Many businesses are already familiar with the idea of a ‘business partner’ – someone from a traditionally standalone part of the business becoming an implant into a line of business to ensure a more integrated approach. Historically, these business partners have come from HR or Finance. They have generally been high quality individuals with a much wider view of the business than is usual in their specialist area.
With the changes taking place in customer service, is 2014 the year that companies implement customer service business partners? Instead of centralising their service as a silo’d department that is unable to influence or learn from other areas, they would embed key individuals or teams within their lines of business. They would then be responsible for delivering service for that line of business, and would be tightly integrated with the teams there.
There are a number of benefits to this approach
- Resolution means resolving underlying business issues, not just a customer problem. The tighter integration of teams into a line of business makes them more involved in that business and able to shape or influence how it works, including making changes when they have a negative customer impact.
- The increasingly complex nature of incoming contacts (as the easy ones go to self service) can be managed by having specialists within that line of business.
Ideally, you wouldn’t put an IVR in front of access to these teams, there would be separate numbers for each business area. This does place the requirement on the customer to know which number to call though, so there’s a trade off to be made there.
Customer service does need to change, customers are changing the ways they contact companies, and their expectations are much higher than ever. Companies can’t just keep tweaking their existing model, so this fundamental change away from a ‘contact centre’ to ‘customer service business partner’ will reflect the need to be more customer centric in what they do.