BSBCUE203 – Prepare for Customer Engagement Copy
Element 1: Prepare for customer engagement
Performance Criteria Element 1
1.1 Obtain and study product or service details relating to customer engagement
1.2 Study prepared engagement guides or scripts
1.3 Locate sources of information that may be required to develop product and service expertise
1.4 Develop an understanding of enterprise policies and procedures and personal targets or key performance indicators (KPIs)
1.5 Develop proficiency with equipment and systems to effectively and efficiently manage engagement
1.6 Clarify details as required with relevant personnel.
Prepare for customer engagement
Obtain and Study Product or Service Details Relating to Customer Engagement
Customer service in business today is extremely important. Business operators and owners know that in order to succeed in highly competitive markets, more than just offering a product or service, is having excellent customer service and making it clear you care about your customers.
Customer service concentrates on being helpful, being friendly, making that extra effort to meet customers’ needs, as well as treating all customers equally and fairly. In order to provide the best customer service you can, you need to be familiar with the various customer contact methods you may need to use in your job role. Organisational documentation, policies and procedures are a good source of information that can help you understand customer service.
• Email and Electronic Communications
Email has overtaken regular postage in terms of customer queries and information sharing between a company and customers. Email allows a variety of information to be shared; from answering the simplest questions such as opening hours, to more complex issues such as policies and procedures that cover the business. The use of email in today’s businesses allows for a quick response to queries and concerns. It is also less time consuming then sending letters via post. Emails allow a great amount of information to be shared with the function of attaching additional documentation to an email. Furthermore, in using email addresses, it gives businesses a cheap alternative when it comes to sending out mass information or mass media relating to their business functions, changes, and sales.
Face-to-face communication will occur when a customer comes into the store or the office. Face-to-face customer contact is better for detecting a customer’s mood: happy, annoyed, angry, or satisfied. Face-to-face interaction allows for specific, clear, and detailed information to be shared between customer and customer service personnel. It entails a high level of active listening and communication skills in order to understand and meet the needs of the customer.
Facsimile, otherwise known as a fax, can be used as a tool for customer contact; however, it is used less often than other methods nowadays. Faxes are mostly used to send information such as tax invoices, order forms and sheets, and product information (limited amounts of). Sending faxes entails dialling a fax number (usually the number of the person or company you are sending the information to) from a fax machine. The information (a sheet/sheets of paper) you are sending is fed into the machine, which copies the information and the message is sent to the receiver and printed.
• Internal, External, and Outsourced Customers
The customers you deal with may be those that come into your business, others that you or other staff may go out to see or may even include any task, operation, job, or process that could be performed by employees within an organisation, but is instead contracted to a third party for a significant period of time. This is called outsourcing. The form of communication for these will be determined by the distance and organisational policy.
Another common method of customer contact, letters allow for general information to be shared.
Probably the easiest form of communication, the telephone is a quick way to communicate information between a customer and an organisation organisation. Organisational policy and procedure will highlight the telephone etiquette required from its employees.
Study Prepared Engagement Guides or Scripts
Contact guides or scripts are pieces of information designed to assist employees. They outline the features of a product and terms & conditions. If you’ve ever been called by a telemarketer, you can often hear when someone is reading from a prepared script.
Contact Guides or Scripts
The various types of contact guides or scripts will be highlighted below.
• Contact-Closing Technique
Contact-closing techniques refer to what methods can be used in order to close a sale, or to get a customer to agree to purchase the products or goods. Guidelines you may need to follow to try and close a sale may include:
○ Don’t overwhelm your customer by talking too much, they may lose interest
○ Give them time to think about their decision (adjournment close)
○ Offer the customer a limited set of choices (alternative close)
○ Explain how now is the best time to buy (best-time-to-buy close)
○ Show or demonstrate the service or product to them (demonstration close)
○ Close the sale on another day, not necessarily that day.
• Contact Flow
A contact flow or call flow is a guideline that shows you how you should be treating your customers during a phone call, from start to end. A well created call flow will have the customer’s best interest at heart and will emphasise the need of providing the best customer service.
• Features and Benefits of Service and Products
This is fairly self-explanatory and it refers to the scripts that are created which highlight all the features, the services, and products that your company sells as they can varey greatly. Some customers respond positively to some features where other customers may not find them appealing. It all depends on what needs the customer has. This highlights the importance of having a variety of products or services on offer in order to satisfy as many customers as you can, provided it is practical for the organisation to do so.
• Greeting Etiquette
Greeting etiquette refers to how or what approach you take when greeting customers either over the telephone or face-to-face. Do you:
○ Jump straight into talking about the product?
