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Customer service often finds itself working in isolation. Despite the importance placed on customer experience, companies are failing to act on critical customer feedback coming in on a regular basis to customer service. Customer service is left operating on its own with little or no support from other departments.

This is disconnected customer service.

Disconnected customer service can create many problems for a company. Consider this example: a product includes faulty instructions, generating traffic to customer service. Customer service responds, but this is not a long-term, sustainable solution. Over time, and given additional scenarios like this, disconnected customer service can create circumstances the company never recovers from.

Impact on customer service

When operating in a silo, customer service can only provide customers with workarounds–or worse, no solution at all. Every call, chat, and email to customer service accumulate in queues of customers seeking an answer. As that volume builds, the finite number of staff will see hold and wait times rise. As any customer service practitioner will tell you, a customer forced to wait (and worse, if they don’t receive an answer) does not provide high CSAT scores.

Add to this the frustration on the part of the customer service agent. They must appease the waiting customer. They must exercise care to avoid saying the issue the customer is calling about is known. They must deal with the fact that this same problem has existed for a long time. And they must dole out the same answer, time after time.

Connected customer service is the answer. If customer service is working with other departments, a large volume of customer issues can be permanently eliminated. This is accomplished by assigning the issue to the department responsible, collaborating on the issues, and resolving the root cause–like updating the product instructions in the example above.

Impact on the company

But the effects of the faulty product instructions go beyond just customer service.

Consider again those faulty instructions. Customers may request the updated directions be sent to them, incurring the cost of both replacement and shipping. Staff time–customer service working with the customer, the fulfillment team processing a replacement documentation order, and the warehouse shipping it–comes into play and quickly adds up.

Companies build margin into the cost of their products to accommodate such issues: it’s the “cost of doing business.” Yet if customer service were connected with the entire organization, they could work together to identify and eliminate issues’ root causes. The customer service, fulfillment, and shipping and warehouse costs could be reduced, and the company’s profitability per product sold would increase.

The largest cost of all

We are living in the age of the customer. Customers have more control and more choices than ever before, and companies compete for their business. Ultimately, customers choose the winner with their wallets.

According to American Express’ 2017 Customer Service Barometer, more than half of Americans have abandoned a purchase or transaction as a result of bad service. This same research revealed thirty-three percent of Americans would consider switching companies after a single poor service experience. And if your company is known as one that is difficult to work with, word gets out. The American Express’ 2017 Customer Service Barometer also states, on average, Americans tell fifteen people about a poor service experience as opposed to the eleven they would share a good experience with. Is it any surprise NewVoiceMedia research found that poor customer experiences are costing U.S. companies $75 billion a year, a $13 billion increase from 2016, as a result of customers switching to competitors and potential customers avoiding the poor performers?

Poor service can come as a result of many reasons–poor agent training or attitude, long wait times, etc. These causes must be addressed. But the continuous process of resolving the root cause of issues will reduce the scenarios where customers need assistance, reducing wait time and creating more time and resources to focus on agent training. The overall customer experience is also improved because the issue is permanently resolved.

Delivering connected customer service

Connected customer service starts with an agreement to work together. This could be a mandate from the top or departments consenting to improve communications and to operate more collaboratively.

From there, define the processes of what working together looks like. Select a company-wide technology platform that uses workflow to automate those processes. This makes it easy for customer service to assign issues to the teams responsible, collaborate, and track those issues to resolution.

Reduce issues coming in to customer service and save costs while driving positive improvements in customer experience. Connected customer service is the key.