Customer Service Transformation

Carmen Beissner
7 min readDec 19, 2019

What matters most in all our lives? True relationships. If only companies could create this feeling for customers and employees.

Street Art Le Marais Paris

Having a sense of stability, building human connections, having relationships, friendships, experience love, trust and appreciation. In the end, it is all about being seen as a unique person. If only companies could create this feeling for customers.

Digital Transformation is a buzz phrase, agreed! — But there is something to it

Not only companies are transforming. Customers and employees are transforming, too. We are in the first generation of mobility customers, online food ordering or fin-tech. There are new technologies to keep up with, new services, information overload. This can be very exhausting. When customers contact you, they are not only seeking an answer, a quick fix. They want to trust you and get advice. Bear in mind- the longer you do what you do, you assume the customer knows what you know. Stop making customers feel processed. Instead, be a proactive adviser for your customers.

Aim for maximum happiness with every customer

Nowadays, customers hide their names behind the bad reviews they write. What is the reason for that? OK, it’s unlikely that you’ll always achieve a 5.0 review from 100% of your customers. But your mind set must stay hungry to truly understand every customers expectation, regardless of the score they gave you. Because reviews express people’s feelings and the relationship they expected to have. Feelings are never rational. Try googling reviews about the Black Forest. You’ll find reviews saying “misleading, is mostly green. 3 stars” or “too dark. 1 star”. Some company’s reviews might be similar. Then it seems the wrong target group was attracted; the brand promise was different to what was offered, the product did not solve a customer’s problem or the service isn’t great. Whatever it is, aim for absolute maximum happiness with each customer until the last percentage of happiness is won. Every customer counts.

Customers and employees life time

If you are a leader of a service department setup consistent policies to avoid friction, provide knowledge that is easily accessible. Have a balanced ratio of customers finding the answer vs reading the answer. Same goes for agents. They must be able to find 100% of all answers, quickly access the answers and understand the content easily. The majority of the time should be spent on speaking to the customer not holding in the line searching in various tools. The technology must serve the agents, not the other way around. Ideally there is only one single source of truth for customers and staff. Resolve the issue now, not later saves the customers’ life time. Simplicity in the infrastructure, process- and knowledge excellence build the foundation for customer satisfaction and will reduce costs.

Now that you have saved your customers and your staffs life time, you both want to spend it again. Contacting customers proactively in order to provide value to them, your staff and your company is the highest level of service.

If you are nice to your staff, they will be nice to your customers

As a leader, you’re the service agent for your customer service staff. They need all the support they can get from you. There is nothing more depressing than not being able to solve a customer’s issue because you don’t have the tools, the authority or the knowledge. Servant leadership requires leaders to shift their mindset from expecting to be served, to serving the employees. In the future, employees will choose which executive they want to work for.

Hire A players with a great profile that can develop into other departments. Pushing people to the next level is great for your department because they will never forget how they felt being on the phone with a complaining customer.

Creating FAQ is not a solution but a problem

You might think that launching FAQ is a good thing. Somehow it is. Now, isn’t it the abbreviation for frequently asked questions? What does this frequency really tell? Many customers seem to have the same problem. Once you put your top FAQ online, you already forgot about a broken process, an annoying procedure the customers have to go through. The content of FAQ must change often.

You are the immune system

Yes, the service levels are bad because … Very likely it is about a broken process, the server was down, the voucher code didn’t work, etc etc. All that may be true. However foresee, backup and spend your time finding solutions. Remember that in every living organism, there are diseases. And you are the immune system. Communicate what’s broken so that the disease won’t return. Cure the broken process once and for all, not its symptoms. Once the customer has reached out to you, fix it straight away or it will spread. Directly at the source and in collaboration with your whole customer-led organisation.

Bucket contacts and use a simple 5-Why-technique

Some try to find hope in the statistics. Which processes have dead ends? Why are customers contacting you? If you are lucky and have the data, it is often so high level that no one really knows exactly what to do with it. Allowing your staff to work on the solution directly after the customer contact. If you don’t have great BI, let your agents categorize the contact into four simple buckets “eliminate”, “automate”, “simplify” and “intensify” adding the “how”.

What is the exact solution? Use an easy 5-Why-Technique i.e. Why did the customer, Heidi contacted Stephanie from customer service? Because Heidi wanted to change her personal data. Why can’t she do it online herself? Because there is no such option in the app. Why is there no option? Because product has to build it yet. Why did product not build it yet? Because no one made product team aware that Heidi wanted it. Why? Because there is no process in place (Bucket: “to automate”, Problem: Heidi cannot change her personal data. Solution: a) Assign a responsible and create a process to makes product aware of customers problems. b) Make it possible to change personal data in-app for customers c) communicate the solution back to Heidi “Hi Heid, it’s me, Steph. We talked today in regards to the fact that you couldn’t change your data. I wanted to inform you that I have informed the product team about it. They have added it to the 2020 roadmap […]”

Incentives that are related to closed-loops.

Recycling is always good. Same goes for your customers contact reasons. Create a process where you put the question the customer had plus your agents answer into the chatbot, your FAQ or your internal knowledge base. And if you have closed the loop to automate or eliminate the contact, why not incentivising the staff that solved the issue once and for all?

Ask the customer if the inquiry was resolved or not. Get employees invested in your CX focus and pay out a little bonus if the customers say “resolved, check”. If not, use the return to sender technique to close the gap of not going the extra mile.

And if you are very, very good with predicting what the next question of your customer is. Why not sending a proactive follow up the Amazon-way: “Customers who had this question were also interested in getting an answer to …”

Customer satisfaction is not transactional

Allow your staff to ask customers during contact some emotional questions that make customers think. „If you could turn back time and make the decision to become a customer of ours again, would you still choose us?” If it’s not a clear YES, it’s a NO. Tweak and fine-tune every single piece of work to build a true service identity. Asking for customer satisfaction is not transactional. It comes from within. In a private relationship in which you would always want to make your loved ones happy and make them feel great, you ask them often, you ask them randomly, you ask authentically, you ask them as an individual person. You don’t focus only on these days where your friends have severe problems. You are truly interested, constantly. Same goes for customers. It is not a summarized percentage in an Excel Sheet. It is an individual person. How happy is sh/e with us now?

Customers are not using your product? Get personal.

Your customers made the effort to research the best suitable product, they went through reviews, they signed up, they finished the double opt- in. And then, they don’t use the product. That should concern you a lot. Some companies are happy with these types of customers. They might have a subscription and pay only a few dollars a year. So, they might not even notice or, financially it doesn’t hurt them too much. And you might be happy that your customers do not contact you because they don’t use the product. But that backfires someday. Because there is zero loyalty towards your company. These customers will leave you.

Create a beautiful on-boarding process. Contact your customers proactively, activate and engage with them as often as possible. But also, don’t forget the other way around. Appreciate inactive customers who have become active again themselves. Make it super personal and individual. Your customers will be grateful.

Make quality visible

Over time, if you can feel your quality reached the top and customers talk about it, remember to make your quality visible. You are the heroes of communication. Make your staff visible. Vlogs, Blogs, streaming, stages. Because the quality of Customer Service is not only the content piece of knowledge or service level. It is also about the look and feel. Think of it as a diamond. Wear it with pride.