There are many who still determine the effectiveness of a customer support operation by how many tickets it can close in how short a span of time. Such a one-dimensional view overlooks so much of what a well-conceived and well-run customer support team adds to any business. I suspect that might be the result of the absence of values devised and embraced by its members.
Recently, Centrical increased the scale and scope of its own Customer Support (CS) unit, which is part of our wider Customer Success organization. We added people, refined and stabilized processes, enhanced workflows, and tools. We made sure everything was okay operationally. And then we took another step.
Together with Laura Butvinik, and Lior Halperin, Centrical’s customer education manager and CS tech lead, respectively, we gathered our technical account managers (TAM). These are the people who deal directly with our customers to help implement new solutions on our employee performance management platform and provide support in time of need. Over the course of three workshop sessions we identified and defined values that could serve as a kind of North Star, to guide us in all we do, how we do it, and why.
The central question we sought to answer in the course of the workshops was: What do we want customers to think about the job ticketing experience. Among the things we discussed was the feeling we wanted customers to come away with from this interaction.
It became evident during the sessions that the team didn’t see themselves as merely transactional problem-solvers. Instead, they were drivers of positive business outcomes – for our customers and for Centrical. And they did that by doing everything possible to provide an exceptional customer experience. In each and every instance. And that lies at the core of the values we were able to define.
To that end, and in a purposeful variation on Centrical’s overall mission – make employees the center of our customers’ business success – the team dedicated themselves to making customer experience the center of our business. Further, they identified a set of six values that each member seeks to draw on in all their customer dealings – as well as solving the issue at hand. They are:
Creative – Each situation, each case, is approached with an open mind that’s focused on the short- and long-term solutions. While the TAMs really know their stuff, they’ll go above and beyond to help customers feel confident in them and the Centrical platform
Empowering – Customers are empowered to ask questions, learn, and execute. By making customers feel better about their interactions with us they come away from each feeling like they gained something.
Nimble – Efforts are centered on working with customers to find solutions. And to advocate for them by being the voice of the customer as well as to partner with them so everyone succeeds.
Trustful – Through our expertise, approachability, and partnership, customers come to trust us with their business, questions, and problems.
Empathetic – The aim is to understand our customers so as to make them feel heard. It’s not just about closing those job tickets. It’s about making connections and growing relationships.
Responsive – We have each other’s backs, those of team members and customers. This is possible by staying present and available, giving each person a seamless experience.
And, yes, by design, the initial letters of our values spells CENTER. Tips on how to employ these values were also provided to our team members.
While there was happiness with the output of our workshops and the linkage of these values to those of the company’s, we knew implementing values – to go from the excitement of a workshop to the reality of a workday – would not be easy.
The solution sat in Centrical’s platform, which every Centrical employee uses to stay engaged, be well-trained, and perform their best. We utilized it to strengthen understanding of the newly-created values and how best to apply them. And, as a way to reinforce, recognize, and celebrate efforts that are testimonies to doing things in a CENTER’ed manner. For example, the platform’s gamification capabilities includes a badge feature that rewards desired behaviors.
Each CENTER letter was represented by a badge. Tickets were reviewed and badges awarded each week through the Centrical platform. Members of the team that best represented the values – by applying the values in customer interactions – were awarded the related value letter. Their recognition was announced and celebrated across the entire global Customer Success organization.
So, by working with our TAMs to create values they could embrace and influence their behaviors, it helped them form the habits that yield positive customer experiences.
Here are my takeaways from this values development exercise:
· Values and goals need to link tightly to those of the company
· Creation of values must come from the bottom up; devised by the team, to be used by the team
· Implementation of the values takes time and requires a commitment to live them by everyone associated with the support organization
· It is imperative to acknowledge desired behaviors to foster their becoming habitual for each team member