HelpGrid’s Mike Peters dives deeper into the role of customer service and how outsourcing can transform it from a cost center to a profit center.
For many organizations, providing customer service is simply a cost of doing business. Your customers expect you to respond to their questions, handle their returns and refunds, and provide a pleasant experience.
But for Mike Peters, General Manager at HelpGrid, providing customer service is also an opportunity to directly influence your bottom line. “Too many people believe that customer service is a necessary evil and therefore should be the department you spend the least amount of money on,” he claims. “But at HelpGrid, we see customer service as a profitable opportunity, and that’s what we’ve based our entire business model around.”
Here’s Mike’s take on what constitutes good and bad customer service, why the difference matters, and how to profit from every interaction.
“We have a magic formula here at HelpGrid: Happiness = Reality - Expectations. Good customer service is about exceeding the customer’s expectations.
Every time a customer reaches out, they have certain expectations in mind about the response time and potential outcome. If the reality falls below their expectations, the customer is going to be unhappy. If we exceed their expectations, we can turn a previously unhappy customer into a raving fan. It’s as simple as that.
Most companies underestimate the importance of instant response times, fast shipping times, diffusing tricky situations, and creating a true bond with the people whose dollars we all rely on. When in doubt, positivity always wins.”
“Technically no, but if you don’t believe you have that responsibility, you won’t be in business for long. For HelpGrid, delivering great customer service is our entire purpose. It is our mission to demonstrate how delivering happiness and implementing our omnichannel approach goes hand-in-hand with increasing profits.
Great customer service is the difference between building a sustainable business with a growing base of repeat buyers, versus a short-lived fly-by-night operation that would get crushed by negative reviews, Better Business Bureau complaints, and chargebacks.
We live in a world where a handful of unhappy customers can bring almost any business to its knees.
“Consistency is non-negotiable if you want to deliver great customer service. To do this, we believe there are four keys that unlock customer success: a great training program, repetition, practice, and accountability.
If you’re outsourcing customer service, then you’ll want to choose a company that offers a strong training program and requires agents to read the material and engage in mock drills before they can take live calls. They should weigh their agents’ skills so they’re handling only the cases they’re best qualified to handle, and they should have a team of quality control operators who listen to live calls, critique agents’ performance, and take action as needed.”
How Does Good Customer Service Equate to Greater Profits?
“Most companies view customer service as a “cost center”. It’s a function that just takes money out of your bottom-line. At HelpGrid, we flipped that model on its head, turning customer service from a “cost center” into a “profit center.” Our approach combines exceeding customers’ expectations while saving refunds, taking orders over the phone, and fixing shopping-cart abandonment. These are things where you can measure the ROI.
One of the things we love to do is presenting our clients with a monthly breakdown of how HelpGrid generated a positive return on their investment into customer service. It’s about achieving a true win-win. Doing the right thing is good for business.
“Just like you’d measure the impact of your marketing, sales, or growth, you can also measure customer service. We use several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as customer satisfaction survey scores, refund and chargeback rates over time, the number of love letters from happy customers, revenue generated by our inbound order taking team, refunds saves by our customer service team, and revenue generated by our outbound shopping cart abandonment team, to name a few.”
“Customer service is THE face of a brand, so a lot of people wonder if this is something you can really outsource. And the answer is yes.
Outsourcing has distinct advantages. If you are just starting off, this is a way to build an excellent customer service center without the time and resource investment in creating one. More established companies benefit from the expertise and consistency provided.
Delivering great customer service and turning it from a “cost center” into a “profit center” requires a combination of talent, on-going training, quality control, and technology. Most organizations don’t have the resources to exceed customers’ expectations at scale across all channels (Voice, Email, and Text), so tapping into a company that’s set up to do this is a win/win.
One is when customer service is an integral part of your core offering—for example, if you’re selling phone consulting services or a technical phone help-line. In those cases, you’d probably want your in-house experts to be the ones interacting with your customers over the phone. That’s what your customers are paying for.
And two is when your business is large enough to afford dedicated agents, backup agents, team leaders, trainers, quality personnel and engineers, and you’re okay with the realization that it will take a few years until you figure things out.
In all other cases, you’ll achieve much better results and a positive Return On Investment (ROI) going with an expert in the field, such as HelpGrid, that’s been delivering great customer service for over a decade.
Today’s customer service landscape is increasingly complex thanks to an omnichannel approach that many companies have been forced to take because their customers expect them to. Mike believes companies need to be prepared to handle any type of request from any channel so they never miss an opportunity. “The profits from 100 happy customers can be greatly diminished by just one unhappy customer,” he explains. “That’s why there’s an ROI when it comes to good service. Doing the right thing is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business, too.”
Connect with Mike Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org