I have recently finished a very interesting book called “The Best Service Is No Service: How to Liberate Your Customers from Customer Service, Keep Them Happy, and Control Costs” by Bill Price and David Jaffe.
The premise is in the title. Basically they are saying that the way to please customers is to give them what they want right first time so they never have to call the call centre and access the Service Department. They are also very keen on Self-Service. They want companies to provide as much of their offering via the web or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems. The book has lots of examples of good and bad cases.
The case that made me laugh was the bank who thought that higher value customers should be given a more personal service. They provided an automated telephone system for lower rated customers to find out their balance but the high value customers were recognised and routed to a call centre agent every time. Obviously people with a lot of money don’t want to do thinks quickly and easily they would rather have to talk to someone every time!
The parts about having a system that doesn’t generate failure demand I agreed with wholeheartedly, but the over emphasis on self service was a bit strong. They tried to balance it out to say that call centre agents should be able to teach callers how to use the web or phone systems and that you shouldn’t have channel wars where the web team and the call centre team try to out do each other. They also said you should make your company easier to contact at the same time as putting more functions onto self service.
Personally I like self service and as long as it is backed up by reliable internal processes such that things go right and I don’t have to call a company to get things fixed all the time, then it is a good thing. I just wouldn’t want anyone to read this book and then throw everything up on their web site without fixing the broken processes first.
Two more things, they love Amazon. And there is also a weird bit where they draw a Pareto chart for the amount of failure demand for each type (they call failure demand “dumb contacts”) then they suggest attaching the cost of resolution. So it ends up that the call type that is 18th in the list for number of calls is the one to tackle first because the cost x quantity calculation is greater for that type of call. I would always start with the problem that is causing the most problem for the customers. And to be fair in the rest of the book they are very customer focused, just in this little section do the authors have their head turned by internal cost saving.
All in all, worth a read for some good ideas, but keep you wits about you and analyse for yourself what it being said.