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This week we feature a short article and infographic from Matteo Gasparello explaining why influential brands are using the combination of artificial intelligence and data to provide customers with the experiences they want.

44% of customers are frustrated when companies fail to deliver relevant, personalized shopping experiences. – Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research

Brands only have one shot to get the customer experience right.

There are too many options today. Too many products that perform a similar function. Not to mention a gigantic, continually growing, amount of information, images, videos and reviews for people to be influenced by…

Consumers are consequently less patient and less forgiving.

The solution?

The most influential brands in the world are showcasing how a ​powerful combination of Artificial Intelligence and Data​ gives customers the experience they want.
At Y Media Labs, we created the infographic below to illuminate:

  • The high cost related to delivering poor customers experiences.
  • The brands that are defining customer experience today through a blend of empathy and data.
  • 6 ways that technology can help your brand to make your clients happier.

    Let’s dive right in!

Matteo Gasparello is the Head of Traffic Growth at Y Media Labs. He brings to life stories written by the talented staff of YML about customer experience, design, artificial intelligence and technology.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Thomas Keller: From Dishwasher To World-Renowned Chef

The post Guest Blog: [Infographic] How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Brand Deliver a Better Customer Experience appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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Something bad happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. It happened—and now you have a choice. You can let it bother you. Let it fester inside of you. Let it impact your mood. Let it ruin your day or your week. Make you irritable and not pleasant to be around. Or… you can get over it and move on!

Just a few weeks ago the St. Louis Blues hockey team, which I’m a huge fan of, won the Stanley Cup championship against the Boston Bruins. They went all the way to Game Seven. For those that don’t know, all the Stanley Cup games leading up to and including the finals are played as a best of seven series. The first team to win four games in their series advances to the next round and eventually, if they are good enough, wins the championship.

I bring this up because there was a moment in the semi-final round when something bad happened. The St. Louis Blues were hosting the San Jose Sharks for the third game in the best of seven series, and the game went into overtime. The first team to score in overtime wins the game. That’s known as “sudden death overtime.” The game came to its end when one of the players on the San Jose Sharks made an illegal hand pass that helped the Sharks score the winning overtime goal. Four referees missed the call that led to the overtime goal. Afterward, the NHL Senior Vice President, Colin Campbell, admitted that it was a bad call—actually, a non-call. The referees were relieved of their responsibilities for the rest of the playoffs.

When a reporter asked Blues Coach Craig Berube what he had to say about it, Berube replied, “I have nothing to say about it.” He added, “the team’s gotta move on.”

That was the same message Coach Berube preached to his players as well. “Move on!” In other words, it’s over and there is nothing to do about it. So, you get the choice of dwelling on it and potentially impacting the next game or putting it in the past. Coach Berube hoped the team would move on, and that is exactly what they did at the next game—they played their best without ever mentioning the loss that came from the illegal hand pass in the previous game.

When “bad stuff” happens, we must get over it and move on. Several weeks ago, I shared the idea that in customer service you sometimes have to take a metaphorical punch. It’s sometimes tough to move on when a customer is being difficult, if not downright rude. But it shouldn’t impact the next customer’s experience. The concept of “moving on” goes beyond customer service. Whether you have to deal with a difficult customer or another negative situation, you must realize that when it’s over, it’s over. Time to move on.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

The post Get Over It and Move On appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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“Yes” is the Answer; What is the Question?
Putting People First to Achieve an Exceptional Customer Experience

Shep Hyken interviews Cameron Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. They discuss Cameron’s customer service philosophies and his new book, Yes is the Answer! What is the Question?.