○ Do you talk and talk and not allow the customer to respond?
○ Do you use an unenthusiastic voice or tone?
○ Do you sound grumpy and unmotivated?
The answer to all these questions is NO!
Rather, remember to:
○ Have a smile on your face, because people can hear your smile
○ Use a warm, welcoming voice
○ Greet them, and ask them how they are doing “Good Afternoon Mrs Smith, how are you today?”
○ Allow them to respond and kindly respond to any questions they ask you
○ Once you have finished the greeting, then you can gently begin to explain the nature of your call, or if it is an in-store visit then attentively listen to any queries or questions the customer has.
These guidelines will be found on the scripts you may need to follow.
Scripts and guidelines are also created for pricing lists of the various products and services they have on offer. As well as having the prices there for easy reference, there are also guidelines on how to potentially reduce the price of the product or service to try and entice the customer. Furthermore, they may also be guidelines on what products you could potentially package together to gain the attention of the customer.
• Regulatory, Legislative, and Organisational Requirements
So whilst it is all well and good to sell goods and services to customers, it cannot be done in any old fashion. A variety of legislation, policies, and procedures need to be followed in order for business to run smoothly and to correctly make sales. For example, anti-discrimination laws are applicable during the course of business, where the business and its employees are obliged to treat all customers with respect and equality. If laws are seen to be broken, the company is liable to lawsuits, fines, and an overall negative image.
Due to these reasons, all business practices are guided by Codes of Practice which encompasses all rules and regulations that affect them. During customer contact, representatives must be reminded of the need to follow the Codes of Practices.
Locate Sources of Information that May Be Required to Develop Product and Service Expertise
The best way to gather information about product and services is to read up on those specific products and services. By doing this you are developing a resource of knowledge which can only be used to your own advantage when interacting with customers. When having information about services or products when talking to customers, it can show a level of professionalism and thorough product knowledge. This can contribute towards gaining the customers attention, trust, and then hopefully a commitment to the product and service you have on offer.
Sources of Information
• Brochures and Pamphlets
Depending on the range and the type of service or product that is on offer, as well as the size of the organisation, this will define whether or not a company has brochures and pamphlets available. Information that can be found in brochures and pamphlets include:
○ Product features
○ Product description
○ Eligibility requirements
○ Contact details
○ Additional information options.
• Campaign Briefs
Campaign briefs are usually conducted before an organisation begins a new major activity, for example, launching and promoting a new service or product. The campaign brief acts as an opportunity for the organisation to communicate to its employees as well as to the public, why the campaign has been put in place, their aims, and objectives of launching such a campaign for a particular product or service. A description of the product or service will also be given. This is an opportunity for you, as an employee, to gain some product or service knowledge that can then help you understand why your organisation sells such an item and thus allowing you to pass on that information to your customers.
• Internet and Intranet
An already well known source of information, the Internet and search engines are a fast way of generating a multitude of results and pages of information relating to the subject matter searched. An example of what type of information you may search for on the Internet can include finding the warranty conditions on a certain product that your company sells. By searching for the product by model or brand, your search will generate results, most likely linking you to the manufacturer’s website. By accessing the links produced in the search, you will then be able to browse the manufacturer’s website to find the warranty information you need.
The Intranet, on the other hand, is not as far reaching as is the Internet. The Intranet is a private, internal system used within organisations which allows information to be shared with employees. Each employee has access to the Intranet and to access the Intranet you will need to enter a username and password. Information that can be found on a company’s Intranet includes:
○ Company policies and procedures
○ Company announcements such as informing staff when the new rosters and work schedules are available
○ Access to information such as work rosters
○ Important dates such as deadlines for timesheets, dates concerning business shut-down during major holidays such as Easter and Christmas.
• Instruction or Product Manuals
Instruction and product manuals will give you detailed information relating to how a product works, what the requirements are in order for a service to be administered, and what procedures need to be followed when carrying out a service for customers. This source of information will be available with company procedure manuals. All employees should make themselves familiar with these manuals. This way each employee will have the right information on hand when interacting with customers and so reduces the risk of giving customers contradictory information.
Product and Service Expertise
Expertise that you will need to have to be best prepared for customer contact will include knowledge of the features and functions of:
• Goods, products, and services
• Private and public sets of benefits.
Organisations will have procedures in place giving employees the opportunity to develop their knowledge of all products and services offered by the organisation. Training opportunities will be made available to employees allowing them to become familiar with the business functions.
