Leaders, Does Customer Service Fix Failure or Build Success?
by Kate Nasser |
The Future of Customer Service & Customer Experience Without Silos
More and more C-Suite executives are seeing the business value of a super customer experience. Because B2B and consumer customers have easy access to more experiences and choices, customer experience is becoming a competitive differentiator.
Customer Service Teams
Will this be turning point of recognition that you have long desired?
Historically, leaders have viewed customer service as an expense that fixes company failures instead of brand building moments that contribute to business success.
They have poured resources into other aspects of customer experience (improved product design, redesigned sales channels) all with the view of reducing the need for customer service.
They have also looked for any way possible — from off shoring to automated reps in online chat sessions — to reduce the operational costs of customer service.
Now that customer reactions to those steps have been less than WOW, companies are reconsidering the business value of the culturally focused human touch in building company success. Who better to tap than current global customer service teams?
Customer service teams: Are you ready to embrace the changes needed to fulfill the new role?
Customer Service Leaders: Key Questions to Ready for Success
How many of your metrics are focused on measuring cost and justifying your customer service teams’ existence vs. measuring customer experience? Of course cost is always an issue. Yet in the new success role you will play, it only takes on meaning if paired with what you are delivering that the customers value.
Re-allocating Agent Time.
Customer service operations managers — how would you react if the leadership asked you to allocate agent time to participate in other customer experience activities — product design review, listening to focus group feedback, participating in projects to redesign the online customer experience? Would you want your agents to contribute to these opportunities or worry that that it would drain your department temporarily or permanently?
Networking to Build the New Role.
Customer service managers — are you currently networking with your peers in other customer experience departments? How are you actively working to break the silos and build success for the company with other teams involved in customer experience?
On customer service teams where there has been an extreme focus on cost metrics (e.g. average handling time), you may need to un-train and retrain agents for this broader role. Are you open to this?
Also, if you have also set the culture to be highly competitive between agents by publishing individual agent metrics, you may need to build collaborative skills to work with other customer experience teams and to focus all on unity of purpose.
This change is low risk and high return. There are many customer service teams who have met their performance metrics without agent competition and internal collaboration improves the customer experience.
OK customer service managers — now for the tough question. If leaders were to float the idea of reorganizing to integrate customer service teams into other customer experience departments, would you resist? This is difficult for it may mean a dramatic shift in your role and career.
Overcome the fear of this change by realizing the potential for your career in having exposure to these new opportunities. Just as your agents will flourish from this cross pollination of professional development, so will you.
Be aware of the signs that you are holding on and resisting change:
- Insisting it won’t work because the cultures and goals of the various teams are too diverse. Instead establish the new goal of a seamless customer experience and build one culture to match it.
- Foretelling catastrophe in operational performance if these changes are made. Performance has to match the newgoal!
- Interpreting the idea of reorganization as a condemnation of all your efforts to date
Address the last one by stepping up and proactively lobbying to replace the old fixing failure view of customer service departments.
Show leaders in your company that you and customer service agents can build bridges between all customer service & experience teams for the success of the company.
If you truly want to rid your customer service teams of the fixing failure role, step up and champion the idea of a seamless super customer experience.
The future of customer service and super customer experience will be built without silos. Customer service managers — why not lead the way?
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Super Customer Experience in Harmony With Customers
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service experience, teamwork, and leading change. She turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.