The Interview with Cameron Mitchell:
  • Be goal-oriented. Know the difference between working for a paycheck and working for your career.
  • Define your company’s core values and culture first. Then, build the company for the people, by the people.
  • Rather than putting the guests/customers first, put your employees first. This sets up a triangular relationship: you take care of your employees, your employees take care of your customers, and your customers take care of your company. This all stems from an internal people-first culture.
  • Mitchell shared his company’s Five Pillars of Culture, which are in the form of questions. These questions must be answered with authority and conviction. They are as follows:
    1. What do we want to be?
    2. How do we define ourselves?
    3. What is our mission?
    4. What is your role?
    5. What is our goal?
  • There should be an almost even split between cultural and fiscal responsibility, the scales tipped in favor of culture. The number one goal should be to maintain your company’s culture and values. Making a profit should be second to that. Never sacrifice your culture for the sake of profit.
  • Your company will have many goals that come and go, but the one constant goal should be to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you are today. This creates a culture of positive change within your organization. Stagnation is a death sentence.
  • The phrase “yes is the answer; what’s the question?” creates an attitude of action. It motivates people to find creative solutions to problems rather than just saying “no.”
  • Attaching an image, symbol, or picture to your company mantra can make for a powerful reminder. Implement and integrate this company-wide to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Quotes:

“We take care of our people, our people take care of our guests, and our guests then take care of our company.” – Cameron Mitchell

“We’ll never sacrifice our culture and values to make an extra buck.” – Cameron Mitchell

“Be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today.” – Cameron Mitchell

“It’s all about our people. Have a people-first mentality. When you put your people first, the results are going to be spectacular.” – Cameron Mitchell

About:

Cameron Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. He has enjoyed success as a lifelong entrepreneur, accomplished businessman, culinary expert, and nationally recognized restauranteur.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. How can I build a people-first organization?
  2. How can I create a company culture?
  3. What drives a company’s success?
  4. How can I create the best guest experience?
  5. How can I keep improving my business?

The post Amazing Business Radio: Cameron Mitchell appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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Each week I read a number of customer service and customer experience articles from various resources. Here are my top five picks from last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

(CustomerGauge) The days of B2B companies trying to differentiate themselves through services and products alone are gone. Today, B2B companies need to focus on creating customer experiences that deliver—at scale.

My Comment: There are some B2B companies that believe most customer experience strategies are more focused on B2C type businesses. Yes, the retail to consumer industry is full of great examples of brands seizing the opportunity to win over customers with a superior CX, but B2B companies can do the same. As a matter of fact, the opportunity there is potentially greater as old-style thinking prevents some companies from moving forward with a CX strategy. The B2B world must step up to meet the new standards that customers now expect.

Great Expectations: What Businesses Need To Know About Customer Service in the On-Demand Economy by Brad Birnbaum

(Forbes) It’s hard to imagine a time when humans survived without Google and Amazon delivering information and products as immediately as the laws of physics allow.  Today, customers experiencing slow load times, same-day shipping delays or a lapsed customer service response can wreak absolute havoc among businesses.

My Comment: This article is a great reminder about what customers expect – if not demand – from the places they do business. Sometimes simple ideas aren’t easy to implement but consider this. Customers expect you to know them, communicate the way they want to communicate, value their time, and more. These expectations, when met, can earn you repeat business and even customer loyalty.

How to Boost Customer Loyalty Without Using Discounts by Syed Balkhi

(CustomerThink) If you’re on a budget or want to gain the loyalty and respect of your customers, we are going to show you how without offering a single discount on the products in your showcase.

My Comment: I often write about the difference between a loyalty program and a marketing/promotional program. They are often confused and for good reason. Both drive repeat business, but both don’t always create loyalty. And, there’s a difference between loyalty and repeat business. Nothing wrong with either, but it’s important to know the difference. Marketing programs often offer discounts, points, rewards for dollars spent. Again, nothing wrong with that. But, what if you could drive loyalty without discounting?

This Warby Parker Co-Founder’s Next Startup Set Out to Beat a Razor Giant. 6 Years Later, He Sold Harry’s for $1.3 Billion by Tom Foster

(Inc.) Harry’s aimed to disrupt its industry–then, it sold to an incumbent. Co-founder Jeff Raider sees the acquisition as a new opportunity.

My Comment: Who is Jeff Raider? He co-founded the amazingly successful Warby Paker. He then co-founded Harry’s, the direct to consumer razor company, which Schick bought earlier this year for a cool $1.37 billion. Raider understands customers, and this article gives you insight into his brilliant business mind.

