It’s always interesting to see the outcome of how a client fares with a company’s technology solution. But how about getting those clients up and running? This latest Q&A visits that exact subject with David Ballard, US-based Project Manager for Sword Ciboodle. He has been serving on strategic accounts for the past four years, spear-heading client projects such as VistaPrint and Sears. He is essentially the “genius” behind how major companies deploy Sword Ciboodle’s technology:
Liz Erk- What is the most critical element of any company’s customer service program? (This could be technology-based, people, more than one, etc.)
Dave Ballard- There really isn’t one single element, it’s finding the right balance between technology and process. And especially the right staff! It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies think technology alone can solve their problems.
LE- When you assess a company’s existing customer service center, what is the one common “mistake” or “missing piece” that you find?
DB- I’d say that’s a good question! Technology is moving at an alarmingly fast rate- faster than ever. Companies are continually trying to keep pace with this technology and their competitors by getting new technology. From my perspective, there needs to be a solid and stable backend process in place first. Particularly when it comes to adding the latest and greatest new technology channels like social media, chat and Flash websites. For example, it’s great companies are interacting with customers via online chat, but at the end of the day if you are using the same 20 year old broken process to issue a refund, are you really doing the customers a service? Or are you just trying to simply add a new channel for the sake of adding a channel? They really need to be able to support new channels in a smart and useful way.
LE- What industry sector has provided the biggest challenges when it comes to evaluating and recommending a customer service strategy?
DB- I’ve worked with a number of clients across a variety of industries, and I’ve found that organizations all face the same challenges, believe it or not. Generally organizations know their industries really really well. They all need guidance on how to create that “company-centric” strategy, and then also how to best use the different technologies to make the most of that strategy. All the information is there, it’s just understanding how to streamline those processes.
LE- Which industry commonly seems to “get it right?”
DB- I think it’d be unfair to pin one industry over another. I tend to find the organizations who truly get it right are the ones least resistant to change, and have buy-in from everyone who’s effected by the new software solutions from the top down, from executives right through to customer service representatives. Implementing a new CRM software solution is an excellent opportunity to overhaul a business and provide excellent customer service, and that should be embraced by everyone.
LE- What was the toughest obstacle or “worst nightmare” you’ve ever faced in getting a customer set up?
DB- I wouldn’t say worst nightmare, but I’d say one of the most challenging parts of the job is building a state-of-the-art solution out of a legacy system that hasn’t been updated for years. At Sword Ciboodle our solution integrates with multiple backend systems in order to provide a unified agent desktop to offer a 360 degree view of the customer, so at times it feels we can be limited in what we can achieve by the other systems, however I have excellent managers who are able to overcome this time and time again and we’re able to deliver strong solutions.
LE- Without naming the client, what’s a unique, funny or just plain odd experience you’ve had on a client site?
DB- You put me on the spot now, haha! Okay, here’s a unique one: I did work on a solution for an auto company and the customers send them audio recordings of their engines to help their engineers playback and diagnose the problem. It was certainly different and we were chosen because of our ability to adapt for this unique customer interaction.
It’s cool to see the trends and common denominators with clients. I’m hoping in the near future Dave can walk us a through “a day in the life of a client deployment…”