5 Strategies For Delivering Accessible Customer Service

One of my all time favorite ad campaigns was and is the Staples Easy Button.  For whatever Staples-easy-buttonreason the concept of having a button to push in any life situation to make it easier just sounds fantastic.  Have you ever stopped to think about this?  Our culture is on an endless quest for easy buttons.  Flat tires really stink don’t they?  It sure is nice to have an easy button in the form of a can of Fix-A-Flat so you can be back on the road in a matter of minutes.  Cooking dinner sure is time consuming isn’t it?  There’s an easy button for that too.  It’s called fast food.  The great thing is that there are now healthy fast food options popping up all over the place.

Over the past several weeks I have written a series of blog posts about the five service standards at Phone.com.  Thus far I have talked about valuequality and choice.  Today I want to take a few moments to talk about our next service standard which is accessibility.

The reality in business today is that if you can present your customers with an easy button, you may just be successful.  When they run into problems with their service, customer service should be instantly available to them at the press of a button.  Here are some strategies for delivering accessible customer service to your customers.

Accessibility Means Available And Engaging- In our smart-phone-wielding, social-media-happy culture it is critical for customer service to be available, responsive and engaging over all mediums.  Social media should serve as a complement to the traditional mediums of phone, email and chat, not a means of compensating for poor service on those channels.  While you’re at it, take time to appreciate your customers and show interest in the things that are important to them.  Accessing customer service should always be a positive experience.

Accessibility Means Self Help- There are many customers who will try to fix their own problems before contacting customer service.  It should be simple for them to access those resources and find the help they need.  Be sure not to force this on your customers by hiding your customer service contact information.  Self help is great but if customers are unable to find your contact details it may exasperate them.

Accessibility Means Prevention- Take time to look at the reasons customers are accessing your customer service on a regular basis and improve your system so they don’t have to contact support.  It’s important to have regular structures to review customer feedback and escalations to know what people are contacting support about and the pain points they are experiencing.

Accessibility Means Proactive- What if you could identify what customers are going to call about and beat them to it by calling them first?  We have identified a couple pain points in our set up process at Phone.com and are beginning to call customers who are at those points to check in with them.  Contacting customers before they even realize they need customer service is a fantastic strategy.

Accessibility Means Transparency- This may be one of my favorite words in the English language.  Don’t just be accessible to your customers, be human!  Call centers should be very, very careful about things like rigid scripting.  That’s a great way to put up barriers with the customer.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished when a customer connects with a smart, creative customer service professional.  Those are the people we are hiring for our customer service team.

Admittedly I am still in search of an easy button for customer service professionals.  However, by implementing these five strategies to make your customer service more accessible, the experience of providing customer service will be much easier!  In the words of the great easy button, the goal is to start hearing your customers both internal and external say “That was easy.”

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

2 comments

  • Hi Jeremy!

    Great post! I really like how you framed the idea of customer service as a principal or “accessibility”. In regards to your first point, I especially liked how you identified the fact that social media should not be used to compensate for customer feedback mediums that are unresponsive, and far from engaging. At the same time, I also don’t think that social media should replace traditional forms of customer feedback. Programs such as comment cards and on-line surveys can do a great deal of good for companies that want to hear back from their customers. What company that I know of that set’s up these feedback mediums is called SQM (http://goo.gl/BczhnA). They helped my colleagues business channel their feedback in a productive way. Perhaps they can help others and contribute to the over all discussion?

    Either way, great blog!

    Cheers.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my post! I agree that gathering feedback from customers is so critical and must be emphasized in all levels of the company.

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