Nate Brown is the co-founder of CX Accelerator, an essential virtual community for experience professionals. While Customer Service is his primary expertise, Nate is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect dots and inspire change.
From authoring and leading a Customer Experience program, to journey mapping and managing a complex contact center, Nate has created a connected community by sharing content and insights.
In this interview, Nate covers the need and use of digital channels, how technology can help differentiate you from competitors, and how agents can be empowered with it.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
Certainly! Coming out of college in Northeast Georgia, I had a pretty odd start to my career…attempting to sell postage meters on the streets of Jacksonville FL. Predictably, that was a tremendous failure, but I did learn a lot and found myself shortly thereafter in a front-line Customer Service role. I LOVED Customer Service and dove head-first into the work of helping people related to software and technology. Fast-forwarding the clock a bit, and took ownership of the support department and started trying to figure out what it means to be a leader. I’ve got a whole lot more to learn on that subject, but now I get to apply my education toward a brand-new Customer Experience function…the first of its kind within my organization. This year has been exhilarating as far as learning new things and experimenting with ways we can serve our customers better!
In your opinion, how can companies differentiate themselves from competitors in Customer Service?
Without a doubt, by becoming more proactive. The service center of the past would sit about waiting for customers to experience a problem…and initiate contact with them. This way of thinking is a figment of the past. Modern service centers are looking for ways to equip customers with tools and information proactively to avoid problems from ever happening in the first place. If an issue does occur, new technology can alert us of the event and have us reaching out to the customer in real-time.
What benefits – flexibility, features – can companies expect by moving to a cloud-based contact center?
Technology can often either make or break the role of a Customer Support Analyst. Legacy tools make it nearly impossible to facilitate a quick and easy resolution for the customer.
[c_comment comment=”When I’m evaluating new tools, one of the first things I look for is how freely information can flow through the department.” author=”Nate Brown”]
Cloud-based contact center tools, especially those that bring all the features needed to do the job in one place, can be an agent’s best friend. When I’m evaluating new tools, one of the first things I look for is how freely information can flow through the department. I’m a huge believer in KCS (Knowledge-Centered Service), which requires a good, flexible, integrated tool to really take shape.
How important is it to leverage analytics to improve how agents work and deliver the best customer experience?
It’s absolutely required. Historically we’ve made far too many assumptions about how good we are. I’m reminded of the Medium article stating that “80% of CEO’s believe they deliver superior Customer Experience, but only 8% of their customers agree.” The fact is we can’t trust ourselves. Analytics brings the gift of self-awareness. When done correctly, the voice of customer data provides a true window into the thoughts and minds of those we are serving. Only then do we know which improvements we can make that will generate the maximum ROI.
What would you say to those who wish to ensure that customer needs are being met across all channels and want the customer experience to be the same?
I would say it is a noble goal, but incredibly difficult to achieve. I believe “The Effortless Experience” is on the right track when they say to “guide the customer to the BEST resolution path.” Realistically, a customer service center will not be able to resolve all types of issues on all channels. However, customers will expect a frictionless and consistent experience with each support transaction, regardless of the channel. By guiding customers to the right resolution path, we are tipping the scales in our favor and honoring the customer’s time.
Do you think that being available where your customers are is a key factor in delivering a remarkable Customer Experience?
I do believe this is important. But balance is required. It can be dangerous to try and be everywhere at once (not to mention hard to scale.) I would suggest being careful before implementing a new support channel. Until you are confident that a high quality, consistent experience can be achieved, it would likely be better to guide the customers to another resolution path.
It’s important to consider too that this will vary for different types of customers. In my case, my customer’s value trust and credibility far above our ability to be an early adopter into emerging support channels. This will not be the case for many other customer demographics, who may very well expect you to be essentially everywhere at once.
Would you agree that implementing Digital Customer Experience initiatives can help increase engagement and loyalty?
Absolutely. When we consider how CX is how customers perceive our brand, and how much of that perception is based on their digital experience, it cannot be overlooked. I get very excited when I see companies embark on a digital transformation effort, and they put Customer Experience at the heart of it.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
I’d just like to end on a word of encouragement for all those doing Customer Service and Customer Experience work. This is incredibly difficult work that we are doing, but it’s incredibly important. We have the power to make people’s lives better and easier through intelligent CX design. Let’s build each other up on this journey and create experiences we can all be proud of!!
Originally published Sep 24, 2019, updated Aug 27, 2020