How to Find Your Way to the Customer Experience Promised Land by Janelle Estes 

(CMSWire) Customer experience has become so important — even more important than products themselves — that more than 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great one, according to research by Capgemini. And yet the same report showed that while 75% of companies believe themselves to be customer-centric, only 30% of customers feel this is the case.

My Comment: What is your company’s customer experience maturity level? Are you aware that CX is important? Do you react when there is a need to deliver or improve CX, or do you have a process already in place? This author shared four levels of CX, and your organization falls into one of them. So, just how mature are you when it comes to customer experience?

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

The post 5 Top Customer Service Articles for the Week of July 15, 2019 appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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This week we feature an article by Hugues Meyrath who says that by integrating machine learning and AI capabilities into your processes, you can optimize the performance of your facilities and staff to drive a positive customer experience. He shares some examples of how this technology can be a difference-maker.

Across industries, the collection, analysis, and refinement of data is the battleground businesses are competing in to differentiate themselves to customers. At the heart of this is the need to create better customer experiences and deliver new services. Infusion of new technologies is critical, and this is where machine learning and AI prove their value. This is demonstrated by the fact that almost half of the business executives that McKinsey surveyed reported that their companies have embedded at least one AI capability in their business already – e.g. customer service.

In fact, the applicability of AI and its subset, machine learning, is relevant across all facets of the business, including facility management. By integrating machine learning and AI capabilities into your processes, you can optimize the performance of your facilities and staff to drive a positive customer experience. Below, I dive into some examples of how this technology can be a difference-maker.

Understand Your Facilities Through Data Collection

Facility data is complex – it spans every location, asset, work order, invoice and contractor you’ve ever worked with. Collecting this data in large quantities can present more of a burden than a solution if you lack the necessary resources for combing through and creating actionable insights that pinpoint inefficiencies in your operations.

Adopting automation technology with machine learning and AI capabilities will improve how you manage your facilities at a high level. Integrating machine learning with FM automation enables “smart” self-monitoring technology that alerts operations teams to underperforming equipment that may negatively impact the customer experience.

For example, an AI-enabled HVAC unit can automatically optimize your store temperature so it’s always comfortable for customers. Most importantly, this ensures customers have a great shopping experience any time they visit. It also helps reduce the amount (and cost) of energy used better than manual temperature adjustments.

“Smart” technology can also provide actionable recommendations for addressing issues, and even schedule repairs automatically if set to do so. By integrating AI, you can ensure customers will have a positive experience by reducing downtime and swiftly resolving problems. The insights that stem from this data will help make every interaction a positive one.

Keep Your Employees Focused on What Matters

Managing a facility requires you to oversee both large and small projects. An automated system with machine learning capabilities can take certain projects off your plate. Take proposal review as an example of this in action:

When an FM receives a proposal from a contractor, machine learning can take over by analyzing the scope of work, proposed pricing, and the contractor’s history of performance. Once the proposal has been reviewed, you’ll know if it’s the right cost, and if the work will be done at the quality level and timeframe you need. Ultimately, this takes stress off of your staff to deal with more serious or pressing concerns, instead of manually reviewing RFPs across a multi-location enterprise.

Let’s look at how this applies to luxury retail stores. Customers expect the same caliber of the shopping experience, regardless of if they enter a Louis Vuitton in Los Angeles or New York City. If the spring product line is about to launch in-store, all locations need to have the right product displays and décor at the same time. With machine learning integrated into your processes, the team can take a pre-vetted list and confidently choose the right contractors, across all your locations, without wasting time that should be spent with customers.

Using Data to Predict Future Problems

We have covered AI-enabled data collection and how those insights can directly improve the customer experience, but there’s more to it than that. Through machine learning and predictive analytics, historical data can be leveraged to create comprehensive maintenance plans.

With the right insights, especially historical patterns and trends, you can take a smarter approach to maintaining key equipment long term (such as heating and refrigeration units). This will help avoid any critical problems with your HVAC when you need it most – no customer wants to step into a sweltering store on a hot day.

