Michelangelo's David

On prime display in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy, stands the 5 metre tall marble masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture that is Michelangelo’s David. The piece is one of the artist’s seminal works and arguably one of the most famous statues in the world.

Painstakingly crafted and chiselled out of the solid Carrara white marble over the three year period between 1501 and 1504, Michelangelo used the latest techniques, the sharpest fit-for-purpose tools and his genius to create the masterwork that continues to captivate millions of admirers, over 500 years later.

Having been lucky enough to see this in the flesh, so to speak, it sparked a thought in my mind of how this synergetic relationship between man and tool is reflected in the business world, particularly a modern one so dominated by a digital revolution that would be alien to the great artistic master.

The craftsman’s challenge

The modern business challenge for customer facing organisations, is to sculpt and forge a truly seamless and personalised customer service across all channels. Making this detailed and tailored to a generation of ever more digitally savvy and demanding consumers is a David-and-Goliath-esque task. Pleasing customers has never been harder. In fact, the ability for customers to contact organisations via any preferred channel has become an expectation rather than a demand per se.

Speed of responsiveness is also crucial, as consumers want their query or complaint dealt with at first contact by one agent. When this isn’t up to scratch, they have shown time and time again that they are willing to take their business elsewhere, as industry bodies across the board breakdown barriers to account and supply switching. We need look no further than NPower’s 60% profit nosedive to see this in action.

Sharpening the technical tools

Michelangelo was a genius, but without the right tools, it’s hard to imagine we would be marvelling at the David in its current form. Equally, the task of exceeding the modern customer’s expectations is one that no customer service agent can tackle alone.

Contact centre agents and customer service personnel have to be armed with the best fit for purpose tools for the job, providing them with real-time information on customers across a huge range of possible contact points, whether this is email, recent phone enquires, Facebook and Twitter, or perhaps live message or video chat discussions with other agents. And all this vast quantity of data, along with complete account history and the status of all ongoing transactions, needs to be at their fingertips in an easily digestible format. When furnished with the very latest technology solutions capable of achieving this, crafting the masterpiece of customer service required to satisfy the modern consumer is a real possibility.

Training the hand to wield the tool

But a tool doesn’t simply create a craftsman. The sharpest tool in the box is useless in the hands of an untrained sculptor. Likewise, customer service agents need to be properly engaged and trained to harness both their own potential and that of the tools with which they ply their trade, providing the best personalised service possible.

With the mechanisms in place and the skilled staff on hand, you can achieve and even exceed customer expectations and drive lucrative loyalty and customer retention.

The Guild of Master Customer Craftsman

A true craftsman takes no greater pleasure than in perfecting and continually progressing in his or her art form. As Michelangelo himself said:

“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish”

Top of the employee agenda is training and opportunities to grow, develop and progress in their profession. So it’s not just your customer retention that you should be concerned with. We are currently experiencing one of the best times for the recruitment industry in recent history, in no small part due to higher levels of employee churn. By engaging staff in a job with greater variety and empowering them to make informed decisions and substantive contributions, you increase employee happiness, reduce churn and keep the best craftsmen in your guild.

The modern digitally savvy consumer has certainly set the bar for customer service just shy of a masterpiece and tackling this Goliath task may seem unobtainable, but organisations need to be aiming for their own David masterpiece. Provide your customer craftsmen with the best tools, engage them and teach them how to wield these to the greatest effect, and in doing so, delight both your customers and employees – only then will you have mastered the art of sculpting the best personalised customer service.

By Michiel Lely, VP Practices, EMEA at Verint-Systems