Help Needs HELP: 3 Elements That Will Save Your Customer Service
by Jack Calhoun, on Oct 2, 2020 10:58:19 AM
"Do not confuse customer services with customer service.”
– Bill Quiseng, Customer Service Speaker and Blogger
Recently, I needed help resolving an issue with my father’s estate. I needed access to an account that was only in his name. So, I called the financial planner who sold my father the fund. He told me the only way to gain access was to call the funds support number directly. I contacted them, explained the situation and asked for their help in gaining access to the account. I was sent forms I needed to complete. So far, so good. But, in the process of completing those forms, I found them so complex, I had to reach out to the company again for more support.
Well, it turns out that the forms were so complicated that even their customer support team could not explain them. I was then transferred to the legal department… where no one was available to accept my call due to the limited staff on hand as a result of COVID-19. I left a voicemail.
A few days later, an administrator in the legal department returned my call responding to all of my questions with a script. It turns out, they could not speak to me until the case went through probate. I was advised to contact the Financial Planner/Estate Attorney (another department with limited staff) who is required to take this issue through probate. This issue will take months to resolve.
Here I am, months later, and back to square one.
But, here’s the thing: We have all had an experience like this in one form or another – this is not a shocking story because we’ve all been through similar sagas in various industries. Where we learn about a process (that should be relatively straightforward) which ultimately breaks down and exposes a long, winding road riddled with speedbumps and stop signs.
So, how is it that we turn those experiences around to deliver… and participate in!... outcomes that also provide for a differentiated encounter?
Focus on the Customer Journey
It takes an end-to-end examination of your customer’s journey – from your processes, the people who execute those processes and the technology that supports them.
- Form Follows Function: As we take a closer look at process, we find that workflows and forms are designed around a multi-part analog paper form. Many times, these forms have no clear directions and guidance to decipher the insider jargon and regulatory language flooding the form pages. Sure, you can find ‘helpful’ and rather generic comments like “You must complete parts A, B and C” in the form.
However, those ‘helpful’, generic comments don’t necessarily translate when you’re speaking with a support team member. Moreover, the intentional design of process around getting a customer through the matrix of completing these complex, required forms is rarely a consideration…and it shows. Take the time to walk a mile in your customer’s shoes…and intentionally design the process you would want your brand to deliver.
- Knowledge is Power: There is an incredible opportunity to break down existing silos between your customer support teams and the knowledge they require to deliver differentiated service. Start with making the institution of internal alignment across your people, processes and technology a priority when making investments in your experience roadmap.
Achieving this alignment can be tricky, as all the pieces of the puzzle need to come together: from IT & Business to resource allocation, from training to data and application integrations. And, we know that there are other barriers that can make this alignment even more challenging, things like each department having their own applications which contain their department’s help and knowledge support tools. However, when research shows that shows that 32%of customers will walk away from a brand they love after a single bad experience, this kind of attention is crucial to stay vibrant, relevant…and afloat.
- Cross-Functional Experience: Here’s the rub - It is commonplace to find digital tools and channels for help and knowledge management trapped within departmental silos and their associated applications. Further, each of those application vendors have developed their own approach to customer service and knowledge management. Often sponsored at the department level, these help tools and associated knowledge sources rarely employ deliberate design, experience or outcome. The reality is that our customers, trading partners and employees work in cross-functional business processes…not in departments. And, when the curation of the customer experience has not taken this into consideration, you end up in a situation that will impact not only your reputation, but your bottom line.
Most organizations don’t realize the multiple barriers that exist in the delivery of ‘delight’ to their customers…or even that they exist.
Customer Service: Expectation vs. Reality
So what is the bottom line? Well, to put my experience into perspective, the issue I faced resulted in me finding out about a complex process in a frustrating way vs. the delivery of a resolution or outcome (which was to go through Probate, apply for and open a new account, transfer the balance to the new account, and then receive a new customer welcome kit (“new” customer – really?). Only then can the Estate liquidate the account.). Had the company I dealt with considered the outcome or experience of their customer, my bet is that there may have been much more ‘delight’ than speedbumps and stops along the way.
Organizations are in the midst of a Customer Experience revolution with unprecedented demand -and expectations- for a differentiated customer experience (CX). "More than 67 percent of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience." Thousands of organizations have had to rapidly shift to a digitally-driven operating model. Using the power of the NOW platform, Accelare can help you deliver a transformative experience to your customers. Contact us to find out how we can help!
Throughout your journey, visit our new page "Deliver Effortless Customer Experiences" to find resources and key insights from our team of customer experience experts to help you differentiate your CX and achieve transformative results!