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The Wisdom of the Customer

Nick Snively, Senior Director, Academic Success Operations, 2U, Inc.
Nick Snively, Senior Director, Academic Success Operations, 2U, Inc.

Nick Snively, Senior Director, Academic Success Operations, 2U, Inc.

The contact center space is a fast-paced and ever-changing world. As customer expectations around their service experience evolve, new ideas on how to best train your staff, connect with customers, and utilize advancing technologies continue to develop. However, no matter what the industry is, one truth remains: customer impact is king. There is no magic pill in the form of a new dashboard, better interactive voice response (IVR), robust chat bot, or auto dialers that will replace the need for simple, strong customer connections. The key is figuring out how to connect with your customers in the way they prefer when they prefer it?

Here’s an example that I’m sure many people can relate to. When I call my cable company, I almost always go into the conversation prepared to argue. I already know what to expect from their customer service. I know if I share enough of my grievances, I will have a better chance of getting my way. Want a better rate? Complain. Want faster service? Complain. Don’t get what I want? Complain that they aren’t paying enough attention to my complaints. It doesn’t work all of the time, but it works well enough to make it an option. Would customers behave like this if the technology they had in place to support them actually supported them? If they had various quality options to connect the way that worked best for them, would they go into a customer service conversation in a defensive manner?

  Technology is a true game changer. It can and will make your business much more efficient. But do not let the drive for efficiency derail your customer experience. If you are providing a service, always remember: nothing beats the wisdom of the customer​ 

Regardless of the motivations, where customers are always right is in how they want to be treated and how they want to communicate. Why am I always defensive when I call my cable company? For starters, because I am forced to make a phone call nine times out of ten. If I have a simple question about my bill or want to ask about something service-related, their chatbots are next to useless (and frustrating), their live chat systems work some of the time, and while I love their self-help sections, they are not always the most intuitive. So I end up having to call, deal with their IVR that asks too many questions, then hope I get someone that can communicate in a decent manner.

Why is this important?

The technology that is put in place to help drive efficiencies does not always have the customer in mind–they have the business in mind with the hopes the customer isn’t overly impacted in a negative way. Everywhere you look there are reports, blogs, or white papers touting new enhancements to current technologies within the contact center space. Many of these can increase the overall efficiency of a contact center by reducing costs and reducing headcount: the more customers can get answers on their own, the less they need to call in, which means less people are required to handle those calls. Still, the part I find missing in many cases is the need to connect actual customer experience to these technological enhancements.

How are you ensuring your technology is enhancing the customer experience instead of driving people away?

You should start by asking: how are you measuring, or at least monitoring, your voice of the customer? While there are many methods on how to do this, I am personally a fan of immediate feedback. If the primary mode of communication was in chat, send a brief chat survey. If it was on the phone, ask if you can send them a short survey after. You can send text message responses or even emails. In any case, it should take a maximum of three minutes–any longer may run the risk of losing their attention–to complete and include questions that get right to the point: how was their experience using this feature/communication method? What can we do to improve their experience next time?

These responses can and should be used to determine the quality of your current technology offerings and used as a baseline for new and improved versions. Tell customers their opinion matters, then follow up on what you hear. Take it from me: if that cable company asked for my opinion on their service, and I actually saw them act upon my feedback, I would be more inclined to use them again in the future and more likely to cut them some slack if something else went wrong. This can also lead to potential referrals and positive word of mouth messaging.

Technology is a true game changer. It can and will make your business much more efficient. But do not let the drive for efficiency derail your customer experience. If you are providing a service, always remember: nothing beats the wisdom of the customer.

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