Help Me Help You

[header type=”4″ italic=”yes”]Isn’t this something all customers are telling companies these days? Are we listening?[/header]


[header type=”4″]Customer Service Today[/header]
We are constantly buying new products or services. Even if the product works flawlessly – there is an incredible pressure to learn just how to use the basic functionality – and then how to use it optimally. That is if the product or service works flawlessly!

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Third law of thermodynamics – you know the one about entropy always increasing, pretty much guarantees products will break and not operate flawlessly all the time – there will always be problems! This is where customer support comes in. Working fast & furious like the crew of a leaking ship, Customer service heroes keep throwing out the unwanted water (by resolving customer issues) – keeping the ship afloat – until the engineers can plug the leaks (often introducing new ones in the process). You get the gist…

[header type=”4″]Are we heading the way Customers want?[/header]
In the midst of all this, across companies, across industries, Customers are telling us, “Help Me Help You“, “I don’t want to throw more water at you – I know you are “inundated”, just give me the information I need to resolve my issue and I’ll move on – even tell my friends about you!” Companies are telling them – the information you need is all out there – just look harder!

It is true that the information we need to resolve support issues is mostly out there. We can search knowledge bases, FAQs, postings on community forums, watch videos & what not. Why are we then bothering the poor folks working day and night in customer service? According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 2.3 Million people employed in Customer Service. They define this role as folks who “Interact with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. Excludes individuals whose duties are primarily installation, sales, or repair”. That is nearly $100B spent every year in the US alone on folks working hard to deliver information customers need.

We are all internet savvy, spending hours everyday on social media – interacting and learning online, surely we must not need 2.3 Million folks to help us get to the right information in the future? Well, apparently we will. Customer Service jobs are expected to grow by 15% over the next decade, according to the same US Bureau of Labor Statistics – this is in addition to the many folks overseas doing the same for us.

[header topmargin=”true” type=”4″]The big dis-connect[/header]
So to summarize, customers want to serve themselves, Companies are publishing all their information so customers can serve themselves – but we’re needing to spend more than $100B/year (& growing) connecting customers to this information! So where is the disconnect?

I submit there are two primary reasons that start this disconnect & then it fuels itself:

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  • Customers can’t get to the relevant information they need.
  • Customers have a hard time following the information they do get to.
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    How many of us have tried searching for an article – and found there to be tens if not hundreds that match the keywords we are searching by? Even when you found one that you thought describes the right scenario, how many will be able to go through such complex articles and resolve their issues?

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    Once companies notice the articles are not being used enough by Customers, subsequently the language, style, details & content of new articles start to address internal employees – customer service folks who would use these to acquire knowledge to help customers. This vicious circle results in further reduction in customer use of such articles.

    [header type=”4″]The Way Out[/header]
    Organizations have to look for alternate ways to present information to customers that addresses the two primary concerns – difficulty of finding the right information & difficulty of going through it. Ones who address these two fundamental concerns of Customers will be able to deliver higher quality service to customers consistently & at lower cost.

    How is your Organization addressing this need? Please share your comments.

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