There are at least two dimensions to serving customers.  One involves technical or process proficiency and the other is emotional connection.  Take a look at this [humorous] YouTube video to see what I mean.

The first dimension is technical proficiency, by which I mean being able to apply knowledge about your product, billing process or really any component of the customer experience in order to resolve a customer’s issue.  This kind of skill is what organizations look for when hiring people.

The second dimension involves emotional intelligence because sometimes being an expert isn’t enough. Sometimes customers want more than an answer.  People want to be understood.  Zappos’ CEO (who knows a thing or two about growth) once pointed out the stupidity of tracking call handle time as a metric to measure satisfaction.  He knew that customers valued the emotional connections his reps could create through meaningful interactions.  By quickly ending a call you miss a chance to establish a bond (here think of loyalty) that is strong enough to withstand the bumps that are inevitable in all company/customer relationships.

The pivot point is that often your customer service representatives will have to connect with a customer on an emotional level before you can use your technical prowess to deliver an effective solution.  Sometimes, it’s not about the nail.  Or as a friend of mine often says, “customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Get Better Results by Delivering Customer Service in Two Dimensions
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  • Ana Etxebarria

    But has average Call Handle Time (AHT) ever been a Customer Satisfaction measure? It is obviously an internal efficiency measure that has nothing to do with customer satisfaction. The magic here is to combine CS with the Tech Support or Customer Service department profitability in a way that both customers and CEOs would be happy. Though, well thought, i might just be daydreaming…

    • Indeed, AHT _is_ used by many as a CSAT measure. As you correctly surmise, it is a poor proxy. Too many companies start with the wrong goal (see recent post titled “4 Reasons CX Programs Fail” http://bit.ly/1cZqF5Y) and as a result measure the wrong things.

      To your last point, Ana, we’ve got to figure out how to turn that daydream into reality. There are win-win scenarios out there!

      • Ana Etxebarria

        As per my experience, it’s being tough to move the company to a more customer centric approach… I have started NPS programs in all tech support and customer service departments worldwide, that are running astonishingly well! but so far, and keeping close to the fairy tale approach :-), I’m not pied piper of Hammelin yet…