Most companies view customer support like a soup kitchen. Customers queue up with their problems, and you dole out the soup.
In reality, your customer service reps are probably spending most of their time scooping water out of your boat.
The phones start ringing, and it’s all hands on deck. Chances are you have very little idea what they’re scooping and why. If the water rises, you lean on them to scoop faster, and if that fails, you hire more scoopers. If you view the problem from a scooping perspective, that makes perfect sense.
If you view the problem from a hole-plugging perspective, it makes no sense at all.
It’s like the line from C.S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: “One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat.”
The truth is that CSRs can actually get in trouble for trying to plug holes because it takes them away from their ‘primary’ duties. I did, repeatedly.
It was actually after, not before, saving our call center an estimated 70 man-hours a week with a better process, (and the recognition that followed,) that I was explicitly prohibited from any further such work.
You can become so fixated on the metrics rather than on the realities, that you can actually start to believe that someone’s taking time to plug holes is a distraction that’s holding them (and you) back!
And while you’re keeping track of your metrics, your customers are keeping their own – how many times they have to keep calling you.
The smart way to resolve a customer issue is to make sure it never happens again – even if it means missing a call, or letting an email sit for a while.
It’s a reversal of priority. And that’s key.
In a 2011 interview with Wired, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, put it this way: “Every time a customer contacts us, we see it as a defect… And so we use all of our customer service information to find the root cause of any customer contact. What went wrong? Why did that person have to call? Why aren’t they spending that time talking to their family instead of talking to us? How do we fix it?”
There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we think about customer support and what we pay attention to. Organizations must be constantly learning, identifying trends and leveraging those insights to improve the organization.
That means utilizing Customer Support as a business intelligence unit, rather than a bucket brigade. Insights from customer service need to be made actionable – and reward systems built around identifying trends and stopping leaks.
Want to get a better idea of what’s going on between you and your customers? One way is to take advantage of Modria’s reporting and business analytic tools to surface these insights faster. Modria’s Policy Center then allows real-time adjustments to take action.
Then, put your people to work doing higher-level support: identifying trends, talking to customers, making products and processes that fit and are adaptable.
That’s the real way to plug holes and get your company into shipshape!
About Jason Morris
Jason Morris has over a decade of experience in customer success roles and currently works as a CSR in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area. He has a B.S. in Psychology and Social Work. His latest educational endeavor was the completion of a course in Product Management through General Assembly. Jason believes that customer support is ripe for disruption and has a passion for helping make that happen.