Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Fixing broken service systems, part of Managing a Customer Service Team.
- Customer service employees are often blamed for problems they didn't cause and they aren't able to fix. These problems are the result of broken service systems. It might be a poor product, or unreliable service, or a procedure that just doesn't work. These situations demotivate employees, aggravate customers, and waste everyone's time. As customer service leaders we need to identify these situations and try to fix them. This video will show you how to search for broken service systems in your organization.
You can download the Service Systems Worksheet to use as a guide as I walk you through the steps. Let's start by identifying a customer service problem that's outside of your employees' control. I'll use an example from a software company that has a few bugs in its latest software update. Start by describing the problem at the top of the worksheet. In this case, the bugs are causing a spike in contact volume, and some customers have to wait up to an hour to speak to an agent when they call. Before we start thinking about solutions, it's helpful to identify the impact of this problem on an Individual, Department, and Organizational level.
At an Individual level, a problem like this could really affect morale. Customers are angry about the bug. Long hold times are making customers angrier. And it's stressful to work with all these angry customers. We can then look at the impact from a Team perspective. There's a one hour plus hold times, when the standard is less than 30 seconds. There's a 10% decrease in customer satisfaction. And overtime costs are up 17%. Finally, let's look at the Organizational impact of the problem.
Account cancellations are up 11%. And revenue has decreased 13% to budget. Completing this worksheet for a problem in your organization will help you re-frame the issue to focus on the business impact. Now let's see if we can come up with some solutions. We can start at the Individual level again. Here are two things that might help our employees work through this challenge. Empathizing with customers can make them feel better at the end of the interaction than they did at the beginning. When stress levels increase, employees might be tempted to speed through the contact.
Focusing instead on first-contact resolution can uncover opportunities to answer additional questions and ensure customers don't need to call a second time. Now let's see what we can do at a Team level. One solution is use even more overtime to clear the backlog. Customers often contact companies multiple times when they're waiting for an issue to be resolved. So we can actually reduce our contacts and get our queue back to a manageable level. This can actually save us overtime expense in the long run. We can also try triaging our contacts by assigning our most experienced reps to tackle the most challenging problems, and having our less exprerienced reps handle the easiest questions.
This can allow everyone to work a little faster. Now, these ideas might buy our team some temporary breathing room, but the won't fix the fundamental problem. For this, we'll need to involve other department leaders. They might not care if our team is swamped with calls, but they should be interested in fixing a problem that's causing the company both customers and money. Here's some solutions we might be able to create with the help of other leaders. The software team could issue a patch to fix the bug. We could also rope in the marketing team to proactively communicate to fix the customers who might be affected but don't know it yet.
This could prevent a lot of customers from contacting the customer service team if they receive the fix automatically. OK. Now that we walked through an example, it's your turn. Try to identify a customer service problem that wasn't caused by your team, and use the Service Systems Worksheet to identify solutions. The exercise can shift employees' focus from feeling blamed, to feeling positive about helping to solve a challenging problem.
- Clearly defining outstanding service for employees
- Evaluating service quality
- Identifying obstacles to outstanding service
- Aligning resources to optimize service delivery
- Calculating the cost of poor service