The long-term objective of any customer service professional should be to assume more responsibility for customer experience. I have previously posted about the need for recognition of the variation in the skillsets of our customers (Customer Competency – Picking Up the Slack). We must be prepared to adapt to the ever-changing needs we are presented with while being flexible in our expectations for the customer’s role in resolution. How, then, do we operate our customer service teams to be prepared for the many customer issues and requests they may be called upon to resolve?
Be the Last Call
The traditional model of customer service utilizes a compartmentalized structure. The customer service representative has limited capability to assist with a narrow scope of potential aide. These employees are essential advanced internal operators that may or may not be able to handle specific concerns. We have all experienced the situation where we must explain our needs to multiple people before finding a resolution to our problem. Is this truly the ideal and most efficient approach for optimizing customer satisfaction?
I believe that a stronger model is to empower your representatives to be the final person with whom a customer will need to speak. Call transfers should be heavily monitored and acceptable only in rare circumstances. What this means operationally is that the customer service team takes on the responsibility of navigating the complexities of the business to find answers and seek resolutions.
We should not be afraid of making return phone calls to customers. ‘First Call Resolution’ is a popular concept in customer service that promotes resolving a customer’s issue during a single interaction. While this is a noble goal it can often mean multiple transfers, long hold times, and the need to repeat information to multiple parties. I prefer the ‘First Person Resolution’ approach. Customers should be clearly informed that their agent will be handling their issues and that any involvement with additional parties will be managed by the agent. This approach helps to build a relationship with the customer and minimize potential frustration. The key with this approach is to establish guidelines and timetables for future communication with the customer if the problem cannot be handled immediately. Then, seek to expand the knowledge and operational capabilities of the customer service team to meet a wider variety of needs. This brings us to our second point…
Be the Expert
We now return to the introductory premise premise of this article – we should be seeking to assume more responsibility for customer experience. I mean this in a very direct way. Customer service leaders should seek to consolidate information and increase the responsibilities of their department. This supports the objective of making your team the last call for customers. Representatives should be experts in the operations of their business.
While this may not occur overnight, it is the responsibility of leadership to increase the skill base of employees. Providing additional knowledge and training to employees is an excellent way to encourage employee engagement and increase employee satisfaction. The customer service team is often the front line of communication with customers. Presenting a strong and knowledgeable front line is both customer-centric and an excellent way to build trust with customers.
What do you feel should be the role of the customer service team in your organization? Leave a comment below.