Jonas Leismann, Principal junokai
Why customer service consultants are so important
People who have no previous experience with consulting often ask what and why companies should hire consultants and whether the issues cannot be tackled much better with their own personnel. And sometimes it is still assumed that hiring consultants is a sign of weakness. This assessment is not correct.
What is the role of customer service and what is the situation of those responsible there? Customer service was, is, and will continue to be one of the strategic areas in companies, but in most cases too little potential is being tapped from it. The available technologies are developing rapidly, and the technology providers are pushing into the market with decent marketing and sales efforts, as well as promising a lot. On the other hand, customer service organizations find themselves with a role model that focuses on the orderly execution of operational processes rather than the management of change. The issues for potential optimization lie in all fields of the customer service universe: starting with the reasons why people contact companies through the channels they do, to the plethora of human, technical and process enablers for organizing and running a good customer service operation.
When you consider this variety of parameters and fields of work in customer service, it quickly becomes clear that hardly any customer service organization can maintain sufficient expert resources for all these different areas – especially since many projects require peak-type project resources with special know-how. Examples include the selection and implementation of an omnichannel communications platform or other new technologies, or the first-time nearshore outsourcing of the contact center. Often, there is not a lack of people capable of managing a contact center manufacturing operation with the traditional positions we know (agent, team leader, quality manager, reporter, etc.), but of people who can conceptualize, apply, implement, and further develop new concepts and technologies for customer service. Such experts, who can also be called customer service engineers, are rare in the market and it is even more difficult to find these employees and motivate them to work in customer service (specifically for contact centers). Experts on AI, robotization and self-care can pick and choose jobs today. As a result, very few companies manage to drive service development on their own, due to a lack of experienced resources. They usually rely on temporary outside support to implement complex projects. These projects are complex because they intervene in an ongoing operational organization and usually affect personnel, organization, processes, and technology simultaneously. These challenges face customer service organizations in every industry and of every size – from start-ups to multinational corporations. The former has the advantage of being able to purposefully build a modern and highly digitized customer service right from the start on a greenfield site, but they use this opportunity far too rarely because customer service is not seen as relevant as sales, for example. Due to their size, the latter has the advantage of economies of scale when it comes to investing in experts and projects, but often get lost in prohibitive decision-making processes or in day-to-day business.
Capitalize on external experience
The need for external and temporary expert resources in the form of consultants is clear. However, there is often a lack of a clear formulation of objectives. A clearly defined strategy is still the starting point for customer service. It is impossible to pursue all necessary, especially technology-driven, areas. But if you know your goal, whether it’s improving the customer experience, acquiring more sales in service, increasing productivity, improving quality, or reducing costs, then you can specifically create the roadmap with measures to achieve that goal. A good consultant always questions the strategy or at least the goals first with the necessary objectivity and derives the right project content and measures from this. Another important prerequisite for successful consulting is the consultant’s experience in a wide variety of service areas. It is only possible to help others if you have been in similar situations yourself and have experienced their positive and, above all, negative situations, and results. Only then do you know what you are talking about. And you can only gain this experience yourself on the line or in consulting projects. Consultants of many large well-known consultancies do not have this experience. The right mix of strategic and conceptual skills on the one hand and operational implementation experience on the other is crucial. A successful consulting project not only leaves behind good results, but also always a somewhat better organization for the client where they are trained to be able to tackle future problems themselves.
Even though customer service organizations are getting better and better at shaping change with their own customer service engineers, the constant changes in society and technology mean that there will always be reasons why it pays to bring in good consultants, as outlined above. And this has nothing to do with weakness, but rather shows the ability and strength of management to invest in external expert knowledge at the right time in the right areas in order to make customer service even more successful.
Junokai is the consulting unit of Majorel. The Berlin-based consulting company supports clients from various industries in all areas of customer service. Junokai was founded in 2013 by experienced managers with extensive professional expertise in sales and marketing and customer service. The company’s strategic pillar is its operational experience and focus on the areas of customer experience, customer service and sales.
For more information, please visit: www.junokai.de