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CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE END OF THE SINGLE MODEL

20 September 2018

CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE END OF THE SINGLE MODEL

Implementing an effective technical support service for customers is wrought with challenges. Consider the multitude of languages spoken, the different time zones to contend with, the complexity of the problems to resolve, not to mention the impressive number of machines and so forth. However, it is important to consider these elements as assets rather than obstacles in order to think intelligently about the kind of support service that our customers require. Times are changing: Nowadays, social media and the web are extremely popular platforms, and customers increasingly expect a solution-based service. How can we adapt to this reality?


ADAPTATION OF THE SERVICE

The concept of customer service was initially based on the meeting of the merchant and the customer. Then, in the 1960s, changes in the consumer market led to significant economic growth and the establishment of marketing units within companies. A new solution was therefore devised to meet the growing needs of consumers: call centers. This technical assistance model works on the basis of levels, and silo problem solving is used to efficiently handle—so we believe—a large number of customer requests. The need to provide a 24/7 service led to numerous call centers being located in virtually every corner of the world.

The turn of the millennium brought with it a wind of change thanks to the democratization of the Internet. The new platforms available, enabling information to be shared online, forced companies to adapt and to improve their control to guarantee the quality of the services they offer. Then, the rise of self-service platforms, live chat and the increased presence of social media once again influenced the organization of customer support. Starting at this point, the commercial offer also included an iterative and collaborative support service.  


A NEW MODEL 

Setting up a technical support service involves wanting to help customers, but also getting to know them better. Trust and collaboration enable a new customer-service model, from which everyone can benefit, and which marks the end of many inconveniences. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer who is grappling with technical issues than to have to search for a way to contact the support service and then to have to re-explain the situation to each new person he speaks to.

It is also important not to forget the primary purpose of technical support. Indeed, companies that regard it as an opportunity to boost their sales rather than a core component of their product are not providing a service, nor are they helping their customers. Rather, in order to succeed and excel, a company should consider technical support as an opportunity to satisfy its customers and to use the information obtained in an intelligent way, that is to say, to develop appropriate solutions. The number of happy customers greatly influences a company’s reputation and, as a result, its financial sustainability. 


PUTTING THEORY INTO PRACTICE

To implement a good support service, it is necessary to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches, but also to adopt good practices. We must not lose sight of some key concepts.

Consumers expect to be able to contact you easily. The technical support service allows you to contact your customers and establish effective communication. As soon as your customers think about contacting you, they must be able to find out how to do so easily.

Keep your promises. Building and maintaining a relationship of trust with your customers also means keeping your word. Risking promising a service that meets neither the customer’s expectations nor their needs is, at best, problematic. It is therefore important to be honest at all times and to respond to consumers' questions to help them find an efficient and beneficial solution. If the task turns out to be very complex, it is fine to tell the customer so, provided that you also assure him that the necessary measures have been taken.

The freedom you give to your agents is proportional to the quality of the service you offer. The “levels” model where agents only cover a certain number of issues depending on their type of responsibility is no longer up to date. A collaborative approach, in which all the agents work hand in hand to resolve the problems in their entirety is much more efficient and beneficial, both for the customer as well as for the company and its staff. An environment that allows for decision-making paves the way for agents, who can be proactive from the start and constantly expand the range of creative solutions. Every problem thus becomes a team problem, rather than an issue for a single team member or a single customer.

Empathy and technical competence: Two key qualities for the members of the technical support team. The staff working on resolving the problem must be able to empathize with the customer and their situation. Their objective must be to satisfy the needs of customers rather than to set records for the number of calls answered per minute. Each member of the team must possess an extensive technical knowledge and carry out the tasks that require his personal expertise.


To conclude, the technical assistance that we aspire to provide today is, in a way, a hybrid of the old customer service models. It includes the personal side as well as both one-to-one and remote service, at any time of day or night. Added to this is a willingness to collaborate and the desire to find both intelligent and effective solutions, tailor-made for each situation, as well as the drive to make all the difference.

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