The online customer service community is large but very close-knit and engaged. Last year, I had the pleasure of connecting with Nate Brown. He’s one of the nicest and most helpful people you can ever find.
Nate is the Co-founder of CX Accelerator. While “customer service is his primary expertise, Nate leverages his experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect dots and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a Customer Experience program, to journey mapping, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is always learning new things and sharing with the CX community.”
I had the pleasure to sit down with Nate and ask him a few questions.
Hello, my friend, it’s a pleasure to have you on my Leadership Series Nate, thanks so much!
Q1: In your role working with contact center employees, what do you find are the biggest challenges in providing great customer service when there is no “face-to-face” customer contact?
Hi Steve, thanks, it’s great to be here and be part of this series which featured so many greats from the customer service community.
Well, the hardest part is establishing a meaningful connection almost instantaneously. Over the phone, the first few seconds of the call are by far the most important. The tone of your voice and the quality of your greeting cannot be overstated. If the customer believes you are truly there to be an advocate for them, the rest will fall into place naturally. Those first 3-5 seconds will make or break the interaction. Beyond that, follow through with any commitments made.
Customers are generally patient, even if you don’t know the answer right away. If you are promising a callback, however, you had darn well better call back relatively soon, or you will have an escalation on your hands every time.
Q2: So true. Many cannot make the connection over the phone as they can in person. It’s definitely a learned skill. Since you’re an expert in the field, can you explain the difference in customer service and customer experience? I don’t think most people differentiate between the two. Also, is there a different approach that must be taken with each?
Customer Service is just one of the many touchpoints inside of the larger Customer Experience. CX (Customer Experience) is “how customers perceive their interactions with your company” – Forrester. Customer service, alternatively, is the function of a company responsible for assisting the customer when they experience issues. The customer’s overall journey is going to be influenced by a whole variety of things and customer service may not even be a part of this journey unless something goes wrong.
As far as the approach, customer service professionals have a wonderful opportunity to become more proactive in designing customer experiences, and possibly eliminating trouble spots all together!
Q3: VoC (Voice of the Customer) is a process by which a business will gather information from customers (their voice) to understand their preferences and expectations and to gather suggestions, etc. Since there is a big difference between a customer’s needs versus wants, does a business that uses VoC really have an advantage over one that doesn’t and why?
An organization without a strong VoC program is flying blind. They are making assumptions about how customers feel and what they are willing to pay for. Why wing it? Learn from your customers and infuse these insights into your R&D efforts. With all the competitive alternatives that exist, we should strive to give the customer what they want so expectations are met and using VoC insights to anticipate they will need next.
Q4: Let’s talk about CX Accelerator. You are a co-founder of this amazing group. (By the way, I invite all my readers to join and connect with you and the rest of the CX team there). What were your reasons behind and the motivation for starting it?
Customer Experience is a hard field to approach from the outside. A safe place was needed to help new CX professionals get the “lay of the land” and connect with wonderful people who can act as a guide. CX Accelerator has achieved this objective and so much more! It’s been such a thrilling community so far and we can’t wait to see how it continues to evolve.
Q5 I watched a video of you – and by the way, in it, you were wearing a chicken costume – where you were speaking about “creating meaningful work”. Can you expand on that, and what’s the deal with the chicken costume?
Ha! Ah yes, the Halloween Edition of “Breaking the Ice” with Jenny Dempsey and Jeremy Watkin. I had to show off my costume for the big interview. My favorite part of that whole thing was getting my nine-year-old daughter to film it and having so many comical outtakes.
As far as creating meaningful work goes, this is essential to creating a consistently excellent Customer Experience. When work becomes mundane, it’s followed by disengagement and poor quality. Customers can sense a bored employee who is simply going through the motions from a mile away. Work should be interesting and have a meaningful purpose. When it does, both the employee and the customer will find fulfillment in the interaction!
Q6: You’re well known for wearing very colorful shirts and jackets; it’s become your trademark. Is there a story behind this that you can share, or do you just wear them because it’s fun?
I’ve been an intentionally terrible dresser since high school. I don’t have a great explanation for this, except perhaps the “Lady Ga-Ga” effect. As the story goes, Lady Ga-Ga was told by her producers that she was not “pretty enough” for a career in pop music, so she had better find some other way to stand out. Hence the meat-suits and a phenomenal music career.
Perhaps I’m playing a similar card, though I do just find it fun. I’ve always enjoyed being different, and who doesn’t love a good novelty suit? The answer to this question is, of course, my wife, who has been so gracious to allow my suits to take up half of our tiny closet. I hope to be blazing a unique trail not only with my attire but also with my CX-related content.
Nate, it’s been wonderful having you here, thanks so much!
Connect with Nate here:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/cxaccelerator/
CX Accelerator – https://www.cxaccelerator.com/