Cost-to-Serve vs Customer Satisfaction:
Superlative customer service is not just about resolving issues – it’s about creating a seamless and intuitive experience. The quandary lies in balancing the necessity of cost-efficient channels with customer preferences. The concept of ‘cost-to-serve’ often bumps heads with the need for highly personalised service. Complexity grows with the number of channels offered to a customer and an organisation needs to balance the desire to encourage customers into lower-cost channels with a customer’s individual channel preference.
Self-service really works for some customers, but others just want to talk to someone.
Scaling Customer Service:
Meeting customer expectations demands scalable customer support systems. You can’t have customers waiting for extended periods in telephony or webchat queues if you want to deliver a great experience, retain customer loyalty, and have them advocate for your brand.
Proper capacity planning must incorporate an array of variables, from channel preferences to seasonal demand fluctuations. For example channel options, average handling time, rate of resolution on first contact, breadth of services offered, skills of the customer service advisor population, routing and handoffs, training time, and seasonal fluctuations in demand.
Time is of the essence:
Both the customer and the customer service advisor have something in common: the importance of their time. Speed and efficiency in resolving issues, coupled with effective cross-selling and upselling opportunities, add layers to the customer service complexity.
Navigating the technical maze:
The complexity of the tools and technology landscape for customer service advisor is worth specific consideration. Customer service advisors often face the brunt of technological complexity. They must navigate multiple applications, adhere to compliance standards, and manage complex customer interactions, which diverts focus from the core—meaningful customer engagement.
Organisations best endeavours to operationalise regulation and compliance often results in a number of tools that an advisor is responsible for combining in one conversation – knowing the process, the system, and the regulations takes a toll on the advisor and generates a fear of getting it wrong in QA. Often this results in a trade-off an advisor might make between data quality and speed (do they search for exactly the right category for this complaint in the 3-level hierarchy multi-value pick list, or pick the first one that looks reasonably close?).
Often this results in a trade-off an advisor might make between data quality and speed. Solutions like Assure by Utterworks can alleviate this dilemma by automating the quality assurance of customer interactions, thereby freeing customer service advisors to focus on meaningful customer engagement.
The Human Factor in Customer Service:
Amid all this complexity, customer service advisors should primarily focus on the human elements: like empathy, emotion, understanding, patience, humour. In many cases, customer service advisors are simply acting as Human APIs to the systems that do the thing the customer needs.
System constraints often inhibit the ability to deliver truly personalised service. “The systems” have been designed in a way that needs to be trained and remembered and requires the advisor to lead the customer through a rigid process that often struggles to handle the subtleties of a real conversation – human conversations aren’t always linear – and customer service advisors are often in the position of trying to complete a process or journey before being able to handle the new piece of information or request as it occurs to the customer. The increasing need for technical know-how often detracts from the human-centric role that customer service advisors should ideally perform.
Systems & Operations Landscape:
A tangled web of legacy applications further complicates customer service delivery. Transformation projects aiming to introduce new services or upgrade existing ones add to this complexity, as do pre-loaded information systems that slow down interactions.
It’s no great leap to suggest that the more customer service advisors need to be trained in, and have their interactions governed by “the system” and its complexities, the less human and therefore less satisfying the work will be. This in turn leads to greater rates of churn in the operation and a corresponding detriment to productivity as new customer service advisors are trained in the system.
The systems and operational landscape is often complicated by a legacy of multiple applications being required to serve the needs of the customer in an organisation offering multiple complimentary services. Each of these applications needs to be trained and learnt, and the overheads on the operation mean that not all customer service advisors advisors are trained in all services and a need for skills-based routing and handoffs is often the result. This can be magnified by transformation projects looking to add new services, or re platform applications or to simply upgrade to maintain support.
The technical implementation of the system also has a role to play in the efficiency of an interaction. Common architectural practice means that many systems, in the absence of any awareness of the specific customer’s need, pre-fetch lots of information just in case it is required. This makes the system very sensitive to performance fluctuation and demand spikes and often leads to the classic “I’m just waiting for my screen to load”. Throwing more capacity and money at the system isn’t necessarily going to solve this problem.
Addressing the intricacies of customer service requires a multi-pronged approach. It’s crucial to simplify the technology landscape for customer service advisors and to empower them to provide a truly human experience. As customer service complexities grow, so does the need for innovative, adaptable solutions.
As customer service complexities grow, so does the need for innovative, adaptable solutions. This is where platforms like Assure by Utterworks come into play. Leveraging cutting-edge Natural Language Technology, Assure streamlines these challenges, automating quality assurance checks and facilitating conversations that are not just meaningful but also compliant and efficient.