Customer Service: Not Saving Transaction, but Keeping Company Promise

During the #custserv chat (every Tuesday, 9PM ET), we started this discussion:

@MarshaCollier: Should customer service should become a caste system, segmented by $$ spent? #custserv

@berkson0: caste system] it isn’t already? #custserv

@catykobe: Nope. Every customer is equally important regardless of how much they spend. #CustServ

The discussion then moved to Google+ to answer this paraphrased question:

Should Customer Service spend the same energy with every customer, or should it spend more time with customers who made larger purchases?

I adapted my answer to that question into this post.

As with any good question, the answer is “it depends”. There are at least two different angles to the answer.

Rationale 1: Spend as much time as necessary to solve the problem

The mission of Customer Service is to complete/ensure the delivery of value to customers. It can only be successful if it is fully committed to that goal.

If solving post-transaction problems is routinely taking time that makes the business non-viable, the root of the problem is elsewhere (badly designed product/service, unrealistic expectations).

Of course, everything has a limit. There are situations where Customer Service better “fire the customer” (as discussed in a recent #custserv chat).

Rationale 2: Optimize resources to maximize returns

Generally, businesses try to allocate resources so that it maximizes return. So it is natural that a company will spend more resources to address issues affecting a large portion of the business.

Spend more resources on bigger deals.

A new variable is that it is becoming difficult to measure the “lifetime value” of a customer relationship. As Social Media enables more peer-influence,  that “small” customer might be the person who brings you or kill the deal of your life in the future.

My Point-of-View

In the most common scenario where Customer Service interventions are exceptions and not the rule (i.e. post-sale issues are relatively rare), I would advocate rationale 1: Focus on making the customer happy without looking at the meter.

Looking at customer service time based on size of the deal makes more sense in cases where post-transaction interventions are common, part of the usual transaction workflow in the business model.

Customer Service: You are not trying to save a transaction, you are keeping the company promise to its customers.

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