Engaging Customers with Service Ambassadors

Last week we talked about, “Three Ways Your Service Agents Can Act as Service Ambassadors to Improve Customer Experience.” To continue the conversation, Sumair Dutta, the Chief Customer Officer at The Service Council, wrote today’s blog to share his insight!

In the disciplines of service and support, the focus has always been on efficiency and effectiveness. In the contact center, this translates to reduced handle time (AHT) and increased productivity. In field service, this ties into improved mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) and enhanced workforce utilization. These focus points of efficiency and effectiveness have been the governing factors when prioritizing investments in technology, changes in business process, or overhaul of the service workforce.

The focus on efficiency and effectiveness remains on the top of the service leader’s priority list. Yet, we’re beginning to see an increasing amount of attention paid to the experience delivered at the point-of-service. Experience, in this context, has two critical components: ease and engagement (that’s a lot of Es). Let me explain. In delivering the best experience to customers, it’s important to consider the context in which a customer is reaching out. Sometimes a customer’s focus is on getting the service issue resolved as quickly as possible. In this instance, ease is a critical factor in the customer’s evaluation of the service experience. Is it easy for the customer to find self-service information? Is it easy for the customer to find the right person in the contact center? Is it easy for the customer to get field service, if necessary? Attempting to send this customer into engagement-oriented workflows, isn’t likely to yield positive results. How is this different from efficiency described above? While ease and efficiency go hand-in-hand, ease looks at the customer’s perspective vs. the organization’s perspective. While it might be the most efficient to hide the support number and have the customer scour the web for self-service information, this isn’t necessarily the easiest path.

And then there’s engagement. Engagement occurs when the customer’s service journey is seen as an opportunity to provide additional value to the customer. Value doesn’t always equate to cross-sell or up-sell. Value can be delivered when the service organization views the customer’s attempt to engage with support as a piece of a broader challenge, and therefore attempts to solve the overall challenge. Often value is delivered by those on the front-lines, in the contact center or in the field. And these folks, we like to call them ambassadors, are best positioned to deliver value as they have the ear or the attention of the customer.

Consider the scenario where a field service agent comes to your home to repair or install a product. In completing the installation or repair, they then proceed to spend some time to provide best practices on the use and management of that product. In some instances, they might recommend additional products for the customer to research. This doesn’t need to take an inordinate amount of time. Is it worth it?

In 2016, The Service Council polled over 600 customers in the US regarding their experience with field service and support. In recalling their most recent service experience, 65% of respondents indicated that their field agents had given them advice on the use of product installed or repaired. Twelve percent (12%) indicated that they didn’t receive any advice and would have appreciated the extra time spent. When evaluating these field service experiences on a 1-5 scale (1-poor, 5-excellent), those that received advice returned an average 4.26 score vs. a 3.74 for those that didn’t receive advice.

Figure: Engagement has its Perks

Engaging Customers with Service Ambassadors

There’s more. About 60% of respondents indicated that their field service agent had recommended other products during the visit. Nearly all of those who received a recommendation appreciated that one had been made and one half of those individuals either made an additional purchase based on the recommendation. Is that time well spent?

Converting service agents from transaction closers to engagement ambassadors is a challenging endeavor. The good news is that most service agents are positively motivated by helping customers. They need the tools and knowledge to understand the context of the customer engagement and to deliver the right type of experience when appropriate.

We recently spoke on a webinar on the topic of service ambassadors and the tools needed to empower these front-line agents – watch the webinar! We’ve also published some work on the importance of an ‘ambassador’ approach to the front-line service workforce – read the white paper!

Sumair Dutta is the Chief Customer Officer at The Service Council. He has over 12 years of experience as an analyst covering service strategy, customer support, and field service management space. His work can be found at www.servicecouncil.com.