This is the world service teams live in. When they do their jobs right, the company grows, and as the company grows – it puts an increasingly burdensome pressure on these same service teams. Unless teams can find new opportunities scale their indespensable service, they find themselves in a place where the level of service erodes, along with customer satisfaction and NPS.
This was the story of Commonwealth Financial. Currently America's largest independant broker-dealer, they built their reputation on delivering indespensable service to their customers. As that service led to a dramatic growth, it put a burden on their service teams to the point where it wasn't financially viable.
Commonwealth isn't alone in these challenges. A lot of our clients – from Biogen to Keurig – turn to us to help find new opportunities to scale their services through the use of digital. Along the way, here's what we learned...
Build Empathy for Service Teams
We were working with large B2B financial services firm to simplify their onboarding experience and in a call of about 5-6 service leads, we saw it get emotional...like, really emotional. They openly started talking about what their personal lives turned into during peak season. Sleepless nights, breaking down in anxiety, the impact on their families – all because during the peak season, they were understaffed.
For us, this was an important lesson that operations teams (and any team for that matter) isn't a series of boxes and arrows to be planned out. They're people. Making sure we understand the rational and emotional needs all stakeholders (customers, employees, vendors, etc) can be a powerful tool when designing exceptional branded services that customers feel.
For the service team mentioned above, we helped them "find the balance" with better capacity forecasting, customer self-service tools, and job design to help take the edge of seasonal spikes and improves the lives of the people responsible for delivering on the brand promise.
Elevate search and chat, but provide fallbacks
If the goal is to reduce the operational burden of great service, a simple approach is to better understand which calls and requests are consistent and easy to answer – then develop content (like FAQs or chat scripts) to put on the website ahead of contact information. What you'll find is the most people don't want to call, they would much rather find the answer on their own so just make it easier to do that and you'll see a reduction in calls.
We have also found that most service reps are capable of managing three concurrent chat conversationso over a single call. Better chat experiences give users the ability to interact on their own time and service reps the ability to service requests more efficiently.
Find opportunities for digital self-service
This is just as true for sales as it is for servicing: people prefer to do things on their own time and own terms. With a Service Blueprint in hand it becomes much easier to look at existing operational processes to identify the non-value-add activities that service folks are engaging with, then digitize them. You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) how many operational processes there are for paper invoices, calling to update addresses, faxing information to other departments, etc.. Simply fixing foundational activities that are clearly out-of-date can have an immediate impact on creating better service and NPS.
Get your customer data in order
Data is the big enabler – as well as the big challenge. It's not uncommon to walk into organizations with siloed data that ultimately translates into fragemented customer experiences ("I already told you that, why are you asking me again?!"). Making sure there's a central data strategy should be one of the first, foundational steps in organizational transformation. It will set you up to deliver digital and service experiences that feel seamless, make the jobs of service teams easier, as well as add value through personalization efforts in the future.