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Why customer service is failing and why it's time to turn it upside-down


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We’ve had a think about how a “good” customer service organisation can become more like one of these “outrageously brilliant” service disruptors, and we reckon it comes down to doing six things differently. Take a look at this Slideshare to see what those six things are.

Published in: Business
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Why customer service is failing and why it's time to turn it upside-down

  1. 1. Why customer service is failing and why it’s time to turn it upside-down.
  2. 2. There’s no nice way to say this: Customer service, on average, ranges from disappointing to
  3. 3. The ‘good’ news is that expectations are really, really low. When an issue comes up, we all expect to be thwarted, delayed, frustrated and ignored on our twisted route to resolution.
  4. 4. The bad news is that expectations are rising fast. Some innovators have seized market share quite visibly on the back of fantastic customer experiences and stellar service and support. We’re all starting to expect more.
  5. 5. Chances are, you’re being outplayed right about now by one of these disruptors. Which means you’re going to lose out to companies that don’t just ‘get’ great customer service but live it with every fibre of their corporate body – and deliver it with outrageous consistency.
  6. 6. Here’s the crux of the problem: In most businesses, the customer service agent works for the company.
  7. 7. In great customer companies, the company works for the customer service agent. And this ‘upside down’ approach changes everything.
  8. 8. Some are in consumer markets, some in B2B. Some sell shoes, others books, or flights or data centers.
  9. 9. But they all have one thing in common: They all empower their customer service agents.
  10. 10. It’s all about the people.
  11. 11. Great customer companies recognise that their entire service culture and every penny invested in customer delight comes to life (or dies a slow death) in the hands of the people who touch customers every day.
  12. 12. So they treat them like the most important people in the company. Which is exactly what they are.
  13. 13. Yes, the new customer service heroes have fantastic service cultures that start from the very top. There’s never any doubt in any corner of the business what the top priority is and how people should behave every day.
  14. 14. And yes, they hire better, train harder and monitor more closely. They only employ people with enormous empathy, pour their service culture into every one – and weed out the people who don’t get it.
  15. 15. But then they do something else: they really give their customer service people the power to do their jobs.
  16. 16. Instead of tying their hands with rules, policies and productivity metrics, they free them to do what their hearts tell them; inspire them to do great things; and reward them when they do.
  17. 17. How do they empower their agents? We talk about this in a recent blog post, but it’s worth hitting the key points here.
  18. 18. Customer agents are empowered and encouraged to delight customers. Because they can't deliver great service with handcuffs on.
  19. 19. The knowledge of the entire company is at their fingertips. Because clueless support agents can’t help anyone.
  20. 20. To help them find and enlist the very best people in the company (often with some kind of social collaboration tool). Because no one is too important to help a customer.
  21. 21. So they can see a rich profile of each customer and their entire interaction history before they even open their mouths. Because there’s no excuse for ignorance any more.
  22. 22. By using self-service channels for the easy, routine stuff, agents have more time to dig into the trickier cases. Because customer service agents are far too important to waste.
  23. 23. Great customer companies tend to have great customer communities that weigh in and help each other out. Because happy customers are the best and smartest advocates.
  24. 24. That’s what an upside down service operation looks like. Led by empowered agents with the backing of the entire organisation and armed with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to create impossibly great customer experiences.
  25. 25. So let’s take stock. No matter what company or industry you’re in, you’re at a fork in the road right now. You can aim for ‘above average’ service for your market.
  26. 26. You can treat customer service people like low-wage, high-turnover phone-fodder. And you can try to simulate empathy while your competitors demonstrate it.
  27. 27. Or you can aim high, empower your agents, delight your customers and be the disruptor that eats all the market share.
  28. 28. This tirade was brought to you by on behalf of customers everywhere.
  29. 29. Click here to download our to find out what makes a truly stellar customer service team.