How looking out can be the best solution for within
By: Michael McMillan
It does not matter if you are a business of one, or one-thousand; customer service is critical to the long term success of your business. The problem is that most businesses only pay attention to customer service as a reactive cost center that is a necessary evil. This type of thinking is very short sighted, and will just lead to your business's ultimate demise.
The problem my team and I see all too often is that most business leaders are only coached and advised on sales, marketing, and operational efforts and customer experience is left to just figure it out as they go. Luckily for most organizations, customer experience professionals are a resilient bunch and great at almost natural chameleons to change in an organization.
Where the trouble starts is when these customer experience teams are only left with themselves to compare against for best practice. What happens then is what I call the chasing the tail syndrome. Where basically a team will make one change, react to that change and then look back at the original way of doing things and then begin to chase that. They are caught in this eternal loop that sees little to no progress to improving net promoter and customer satisfaction scores.
What then occurs is one of three things I have personally seen play out far too many times.
- The company changes out the leader of the customer experience team hoping a new leadership perspective will be the solution. This works sometimes, but commonly it is just the same thing in a new package and for more money.
- A radical change is made and the company outsources 100% of it’s customer service team to a third party. This provides them a quick cost win as they lose all the labor dollars, and just more the headache to a vendor. I would say I have seen this play out successfully about 20% of the time. The reason being is that when a company pushes 100% of their customer service to a third party they lose touch with the voice of the customer internally.
- Then you have the most rare choice which I actually support the most, which is outsourcing a small portion of your customer service operations to use to learn best practices. Then use that new comparison data to improve your internal teams.
When I was still selling Call Center Outsourcing services I learned early on that by selling option three created a much stronger bond with my client, and would result in a client that would grow into our business which made them very sticky to us. The trouble was that most businesses did not fully understand why they would only push out 10%-20% of their needs when they could save so much money by moving it all out. This always made for interesting conversations with my client’s executive team as well as my own. I mean remember we made way more money if they moved it all too us, but I knew this was not the best thing for my client.
Beyond providing a team with a new source of comparison to improve their key performance indicators and training methods it also provides you with a solution commonly overlooked. By now having an outsourcing team at your beck and call you now also have an insurance plan you are able to leverage to quickly scale your team. This single value add is one item that I would get so frustrated with businesses not paying enough attention to as it would only come to light when things went bad.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. Let's say you sell a product to consumers direct and your fulfillment and warehouse operations has an accident and destroys 80% of your inventory which places you immediately into a back-order situation you were not expecting. What do you do? You only have so many customer service representatives and having your customer sit on eternal hold is just going to make the situation worse.
The solution, if you had a partner, is easy as you would simple redirect traffic to them and force them to scale your team quickly. If you do not have this solution then your only choice is make your customer live through hell trying to get answers from your business, but you not having to the ability to scale your customer experience solution. It is a position no business should ever find the self in.
So my suggestion for your biz is to look at your current customer service solution and ask yourself, “how is that team really performing?”
Have they made any real measurable progress in improving customer experience, or are they just chasing their tail?
Do we have an concrete action plan in the event of a customer service emergency?
Are we able to measure our customer experience scores against more than just our historical data?
If you do not like what you see then really give some thought into locating an outsourcing team that can help you push your team forward in a big way. I can guarantee you that you will be very pleased with the results as long as you get a good team to work with. (Yes that last line is key I know.)
To Your Success & Prosperity!