If you could identify what the one biggest problem about customer service is, what would it be?
There are a ton of common mistakes that customer service reps make, such as failing to follow up or not building a relationship, but there’s one single problem that above all things should be avoided or fixed as soon as possible: Not being the solution.
The main point of having customer service is to assist customers with an inquiry or a problem. And what could be more frustrating than having to call customer service thinking that the person behind the other line was trained to get rid of your dilemma or clear any confusion, but they couldn’t?
Customer service reps are supposed to be the experts, they’re supposed to be the solution. Your politeness, tone of speaking, and practiced lines are not the things that make a call successful, it’s resolving an issue and making sure that you really fixed it.
When Customer Service Agents Can’t Be the Solution
Picture this: A customer calls customer service. He talks about the problem in great detail to an agent, but the first agent couldn’t solve his problem so the customer drops the call. But the thing is, he still hasn’t found a solution, so he calls again and is connected to a different agent. He talks about the problem again in great detail, but he still can’t get any results with this new agent. The customer gets more frustrated and asks to talk to a supervisor, and the first step happens again. What a tough day for that customer.
Now, if only the first agent was able to resolve the customer’s issue on that first call, then none of those things would have happened.
A similar kind of customer service story happened with the wife of Forbes contributor, Adrian Swinscoe. In his article in Forbes, he said that when his wife found herself locked out of her bank account, she called the call center and spoke with an agent who went through all of the security protocols, but the problem wasn’t fixed. She called back and spoke with a second agent, who again went through the protocols, but the problem persisted. Now very frustrated and irate, she calls back again and talks to a third agent. Unlike the first two agents who went through the security protocols, this one had a look around her account settings and their systems and located the problem. The problem was successfully fixed.
Swinscoe had a couple of questions in mind regarding the experience of his wife, but let’s focus on this one: “How is it that some customer service agents can fix things in an instant and others need to be called back again and again to get things fixed?”
This kind of customer service experience isn’t actually uncommon. There really are those customer service agents who just have the “super power” to be the solution. Swinscoe calls them “super users” – agents who have a higher level of skill and knowledge of the service.
Multiply the Super Users
While every company has a couple of super users among their agents, the problem is that they know that they have an edge and they want to keep it that way – by not sharing their skills and knowledge. How can you make them share? Swinscoe came up with a list of ideas that he found are proven to work.
- Identify who the super users are
- Acknowledge them and give recognition from time to time
- Give them an additional title
- Ask them to share their experiences
- Ask them to mentor and train others
- Consider giving them incentives and bonuses
It may be costly in terms of effort, salaries, and bonuses, but having your own people to share their skills and knowledge instead of hiring more super users (who can be hard to find) for the improvement of your company’s customer service will be greatly beneficial.