What would happen if 80% or even 90% of your customer service calls went away?
Oh, I know. You’re proud of the quality of your customer service. I suspect that if I asked your customers, they’d tell me all sorts of great things about how you took care of them, fixed a problem, have a wonderful service team, wear Tyvek shoe covers into their home, etc.
That’s good. Great service is important – right down to the shoe covers. So important that we’ve discussed it repeatedly. Thing is, there’s something better than great service: Service you never have to give because your customers never needed it.
I’m not talking about providing no service at all. I’m talking about taking steps to ensure that the amount of service you have to provide to resolve problems is tiny. Not just any problems – simply the preventable ones.
Damaged during shipping
Outside of very serious package damage that sometimes happens in transit, imagine if you no longer had to provide customer service related to a shipped item showing up broken. You can’t prevent incidental breakage, right?
Let’s try. Have your team back a box like they usually would. Go upstairs in your shop. Ask your shipping team to watch from outside as you toss that box out the window. Did anything break? Pack it better. Did the box crush? Try a better box. Wash, rinse, repeat. If your team is watching, they’ll have ideas to get it fixed. You won’t have to test anymore – they’ll get it and take over.
Obviously, if you ship heavy items that will always break the box during a fall like that, a different test makes sense. Your service and shipping departments probably know what kind of damage is in that 80-90% of damage claims.
If you can eliminate 80-90% of the “my stuff arrived and it’s broken” customer service, how much labor, time, re-work, COGS, repacking expense, reshipping expense, employee frustration, and customer first impression damage can you save?
Some of that will fall to the bottom line. Increased margin. More profit without making a single additional sale. No one wants that, right?
It’s a simple example, and perhaps one that you’ve explored because there are hard costs and well, it’s pretty obvious. But did you take the idea further?
Eliminating service may not seem obvious – even if you’re service improvement oriented. Many of us focus on optimizing support responses and minimizing support ticket turnaround times, only to completely forget to see what could be eliminated, rather than simply working toward making our responses better and faster.
So, back to the original question. What would it take to eliminate 80 to 90 percent of your service “events” in a few departments? What if you only manage to eliminate 50% or even 20% of these events across a few departments? It adds up fast – it’s all overhead.
What could the staff who currently handles these service calls get done that would help the customer (and your company) even more?
Ever have to go back to a customer site to fix something that didn’t get done right the first time? Ever have to go to a customer site to fix something some other company messed up? How does this impact your customer retention? Referrals?
Getting it right the first time is a competitive advantage. Every visit to a customer’s business or home wastes their time and increases the cost of whatever you do – both to you and them. It increases the likelihood that they’ll call you again, much less refer you to a friend who needs the same sort of work done. This isn’t about their desire to help you. If they refer you, it’s because they want to recommend someone who is going to help their friend have a good experience. Otherwise, no referral will come.
Preventable problems are the kind that create friction. Friction that slows down adoption of the product or service you sold them. Friction that increases their frustration with something they just purchased. Friction that creates negative first impressions. Friction that creates second thoughts and buyer remorse. Friction that slows down payments.
These problems may seem out of your control, but they aren’t. They may seem may seem expensive to fix, but their prevention saves money in the long run. What aspect of customer service can you drastically reduce or eliminate and in doing so, create a better client experience?
Mark Riffey is an investor and advisor to small business owners. Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter, or email him at email@example.com.
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