Customer Experience News & Trends

Are you offering too much customer service? Best way to find out

Most companies feel compelled to be everywhere and everything when it comes to customer service. But there’s a breaking point at which too much service turns bad. 

As companies increasingly add options to customer service — i.e., omni-channel, multi-channel or menu of services — they’re losing a foothold on good customer service, recent research from Harvard Business Review found.

The problem: At least one customer service channel tends to suffer for the sake of others. Most companies can’t get them all right.

Admitted faults

More than 60% of companies admitted that they can’t handle issues with in just one interaction when customers use self-service, mobile apps or social media. Most issues presented in those channels take at least two interactions before they can be resolved — and they usually end up in the most expensive, although thorough, channel: the telephone.

Customers might like the convenience of online and self-service tools, but they’re disappointed in the experience, researchers say.

And that’s why offering too many customer service channels can be detrimental, rather than helpful. When service is sub-standard in one area, customers are unhappy with the whole experience — and the company.

Use one channel to make them all shine

So what’s the breaking point?

Answer: If you can’t deliver an experience almost as seamless as a telephone conversation in another channel — social media, mobile application or self-service — it might not be worth offering a solution through that other channel.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you should drop those channels altogether. They can serve a different, better purpose that will increase your value to customers.

Online channels are often better suited for creating awareness and building engagement with customers. Customer service is still done best in person, usually on the phone or even via email. Single-interaction resolutions are what customers want most: More than 80% of customers are more concerned about getting a satisfactory resolution than the channel they use, a CEB survey found.

Focus on single-interaction resolutions

To increase single-interaction resolutions in the channels where it counts most (so you can focus on engagement in online channels), try these tips:

  • Availability. This isn’t just a staffing issue. Yes, you must have people available to answer calls and respond to email at all times. But you can take steps to control the peaks so your staff availability is on target. Let customers know your busiest times (in queue messages and on your website), and encourage them to contact you at your less-busy times if it isn’t an emergency (you’d be surprised at how many customers will do it). Refer customers to least busy channels and let them know the wait times in those channels so they can decide the best way to contact you.
  • Accuracy. Spend ample time in training showing service pros where to access all the answers they need and how to navigate the system quickly. They don’t need to know everything. They do need to know how to find everything. For more accuracy, create a team of reps that scours your resources at least monthly to make sure everything is updated and accurate. Work with vendors to do regular training so reps are able to effectively use all tools at their fingertips.
  • Consistency. An expensive CRM system isn’t the only way to keep all the records of customer interactions in place. Create a culture where making note of customer transactions, questions and issues, plus customers’ changing needs, is expected and rewarded. Having all the details at hand makes it easy for customer care pros to deliver consistent experiences.
  • Validity of information. Details given online, printed and over the phone must be the same. Work with Marketing, Sales and even HR monthly to make sure the information you put out to customers is correct in everything they see and hear.

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