Why Is Effortless Customer Service So Hard To Deliver? It’s Partly An Ownership Issue


Share on LinkedIn

Why is it so difficult to deliver consistent, effortless customer service interactions across communication channels and touchpoints. A fundamental reason has to do with how companies are internally organized. In many companies, sales, marketing, and customer service are discrete functional silos that don’t necessarily share the same technologies, business processes, data, or even the same definition of measures of success.

Let’s take a quick look at the organizations that make technology purchases for customer service. Obviously, the customer service operations group makes most of these purchases. Yet marketing and eBusiness organizations also purchase many technologies that are valuable to customer service such as social listening solutions, enterprise feedback management solutions, and social media technologies. Here are some numbers to back this up: in a survey of eBusiness and channel strategy executives, 91% said that they were responsible for the website and digital channels like email, chat, and web self service, and another 69% said they were responsible for the mobile operations, including the required technology purchases.

Fractured ownership is one problem. Another problem is that, in many cases, these technologies have been implemented in silos. Their use and insights are not broadly shared across the enterprise, and they are not integrated with one another or with customer databases or case management systems. Survey statistics back this up: Only 19% of companies say that they do multichannel integration well. What does this mean? It means that customers will have different customer service experiences across different channels such as web self-service, email, chat, or voice interaction. It means that customer-facing personnel supporting these channels may not have the same visibility into who the customer is and past purchase and interaction details of that customer.

What should you do about this? If you are looking to add another channel to your contact center, like chat, you should conduct a thorough audit of all similar technologies that the enterprise owns before making your purchase. In many cases, there are viable technologies that the organization uses elsewhere. Specifically, you should:

  • Evaluate similar technologies that your enterprise may already be using. Conduct due diligence of the capabilities of similar technologies and determine whether they can scale and operate at a level of performance and reliability to support customer service operations.
  • Decide whether you can leverage technologies across the enterprise. If the technology is sound, and meets the needs of the customer service organization, see whether you need a separate deployment instance of the technology or whether you can share the same deployment instance across organizations. In many cases, it is financially advantageous to expand the existing footprint of current technologies. It also minimizes IT support costs.
  • Align business processes across organizations. Ensure that the experience that the customer receives when interacting with these technologies is consistent across functional organizations. For example, if the same knowledge base is shared across contact center agents and for web self-service, make sure to use consistent authoring policies across organizations so that content is kept aligned for all audiences. Or, for example, if you use Twitter for customer service as well as brand management, ensure that the service-level agreements (SLAs) and processes followed over this channel do not conflict with the SLAs and processes followed over other communication channels.
  • Integrate technologies to extend the value of current customer service operations. Don’t deploy new customer service technologies in silos; ensuring that they are well-integrated with other customer service technologies will empower agents to provide efficient and effective customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Leggett
Kate serves Business Process Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer service strategies. Her research focuses on helping organizations establish and validate customer service strategies strategies, prioritize and focus customer service projects, facilitate customer service vendor selection, and plan for project success.


  1. I’d suspect that what you might have meant about “effortless” customer service is that it should appear effortless, but in fact, is not. Anyone working in customer service that thinks it IS effortless isn’t really noticing what’s going on behind the scenes.

    That said, ownership is probably AN issue, but I have some simpler conclusions a la occam’s razor. Consistent customer service (actually, perhaps you means consistently GOOD, requires investment, and despite the exhortations, many companies cannot, and perhaps should not invest because it doesn’t add to their bottom line. (I know, it drives me crazy too, but let’s try to be real here.

    Consistent customer service COSTS. And that’s why we don’t have it. All the other stuff, including ownership and org. structure is irrelevant.

    As for your recommendations, do you really think that the reason we don’t have great service consistently is because of a LACK of technology? You can’t solve a problem unless you know the cause, and honestly, I don’t think it’s a lack of technology.

    Customers accept poor service. Companies that offer poor service are often profitable.

  2. Robert, I agree that some companies can seemingly get away with poor service and still be profitable. And, that “good” service is not necessarily a profit driver.

    Every company and industry has a different set of dynamics, and the quality of customer service is just one thing that may (or may not) make a difference with customers. A fun example would be the “soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. Bad service but great soup!

    But your statement that “companies that offer poor service are often profitable” is interesting. If “often” is true, than why indeed invest in customer service?

    Do you have any research showing a relationship between poor service and profitability? I know there are studies of “customer experience” but customer service is just one component of that.

    My example is Ryanair, which scores at the bottom of customer satisfaction ratings in Europe, but is hugely profitable. I’ve written about it here. I find it a good example that CX is not the only thing that matters. For Ryanair, it appears to be irrelevant.

  3. Bob, thanks for the response. As for data to support my “contention” that companies perceived as having poor customer service are indeed profitable, one only has to look at the companies that rank in the top ten WORST companies for service — often it’s the same companies year after year.

    Those companies, with some exceptions, ARE profitable, despite their consistent low rankings. That’s not to say they wouldn’t be MORE profitable if their service levels were higher. (Note that I’m talking about customer perceptions of service, since that’s data we can access, rather than objective measures of service quality).

    I’m not advocating companies offer lousy service in pursuit of profit. I am looking at a “reality” at least as I see it, that one reason companies don’t “up their game”, is that not only do they PERCEIVE it as unnecessary to the bottom line, but that for a lot of companies (% unknown), it’s not just a perception, but a reality.

    Consumer behavior doesn’t follow what so many “experts” state. It’s too complex to make generalizations that customer service is tied to profits, and in many cases convenience, price etc, ARE more important than customer service quality. Hence we have lots of companies that trade on a LACK of customer service as the trade-off for lower prices. Costco is one example. Wal-mart another. NoFrills groceries, yet another, and the whopper of them all, self-serve gas stations.

  4. Robert & Bob, you raise excellent points. Superior customer service is one potential competitive positioning. Low cost provider is another.

    In MOST (but not all) cases, great customer service can provide a more sustainable advantage than low cost. Although it is, admittedly, difficult to sustain great customer service as your company grows!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here