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Customer Success: Service vs. Servitude
January 26, 2016
Customer Success: Service vs. Servitude

According to research from Forrester, customer experience is a top priority for businesses and technology leaders. However, a “customer obsession” operating model does not automatically lead to success, especially as it relates to the channel.

Customers will never say, “you’ve done enough” or “we should pay you more for that.” Making sure customers have the support they need, without that level of support eroding your margins, requires careful balance. Giving way to servitude rather than an exact amount of service that fulfills your customers’ needs can land you, and your partners, in a doom loop of requests and ‘favors’ that negatively impact business.

Customer-First Service

Historically we’ve been taught that effective service puts the customer first. Those words still hold true, but in a completely different way. Rather than having sales reps and support professionals jumping through hoops to satisfy customer requests, today’s highest performing service organizations first rely on customers to help themselves.

In the 2015 State of Service survey from Salesforce, self-service is a key trend that sets high-performing service organizations apart.

According to the 2015 State of Service Report from Salesforce, customers have three simple expectations:

  1. Know me. The personnel in your company who interact with customers on a regular basis need to know how your product solutions are uniquely applied for the customers they are interacting with at any given moment. When a customer does “raise their hand” for help or guidance, there is an understanding of the business problem the customer is trying to solve with your product. Structuring service and support within the context of the customer’s use case will help ensure they get the help they need.
  2. Deliver service where and when I need it. A quality customer experience isn’t about just being accessible via the channels you choose. Instead, customers expect service to be available through the channels they use. Customers need to successfully be able to access guidance they need to be successful with your product whether they are live in person, on the phone, on your website, or their mobile device.
  3. Solve my problem quickly. Customers are people who have lives outside of your product. When they need help, they want resolution in that moment, and to be able to move on with their own jobs and lives. Be wary of asking them to perform extra steps, such as a satisfaction survey, that prolong their service experience.

The Channel As A Service Channel

Don’t forget partners when building out self-service or live channels of support. Just like customers, channel partners are a critical audience whose experience with your company can have either a positive or negative net impact on your business. The concepts above can also improve the experience your partners have with your company, which will in turn enable them to better serve their customers and prospects.

The lines between service and servitude can be very blurry, but the cost for over-servicing a customer can be clear. Applying the right service approach to your customers, and channel partner ecosystem, will lead to sales acceleration, partner growth, and customer success.

Ali Spiric