speed_in_customer_serviceCustomer service expert Shep Hyken wrote a great post about the importance of speed in customer service. How long does the customer have to wait on the line or wait for a response to an email?  Shep Hyken says speed creates customer confidence and can lead to increased customer loyalty.  “The best of the best take the concept of speed to an even higher level by practicing proactive service, the ability to anticipate needs ahead of a customer’s request”, he writes.

I find this topic very fascinating and I would like to go a bit deeper: what is required so that the company is able to respond quickly? It is not about telling the agents to pick up the phone faster than before or telling them to speak faster to save time. It is about fundamental structures and right technology in contact center that either allow fast responses –or prohibit them.

First of all, the customer contact needs to be routed to the right person -somebody who is able to help. If I need help with my internet connection, do not make me speak to your mobile phone expert.

Secondly, the agent picking up the call needs access to relevant customer data and systems to be able to help. A friendly voice does not make my life any easier if the agent is not able to do anything.

Thirdly, the company needs to know why customers are contacting –this is required to be able to provide proactive customer service or fix the issues before they cause huge call volumes. If you get ten phone calls where customers complain about errors in the invoice, don’t wait until you get a hundred calls due to the same issue.

What is the common nominator for all these steps? I think it is data: having the right data and having access to it. For contact routing, data is the key to identify the caller and to define the right agent to route the contact to. For efficient contact handling the agent needs access to relevant customer data in order to help the customer. And for proactive customer service, data is the key: when you know why your customers are calling you, you can also see what you can do to fix the issues so that they don’t even have to contact you.

I think we could write a long list of all factors that need to be right before the company can deliver speedy customer service. What would you say is the key to speedy customer service?