Make It Easy: Streamline Your Way to Customer Service Success
“I dread going there. The parking lot is impossible to navigate, you fill out what seems like eight thousand forms before you see anyone, and often the staff is confused by the complexity of the processes they follow. I’m glad I only have to go there
once or twice a year.”
“Who designed this convoluted process? A monkey could have done a better job.”
“Why do I have to call back and talk to someone else? This whole transaction could be handled online. Frustrating!”
Every day, countless service providers make choices that unnecessarily complicate service interactions. At best, those decisions make the customer experience less enjoyable. At worst, unneeded complexity opens the door to complaints, bad reviews, and competitors.
Simple and Streamlined = Good
Organizations that know the value of simplicity strive to streamline processes and eliminate rocks on the service-experience road. Furthermore, those who understand the importance of effortless service know that achieving it is an ongoing group effort. From the boardroom to the service window, everyone from top to bottom diligently works to eradicate needless steps, complexities, or jargon that may confuse customers and obstruct them from reaching their goals.
Examples of the Payoffs
Streamlined Processes: Simplifying processes, procedures, and workflows eliminates unnecessary complexities, making customer interactions more efficient and effortless.
Clear Communication: Using straightforward language ensures that product information, instructions, and policies are easily understandable, creating a faster customer experience.
Intuitive Navigation: Creating intuitive website interfaces helps customers quickly find what they need without clicking on the wrong link, going to an incorrect location, or calling the wrong number.
Reduced Cognitive Load: Organizing information and choices in a clear and logical manner helps customers make confident decisions, reducing the likelihood of buyer’s remorse, returns, or calls to the help desk.
Efficient Problem Resolution: Providing simple and accessible channels for customer support enables quicker problem resolution.
User Engagement: Presenting information or products in a simplified way makes customers want to use a service provider.
“But We Are Different”
“My business is complicated! We’re not running a hamburger stand or a retail store. Our product is highly technical.”
While not every interaction is basic, all service providers can make interactions easier. No matter who you are, there are opportunities to streamline design, usability, communication, accessibility, and problem resolution.
If you open your eyes, many problems are obvious. Here are a few of the usual suspects:
- Complex checkout process
- Complicated return policy
- Inefficient customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Excessive use of industry jargon
- Multiple contact attempts
Other Places to Explore
In addition to the easy-to-find improvement opportunities, most teams can find more if they start asking questions:
- Is our product or service easy to understand?
- Is our website or physical location easy to navigate?
- Can customers easily find the information they need?
- Are our pricing and billing practices transparent and easy to understand?
- Can customers quickly contact us when they need to?
- Is our customer service process straightforward and efficient?
- Are we using plain language in our communications, or relying too much on jargon?
- Are our processes designed with the customer’s convenience in mind?
- Are we offering simple, efficient solutions to customer problems?
- Can customers easily purchase our products or services?
- Do customers have to go through unnecessary steps or complexities to achieve their objectives?
- What feedback are we getting from customers about the ease of their experience?
The Front Line Is a Gold Mine
Organizations that take simplicity seriously know the gold mine of information frontline service representatives can provide if they are encouraged to bring issues to management.
Routine Complaints: For every customer who voices dissatisfaction, three or four others will say nothing. Organizations that treat service seriously see complaints as canaries in the coal mine, and they encourage service representatives to track concerns and bring them forward.
Multiple Contact Attempts: If customers need to contact the organization multiple times for the same issue, or related issues, there is a problem and an opportunity to simplify the resolution process. Frontline representatives are almost always the first to recognize such boomerang interactions.
Poorly Defined Policies: Confused and confounded customers are the result of poorly defined policies. Representatives who must manage them know when guidelines or rules are ill-defined.
Lack of Training and Tools: Frontline providers are also acutely aware when they do not know the answer, cannot get a system to cooperate, or must implement a workaround.
Achieving Simplicity Does Not Always Feel Simple
Once you start looking, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of work involved to make things easy. Take a breath, and then take another. Just as most processes do not become convoluted overnight, it takes time to go in the other direction.
Start with straightforward fixes to build momentum. Next, prioritize what is easier to implement and what will have the most impact on the customer experience. Then, get to work.
Kate Zabriskie is the President of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team provide onsite, virtual, and online soft-skills
training courses and workshops to clients in the United States and internationally. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.