How do you know how well your customer service offering compares with best practices? How do you know what to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors? To answer this question, I put together a Best Practices Framework that you can use to assess your current capabilities. There’s an associated tool in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows you to evaluate yourself against 150 best practices, organized in eight different categories grouped into the four dimensions of strategy, process, technology, and people. Here’s a quick synopsis of the eight categories:


  • Customer service strategy. What is your customer service strategy across all the communication channels you use to interact with your customers and how does that strategy incorporate the voice of the customer (VoC)?


  • Multichannel communication. Customers can engage with your customer service agents across traditional communication channels like phone, email, chat, and web self-service and social channels like forums, Facebook, and Twitter. You have to provide consistent customer service experiences across these channels. You also have to let customers to start an interaction in one communication channel and continue it in another. How well do you measure up against best practices?
  • Case management. Assess your ability to route, log, and resolve a case, including locating the right knowledge base article needed to resolve a case.
  • Field service. This includes the repair and testing activities typically done at a customer site. If your company supports customers in the field, include an evaluation of your field service processes.


  • Customer analytics. How well do you use reporting and analytics to measure your operations, drive personalized service, and act on exceptions?
  • Customer data management. Your organization is making decisions with customer data, so it’s critical that your data is accurate. This means that you need to have a single view of the customer and protect your data for customer privacy.
  • Technology infrastructure. These best practices involve managing customer service applications, maintaining system availability and reliability, and using sound project management practices.


  • People management. Employee management and motivation is the most overlooked category of business practices that will make or break your customer service initiatives. Pay attention to the culture within your organization and your leadership practices, collaboration methods, training programs, and performance measurement approaches.

Use this framework to pinpoint your customer service capabilities most in need of innovation during the next 12 months. Build an action plan to strengthen these capabilities and agree on metrics to measure success. And let me know what you think of this framework. Did it work for you?

Join Kate Leggett and other Forrester analysts on Wednesday from 1 to 2:30 pm EDT for Forrester's Customer Empowerment Jam – Empowering Customers Through Business Process Transformation.