5 Tips for Globalizing Your Consumer Care Systems

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Over the years, our team has worked with brands working to globalize their consumer care systems. These projects can range from the seemingly simple (“it’s time to have the US and Canada on one system”) to the clearly challenging (“we need to integrate 80+ markets on a single platform”). No matter how big the challenge, our team has identified a few common threads across most globalization projects. Here are some tips for any team planning to bring multiple markets onto a single system.

1. Start with the end in mind when it comes to data 

Are you working to consolidate systems so you can enable global reporting? Is your mission to ensure regulatory compliance? Or are you establishing a base for markets and regions that operate autonomously and now need consumer affairs capability? Staying focused on what your brands need is obvious, but particularly essential when it comes to setting up your data structure – where rework can require substantial effort. Defining a global subject hierarchy allows issues and consumer feedback to be tracked across markets. Depending on your approach to ERP systems there may be a global product hierarchy to leverage so that your reporting lines up to shipment data and how your business is organized. Driving your data design with clear requirements makes every step that follows easier.

2. Consider global contact handling processes 

While markets, consumers, expectations, and languages vary around the world, the reasons consumers reach out to brands are surprisingly similar. One of the best ways to kick off a globalization process is to review the reasons consumers contact you in different markets, and the different approaches used to address the questions, complaints, and compliments. With that as a starting point, can you design a common contact flow or handling process model? A standard model, even if not all markets use the entire process, can greatly simplify your documentation, training, and ongoing administration.

 3. Segment your users, but carefully 

Having different user groups for different functions is a well-established practice, many companies give different access rights to agents, supervisors, quality teams and so on. This can be further complicated when you introduce multiple countries, languages, and work that may be organized along different lines. Do you want quality users in one region to see data from other regions? Should your team in Brazil be able to see US products? Does your European team work across all EU markets and need access to all products and locations, in English? There are no universal right or wrong answers to this type of question – but it can take real effort to find the best answers for your situation.

4. Plan your system administration 

All software requires ongoing attention and consumer care systems are no different. From updating hierarchies to loading new templates, creating routing rules and setting up new users – it takes work to keep software and operations aligned. We generally see multinational consumer care operations take one of two approaches. Centralized or global system administration ensures that a single person or group has oversight of how the system is configured and can drive consistency over time and across groups. However, in some cases this can mean that all of the work is conducted in a single market and both the understanding of different country needs (and languages) can be a challenge. On the other hand, other teams de-centralize their administration, potentially putting this work “closer to the consumer” where local language and operating needs are well understood. Obviously the challenge in these cases is to be clear where global consistency is needed and have a mechanism to ensure it is maintained.

5. Create a decision-making framework 

Once the global project team goes back to their day jobs and you settle into a new steady state, perhaps the most important factor in determining the ongoing success of your global system and operations is how decisions are made. Subject codes are an excellent example. Having gone through the process of defining a global hierarchy, defining, documenting, and training on your codes – how do you decide to add, change, or eliminate codes? If any market or group has the power to create a new code can you ensure that the number remains manageable and the definitions are clear? This kind of challenge is relevant across a range of system questions, from default settings to the use of template responses. Establishing some governance mechanism and process in advance will ensure that while you face contentious decisions, you are able to move ahead with decisions in a way that all parties understand in advance rather than getting stuck.

While the work to bring together consumer care operations onto a single set of systems can be challenging it can be very rewarding. The business benefits can be very real and the chance to better understand different approaches, countries, and teams from different parts the world offers a wonderful learning opportunity.

Interested in a deeper discussion around customer care strategy? Reach out to the experts at Astute today.