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How Not to Deliver Value Enhancement

By Christopher Sladdin | December 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

Customer Service and SupportDigital and Self-Service Customer ServiceService and Support Customer Experience (CX) and VOCService and Support Strategy and Leadership

Co-Authored with Lauren Villeneuve (Senior Director, Advisory).

In 2020, Gartner introduced Value Enhancement to Customer Service and Support leaders tasked with growing the business through increased customer loyalty. Within two years, 51% of Customer Service and Support leaders said they had a deliberate strategy in place for increasing a customer’s confidence in and/or ability to use the product/service/utility your organization provides (one of the two pillars of Value Enhancement), but only 19% described their strategy as effective. 

Over the past two years, we’ve noticed five common stumbling blocks that diminish the returns Customer Service and Support leaders can get from their Value Enhancement strategies. In this blog, we’re going to tell you these stories, so that you can avoid them.

Customer Service and Support leaders must avoid five stumbling blocks when designing a Value Enhancement Strategy - forgetting self-service, asking the customer but ignoring the answer, over personalizing, the tick the box mentality, and measuring without a strategy.

1. Forgetting Self-Service

A common misconception we hear throughout our conversations with Customer Service and Support leaders is Value Enhancement is a live channel only service strategy. This limits the potential loyalty that Value Enhancement can drive for your organization.

Gartner’s research demonstrates that self-service provides just as promising an opportunity to drive customer loyalty as assisted service, with similar Value Enhancement Scores (VES) reported (see figure below). In fact, there are many promising examples of Value Enhancing information on company websites today. But Customer Service and Support leaders need to take a more proactive approach to ensuring self-service attempts at Value Enhancement deliver the expected return on investment. Specifically, self-service Value Enhancement must: 

  • Be visible in the customer’s issue resolution path – don’t just bury it on a product page or similar;
  • Be relevant to the customer’s specific issue – we’ll talk about under-personalizing later in this blog; and
  • Have a clearly stated benefit to the customer.

Measured with Value Enhancement Score (VES), self-service is equally as impactful at delivering Value Enhancement as assisted service.

Simply implementing Value Enhancement in live channels is a missed opportunity – not only is Value Enhancement a successful strategy in self-service, it is likely a cheaper one!

2. Ask & Ignore

A well-known consumer technology manufacturer does a great job at delivering Value Enhancement in assisted service, taking time to educate customers on product features and offering “top tips” which boost customer confidence. If you’ve got the time for this as a consumer, it’s great. But what if your original support query took a little longer than you expected to resolve, and now you need to jump to another meeting?

Customer Service and Support leaders must remember that Value Enhancement is an “and strategy” – in other words, it is never the sole objective of a service interaction, and should always be positioned as an extra to issue resolution. While the technology manufacturer’s service representative recognized this by asking “would you like me to inform you about some entertaining [product] features”, they then ignored the customer’s answer. If a customer says “I’d love that, but can we resume this chat in an hour or so because I have a meeting to attend”, either offer to do just that, or say “no worries, I don’t want to make you late to your meeting.” Don’t then proceed to send a further twelve messages and links which the customer then has to catch-up on post-meeting, or try and multitask. 

This attempt at Value Enhancement isn’t helpful – you’ve just overburdened the customer, and the value of your education is lost. 

3. Over Personalize

The most effective Value Enhancement activities rely on customer context and subsequent personalization. And this requires data. But just because you need data to determine how you personalize your interaction, doesn’t mean you have to expose the customer to all of this data. In fact, customer’s tell us that the more data you expose them to in a personalized message, the creepier they will find it (read more about that in Andrew Schumacher’s latest blog). 

Leaders must be careful not to use too much customer data to personalize a Value Enhancing service interaction, as the more data dimensions that are used, the higher the risk that the customer finds it creepy or invasive.

One company told us that they would find it easy to deliver Value Enhancement, because they knew everything about their user’s activity. The conversation would go something like this: “Now that we’ve resolved your query, we wanted to tell you how you could do this better / avoid this issue in the future”. So far, so good. Who wouldn’t want to avoid another call to Customer Service? But then, they’d go on: “We can see that you did this, then this, and then clicked here before using this option to try and undertake X. But actually…” Too late. While the rep’s next words might have been incredibly Value Enhancing, all the customer is thinking is “wow, they seem to be tracking my every move and that’s freaky.”  

This attempt at Value Enhancement isn’t helpful – you’ve just creeped out the customer, and so your confidence-boosting tip went in one ear and out the other.

4. The “Tick the Box” Mentality

While over personalizing delivers poor outcomes, under personalizing or simply trying to “tick the box” does too! 

In some organizations we work with, reps feel like they must deliver some kind of Value Enhancement in every service interaction, regardless of the issue type. One company told us that, when they piloted their Value Enhancement strategy, their reps felt like they had to tell the customer something … anything … that could potentially be valuable in every interaction. So when the company reviewed the actual execution of their strategies – they found their reps were using the same customer data points regardless of if it made sense in the situation. 

But Value Enhancement should not be an “always on” strategy – there are interactions where it makes perfect sense for our customers (based on issue type and customer context), but there are also interactions where Value Enhancement does not work.

Value Enhancement need not
be an “always on” strategy.

Our reps need to be comfortable focusing on issue resolution only where appropriate. When Value Enhancement feels like a mandate – where reps feel like they have to deliver a Value Enhanced interaction every time –  it makes our customers and agents uncomfortable. 

This attempt at Value Enhancement isn’t helpful – at best, you’ve just left the customer confused, and at worst, annoyed.

5. Measuring without a Strategy

Something we’re hearing more frequently in our calls with Customer Service and Support leaders is that organizations have implemented Value Enhancement Score (VES) – a metric with the best predictive accuracy of customer loyalty – but are subsequently struggling to improve their KPI. It turns out that some of them have implemented the metric, but without an accompanying Value Enhancement strategy. Alas – and this should come as no surprise – simply measuring things won’t deliver the return on investment Customer Service and Support leaders are looking for.

If you want to improve against either VES question – “after the customer service interaction, I am able to achieve more with the product/service” or “after the customer service interaction, my confidence in my decision to purchase the product/service is higher/lower” – then you’re going to have to take some action in your service interactions to educate the customer, show them how they can achieve their goals, or instill that confidence. 

Simply implementing VES isn’t helpful – all you’re doing is measuring the success of your non-existent Value Enhancement strategy.

Want help? Schedule an inquiry with us or a fellow Customer Service & Support expert today to think through your strategy to support business growth through Customer Service.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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