Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Customer Service Strategies Start With the Customers

OK – you’re back from the Government Web and New Media Conference, and you’re sky high thinking about mobile apps and Facebook pages and “Meetups.” Gotta have all those channels.  But where to start?

That’s easy. Start with your customers.  What do they want and need?  How do they want to get it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I'm a broken record.  But this works, folks. 
  1. Begin with top tasks.  Go back to those very few services (transactions or information) that lots of your customers want, need, and use most. We’re talking 3-5 (no more).
  2. Assess what you’ve got. What content do you already have for each of those tasks – on your website(s), in your social media efforts, among your mobile apps, in your call centers and print publications?  Take inventory.
  3. Assess your customers. Are customers able to complete their top tasks quickly and easily? Look at each of your delivery channels.  What's working?  What's not? If you don’t know, do usability testing.  If customers aren’t using one of your channels, why not? Would another channel or additional channels help customers complete these tasks better/faster? 
  4. Fix what you’ve got.  If your content is bad, you don't want to give your customers more ways to get to it.  So fix the content before you add channels.  And don’t tell me you don’t have anything to fix because content is never perfect (and I've seen a lot of your sites!). Do a plain language review. Go to plainlanguage.gov, print out those checklists, and go after your content.  Edit, edit, edit. Better yet, rewrite completely.  Keep in mind that you want to create content once and use it – maybe in a boiled down version – on all your channels.  See if you can cut steps, simplify, make it easier for customers to use your top services.  Do more usability testing - and I mean test it on all channels.
  5. Now, open up new channels (if your customers need them). Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you only put top tasks on your new mobile site, that's a great start.  Get that right and then move on.  Keep testing and improving. 
Give your customers what they want, when they want it, in ways that make sense to them.  Start your strategy with your customers.

PS - If you didn’t make it to last week’s conference, do yourself a favor - take some time to watch the videos and review the presentations. Read Dave McClure’s overview on transforming the customer experience first. Spot on.


Rachel said...

Once again, Candi, you've gotten right to the heart of the matter. While all these new ways to interact are fun, cool and exciting... getting the basics right is still the most important piece. If content is crappy, don't waste time building more ways to get there... fix the content FIRST, THEN build out those other channels. Thanks!!

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