The One Thing Every Customer Experience Person Should STOP Doing Right Now

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Several days ago I was entertained by a random collection of blogs from various sources that arrived in my inbox at the same time. The sources ranged from leadership experts to social media influencers. The topics were all a variation of: “The One thing _________ should stop doing right now.” Some blogs were whimsical, like stop using certain emojis or #hashtags. Others were more serious, like those that were raising an alarm about practiced behaviors that are extremely detrimental to personal health, such as smoking. In the leadership blogs, wasting time was a recurring theme as well as the abuse of email.

In keeping with this trend, here is a somewhat “tongue and cheek” version of the one thing that every customer experience leader should stop doing right now.

First, let’s cover the honorable mentions.

5. Procrastination

Procrastination was one of the recurring themes in the personal health and leadership blogs. If you want to have better outcomes, quit waiting for the perfect moment. Stop waiting for everything to be aligned, for the kids to be older, for the bank account to be fuller, for the job to be less stressful, for this person to be more kind, for that new job, or for the next product update to solve all of your issues and make you happy. Every customer experience person, regardless of industry or issue, title or role, should take a deep look at the work that needs to be done, and get to it. That may require doing hard things. It may require long hours to make up for the time lost doodling and lamenting. Or, it may mean you finally get around to prioritizing what needs to be done and you realize that the work isn’t as boring or daunting as you thought.

4. Failing to prioritize

Failing to set priorities is another item that every customer experience agent should stop doing. Without priorities, it becomes impossible to do the most meaningful and important work and simultaneously it becomes easier and easier to procrastinate and put things off. Take- a-look at the to-do list, the task list, the requests and needs that you have, and those of your customers and your company. Look for ways to prioritize this list and remove those things that are no longer of any importance or urgency. Once you have this list, look for further ways in which you can prioritize the remaining items, or pass them on to someone else. Hint: If it has been on your to-do list for over two years and it is not a tactical need or long-term strategic item, it should not be number 1. Hint number two: If everything is priority 1, then nothing is priority 1.

Also remember that prioritization is both a personal effort and a team and organizational effort. As you are prioritizing work, be sure to also consider ways in which you can work on future tasks that will make things easier, more automated, and optimized for the future.

3. Only solving the immediate issue

Of course many CRM solutions, leaders, and experts teach us to focus on the issue and resolve the customer’s immediate pain. That is why BandAids were invented. Yes, the customer has a critical issue that needs to be solved. Yes, solving that goal is a high, or even your highest priority.

But, this work isn’t the only thing that needs to be done. Don’t stop once you have solved the immediate issue, but go beyond that issue and anticipate clear and obvious issues while also generating additional customer value. For example, noticing that a customer went into a maintenance window without a plan, our Customer Experience team at SIOS resolved their immediate issue, but then went further. The team provided best practice recommendations, additional professional services solutions to assist with maintenance, and discussed with the customer how to develop, test, and deploy future maintenance scenarios using a runbook. The team also explained to the customer the critical importance of having a well documented and tested plan for critical systems, processes, and procedures so that this customer would avoid a repeat of the issue on future systems or clusters.

Look for ways in which the immediate issue can be resolved and provide some helpful value add to the customer for similar issues in the future. Here are a few helpful pointers for adding value beyond the immediate issue:

  1. Investigate whether the issue is an actual pain or a symptom of something deeper.
  2. Provide pointers to existing documentation
  3. Add the customer to your company’s support KBA portal or group
  4. Provide the customer with best practices and information for future activities
  5. Notify them of potential upgrades, newer versions, or incompatibilities observed with yours or other products that are installed
  6. If the customer is willing, use the case session for real time training and recommend follow up course offerings.

The team at SIOS is great at reminding me to remember this principle.

2. Failing to see the opportunity

Every time a customer calls with a problem or issue, critical or otherwise, it can be challenging. Critical problems can require a lot of resources, generate anxiety, and be difficult to resolve. Sometimes our habit is to focus on the problem to the detriment of seeing the opportunity. Stop seeing the problem as a problem and start seeing it as an opportunity. Every time a customer calls with an issue, on the backside of it is an opportunity too. As an expert on your product, company, company’s services, or industry, you have knowledge that can turn the issue into a positive. Consider noting the trends in your own support data, look for reasons why the customer continues to call or have difficulty. Mining this level of data and the customer feedback can change the problem into an opportunity to improve the documentation, product, existing services, or create new services or business models.

