You are a distraction 

By  Michael Goh

Coverage of “The Future of CX” conference held in London 7 June 2018

I wasn’t expecting to be labelled a “distraction” right off the bat at “The Future of CX” conference held in London 7 June, but that was genuinely the welcome afforded us by Mikkel Svane, CEO and co-founder of Zendesk. Mikkel resembles a bearded hipster who chucks a dinner jacket over T-shirt and jeans to any formal event, and speaks unguardedly with an easy, personable charm of a man who, whilst confident in the substance of his words, doesn’t feel the need to embellish them with corporate gravitas.

So yes, a 600-strong auditorium of Customer Service and Experience professionals were accused of being “distractions” by the co-founder of a revolutionary CX platform that continues to disrupt the industry 10 years on from its inception. Mikkel hastens to explain (loosely paraphrased, I’m not a dictaphone!).

In this technologically pervasive world, the average smartphone user is bombarded with close to 20 push notifications a day; Your Amazon Prime free trial will expire in 3 days. You’ve used 80% of your mobile data allocation for this month. Your ebay package has been sent. Leave a feedback on AirBNB… Factoring in emails and text messages, the 21st century individual is constantly distracted from his/her prime task. Being in touch with customer service to resolve an issue is undoubtedly a distraction that detracts from a customer’s day, and as CX professionals we need to minimise the pain caused to them in their interactions with us.

Mikkel touches on 3 key points that could prove useful in achieving this.

1. Do what you say you’ll do

Seems pretty obvious, but how many of us have experienced chasing up a previously-agreed refund or replacement, told it was in the process and it’ll be resolved in 5 – 10 working days, calling back after that timeframe only to be told it’s been escalated and blah blah, 5 – 10 working days yada yada we’ll get back to you? Clients expect companies to simply deliver the service they agreed to.
In this highly automated world, having to contact customer service usually means something has gone wrong, which is a distraction. Having to chase up on the initial contact, for no good reason other than that the organisation had dropped the ball, is unforgivable.
On a fundamental level, agents need to be responsible and deliver what they’ve promised. Zendesk, by default, informs the customer by way of email when an update occurs on their case, which includes the agent’s identity. This fosters accountability on the agent’s end, and the added transparency demonstrates to the client that they’re not just dealing with another faceless corporation.

Sometimes agents head off for holidays, or work part time. Zendesk facilitates seamless ticket re-assignment, and the ability to leave internal notes on a case for a more effective handover. When used properly, this ensures someone always has an eye on the ball.

Do what you say you’ll do
Do what you say you’ll do

2. Get ahead of your customers

Humans are quite a predictable bunch. If I’ve been promised delivery by the weekend, and I’m sitting here now sans parcel Tuesday the week after, I could be expected to feel aggrieved. How much less annoyed would I be if I received a message before the weekend, apologising for the delay due to a transportation strike, with an updated ETA and a voucher for 20% off my next purchase?
Prophylactically solving or mitigating your client’s problems turns you from a distraction to an attraction, leaving a positive impact and perhaps securing a repeat customer. Zendesk API allows developers to pull data from other commercial platforms, such as Magento, and display them on the same screen as an app. So when viewing a client profile, it would be possible to have their purchase history, delivery schedule any other relevant information, at the agent’s fingertips.

3. Don’t lose the thread

So you call up customer service, sit through queries on your date of birth / favourite colour / mother’s maiden name to prove your identity, provide a lengthy explanation of your issue, only to be told it’s not their scope, transferred to another department who then begins by asking for your mother’s maiden name. Nothing could be more infuriating.
Clients want a seamless experience. The organisation is a single entity to them, not a collection of 50 agents across 10 departments. What would make life easier for these 50 agents, short of melding their brains together, would be to have a platform where each customer’s communication history, regardless via email, phone, web form or live-chat, is plainly available. Saves on clients repeating themselves, saves on agent abuse copped on account of justifiable client frustration. Wins all around.

Don’t lose the thread
Don’t lose the thread

In summary, the opportunities for growth are ubiquitous, where scaling up doesn’t have to mean being more of a distraction to your clients. Appeasing them with the minimal amount of interaction is the name of the game. Sorry, I had to laugh. Mikkel, a native Dane, shared how he had a public speaking coach that taught him to pronounce “ubiquitous” correctly, and so now he drops it in every second sentence he says. I digress. Distractions… yes. Don’t be one ☺

About the author 

Michael Goh

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