When we talk about Social uses of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions, I immediately am reminded of Len Schlessinger. Back in the late 1980s, I was writing speeches for corporate CEOs. It forced me to stay very current on business theory and practices. For one assignment, the CEO of Arrow Electronics, a highly intelligent fellow with degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, lent me a cassette tape of a lecture he had attended at Harvard. I popped the tape in and I haven’t thought about customer service in the same way since.
Leonard (Len) Schlessinger was the professor and his topic was customer service and he began by telling stories of good and bad customer experiences. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, he had been the CEO of an American coffee and pastry chain called Au Bon Pain. His stories came from his experiences as CEO and later as a consultant to many organizations in the fast food business.
In story after story, he portrayed the “moments of truth” between customer and customer-facing employee, driving home the point that the long term success of a brand hinges on the quality of the interaction at the “counter.” At Au Bon Pain, Schlessinger began to educate employees on the “value of the customer.” A woman may stop in for coffee and pastry on the way to work and spend $4. Yet if that woman returns 3 days a week, she spends $12. Over 50 weeks in a year, she’ll spend $600. And over 5 years, her loyalty will add up to $3,000. Schlessinger encouraged his employees to look at customers as a long term revenue stream.
Then he discovered something that seemed to contradict the philosophy of every fast food chain.
While most fast food restaurants are designed for interchangeable minimum wage employees, Schlessinger discovered that customer service levels went up when he rewarded employees with responsibility, provided a great work environment, and tools that empowered them to deliver customer satisfaction. When employees like a company, they stay longer, learn more about the products and services, and have a personal stake in making the customer happy. Schlessinger’s revelation is spelled out in the book he co-authored, “The Service Profit Chain.”
Of course, there’s a lot of moving parts in a program to deliver service excellence. A key part of it is providing tools that enable employees to work together better and that's where ECM comes in. Schlessinger emphasized the importance of giving customer-facing employees capabilities to help them anticipate and deliver satisfying responses to customers. This is something that IBM has put a lot of thought into as well. One of the tools that IBM has been providing for 20 years is IBM Content Manager OnDemand, a platform for managing customer inquiries on the invoices and statements they receive.
At IBM’s Information On Demand (IOD) conference (Nov. 4-7), you can attend sessions on Content Manager OnDemand, which gives Customer Service Reps (CSRs) in the call center access to images of the invoices and statements that customers most often call about at a single click. Now customers and CSRs are looking at the same documents. For example, attend session ECG-1518A – “Optimizing Customer Communications and Self-Service With High Performance” and make sure that your organization has the Social tools to deliver real customer service excellence.
If you have already signed up for IOD, use the IOD Agenda Builder.
If you haven’t signed up to attend yet, visit the IOD registration page and I hope to see you there!