Culled from the 'has-this-ever-happened-to-you?' files: You dial an 800 number for product or service support and find yourself getting lost in the IVR tree. If you press zero, either the prompt doesn't work or you're informed that the wait time to speak with a live agent is seemingly longer than a trans-Atlantic flight. Undeterred, you decide to punch in a random number in the hope of connecting with someone - anyone - until you suddenly find yourself speaking with somebody who works in a back-office function. If you're lucky, this person will either help you or transfer you to the right contact. But in most cases, if you're connected with someone outside of customer service - regardless of how you arrived there - he or she will inform you that customer support is outside their jurisdiction. But it shouldn't be. Customers have every right to expect to have their issues resolved by an employee when they reach out to a company. In fairness, it might be too much to expect a staffer in the accounts payable department for an electronics retailer to know how to troubleshoot a laptop problem. But there should be a culture of customer-centricity in place that induces an accounts payable worker or any other employee in a non customer-facing role to ensure that a customer has his or her problem resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
This doesn't mean that back-office workers need to receive the same level of training as contact center agents. Still, all employees should be provided enough instruction and empowerment to help resolve a customer's issue when the situation arises.
As Donald E. Brown, M.D., founder and CEO of Interactive Intelligence points out, customers often don't differentiate between different parts of a company for support.
Brown recently shared an anecdote with me about a customer service experience he had with a financial services company. It was taking Brown a while to connect with someone at the company regarding an account issue and he was tight on time. When he did finally connect with someone, he was informed that they'd have to transfer the call because he'd been identified as a "preferred customer."
"I was ready to pull my hair out," says Brown. "We were close to finishing out the transaction and I just wanted to be a regular customer to get the transaction completed right then and there."
Customer care shouldn't simply be the purview of the contact center. Great companies take care of their customers across all corners of the enterprise.