I sat down today to write about a truly amazing customer service experience I just had with a company I love. But as I reflected, it occurred to me that an even better experience would have been no experience. The better customer experience would be for everything to work without a hitch, for me to never reach out to the customer service team.
Customer Service Managers across the globe are frustrated. They are tasked with the job of reducing contacts, reducing costs, while improving the customer service experience. But no matter how amazing they are at fixing problems and leading teams, it doesn’t achieve their end goal.
Most of the problems that cause customers to contact customer service are outside the direct control of the Customer Service Team. The root cause starts in another department. And that other department doesn’t feel the same level of pain. They may not even be aware of the issue or the true impact on customers.
What’s a Customer Service Leader to do?
The answer is become a true customer advocate. You must mount a long term tactical campaign that ensures your customers are heard throughout your organization. It is your job to educate your organization. Then you can partner to move forward with changes that will really reduce customer contacts.
Here are 5 things you can do to get started on your campaign.
1. Educate Your Organization - Regularly publish a C-Level Report on why people are calling customer service. Keep it brief as C-Level doesn’t have time for a long report. At the most basic include a chart of call types followed by bullets of opportunities and notes about changes and recent trends. If you don't currently publish a report, click the link below for a downloadable example of a very basic C-Level Report that will get you started.
3. Quantify - We get a lot of emails about…. has no credibility outside your doors. Put a number to it. If you have a CRM, step back to make sure you are getting meaningful data. If you don’t have a CRM, don’t be afraid to bootstrap it. An easy way is to use a free tool like Survey Monkey and have your reps fill out a brief questionnaire after each contact.
4. Break It Down - Break the problem down into bite sized chunks. Warning, this will be a lot more work. But if you do the work you will get the attention you deserve. For example if 12% of your calls are product complaints it is hard for anyone to take action on such a broad topic. But if you can break it down to product categories or even specific products it is a lot easier to get action. If you can break it down even further to identify an actionable task, such as the complaints about jackets are because of the sizing chart and the complaints about tents are because of missing parts, you are golden.
5. Sell, Don’t Demand –You need partners to make progress. And those partners have a very full plate. Once you have the education process in full swing you will still need to sell your partners on the value of investing their time. What’s in it for them? Have no doubt, everyone in your organization believes in a great customer experience. But at the same time they only have so many hours in the day and a full plate. Why should they put your recommendation on that plate?
Your most important tool is your persistence and patience. Being a true customer advocate is not an easy overnight win. It is a long term strategy that requires commitment and investment. You will get frustrated, and when you do just close your eyes and image your customer service center with no phone’s ringing and no emails piling up. Imagine the best customer experience possible!
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