Out with the old in with the new; customer service can be a major profit center with the right approach. GQ Fu, a customer service thought leader and CEO of LTVplus, explains how.
Customer Service has Unique Challenges
Customer service has always occupied a unique, if not slightly paradoxical, role within a business.
While customer service teams are the customer-facing unit of an organization and the first to hear about any major problems, they’re often poorly integrated into company-wide discussions about strategy, innovation, and vision.
Customer service teams are asked to communicate precisely and accurately with customers, but they’re not always given much time to do this or enough information to respond effectively.
And perhaps one of the most significant contradictions is that customer service must be the cool-headed voice of the company while also handling challenging customers who have difficult and often unclear problems.
Customer Service is Changing and Will Continue to Change
What this paradox actually points to, however, is this: customer service is really not given the credit that it is due.
And what more and more organizations are seeing today is that it’s not just that customer service deserves more credit, but that how organizations think about customer service needs to change entirely.
And this change involves moving from seeing customer service from a defensive posture to seeing customer service as a critical value-add—a profit generator, in fact.
This idea—that customer service is a critical, and in fact a profit-generating opportunity, is what guides the pioneering work of GQ Fu, the co-founder and CEO of LTVplus.
LTVplus is a forward-thinking player in the Customer Service world in providing world-class customer service outsourcing for e-commerce brands.
In this blog post, GQ offers up some critical insights into pushing back against the ‘silos’ that Customer Service often finds itself in. In addition, he highlights the importance of training, and how to integrate technology with the human touch to offer personalized, high-value customer interactions.
ProWritingAid: We’ve talked with you a little bit about this idea of ‘flipping the script’— specifically in terms of how companies think about customer service today. How do most companies view customer service right now and what does it mean to “flip the script?”
GQ: We see a growing trend of e-commerce businesses investing greatly in customer service and placing a lot of importance on the customer experience.
What was once viewed as a cost center is now considered a profit center by most. Brands spend a lot of money getting visitors to their stores, so providing the best customer service to retain customers makes the most sense in the long run.
When we spoke about “flipping the script”, we talked about how customer service departments are sometimes placed in siloes and as a result, disconnected from other parts of the brand—like marketing.
By integrating customer service (or flipping the script) with other departments, it will create a much better feedback loop. Customer service is not only able to get the information they need to help customers, but they can also provide feedback so other departments know what customers are saying across communication channels. This can only help improve the customer experience.
What, in your view, are some of the most difficult challenges facing Customer Service teams today?
The volume of inquiries is always a challenge when you do not have a scalable customer service team. Black Friday/Cyber Monday and other peak seasons are good opportunities for having a well-trained scalable customer service team on standby to help with the load. Offering self-service options is also an alternative to helping with volume.
Ensuring that customer service teams get the latest information on launches and updates can be challenging when you have to roll it out across a large customer service department. Having a knowledge base that grows over time can help tremendously.
While customer service agents learn on the job and get familiar with brands over time, they need continuous training to make sure they are consistently delivering great customer experiences for a brand.
Maintaining a consistent brand voice across all your customer service agents is a crucial one. When you hire new agents or work with part-time contractors, it takes some time to get them up to speed to properly represent your brand. Having a style guide and training programs to ensure that agents speak in your brand’s voice are very important.
Looking out, where do you think the evolution of Customer Service is headed in the next 5-10 years? Do you think more companies will begin to see their CS teams as revenue generators?
Technology will play a key role (and already is) in helping brands deliver great customer experiences with a lean team. This will empower brands to better manage their costs, and at the same time, getting the ROI that they should from customer service. We will see a good balance of AI and human agents that help brands deliver highly personalized customer experiences across all communication channels.
Companies will definitely view customer service as a revenue generator. By being able to reduce costs and better engage customers to increase sales, customer service will become (or has become) one very strong channel to drive revenue for businesses.
What are some relatively easy and low-resource strategies that Customer Service teams could implement today to improve short-term? And what are some ideas those teams should consider for the long-haul?
Work with marketing to ensure that your FAQs and public-facing knowledge base are up-to-date.
Implement non-invasive proactive live chat to better engage shoppers on your website.
Set up personalized cart abandonment and failed payment recovery processes. Automation is great, but your recovery rates get a lot better when you have your human team members engage with customers.
Analyze what customers are saying in your customer feedback (e.g. aggregating customer sentiment to understand what people are actually talking about).
Looking Forward: Customer Service
Clearly, there’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all approach to how think about customer service in 2021 and beyond.
But regardless of the approach, what GQ emphasizes here is key; customer service can be a revenue generator and a profit center if organizations can give up old ways of seeing customer service and embrace the new.
Want more of GQ's insight on driving revenue through customer service?
Join us for AJ's live interview on May 27th at 10AM ET.
We'll cover how software like ProWritingAid can boost your team's speed and quality, no matter how many tickets they have to go through. Then, we'll discuss the right way to design macros and scripts so your team can personalize every customer interaction. And finally, GQ will share the same frameworks he uses at LTVplus to transform outsourced agents into the mouthpiece of a brand in the least amount of time.