What to Do When You Need a Customer Service Revolution

August 10, 2016 John Gorup

If a business has good procedures, effective data management, and an engaged workforce, an upgrade to Service Cloud will greatly improve their customer service. But for other companies, life isn’t so simple. They need a customer service revolution. These are companies that have a broken customer service operation, which better technology alone cannot fix. Other companies that need a revolution are ones threatened by more nimble competitors. This is especially true in highly competitive industries where competition is more about service than price and product.


But any student of history will tell you that as many revolutions go wrong as go right. So what do managers do at companies that desperately need a customer service revolution? That’s a hard question to answer, but a recent paper by Jochen Wirtz and Ron Kaufman gives some great advice on the topic. In their estimation, it comes down to jettisoning 4 conventional practices. For companies implementing Service Cloud — and in need of a drastic overhaul of customer service operations — paying attention to their advice might be the difference between success and disappointment. The following is a list of their rules for revolution, along with some advice as to how these can be applied to a Service Cloud implementation:

Rule #1: Don’t start with customer-facing employees. Instead, involve everyone, with a special focus on internal service providers.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but frontline customer service reps are the endpoint of a customer service operation, not the beginning. The frustrations these employees face are often the symptom of a deeper organizational problem.

A customer service revolution requires a look at the entire supply chain of information and policies. It’s best to take a step back and look at planning out the interfaces customer service reps will use and build an actionable strategy that surveys the whole process. In a Service Cloud implementation, it may pay to focus on features like knowledge management and to fix data problems in general.

Rule #2: Don’t start by training people on specific service skills, scripts, and procedures. Instead, educate them first to a better understanding of what service excellence really means.

Wirtz and Kaufman have found that “scripted employees are often less able to be imaginative or empathetic about a customer’s true needs.” Managers need to preach a holistic definition of service, which includes creating value for others — outside of and within the organization.

With Service Cloud, this could mean using the collaborative cloud to promote ideas and sharing experiences. Making sure all employees have the tools to understand what can be done helps them make nimble decisions for unique customer problems.

Rule #3: Don’t pilot the change. Instead, go big and go fast to build momentum for the new culture.

Customer service is the result of an entire organization’s efforts. Pulling out a small group to pilot change will not result in any kind of revolutionary change.


Rule #4: Don’t focus on traditional KPIs during the service revolution (e.g., satisfaction, NPS, operational measures, and sales). Instead, focus on leading “revolution indicators” (i.e., ideas generated and ideas implemented) to generate value-adding ideas and new service actions.

Conventional metrics are still important, but they are lagging indicators of the customer service process. A customer service revolution requires a different set of measurements.

Many organizations implementing Service Cloud see it as an IT activity, like swapping out an old Siebel system for Salesforce. This approach will improve customer service but not revolutionize it. A customer service revolution begins by stepping back and looking at the entire Customer Experience and Worker Experience. The beginning point should not be a spreadsheet of system requirements; it should be building an actionable strategy for change.


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