Is your online/offline customer service process in sync?

Why the human factor is so important in the automated customer service process.

For all of the resources that companies are pouring into automating the customer’s journey, many are falling woefully behind in training their frontline personnel in the automated customer service process.

Automating back office customer service functions is nothing new. Companies are obsessed with efficiency, implementing automated customer service systems, and reducing head count as a way to increase efficiency and reduce cost.

However, when a customer does require a company representative for advice or to solve a problem, just how informed is that person as to the steps in the automated process and does that individual have the authority to override the automated system?

A tale of two national transportation brands

Recently, we relocated, contracting with a nationally branded moving firm to facilitate the move and store the contents of our house until we secured another residence. My customer journey started with internet research of available options and associated costs. In addition, I paid a personal visit to the moving facility to examine the moving containers in order to ascertain their feasibility and functionality to move an entire house, and storage options available once the shipment reached the intended location.

Needless to say, the reality of moving is never as easy as portrayed on the website. Along the way I interacted with several knowledgeable individuals who were very familiar with their digital service offering and the associated logistics of moving from point A to point B. All was going well until it came time to deliver the containers to the new location.

At the local level, I encountered several individuals who were less then helpful. While 90% of my customer journey I would rate as satisfactory or exceeding expectations, the last 10% reminded me that it only takes one bad experience to trash a brand’s reputation.

I always try to benchmark my customer experiences against Southwest Airlines. Yes, they are a low cost, no frills carrier, but their employees are some of the best-trained and prepared brand ambassadors in the business. Their people exemplify the brand’s core values and commitment to providing the best possible customer experience by being given the authority to solve any problems with the least amount of inconvenience.

Contrast this to my experience, where it took hours of phone calls, to several layers of management before receiving what was promised when I contracted with their service.

There are many steps on the customer journey. Each encounter is an opportunity for the brand to demonstrate their core values and how the customer should be treated. It is also an opportunity to create a positive emotional connection with the brand, leading to a customer advocate relationship that brings in new customers into the fold.

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