“No customer should ever have to wait to be answered. The nature of customer service means that the customer service department is often rectifying a failure in the business process that is negatively affecting the consumer. The aim for customer service teams should be to remove wait times entirely, not reduce them. Whilst this might seem like a daunting task to achieve this standard, what it really requires is for businesses to simply change their outlook and approach to customer service.

The issue that companies have is not the resources that they have dedicated to customer service, but rather their entire approach to this element of their business. Too often customer service is viewed as an overhead rather than an operating cost, when in reality it is a critical business function, essential to the smooth running of almost any company. Building that into the strategy and developing proper planning protocol can drastically improve the way customer issues are dealt with.  

How often do we hear that ‘your call is important and currently call volumes are high’ and suspect it’s not really a spike in demand but actually a poorly run customer service function? Yet this is not something that needs to occur. Wait times can be decimated simply by improving planning and changing the labour model which underpins customer service to be demand led in and of the moment.

Labour has long been an issue for customer service businesses. Logically, staffing models should be led by customer demand, yet they almost always look to historic labour models which are totally inelastic. If businesses change their focus to man the hour not the day this ensures customer service experts are trained across multiple processes, channels and skills improving their agility to respond to issues. This is true even for working from home models  

It is these outdated labour models that led to closed customer service functions after office hours. Whilst inbound volumes can be low during the night and at weekends, customer service teams can continue working on queries that have come through via offline channels such as email. Doing so improves flexibility to respond to queries via live channels during peak times, reducing wait times.

More than anything else, modern organisations have to solve a very basic requirement of a person asking for assistance. See the problem through their eyes give and help them without delay, get it right first time and give them options across every channel the customer wants to use. People have always hated waiting and now technology and good planning mean we create frictionless customer service.”

– Martin Brown, CCO at FM Outsource