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by Ian Moyse | @IMoyse | LinkedIn

By 2020 it is expected that customer service will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source : Walker ‘Customer 2020’ Study)

Customers perception of service has changed in the past 10 years as new mediums such as slick e-commerce (the Amazons of this world), social media and new technologies such as powerful mobile, anytime/anywhere devices have become the norm.

Many organisations have seen this as an opportunity to divest themselves from ‘real’ customer contact, seeing a cheaper broader route of interactions possible by hiding behind email, livechat, webforms and even social media.

We are all familiar with the web site with no phone number or it buried so deep that you need to be a Sherlock to find it! Typically only needing to find it when the supposed full self serve function falls foul and an exception case causes the customer to need ‘real human’ help.

Self service and new interaction methods are all well and good when they work.  It’s a very attractive proposition if you can satisfy 80% of your customers with 80% of their needs through more efficient mediums and thus reduce costs and allow you to serve more customers with less agents. Many business leaders are attracted by this panacea, that new technologies can drastically reduce your operating costs and allow you to scale beyond past expectations.

However at what cost?  LIvechat is great if it is effectively resourced with enough agents of enough knowledge to help the customer quickly and effectively. Artificial Intelligent bits are a great theory to reduce the human element further, if enough is invested for it to work effectively.

Many aspire to this, the Amazon type model and it can work, if you do it right. Unfortunately through most cannot invest enough to perfect this to the customers satisfaction and expectation.  They step in and switch to these new techs without a balance and step too far in!

The question to be asked is how many barriers can a company put between itself and its customers ?

First you remove phone numbers from the web site, you put self serve in place, hide behind forms and email only, perhaps allow livechat that is not resourced to be there when the customer needs. Should a customer manage to find a number and actually phone then you put them through a myriad of complex phone choices and stick them in call queues stating “were unusually busy at this time” thinking the customer won’t figure out you have minimal operators and are always “unusually busy”!  Should they get through you pass them from pillar to post, having to repeat their issue as their frustration builds.

God forbid they take to social media to try to get help as you don’t resource that enough to have it monitored and alerted upon so their complaint goes unnoticed and lacks a response, fuelling their fire and creating increased noise of your lack of service.

Sound familiar? We can all think of examples of this and unfortunately more of these than the good. When we do get a great response, a company that responds quickly, helps resolve and delivers; how many people do you tell. Usually with a ‘wow’ surprised response as we come to expect the poor and the average!

Customer expectations have changed and will not be changing back. We expect high service, ability to self serve and the easy option to get human help when this does not work. Get this wrong and all your efforts and investment quickly come tumbling as customers take to social media and spread the verbal word of your badness.

Clear stats of the lack of what we should expect is rife;

75% of Agents believe it takes too long to reach a live agent (Source : Harris Interactive)

In 1 year, 67% of customers hung up the phone out of frustration (Source: American Express Survey)

27% of legal firms do not have a phone number on their web site (Source: Bound Law Marketing)

40% want a better human service (Source : Genesys Global Survey)

Automation and effectiveness, new tools and methods and self service is all find and great, but embody it with appropriate alignment to your investment and resources, not at the cost of the customer.  Improve effectiveness to better serve the simple, the mundane and the majority of repeatable actions, but allow for the exceptions to be catered for how the customer wishes and quickly. Provide a way to use the phone to contact you, an easy quick and simple routing of the call. Remove the customer obstacle of mis-navigation, text the phone journey as you would a web site journey and adjust it accordingly.

Phone service technologies in the cloud now empower personalisation, easy non technical configuration and give any business the power to delight customers instead of incite them.

Every wall between you and your customer is a wall they may choose not to climb to get to you.  Leave the door open for them to come in and engage in a way that they choose to.

How Many walls do you have?

Ian Moyse is Sales Director at Natterbox and a Non-Exec Director at Digital Leadership Associates

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AVANTAGEHeadquarters
Organically grow the holistic world view of disruptive innovation via empowerment.
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us
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GET IN TOUCHAvantage Social links
Taking seamless key performance indicators offline to maximise the long tail.

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