Imagine a customer buys a product and is truly unsatisfied with it — enough to pick up the phone and sound off to a customer service representative about the issue.
In most companies today, that’s about as far as the customer would get.
Customer service, in other words, typically ends in the contact center. A customer may, if he or she is lucky, get an opportunity to speak with a contact center manager or possibly a director when their attention is needed. But in a large enterprise, it’s pretty rare that a customer will get to communicate with a company executive directly with a concern or even a suggestion.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s typically done for a reason, which is to protect company executives from getting too caught in the weeds with daily customer service issues. There are simply too many other things to worry about while running a company. It’s a matter of time management and efficiency.
At Tesla, though, this traditional approach to customer service is changing. And it could have far-reaching customer service implications.
In a groundbreaking announcement, Tesla has revealed plans to allow customers to escalate issues all the way up to company executives. It won’t require much effort, either. Customers will simply have to log into their online accounts and click a button to complete the task.
If the decision is successful, it could help to reduce public-facing complaints. Tesla is banking on the fact that customers will first attempt to resolve their issues internally, rather than air out their complaints online.
That’s a big “if” though, as there are bound to be some challenges that pop up along the way. For instance, the company could run into a bandwidth issue as it is now in the process of trying to scale. To date, Tesla has shipped 250,000 vehicles and hopes to scale to 400,000 shipments over the next year. So it will be interesting to see whether Tesla will be able to keep up with this strategy as more cars are released and more issues arise. The hope is that customers will not abuse the system, but rather will treat it responsibly.
Regardless of how the decision pans out, Tesla should be applauded for this bold customer service initiative. The decision shows that Tesla is making customer service a top priority. And it’s hard to imagine any customer complaining about the ability to take their ideas and suggestions to high-ranking company officials. It’s a decision that could be a powerful deal-breaker for certain customers who prefer high-touch treatment.
Business leaders should take this as an opportunity to assess their overall customer service strategies, and look for similar ways of using it to differentiate their services.