Of course, sometimes equipment just needs to be repaired or replaced. With historical data and information about the unit at your fingertips, you can quickly diagnose the issue and submit a work order or, if needed, order a new unit.

Using the insights to better understand how your facility operates and applying them directly to your operational strategy will help you save money, but it will also limit downtime and keep your customers happy, thus improving their experience holistically.

Putting the Pieces Together with Data Analysis and Automation

I’m excited to see where machine learning and AI will take facility management. At this point, it’s proven to be demonstrably valuable for improving the customer experience.

Mundane tasks get taken off your plate, and you can once again focus on the big picture. Whether improvements manifest themselves through providing your staff with more time to solve problems, or with how customers experience your facility while on-site, machine learning and AI capabilities will have a direct impact the quality of your customer interactions.

Hugues Meyrath, chief product officer at ServiceChannel, is responsible for driving and executing on the company’s product strategy and roadmap with an emphasis on enhancing and simplifying the user experience throughout the ServiceChannel software portfolio. His charter also includes fostering and driving key technology partnerships as a way to accelerate product innovation.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Five Overlooked Customer Service Tips That Will Ensure Repeat Business

The post Guest Blog: How to Use FM Machine Learning and AI to Improve the Customer Experience appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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I first came across this idea in the book Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon, which I consider one of the most important books written on customer service. By the way, Carlzon’s definition of a Moment of Truth in business is, “Any time a customer comes into contact with any aspect of your business, however remote, they have an opportunity to form an impression.” That’s every contact and interaction with the company. Carlzon used the example of a coffee-stained tray table. How does that affect the customer’s opinion of the rest of the plane? What if the landing gear is as poorly maintained as the tray tables?

Okay, maybe that seems a little farfetched. Or, does it?

I was reminded of the tray table anecdote on a recent flight to Mexico. My flight attendant told me that earlier in the week, the same flight had been delayed more than two hours. Why? Because the captain had forgotten to bring his immigration documentation and had to retrieve it from his hotel. I joked with her and said, “I hope he hasn’t forgotten how to fly the plane!” We both laughed because that example, like the landing gear, is a little farfetched.

Here’s an example that’s not so farfetched. Say you’re going to the grocery store and you notice a produce truck behind the store. What really catches your eye is how dirty the truck is. You might wonder if the produce on the inside is dirty, too. You might have second thoughts about buying your fruits and vegetables at that store.

Or what would happen if you went to a restaurant and you noticed dirt and grime under the server’s fingernails? Might you wonder – or worry – about him touching your food?

I think you get the idea. There are plenty of silent signals we send to our customers, both positive and negative. I’m not as worried about the positive ones, although it’s important to know what they are so you can repeat them with more intention. What I’m really worried about are the negative signals, as they are often overlooked. The problem is the potential erosion of confidence created by these negative signals. That can turn into lost business.

The tray table isn’t always stained. The produce truck isn’t always dirty. The server doesn’t usually have dirt under his nails. That’s why this isn’t an easy fix. There’s no one-time solution because these negative signals, while they hopefully don’t happen consistently, do occasionally happen. The way to avoid them is to become aware of them. If you catch a potential negative signal, fix it quickly and make note to share the experience with your team. Make a list and update it as you notice new ones. That’s a good start. Once you and everyone on your team are aware of them, you are already on your way to eliminating them. Awareness is the first step. Vigilance is the next.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

The post What Signals Are You Unintentionally Sending Your Customers? appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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The Five Core Values of Company Culture
Creating Amazing Customer Experiences From the Inside Out

Shep Hyken interviews Michelle Hayward. They discuss how to create and cultivate the core values and culture that keep companies strong.


