Cautionary Tales from 5 Customer Care Personas


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How do you approach customer service? As an opportunity to delight and reward your customers or as more of a business necessity just to make sure your customers hang around, happy or not? Are you big on personal touch, but short on technology? Or do you have tons of technology but no solid or sensible measurements in place? Do you know where you’re succeeding and where you’re falling short? Perhaps the cautionary tales from the company personas of customer care can give you some insight.

Aspect recently commissioned a study of customer service decision makers identifying five groups or Personas that represent distinct approaches to, and execution of, customer care. These Personas range from “The Traditionalist” who is all about the relationship but not the technology to “The Selfie” who innovates primarily to serve its own corporate agenda and “The Stickler” who’s focused solely on following its well-defined protocol.

Now don’t skip to the end. The study didn’t find a single Persona that is absolutely perfect in its approach to customer service – everyone segment has room for improvement. So whether your business is just a startup or you’re in the middle of a full customer engagement evaluation, these Company Personas, and their approached to customer service, can help you avoid the common mistakes that those who have gone before have made. Have you heard of the show, ‘What Not to Wear?” Think of this as “How Not to Customer Care” – tips on what not to do when planning and executing on a successful customer service strategy.Persona Image

The Traditionalist’s Agent overreliance:  Don’t get me wrong, the traditional approach to customer service, the approach focused on building long-lasting personal relationships is a proven method to build loyalty.  The Traditionalist Persona puts too much emphasis on personal touch and not enough on technology such as mobile and self-service and this can be a problem. Customers, especially millennials, increasingly prefer self-service applications to resolve issues (not to mention the expense of a one-to-one real-time touch for each customer can be high). The companies who recognize that a comprehensive customer care strategy is a mix of technology and agent-based service are those who will avoid falling into this trap.

Learn from The Honcho: Make sure your technology isn’t anti-social: There are some companies with committed leadership who truly see the value of customer service as part of the overall corporate strategy. They agree that customer service technology investment has a strong correlation to improved consumer interaction but companies in the Honcho segment haven’t fully grasped how to integrate this technology into its operations and use it effectively. It’s not enough for leadership to just value customer service—put words into practice by encouraging the entire organization to continuously innovate and explore new channels for engagement.

Go ahead and take a selfie, just don’t be The Selfie: A brand is nothing without its customers. A company can be on the forefront of technology, ahead of the curve in customer service innovation and functionality but if a company does this purely to save money, it risks neglecting even frustrating customers and their actual needs. And brands, like those that fall into the Selfie segment, that have an amplified sense of self and believe they can do no wrong are especially at risk. It’s difficult to master something that is always changing, and any belief otherwise is a surefire way to alienate and lose what sustains a business – its customers.

Don’t take customer service lightly, unlike The Casualist: An overly casual approach to customer service – in everything from leadership involvement and metrics to technology and customer service prioritization defines the Casualist persona. This segment suffers from a ‘light’s on, but no one’s home’ care strategy, which is one reason why they see their customer service performance worsening. Casual can be good sometimes—it can be a sign of flexibility and the ability to handle surprises—but casual to the point of no return leaves customers with unresolved issues and agents unsure of how to proceed. Flexibility is critical in providing a personalized approach to customer care, but some structure is still necessary to actually resolve the issue, which is key for the most superior customer experiences.

Protecting the protocol of The Stickler: On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Stickler company which gets too bogged down by rules, procedures and a formalized approach to customer service. While rules and protocol are good, even needed, companies also need to be flexible to meet the needs of every unique customer. When it comes down to it, the customer cares less about the corporate policy and more about an experience that is not one size fits all.

While there’s no perfect Persona, it’s important to find a balance between delivering superior customer service and bottom line results. The first step is to recognize the potential customer service traps and pitfalls a business can fall into, avoid them, and then develop a strategy that takes into account the company, the technology, the agent and ultimately, the customer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Dreyer
Tim Dreyer, Director of Public Relations and Analyst Relations at Aspect, is a results-oriented manager with over 18 years of advertising, marketing communications and public relations and social media experience developing and implementing media programs, advertising strategy, and marketing programs. Tim's background includes a range of broad cross-functional experience and strong leadership.


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