Effective Customer Service

    By Subramanyan G Ramalingam (RG) | Small Business

    In his recent blog post, Esteban Kolsky writes about the need to move beyond being just an efficient customer service organization and becoming an effective customer service organization. He also talks about the need for the “Three Rs” – Right Information, Right Channel, Right Time from a context management perspective. Having been a CRM consultant in my preceding tenure, and having implemented CRM for many large clients, I cannot agree more that access to knowledge for customer support agents is a key topic for many of my clients.

    The access to knowledge could mean different things to different people. It would be access to past customer history, internal & external knowledge database and/or simply access to fellow expert agents on specific topics. So this translated into how best could the CRM solution enable such an access for the agent, while the agent is still connected and interacting with the customer.

    This need for ‘Right Information’ becomes more pertinent and relevant in the context of multi-channel customer support. Today, many companies see increased customer service requests coming through social channels.

    Effective Customer Service image MikeWuEffective Customer Service

    Yet, to address this customer service requests coming in through social channels, the agents require access to a repository or content or customer history stored away in a CRM solution. To truly enable a multi-channel customer support, access across solutions and platforms is paramount. Barring a few second-generation social media solutions that provide an integration to bring together customer interactions across traditional and social media channels, the multi-channel support is not yet fully enabled.

    Based upon my discussions with various thought leaders in this space, we can expect to see some rapid innovation in this space, spearheaded by some of the social media solution vendors. They are in specific building capabilities for agents to connect across internal and external communities, forums, knowledge portals etc. But this would be a topic for another post.

    If we move beyond the social media solutions, and look at how customer service organizations are managed today, there is still much scope for improvement. Many customer support organizations are managed based on outdated metrics that impacts cost of support.

    So it comes as a natural surprise when we hear Shep Hyken blog about ‘Personalized Customer Service’ while some of us would be happy just to have our ‘specified’ needs met; forget about meeting ‘anticipated’ needs.

    Isn’t it a fact that today we are simply happy to have a human being on the other side when we dial a customer support number? Didn’t we all chuckle when we saw the TV commercial by Discover Card.

    The reality is that there are many companies that need to move ahead on the basics. Understanding a customer needs a live person at the other end. When you have a live agent, it is possible to deliver on a personalized customer service. These would be the basis for building a delightful customer experience and an effective customer service organization.

    However, there are some forward thinking organizations that have done this successfully for their customer service across both traditional and social media channels. Recently, @AmericanAir had shared their experience at the #SMSSummit that they respond to a tweet within 15 minutes. It remains to be seen how well other companies adopt such approach and reap the benefits based on the lessons from these leaders.

    Effective Customer Service image AAEffective Customer Service

    What has been your experience on customer support? Do they engage well with their customers? What suggestions do you have for these companies to deliver better on the customer experience?

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