Customer Service Management

How to Incorporate Outside-In Customer Service

Today in customer service, there are two main paradigms through which you can view the ever-important customer journey. One of these is inside-out, and the other is outside-in.

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The inside-out customer journey is based on the idea that your customer journey is dependent on what you do as a company. Your products or services are so amazing that customers have to have an amazing experience, and every time they engage with you, your team performs so well that customers can’t help but walk away satisfied. Decision-making is focused on what’s best for the company and the employees instead of the customers because of the belief that a happy, successful company will lead to happy, successful customers.

The outside-in customer journey is based on the idea that customer value is key. Outside-in customer experiences come from listening to the customer, looking at the business through his or her eyes, and developing changes based on customer needs. Outside-in businesses understand that if the customer isn’t happy, the business will suffer, and focusing on the customer is of the utmost importance. That means serving the customer and upholding customer value are the most important pieces of a company’s business model.

Outside-in customer journeys make the most sense because they start where you want to end. Your goal is a satisfied customer. Why? Not because your company is on some feel-good mission but because satisfied customers turn into repeat customers, translating into increased revenue for your business. By starting with making sure your customers are satisfied and looking at their needs and desires, your customer service goals will be better-oriented toward profit. That means a higher value per customer, a lower employee turnover rate, lower overall costs, and a more successful business.

But it isn’t easy. Changing the direction of the flow of your customer service takes serious time and effort. So, how can you begin incorporating outside-in customer service? Here are four steps you can take as you begin envisioning your customer service strategy for 2021.

Make a Vision

How do you want your customers to feel? It’s easy to just spit out words like satisfied or happy. But get back to the why of your business, and truly try to dig down to the specific ways you want your customer experience to feel. By taking some time to really vision cast, you’ll be motivated to make sure your customer service journey is pointed toward that final vision, and it will help you keep the customer experience front of mind. You want every single customer to get that experience, not just one in a few hundred. The more specific you’re able to be with your vision, the better your chances are of actually hitting it. Also, consider working alongside your customer service agents on this step. The more buy-in you have from your team, the more likely they are to feel excited about any potential changes instead of frustrated.

Map Out Your Customer Journey

To begin, look at how you interact with customers. Map out your customer journey from start to finish. When do you first begin engaging with a customer? What does that engagement look like? When customers are shopping for a product or service, how are they being served? Once they’ve completed their purchase, what happens next? What does the follow-up look like? When are customers given opportunities for feedback? This is all part of the customer journey, and once you have it mapped out, you can see if your thought processes begin on the inside or outside. You can also break this one journey down into micro-journeys, like an onboarding journey and a resell journey. Looking at these in depth will allow you to make sure every step of the process is oriented toward the customers’ goals and desires. One of the most essential pieces of this step is the final one: feedback. By incorporating customer feedback into your customer journey, you’ll be better-equipped to satisfy customers. Yes, employee feedback is important, as well, but customer feedback is the key to a successful, profitable company.

Realize Change Points

Now that you’ve mapped out what your customer journey looks like, you need to take a day and see which steps will be transforming. Maybe you’ve previously relied on an automatic survey to gather customer feedback, but since vision casting and mapping out your ideal customer journey, you’ve decided that calling customers on the phone a few days after their service to gather their feedback is the way to go. Or, maybe you’re going to add new channels of communication that will make it easier for clients to get in touch with you. How are you going to implement these new practices? What do you need to do in order to set your customer service team up for success? Are there new pieces of technology you need to incorporate? Throwing a bunch of changes out at once is difficult; it’s tricky for your team to excel and can also make measuring success hard. Pick a couple of key transformations you’ll be making, and work on implementing those first, with an identified goal time for the rest of your new outside-in customer journey to be implemented.

Empower Your Team

An outside-in customer service approach is going to take all hands on deck. You need to be able to motivate your customer service team to apply world-class service and take in feedback, as well as sufficiently manage cross-channel communications and meet the needs of a wide variety of clients. Find ways to consistently keep your team motivated and satisfied. Frequent team turnover is going to lead to some major dropped balls within your customer journey—you want your customer service representatives happy with their work! The more you can empower them to implement small changes without a bunch of overhead support and remind them of the vision you worked on, the more satisfied they’ll be and the happier your customers will be in the long run.