I recently talked with Jeff Toister, founder of Toister Performance Solutions and author of The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. With over 25 years of experience, he has a wealth of insight to share about the past, present and future of CX!
Jarrod: You're focused on the people aspect of CX. What role does knowledge or support information play for agents?
Jeff: Generally speaking, memorizing all of the product information, policies, and procedures you need to keep customers happy is a huge challenge. However, giving agents a knowledge management tool can allow them to quickly access the correct answer without committing it to memory.
For example, a clothing retailer helped agents answer product questions faster, more accurately, and without assistance by giving employees access to detailed information on any product with just one click. To the customer, it just sounded like the agents really knew what they were talking about!
Jarrod: Where do you see technology improving CX today and importantly, where do you see it actually hurting? Is it different on the agent or customer side?
Jeff: There are definitely some pros and cons for both customers and agents when it comes to technology.
The pro is there are more ways to quickly solve problems than ever before. In the past, I might need to schedule a service call to fix an issue with my cable TV. Now I can go online and find the solution or easily connect with someone in technical support who can help me.
The con is technology frequently makes things too complicated. As a customer, why do I need an account and a password for even the most basic issues? As an agent, why do I need three monitors and ten different software programs just to give my customers the help they need?
The focus really should be on using technology to make things simpler and better.
Jarrod: How important are desktop tools and software for agents and how does that translate into overall customer experience?
Jeff: Just like any job, agents need the right tools to get the job done. For example, are agents able to quickly solve the customers’ issue? Are agents able to easily learn how to use software correctly?
There’s a lot of friction that happens when agents don’t have the right tools. They take too long to help customers, or sometimes they’re simply unable to.
That ultimately creates a memorably poor experience in the minds of customers, which is something companies obviously want to avoid.
Jarrod: Self-service and chatbots for example are basic expectations of modern consumers. Yet, at the same time, customers complain about it being difficult to reach a human or outsourced call centers. How do you explain this contradiction?
Jeff: Customer-centric companies understand a counterintuitive insight: self-service adoption and satisfaction goes up when you make human assistance easy to reach.
There are two reasons why.
First, companies have an incentive to design better self-service options so they avoid unnecessary customer contacts. Research shows customers largely want the same thing—to avoid having to connect with an agent if they don’t need to.
The second reason is customers just feel better about self-service when they know a human is readily available, even if they don’t ever ask that human for help. It gives customers extra confidence to try to solve an issue on their own.
Jarrod: Last question and we'll try to make it a tough one. Some people wish that CX would be a C-level KPI. But for that to be true, there'd have to be an agreed upon method of measuring it. Do you think CX should be a C-level KPI and what data should go into measuring it?
Jeff: Instead of creating a CX metric, I’d ask CX leaders to think of what enterprise-level metrics are impacted by CX.
For example, your CEO probably cares a lot about revenue growth and customer retention. Can you draw a clear line of sight between those metrics and customer experience?
Another issue is cost. Can you demonstrate how a great customer experience lowers costs from repeat contacts, customer acquisition, goodwill discounts, and other areas?
Connect with Jeff on Linkedin or grab his book: