Time flies… I realized the other day that Outside In was published nearly 6 years ago. And while a lot has changed in the world and in the sphere of customer experience during that time, I firmly believe that the analysis and advice in the book are just as relevant in 2018 as they were in 2012. Part of the reason for that is that the book talks primarily about how organizations work and how they need to change—and, unlike technology, organizations don’t change all that quickly.
But if I could go back and change one thing about the book, it would be this passage from Chapter 1, which attempts to describe the difference between customer experience and customer service: “People call customer service when they have a problem. So equating customer service with customer experience is like saying that a safety net is a trapeze act. Yes, the net is important to the act. But if the performer needs to use the net, then something has gone wrong with the show.”
Back in early 2010’s, the field of customer experience was still fairly new and so we felt the need to clarify exactly what it was we were talking about. But in the five and a half years since publication, the role of customer support groups has expanded beyond simply providing a safety net.
To stretch the circus metaphor, customer support teams are now responsible for explaining how the act will work, helping attendees choose the best seats, offering a package deal on the show and backstage cocktails, and reaching out after the event to see if they enjoyed it.
In other words, customer support touches every phase of customer journey—not just the part where customers need to fix their issues.
To make sure that your customer support teams are prepared to help customers with all of their various questions and deliver value that bolsters your business, these teams need to understand the specific tasks your customers are trying to accomplish, and what their expectations are at each step.
How can you ensure they’ve got this understanding? Conduct journey-focused training programs to help align agents’ conversations and suggestions with customers’ needs. In addition, involve support team members in the actual customer research and journey mapping whenever possible.