Customer Service Lessons from Non-Customer-Facing Roles
I’m about six months into my role as Director of Customer Support at NumberBarn — and in this role, I have the pleasure of interacting directly with paying customers on a semiregular basis. Throughout much of my career, I’ve regularly spoken with customers, even in various customer service management roles.
Prior to my current role, however, I spent four years as Director of Customer Experience (CX) at FCR, a contact center outsourcing company, and a year as a Product Marketing Manager at 8×8, a company providing both contact center and unified communication as a service. Why am I giving you my work history? No, my intent is not to put my resumé into blog format. The reason I share this is that in these roles I could not have interacted directly with a customer if I had wanted to.
As a Director of CX, my job was to partner with our customer service managers to help them listen to the voice of the customer and to set a standard for ensuring the quality of the customer interactions for their team members.
In the product marketing role, my job was to work closely with the product team as they worked to improve our product and features. I prepared training and other resources to enable our sales team to accurately and knowledgeably sell the product. Furthermore, I created blogs, ebooks, and other marketing assets to help prospects and customers use our product to deliver better customer service and customer experience.
In those roles, I could have easily fallen into a couple of different mindsets including the following:
- Customer service is not a part of my job description
- Since I don’t interact directly with customers, my work doesn’t impact them
But that would have been completely wrong. In this article, I’ll share two observations I made about customer service while working in non-customer-facing roles.
There are opportunities to practice customer service skills every day
Just because I’m not interacting with my company’s paying customers, doesn’t mean I don’t have customers deserving of great customer service. Quite the contrary, I had people coming to me all day, every day for help.
I think of the salesperson who asked for a bit more detail on what our product is capable of. First of all, I had an opportunity to respond in a timely manner knowing that they had a potential customer waiting for information. I could also work to provide them with the most accurate and thorough information possible delivered in a kind and upbeat manner.
While working at the outsourcer, I had one boss remark on my annual review:
I’m impressed at Jeremy’s ability to influence people in our organization through relationships and collaboration.
I don’t say this to brag but to highlight the fact that in both roles I understood who my customers were and made it my goal to provide them with the best service possible every day.
My work impacts the company’s customers
It would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because I don’t talk to customers directly, my work doesn’t impact them. In both of my last two roles, I was keenly aware of how my work affected customers.
At the contact center outsourcing company there were a couple of different ways my work made its way to customers. First of all, the clients that hired our company expected us, as their partner, to take excellent care of their customers. By working with our managers to consistently monitor and coach agents to deliver a certain standard of customer service, we were not only taking great care of our clients’ customers, but we were consistently earning the trust of our clients.
In the product marketing role, the marketing assets and sales enablement (training) that I created directly helped our sales team sell the product. Imagine if some of the information I included in an article was incorrect or completely false and the customer signed up for service based on that information? That would no doubt sour the relationship with that customer rather quickly.
How does this translate to your role?
Do you actively practice excellent customer service skills in a non-customer-facing role already? And are you aware of how your work impacts your company’s paying customers even though you may not interact with them directly? If so, that’s great!
But perhaps some of you are like me and came to this realization later in your career or you haven’t yet come to this realization. Admittedly, I can think of plenty of occasions where I haven’t been the model of excellent customer service and required a bit of an epiphany somewhere along the way.
I challenge you to take some time to consider the ways the work that you do impacts customers — either directly or indirectly.
And then I encourage you to look at any interaction you have with a boss, colleague, friend, family member, neighbor, or any other human being you come into contact with on a regular basis and provide them with the same kindness and consideration that you would expect from a frontline customer service representative. Imagine the difference such a mindset could bring to both our workplaces and our world.