2018 - The Year of the Customer

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I've been hearing a lot lately about customer experience.   Companies spend so much money on marketing, social media, brand awareness, all so that a potential customer will buy.  All this work happens to get to that crucial moment, and then wham! they buy.  Then something goes wrong with the product, the service, they have a question etc.  So they go on chat, or call the customer service line.  Many things can happen at this point..curious if you have experienced them?  You call in, get someone who is less than pleased with working at this particular company, they sound bored out of their mind, or even worse, annoyed that you called. 

I can remember on more than one occasion thinking to myself, "I am sorry I called Mr Customer Service, I am trying to spend more money with your company and it feels like I am doing you a favor by calling in to get help."  Moving on....this happens a lot.  So millions of dollars get spent to get people to buy, they buy, then when they need help, they get a less than favorable experience.  Not always but have seen this happen quite a bit.  I've seen average products responded to with great customer service, and awesome products responded to with average or bad customer service.  To me, it seems like customer service can make or break a customer's loyalty, regardless of how great the products is.  That person on the phone in customer service is really "a part" of the product whether they know it or not.  I think the person answering the phone is really the first touch and face of the company and should be one of the most highly trained, and excited people in the company.  They are the first experience!  Typically people aren't calling in to explain how excited they are about their experience with you so far.  That frustrated caller should be met with a smile and an attitude of "I'm here to help you figure this out, and will be with you until its complete." 

This is how brand loyalty begins.  Recently I had an issue with my alarm system.  Every time I called in, they would try and transfer me to the right department, only to hang up on me.  Something was wrong with their call routing system.  Every time I would call back, wait on hold, then get transferred, then get hung up on.  I told them what was about to happen every time, they would act interested and then do it again!!!!  Unbelievable.  This sort of thing is not uncommon.    The flip side of this is experiencing that person who answers the phone, the line is clear, they appear glad you called, confident they can help you, lots of empathy for your problem.  They already have your information with a few clicks so you don't have to go through a thousand questions to identify yourself.   They give you the number to the department they are transferring you to in case you get disconnected, and they send you to the RIGHT department.  This is not crazy or complicated stuff we are talking about.  So far I have talked about the people side.  But what about the technology that makes this happen.  Some of what I shared already has to do with speed.  But what about process?  I mentioned earlier getting sent to the wrong department and how frustrating that can be.  But what if the company has the right processes in place to determine where to send you, what questions to ask, and would if they can do this quickly!!! 

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There are many types of technology out there that can help with this.  I have spoken in the past about how each business unit is really a service within the company.  HR, Facilities, Customer service as mentioned above.  Many technologies handle one thing really well.  But there are few technologies that connect all the business units to perform work efficiently and quickly.  Automation is a key piece to this equation.  The ability to automate everyday tasks and bring humans in when needed is key to making these processes move at light-speed.  There is a reason that ServiceNow is in the upper right quadrant of the Gartner matrix for IT Service Management.  The upper right quadrant is the leader category, where ability to execute and vision come together.  The CSM module within ServiceNow brings together the backbone of ITSM and integrates Customer Service so that the two are no longer separate.  It is time that companies start to see Customer Service as important as HR, or the IT department.  Customers are the ones who pay the bills and keep the company moving forward.  And it all starts with that first touch in customer service.  What is your company doing to improve Customer Experience and loyalty?