January 4, 2022

The Three Day Evolution of Customer Service Organizations: From Surviving to Thriving

5 min
Oran Aviv
Head of Growth & Operations, Interai

Here’s a metaphor:

Imagine someone being stranded on a deserted island after surviving an airplane crash. Let's call him Rob (after Robinson Crusoe).

 The first few days on this island will be a struggle for survival for Rob.

He will put most of his efforts into trying to figure out where he can sleep without being something’s dinner and which non-poisonous food he can consume so he can make it to the next day. Pure survival mode.

If Rob gets past this mode alive, his focus will shift. Building a permanent shelter, finding a more sustainable way to collect fruits from the trees, crafting his machete, perhaps a raft, improving his well being, and optimizing other daily tasks that he performed in the early days so he can do them faster and better will become more important (why fish with a stick when he can build a net?).

Ultimately, he’ll reach a point where he can extract and create good experiences from every challenge he faces(efficiently collecting coconut water from the coconut that almost killed him)and have a nice-almost-laid-back life. Perhaps Rob will use his raft to visit other islands, or he may find himself supporting other people on the island who need help (this metaphor has been hard enough for me so let’s just assume he found some) and improve his social ties and overall quality of life.

This, in a nutshell, is the perfect analogy to the overall evolution of customer service organizations.

Not all customer service organizations are born equal. As a matter of fact, every organization has its unique way of operating. Having said that, there are three phases in the evolution of customer service organizations that almost every consumer company goes through.

Day 1: Survival mode

“Thank you for contacting us, how can I assist you today?”

In this phase, you are focused on good old Customer Support.

In this phase, the customer support organization tries to accomplish the most basic KPI to survive - killing support tickets.

There are X amount of tickets, and we need to resolve them ASAP. At this phase, the north star of organizations is cost and efficiency above all else. This is when the organization builds its routing solutions, communication channels, and agent profile while establishing its end-to-end customer operations. Moreover, the org views customers as support tickets and “orders” at this phase. The Support MO is one-size-fits-all – they are yet to have a notion of who you are as a customer and lack the context of your overall journey with the organization, so all customers are treated the same way.

Your #1 KPI here is Average Handling Time(AHT), deriving other metrics such as Mean-Time-To-Response (MTTR), etc.

Day 2: Optimizing daily tasks and beginning to focus on  well being & quality of life

“Hi X! Thank you for contacting us, I see that you called us yesterday regarding your order, which was shipped this morning. How can I assist you today?”

You have moved from pure Support to Customer Care in this phase, and you’re probably using customer care tools.

Organizations that have managed to overcome survival mode will now enter Day 2. In this phase, they will review all their operational systems and workflows and think about how they can do it better -how they can optimize cost while also focusing on interaction quality.

These organizations have moved from “orders” and “tickets” and are now focused on how to create a more delightful experience for their customers – both by knowing who the customer is and what they have been through with them (breaking the one-size-fits-all mold) and also by segmenting their Customer Care into subject matter expert teams(billing-related, technical support, tier 1 / tier 2).

Your top KPIs here are efficiency-oriented(Average Handling Time among others), yet also include quality metrics such as SAT (Customer Satisfaction).

Day 3: Focus on improving quality of life, having better daily experiences while exploring new and exciting adventures

“Hi X! How are you? Thank you for contacting us, I see that you called us yesterday regarding your order which was shipped this morning. As a loyal customer, I want to offer you a $20 coupon as compensation for the delivery delay inconvenience. Also, since you have purchased new glasses, I wanted to see whether you’d be interested in purchasing contact lenses as well, with a special Loyalty discount and free shipping! ”

Congrats! This phase is when you truly become a customer experience(CX) organization.

This phase is the holy grail of every customer-facing org. That is to say; the org is mature and optimized enough for the team and its leaders to allocate more resources to support the company’s broader efforts of retention & loyalty (revenue loss prevention), revenue generation (upsell, cross-sell), marketing campaigns introducing new products or services, and improving product stickiness and adoption.

The CX organization leverages the fact it is the forefront of the company: the real, human touchpoint of customers with the company, and so by creating a comprehensive view that brings together all the customer context, info, and history in real-time, it is not only able to ensure phenomenal, personalized customer experience effortlessly (resolving any customer inquiry in a personalized manner) but also to provide tailored offers to and get insights from their customers, to create a better ongoing relationship between customers and the company, boosting loyalty and retention which are at the core of every company’s strategy.

This is why phase 3 is the holy grail of any consumer company, creating a win-win-win-win situation:

  • Customers get a personalized, tailored experience.
  • Service agents can focus on fostering better, human relationships with customers instead of just killing tickets as if they were bots.
  • CX managers find the perfect balance between efficiency and sky-high customer satisfaction, moving from a cost to a profit center.
  • The whole company benefits from better customer retention and higher Customer life time value that boosts revenue and skyrockets its brand.

So far, the question you were probably asking yourself is, which phase you are at and where (and how) you’d want to go next? You were also probably wondering what it takes to get there (hint: it has everything to do with your systems).

Share your thoughts and insights with us!

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