Are You Playing the Victim or the Leader?

There’s been a lot written about how we bring innovation into customer service. Much of that discussion centers on how a new mobile app or technology is going to change the way companies and customers engage. While I love to see these new demonstrations, I often find the people charged with delivering customer service have two fundamental problems to deal with that technology won’t. Addressing these issues can turn you from victim into customer service leader and catapult your company from laggard to customer service market leader.

Paths to Creating Victims
The first issue is an organizational one. I speak with many customer service executives who continue to find themselves outflanked by either another department’s efforts to engage the customer or by a slow-moving corporate bureaucracy that is afraid of taking risks, wants everything validated by external consultants, and manages by committee what a small group should be developing requirements for, building, and going to market with.

This hurts customers most when they find themselves on your islands of engagement-islands that promise self-service at 10 to 20x less than it costs to speak to a representative of the company. We’ve seen this with email, IVR, and the web as self-service channels, and now see mobile and social service headed down the same road.

Both channel and departmental alignment require that the people charged with customer service in the company (that’s not just the call center by the way) should deliver it. Figuring out how to scale that and for whom to provide that is what customer service leaders are doing. There is no self-service app that will ever contain customer communication, and we need to be prepared for interactions across channels when it most surely will come.

Moving Toward Leadership
Secondly, we’ve too often become chained to proprietary customer service platforms and the 17 to 21% recurring maintenance costs that come with them-systems that were never designed to deliver best-in-class customer service. The future of Customer Interaction Management requires a non-proprietary platform that connects the right resource to the right customer service interaction at the right time with a ‘thin client’ for the employee that is associated with a customer record. The workforce management, analytics, quality monitoring, and interaction and case routing applications that complement this fundamental requirement can create not just an average but a fast, simple, and easy customer interaction which, in today’s sloppily constructed customer service systems, are exactly what your customer needs.

In my webinar on Contact Center Buying Decisions: Three Imperatives, we discuss how the leaders are addressing these challenges, and how not to become or remain, a victim. I hope you’ll join us.

Webinar time:Thursday February 21, 2013, 2 PM Eastern / 11 AM Pacific
Register here.

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