We all want demand for our products or services. This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities. But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services. Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects of the customer experience that surround the product or service itself.
In today’s COVID-19 world, organizations need to think more strategically about Demand Management, particularly for those types of demand – those reflected in the utilization of various customer channels. Customers can engage an organization via the web, the telephone, e-mail, social media, or onsite visits. But to think strategically, we have to ask some very basic questions first:
- What mix of demand for customer channels does the organization want?
- What mix does the customer want?
- How does your organization create consistency regardless of which channel is selected?
In working with our clients, especially those in the COVID-19 world that are trying to be effective despite having largely remote employees and having financial concerns, a key question that clients ask us is: How can we manage or reduce costs and still deliver a great customer experience…remotely?
While there is no one answer for any organization since each organization’s customer base, services, environment, mission, and goals may all be different, there are some Key Imperatives that any organization can use when crafting a strategy, and these Imperatives have a strong relationship to Demand Management:
- Know Channel Customer Costs: Understand key financial metrics such as cost per transaction, or cost per customer (per year or per lifecycle). By understanding these metrics, you can understand which customer engagement channels could drive up (or down) your short-term and long-term costs.
- Gauge Current Demand and Outcomes: Be clear on current demand levels and their relative customer success. Believe it or not, very few organizations can quickly and clearly tell you how many customer engagements they have via the web v. via phone. How many engagements do they have via e-mail versus onsite visits? And even if they can provide numbers such as those, they cannot provide you with good data on the outcomes of those engagements.
- Assess Consistency of Quality: Finally, understand the quality and depth of response to the same customer question when it is addressed across all the different channels. In order to manage demand, we need to ensure that there is consistent quality regardless of to which channel the demand may be shifted.
To be strategic about shifting customer demand in your customer service and experience channels during COVID-19, start with a clear understanding of these three Key Imperatives.