Customer service: turning transactions into relationships
The 3 pillars of customer service
First, we want to share with you the basic tenets of each pillar:
Customers are the reason we’re all here, so we must first and foremost try to look at everything through their perspective. Different departments frequently disagree on the right approach for important decisions such as how to best provide customers access to important information. Your sales department might have thoughts about how to do this, the product team has another idea, and marketing might want it done a completely different way.
But what’s best for the customer? What will provide the customer with the best possible experience?
Customer experience focuses on improving the way customers interact with your business. It’s one thing to talk about being customer centric, but doing so means putting the needs of the customer front and center, even when it’s at the expense of people within the company. Taking this approach might lead to some hard-fought internal decisions, but customer service isn’t easy, remember?
The thing for everyone to keep in mind is this: If you provide a negative experience to a customer, not only will they likely tell their friends and colleagues, they will abandon you for a competitor. This is bad for everyone, including departments who might wish you’d do things their way. The good news is that the opposite is also true: provide positive experiences and customers will tell others about and choose you over the competition, time after time. When this happens, anyone who advocated against the customer-centric approach will quickly forget they weren’t always in favor of it.
Agent life cycle
No matter the type of business, customer service agents are very often the first people to interact with customers and prospects. Not only that, they’re usually the people who interact with customers more than anyone else. In that regard, they are the face and ambassadors of the brand. Every single interaction with a customer represents an opportunity to either create a brand loyalist or someone who will never do business with you again.
All of which is to say this: Customer service agents are very, very important for the success of your company. Time, energy, and resources must be dedicated to hiring, training, developing, and retaining the best possible talent to fill all the various roles in this department.
The way your business treats its agents can have a direct impact on how they interact with your customers, which in turn impacts the bottom line. Happy agents will not only provide a better customer experience, but also stay with your organization longer.
In contrast to the big picture challenges of hiring and training agents, agent experience focuses on the day-to-day challenges of their typical workload. This includes everything from resolving support queries to writing knowledge-base articles to improving operational efficiencies. These tasks might not seem as inspiring as the work of building meaningful relationships with customers, but the agent experience is foundational to that work.
Customers want support to be human and personal, but they also want it to be fast and efficient. Agent experience focuses on improving the way agents interact with customers.
To effectively meet customers’ needs, support agents must be set up for success. That means making an up-front investment in tools and processes that enable support agents to not only provide the kind of support customers love, but avoid providing the kind of frustrating experiences customer hate.
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As stated at the beginning, customer service is hard. While Zendesk can’t make it easy (any software company that claims it can should be met with serious skepticism), we can make it easier. But we know from experience that software is a tool, and tools are only half the answer. The other answer lies in the people using them. That includes everyone from the agents who interact with customers to the designers who create experiences for them.
And Zendesk is here to help with that side of the equation too.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.