What happens to your customers when you're not in the room

By Duncan Troup on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 in Blog.

It’s been interesting watching service delivery teams evolve over the 20 years I’ve been working in business. It’s become clear that user experience (UX) rather than reliability is increasingly at the forefront of people’s minds. The “google-esque” technologies that surround us have set a new standard. However, many services still fall short.

My reflection on this has led me to conclude that that’s in part because there are a range of “out of the box” measures available for fix reliability issues. These fixes rarely come out of the box for UX challenges. For example, in the case of digital services we can load balance servers, employ Disaster Recovery (DR) measures, create sophisticated automated test harnesses – you’ve heard it all before. Even with these relatively easy measures to employ nailed, I’ve seen many organizations struggle with achieving the kick forward in service performance. I think that’s because all too often we focus on emphasizing service delivery when the provider is “in the room” – i.e. failure demand. The service when they are “out of the room” is often not so well covered.

So assuming that you’ve not been able to create the world class UX you seek and don’t have the means to turn that situation around in a big bang – what next?  For me one halfway house is starting asking what type of questions do your customers want answered? If you can largely take the “Fix it, it broken!” questions off the table, next comes the “how do I?” questions.  And the provision of those “how to answers” shouldn’t be via phone – that’s not normally the channel of choice. The good news is that there are lots of ways to expose that knowledge via forums and peer support. By engaging in crowd support (think vendors like Lithium / Conversocial etc.), user forums and rating sites you can “get in front of the service”. By that I mean engage with your customers when you’re “not in the room”. This will unleash the power of fast user feedback on where pain is felt [so you can fix it] and at the same time provide swift access to relevant information that supports their needs.

So what I am saying is that, if you’re a service provider of any kind, beware the false finish line of fixing the “its broken” part of the picture. You need to understand the music as well as the words. Great brands try to create great user experiences, but they also create open and constructive forums for the use of that service to be surfaced as well. That way, knowing if the service is “up” won’t be your only concern – you’ll also want to make sure you’re getting feedback for when you’re “not in the room”. And armed with that you’ll be able to incrementally improve the experience of your service, based on rich feedback from how your customers really engage with you and what’s at the center of their hassle map.

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