Develop a Clear Understanding of Enterprise Policies and Procedures and Personal Targets or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
To allow for the smooth running of the organisation, management will develop policies and procedures that need to be followed in order to achieve set goals and objectives. This then means that employees have a responsibility of becoming very familiar with enterprise policies and procedures. Employers also have a responsibility in that they make all policies and procedures readily and easily accessible to their employees. All relevant paperwork must be well organised and managed.
Keeping policy and procedures up-to-date should also be a priority for management. As time goes by, management will make changes to operational aspects within the organisation. These changes may be a result of:
• Increase or decrease in the organisation’s size
• The rapid changes in technology and the resulting impacts on how businesses function
• The changed capacities of the organisation
• The resources available for specific business functions
• The company’s mission statement and goals.
The types of policies and procedures a company may have are vast and varied. They can include:
• Adherence to scheduling
• Financial and decision-making delegations
• Referral and escalation paths (what needs to be done to resolve any issues or problems)
• Scope of the services to be provided.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Policies and procedures can have an influence on the development of KPIs. KPIs are a type of performance measurement which are used to measure an activity’s success. Success is usually measured by progress of strategic goals or the achievement of operational goals. KPIs tend to be specific to a job role or position. They are specific to a job role because each job position within an organisation contributes in some way towards the company’s goals and objectives.
As an employee, you must be clear on what your personal work targets and KPIs are in order for you to work constructively towards meeting set goals. Goals are set by management and they will be in line with the company’s policies.
Develop Proficiency with Equipment and Systems to Effectively and Efficiently Manage Engagement
Using technology and different pieces of equipment is something unavoidable in today’s work environment. From using a simple communication device like a telephone to being able to use something much more technical such as an information management system, depending on your job role, you will be expected to develop the ability to use a variety of equipment and systems as you work and as you interact with customers.
Equipment and Systems
When dealing with customers, these are some of the pieces of equipment and systems you may find yourself using:
• Computer and Telecommunications Equipment, which may be modified for use by people with a disability.
Under this category, you will find equipment such as:
○ Fax machines
○ Telephones/mobile phones/smartphone
Telephones may be available for use which have larger buttons which makes it easier for people with some sorts of disabilities to access and use. Where people with disabilities need to use keyboards and computers, they may have access to keyboards which are larger than your regular keyboard, or they could be smaller than your regular sized keyboard. It all depends on what their disability is.
Further to this, there may be language assisted programs which allows a person with a disability to speak into the language assisted equipment which in turn types out what they have said.
• Information Management Systems
Information management systems (IMS) are designed to store and distribute information on how to best manage an organisation. It can store a variety of information such as information on people, resources, procedures, and documentation. As these systems store a variety of data, it then becomes an ideal source of information on how to best manage the business. IMSs have the ability to create reports to help management understand information based on trends and patterns which can then aid in making decisions and plan business direction. IMSs can go so far as to create ‘what if’ business scenarios, and thus can go the extra mile in helping develop contingency plans.
• Workflow Management Systems
A workflow management system is a computer program used in organisations that manages and defines a variety of tasks which will lead to a final outcome or outcomes. These systems aid in reaching outcomes as specific processes and/or procedures need to be followed in order for a job to be finalised.
Take, for example, an accounting firm and what the possible process that employees need to follow in order to get a set of accounts approved as being completed correctly. A junior accountant will be given a task to complete a client’s accounts. Once completed, he/she will, by using the workflow management system, mark the work as complete and will submit it to their manager. Once submitted, his/her manager will check the work and do whatever additional work that needs to be done. If there are errors which the junior accountant needs to correct, the manager will use the workflow system to their part of the task and submit it to the partner or senior accountant for editing and finalising. This is done all whilst using the workflow system to manage the process.
Workflow systems are used within organisations as they contribute towards:
○ Increased productivity levels
○ Smooth running of internal operations
○ Using uniform processes and procedures that need to adhered to
○ Having a transparent and well-controlled system that is easy to monitor.
Clarify Details as Required with Relevant Personnel
People you may approach where information needs clarification include:
• Colleagues/team members
• Policy and procedure developers.
• A variety of communication methods can be used to engage with customers. The ones used will depend on what is being communicated as well as the numbers trying to be reached.
• Scripts and guides are created in an attempt to help customer service representatives to do the best job they can in terms of retaining customers and winning new customers.
• Having product and service expertise is an essential element of customer engagement. Therefore, read all sources of product and service information to help you excel in your position.
• Be well aware of policies and procedures you need to follow to get your job done correctly.
• Information management systems and workflow management systems are systems actively used by management to help control and collate information input and help create better workflow systems.