Sluggish Information Flow Is Behind Many Customer Service Issues

Much has been said about the decline of customer service. We typically blame it on the poor attitudes of unmotivated workers. That certainly can explain some poor customer experiences, but too often, customer-facing employees truly, desperately want to please—and simply can't.

That’s potentially the case for more than eight in 10 workers (e.g., bank clerks, call center operators, nurses, bank managers, and shop supervisors) who responded to a recent Forrester Research survey. These respondents said there’s a definite gap between the experience the customer expects from them and the experience they can deliver.

This is bad news for businesses whose first, last, and most important impressions are often delivered by these critical employees. All the good, smart, conscientious workers in the world won’t help your brand if they can’t help customers.

So what’s the problem?

In many cases, bad customer service occurs because employees are hobbled by outdated technology systems. They can't find the information they need to help the customer, at least not in the time they need to. As a result, they lack the ability to deliver a personalized, satisfying human-to-human experience. And their managers don’t really know that this is happening.

Conflicting Perceptions

The Forrester study asked both managers and frontline employees if they thought their organizations communicated well with customers through old and new channels such as text and email. Nearly three times as many managers as employees (43 percent versus 17 percent) believed their  organizations communicated via these channels.

Meanwhile, employees were more than twice as likely as managers to say their businesses had older systems requiring customers to communicate in ways they didn’t always want to. Customer-facing workers said they were obligated to use systems that consumed too much of their time on low-value tasks—time and energy that they could have been investing in a richer customer experience.

Inferior systems make it hard for workers to find facts quickly; create documents; edit, write, and process information; solve complex  

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