The Casualization of Customer Support — and Why It Matters

The culture of customer support is changing. As millennials become the generation making most of the purchasing decisions, companies face high expectations and dire consequences if they can't deliver personalized and authentic interactions.

A whopping 50 percent of millennials will abandon a company over unsatisfactory customer support. Another 25 percent will cut and run after just one negative experience. In other words, a breakdown in customer support can lead to a break-up.

Millennials in particular demand stress-free relationships with their chosen apps and companies. Support must be on point, ubiquitous and, ironically enough, casual. So how does a company change outmoded support practices, like call center scripts or off-putting ticket queues, to lead with a voice that is personal, competent, and conversational?

Cold brew on tap and a flash mob through the hallways for the account manager's birthday are not the tickets to true workplace casualization.

Building casual, relatable culture into the company DNA and, thus, its customer support requires that a company signs onto not just what today's clients demand—high-end accessibility across channels, delivered in a cohesive and relaxed manner—but a bigger-picture culture that supports success. It's not the trappings of startup office culture that allow for a personalized and effortless front line but the attention to developing a bigger initiative to empower customer support teams to be creative and go the extra mile. Glossier, the New York-based direct-to-consumer beauty startup, is one example of a business that uses its customer service to power superior customer experiences and forge better business outcomes.

Reverse Engineer Casualization

Expecting customer service front lines to engage in empathetic and efficient rapport is an impossible task if your representatives aren't equipped with the information they need. Is your customer support team up to date on trends involving current customer anxieties and expectations? Are the solutions employed at your company geared toward transparency and problem-solving?

To deliver authentic and personalized customer experiences, everyone from the CEO down to the after-hours concierge service needs to be in the know and and feel like a vital part of the team. Think of access to information like learning a language. Your team, regardless of title, needs to speak in a unified voice that is informed and relevant.

Break Down Information Dams

Unhealthy corporate cultures can be petri dishes for the siloing of information. Departments that hoard resources often act out of fear or measures of self-preservation, and attractive company perks don't make up for a lack of employee cooperation. It doesn't matter how many craft beers and cold-pressed juices are in the company fridge if team members don't know how to trust and lean on one another.

To break down information dams, you'll need to remind everyone of the company's greater mission. If department heads lack the skill sets to encourage or facilitate transparency, consider collaborative software options that do the work automatically.

When everyone is operating from the same page, a company not only finds a unified voice but a more powerful one. Think of transparency as your company's secret weapon to developing authentic relationships with customers. Look no further than social media management startup Buffer to explore the integration of values-driven workplace methodology with product.

Lead from the Front

So now you've taken a hard look at your company culture, course-correcting a philosophy that has demanded an outside image without addressing internal breakdowns. You've done away with rewarding employees who operate out of self-interest or preservation. You've equipped the team with the software to break down the silo mentality, without asking them to give up any of their preferred tools. The groundwork is laid for a work environment that values transparency and authenticity. It takes a whole company working together to find its voice. Once executed, the job becomes to trust the sincerity of that voice, take it to your front lines, and deliver genuine interactions with your customers.

Josh Lowy is co-founder and CEO of Hugo, a provider of collaboration solutions.

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Posted July 12, 2019