Exploring a problem of customer service inefficiency to give urgent help
|Every business providing goods or services rely on one essential factor of making profit – customer satisfaction. Businesses tend to prioritize it as a main value of the company and dedicate an entire department to be responsible for it – the customer service. These employees are experts of customer interaction and problem solving, they have to be knowledgeable in the entire process of the services provided or goods made from start to finish in order to identify the problem customer is facing and solve it in a timely manner. However, the problem arises – the customer support representative does not expertise in the production of goods or providing the service itself, he/she expertise in customer relations. Solving a problem would require reaching out to the concerned team from which the issue arose and acknowledging this issue within them. The concerned department may give an arbitrary time frame for the resolution, which may not appeal to the customer. Is there an effective and cost-efficient solution to this?
Let’s analyze one example to get to the bottom of the issue. Let’s say the subject company is a local manufacturer and distributor of cakes. It’s summertime and there is a high demand of wedding cakes. There are three essential parts of customer satisfaction for the subject company – making the cake, dispatching it for distribution and delivering it to the customer. The company is quite large and has a call center for tracking the process and fixing issues.
A customer calls and requests the status of the delivery for the cake. Representative checks the data base and notices that the cake is not dispatched for delivery yet. He communicates this to the customer, who is displeased and requests immediate action as the wedding reception begins shortly. Representative contacts the warehouse with a request to deliver the cake immediately and gets a response that the driver just left home for lunch and will be back in one hour. Representative imagines the customers response to this update. He takes the drivers number and calls the driver directly, begging for assistance, while customer is raging and stressing out on hold. Driver agrees to get back and take lunch later. The time frame for the delivery is again one hour, as it takes time for the driver to get back, load the cake to the van, and get to the address through midday traffic. There are 15-20 minutes wasted on the call itself, which is exactly by how long the cake will be late to the wedding. Customer will give negative review and will use a different company next time.
What would me more time efficient? In this case the blame is on customer for if he/she would have called earlier, the cake would be delivered on time. However, what if instead of wasting time talking to the representative, the customer would call the driver directly? There is a problem with this, because the customer was unaware of the issue itself, which was communicated to him/her by the representative. There was no way for the customer to know where the delay is.
There is one other issue – the driver should drive and not be disturbed by the customers checking the status of the cake delivery, as well as any other department should be taking customers calls instead of doing their actual job, as if they would waste time taking calls, the cake wouldn’t even be baked by the time the wedding reception would start.
This translates well into digital business as well. Let’s say you are a money remittance company. You give the status of each transfer on the website so the customer can track the payments online and reduce customer service volumes. In case of a delay in transfer the customer representative can ping the compliance/processing team to get a response, yet it may take time for the team to acknowledge the request and action it which would lead to customer dissatisfaction.
What if each customer support representative would be trained to action any request? This would take enormous resources in training. What if the customer would call the concerned department directly? This would disturb the natural work flow of the department.
There seems to be a dead end here, and the current way customer support works is the worst way except everything else. However, there may be a way to improve the efficiency of the problem solving. It is as follows:
-Make the online tracking efficient – let the customer know at which stage exactly the process is.
-Train every team member in customer relations so every employee would be ready to take calls/answer emails.
-Dedicate a small amount of staff in each department to work as a customer support representatives for a particular department. This way the representative would be trained in a specific stage of process and could solve the issue while on the phone.
-Provide the contacts for departments for each processing stage separately and make it change on the platform whenever the product moves to a different processing stage. This way customer will be able to tackle the problem directly and get efficient help.
-As the customer support job may be stressful, rotate staff between processing and supporting within a reasonable time period. This will make the representative’s support provided high quality.
It is in each company’s best interest to keep the employees satisfied with their job, as the work they make directly impacts the income of the business. The current nature of customer support is that employees tend not to stay in the customer service representative position for too long as it’s a challenging and demanding job. Yet, innovation is the key to growth for both, business and the culture inside the workplace. New features are constantly launched in each company to improve the environment for each employee, however company’s should not be afraid to make big steps towards improved satisfaction for customers, as they are the ones who pay the salaries for both, the janitor and the CEO.