Customer service is everyone’s job… or is it?

Customer service is everyone’s job: the idea that everyone and anyone can (and should) handle customer service interactions. This approach to customer service has grown in popularity, particularly in the tech industry.

When you adopt the ‘customer service is everyone’s job’ approach, any team member — be they from marketing, development, or even the C suite — will spend time answering customer chats and picking up the phone to their calls.

But is this really a beneficial customer service strategy, or will it do more harm than good?

 

The ‘customer service is everyone’s job’ logic

The thinking behind the customer service is everyone’s job approach is that it will promote customer centricity across the business. Everyone will know exactly how the product is used by customers, and they’ll be able to complete their main tasks with this knowledge of the customer firmly in mind.

Engineers and development will know exactly what needs fixing or reworking. Marketing will understand the most effective ways they can reach customers. Sales will be aware of the exact places customers find value in the product, and so on.

The hypothesis is that the ‘customer service is everyone’s job’ approach will also promote more respect for the existing customer service team, and can even save time as customers get responses from the people that know the inner workings of the product and business best.

 

Specialised talent

If customer service is everyone’s job, why isn’t development, marketing, or HR? It’s because these jobs require certain skills to be done properly.

But so does customer service. Not everybody has the patience, empathy or confidence that it takes to be a great customer service representative. For example, empathy might not be massively important for a development role, but it’s a top priority for customer service teams.

Customer satisfaction tends to drop when customer service is everyone’s job. It takes a certain type of person to be able to handle talking to — and appeasing — angry customers from day to day. Effective explanations are difficult to craft and supply, and adapting service from customer to customer is a skill that needs practice.

Some employees simply won’t have the confidence or emotional quotient to deal with difficult customers or upsetting situations. (And that’s okay, everybody has different skills.) But being forced to work on customer support can be extremely damaging to morale for these team members.

 

Accountability

The ‘customer service is everyone’s job’ belief also fails to assign accountability. Who is in charge of driving customer service improvements? Who is responsible for managing the customer experience? It’s all well and good to say “Everyone!”, but that doesn’t work in practice.

When ‘everyone’ is in charge, customer service is no longer a priority. It’s just another general office turn-taking task, like emptying the dishwasher or helping keep the storeroom tidy. There’s nobody there to take ownership of looking after the customer; nobody there to lead customer experience initiatives.

When nobody is truly accountable for customer service, its value is diluted. Plus, enforcing the idea that customer service is everyone’s job also dilutes the efforts of other departments. They can’t spend time coding a great product or deploying a great marketing campaign when they’re constantly navigating customer chats or wading through tickets.

Customer service is a critical department that demands skill, leadership and focus – not an office game of pass the parcel.

 

Respect

Another perceived benefit of enforcing the customer service is everyone’s job idea is that it’ll cultivate respect for your support team. It’s true that adopting this approach may give teams a better understanding of what support deals with daily. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate to respect.

Enforcing the belief that customer service is everyone’s job can actually be detrimental to the respect held for your service team. Because the idea implies that anyone can do their work, it reduces the value of your support team members, the skills they have, and the difficulty of working in customer service.

In other words, enforcing the belief effectively says that ‘customer service is so easy, anyone with a computer and a headset can do it.’ Let’s face it, that doesn’t sound particularly respectful or mindful of the efforts and skills of good customer support teams.

Like the issues with respect for the support team, the approach also means that the customer isn’t being respected or valued. They aren’t valuable enough to warrant a dedicated support team, and they can often end up with curt responses, no empathy and a poor experience. Customers need dedication, not a distracted marketing director or a busy engineer.

 

Collaboration is everyone’s job

Making it so that customer service is everyone’s job does more harm than good to your workplace atmosphere, and can be damaging to your customer experience to boot.

Teams can get the understanding and insight they need to weave customer-centricity into their tasks by communicating and collaborating. It shouldn’t take the risk of diluting every department for teams to respect and understand each other.

‘Customer service is everyone's job' is an experimental approach at best. But your customers aren’t guinea pigs, and they deserve adept attention. So, make collaboration and team support everyone’s job, and promote a good workplace atmosphere without risking your customer satisfaction.

 

Useful links

3 simple steps to boost live chat customer satisfaction

A live chat session: the perfect place to calm a storm in a teacup

Live chat software: the unsung hero in improving employee morale