Poor User Experiences WILL Kill Your Customer Service App

Kate Leggett
Vice President, Principal Analyst
April 26, 2011

There’s a  huge graveyard of failed customer service software implementations, and still others are on life support due to the basic fact that they are not usable.  Think of the world we live in, with products and services from Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and the like:

  • Intuitive user interfaces that don’t require training to be able to use them
  • Touchscreens
  • One-click processes
  • Predictive type-ahead where suggested topics are displayed in a dropdown menu to help users autocomplete their search terms
  • Aggregation of content from different sources, all linked together so that it adds value to the user

Consumer expectations for  user experiences is are at an all-time high. We all demand accurate, easy, contextual, personalized, graphically pleasing  user experiences that are available on all the devices that we use.

Now, think about what your customer service agents use to deliver that company-mandated exceptional experience to their customers. They are probably using a tabbed, two-color UI on a PC, with each tab dedicated to a specific  task.  To a new agent, a tabbed structure is overwhelming, as he may not know where to start or what sequence of steps to follow to help his customers.

More than that, agents use tens, sometimes hundreds, of disconnected tools during their workday that all contain different bits of information about things like customers, products, policies, and corporate knowledge. There tends to be a limited ability to search across all information; you can search for account information, or closed customer records, or products that the customer owns, but it is almost impossible to search across all these fields at once and get back a full view of what your customer has purchased, what interactions he has had with you in the past, what cases are open, and what knowledge makes sense for him to read.   

These tools make it almost impossible to deliver personalized service that matches customer expectations.  The tools are rigid, hard to use, and ugly. Agents are just getting by trying to locate the information they need while meeting service levels; they don’t want to enter more data than they need to, because it’s just plain hard to do. And this problem will only get worse as Millennials who are used to good user experiences in their private lives bring these expectations to the tools they use on the job.

One easy step to move the needle on the quality of service delivery is to focus on the agent’s experience with the toolset used. To do this, there is no need to reinvent the wheel — we know what a good user experience is! Start by thinking through the service process that agents need to follow and map screens to this process. Make your screens visually pleasing, interactive, and fun. Make sure that all the elements that an agent needs at a particular point in the process are displayed, such as the customer’s account information or purchase history. Push notifications, alerts, even cross-sells to the agent to help him personalize the interaction. Use modern UI design elements. Test the usability of your apps with your agents and gather their feedback.

Thoughts?

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