Guest post by Tristan Bishop @knowledgebishop. Tristan drives digital strategy at Symantec, using social media monitoring and Social CRM to capture customer commentary. He is widely considered to be a powerhouse of knowledge in the Social CRM arena…. and a super silly daddy. Tristan blogs at KnowledgeBishop.
For those that are wondering, “what the heck does customer service have to do with the sales and marketing cycle”? The answer is more than you probably think.
“Please state your date of birth.”
A few feet in front of me, an elderly woman looked up at a young cashier. Stunned and flustered, the elegant matron asked “Why do you need to know my date of birth?” The cashier deadpanned, “Halo 3 is rated M for Mature: I can’t sell it to you without entering a birthday in the system.” The grandmother sighed, looked down, and spoke her birthdate. She is 71 years old.
From retail to finance, Customer Service policies have devolved into absurdity. Earlier this week, I wrote about how my bank seems to have built “planned inconveniences” into their customer retention strategy. These two experiences demonstrate just how deeply the “Disposable Leadership” paradigm has polluted the service world.
I’ve recently begun to write about ways we can drive Renewable Leadership in a Disposable World. In this post, I want to suggest some ways in which a brand’s Customer Service practices reveal the sustainability level of the underlying business. Because my customer service experience is primarily with contact centers, the examples will come from that arena.
The disposable organization is optimized for quarterly profits, not long-term growth. For this reason, in the disposable enterprise:
- Average Handle Time (AHT) is more respected than Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
- Time to Resolution (TTR) matters more than Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- The cheapest possible labor is sought: Aptitude is a distant second to wage requirements
Because the goal is to control costs, not to build loyalty, the disposable customer service organization:
- Hides their 800 number and makes their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system impenetrable
- Requires the customer to repeat all their authentication tokens with each transfer
- Makes the caller regret they bothered, incenting them to never annoy the Contact Center again
The renewable organization is optimized for long-term growth and the health of all entities involved, including shareholders, employees and customers. For this reason, in the renewable enterprise:
- The customer service strategy is proactive and preventative, not “break-fix”
- The customer service group exists to protect (or restore) positive emotions toward the brand
- They leadership wants to “spray the new car smell” back on the Customer Experience
Because the over-arching goal is to build customer loyalty, the renewable contact center:
- Listens TO customers rather than reading AT them
- Keeps any and all authentication information and case records up on the screen during transfers
- Gives the Customer Service Representative leeway to restore happiness without escalations
Making the Shift
A renewable contact center rewards CSRs for delighting the customer, respects the customer’s time and drives retention. I know many of you work in customer service, and have ideas on how to drive renewable thinking into the industries that sorely need it. I welcome you to share other disposable practices you’ve observed, other renewable practices you admire, or ways to transition from the former to the latter.