Customer Support Scripts Don’t Always Do the Trick

Scripts, processes, technology and playbooks contribute valuable direction to frontline employees, but not every customer situation can be preconceived.

Scripts, processes, technology and playbooks contribute valuable direction to frontline employees, but not every customer situation can be preconceived. When the unexpected pops up, the team’s mission will make it easier to do the right thing.

Paramedics with alarmed faces rush in. “Can’t stop the bleeding,” one cries as nurses quickly circle the comatose patient on the gurney. The young surgeon pushes through to remove the cloth tourniquet from the victim’s thigh. Blood spurts wildly. “He’s bleeding out,” barks a nurse as she applies pressure. The surgeon deliberates for just a moment before calling for a catheter and within seconds he has the life-saving device in hand.

It’s rare that the frontline of any commercial enterprise calls for such a life-and-death response as this scene from one of my favorite shows, “The Good Doctor.” But each situation has one thing in common. When interacting with a customer or a patient you never know what’s going to happen next. All frontlines are what the US Army War College called VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous). Quality customer experience depends in part on a fitting response to whatever happens to come up and few companies do it well. A study conducted by Accenture and Adweek discovered that while 80% of companies think they deliver a superior customer experience, only an astonishingly low 8% of customers agree.

Marketing Joins the Frontline of Customer Experience

Companies have long acknowledged that sales and service people are essential frontline employees. Now, many marketers and some technology specialists have joined the frontline because so many customer interactions are now digital.

Marketing programs are often the gateway to other company interactions, creating a valence — good or poor — for other customer experiences. Whether in person or through digital services, everyone who works the frontline must be ready to respond to the unexpected at a moment’s notice.

Related Article: 8 Tips to Build a Winning Customer Experience Strategy

A Shared Customer-Centric Mission Is Essential to Frontline Success

While many things are necessary to make frontline responsiveness effective, one thing must be true. Everyone on the frontline must share a common mission, an ultimate purpose. This mission must be customer-centric. Companies can set internal goals (e.g., pipeline targets, revenue growth, team productivity), but these cannot be the primary mission.

In the emergency room, for example, the shared mission is the health and safety of the patient. Imagine if the technician providing the catheter in the “Good Doctor” scene believed her mission was to save money on equipment or if the surgeon thought his mission was to complete the procedure quickly so he could fill his quota? What would have happened to the patient’s experience if those varying goals came into conflict or if they slowed response? Internal goals, especially financial, can be important markers of progress, and businesses must be financially sensible.

However, these internal goals should be beholden to the customer value mission, not the other way around. Surrogation is the term for when people become so focused on achieving a metric, they lose track of the bigger picture.

Dan Cockerell, former VP of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World says, “We’ve learned at Disney that making money is simply a lagging indicator of all the inputs upstream.”

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