Top 5 Problems with Service Today

We’ve all been the victims of bad service. We have to repeat ourselves to agents; we get different answers depending on whether we use email or we call a service rep; or worse, we don’t even receive a response. We have a tendency to blame the agents.

But it’s not their fault. They want to do a good job. They just don’t have the tools they need to meet customers’ expectations of personalized, consistent, accurate and fast service. They don’t have the tools because their technology isn’t working.

Thus, I trace bad service to 5 root causes:

– IT organizations have not solved the integration problem. Agents need dozens or often hundreds of un-integrated tools and applications to perform their jobs. Agents must toggle through many applications in the span of a service call, resulting in long hold times.

– IT organizations have not solved the change problem. Agent tools are typically hardwired together. When procedures change in a company, IT organizations cannot quickly respond to the changes in order to give the agents the new tools that they need.

– Knowledge management vendors have not solved the knowledge problem. Corporate knowledge exists on an island; it does not fit into the context in which agents are searching for content. This means that agents need to wade through many solutions in order to find the one that is right for a particular customer.

– Case management vendors have not solved the business process management problem. Today, business or call center leaders can’t drive agents through clear processes. This means that they put the responsibility of following the right resolution processes in the hands of agents, which are not all equally competent.

– Organizations have not solved the agent training and turnover problem. Businesses know how they want service delivered, but they can’t have their best, most highly trained agents handle every interaction.

How do we start solving these problems? We start with technology. We implement service-oriented architectures (SOAs) to begin integrating systems in a flexible way so that information is no longer siloed. This means that when processes change, IT systems can be rewired easily, without a tremendous amount of overhead. We ensure knowledge is it’s shared and applied appropriately. We present in a way that makes sense to agents, and we use it to inform our decisions about what’s working and what’s not working in our service processes. We provide agents with stepped procedures for each and every service interaction that allows them to provide the consistent service that we desire. If we are able to achieve these goals, and provide agents with the tools they need to succeed, then we’re solved our final dilemma. Because every agent becomes as good as our best, most highly trained agent.