The Interview with Michelle Hayward:
  • Michelle is a firm believer in the culture and values of a company. She shared the five most important tenets of company culture. They are:
    1. Intentionality – It is important to approach your work with intention every day. This helps you be bold, confident, and prepared. Intentional people know what’s expected of them and have a desire to answer questions, make deliberate choices, and move the conversation forward in a positive, productive way.
    2. Curiosity – Foster insatiable curiosity in your work. Curiosity allows for creativity, which creates growth. You never want to get to a place where you’re stagnant because there’s no curiosity. Curiosity helps you solve tough problems.
    3. Purity of Heart – In many lines of work, you will be given tough problems with strict deadlines. Even when caught in “the struggle,” it’s crucial to be pure of heart and be driven by the notion of service and the desire to help others.
    4. Agility – Nothing is ever predetermined, so there will always be a need to be agile. This means being able to “pivot” and adapt to every new challenge that arises.
    5. Freedom, Transparency, Accountability – The final tenet is three concepts in one. These three qualities allow for the creation of a platform where people own their work and are accountable for their decisions. This helps with employee engagement because it makes them feel involved and valued.
  • It’s important to recognize a misalignment of values. Team action should be taken to try and rectify the issue, and during this time, everyone involved should remain open and willing to learn and pivot.
  • Never stop learning. Always stay open to new information and lessons. Be willing to take risks with your clients. The reward will be worth it in the end.
  • Be transparent with your clients. Your relationship with them will become a more productive partnership. When done right, values will cross over and positively affect the relationship.
Quotes:

“Culture is steeped in values. Values shape behaviors.” – Michelle Hayward

“In order to solve tough problems, you have to be a learner.” – Michelle Hayward

“Transparency is key to designing a culture where people feel that they are truly a part of not only the team, but the work and its outcomes. It makes them able to feel like they can truly commit.” – Michelle Hayward

About:

Michelle Hayward is the CEO of brand and growth consultancy Bluedog Design. She is a graduate of The Kellogg School of Management’s Chief Marketing Officer Program and Dartmouth’s Executive Women Entrepreneurship.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. How can I create a company culture?
  2. What core values are important in business?
  3. How can I create meaningful client relationships?
  4. What makes a good employee experience?
  5. How does culture affect the customer experience?

The post Amazing Business Radio: Michelle Hayward appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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Each week I read a number of customer service and customer experience articles from various resources. Here are my top five picks from last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This Bizarre Support Chat Will Make You Laugh. Or Cry. by Roger Dooley

(Roger Dooley) Internet service providers and cable TV services have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of all rated industries in one survey. These firms do many things poorly, but a bizarre interaction with my current internet provider uncovered a brand new customer experience failure.

My Comment: Friction is another word for “inconvenient.” If you’ve been following my work, you know how important the concept of easy and convenient is as a customer experience business strategy. Roger Dooley, the author of Friction, shares a story about a high-effort, friction-laden customer experience that reminds us how important it is to be easy (or, at least easier) to do business with.

If You Don’t Use These Social Media Tips to Improve Customer Service, You’ll Hate Yourself Later by Larry Kim

(Small Business Trends) Brands that stand out like unicorns are the ones that respond swiftly, to both messages and reviews. That’s why you need to know how to improve customer service using social media.

My Comment: It’s been a while since I included an article about social customer care (social media customer service) in the Top Five Roundup. This short article includes five tips to remind us how important it is to respond quickly – and to every post. More and more consumers are turning to social channels to seek help, complain and praise. Make sure you’re there for them.

10 Best Things about Customer Contact Week 2019! by Dennis Wakabayashi

(Wakabayashi) Wow sums the event up in a single word. For those of you who want more deetz, then here are ten of the best reasons to attend next year!

My Comment: One of the largest, if not the largest, gathering of customer care professionals happened just over a week ago in Las Vegas. CCW (Customer Contact Week) included thought-provoking general sessions, tactical “how to” workshops, a tradeshow showcasing the latest and greatest in the industry and more. This article is a quick recap of some of the highlights. If you’re in the customer care world and haven’t attended the CCW conference, this article may entice you to attend their next event.

100 Of The Most Customer-Centric Companies by Blake Morgan

(Forbes) Here are the habits of 100 customer-centric companies from ten industries including Retail, Finance, Healthcare, B2B, Software, Hospitality, Insurance, Telecom, Manufacturing, Agriculture.

My Comment: It’s one thing to list 100 companies as examples of good customer experience. It’s another if you qualify it with a sentence or two to explain why they made the list. Blake Morgan shares a “Top Ten” list of customer-focused organizations from ten different industries and a short explanation about why she chose them.

