The Human (Voice) Element

This post has nothing to do with the cool “Human Element” advertising campaign from Dow. However, it does have to do with the importance of the human voice in customer service interactions. eStara sent me this link, which I thought was pretty interesting.

Here is the key quote:

The value of an individual transaction might not be worth the price of the customer’s call, but the long-term value of the relationship is well worth it.

Companies frequently overlook that important philosophy. Most companies will lose money on the individual customer service interaction, but if it improves what the customer thinks about the company, the money for the call can be well worth it.

Scottrade utilizes their local traders, who likely know their customers best, to provide customer service. Building a relationship with the customer certainly makes providing great customer service easier and more efficient.

Their idea is great. The traders are the people the customers work with, so they should be the ones providing the customer service. And since they are providing the customer service, they should be well trained in providing great customer service, how to do it, and so on. This should be done with other industries where there is usually one main point of contact (lower level attorneys, etc. come to mind). Of course, support staff (think secretaries or assistants) should also get customer service training.

When customers have a really good customer service experience, the worse case scenario is that the customer is impressed and continues to use your company. The best case scenario? They tell their friends and family about what a good experience they had. That of course generates new business, better branding, and so on.

Something I ramble about is the importance of the entire customer vs. just one support interaction. It only takes one bad support interaction to kill the entire customer experience, so don’t nickel and dime your customers. And, don’t look at customer service a cost. I prefer to look at as a way to build a relationship with customers, that will eventually have a very positive ROI. This is also known as an investment. How appropriate for a company like Scottrade.

2 Responses to “The Human (Voice) Element”

  1. Dan said:

    Jun 12, 07 at 2:57 pm

    We couldn’t agree more! When it comes to customer service, whether it be online or over the phone, one bad experience could ruin the entire brand for the consumer and force him or her to look elsewhere. This seems to be something that Scottrade takes to heart by making sure it values every customer interaction.

    Could they have deflected calls to an IVR in an attempt to minimize costs? Sure, but that could potentially lead to customer frustration, and when dealing with a complex decision like choosing an online brokerage, consumers want access to experts not self-service options.

    This isn’t to say that there isn’t a role for self-service tools, but as value and complexity increase consumers demand higher touch customer service options.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Jun 12, 07 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Dan –

    Thanks for your comment. Cost savings may be good for the short term, but are rarely good for the long term. Self-service tools are fine, as long as customers want to and aren’t forced to use them.