While Sales, Marketing, and C-Level roles are instrumental in developing vision and value for the company, do not minimize the ability and impact that your role has within the company. As a front line customer experience agent, your interactions with the customer can help drive new requirements, develop better processes, improve product quality and robustness, and identify solution gaps and new service opportunities. Stop missing the opportunities to grow the company and customer value because it comes packaged in a problem or support ticket.

To recap… the honorable mentions for things that everyone (exaggeration intended) in customer experience should stop doing right now include:

  1. Procrastination
  2. Failing to prioritize
  3. Only solving the immediate problem or issue
  4. Failing to see the opportunity

But the number one thing that we all must stop doing is:

1. Leaving no margin in your day

All of the honorable mentions are nearly obvious. We know the dangers of putting off for tomorrow what we should be working on today. We understand, innately even if we don’t always do so explicitly, the value of making priorities. Many of us have bucked trends of only answering the current issue and have already made it a practice to add value and look for ways to anticipate. Most likely we also have adapted our practices and deployed products and people doing data analysis on everything from the number of cases, types of problems, geography of callers, type of products, operating systems, and company demographics as a way to find more opportunities in the data. However, what many in customer experience continue to do is hurry!

We hurry from case to case, ticket to ticket, call to call, and issue to issue. Sometimes, if we aren’t careful, we can run through transcripts and call scripts, barely listening for the answer to “how are you doing” before we launch into the next set of “how may I help you” or “what seems to be the problem”. Because we are so good at hurrying – actually, we aren’t good at it – but continue to do it– we lack the margin we need to be our best and to avoid the habits that could be diminishing our customer’s experience. For example, in a hurry to make the next call or meeting, or if you or your team are in a rush to hit a closure rate metric, are you still as likely to offer additional suggestions, point out potential flaws and errors that haven’t been duly reported?

Managers, when was the last time your team had time between calls to do more than sprint to the bathroom and barely avoid scalding themselves on the way back from the coffee pot? Do they eat their lunch at the desk with a headset on?

Non-managers, do you have margin between calls and cases to write up notes and issues, identify key next steps, provide proper closeout paperwork, and look for more than just the immediate way to add value? Do you look for trends during the day or week? How good do you feel about your level of service and the time you spend with each case and client? What level of mental rest do you allow within your day to be creative, learn, grow, explore new technologies, and solutions? Be aware that failing to take breaks and build in margin can lead to information leaking between cases, mixing up customer names, tickets and environments, forgetting to create notes, or something worse, behaving unprofessionally.

“Build margin into your lives, some wide and open spaces spent in rest (Tom Felton, Our Daily Bread August 8, 2023)”. Real rest and margin helps us make better decisions—being disciplined at creating healthier margins and boundaries will give you the bandwidth available to do the necessary, important, and priority things with excellence.

The number one thing everyone in Customer Experience needs to stop is leaving themselves without margins. Adding margin to your day will actually help with the honorable mentions, freeing up your mind to think more broadly and generate better solutions, and giving you time to recharge so that you are better able to treat customers with respect, joy, empathy, and exceptional service.

What could you do to add margin into your schedule? How would a small change like 5 – 10 minutes between calls improve your day, your health, and your customer outcomes?

Cassius Rhue
Cassius Rhue leads the Customer Experience team at SIOS Technology responsible for customer success spanning pre-sales, post-sales and professional services engagements. With over 19 years of experience at SIOS and a focus on the customer, his significant skills and deep knowledge in software engineering, development, design and deployment specifically in HA/DR are instrumental in addressing customer issues and driving success.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Despite what “progressive” organisations say, they still focus on productivity, measured using KPIs like average handling time, occupancy and productive time. That’s the brutal truth. However, if a 5 minute “flexible” margin were added to the AHT target, then agents would have both breathing space, and the motivation to handle the call efficiently.