11 Skills and Traits for Customer Experience Professionals in 2019 by Dom Nicastro

(CMSWire) Customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator that customers consider most by next year, according to a report from Quadient. That’s months away. Scary, right? Not too surprising though.

My Comment: What are the best traits for customer service/care professionals? Well, here is a list of eleven to consider. This is a good resource to study before you hire the next person that will be on the front-line, representing your organization as a “customer experience professional.”

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

The post 5 Top Customer Service Articles for the Week of July 8, 2019 appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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This week we feature an article by Alexandra Mederrick who writes about why effectively communicating online with your customers is a key to success for any business. One that unlocks the opportunity to form a relationship and build customer loyalty. 

Do you speak Internet? Just like any forum, the online world has its own codes, best practices, and of course, language – one that is imperative to know in our digital age. If chatting on iMessage with your friends has become second nature, then the big question is: How can you communicate online with your clients and still get the message across, as you would face-to-face?

The issue with communicating with your customers online can result in your words being lost in translation. Yes, it enables you to chat across various mediums. But, it cuts out nonverbal cues like body language and tone of voice. If you don’t take the time to improve communication, you risk unhappy customers and negative word-of-mouth, which can both snowball into bigger consequences for your business.

This is why effectively communicating online with your customers is a key to success for any business. One that unlocks the opportunity to form a relationship and build customer loyalty.

Regardless of the channels and formats you use, here are a handful of best practices to communicate effectively with your clients online.

1. Use data to better understand your customers

According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. To improve exactly this, having the right tools, like a powerful help desk software, can assist with tracking customer pain points in a streamlined and organized manner. For example, your business can make data-driven decisions based on top linked articles to your tickets and calls. As a result, you’ll be able to better serve them with relevant content and solutions.

Additionally, you can use third-party tools such as Google Analytics and group customers based on demographics and other relevant factors. These reports will assist you in shaping relevant information about your business.

For example, if there’s an increase in your website traffic from social media, you may want to consider investing more time to attract new customers. Additionally, if you ever wondered how people use your site, you can track what site visitors are searching for – providing you a better picture of what’s missing.

2. Offer a self-service solution

You do not need to talk on the phone, live chat, or email with a customer in order to provide good support. With self-service tools, like a knowledge base software, you can communicate answers to questions in a fast and more efficient manner – no human intervention required.

Nowadays, if a customer runs into a problem, their first thought isn’t to pick up the phone. It’s to head to Google. In fact, a knowledge base can also have major SEO benefits. Including FAQs that are often searched on Google may increase the chances of your knowledge base articles appearing as a top result. This could bring organic traffic into your site with minimal effort.

Yes, customers helping themselves does sound a bit too good to be true. But it can be your reality – and it will reduce the amount of time your support agents have to spend answering basic questions.

Not only will this solution document your product or services as a whole, but it also gives your business the opportunity to analyze, gather and address common customer concerns.

3. Respond to (every) negative and positive feedback

Every business today is an open book, with each page available for anyone to see. With the rise of social media as a tool for customers to express their praises and grievances, everything can become public – and viral – within minutes. Therefore, it’s crucial to track and respond to every customers’ feedback. Even better is if you reply to all inquiries in less than one business day. According to Statistica, 47% of customers found social media to be an effective channel for customer service.

When responding to positive feedback – and depending on your brand’s voice – use a simple “Thank you!” or humorous GIF. When it comes to negative feedback on social media, never ignore a customer. For example, disregarding a tweet is perceived as cowardly by potential customers viewing your feed. There is always a way to be witty, responsible, and true to your brand’s voice, no matter the severity of the situation. Customers may still be unhappy after your reply, but they will appreciate that you took the time to respond.

Related: How to deal with angry customers.

To make sure customer feedback is captured and not forgotten, use social media monitoring tools such as Hootsuite. It’s a valuable opportunity to track and measure customer service satisfaction levels and improve your product and support as a whole.

