Designing A Customer Service Model That Doesn’t Break The Bank
Managing interactions with your customers is not cheap. If you are managing customer service internally then you will require the physical space for a contact center, the software and systems, and the people. If you work with a specialist partner then you need to agree on rates, expected service levels, and all the metrics you will use to monitor their performance.
It can be a complex and costly operation and many board level executives ask whether all this investment can be justified. All we need is a contact center right?
So how can the board really evaluate what is needed to create a fantastic customer experience without the cost of providing customer service being a drain on the business?
I believe there are five key areas that senior executives should explore before designing a customer service solution. Let’s explore each of them:
1. Focus: There is a common perception that you need to be out there on every social media channel, answering tweets and adding every new popular network, but stop for a moment and think. Are you spreading your focus too thin? Take a look at successful companies such as Amazon or Apple. They focus on a small number of channels and excel in that space - they are not answering comments on every network. Focus can improve the customer experience (CX) and reduce the need to be seen everywhere.
2. Partners: Some leaders insist that the customer interaction must be retained in-house yet modern CX is multichannel and 24/7. A partner can help you by introducing their experience with other brands (and industries) and if they have a global cx network then you can use offshore talent in a different time zone to manage nights. A partner can help you to stay one step ahead by keeping you informed of developments in CX.
3. Know the value of great CX: Determine whether your customers are happy with the service they are receiving and how that impacts their behavior. Is it easy for a customer to switch immediately to a rival if they are not satisfied? Executives at the Danish toy company Lego know that they have a reputation for great service and they asked a consulting firm to explore if they were spending too much on CX - could they just spend less and offer adequate, rather than great, service? They found that investing more in CX created advocacy - people loved interacting with Lego so much that they promoted the brand to their friends. That’s a valuable insight.
4. Intelligent Automation: Great CX is not just about the contact center. Customers want answers or help. How can they get that help? If a customer asks Alexa for help with your product then does Amazon have useful information it can share? If the customer asks Google for help then does it return useful videos on YouTube? If the customer clicks help on your app then can a bot be used to capture all the initial information before handing over to a human when the discussion becomes more complex? There are many ways that self-service and automation can be used to improve the customer experience and it’s low cost - you only need to make an explainer video once.
5. Redefine Your Customer Focus: Interacting with customers is not just a customer service process. Your sales, marketing, and advertising teams all need to interact with customers and potential customers. Can you blend all customer-facing activities so there is less of a distinction between sales and service? Think how the roles can be combined - use upsell and cross-sell techniques so the contact center can generate revenue and not just be seen as a cost.
All five of these points are important when planning a customer service strategy, but the final one deserves more thought before you even commence on your customer service design. It means that you need to break down silos outside of the customer service team - customer interactions are about much more than just calls into the contact center. Every interaction matters.
I’m going to continue on this boardroom theme for at least the next couple of articles so watch my LinkedIn for the next update. Feel free to also use my LinkedIn if you have any questions or just want to get in touch.