The Customer Service Survey

The Tool is No Better Than the Hand That Wields It

by vocalabs on Wed, 2016-08-10 14:46

Customer experience failures have many causes. Poor employee training and morale, rigid adherence to policy, broken processes, understaffing, bad design, a culture of indifference, and occasionally--very occasionally--lack of some critical piece of IT infrastructure.

But even when lack of technology isn't the problem, often the first solution a company will reach for is technology.

I think this is just human nature. Internal problems are hard for organizations to solve. Root causes can be buried deep under years of corporate politics and history that nobody wants to unearth. It's much easier to leave the skeletons in the ground and look for the technological quick-fix.

And so the company reaches for the latest state-of-the-art buzzwords and implements Big Data, EFM, Analytics, or (in an earlier era) CRM, ERP, WFM, or some other technology to solve what is fundamentally a problem with execution.

There's no doubt that these technologies bring value and have an important role in any company's infrastructure. But the technology can't solve a problem where the root cause is people and process. Technology is just a tool, and like any tool can be used well or poorly.

For example, if you are delivering poor customer experience because your employees are not empowered to solve customers' problems, implementing Enterprise Feedback Management will not solve that problem. At best, it might make it more obvious that there's an issue with corporate policies but you're still going to have to drain that swamp to fix things.

On the other hand, EFM can be a valuable tool when your organization is ready and able to make better use of customer feedback from top to bottom.

The mistake is in thinking that the tool will, by itself, drive the needed organizational changes. Instead, implementing the technology is something companies often do because it's easier than addressing the real problems.

Technology vendors are happy to encourage this thinking: it's easier to sell a product that the customer thinks will solve all their problems. But the net result is disappointment when the big technology projects fail to deliver the hoped-for results.

We saw this a generation ago, when CRM was the hot new thing. Failed CRM implementations were so common that some pundits went so far as to predict that CRM itself would prove to be just a fad. Of course CRM wasn't a fad: eventually we figured out what CRM is useful for (keeping track of customers), and what CRM couldn't do all by itself (increase sales, make your customers happier and more loyal). Today nobody questions the value of CRM, but we also have much more realistic expectations and nobody begins a CRM project thinking it will fix deep-seated organizational problems.

In the Customer Experience world, we need to keep in mind that our problems are often not solvable by technology. Technology can help, but the root causes are usually leadership, culture, people, and processes.

The good news is that it may be difficult and slow, but the problems are solvable with the right commitment.

And you might need to dig up a few skeletons along the way.

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