To go above and beyond, client service organizations should prioritize experience and quality of work in the long-term over churning through projects as quickly as possible.
Enterprise organizations continue to react to challenges spawned by COVID-19. The pressure to innovate remains as business leaders navigate personnel changes in the wake of the Great Resignation and feel the economic pressure of an impending recession. For many, the end of 2022 is crunch time and the expectation is that every team, internal and external, is positively contributing to larger business goals.
For both B2C and B2B organizations, there is a renewed focus on customer experience. I’ve noticed vendors and solutions providers are expected to act as business partners zeroed in on driving business impact. Sales, marketing, and customer service are slowly merging into a single function as enterprises seek to build lasting client relationships.
To keep in lockstep with our clients’ changing expectations, we at LatentView Analytics regularly deploy a Voice of Customer survey. In analyzing responses from more than 80% of our customers, we learned that although the working world continues to evolve, customer sentiment has remained in line with a few core values.
Here are three key next steps you can take to prepare for economic instability and strive to provide excellent customer service:
1. LEVERAGE DISTRIBUTED TEAMS TO BRING BETTER IDEAS TO CLIENTS
At the beginning of the pandemic, many managers were forced to abandon the assumption that excellence can only be achieved when employees work together in the office. Today, distributed teams are the norm, but how can leaders maximize knowledge-sharing and ensure ideas are cross-pollinated? First, start by defining goals and objectives for your distributed team. Every member should understand what the team is trying to achieve for the client. Next, ensure your team has access to the proper tools for work management, communication, and collaboration.
However, proper management goes beyond just having the right technology. As a leader, you should also ensure meetings are managed strategically with clear agendas and action items. With remote, distributed teams, it’s easy to end a video meeting with no clear tactical delegation or timelines. In addition to having team meetings, encourage and participate in regular one-on-one meetings. Some team members may not be comfortable in larger settings and smaller meetings can open the door to more ideation that can ultimately benefit the client.
2. OFFER CLIENTS BALANCED TEAMS OVER EXPERIENCED TEAMS
We have found clients prefer variety in where their teams work and continue to see value in diversely staffed teams. In the past, clients placed value on highly experienced teams that were able to drill down into complicated subject matter. However, we’ve found teams with lower average experience can perform better than teams that index heavily on experience. As a leader, try building teams that prioritize relevant skills over tenure.
Teams that have long-term experience but are stuck in legacy processes or mindsets can hamper innovation. Newcomers who may have not taken the traditional path (e.g., a developer who went to coding boot camp vs. getting a four-year degree) could provide a much-needed fresh perspective. Look to balance soft and hard skills when building teams. Having a team that is all experts in tactical work but is unable to communicate effectively with the client or approach situations with empathy is a recipe for failure. Look for team members with T-shaped skills who have both deep expertise and are also adept at collaborating and communicating with others.
3. CONSIDER THE VALUE OF DIFFERENT-SIZED TEAMS
Across client-facing industries, staffing teams appropriately is a challenge. Do you increase the size of your teams but have employees work on more projects at once? Or do you staff client teams with a smaller number of employees that have a pointed focus on that client’s needs? According to LatentView clients, overall project management was 10% higher when the team had a minimum of 10 members, compared with smaller teams of less than six members. But is bigger always better? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a rule that if two pizzas can’t feed the whole group, the team is too big. What is best really depends on the organization and project.
Team size is not black and white, and leaders should understand the value of building different-sized teams. The challenge is if you add too many people, decision-making can be hampered—especially if the team is top-heavy with managers all vying to be in charge. If you add too few people, you may miss out on the valuable knowledge of someone who is left out. Clearly define the project scope and determine what tasks and skills are needed to accomplish the objectives. Next, estimate the time and budget it will take to accomplish all of a project’s individual tasks, which you can use as a barometer to dial the team size up or down.
In contrast to previous quarters, we are seeing the definition of going above and beyond change for clients. In the past, a responsive team that occasionally went beyond the scope of work, and cross-pollinated ideas from other projects, was considered excellent. Today, these client-focused experiences are table stakes and have become the expectation for most.
To go above and beyond, client service organizations should prioritize experience and quality of work in the long-term over churning through projects as quickly as possible. To be considered an excellent client partner in 2023, deliver tangible business impact, encourage teams to frequently share ideas, and excel in project management. This, in turn, can support enterprises’ changing preference for solutions providers to be a part of the business, committed to driving organization-wide goals.