A conversation about customer service and customer experience – Help.com Interview

This interview was originally published on Help.com.

Help.com recently had an opportunity to catch up with Adrian Swinscoe. Adrian is a customer service and customer experience consultant who uses his unique perspective on customer service and customer experience to help companies improve. His unique take on customer service and customer experience comes from the fact that he’s an economist by trade. He uses that perspective educate companies on the important of being efficient and easy to work with.

Below are the highlights of our conversation with Adrian:

On why he got into customer service and customer experience consulting:

“If companies can actually focus on fixing problems at source then they’ll be able to improve service, improve satisfaction, lower costs, and make employees happier all at the same time.”

“If we could help every business in the world improve their customer service just a little bit, then we could make the whole world better. People would get better customer service which would make them happier and because they’re happier they’d get into fewer arguments. If fewer arguments happen then there are fewer conflicts and as the ripple effect spread, I realized I could create world peace.” *laughs*

On the explosion of channels in customer service:

“As channels continue to explode and more and more get added I sense that we’ll see a movement towards more efficient channels and some of the less convenient channels will become less popular.”

“Web chat is the most up and coming channel due to high user adoption, ease of use, and day to day familiarity.”

“Email is one of the older channels. It’s less fashionable at the moment but it’s still very effective because not all interactions can be immediate and it still doesn’t require you to pick up a phone.”

“Social media is a great channel because it allows companies to come to customers where they are anyway.”

On his passion for simplicity in customer service:

“Simplicity can be a simple thing to talk about but a hard thing to achieve. It’s hard to achieve because it requires us to make choices and give up on things that we might have invested in in the past.”

Example of simplicity in customer service: “I spilled coffee on my laptop. The screen went black (computer was fried). I had to buy a new one and my wife suggested I call the insurance company, I called them and asked if I could make a claim, and they said “sure you can. of course, we’ll send you a form, it’s taken care of.” They made it so easy to work with them, and the system was easy to use. The whole experience was simple, straightforward, with no haggling.”

On Apple: “They make it easy. It just works. They hide all of what goes on in the background behind an incredibly simple interface.”

“Deliver something simple, elegant, and meaningful, but without fluff. Easy to understand, easy to use, pleasant to use. If people enjoy it and want to continue using it it’s a successful project.”

On his thoughts about technology’s role in customer service:

“It’s important to combine what technology can enable you to do with really smart people. That’s the only way to achieve a great result.”

On the future of customer service:

“More and more companies are changing the dialogue to ensure that it’s not “I’m going to tell you something to make you wrong,” and is more “I’m going to tell you something to make you think about it differently.””

“Fewer companies are viewing customer service as a cost center, which historically was a factor that negatively impacted customer happiness. Now they’re sewing it as a serious relationship tool.”

“I like what some companies are starting to do with developing AI and virtual agents.”

“The development of client based apps means that you can have a team that’s all over the world and work together and collaborate together from anywhere.”

“There will be more, shorter contacts, rather than the current habit of fewer, longer contacts. Shorter contacts more often are a better experience than longer contacts every once in a while. Better to provide news, even if it’s irrelevant, than to make a client wait. Over-communicate.”

“Companies need to understand common customer behavior so they can pro-actively account for it. That’s how they improve.”

On measuring the impact of good customer service:

“It boils down to basics. If you make an investment in something, and it improves your service, then you see an uptick in average order value, or LTV, or loyalty, or something like that, then you’re seeing that our investment is paying off.”

“Peter Chris from Medallia did a longitudinal study on quantifying the value of customer experience. Two similar companies were looked at. One company made large scale changes to improve their customer experience, and one didn’t. At the end of the study, one had improved, and one hadn’t, then they looked at the results to prove the value of the customer experience changes.”

On customer service metrics:

“Economist Charles Goodhart created something called Goodhart’s law: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure.”

On concerns with trends in technology:

“I’m concerned about the amount of data being collected by a lot of applications today.  I’m not sure that average users fully understand what’s known about them.”

“MyWave a New Zealand based company founded by Geraldine McBride (ex SAP) flips CRM on it’s head. You have all of your data, let us know what data you want to share, signal your preferences, needs, and demands, and we respond to them.”

Key takeaway:

“Being able to know what the right and best things to do, not only for us, but for the people around us, is key to creating a good service and business environment.”

Want to listen to the whole interview? Here it is:

This interview was originally published on Help.com.

2 comments On A conversation about customer service and customer experience – Help.com Interview

  • Adrian,

    There are (at least) two things I wasn’t taught at Business School that I really should have been.

    One was the Pareto principle, the other Goodhart’s law.

    Maybe being an economist isn’t a complete waste of an education.


    • Are you implying that prior to this realisation you thought that investing in an economics education is a waste of time and resources? 😉

      I do believe that you have been listening to too many politicos dabbling in economics. A little bit of knowledge and a heap of doctrine can make a person very dangerous indeed.


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