Suffering from myopic customer service?

“The view of customer service as a separate business function will evolve into a view of service as an integral part of key business processes.” – Gartner Predicts 20041

It’s high time that the prediction above proved to be true and precise. Businesses seem to have a rather cramped view of this realm and continue to view it as a department and a cost center only displaying ‘symptoms’ of myopic customer service. Customer service as a department is a silo and isolated from the broader spectrum of business processes. It is futile to expect operational excellence when there is no robust connection between customer service, other resources and departments. This myopic customer service view leaves companies struggling with market challenges, internal strife and achievement of business goals setting them back and unable to catch up with competition.

Is your company suffering from myopic customer service too? Is there a blurred vision of what the realm of customer service should be and how it ties in to the overall success of your company? See if your company displays any of these ‘myopic’ symptoms.

– No stringent processes in place to ensure that every member of the customer service team is empowered to make decisions and commit to customer queries. They are poorly equipped to let customers know the status of their query or problem and provide a timeline for completion.

– The front-ending customer service staff and the call center agents are only equipped to answer basic queries and provide information. For everything else they need to transfer the customer call out to ‘senior’ people who can provide the answers. This leaves the company unable to collect valuable customer data and unable to analyze and monitor the work performance of the staff involved. The company is further pushed back by being unable to provide efficient strategies to unify all the contact points.

– Such incompetent service leaves customers frustrated and dissatisfied resulting in them calling back several times for the same issue. These queries seem to be stuck in a loop and often remain untracked. No problem is escalated and the end result is that the customer moves away or the minor issues become full blown complaints through very angry customers.

– Poorly utilized resources both human and others resulting in stressed and overworked employees.

– Your processes and work standards do not match up to the required industry standards

– Your billing systems and cycles are dysfunctional and often ad hoc resulting in many errors, incorrect billing, work repetitions and customer ire

Strangely and unfortunately many companies are unaware that they suffer from myopic customer service since they only ‘see’ what they are told or what seems ‘visible’ in the short term. The long term effects seem out of view. It is only when this myopic vision begins to cause headaches that companies seem to realize that something is amiss and by then it is often late. Customers and other stakeholders become increasingly intolerant of this narrow focus and the side effects are soon there for all to see and for the company to suffer.

Before trying to correct this myopic customer service view, companies need to genuinely take time out to understand the problem. They would need to focus on their internal processes with a view on, what the customer needs. This can be achieved by effectively managing the resources at the company’s disposal, the customers and the customer service team that would need to manage both for efficient service. It is only when all these processes work together can companies achieve their business targets and keep customers happy. It is unwise to treat or manage any of these processes in isolation. The gaps created between each silo will have many an issue fall through those gaps remaining unresolved and giving the customer the impression that the company is not worth spending time or money on. We know what dissatisfied and disgruntled customers do to a company!

Neither of these silos is able to match up or provide effective solutions since by their inherent nature they affect the entire company. It is impossible to expect that customer needs will be met by one department and can be ignored by another or that business processes will affect all other except customer service. In isolation, neither of the processes can cure myopic customer service and its symptoms and will lead to insurmountable problems. Real time information is necessary to ensure that all processes run smoothly especially data on customers. If the customer service teams do not have updated customer information it would lead errors, time lapse, customers having to repeat the information and result in low standards of customer service.

The lack of synchronization between processes, systems, staff and the company as a whole renders even the best technology useless. It is vital to find a swift cure for this condition of myopic customer service.

– Having in place a robust customer management system like CRM that will meet the needs of the company for customer data, work schedules and distribution, centralized data that can be updated and viewed even remotely.

– Ensure that customer service staff is not isolated but rather viewed and treated as part of the larger entity and interactions between all departments is easy and lucid.

– Strive to consistently optimize customer interactions and experiences. Ensure that each touch-point is adequately equipped to provide the highest level of service to the customer while minimizing the use of company’s resources.

– Well-maintained systems, proper flow of communication between departments, well-trained and coached customer service staff together will keep up the smooth flow of customer service

– Imbibe in the company’s culture that every department becomes a profit center rather than just a cost center. This is especially true of customer service as when properly managed they prove to be the starting point for customers to consider investing in the company.

Using your company’s resources to the optimum will ensure that it is not stripped of the mammoth potential of making huge profits at reasonable costs and having a customer base that is happy and loyal.

Treating myopic customer service requires that it first be recognized as a problem and analyzed for its current effects. It must be treated professionally by experts and people who have the knowledge of how it should work. Quick fixes and short term solutions will result in bigger problems in the long run and will be completely detrimental for the company. Ignoring it or providing these quick fixes will only lead to more complex problems that would become unsolvable and also result in customer exits in quick succession. Having and developing well-rounded, robust and constantly monitored processes will not allow the symptoms of myopic customer service to manifest and will provide a long term cure for this illness.

Every business, it is known, has its own set of problems and issues but myopic customer service is not one of them instead it is a matter of choice. Excellence in customer service must never be a choice but rather a must do. The company must include it in the culture in such a way that staff and especially customer service staff do not form their own definitions of this critical area. It must be pre-decided that customers are VIP guests without whom there will not be any company and loyal customers are required to keep it successful. No employee must have the leeway to ‘choose’ customer service or they might make myopic and half-witted choices that will negatively impact everyone.

It can never be repeated too often that a company’s core processes and systems must include measures of service quality rather than undermining the potential of customer service. Call center employees must stop being evaluated solely on the basis of the number of phone calls attended to and how soon they ended the calls. In a bid to get a great score, these employees then tend to rush through each conversation rather than using it as an opportunity to serve the customer and provide stellar customer service. This form of evaluation makes it an open choice for these employees – take the maximum number of calls rather than expressing unfeigned empathy towards the customer and doing everything to ensure the call ends with the customer being genuinely pleased and ready to do business.

So if you know that your company is suffering from myopic customer service, get started on the treatment or it could affect your customer’s vision of you!

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree