The One Thing You Need to Know About Customer Service
Happy Customer Service Week!
To celebrate, we’ve decided to reveal the one and only thing you need to know in order to deliver an amazing customer experience. *
That thing is, human beings are storytelling fruit flies.
Need a little more explanation before you take that to your Board?
In many ways, homo sapiens are pretty dumb.
Despite it being 2018, our brains still run on hormonal loops developed to deal with sabre-tooth tigers. We may live in a highly networked, globalised society, but we remain incapable of maintaining stable relationships with a tribe of more than 150 others. And yes, we might have made it to the moon, but we still share more than half our genetic code with tiny insects that like to hang out on brown bananas.
On the other hand, we’ve managed to conquer the planet.
We’ve invented money and religion and music and Snapchat and Benedict Cumberbatch. We’ve united whole nations around shared goals. We’ve built vast organisations that give work and purpose to thousands of people and produce useful things that other people are willing to pay for.
Q. So how on earth did these jumped-up apes achieve such greatness?
A. By learning to tell stories…
From the first hieroglyphic myths created around 30,000 years ago to the best practices that were shared when the agricultural revolution hit a few millennia after that, stories have always been our species’ superpower. Storytelling is both pleasurable and contagious, encouraging empathy and triggering pleasure hormones in our brains.
It’s social glue.
It’s also what makes the difference between best-in-class customer service and a rock-bottom CSat score.
Just like every other piece of human culture, organisations run on stories.
What we call ‘climate’ is simply the sum total of the thousands of stories: the rich river of conversations going on in your company at any one time.
- Conversations between your leaders and your people
- Conversations between your people and your customers.
- Conversations, even, between your leaders and your customers
(it does happen, once in a while).
Those conversations determine which values are celebrated, which mindsets are encouraged, and which behaviours are spread. Ultimately, they determine how your employees approach their jobs, how your customers are treated, and how much money you make.
In light of this potent evolutionary truth, you might think that leaders are eager to invest in their climate above all else. Unfortunately, too many of them are so busy giving TED Talks they forget to pay attention to the conversations going on. Rather than crafting clear stories that result in the kind of customer experience they want to see and finding ways to spread them, they let a whole army of bad habits, rumours and demotivating half-truths take hold.
What’s more, when it comes to decisions about where to invest their money, the fruit-fly bit of their brain takes over, and they fall prey to something called “the tangibility bias.” In 2016, a landmark study by Korn Ferry found that 67% of CEOs believe technology will create greater value in the future than people.
However, the actual economic data shows that human capital (people, skills, knowledge) is 2.33x more valuable than physical capital (inventory, real estate and technology). This bias towards prioritising dead stuff (that can be easily quantified) over human stuff (that is more nebulous but more powerful) helps explains why leaders are so bad at improving their culture, even if they claim it’s a top priority.
The good news is that recent advances in fields such as neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics have given us new insights into how we can influence these strange creatures called human beings. When leaders understand how their people are wired and why they behave the way they do, they can create ripples of climate change that extend all the way to their customers. They can leverage research into cognitive biases, nudge theory and social learning to help transform their service in an unprecedently powerful way.
If you want to shift your NPS scores, you don’t need higher targets or stricter guidelines or better software. You need to know more about storytelling fruit flies.
To find out more about how you could use the Human Code to achieve world-leading customer service, get in touch on 01483 739400 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Alright, maybe not the only thing, but it’s a damn good start.