A trend within companies has lately been to put the customer in the center, and it seems that the companies’ customer service designs often include buzzwords like customer centric or customer focused. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you also walk the talk. For me, the key is to KYSS – Keep Your Service Simple.
Many companies strive to think the customer contact process as a funnel. I see the funnel as a metaphor that represents the customer contact landscape. In other words, in which channel would you primarily like to serve your customer, and what are the touchpoints in which particular situation? As a representation of a typical service design, you would first steer the customer to your web pages and offer solutions via knowledge bases and other self-service means. Moving further down the funnel channels like email, web forms, and social media are often provided. Next are the channels like phone calls and chats and near the end of the funnel, you move towards face to face style of interactions. On the left-hand side of the funnel, the interaction amounts are typically high and then decreases towards the right.
This representation of the model is of course just a general overview as there are several ways to build your funnel. Customer service strategies, products, industry standards, and customer expectations are a few of the factors which play a role in which channels you need to offer, and which channels are again optional. The needs of the customers also change continuously. New technology creates new possibilities for communication, and that new technology becomes a standard, and old technology again becomes obsolete.
The customer is not always right…
The basic idea with the customer service design is that we aim to steer the customer, to provide a quick and efficient solution. Quick, where the customer gets the answer fast, and efficient where the contacts do not require too many resources. It is after all the company who has designed their customer service process, and they know most of the times which are the most efficient way to solve problems. So it seems only fair to guide the customer towards the solution, and accept that the customer is not always right.
… however, the customer is in charge…
The funnel is a presentation of how you have designed your service offer, and should not be mistaken for a strict roadmap that the customer must follow. Every customer is the master of their journey, and it is quite clear that they do want to travel trough every channel for an answer. Your service design must support this by ensuring that they have a fair chance to get the service needed regardless of the channel.
… moreover, the customer is the owner of your brand value
The customer contacts you because they want their problem solved. CEB’s studies show that the key to good customer service is a service perceived as simple. The findings indicate that less effort for the customer clearly correlates with increased loyalty from them. This means that the need to contact you multiple times, repeat themselves, get transferred and to queue is not the customer’s perception of a hassle-free service.
The KYSS system
So the systems must be able to provide quality service over all channels, preferably so that only one contact is enough. In the case of switching channels, the transfer should be made as smooth as possible for the customer. These six steps will lead you in the right direction:
1. Understand your service scenarios. What types of service do you offer, to which products and by which means? Are these high-volume cases with a low need for customer data, or are the cases more complex ones, requiring more time and customer master data?
2. Understand your customers. What are your typical customers and where, how, and when do they contact you? Even more important is where, how, and when would they like to contact you? Is their preferred channel available and working? Remember, you primarily want to make it simple for the customers, not for yourself.
3. Ensure that you are managing expectations. Achieved value is a comparison of expectations compared to realizations. Setting the expectations clear in the beginning will help you to provide a service that the customers perceive as simple. Do the customers know at all times what will happen next, and what kind of service can be expected over various channels?
4. Keep your system and processes simple enough. Many of your customers use the system for the first time, so is it intuitive enough to use? Good user interface design helps a great deal in guiding users so that they do not need to read instructions.
5. Transparency throughout your service organization and channels? Is there a risk that you will bounce the customers between teams due to poor case routing so that the customers need to repeat their message to you? You can achieve organizational and technical transparency via service design and sound system design.
6. Follow up on how you are doing. With the hand on your heart, how many of your current service organization metrics are actually from the customer perspective? In other words, to what extent do you follow up how simple your customer service is for your customers?
To summarize how you should do you customer service design; plan your funnel approach, keep in mind that customers’ paths are unique, and just try to KYSS. Nothing more, nothing less.