Optimize your service channel portfolio

Focus on what customers are trying to accomplish to help resolve issues with less effort

Customers try to self-serve, but often can't

Customer behavior has changed dramatically over the years. More customers than ever are attempting to self-serve before picking up the phone. And the majority of customers are consulting sources outside of the company first, such as Google, Facebook, blogs, and friends or family.

Yet, although customers aren’t starting their service journey in company-owned channels, they are ending there.

Different starting and ending points indicate that while today’s customers expect to resolve issues on their own, there are many situations in which they cannot.

The customer service journey is complex

Customer service journeys have no discernible pattern when measured in traditional ways, making the step-by-step sequence almost completely unpredictable. Add to this the sheer number of channels used: The average customer visits 1.7 company-owned and 2.1 non-company-owned channels on their service journey.

The bottom line is today’s customer resolution experience — for which the company is fully responsible — includes channels and interactions the company does not control, and more situations in which the customer must exert effort to solve a problem. 

Customers are seeking to accomplish a specific resolution “job”

Understanding why customers would choose one channel over another requires us to understand what “job” a customer is trying to accomplish with their choice.

By understanding the psychological need a customer is looking to satisfy — not just which channel a customer would choose, but why they would choose it — executives can optimize the experiences of customers and meet the financial and strategic goals of the company.

 

A new view of the issue resolution experience is needed

Service leaders’ current view of customer service presumes customers are trying to do one job — resolve the issue — and can choose from any one of the equally capable, company-owned channels to do it.

In reality, customers are trying to perform six unique resolution jobs and view different utility in different channels. Customers don’t do these jobs in any particular order, and while some jobs involve the company, others intentionally exclude it. This new view sees the customer’s overall resolution experience as a journey to accomplish one or more of these six jobs.

The six customer resolution jobs

Service leaders must understand each job and the channels best suited for accomplishing it to optimize a customer’s overall resolution experience.

Transact

Solving a problem using company resources in a self-directed way

Channels:

  • Company website or portal
  • Mobile app

Confirm

Getting a quick answer, or handing off a minor issue to a company so that someone else will take care of it

Channels:

  • Web chat
  • Email
  • Text message

Discuss

Resolving complex situations through human interactions and diagnosis

Channel:

  • Phone

Work-Around

Gathering information, learning and potentially finding a solution

Channels:

  • Search engine
  • YouTube
  • Online review
  • Discussion forum

Validate

Seeking advice and (in many cases) empathy from trusted people

Channel:

  • Friend, family or co-worker

Vent

Making one's voice heard in some public way, often for attention or to shame a company into action

Channels:

  • Personal social media account
  • Company social media account

Customers often choose the wrong channel for the job

Customers frequently choose the wrong channel for their resolution job, which leads to channel switching, higher effort and lower customer loyalty. 

Rather than enabling customers to use any channel to resolve any issue, service leaders should direct customers to the channel optimized for their specific resolution job.

Take action

It’s time to stop thinking about channels and start thinking about jobs. The best service leaders focus on what customers are trying to accomplish with each choice they make. When you understand the psychological need customers are attempting to satisfy at each step along the resolution journey, you can optimize the customer service experience.

Therefore, companies must:

Optimize each channel to the most appropriate resolution job

Guide customers to the correct channel for the customer’s resolution job

Understand the effect of non-company-owned channels on the customer’s experience

Enable customers to complete the 6 resolutions jobs

Download our guide on the six types of customer service issues and how to resolve them.

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