Paolo Fabrizio, is an experienced digital and social customer service consultant, trainer, author and speaker. In the ’90s, was part of the first online insurance company in Italy covering many different customer-facing roles. From his blog/podcast to his books, Paolo is an insightful customer experience speaker and lecturer at Unimib Bicocca University in Milan, Italy.
In this interview, Paolo guides us through major customer service dynamics, how to amplify excellent customer experiences, and engaging with customers.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
Sure, I help brands leveraging Digital Customer Service with a strategic goal: turning ‘support’ into a business driver to retain and attract customers. My main activities are consulting, training plus speaking and writing books. Prior to that, I’ve spent over 20 years in companies covering a vast array of customer facing roles; that allowed me to gain thorough expertise of major customer service dynamics.
To you, how important is Customer Service for companies?
Yesterday it used to be important, even though often underrated, today has become paramount. Like it or not, we’re dealing with digital-savvy consumers who have dramatically raised their expectations bar: reading online reviews and support interactions before deciding whether or not becoming customers. Moreover, they put to the test brands in every single interaction. That’s why today it’s crucial taking care of every single conversation, regardless of the support channel or the customer itinerary (pre-sales, sales, post-sales) in order to consolidate customer’s trust.
You wrote two customer service books in 3 years. Why did you do that and what different topics do they cover?
First off, let me tell you that writing books it’s been an exciting experience for me. In 2015 I wrote ‘La Rivoluzione del Social Customer Service‘ to raise awareness in Italy about the topic by showing best practices of those brands who had already successfully embraced it. I’ve also explained that social networks can be powerful support channels to amplify excellent customer experiences since conversations are public. As for my latest book ‘Vendere con il Servizio Clienti‘ , the title is self-explanatory (‘Selling with Customer Service’). It’s a strategic manual focussed on three main topics: turning support conversations into business, delivering Digital Customer Service, investing in employees skills and technology and, last but not least, spreading customer service culture across all departments.
You’re also admin of the LinkedIn Network – Social Customer Service (SCS Italia) – How did you build it and what insights can members expect to see?
The group is open to those professionals wanting to dive into Digital / Social Customer Service and exchanging views and experiences. Every day you can find fresh, exclusive content (articles, podcasts, whitepapers, videos) that can help them strategically and operationally use. We’re currently over 500 international professionals and as the group is growing, I’m going to introduce new interactive features…as soon as LinkedIn will enable me to use them. Feel free to join us, we’re always happy to welcome new members.
What’s the most significant change in terms of customer behavior you’ve observed lately?
The perception of time. Customers, thus all of us, have become impatient: they are not willing anymore to wait to get in touch with customer service, so that they use digital channels to instantly deliver their query or complaint. Immediately after, the hourglass starts…when will I get my response? Then, will it fix the problem or will it be just a standard reply ‘we’ll let you know as soon as possible’? Nowadays customers want fast and resolutive responses and that’s a real challenge for many brands.
What would be your top advice to deliver a remarkable Customer Service?
Don’t take customers expectations for granted because they’re constantly changing. So keep on engaging and listening to them to understand how they’re changing (behaviors) what products/services they appreciate or desire to have and what digital channels they use/wish to use to get support. To give you an example a few years ago KLM airways introduced Messenger as new customer servicer channels after realizing that over 70% of their passengers actively use that app. My top advice is then do deliver great customer experiences regardless of the number of support channels you’re offering.
Why do you think it’s important building a Digital Customer Service Team?
Because even the most experienced agents on traditional channels (phone, email) are not ready to manage online conversations with customers. They need to have and develop specific skills such as excellent, concise writing skills, empathy and emotional intelligence just to name some of them. In fact, based on my experience, only a small number of agents are fit to become digital customer assistants. That’s why I help most of my clients building their own Digital Customer Service team: Choosing the most talented and motivated people (hiring) and training them to use the right tone of voice as per channel. Because it’s what you say and how you say it that makes the difference in terms of customer satisfaction and productivity (number of interactions need to close the conversation). Another plus is that you build know-how that you can use again when new team members will join in.
According to you, what will be the key Digital Customer Service trends for the next 12 months?
Instant messaging apps will spread as support channels. WhatsApp has recently let their APIs available to digital omni-channel platforms and that’s a milestone that will speed up the adoption for many B2C companies, especially in Europe. Other messaging apps, such as Messenger and Telegram are bound to play their part in the forthcoming 12-24 months. I think it will be exciting following the evolution of Digital Customer Service and I’ll be doing it when meeting clients and peers – looking forward to speaking at the Customer Service Summit in London next September. Hope to meet you up there!
Originally published May 23, 2019, updated Jan 16, 2023