My 3rd-grader recently informed me that one of his classmates – who I thought was his bestie – was actually his frenemy. Curious to understand his thinking, I asked him what he meant by that.
He explained. I listened. He nailed it.
“The term frenemy, seamlessly blending the words fr(iend) and enemy, refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but actually is an enemy — a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing in the world of friendships,”
Irene S. Levine
Psychologist, friendship expert and producer of the online advice column www.TheFriendshipBlog.com
Even when they aren’t working, friendships tend to endure due to inertia, or a shared history. But with frenemies, that relationship can be annoying or even downright unhealthy.
Later, I couldn’t help but sense a parallel between CX leaders and the conduit between them and their customers. Ideally, as a CX leader, you need a “bestie,” right? A customer service platform that supports you unconditionally.
So here’s the question. If your CX system was a person, would it be a frenemy?
Here are 6 warning signs that it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship with them…er, it.
1. They are not people-centered. Frenemies are self-centered. They are not about building relationships. They are interested in getting whatever they need at the moment and moving on to the next thing. Anyone else’s needs are not really a consideration. When you do engage with them, it feels more like a transaction. They are about as personal as an assembly line.
- Your customer service system seems to be designed less for people than transactions. It’s difficult to build relationships between your customers and your brand because your agents aren’t equipped to be heroes for your customers, every time, independent of the channel.
- Your system doesn’t instantly recognize a customer and match them with the best agent or provide valuable details like customer lifetime value, status, purchase preferences, and history.
- Without the right information, agents can’t truly know the customer, have a personal conversation or even make informed recommendations that lead to more satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.
2. They have a short memory. With frenemies, it’s never going to be about you or your needs. They are creatures of the moment; your past history together is nothing compared to their immediate needs and desires. In fact, it’s often as if you two have no history or they have no memory of a past conversation…unless it happens to serve them in the moment.
- Your CX system also seems to lack a historical perspective, treating each new conversation with a customer as if it is the first. The system doesn’t care because it has no memory of prior conversations or it simply can’t call to mind conversations across different channels.
- Agents don’t have a view into past conversations, or may only be able to reference recent conversations. They have to spend time looking things up and switching between systems or asking the customer.
- This makes an agent’s job more difficult, as most customers believe brands should know how, when, and why they reached out, independent of the channel they used.
3. Their behavior is repetitious. The same patterns keep happening, over and over. And their attitude is to shrug it off with the comment that “they’re just built that way.” Flexibility and self-awareness are not, apparently, in their DNA.
- Every customer contact generates a new ticket, even if it’s the same customer on the same issue. For example, a customer emails to follow up on a return, then calls and chats, trying to get a response. Three different agents respond to a single customer’s single issue.
- Every customer receives this same treatment. As it happens over and over, SLAs become less meaningful, customers are frustrated, and the backlog grows.
4. They are hard to deal with. Notice how you feel when you spend time with them. Does time with them seem to drain all your energy or feel disproportionately focused on their needs?
- You find yourself always adapting to their quirks, spending too much time trying to figure them out, instead of just doing great things together. You have to piece together data from different sources to get an accurate picture of support center operations.
- Your teams spend too much time and energy responding to 1000 tickets that actually represent only 700 customers.
- It takes weeks to train and enable new support heroes to be productive.
5. They’ll try to sabotage you. When a friend’s annoying behavior starts to have more serious consequences, that is a clear signal you are in frenemy territory.
- You start to see key metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), CSAT/NPS, Customer Retention Rate (CRR), agent attrition, revenue, or other key metrics trending the wrong way.
- It’s difficult to determine what is happening to cause the trends and/or make adjustments quickly, without depending on other “friends” – like IT – to intervene.
6. The relationship just makes you feel bad. Trust your feelings. If you dread dealing with them, if they leave you feeling upset, if your gut is telling you it’s just not right, it might be time to make a change. If it’s not a mutually beneficial relationship, it’s not worth it.
- You see competitors building their brands, creating loyal customer advocates and influencers, and reaping the benefits of revenue growth and profitability.
- Your CX peers are advancing in their careers.
- Your agents are leaving and it’s increasingly difficult to find agents that are good with CX technology and people.
Frenemy relationships do happen, despite our best efforts to avoid them. And when we recognize a relationship isn’t healthy, it’s on us to walk away. It may feel difficult, and you may even miss this friend, despite the knowledge that they were not good for you. Experts recommend finding new, like-minded friends who lift you up. Anything less is simply not worth your time and effort.
If you’re ready to start hanging out with other friends, let’s connect! Or, if you’d rather take things slow that’s okay, too. Download the 2021 Customer Expectations Report where we’ve wrapped up some great insights.
Your customers and employees will thank you. And you can enjoy your healthy, new relationship.