The People Person
Sean Rivers, director of Operations Technology at Republic Wireless, knows that when customers have to wait they aren't happy. He also understands the value of insights produced from the wisdom of the crowds, so he's putting peer-to-peer communities to work to help solve customers' issues.
Under Rivers' guidance, Republic Wireless now offers a community that empowers customers to help other customers by answering each other's questions. His philosophy focuses on four key areas: 1) Be where the customers are quickly and with authority; 2) offer comfort, provide wisdom, and make decisions; 3) measure everything and benchmark often; and all decisions big or small should be tracked for effect.
This philosophy serves as the foundation for his customer community. By submitting their queries to the community, customers receive and answer or response from designated knowledgeable customers within 10 minutes. The platform facilitates Q&As, discussions around service announcements, idea management with direct interaction from the product team, and new feature labs. The community also enables customer-to-customer ticketing, which taps Expert Customers to answer 30 percent of incoming queries, thereby freeing up service agents to work on more pressing cases.
Sean employs technology to enhance human interaction, not replace it, thereby empowering customers and employees to help one another resolve problems and establish relationships that expand upon the traditional approach to customer service.
Champion In Action
Sean actively defines the tools, processes, and policies that make customers happy and, for the last four years, has achieved this level of success without one single contact center agent waiting by the phone. Effective CX programs typically have their own support center, but Rivers' initiative creatively employs technology, allowing the company to maintain its industry-leading 4,000:1 customer to agent ratio, while staffing for 24/7 support.
"Customer experience is the amalgamation of every experience the customer has during the lifetime of their service," Rivers emphasizes. "In support, we are only part of the overall experience. Since the customer experience rarely starts at neutral, we have to make the most out of every opportunity to put our best foot forward."
While Rivers stands firm in his support of human interaction, he also recognizes that certain tools help accelerate the process, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty in the process. Machine Learning helps the internal triage team read and coordinate every request so they can adequately prioritize the influx of tickets and make suggestions as to which tickets might benefit from an Expert Customer's insight. Also, agents aren't chained to their office or desk, resulting in higher engagement and retention, for these employees have the opportunity to interact with and get to know customers better, creating the foundation necessary for long-term customer loyalty and retention.
Rivers focuses on the negative to increase the positive. Prior to taking over the direction of support tools, Republic Wireless had an average CSAT of 65 percent. To boost happiness and satisfaction, Rivers sought to get more people involved so the company could improve its response time on lower priority questions and issues. By incorporating crowdsourcing techniques, Republic Wireless has been able to reduce response times from 24 hours to less than three minutes for about 30 percent of all tickets, thereby achieving a 5 percent rise in CSAT. Overall, Republic Wireless now averages 86 percent CSAT across all tickets and 90 percent for those handled by Expert Customers.