fall through the cracks.
The image above is an example of the “Assess and Resolve” framework used at Eloqua to help the team determine a path to resolution for every customer eventuality.
The straightforward framework provided a means for the team to create customer solutions, or a path to finding one, in difficult situations where an immediate answer was not apparent or required further work before a solution presented itself.
Instead of leaving customers hanging with unanswered requests while the internal team struggled to find solutions, or having difficult problems funnel up to management, the Assess and Resolve framework empowered employees to find solutions or a path to one.
As a result, employees were more accountable resolving issues no matter how difficult, they felt better in doing so, requests did not fall through the cracks, and escalations to management to deal with irate customers left hanging were significantly reduced.
Employees are in the best position to come up with the best solutions.
They have the best understanding of the overall situation, the customer and your internal processes to respond to the customer inquiry in the most appropriate and efficient way.
Providing employees with a decision-making framework allows them to establish a path to resolution ensuring every customer request, no matter how difficult, is successfully addressed to completion in a faster timeframe and with fewer escalations.
Better solutions create better customer experiences, better employee experiences and better experiences for vendors operationally.
A perfect resolution trifecta!