Sunday, 14 November 2010

Teach you Customer Services rep to help your product succeed


Triiiiiiiiiing Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing... "Hello, Good Evening. I am XXXX speaking from YYY, How may I help you?- From the other end

"I am Sameer, and I am calling to enquire about the letter I received from your company about the added bonus for my holiday package, that I have to confirm...
blah blah blah... several questions later.. a simple answer "I am very sorry Sir... we are not informed about this package or bonuses, I will check with my Senior and get back to you in a few days"
I said OK. 3 days later.. I make another call... A different CS rep, but the same answer... the system however shows that I have made a enquiry and am awaiting a reply... today morning I make another desperate call and this time after speaking to 3 levels of CS I am still un-answered... as the CS reps and their seniors are not aware of the product they have launched and the several features around it.... I was a happy customer a few weeks ago, now I am seriously thinking if I am in SAFE HANDS or I am using the RIGHT PRODUCT or not.

Is this the same experience you get when you get in touch with a Customer Service representative? Well maybe yes.. So what's the deal about CS representatives not able to detail features of the product, explain or answer your queries around the feature? The answer is really simple.... While various companies are using SOCIAL MEDIA to improvise the customer services experience for their customers a major set of products and companies still choose to go with the traditional mode of handling customers... The CS still relies on a user manual, a support call, an online help.. many times they are there on the hot line just to SOLVE CUSTOMER problems. But can they solve customer issues if they themselves are not aware of the product?

Well the answer is NO... Your customer services dept needs to know, How to use the product, what it is made for, and provide tips and tricks to the customers when they need it. It's very important that the CS knows the in's and out's of the product and is more or less as close to the development and Product teams as the computers are close to Geeks. So how does one really get their CS to know what's and how's of their product?

1. Discuss requirements with them, pre development phase
2. Involve them in early stage demo's, right when the product are in the design phase, even wire frame phase
3. Have a development stream for the issues they face.. A set of developers that work only on problems that they face as hot calls. These are not bugs.
4. Free them up from regular hot line's, Ask them to explore the product. A weekly session where a product wire is discussed with product Management, CS and Development teams is the ideal way to help explore to correct details.
5. Ask them to write user manuals, online help
6. Ask them to conduct demo's for the customers..
7. Plan 2-3 product demo's for the customers... so as many customers and end users get trained on your product
8. Wire them with super roles, so they can learn to get around.
9. Ask them to write a FAQ of issues and resolutions.. half of the CS time can be saved and knowledge shared if the CS teams shares the data of problems and resolutions.
10. Swirl the CS Teams on project set ups, so they know and document how and what customers use it....

Well these are very few but individual ways of getting your CS Teams to know the best of your product... so the next time they receive a call from an angry customer... he keeps the call, just to open his mailbox and write back to say..."We love your product"...

I thought of putting a few case studies of some successful models, where end users were very happy about the products they use, and I am sure the CS plays a very important role here...

1. Amazon : Amazon has a very aggressive development model, they begin writing a release note. Of course the release notes are not key here, what is key here is that the documents attached with the release notes of the product feature is definitely a part of the CS Training material. So if your CS is writing the user manuals, online help, training material even before the product is ready.. your CS is surely an empowered Product Team.

2. Oracle - Autovue : I have always received emails about webinars conducted by Oracle's Autovue team.. many times these webinars feature very specific training to end users on how to use certain features of the product. I realised in one of the webinars that one of the CS Team members I was dealing with earlier was a part of such webinar.. Amazing isnt it?

So does your CS Team know your product well? Can they also sell Happiness to your customers? Can they convince the customer that they can quickly solve their issues and even if not.. they dont let them go unanswered? Well if the answer to any of your question is NO... You need to work on a strategy to make your CS aware of your product... Go rush, cause you are very late. After all they are the face of your company....