Recognize Alone Is Not An Option“The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together…” — Nick Fury
In the first Avengers movie, Fury explained the motivation behind assembling the team. Individually, each of the Avengers is a powerful hero, but Fury suspected there was greater evil coming to threaten the Earth. His theory was a menace larger than any of them alone would be no match for the combined power of the Avengers.
This is a lot like customer service.
Customer service is the face and voice of a company. Their “superpower” is in responding to customers, calming situations, and finding answers. But there are limits to what they can provide. They might have answers to simple questions and workarounds for problems, but they can’t permanently resolve issues at the point where they originate. Unless they work with other departments across the company, their effectiveness is limited and the customer experience suffers because they are unable to prevent countless more customers from encountering the same issue.
Work Through Team AdversityEstablishing a team can be challenging because they are never without some internal conflict, and teams of the superpowered variety are no different. I’ll reference the Avengers again, where each hero had suspicions of their fellow teammates’ motivations as well as Fury’s real purpose for bringing them together. In the end, events forced them to set aside these suspicions and to place trust in one another.
Similarly, it can be a challenge to build a customer-centric culture outside of customer service. Other parts of the organization can be too focused on their part of the business, mistrust the motivations of other departments, or not see the value in contributing to the strongest possible customer experience.
Company leadership might advocate a customer focus or it could be driven by the customer service team–hopefully both are occurring! For such efforts to succeed, customer service must take the lead in building and maintaining relationships with other internal departments–be they finance, product development, manufacturing, and others–and continually cultivate those relationships on an ongoing basis. Customer service must remind other internal departments often of the critical importance they play in the customer experience and the many victories from such teamwork. This will keep them invested in solving the problems affecting customers and keep the team bond strong.
Use The Team’s StrengthsSuperheroes have powers and abilities beyond those of the common person–though that doesn’t make them unstoppable. Just as Superman is powerless when faced with Kryptonite, superheroes often have a weakness they can’t overcome.
Customer service is the front line in assisting customers. They have the skills necessary to listen to issues, defuse emotional situations, and serve as the customer’s champion. What they lack is the ability to fundamentally change a broken product, service, or process: this is their vulnerability.
They have other members of the team who can, though, when departments outside customer service are also focused on the customer experience. With a customer-centric culture and strong connections to other departments, customer service can be the force to help drive change. As problems are identified, the team can work together using technology like workflow, allowing customer service to share issues with the departments that can permanently fix them. Billing matters can be sent to accounting, product quality issues to manufacturing, etc. Why workflow? Unlike with email where issues can get lost, workflow allows progress to be monitored and accountability maintained until problems are permanently solved. (It also allows for better reporting on results and auditing to further improve.)
Win As A Team“Each of us, in some way, is held back… Divided, we are not enough…” — Batman
“We do this together.” — Wonder Woman
These quotes from one of the latest Justice League trailers nicely sum up why it’s so important for customer service to be working beyond their walls. When a company has left customer service to operate on its own, friendly answers might be given, but problems will never be completely solved and the customer experience will never improve. It’s only when customer service has teamed up with the rest of the organization that truly heroic events can occur.