Customer Service Systems: Not just another inbox

Thinking about how to implement a Customer Service System to avoid the system being used as just another mailbox, as just a different way to receive emails from customers and send replies. A customer services system should be so much more, and with some consideration it can be. And I think that consideration starts with agreeing some principles.

Good Customer Service starts with principles

Four principles that are important to me for customer services are ‘Presenting one organisation to the customer’, ‘Customer experience is everyone’s responsibility’, ‘Aiming for the fastest route to resolution’, and ‘Building capacity for information sharing across the organisation’.

Presenting one organisation to the customer

I heard a stat from some customer services research that said that companies that have three ways for customers to contact them only answer the same question with the same answer 23% of the time. Three channels of communication and the giving customers the same answer falls to 8%. And if a company has four means of speaking with customers the same answer is provided 0% of the time. A good customer service system coupled with an organisational shift to wanting to be customer-centric is important for presenting one organisation to the customer. And presenting one organisation to the customer is simply what customers expect.

Customer Experience is everyone’s responsibility

This is a favourite of mine. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in the organisation writes replies to customers (although that is one way to go) but it’s vital that everyone in the organisation understands how they play a part in the experience a customer has of the organisation. Making the aim of providing excellent customers experience the responsibility of the finance clerk who banks cheques, the warehouse picker who double checks he’s got the right items, and the customer service agent who takes an extra few minutes to properly understand the issue the customer is facing helps the principle to filter throughout the entire organisation.

Aiming for the fastest route to resolution

Speed is important but competency is more important. There is little point being fast if the answer doesn’t resolve the customers issue as they’ll be back with further questions. Aiming for the fastest route to resolution involves understanding and optimising the route. This means being able to analyse reoccurring issues to fix the cause and identify barriers to resolution, so it isn’t quite as simple as just answering the customer as quickly as possible, it requires a lot more thought and even more action.

Building capacity for information sharing across the organisation

Answers found for one customer should be available for other customers and for other agents. This principles is important for optimising the discoverability of answers and encouraging self-serve. For the agents it means having a comprehensive knowledgebase that is kept up to date with new answers added by people from all across the organisation. For customers it means having a front-end system available that gives them the answers they need when they need them.

Principles, and getting everyone bought into them, are essential for shifting people’s thinking from ‘just another inbox’ to having and using a customer service system that delivers real value to the organisation and it’s customers.