Following a conference I recently attended in London, I was invited to a dinner hosted by Quiq, a conversational AI and business messaging platform provider.
During the dinner, a series of conversation topics were introduced for discussion.
One of those was: Does customer service need a rebrand?
It’s a really interesting question, but unfortunately, this particular question was introduced right towards the end of the dinner, so we didn’t have the chance to discuss it and ruminate on it properly.
The underlying premise of the question, I believe, is that the function of customer service is often overlooked and undervalued. Moreover, given the importance of the work they do and the amount of data, insight and expertise that exists in many customer service teams and systems, this is a problem.
Now, while I agree, with the underlying premise of the question, I don’t think that customer service needs a rebrand.
Personally, I think customer service leaders need to take responsibility for how their function and area of the business is seen and valued.
I wrote about this in my 2021 book Punk XL, in the track called: Advocate.
In it I wrote:
Many organisations and their employees take the work that customer service teams do for granted.
This is not because they don’t care.
I think it comes about because they don’t understand the scale and the nature of the work being done.
As such, they default to expecting things to work and problems to be solved.
The problem is that this lack of understanding also means that customer service teams and departments often get overlooked, are under-funded and resourced and are not valued or consulted on important and relevant issues.
The reality, however, is that contact centres are often the hidden gem in an organisation. They hold incredible amounts of data, insight and talent that can help build a brand and deliver growth and profitability.
But, here’s the thing.
People not understanding and valuing the work that customer service teams do is not their problem.
It is a problem for the customer service teams themselves and their leaders.
And, if you are reading this, then it is likely that makes it your problem.
But, understanding and awareness do not just magically happen. They require effort and advocacy.
One customer leader I know started to tackle this problem by launching a monthly internal newsletter. It covered everything from their satisfaction scores, how many customers they had served that month, the big questions they were asking, how they had performed in helping them, positive quotes from customers, and news of new projects they were working on.
And, you know what happened?
Many of their colleagues, after reading the newsletter, wrote to them saying things like…
“Thanks so much for the work that you do”
“I didn’t realize…..”
“I didn’t know how much work…..”
Then, month by month as they continued to produce their monthly review….
People started to pay attention.
The visibility and importance of the work they did went up.
Their work gained increased respect.
Projects got funded.
The team got consulted on more issues.
The team felt more valued.
That’s what one leader did.
What are you going to do?
So, that’s what I wrote in Punk XL.
What’s ironic, however, is that if customer service leaders did start to advocate more for their teams and the importance of the work they do and, through that, achieved a greater level of visibility, acknowledgement and respect, then they would have achieved a rebrand.