Monday, May 07, 2018

Dimension Four: The Tools

Implementing customer service programs require resources or tools.

Tools are specific applicable arsenal at your disposal to act and to achieve results.

The modern age equips you with so many tools depending on the seriousness or commitment your organization has to customer service.

Tools must have a specific purpose and application.

Since the use of tools may mean investment or cost, it must be use effectively and for the right reasons.

Purpose of Tools

The concept of tools is as unique as the people or organization using these tools.

What can be a simple checklist to one can be a quality control tool to another?

Customer service does need tools. Tools are use for the following varied purposes.

Here are some of the most significant ones:

  • aid in implementing and documenting feedback mechanism

  • help manage business and know how the business is going

  • maintain the integrity of the process

  • maintain the quality of service delivery

  • help deliver and confirm delivery of service

  • aid in managing and developing the service team

  • make customer interaction less stressful for both service people and customer

  • secure and validate information and transactions

  • communicate to customers, to partners, to shareholders, company officers, and even the general public
If you are not yet sure if you are actually acquainted with the tools I'm talking about, here's a short list of some of them.

Communication Tools

  • Phone

  • Fax

  • Email

  • Internet/Website

  • Mobile phones

  • Postal Mail

  • Advertising

  • PABX
Product/Service Delivery Tools
  • Technical Tools

  • Service Vehicles

  • Website

  • Postal Mail

  • Monitoring/Feedback Forms

  • Service Checklist

  • Administrative/Management Tools

  • Business Plan

  • Budget

  • Financial Statements

  • Manual of Procedures

  • Manual of Operations

  • Standard Operating Procedures

  • Service Agreement

HRD/Training Development Tools
  • Job Description

  • Skills/Knowledge Inventory

  • Customer Satisfaction Surveys

  • Training Needs Analysis Questionnaire

  • Recruitment and Selection Manual

  • Customer Relations Tools

  • CRM Software

  • Customer Database

  • Process Flow Charts

  • Monitoring/Feedback Forms

  • Incident Reports

  • Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Although, there is almost unlimited sources of tools in the market the choice really will be based on your own realities and what you define is the most cost-effective for you.

There's a catch! You need to learn how to use them!

The Most Widely Used Low-Cost Tools Today!

Let us take the most effective and the most applicable to most small enterprises.

Survey FormsIf you do a poll of outlets in a mall, more than half of outlets don't have a survey form to deliberately capture data or information about their walk-in customers.

With printing and printers getting cheaper, businesses still don't take data mining seriously.

After all that hype through the years of customers being important, few businesses actually have the willingness or common sense to classify customer data in the same category as their account receivables.

The really strange thing in marketing is that the most successful businesses seem to be the ones with the system, tools, people, culture and attitude to make customer profiling work for them.

Survey forms don't have to be long.

A survey form half the size of an A4 paper can get enough information if you know exactly what you want the data for.

Customer Data/Info Capture forms/DatabasesWill you recognize a database if you saw one?

Chances are if your accounting section or accountant is using a spreadsheet, you will probably have a set of database somewhere in your PC.

Your sales summary in Microsoft Excel is a database.

Your mailing list is a database.

Your accounts receivable if organized in a spreadsheet is a database.

The key is to understand the logic behind the way the data in the database is organized.

I can go on and on about how database can be use for a lot of things but that will mean writing a whole section altogether.

I'm writing a separate e-book on using database in support of customer service. You can check that out.

You'll get a preview of that e-book from my website. Chances are I'll package it in portable digital format or PDF. The good news is the first edition will be free!

So keep logging on or simply subscribe to my newsletter.

Standard Business Forms (sales, accounting, service)

Let's run through several most common bunches of paperwork you take for granted that says so much about your customers.

Let's take your garden variety delivery receipt.

What do you normally get from your delivery receipt?

Most of the delivery receipts are actually standard forms created by your printer rather than by your people.

This means the data you get from them are mostly very common.

A typical delivery receipt form allows you to get the following data: delivery receipt serial number, date of delivery, name of customer (probably with address and contact information), description of whatever is being delivered (it might include details about warranty), value of the goods, payment or sales document reference, name of person or office suppose to receive the item described, person preparing the form and the person who actually delivered the items.

Now let's take your common official receipt.

Your common official receipt has the following data: official receipt serial number, date of transaction, mode of payment, name of paying customer (You sometimes don't bother getting contact information anymore and worst is you only get a big letter "C".), amount actually paid, description of item bought, name of person receiving the amount and maybe some notes about order slip or warranty.

How could very common forms like these generate a profile of customers?

The forms themselves will not reveal anything yet.

The data in those forms however will reveal a lot about the specific transaction in the form and eventually about the customers involved in the transaction.

