Enabling Customer Service

We live in the age of where “Delivering Happiness” is not just something Zappos does any more. Instead the mantra is one that’s influenced many (most?) other businesses in every sector and aspect of our daily lives, because it’s the only way to survive.

Without happy customers, your business will be dead sooner rather than later.

It’s evident that businesses are investing more and more resources in customer service / support. There’s happy (human) faces on homepages, feature copy that promotes their customer service and values that reinforce the commitment to make customers happy.

Customer service, support and success teams are growing. And importantly, I think companies have learnt both that you need specialists to run these teams and that every one in an organisation needs to adopt a customer-centric and -friendly mindset.

But the one thing I often see missing is the fact that the individuals who interact with the customer that needs service or support, hasn’t been enabled to truly deliver happiness to a customer.

In many cases, these individuals act merely as agents or messengers, where a manager or senior team member holds the keys to the happiness the customer desires.

A simple example in my mind is how a big, local fashion chain handles product returns in their physical retail places. There’s normally a couple of staff members available to do this and they’re able to handle 90% of the process, which is efficient and quick. And then they need to wait for a senior manager (normally just one available) to authorise the return. This results in the customer having to wait longer purely because there’s only one manager that can authorise the return.

Surely the better solution and customer experience requires that the other staff members are trained and entrusted to handle the full process? Surely if there was a control and / or fraud risk, there could be systems to identify and eliminate this?

But the answer should never be that the customer should wait longer to get the happiness they desire, because the business doesn’t trust the people on its team.

In SaaS I also see this often, where the the knowledge and power normally resides with the technical / product team.

Whilst I don’t think that this is on purpose, it is a case of support teams not necessarily having the technical skills to troubleshoot certain issues for customers and are thus dependent on the technical / product team for assistance.

But that’s a bit of a hostage-like situation, which ultimately renders the support agent unable to deliver happiness to the customer directly and immediately.

In this case, the solution should be to find ways to unlock technical value and enable the support team to deliver happiness first-time more often.

Customer service and support isn’t just about being a friendly face.

It’s ultimately about being the individual to deliver happiness to customers.

And to do that, we need to give our customer service and support teams the tools they need to get the job done.