4 ways to stop making things so hard for your customers

Published May 8, 2014
Last modified May 8, 2014

It starts with a pause. Then, with a tremor, the support agent utters the most traumatizing words known to man: “Let me transfer you.”

As active consumers, we’ve all been subjected to at least one mentally scarring customer service interaction. Whether it’s from dealing with unknowledgable support agents, being bounced from department to department, or receiving unpalatable, contradictory information, we all—as customers—deserve better.

The customer journey should be easy. It should not be an uphill battle. It should be exciting—even fun—for customers to dabble, discover, learn and even become an expert. So why are people still subjected to horrible interactions with the companies they do business with?

What’s the problem?
The problem is not the support agents. The problem is not a lack of training or professionalism. The real issue is a lack of collaboration.

By making knowledge too hard to access, companies unintentionally make their customers work harder than they should. Customer-facing agents simply do not have access to the information and documentation that they need to answer customers’ questions. The knowledge is stuck within the confines of separate departments, each of which is responsible for different fragments of the overall puzzle. Worse, each department has different policies and its own, unintegrated legacy technology. And worse yet, most of it is locked away in PDFs, which are not search friendly or easy to keep up to date.

No wonder customer-facing agents, consequently, fail to provide easy, quality service, which results in a drop in both Customer Effort Scores and Net Promoter Scores. Though these scores may seem abstract, they have a real impact on your bottom line. Poor scores signify unhappy customers, which can translate into a fewer renewals and less revenue.

What can you do about it?
Invest in smart collaboration by capturing, structuring, and reusing knowledge. When you give knowledge experts in all departments autonomous—yet contained—power to interact with and improve knowledge content, support organizations can consistently produce higher-quality, easy interactions.

Ready to begin? Here are four ways to invest in knowledge collaboration and start making things easier for your customers.

1. Stop using escalation funnels
The most qualified, knowledgeable person should be the one to handle the problem. With a flat, collaborative interaction layer, customer-facing agents can capture and reuse information that they’ve shared with others so that, in the future, the next agent will not encounter the same problems. This creates a self-improving system and lowers barriers.

2. Empower your people to create self-improving content
Let experts, regardless of department, autonomously find, author, edit, and request knowledge information and documentation. This is about creating and enforcing quality work through constant, collaborative improvements by different parties.

3. Build it for the Web, and make it easy to search
Scanning through multiple 20-page PDFs every time there’s a complex problem is not an efficient search process. Being able to surface pertinent information as quickly and easily as doing a Google search gives all users the ability to quickly locate the information that they need to create a great service experience.

4. Make it easy to manage
In any collaborative environment, there needs to be a quick, easy way to manage and get an overview of all the contributions. This way, section editors can clean up knowledge articles and add more content and rich media before releasing documentation.

What’s in it for you?
It’s simple: customer-facing agents who can autonomously interact with a collaborative knowledge layer provide better service. Companies like Code42 have had success in solving cases and incidences faster and improving employee retention.

Businesses that empower their support agents and remove the barriers to knowledge create an environment where customers need to exert very little energy to get what they need. And reducing customer effort creates happy customers.

Today’s guest post comes to us from Hsin-Ju Chuang, Content Strategist at Zendesk partner MindTouch, which focuses on helping organizations capture knowledge and drive customer success.

Check out MindTouch and other integrated apps in the Zendesk apps marketplace