Apply eBay Transaction Model to Customer Service?
One of the principles of the Intelligist Group is the concept of Undiscovered Assets. During the weekly #custserv chat on Twitter hosted this Tuesday by Jeffrey Kingman and Marsha Collier I noticed a heated thread on getting feedback from customers. Here’s an Undiscovered Asset: customer service calls. What’s the value proposition in a customer service call? Feedback? How about continuing the sales process and increasing the level of engagement with your customers?
Before I continue I will note I have no particular knowledge of Dell’s support operations and internal CRM systems. My knowledge is anecdotal based on my calls, and calls by friends and colleagues, but I will use the recent experience of my Intrepid Hero as a launching point to help illustrate how we could possibly access some Undiscovered Assets in the customer service value chain.
Lessons from eBay
A great model for ensuring value in transaction processing is eBay. Both sellers and buyers are rated in the system because eBay recognizes value in both sides of the transaction. For the Buyer, it is important to know that you are dealing with a quality, reputable Seller. Logical. The genius comes on the flip side. Isn’t there value to the Seller to know that he will have a smooth transaction and get paid in a timely fashion? That’s where the Buyer ratings give value back to the Seller.
Every customer service call is a transaction. There is value passed. But does it have to be so one-sided? The typical value proposition for a customer service transaction is:
Customer Service Transaction yields:
(Satisfaction for Customer) + (Goodwill for Company & Potential Future Sales)
This only captures a piece of the yield and the value proposition drops if there is a negative outcome for the customer. So, what if we apply the eBay rating system to the Dell Technical Support ecosystem. Our buyers are the callers and our sellers are the technical support reps.
Suppose part of your Dell purchase process was a self-rating system: Novice, Intermediate, Expert. You can assign them ratings values: Novice = 1, Intermediate=50, Expert=100. This would become part of your Customer Profile. Now, when you call in, your call can be routed to reps based on your rating.
Example #1 My mother (sorry, Mom)
She is a Novice computer user. She may call once or twice a year. When she calls technical support she needs warm, soft, comfortable guidance through the entire process. You may need to get on her computer, explain rudimentary computer concepts.
Example #2 Fred Fieldtech, MCSE
He is an Expert computer user. He calls in once or twice a week. He’s already done diagnostics and has a fairly good idea of where the problem is. Send him right through to a Level 2 technical support rep. Ship out a part. He’s good to go.
I know I generally ignore the customer satisfaction surveys I receive after many customer service calls. What’s in it for me? Why should I spend my time?
But what if, as in eBay, by responding to the survey I was creating value for myself within the Dell ecosystem?
Now, the fun part: ratings. Clearly there’s value to Dell to have customers rate the support reps: better quality control, rep incentives.
Looking back at eBay, we see there’s value for both parties in the transaction to seek positive feedback. The possibilities are interesting. For the customer, in addition to better routing on calls, what else can she get? Higher priority? Customer Loyalty Rewards?
The check on gaming the system is just as you are rating your support rep, so is he rating you! Support reps can upgrade or downgrade your ratings. Result: we’ve created a system where both ends of the customer service transaction have an incentive for a positive outcome AND participation in a quality control loop.
As for Dell, here are some more items they could add to their end of the Customer Service Transaction yield:
- improve customer satisfaction because they get the right resource solving the customer’s problem faster;
- save money (same reason);
- rating system gives incentive to reps to earn positive feedback;
- create a community of engaged customers with incentive to participate in maintaining the quality in the transaction.
- get positive feedback. Negative feedback is fairly ubiquitous, but positive feedback…ah…that’s fairly elusive, isn’t it?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. By looking at a customer service call as an asset we can unlock opportunities for cost-savings and higher customer satisfaction which should lead to more sales. There were a lot of really smart people on the #custserv chat. What other Undiscovered Assets are there in the Dell ecosystem? What’s your POV?