4. Talk to customers in real-time

Customers’ expectations are on the rise. It comes as no surprise they want to talk to a real person who will address their inquiries in minutes. Solutions such as a call center and live chat software are must-have customer service tools to understand the issue at hand in real-time.

The longer it takes for customers to get in touch, the more likely they will end up going to your competitors. Ensure all of your communication channels are visible on your company’s website and make sure to offer a channel familiar to all of your target demographics – e.g. social media, phone number, email, live chat.

However, sometimes customer service teams can become more focused on closing tickets and calls than on quality. When training your support team, make sure to emphasize on how to effectively communicate without impacting customer satisfaction.

5. Speak your customers’ language

Even if you know all the bells and whistles of your product, your customers only see what’s offered to them. Cut the jargon, and make sure your customer service team communicates on the level of your users. This means cutting out the scripts and taking on a positive and natural tone when talking. Here are a few tips to remember when communicating with customers:

  • Listen to them carefully. Your customer has approached for help. They may have their own specialized terms for parts of your product. For example, they may refer to a ‘red button’ but what they actually mean is an error. Take the time to understand their lingo and adapt it to your business.
  • Use common words. There’s no need to speak high-level English. Be as explicit as possible when speaking to a customer. No one says “We’d be delighted to input that request for you.” They simply say “Happy to pass along your feedback – thanks for much for sharing!” The simpler you state your answer, the smoother the communication will be.
  • Ask for feedback. Take advantage of users’ valuable insights on your customer service. On top of providing you with valuable data (see tip 1), it will show your customers that you genuinely care about their experience and opinion. Send an email with a simple two to three question survey the day after the call to understand what can be improved.

Communicating with your customers online is not as obvious as you may think. And there really isn’t one formula to follow. The beauty of online communication is that its dynamic and flexible, which allows you to try and try again until it works well for you and your business. Once you grasp these communication practices, you’ll improve the customer journey, leading to a more positive experience for clients and business.

Alexandra Mederrick is a blog writer for Wix Answers, the help desk platform that gives you all the tools you need to deliver smooth customer support. Created and used by Wix, Wix Answers is proven to scale to 150 million users.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: So, You Want To Be A Motivational Speaker?

The post Guest Blog: 5 Surefire Ways to Improve Online Communication with Your Customers appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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Just last week I wrote about the concept of predictive customer support. Now, we take a slightly different angle with the concept of proactive customer support. The concept is simple. The company reaches out to the customer before the customer has a chance to reach out to the company. More often than not, the customer may not even know they have a problem.

As an example, when does a typical customer find out their cable TV is out? Usually when they turn the TV on. Then there’s frustration and even anger. Typically, the customer will pick up the phone to report the problem and hope the customer service agent can help them restore their cable TV. However, before the customer can even ask about the problem, the support agent must ask the standard questions to confirm the customer is who they say they are. All the customer wants to find out is when they can start watching TV again. That’s an example of friction – the antithesis of convenience.

I was working with a client in the cable TV business. When they know the cable and Internet is out in a certain area, they proactively reach out to the customer. They use every communication channel available to them. They know the customer’s cell number, email address, Facebook handle, and more. They broadcast an announcement to their customers across every channel, hoping customers will see that they are aware of the problem and actively trying to fix it. They also provide updates so the customer doesn’t feel compelled to repeatedly call and ask when the service will be restored. That’s a waste of time – for both the customer and the customer support rep.

When a company knows about a problem before the customer does, it can let the customer know before they call the company. Another way to be proactive is to take care of a problem before it’s even a problem.

If we know a light bulb has a life expectancy of 1,000 hours, and there’s a way to track how many hours the bulb has been on, be proactive and just replace it once it hits 1,000 hours. The option to wait until it burns out (which would probably happen at an inopportune moment, forcing you to stop what you’re doing to replace the bulb) is not worth the extra few hours of light.

My favorite example sums up this idea perfectly. A server at a restaurant is carrying the water pitcher, looking not for empty glasses to fill, but for almost empty glasses to fill. In other words, get to the customer before the customer realizes they need you. That’s what proactive customer support is all about.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

The post Proactive Customer Support appeared first on Shep Hyken.

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