Using customer service to build cross-team collaboration in eCommerce
Recurring customer service issues that should be solved once and for all
Running an eCommerce customer service team, you probably have an endless list of fixes that you are trying to get solved so customers no longer need to call about it.
For example, why are customers asking about the price, size or availability of this dress when it should be clearly displayed on the website? Why do they regularly complain about receiving items in the wrong size, or damaged on arrival?
Someone, somewhere *should* be fixing these issues in advance, instead of expecting customer service to solve them one by one, right?
Well, yes, “someone” could, but you have to ask them nicely, because they are very busy doing something else, and generally, something other than listening to you….
But teams work in silos
Indeed, the challenge of a Customer Service Manager is not only to motivate support agents to address recurring complaints from angry customers. It is also to escalate these recurring issues to other teams so that they can fix them once and for all. And this is never as simple as it seems.
People are people, and most companies have managed to build some sort of “silo” culture. Silos generally refer to teams not sharing information with another, as described in this excellent Forbes article. “Silos” also refer to teams not listening to each other, even when one is pro-actively sharing. For example, it could be a Shipping and Warehouse team not acting on the feedback from a customer service team that many people are receiving items in the wrong size.
Being heard above the noise
The challenge in being “listened to” comes from both sides of the conversation:
– The receiving side hears a lot, but only has time to listen to a bit. For example, a warehouse team has a lot of orders to fulfil. This is keeping them busy, so why bother entertaining an anecdotal discussion about a few orders as if it was of strategic importance?
– The giving side needs to pick its battles and make them worthwhile. For example, a Support Manager would be better off gathering the facts about an issue before escalating it: volume of tickets for this issue, potential root cause, and evidence. The volume trend will explain why it is important. The potential root cause will make it actionable. And the evidence will show it is true and make it even more actionable.
How to organize your customer service interaction into a shareable dashboard
So as a Customer Service Manager, where do you start? Your team answers 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 calls or tickets per month, WHERE DO YOU START? (authors note: shouty capitals express my sense of panic at adding another task to my list, I figured you’d feel the same).
Well, the answer is “start simple”.
First, use your agent’s tags to categorize the issues raised by your customers (or use AI tags if you use an AI solution… we do have an excellent one to recommend, and agents tags generally don’t work. But that’s a different conversation).
Then map each category of issue against a stakeholder that should own it. For example, you could re-group all issues related to “shipping”, “late delivery”, “wrong item sent”, or “damaged item received” to the Warehouse and Delivery team. You could also re-group all issues related to “payment problem”, “shopping cart”, “pricing enquiry”, “product enquiry” to the Website team.
You now have a well-organized view of which recurring customer issues belong to which stakeholder. Believe me, this is a great conversation opener!
Starting conversations outside customer service
To make this conversation a “decision-making” one, you now need to share evidence. For each issue, make sure you have the list of customer tickets or chat conversations available, as the team you are trying to action on this will need them to understand the root cause and specifics of the issue. Although you might do some level of root cause analysis yourself, simply by correlating the issues that arise together. For example: “our delivery problems most frequently occur with this shipping company”.
Doing this make the invitation to act difficult to turn down. You have made some of the work yourself, you have validated that it is a problem worth looking at, you have done some root cause analysis, and you have gathered the evidence.
Conclusion: do your homework and they’ll do theirs
So the best way to break silos is to do your homework, and understand why other teams do not act on what you escalate to them. We have actually done this ourselves, while building our own Help Centre. You can read more about this here.
In short, the lesson we learned by doing this was that the problems we solve for our clients… also exist in our own company. And the approach we suggest they use… did work for us.
Building an insight dashboard might seem daunting and time-consuming to start with. But the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term effort of setting it up. These insights and the ability to drive changes will allow not only your business but your team to free up valuable hours to focus on the issues that matter.