Why allowing your customer service teams to be themselves is key to great service. Matt Lynch, CSO at Big Sofa explains.
Providing great customer service is tough. Customers are becoming increasingly demanding and have a huge amount of information available to them at the click of a mouse. They complain more. Many companies have responded by introducing sophisticated and detailed processes that leave little room for the customer service representative to use their own words, let alone their commonsense, in efficiently handling a customer’s issue.
While these systems are designed to mitigate disaster, they are not the foundation of successful, authentic customer service.
Authentic customer service occurs when there is a real culture of ‘how can we solve this customer’s problem’ rather than ‘how quickly can I get them off the phone’.
Customers are best served when they talk to a representative who works in an environment that allows them to be themselves, to use language they are comfortable with and have the confidence to find ways to answer the customers’ request or solve their problem.
In short, to have empathy with the customer, provide excellent service and, in turn, build trust in the organization, its products and services.
Now I’m not advocating that all customer service managers throw away their scripts and allow a free-for-all on the phones or email.
While that maybe the gold standard in the training room it isn’t really practical for most customer service operations. But there are two things that customer service managers can do to move towards providing authentic customer service.
Start by listening to the frontline. The employees on the frontline of the business – the ‘outside’ – are the best placed to identify where customer service is succeeding or failing. By reviewing existing systems and processes with those who can have most impact on customer experience – your frontline staff – you can rapidly identify what does and doesn’t work, and what can be improved.
This ‘outside-in’ approach turns traditional ‘inside-out’ strategy (management writes the script, customer service delivers it) on its head and recognizes that frontline staff is intrinsic to successful business improvement.
Second, use more than metrics to judge success. Too often metrics and mystery shopper scores are the only measure of success for customer service. This tells you ‘what’, but not ‘why’. To find out why a process is not working requires an understanding of what is happening at the point of interaction between the customer and frontline staff.
Authentic customer service keeps consumers happy and builds trust in your brand and organization. It’s not easy to deliver but the rewards are high.
About the Author
Matt Lynch heads up client strategy at Big Sofa.