The Future Customer Service

In this blog post I will gather insights from earlier blog posts and describe how these affect the future customer service. To reconnect to the core of customer service we will remind ourselves what service is. After that we will look at creating a winning process, what challenges we can see and technology’s role in it.

What is service?How does it affect the future customer service?

After a quick google search this is a good definition for the word service:

“A valuable action, deed, or effort performed to satisfy a need or to fulfil a demand

(source businessdictionary.com).

 

I choose to highlight the key things in the definition, which is valuable action and satisfy a need. This means that your customer will expect their needs to be fulfilled when they contact your customer service. You are also expected to deliver value with your actions. Dissecting the definition makes it clear that a lot of companies sadly are failing.

Bad customer service

We all have examples of companies whose customer service we think have failed us. My latest disappointment has forced me to educate myself on my legal rights. A train company is trying to force me to pay for a trip where I was stuck in the train for five hours. The heat was horrible, we weren’t given enough water, and the train felt very claustrophobic. The problems have just been building up after that trip. The train company’s customer service is almost impossible to contact, and they really don’t want to help.

Even if factors like long queue times and unhelpful agents affects our impression negatively, it will in the end be the intuitive emotional response that we will remember. Maybe these companies don’t really understand what service means? Maybe they don’t really care about delivering high standard service? Do they care about their customers? This has everything to do with the future customer service. While we see some companies are getting better at it, we also see a lot of companies who are failing. In an era of customer-centric business models, the companies who are doing a good job will use it to their advantage.

Good customer service

Problems are going to happen, but what matters is how companies deal with them. An example of a company that did a good job and left me with a good impression was an interior design store. Actually, I can think of multiple small interior stores that are doing a good job. These companies make it feel like they truly care about their customers. You are valued. It didn’t even take much for me to get that impression. They answered emails in a timely matter and they fixed the problem.

I will remember these companies as having great employees. Maybe the key takeaway is that big companies have something to learn from the small companies? But in future customer service, how can we insert the style of small business into large corporations? In future customer service can big companies just ignore the customer and still grow?

The Process is key to the future customer service

The key for a successful future customer service is to create a process that should have a good forecast of satisfied customers. Let’s think it through with the support of literature about forecasting and strategy. The problem we are facing is a highly unpredictable environment where communication problems and information asymmetry only amplifies the problem. You and your customer are expecting different things and because of communication problems the unpredictable only becomes harder to manage.

Strategic method

There are people out there who doesn’t believe in strategy. Saying that strategy is a waste of time. I think they have misunderstood what a strategy is. They mistake it for a plan. Below I have made a simple strategy for the future customer services in general. My recommendation is to read ‘Good Strategy/Bad Strategy’ by Richard Rumelt. By reading it you will once and for all understand the power of a simple but good strategy. The basic structure is like below.

The diagnosis (What obstacles are you facing?):
  • Unpredictable environment and information asymmetry.
The guiding policy (What key thing do you need to remember when plan your time?):
  • Technology and the right people. To choose an omni channel platform and use the expertise that the company behind the platform has. To use the technology to its fullest potential. Also make sure you have a good team of agents and team leaders who are fully engaged.
Basic but coherent actions (The strategy needs to be followed by actions that supports each other toward the policy) :
  • Define what a good customer service is for your company.
  • Work with consultants from the omni channel platform company to create a technology-based process. The process needs to be designed around the software not the other way around.
  • Hire and coach good agents.

Use forecasting to gather the right information

So clearly you need to gather some information before you can define what good customer service is for your company. One way to gather the information is by answering the questions below. I have formulated these through the different perspectives a forecaster use to make a sound analysis (read about forecasters in ‘Superforecasting; the Art and Science of Prediction’ by Philip Tetlock).

Outside view of the challenge
  • General market research; what does it say that people want from a customer service?
  • Your industry; what does it say that a customer service in your industry should be able to do?
  • What does general market research say about how your target group usually acts?
Inside view of the challenge
  • What do you know, based on experience or your own market research that your customer wants and needs?
  • Based on how many customers your company have, how many interactions do you think your customer service will have on a yearly, monthly and weekly basis?
  • Based on feedback from your customers what are there more complaints about?
  • What does your statistics say about your customer service? How are your chosen KPI:s doing?
Other perspectives of the challenge

Are there other perspectives that can give you insight into what your customer service needs? Could the software company give you some good insights? I am for example a Customer Success Manager at Connectel, and I’m here for your benefit. I’m not here to sell you yet another IT system. Rather I’m here to help you with the one thing I think about every day. Processes. I can be that other perspective your organisation needs to create a future customer service that is highly valued by your customers.

 

 

By now you should have all the information you need to create a choice architecture. The hope is that your created structure will overcome your problems with information asymmetry. Last thing to remember when you create the process; work to meet your customer’s expectations nothing more or less. There is no point in trying to exceed the expectations since your customer will probably not remember it.

The technology of future customer service

The harsh truth is that technology does not create success. There is a disconnect in what most people expect from technology and what it actually delivers. Technology is only the tool to create success, like a pen and piece of paper. First if companies understand what they can expect from technology is when we can start delivering value successfully.

Take advantage of expertise

Don’t miss the opportunity to work with the company that delivers your omni channel solution. While people have flawed expectations on technology they often think paying for the expertise of the software company will be a waste of money. You couldn’t be more wrong. These people, like me and my coworkers at Connectel, know what is possible and we know how to make your goals a reality. We keep up to date on the latest technologies and we try to come up with new creative solutions all the time. At least in my mind a well-built process is like art. It’s easy to say that we know the software better than anyone. Don’t miss the opportunity to discuss your process with us.

Contact us to learn more about our platform solution CEC (Customer Engagement Center). Together we can create a process that will be robust even in the future customer service.

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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