The Final Debate on Customer Service Philosophy
There are multiple philosophies on how to best provide customer service and support. Some companies focus on cost, making it their first priority to direct contacts to the lowest cost channel as frequently as possible. Others focus on the customer experience, seeking to balance efficiency with effectiveness, guiding customers to the best answer as quickly as possible. How do these philosophies compare?
An epic debate. What comes first? Cost? Or customer experience? These experts weigh in.
Customers most frequently judge the quality of your customer service in terms of availability, choice, and how quickly they get their problem solved. The elements of availability and choice together are largely the key drivers behind the need for multichannel support.
As companies develop their customer service strategies, however, once they’ve decided on which channels to serve, they reach a critical decision point: do we place primary focus on the customer experience, or the cost-per-contact?
Obviously, if you can always get your customers to the correct answer through self-help services, everybody wins. But some customers prefer the comfort of speaking with an actual person. Some customers like to track the status of their claim as it’s being worked, etc.
Essentially, there are too many human variables to try pushing customers towards a single, more cost-effective channel. More appropriately, customer service should focus first on the experience. By building trust with the customer early on, by providing exceptional experiences, they’ll come to trust your service, regardless of channel. So, if they’re eventually sent a support link taking them to the online self-help center, they’re more likely to trust the resource and continue using it in the future.
Last week, PhaseWare discussed the concept of the customer service habitat – the people, processes, technologies, and divergent demands making up the whole of the customer service environment.
The customer-first mentality recognizes that the habitat only thrives when customers succeed, and we can’t likely help them to succeed by forcing them to do things our way.
Again, remember the essential elements of customer services: a customer asks a question, an agent answers it. If we focus on the answering the question correctly, the first time, we’re well on the way to succeeding as a whole.
As a customer service and support software company, PhaseWare’s philosophy is simple: build the solution around the customer. And it’s our opinion that those solutions should, in turn, focus first on the customer experience.