Customer service is often seen as the last line of defense against consumer disappointment. Agents answering emails, phone calls, chat messages, and DM’s are tasked with the highs and lows of communication.
They’re educating consumers on products, promotions, and policies.
They’re de-escalating anger over misunderstandings, and outright failures.
Most importantly - they’re listening, learning, and building a base of knowledge related to your customers that will be invaluable to every department in your company, whether they know it or not.
Despite not being actively involved for the duration of any given project or task, customer service actively plays a role after the task or project is completed and rolled out to your customers. Communicating with their department can inform your strategy, save you time, and greatly reduce the likelihood of consumer disappointment and misunderstanding. Your willingness to talk with and learn from them is essential if you want your strategies to succeed. Consider the opinions of your customer service team to be the beta test feedback you need to improve.
“If all customer service does is follow policy — what can I learn from them?”
Clear policies don’t equal effiecient conversations.
Hopefully, your company has clear and fair policies for the CS agents to work with. That’s not always the case but if it is, your CS team is still responsible for delivering that information to customers across multiple platforms and in a variety of tones dependent on the mood of the customer. Through these conversations, CS agents learn every aspect of how, when, and why your customers are either happy or unhappy with your company, regardless of policy. If you’re on the product development or marketing team, that insight is crucial if you want to align with customer needs and market trends in the future.
Open communication channels so CS agents can deliver less vague explanations.
Chances are, not everyone in the customer service department knows the full reasoning behind a new product rollout or promotion. If they’re unclear about the “why” they’re going to end up being lackluster or vague in their answers to customers. Giving vague answers typically results in an unsatisfied person on the other end of the line, possibly launching into a tirade about how awful the agent is then spilling over (often onto social media) about how awful the company is. This is not the snowball effect you’re looking for.
If your team is excited about a product or a promotion, make sure that enthusiasm and education translate for the CS department. A well-informed customer service agent can sell a customer on a concept, a customer service agent who’s been left in the dark can cause a customer to question their purchase after the fact. An open communication channel among departments is the easiest way to keep everyone on the same team. With today’s tech — there are a variety of services for different departments to message each other within seconds, so use them. There is no excuse for leaving a department in the dark and then asking them to be a cheerleader for your cause.
Promote a sense of validity and inclusion by getting to know other team members.
Everyone brings something different to the table. Your customer service team might not be stacked with former product designers or marketers, but they are stacked with experience and the basis of their job is to solve problems. Talk with the lead CS agents in the department, ask them about their biggest challenges, grab coffee together, ask them to keep you updated when random issues become consistent problems. If they know you value their opinions they’ll be more likely to look for solutions for you when you need them.
We’re all working toward the same goal.
When departments don’t effectively communicate efficiency goes down as limited resources are split across teams, often for shockingly similar projects. When departments communicate innovative solutions, new viewpoints, and unknown skills appear preventing a series of unfortunate events from potentially happening, like creating duplicate materials or bringing in too many doughnuts. (Just kidding, too many doughnuts is obviously not a problem.)
Whether we’re playing with code to build something new, finding the best approach to market to consumers or interacting with our customers, we’re all working to make our company better. We also want to be the best that we can be, continually looking for ways to improve what we’re contributing to the cause. Need somewhere to start? The resource you’ve been looking for is probably putting out a fire for your company right now.