The support ticket: impersonal, cold, and just plain annoying. Nothing communicates quite as clearly that to the business, you are just a number.
The concept of using numbers to represent people isn’t new. From birth, we’re assigned a social security number. When we go to school, we’re handed a student ID number. Not mentioning the plethora of other numbers we’ll get throughout our lives, it can start to feel like the importance of personal connection is escaping daily life.
And while bureaucratic institutions are unavoidable, valuable customer interactions is crucial for a business’s success and customer loyalty. Yet many modern companies seem to be ignoring this and choosing the route of automated, impersonal support.
But if customers are the company’s ultimate goal, then why are businesses constantly treating people like numbers instead of human beings?
Ticket in, Ticket out
Though the world can be thankful to Henry Ford for creating the assembly line, it was a strategy meant for production, not service. However, countless companies are using it anyway: the ticket comes in and the ticket goes out. The faster the better.
The issue is that many don’t recognize customer service as a legitimate business discipline, which is strange considering almost every business has customer service.
They often view it as a cost center – a necessary evil. And because of that, people choose to make it as cheap as possible, often at the expense of quality.
In manufacturing, sacrificing costs almost always results in worsened quality. But when we transfer that equation onto customer service, the result is compromising on human dignity.
Is there an alternative that doesn’t force people to be labelled as numbers and wait hours in line to be helped?
Customer service creates value
To change the way customer service is done, the perspective on the topic has to change. As businesses, we should acknowledge customer service as a value-added activity that enhances the customer experience. It might even be the main reason your customer chooses you over a competitor.
This view recognizes that personal support builds strong customer relationships, something critical for success and improvement. Why would anyone ever sacrifice something as important as this?
Successful companies are changing the way they’re handling customer service. Instead of handing out meaningless tickets, they’re making service about conversations. Getting help should feel like chatting with an old friend, not like fighting a bureaucratic machine.
Making a transformation
Up until now, I haven’t addressed the fact that service isn’t free. And most people tend to prefer the cheaper option to the higher quality option.
As with most things, service quality improvements usually go hand-in-hand with a jump in costs: hiring more employees, training them longer, and paying them higher salaries. And since that translates into higher prices for customers, we question ourselves if it’s really worth it.
To make service improvements that make sense, we need to determine where our customers’ interests overlap with our business interests. How can we find the intersection where good service and affordability meets profitability?
In areas where they don’t align is where things start to get troublesome. When the customer’s interests for service exceed what the business can afford, then quality service becomes unsustainable to provide. When the business’ interests to be profitable outweigh the customer’s needs, then you get all the symptoms of bad service: long waiting lines, impersonal service, etc.
The goal that would achieve the most good for each side is to maximize the space in which interests overlap: where quality service maximizes profitability and doesn’t sacrifice dignity.
The ways of getting to better customer relationships already exist: we just need to start using them.
It’s the main reason the founders of Userlike decided to develop a live chat solution. Live chat allows one agent to help multiple customers at once without compromising on speed, which maximizes cost for the business while also cutting down wait times for the customer.
Canned messages also helps each side of the conversation by helping your support agents answer customers faster and with fewer mistakes.
With the help of increased browser capabilities, modern live chat solutions can recognize returning customers and match them with the support agents who they’ve previously chatted with, helping to build better relationships between your customers and support agents.
The improvements in language processing have also helped providing quicker and better service easier. Chatbots can take over the more repetitive parts of service, like greeting the customer and answering frequently asked questions.
Finding a new way
In our private lives, we’re constantly using messaging apps as the main way to communicate with friends and families. Yet, why haven’t most companies adopted this way of communication into their support stack?
At Userlike, our team is working on a solution for companies to integrate these messaging channels in their customer communication, which makes chatting with customers as enjoyable as chatting with friends.
By changing the way we support our customers, we’ll be able to revive daily, personal connection in order to build better relationships. The future of customer service lies in conversations, not tickets.