What happens when we start from the customer’s perspective?

When your customers need help, are they confronted with convoluted instructions like these?

Chat with us! [only for product B, C, and D]
Schedule a callback [only for customers in the UK]
Call us [24×7 for assistance in English; 8×5 for assistance in Spanish]
Log an issue online [2-day turnaround for technical issues; 1 day turnaround for customer service issues]

I tried to cram all kinds of bad ideas in the list above, but you get the picture: it’s not good. What can you do instead?

Hack #1: only present options that are relevant to the customer. Once you know you have a US-based, Spanish-speaking customer who needs help on product A at 2pm, present the two applicable options, case-logging and phone, and avoid overwhelming the customer with irrelevant possibilities, or exposing your internal silos.

How will you know that you have a US-based, Spanish-speaking customer who needs help on product A in the first place? If the user is on the Spanish version of the site, you know their language. You can likely infer their location, and they may have logged in so you know what products they use–or you can ask them, perhaps via a chatbot.

Hack #2: harmonize the offerings. In the example above, can you support chat for all products? Can you offer callbacks for all customers? Can Spanish reps be available around the clock? Even if you have to use hack #1 to paper over a few differences, it helps to have more consistent offerings.

Real solution #3: always make decisions from the perspective of the customer. The crazy list above likely started with each (siloed) organization focusing on what they could do.

  • The main support team (which supports B, C, and D) offers chat. The legacy support team for A is too small, uses a different tool anyway, and does not offer chat.
  • The UK support team offers phone because they have always offered it, but other regions do not.
  • The Customer Service team added a few Spanish-speaking reps, but only in the daytime for now.
  • The support response published SLA is 2 days but customer service’s internal response SLA is 1 day

Not such a crazy list when presented this way, is it? But if we start all conversations from the perspective of the customer, we immediately see that it is, in fact, crazy.

Starting conversations from the perspective of the customer does not mean that we must offer all customers the same offers! For instance, if a Spanish customer (using the Spanish version of the website) wants help, they may see that it’s available only during business hours. That’s fine, because it’s coherent for them.

On the other hand, and assuming that customers can own product A and product B, offering chat support for product B but not product A is awkward–surmountable, with hack #1, but awkward.

In your next discussion about assisted-support options, start by considering the perspective of the customer. It will literally change the way you make decisions.


How are you using the customer’s perspective? Tell us in the comments.


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