I’ve written a lot about CRM and customer service. Bad service can sabotage even the best CRM strategy, but adapting service to cope with the evolving customer and, more importantly, evolving customer expectations is difficult. It’s doubly difficult in businesses where the view of service persists that it’s a cost center. (Hint: it’s no longer a cost center – in fact, it’s the key to your ability to retain customers and maximize their value to your business over their entire customer lifecycle. Change your thinking now – you’ll thank me later.)
A great place to start centers on what Paul Greenberg termed “doing the basics” in a blog post many years ago (my apologies for not being able to find it – but it was a long, long time ago). That means that when people have a question around something basic about your business, they should be able to find the answer on their own on your web page. Where do I send payments? Where are you located? What’s your return policy? Your hours of operation? How can I reach you over the phone or through other channels? This stuff is really basic. But a lot of businesses don’t have this kind of bread-and-butter information easily accessible on their website, thus forcing customers out of the self-service mode and into the “I gotta call these guys” mode. Then, support does start to become an expense.
The next level is characterized by something that happened in the office today. It’s when a company analyzes its own unique business, spots common service issues, and makes it easy for customers to resolve them on their own. Specifically, I’m talking about SurveyMonkey, in this case. The team developing this year’s SugarCon sent out a one-question poll to attendees of this year’s event and last year’s asking about a potential location for 2014.
Sangita Patel, the extremely competent woman running registration, set up the poll – but for detailed information, you have to pay. She didn’t want to pay out of her own pocket, especially since there was an account in-house already, so she wanted to transfer the poll to that account.
Did she have to call an agent to make the switch? No. SurveyMonkey included the “how to” about this on its web page. A few simple steps later, the survey was transferred to the right account and Sangita was on her way – a satisfied customer, and one satisfied with the expenditure of very, very little on SurveyMonkey’s part.
When we talk about customer self-service, too often we think in terms of the customer off-loading work from our service organizations. In reality, we need to do the work for the customer by anticipating when and where our processes could cause confusion or uncertainty, then developing ways for the customer to solve his or her own problem. That’s why SurveyMonkey gets a “Bravo Zulu” for their ability to project ahead and give customers the tools to solve basic problems.
Heard of any other examples of businesses thinking the right way about customer self-service? Let me know in the comments section.