Is Your Customer Service an Asset or a Liability?
There are many common sayings in business media: “The customer is king”, “The customer is always right”, “Without customers we wouldn’t be in business.” All of them, to some extent are true. All too often, however, companies give inadequate resources to their customer service teams (if they even have one). There are a number of reasons for this: perceived cost savings, lack of management commitment, or perhaps a lack of institutional knowledge. What it comes down to, however, is that by and large it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to find a new one. That being said, the best way to keep a customer is to provide top-notch customer service before, during, and after a sale.
That begs the question, how can you provide top-notch customer service while keeping costs at a reasonable level? The answer might be found with a frog.
KERMIT - Knowledge, Environment, Retention, Management, Infrastructure and Training
These six areas represent some of the keys to an effective AND efficient customer service operation.
- Knowledge - one of the key challenges is collecting, maintaining and distributing institutional knowledge quickly and effectively.
- Environment - it is critical to provide the right environment for your service team, one that encourages collaboration and assistance while minimizing distractions.
- Retention - service team members become more effective the longer they are with the company, often at a rate far in advance of any compensation increases. They can serve as valuable knowledge resources as well as mentor new associates. Like customers, it often costs much more (in terms of time and effort) to hire and train a new associate than to retain an existing one.
- Management - if management is not committed to providing exceptional customer service, the team will not be committed either. From providing the right resources to leading by example, management is key to setting the tone.
- Infrastructure - to be efficient, the team needs the right tools. Reliable networks and phones, as well as a robust and flexible customer service platform are key to providing timely service. Multi-channel support and call diversion can ensure that the right people are answering the right questions.
- Training - last but certainly not least, continual training makes sure that team members always have the current information and skills to provide the best response to their customers.
Being that this is a salesforce blog, I suspect you are wondering where salesforce.com comes into play? Above, I mentioned how efficiency and effectiveness are important. With that in mind, if there were one platform capable of addressing all six points above, that required no investment in servers and could be brought online in as little as a few weeks, wouldn’t it make sense to consider it?
That platform is the salesforce.com Service Cloud. Using the Service Cloud as a base and working with trusted AppExchange partners, salesforce.com can be a single point solution to world-class customer service.
Let’s look at those 6 points again:
- Knowledge - Salesforce Knowledge provides integrated, real time access to information in all formats, both internally, and if desired, externally through a public portal. Article management is intuitive and handled within the application, making it easy to keep information current.
- Environment - using Salesforce Chatter, agents can quickly communicate amongst each other to share questions, information and assistance. With all applications delivered via a consistent web interface, it’s easy for users to quickly master.
- Retention - Work.com allows management and team members to set performance goals and monitor progress. Survey and QA tools track customer feedback to ensure the best agents are identified, and Salesforce Analytics provide clear and measurable objective data on performance.
- Management - having all customer service information in one system allows management to see the big picture and quickly respond to issues raised to their level. In addition, they too can participate in Chatter and Work.com feedback, providing real-time encouragement to their team. Analytics, including mobile dashboards keep them informed at all times.
- Infrastructure - With CTI integration, salesforce.com can connect to many phone systems, both networked and completely cloud-based. LiveAgent, web to case, email integration and customer and partner communities allow for true multi-channel response, and combined with tools like Knowledge and Chatter Answers can efficiently divert calls that can be easily addressed by less resource intensive means.
- Training - salesforce.com uses a web interface that mimics many of the popular applications in use by the public today, making training easier and quicker. Using Knowledge and Salesforce Content, training materials can be delivered directly from the application, as well.
As you can see, salesforce.com can become the foundation for an effective and efficient call center. Interested? Contact a member of our experienced team to set up a call to examine your current customer service implementation and learn how salesforce.com can turn customer service from a liability into one of your greatest assets.