Choice architecture

The strategic importance of choice in customer service

Have you ever thought of a Customer Service Manager as a Choice Architect? Or any other decision maker in a customer service? The thought definitely changes my way of looking at the importance of the role. After reading this blog post, about Choice Architecture, your view of the role probably will change as well. At least it will if you understand the strategic aspect of the role.

I keep thinking about how things work, and why things happen around us. This has led me to the second Nobel Prize winning principle. You can read about the other Nobel Prize winning principle here. This time I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it, since it became such a buzzword last year. The same year as it won the Nobel Prize. I’m talking about nudging.

I read the book written by the Nobel Prize winners Thaler and Sunstein about their research. Here is a description of the concept nudging. While nudging itself it very interesting I specifically got stuck on the concept of choice architecture. Which I introduced to you in the beginning of this blog post.

The choice architecture of a customer service

If you look at how you build a customer service, you are faced with choices you have to make. One of those choices is something I have introduced before. Whether you should choose an omni channel or multi-channel strategy, or maybe you will only offer customer support by phone.

The choice you make will end up being the choice architecture for your customer when they want to get in touch with you. The way you communicate to your customer about the choices they have when they need your support. Right here is where nudging could play a role. The more complicated this architecture is the harder it will be for your customer to solve their problems.

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Problematic choice architecture

I have a good example of a complicated architecture. Not long ago I had to help my mother because she was having problems with Adobe Reader. She had two accounts, one paid for and one free trial. The free version was causing problems for the paid version. I assumed it would be easy to contact their customer service. It ended up taking me more than ten minutes to find anything useful at all. The problem with their architecture was that they had hidden the main customer service options behind a confusing and complicated FAQ. So even I got stuck in a loop in their FAQ, trying to find a chat or phone number to get some actual help.

The sad thing is that this is not the first time I see a company hide their customer service. Having an FAQ or a “customer community” as the first option is becoming to common. I’ve realized how much this breaks my connection to a company because it’s so obvious that they do not actually want to help you.

Good choice architecture

But choice architecture of a customer service can actually present all options in a clear way. While still gearing customers away from the phone. Imagine on the customer service part of your website having everything clear. But by using graphical or typographic tricks highlight the channels you prefer they will choose. Maybe make some options easier for them to use without hiding behind the easy FAQ. Another option could be to write out an estimate of queue times for your different channels. Let the customer choose themselves.

The common critique for nudging is that it’s manipulation, that it assumes that people don’t know what’s best for them. But communication will always be flawed. By using nudge marketing maybe you, who should know your customer, can gear them into channels that they probably will make them happier in the end.

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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