Understanding how your company handles exceptions to the norm can reveal pitfalls in an otherwise successful scheme, and how you learn from them are what ultimately can improve the customer experience (CX). The fact is that no matter how good your processes or policies are, or how great your company’s reputation is, exceptions happen, and exceptional customer support is needed.
We talked to an unhappy customer whose nonstandard situation brought to light quite a few issues in a renowned retail giant’s customer service handling. This customer received a mystery package that he didn’t order. Attempting to do self-service, he found that there was no record of the item in his account history, and so he had to contact the retailer directly. He went through a rabbit hole of a process, only to hit the wall with these frustrating issues that, unfortunately, are probably all too familiar to you:
- The online chat tool was hard to find on the website.
- There were long pauses between chat responses while the agent did manual lookups.
- The order couldn’t be located, even after providing the package’s label numbers.
- Sending a photo of the package label took the customer out of one channel (chat) and into another (email).
- There was no direct routing of his email to the agent handling the case, and the agent couldn’t find it.
- Escalating the issue to a supervisor required him to repeat the same information to get the same level of help (i.e., not much).
- The agent suggested returning the item and emailed a return initiation link associated with the wrong order.
- The chat ended with a survey request. The customer’s negative review triggered a generic email indicating there’s no need to return the package, with no further explanation.
From this frustrating situation, here’s what we learned on how to improve the customer experience:
Successful CX is totally dependent on the people who handle the case and the tools available to them. All emails, chats, and calls from one customer should be easy to find. The agent should be able to find any order based on the data collected from the customer, and the agent should be able to do that fast.
The limitations of your tools can hurt the customer experience. In this instance, the process of looking up an order and processing a return should have been automated, or at the very least, streamlined for efficiency. Agents and customers should be able to use any channel without unnecessary switching back and forth. If the agent requests a photo attachment in chat, the customer should be able to send that photo in chat, without being redirected to email.
When you ask for feedback and you get it, you have a second chance to satisfy the customer. Don’t blow it by sending out an auto-generated message that glosses over the main issues. Your business should be using all feedback, no matter how painful, to improve customer experience on a systemic level. Don’t patch up a problem with a ticket number and an auto-generated promise to deliver more of the same mediocrity.
Even the largest enterprise with a reputation for excellent customer support can let you down. Don’t be that company! Instead, invest in the contact center tools that can streamline your processes and increase efficiency.