Roger Swannell

Tag: customerexperience (page 1 of 2)

Closing the loop in Customer Service

No customer contacts Customer Service for the sake of it. They do it because they have hit a barrier somewhere else in the organisation that is stopping them from achieving the things they set out to do, and they turn to the Customer Service to offer solutions.

When this happens customers want:

  • To be able to contact an organisation in ways that suit them.
  • To have their questions answered quickly, accurately and in language that suits them.
  • To feel listened to and understood.
  • To get back to doing the thing that they wanted to do in the first place. (Sometimes this is impossible and there is no solution, sometimes the customer journey goes into a dead end, what then?)

Organisations need:

  • Tools/systems/processes/teams to facilitate these outcomes for the customers.
  • To have a process for understanding the barriers and dead ends and deciding what to do about them.

Customer Service in isolation helps the problems to keep occuring.

Customer are the best testers an organisation could ever have. They’ll break every process, introduce every edge case, overcome every barrier and dead end. The challenge is to get that feedback from customers, through the Customer Service team, and on to the teams that can use it to make improvements. Close the loop.

Why I love customer service

The majority of my role is focused on improvement projects. Only maybe a sixth of my time is spent on the operational side of the business. And maybe only a sixth of that time is spent on answering customer service queries.

But, I think customer service is the most important part of what I do. I look at customer service queries every day, not because I’m necessarily the best person to answer them, but because it’s a good way to see what’s going on for our customers.

‘Getting closer to customers’ is one of the principles I think a lot about in how we improve and grow the business, and of course providing excellent support for our customers is a vital part of that, but more than that, our customers tell us how we should improve the business so we should definitely listen to them.

Improving our customer services

Today we went live with our new customer services system.

It’s a very Kanban-ish with all the tickets visible, each ticket having a status and states to move through (open, waiting & resolved), each ticket having an owner which means only one person can work on it at any time, and tickets having an SLA which serves to limit the work in progress.

The new system will help the eight people across three sites involved in customer services to be more coordinated in how they help customers and achieve our principles:

  • Shared: We all work together to give the customer the best experience of the BHF. Customer experience is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Speed: We want to provide the fastest route to resolution for the customer.
  • Satisfaction: We want the customer to feel satisfied with the resolution, keep the relationship intact and maintaining the reputation of the BHF.

Is Single Sign On really good for customer experience?

Lots of organisations have multiple websites and online services that require users to have an account with a user ID and password. Often these sites and services were developed in isolation to each other and then the idea of providing users with Single Sign On (SSO) comes along and organisations begin working on how to offer SSO across all platforms, and often in the name of providing good Customer Experience.

Is SSO good for Customer Experience?

The idea of using a Single Sign On service seems like it should be good for customer experience. SSO should make it easier for your customers to access services using only one set of account details, which makes it easier for them to remember. But I’m not so sure. It seems to me that it breaks one of the core principles of good customer experience: allowing the customer to choose how they interact with the service. From the customer’s perspective it could also be seen to be affecting the principle of being transparent as to the user, they effectively already have an account on a site that they might have never even visited (even though actually they only have one account with the organisation).

I’ve also seen poor customer experience resulting from using a central website as the Identity Provider (IDP) for other websites and when a customer tries to reset their password on one of the satellite sites and is taken to the main site to do but then left to manually search for the site they were originally on. Creating dead-ends isn’t good for customer experience.

Done well, SSO should be good for the organisation as it provides a single-view of the customer and their behaviour, but achieving this isn’t an easy task. And what is good for the organisation should be good for the customers of a customer-centric organisation, but again, achieving this is a difficult thing to do.

SSO Vs. Social Login

Social Login (using Twitter, Facebook or Google) is often used for sites like Medium, but this is different to SSO. Social Login has the benefit of making the user feel in control of the account and that the site that that are logging into isn’t holding and info on them (other than user behaviour data such as which pages they’ve visited). Social Login differs from SSO as the external site (e.g. Twitter) serves as the IDP but only as a way of identifying the user, not as a way to hold information such as delivery address about them.

What’s the solution?

Maybe sites that are part of the ecosystem of online sites and services for an organisation should offer customers the option of logging into a site using their account, but this isn’t really SSO as the point of it is that once you’re logged in on one site you can move between sites and will be already and automatically logged into those too.

Maybe if services like Twitter or Google allowed users to hold billing and delivery address details against their accounts then organisations could benefit from providing Social Login to their customers and still use the data provided by the Social IDP for things like order fulfilment. Then maybe the solution is for organisations to have a mind-shift in how they think about customer identity and data to focus on dynamic user behaviour data rather static user identity data.

Maybe the solution hasn’t been invented yet and is an opportunity for a service that allows customers to be in control of their accounts and their personal data, and that allows organisations to authenticate against it as an IDP.

Parking with RingGo 

RingGo is a telephone payment system for car parking. I’ve used it before, albeit a while ago and with a different car, but I figured that having an account with RingGo meant it would be an easier option than finding enough loose change.

So I wrote the car park location number on my hand, got my debit card out and called the RingGo number. The automated voice asked me if my old car was the car I wanted to park, which of course it wasn’t, so I opted to change the car details. The automated voice asked me to speak my number plate and then to confirm that the number plate it repeated to me was correct. When I answered ‘no’ the automated voice told me that I would receive a text message and then hung up on me. Clearly it was something I said.

Good customer experience should be about allowing the customer to choose how to access the service. RingGo could have offered me another go at speaking my number plate instead of deciding for me that the only way was to end the call, reply to the text message, and then call them back. Changing the method of accessing the service without asking the customer is also bad practice.

It’s experiences like this that make me think more about using Product Management techniques to understand the needs of the customer and Service Design to build a service that works how the customer wants it to.

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Copyright © 2018 Roger Swannell

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