5 Changes Needed for Best-in-Class Customer Service
We can easily blame the lack of executive support, high turnover and under-skilled, poorly-trained employees for less-than-stellar customer service; certainly these issues are notorious contributors to failure.
Truth is, however, outdated business views of customer service – and how that front-facing service is delivered – lurk menacingly in business processes and procedures. Sacrosanct are the views upholding the crippling “how we’ve always done things around here” mentality.
Sacrosanct views uphold the crippling “how we’ve always done things around here” mentality towards customer service
Perhaps the worst offender: a business unit that fails to change with the business environment (think social media’s role in customer service today versus just a few years ago).
So, to help managers loosen their white-knuckled grip on the safe, familiar and wholly unsatisfying approaches to meeting customers’ needs, I present five areas worthy of change.
Humanize call center metrics
Instead of focusing on length-of-time to do after-call work, the average handle time and the propensity to closely follow provided scripts for call center agents, develop metrics that promote relationships with the customer. For example: likelihood to remain a customer, probability of recommending the firm and number of recommendations from customers on social sites.
Develop metrics that promote relationships with the customer
Make it easy to reach a real person
Designing IVRs is tricky work. We certainly want make it easy for the customer to obtain automated information when that model suits them best. At the same, at every step, make it obvious how the can reach a real person, quickly. Don’t bury the option deep within the IVR; the message that burying the human sends: “We don’t really want to talk with you.”
Prominently display Customer Service information
On your firm’s website prominently display customer service contact information. Better yet, in the upper right hand corner of every page, install a live chat option that makes reaching an agent stress-free.
Remove internal communication barriers
For any employee directly interacting with customers, they should know the contents of any communication sent to the customer. A call center agent who isn’t aware of communications such as discounts, special events and promotions (as well as the goal of the message) makes your firm look unprepared – and will damage the morale of the call center team. The message: “We don’t care enough about our employees to communicate.”
Embrace Social Media’s Influence on Service
In Ted Rubin’s new book, Return on Relationship, he makes a compelling point about how social media has changed the way customers interact with companies. “Disparity between the customer experience in the social media channel and the customer experience in the traditional channel is a dangerous chasm,” Rubin explains. If your company isn’t listening to – and communicating with – customers in social media, you’re missing an opportunity to meet your customers’ needs.
From the top down, customer service must evolve. Gone are the days where volume, hold-times and conversions were primary metrics. Now, relationships are king – especially since, through social media, every customer has a bullhorn to amplify displeasure.
Through social media every customer has a bullhorn to amplify displeasure
Eliminate old-school barriers. Encourage, and lead by example, effective communication (both internally and with your customers). Enable your customer-facing teams to keep your competition behind you… by establishing a best-in-class customer service culture.
Want more? The series continues here: Leadership’s Essential Tie to Customer Experience and Employees
Drawing by Franco