It’s probably happened to you countless times and you never really thought about it. You are trying to resolve some customer service issue and the service representative says something like “I’m sorry, I can’t do that from my system…” Maybe it’s changing a flight or getting a return processed or getting a refund or trying to change a service plan (like cable or your cell phone) and the person just can’t help you. Sometimes you get passed on to the next person or a supervisor or you get angry or some combination of those. Once and a while a clever rep knows a way around the problem and tries to get things resolved. Other times you can hear the exasperation in the person’s voice. The exasperation that the person genuinely wants to help you but is powerless to do more than pass you on to the next person or give a really lame answer.
These are all example of companies not letting their employees succeed.
When employees fail, so do customers
Now think about those times when you’ve hit those customer service roadblocks. Now think of the times when you’ve wound up feeling good at the end of the process and the times you have felt bad. What made the difference? More importantly, how did you feel about the company overall and would you recommend that company to a friend?
The companies where you get the problem resolved but it takes hours on hold, talking to supervisors, and a level of frustration that could be reserved for a minor level of Hell aren’t going to be on your “recommended” list. Then there are the companies that find a way to resolve the issue and make you feel awesome in the process—those are the ones we rave about. There are airlines you won’t fly, companies you won’t do business with and stores you won’t visit all because of one (likely more) bad experiences. Likewise there are the companies that you might go out of your way to do business with just because…
Employee success and failure: what’s the difference?
Sometimes—heck, most of the time—the original reason a representative can’t do something for a customer was a good one. Maybe there were errors or too much money being lost or accounting rules or even IT just said this is how it’s going to be, whatever the reason no one has bothered to change and adapt. Maybe CSRs are penalized for sending customers to supervisors so they tell customers that there are no supervisors in the building (Yes, I have actually been told this blatant lie by several representatives) so the customer will accept a call back at a later time. Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a good solution, to me. No one has bothered to ask employees what is getting in the way of them providing good customer service. Sure, some employees don’t really care, people just in it for the pay cheque, but lots of other people do care and would like to help.
Maybe it’s time you asked them.
The process of service design
The idea of taking a more holistic approach comes from the Service Design concepts found in the book of the same name. Service design isn’t just about service reps or just customers or technology, it’s about seeing how the big picture and all the details between work in concert for better results for everyone. In this case making sure that customer service reps can actually provide real service to customers doesn’t just keep customers happy, it makes your employees more successful as well.
Which turns out to be good for everyone in the end.