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During the recession in 2008, businesses were forced to cut costs and many businesses chose to reduce customer service costs. To achieve this, some simply outsourced their customer service function overseas to countries where the exchange rate was a little more favourable. Most kept the same customer service model – using the telephone as the primary channel. Anticipating that the new customer agents may have language or cultural challenges when interacting with customers, some of the businesses even made the customer service phone number a little less visible. We now know that this was a poor strategy. There is significant evidence to show that providing a stellar customer service delivers long term revenue benefits.

Customer service is often not brought to the forefront as a competitive advantage. Companies like Apple and Amazon are well known for their excellent customer service and it is one of the reasons customers trust them and remain loyal. Keeping this in mind, what could businesses do differently to maintain the high standard customers expected of them, but at the same time reduce costs? The answer lies in determining the difference between customer success and customer happiness.

Maintaining the same customer service model and simply changing the location may seem like a simple solution, but it’s a strategy based upon the belief that customers want customer service agents to make them feel happy.

Often businesses believe that customer service is all about customer happiness. The customer speaks with a friendly and helpful agent. The agent delights the customer by listening empathetically, by answering questions enthusiastically and finally by solving the customer’s issue. The expected result is a happy customer smiling and willing to spend more time and money on the business. To that end, they are also willing to tell their friends about how happy they are because of their experience with the business and so recommend it. It’s a strategy based upon emotion rather than practical reality.

When customers interact with a customer service agent, they are not simply looking to have a positive experience with a friendly representative leaving them in a good mood. The most important element they are looking for is a solution to a problem. In order to build a successful customer service operation, the emphasis should be on problem solving first. When problems are solved swiftly it leads to customer success which in turn will provide the emotional component – happiness.

When building a strategy with an emphasis on solving problems rather than around emotions, it’s a good idea to review the the tools required. You will need more than just a telephone. Here are few suggestions based upon Helpshift’s SDK.

In-App Education

Consider educating new users as soon as possible using messaging and video. By educating users early in the process, you will limit the number of support tickets later on. Prevention is better than cure.

Data Supported Customer Service

By accessing user data such as device type and software version, agents are able to solve problems more effectively.

By creating a philosophy around solving problems rather than the feel good factor, businesses are able to focus on making customers successful. If customers are successful, they will pay you by returning to your business, and another form of payment – recommending your business. By changing your posture towards making your customers successful rather than happy, you are able to improve your effectiveness.

Published October 7, 2016
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