  2. Interesting and questioning one self.
    I love all your points. It’s so true.
    But allow me add to your list few more points:
    1. Stop being a non-SMILING person. I do not know if you know the following saying: “A man who doesn’t know how to smile should not open a store.”
    2. Stop thinking negatively, start thinking POSITIVELY. In the morning when you wake up, first SMILE, and ask yourself what GOOD can you do today. Negativity attracts negativity, positivity attracts positivity.
    3. Stop not LEARNING. Any company, any individual should be a Learning organization, a Learning person. Learn from your mistakes, learn from others, learn from your employees, learn from your customers, learn from your suppliers, learn from you children. When you stop Learning you are obsolete, you die.
    4. Stop thinking you are the BEST. You are not the best. Look around you. You have always room to improve.
    5. Stop being a person LOVING your product or service, start being someone LOVING your customer. Start being a customer centric person.
    Stop being a person only finding the mistake in others. First look at yourself. A good leader should be humble enough to say to his employees: “I apologize, I made a mistake.” I suppose you know the following statement: “The fish stink by the head

  3. Failure to return calls with in the same day . To many people put off calls they receive
    not knowing what is needed. Could be an up coming delivery of commercial product .
    Sales People do not ask questions from there supplier to notify shippers and specific
    need to that can be meet. People are doing less instead of what has always been
    required in any seasoned sales position . Yes several Procrastination and just plain lazy .
    Email leaves out that personal touch that need to happen . Even a protentional
    buyer of Auto mobiles , like to fell their treated like family .

  4. While I can’t disagree with the merits of what has been said both in the article and the comments, allow me to expand on your points 3 & 4: stop treating frontline staff merely as tactical problem solvers. Sure, that is an area of expertise that brings great value . . . but there is even greater value in harnessing that expertise to instruct broader, strategic changes based on their tactical experience.

    Treat a singular customer issue as idiosyncratic. As soon as two customers have the same problem, treat is as a tsunami and look to those frontline folks for ideas as to how to avoid having the same problem repeat itself with other customers. Turn that tactical feedback loop into an incubator for ideas to make changes that minimize the likelihood that the same problem occurs again.

  5. Howard and I are on the same page. Employees, and the tactical/strategic insights they offer, are core enterprise assets, not merely costs of doing business.

  6. FAILING TO LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS

    Active listening skills are the foundation of effective communication. In customer services this means being totally focused on what the customer is saying. Only when you listen then you will be able to analyse the situation to be able to provide and look for a suitable solution/s, or calm the customer, or show empathy to the customer who is complaining, or see an opportunity in the complaint.

    if you don’t listen then the message may be mis understood and this will further frustrate the customer.

    One of the most frustrating aspect of not listening to a customer is that the customer will perceive that you are not making a decision in his favour, or not prepared to help him; and on the other hand by not listening to a customer you would have already made up your mind of your response and feedback even though there would have been a solution which could have assisted the customer and so an opportunity would be lost. A great leader would know that the moment a customer walks through your door he should be treated with respect and deserves to be heard.

  7. I’m going to get more specific, sort of like Jane M did about returning calls. Failing to attack Sales and Marketing headon with a survey question like, “Got the product I thought I bought..” We have found that S&M (yes there is a bit of a pun there) cause at least 30% of all dissatisfaction due to poor transparency and customer education, which is left to the service department to clean up “later.”

    This then leads to Colin’s comment – you can quantify the revenue and Word of Mouth damage of failing to meet expectations and create an Index of Marketing Quality which quantifies the percentage of dissatisfaction and attrition caused by S&M. See my article on Stop doing the annual do-you-love-us survey.

  8. I go out of my way to add margin to my daily schedule. I look out for opportunities. I recall a case when I worked for Carrier Air Conditioners between 1998-2005 where we had to refund money against the unused portion of the annual maintenance contract. The customer was in a hurry to leave for USA and going by the rules, we could not provide him with the refund before his departure. I requested him to provide his bank account no and branch details. I personally went to this branch and deposited his refund cheque. I got proof of deposit ( counterfoil) from the branch, scanned it and mailed it to the customer who had reached USA by then. He was thrilled. Needless to say, next time when he returned to Chennai, India he went in for “Carrier Air Conditioners” only and keeps renewing his contract with them.

  9. Your call to action for customer experience professionals is thought-provoking. It’s like a wake-up call to reevaluate practices and prioritize what truly matters. Your advice carries weight and has the potential to positively impact the customer service landscape. Thanks for sharing this vital message!

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