Five ways that customer service fails… and what to do about it

Great service defines a company.  But a recent study by Accenture found that customer service standards are in freefall (see here).

The problem is that service is complex, cross-functional, rational and emotional.  In our experience,  there are five archetypal failure points of service management:

1.  Drinking from the fire hydrant

Problem: High volume of unwanted and avoidable customer contact that soak up contact centre resource and add no value.  Most of this kind of contact isn’t caused by the service team.

Solution: A service management framework that makes root cause ownership of unwanted avoidable contact visible, quantified and owned by the function that caused it.


2.  Customer contact evasion

Problem: Managing down high volumes of contact by making it really, really hard for customers to contact us, even if it’s really important to them.

Solution: When avoidable, unwanted contact has been managed out, it’s possible to provide services when, where and how customers want.

3.  Dear ears

Problem:  Insight from customer contact is used to manage operations but not for strategic innovation of the product, proposition and service.

Solution: Analyse customer contact for strategic insight and make sure that senior, strategic executives get direct experience of the voice of the customer.

4. Scapegoat

Problem: Blaming the Customer Service department for problems that are caused by other functions or teams.  For example, the call centre blows up because of an widespread error sent out by the Billing team.

Solution: Identify root causes of service failure and make sure that the functions or departments that cause the problem, also carry the financial cost through transfer-pricing.

5.  Operation successful, patient dead

Problem: Using operational metrics (like Average Handling Time and First Contact Resolution) that don’t necessarily measure things about which customers really care.

Solution:  Implement a balanced scorecard that measures customer experience against brand and which tracks unwanted, avoidable contact.

About Simon Kirby

Digital strategist, CX advisor and agile Product Owner. My core expertise is aligning the political, strategic and human factors that determine the success of digital, CX and innovation projects. Doing that helps organisations deliver better experiences, happier customers, distinctive propositions and improved commercial bottom-line

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