• 03:42:15 am on April 16, 2008 | 0
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    Customer Service is broken.  Not exactly breaking news, no pun intended, I know. But it is broken beyond repair.  We have tried many, many fixes over time – web self-service, customer experience management, IVR or automated phone attendants, more agents, less agents, and many combinations of all of them.  Still, it is working on band-aids, at best, and in most cases it is not even working.  There is no fix we can apply because there is not one single thing to fix, rather too many.  The only solution at this time is to start over again, and build a higher quality of service.

    As we leave behind this model, we must focus on a new one with features to provide for the retention of our customers (i.e. make them happy). I propose the four pillars of this new High Quality Customer Service (HQCS):

    Customer Centric – do what customers need you to do

    Integrated – make sure it all works together, from one single location

    Knowledge-Based – have the best possible solution available at all times

    Iterative – you won’t get it perfect the first time, but you will be moving forward

    Alas, these four pillars are the reason we cannot fix what we have – no matter how much we try. They are all tightly intertwined and need each other to operate effectively. The best way I can find to relate this model is comparing it to a house that needs remodeling. If you ever bought a “fixer upper” and tried to bring it up to current days you know what I am talking about. Forget about those wonderful recessed lights you must-have, fix the electricity first. New appliances for the kitchen? not with that antiquated breaker box. Building your dream home-office? Guess not without changing the entire wiring in the bedrooms… pretty much everything you want to do to make it better will be tied to a main system, in this case electricity and wiring, or another. Try to fix a sub-system (like, deploying email) without putting new wiring (knowledge) and boooom! there goes your fuse box (in your case, your churn rate just increased)!

    If you want to improve your customer service you must approach it as neither a band-aid fix (implement one more thing and see what happens), nor a forklift maneuver (change your entire customer service department). You must approach it as you would a renovation project for a new house – look at the main parts, make sure they work well, then begin to work on a sub-system.

    If you have some questions about the best approach, I’d be more than happy to look at your blueprints — er, strategy and help you get there.

    Esteban Kolsky

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