More Service Channels doesn’t mean Better Customer Service

by Jeff Wiener on March 18, 2014

Today’s technology affords businesses an unprecedented number of avenues to connect with customers, everything from the more traditional phone, text, and email to newer additions like live chat, microblogging, and social media. But as new service channels emerge I’ve noticed often times that companies embrace these new options without fully understanding how they compliment the rest of the customer service system or without fully understanding the medium itself.

Further, I’ve noticed a distinct trend in how businesses approach these service channels, often seeing the new service as the answer to other extant customer service issues, adopting the new medium with the hope of finding the solution without first taking the time to solve the root cause(s) of their troubles.

Simply put, by utilizing Twitter it doesn’t mean your business can continue to provide substandard service over the phone, or via email. By opening new service channels to replace struggling ones you don’t create better customer service, instead you only create multiple points of failure.

With a myriad of avenues providing customer connection the challenge for the modern business is not discovering which channel is the best, but how to master them all, understanding that, as CRM Buyer writer Christopher J. Bucholtz notes, “They all have their own nuances, and they all place specific demands on your staff.”

But as I mentioned, far too often companies consider new service mediums as solutions to their current service problems, the thinking that if only they could master social media the company could forget how poor it is at customer relationships over the phone. The point is, without discovering the root causes of your customer service struggles, your business would be ill-advised to add additional channels.

“In some cases,” Bucholtz writes, “the addition of a new channel to facilitate customer service is seen as a replacement or a workaround for an existing channel that is failing. Usually, it’s not the channel that’s not working — it’s some other underlying issue. Without fixing that issue — and thereby fixing the way you satisfy the customer today — you’re merely setting yourself up to fail via multiple channels.”

In a world where multiple communication channels allow a variety of methods for customers to access and interact with your business it’s not enough to simply be good a one, foregoing the others. In today’s business world a company will be judged on how well it provides consistent service across all channels, and such service can only be provided by a solid team, technology is but merely the vessel.

As Bucholtz explains, “It’s not enough to be great at servicing customers through texts and terrible over the phone, or to be responsive via Twitter and asleep at the wheel over email. Your business will be known by how well it provides service consistently across all media.”

To fully utilize the myriad of channels for customer service, businesses must first take stock of their own service model, understanding their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses, understanding that new tools like Twitter and text aren’t meant to solve service problems, but compliment a strong service team.

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