There are consequences behind every customer service interaction, whether they are said aloud by the customer or not.
When products and services don’t work as they should, or when customers are struggling with other issues, there’s a reason for the panic or anger that sometimes manifests itself. If a package doesn’t arrive on time, they might miss a deadline and get in trouble with their boss, for example. If the product doesn’t work properly (or at all), they might lose face for having recommended the company buy it -- and might not get asked for their opinion on the next big decision. If the way they use the product somehow makes a bad situation worse, they might even get fired.
One of the most negative perceptions someone might have about a customer service team, meanwhile, is that no one really cares. They just want to get you off the phone, or to wrap up the social media interaction and move on to the next one. The customer feels like they’re dealing with a team that operates more like a corporate machine than a collection of empathetic human beings.
The root of all this can be summed up in one word: “outcomes.”
Great customer service -- which starts by having tools like Service Cloud in place -- looks past the symptoms when someone reaches out by phone, email, social media or an in-person visit and immediately determines the outcome a customer wants. You could generalize and say the universal outcome is “to have my problem solved” or simply “to be helped,” but look one step beyond that.
When the customer service interaction is over, what’s the ideal future state for that customer -- what will they be doing or experiencing that it is really important? How bad will it be if they don’t get to that point?
Answering those questions brings a more holistic, personal level of service that makes customers deeply loyal, but it’s almost like an act of translating from one language to another. Think about what you or your customer service team might hear and the customer outcomes that they’re thinking about in the background:
Customers may try to start using a product and realize they are missing something. It could be a code or password to activate the product or one of its features. In some cases it’s details that might have been in an owner’s manual or other documentation. Then there are times when a customer hasn’t bought anything but is just trying to get more details about products, services or other company information they need to move forward.
Any customer outcome behind this kind of service interaction can be translated into: “I want time.” They don’t want to give time away looking for answers they feel should be readily apparent, and they want to allocate more of their time to what they feel is truly valuable -- like the value they want from a product they purchased.
Besides creating better FAQ pages or improving the navigation experience of a web site, this is where a chatbot might be able to quickly and simply address questions and meet the customer outcomes. Search and retrieval functionality is at the heart of what chatbots were designed to do, and when they use artificial intelligence (AI) technology like Einstein, they get better at predicting the next thing customers will be hunting around to find.
Customers should not have to feel like they’re starting from scratch when they try to use a product for the first time. No should they feel like they need an additional college degree in order to figure out whatever tutorial material or other documentation was provided to them when they made the purchase.
Translation? “I want to learn easily.” These are not customers who will want to spend a lot of time on the phone, social media or other channel where they’re waiting for an expert to be free. This is where self-service portals give customers a feeling of empowerment as they take matters into their own hands.
Similarly, customer communities where they can learn from their peers will not only ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by a product’s complexity but that they can eventually share knowledge back as they get up to speed with all its inner workings.
Maybe there was a defect. Maybe the product didn’t integrate or work well with something else the customer has in place. Maybe they installed it improperly. Whatever the cause, the outcome is the same: the customer is no further to their achieving the outcome they wanted.
In this case, you could translate that outcome as, “I want to win.” Yes, all customers want to win in some sense, but consider the fact that in many cases, a product is purchased to solve a problem or address a pain point. When the product doesn’t work, the customer is not only not winning -- they now have an additional problem to address before they can get to their original win. In their minds, your company has just compounded their challenges rather than alleviated any of them.
Great service teams have escalation processes in place for a reason. If the situation can’t be resolved by simple troubleshooting, the customer will need the best subject matter expert available. Then, it’s worth seeing if the team can do anything to accelerate their use of the product so that the original problem can be overcome on schedule.
When you use Service Cloud, customers won’t feel like they have to retell their entire history with the company to get their issue addressed. Make sure that, along with all the transaction history, you also look at building information about customer outcomes into the data you manage and collect. Then talk about how you’re working to help them reach those outcomes, rather than just solve a problem or answer a question. It will make the difference between being “just another company” and one that is in lock-step with them on their path to success.