Last night, Jeremy Watkin and I co-hosted a customer service meet-up at Phone.com. It was a small, informal gathering of customer service professionals from various industries within San Diego.
Our goal was to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of ideas around the types of customer service challenges we have in common.
Jeremy’s the Director of Customer Service at Phone.com, so he and his team were kind enough to host us. They even provided pizza, beer, and wine!
The evening kicked off with Jeremy sharing a little bit about Phone.com’s approach to customer service. He told us that everything ultimately boiled down to one philosophy: communicate better.
This works for them on a few levels.
- On a product level, because they’re a telecommunications company.
- On a service level because they’re constantly striving to improve customer service.
- On an internal level, because they rely on teamwork to get things done.
Of course, Communicate Better is also the name of the blog that Jeremy co-authors with Phone.com’s Jenny Dempsey.
Jeremy also gave us a brief tour of their contact center before we re-convened for some open discussion.
Here were a few of the big topics we discussed.
Voice of Customer Data
It seems like every organization struggles with this on some level. Here are some of the challenges we discussed:
- Combating negative reviews on external sites like Yelp and Angie’s list
- Using customer service data to generate actionable insights
- Getting executives to worry less about the number and more about improvement
The concept of customer service standards generated a lot of great discussion. There’s a delicate balance between consistency, authenticity, and flexibility.
We all agreed that it’s a bad idea to make customer service standards that are too rigid and scripted. This takes away the employee’s ability to adapt their service to each individual customer.
Check out my recent post on the Zendesk blog if you’d like to read more about the potential downfalls of service standards.
Balancing Quality and Efficiency
This was another interesting discussion. Customer service leaders are constantly feeling pressure to increase productivity while still creating amazing customer service experiences.
We did an impromptu networking activity where people had to introduce themselves to three people in three minutes and learn three things about each person. This simple exercise turned out to be very difficult and only one person was able to successfully complete it AND remember the three facts about three people.
The challenge is we’re just not naturally great at being both fast and engaging with customers. We can learn it, but it takes time and practice.
The top customer service organizations value both quality and efficiency, but they prioritize quality. In other words, helping the customer is more important than serving the customer quickly.
Will there be another meet-up?
It all depends on interest and volunteers. Is there an audience for this sort of event? A few people suggested their organizations might be willing to host the next event, so we may have the volunteer side covered.
If you’d like to learn about future customer service meet-ups in San Diego, please take a moment to add your name to the interest list below: