Defining good customer service can seem to be a bit of a moving target, especially in this era of ever-increasing customer expectations. But the forward-thinking companies leading the charge in this new reality—such as Zendesk strategic partners Guru, Lessonly, and Stella Connect—are keenly aware that it’s their customers who get to make that determination, not them.
For these companies, customer service isn’t an afterthought, and it doesn’t play second fiddle to other teams; rather, these businesses view support as a key element in their success.
So what does customer service mean to you?
In order to come to a relevant meaning, Guru—which provides AI-driven knowledge management tools that enable customers to unify internal wisdom and experience—shares customer insights, requests, and success stories across the company through Slack and face-to-face cross-team discussions so that the organization as a whole stays aligned with what customers want.
“We take customer service very seriously,” says Hillary Curran, Guru’s head of customer experience. “We don’t separate our teams by whether they’re customer-facing or non-customer facing, because every department makes decisions with our users top of mind.” For instance, when Guru’s design team works on new product ideas, it’s thinking both about how customers will experience a brand-new feature and also drawing on the experience of agents, as well as direct feedback from customers.
That cross-departmental, customer-centric approach drives Guru’s focus on providing value in every customer interaction, whether it’s a chat conversation with support, a phone call with the customer success team, or a conference event with sales. “The best advertising is word of mouth, so it is always worthwhile to go the extra mile to invest in customer relationships and create customer advocates,” Curran says.
At Lessonly, customer service means adhering to a simple tenet: always focus on helping customers work better. And given that Lessonly offers team training tools that integrate seamlessly with customers’ tech stacks, that means giving teams the opportunity to measure and continuously improve training via in-depth analytics. Having a feedback loop with actionable data on hand also illuminates channel-specific trends such as changes to wait times, spikes in ticket volume, and more. This feedback loop allows customer service teams to adjust to dynamic conditions, informed by data.
Meanwhile, Stella Connect—which offers a platform that helps support leaders direct real-time customer feedback to agents and track performance—emphasizes keeping agents motivated and engaged. That starts by making sound decisions about who gets hired but also includes offering opportunities for advancement and ongoing training. “Without engaged agents, service quality suffers and customers can never truly build a human connection with your brand,” says Alex Vlasto, Stella Connect’s vice president of marketing.
Evaluating changing customer expectations
Staying current with customer expectations takes forethought, which has led Lessonly to appoint a team member as a main point of contact for each customer, a tactic that keeps the channel open for constructive feedback. “That helps us stay close to the needs and desires of our customers, as well as being able to better understand what success—in their eyes—looks like,” says Corey Kime, Lessonly vice president of customer success.
Similarly, Stella Connect captures agent-level feedback from customers after every service interaction, and then shares that feedback directly with agents and team leaders. And at Guru, the entire organization logs prospect and customer feedback into a repository that is reviewed by the product team and organized into themes and priorities. That provides Guru with an up-to-date view of customer expectations that informs the product roadmap, design decisions, and the approach to both prospecting and customer service.
As Guru’s customer base has grown and the team has scaled with it, the company’s views about customer service has evolved to include more self-service components, such as webinars, playbooks, and implementation guides. “We want to empower our customer champions to be as competent with our product as we are,” Curran says. “This means making it really easy for a customer to learn ‘how to fish’ on their own time and at their own pace. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t offering in-person services, just that we can now teach users when they’re ready to learn—and then we can cheer them on as they reel in a 1,200-pound tuna.”