The data themselves will not be of any use unless organized in a structured form.

This data in structured form is what we normally refer to as a database.

Office Productivity Software

In my eleven years working and talking about technology, I still see and witness the most incredible applications of information technology.

My amazement is not on the new things that are being introduced in the market but by boundless possibilities users find in the technology.

Take for example our common, garden variety Microsoft Word.

If you ask the more experience user why they want the new version, they would say along the lines of: "It's got five thousand more features than the last version."

If you ask exactly what features they are referring, they would say along the lines of: "I'm not sure. I have not tried any of it yet!"

My affair with Microsoft Word is around the lines of no more than five hundred features in the last five years and probably less than that for Microsoft Excel.

This number is less than five percent of the features you will see described in a manual.

With that number alone, I had created and managed sales campaign, mail campaign, fax campaign, product launching and more than five thousand templates of letters responding to complaint from Customers.

Believe me, I did not get this through training, but through sheer nerve-wracking necessity and continuous crisis management of marketing campaigns for the last five years or more.

A cursory exploration in Microsoft Excel would have indicated that listing names and addresses would be simpler in spreadsheets than in word-processors.

Not only that, you can actually have a cost-efficient scheduling and mail delivery system if you organize by district, city, block or street the list created by your assistant.

You'll have a good mailing list to boot for the courier service to use to have recipients sign actual receipt of the mail.

Somehow I have managed to accomplish the following using simple office productivity software:

  • Organize information about Customers.

  • Plan and implement effective marketing or sales campaign.

  • Design inexpensive advertising copy for products.

  • Analyze revenue, net profit and costs to help start a business plan.

  • Use simple software to manage time and projects.

  • Establish simple credit and collection schedule.

You will most likely have a PC in your office or at home.

The least you can do for your business is learn how to use it creatively and to the hilt!


E-mail marketing is one of the most effective business tools in the Internet today.

Although the leverage you get from this marketing tool is great, it is currently deluge by the notoriety of Spammers.

Autoresponders are simply automated systems that send email messages triggered by you or by someone sending an email message to your autoresponder account.

It is an automatic follow-up system you can use to respond to someone requesting information through a form in your web site.

Autoresponders can be programmed to send instant or preset messages at specific timed intervals.

You can send your messages any time 24 x 7 to anyone emailing to your autoresponder account.

I have used autoresponders for several applications.

Currently, I'm using autoresponders for:

  • Online seminars and trainings via email to prospects who register via a form in my website.

  • Answering frequently asked questions about services.
  • Confirming schedule via email of job applicant's interview for the week.
  • Building Opt-in List of prospects for our live seminars.
  • Building Opt-in List for a newsletter.
Some applications I have come across are the following:

Reinforcement Programs
Normally use to motivate sales staff, affiliates and new Customers.

PreSelling or UpSelling

When you have products or services allied or complementing those previously sold to Customers, you can use autoresponders to follow up on Customers and offer these products or services.

Bulletins and Updates

Whether they are prospects, Customers, sales people, tech support or affiliates, you need to be in constant contact.

You have to do this on autopilot so you can do something else like improving products or services or creating new ones.

Advertisement Tracking

To be able to know where your traffic is coming from or from which ad and web site they are getting information, you need a system that captures information from visitors.

You can always use autoresponders to capture membership or subscription via a registration form in your website.

If you think email is a strategic tool for you, you can take extra time to sign-up for free lessons on using autoresponders.

These lessons will come to you via your email.


The Internet when it started did not have the color and dazzle of most web sites we see today. 

It was just plain text. 

It was plain and often times cryptic messages on a great black screen.

The only reason people got or logged into the Internet was to grab or receive information.

It is not color, picture or sound that people pay access to the Internet. It is information.

Even the most bland or plain looking website will be inundated with so much traffic if it offers the most needed or critical information.

Information is the real commodity in the Internet nothing else.

The effectiveness of your web site can be measured. How?

  • The most obvious is the traffic count.

  • The next is the number of downloads.

  • Then by the number of emails you receive because of the site or your subscription service.

  • The number of orders actually credited to the web address.
Not all of the above tools will apply to you. You will have to do a bit of experimentation using some of these tools.

You must come up with a way to measure the effectiveness of each. Don't rely on opinion too much.

The reasons I got proficient with any of the above tools was that situations have forced me to learn to use them and eventually rely on them in some phase or aspect of my job.

Once you get good results in any of these tools, you will never go back to doing things the old way.

Trust me. The cost savings and the opportunities that will open up to you using new and better tools are really worth the effort and time learning them.

1 comment:

chandra said...

That was awesome! Probably one of the more interesting reads in awhile. Excellent points written from a experienced geek!

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