5 Types of Company Personas in Customer Service: Which are You?

Aspect Software has released the Aspect Customer Care Personas study, a five-segment personification of companies’ approach and execution of customer service. Through research of companies across verticals, the company customer service personas were identified based on their investment, approach and attitudes towards delivering customer service.

“As customer service becomes the new marketing, most companies need help focusing on specific improvement areas in their customer service approach,” said Joe Gagnon, senior vice president and general manager cloud solutions, Aspect, in a statement. “Our findings identify gaps in service delivery or deficiencies in consumer-facing technology that can help companies improve the value they provide to their own customers.”

The segments are:

  • The Traditionalist: Big on customer touch, short on technology.
  • The Honcho: Heavy on the executive leadership, light on strategic effectiveness.
  • The Selfie: Tons of technology, missing on metrics,
  • The Casualist: Best intentions, worst in just about everything else.
  • The Stickler: All policy, no apologies.

While there is no one perfect customer service persona, disconnectedness troubles companies in every segment. Technology is disconnected from agent engagement, metrics are disconnected from what matters to the consumer, and procedures are disconnected from delivering exceptional service.

Part of the answer to solving this disconnectedness is evaluating the appropriation of technology investment. More than half of companies (53 percent) are currently and actively using their company's customer service technology investment to replace the customer service representative, while nearly half (47 percent) believe that by 2020, the human interaction element of the customer service representative will be replaced by technology all together.

While this investment may save companies money in the short term, it may cost them dearly in the long run. Consumer demand for more self-service options is on the rise but companies who provide customer service on their terms and for their interests alone risk becoming laggards while organizations that address technology investment from the consumer’s perspective put themselves in position for market leadership.

In an additional Aspect-commissioned study of consumers, 73 percent of respondents said they wished companies offered more ways to solve customer service issues on their own, yet the same amount (75 percent) say they believe companies’ motive for using self-service is to prevent them from talking to a customer service representative. It’s no wonder that 96 percent of them said that they were more likely to do business with a company that has strong customer service and nearly three quarters (72 percent) stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. The problem has only gotten worse---nearly half (45 percent) say they would rather eat a piece of last year’s fruit cake than deal with customer service, an eight percent increase from this time last year.

“It’s important that companies know not only what their internal persona is but what the potential business impact is of that approach so they can identify improvement opportunities,” Gagnon said. “Brands must find the right balance between serving the needs of their specific customer base and the needs of their own employees and investors to deliver exceptional service as well as exceptional shareholder returns in this ever-changing landscape.”

Personas Overview:

A Traditionalist company believes in customer service in the most conventional sense: eager to please, always putting their customers first and continually striving to build lasting customer relationships. No persona is more focused on demonstrating customer appreciation. However, only 5 percent of these companies strongly agree that they embrace newer technologies ahead of their customers’ demand to use them – this could include things like Web chat or mobile apps. And less than half (46 percent) agree that their company encourages customers to use self-service channels to resolve their issues before contacting a customer service representative, compared to 61 percent of the total.

The Honcho leadership company permeates throughout the Honcho’s approach to customer service, ranging from strategy and implementation to performance and measurement. One-hundred percent of the companies in this segment say leadership is involved in customer service strategy. Ninety-three percent of the companies in the Honcho segment agree that their company’s customer service technology investment has a strong correlation to improved consumer interaction. However, the Honcho is the least likely of all the segments to report that it maintains a social media presence or offers cross-channel capabilities for problem resolution.

The Selfie fully embraces technology and is ahead of the curve in customer service innovation and functionality. However, this segment suffers from an amplified sense of self, believing it is doing everything right, from prioritizing customer service to involving leadership. An overwhelming majority (97 percent) of those in this segment agree that their company is nimble when it comes to changing technology and applications to improve the customer service experience, 41 percentage points higher than respondents overall. But nearly all Selfies (95 percent) agree that their company is doing a better job at customer care than customers would say they are doing.  However, 94 percent of Selfie companies agree that over the past few years, the customer service measures at their company have remained relatively unchanged.

Casualist companies are casual in everything about their approach to customer service---too casual in fact. Companies in this segment have extremely limited leadership, limited customer metrics and little innovative technology which is why they see their customer service performance worsening. The Casualist says its approach to customer service is flexible, persuasive, timely, compassionate, accurate, decisive, patient and able to handle surprises. However, zero percent in this segment strongly agree that customer service measures capture their customers’ true level of satisfaction. Just 20 percent of Casualist companies say their company provides customer service staff with the resources and tools needed to provide a superior customer experience, 50 points lower than the total.

A Stickler organization is easily characterized by one word: protocol. Sticklers have a strong desire for creating and following rules and procedures and execute a formalized approach to customer service. The Stickler is more likely to use technology to engage with customers than most other customer service persona segments. Additionally, Stickler companies are the least likely of all segments to say it appreciates customers, always exceeds customer expectations or empowers representatives to make customers happy. Companies in this segment consider the ability to explain corporate policy and point of view as one of the most applicable benefits of customer service.

“The foundation of an effective and exceptional customer engagement strategy can no longer be built solely on traditional customer service methods---particularly when today’s consumers are in more control and have a louder voice than ever before,” Gagnon advises. “While companies work on improving their engagement with these hard-to-please consumers, brands need to know how they are perceived by their customers in order to assist them in understanding what it takes to provide exceptional customer care.”

Related Articles

How can you provide stellar customer care if you knowingly hinder the progress of your front line? Put your money where your mouth is—up-to-date technology and respect means engaged employees and happier customers.

Posted March 25, 2015