By now, I assume everyone knows that your company’s customer service needs to be both professional and excellent if you want to build and maintain a successful business. 78% of transactions are bailed on because of poor customer service – that’s a lot of income being thrown out the window. And to fix this, it takes about 12 positive experiences to cover for a bad one – how are you going to convince someone that had a bad experience with you to give you another try, when you need 12 to change their minds completely?
On the flip / positive side, loyal customers are worth about 10 times as much as the value of their initial purchase.
So how often do you go above and beyond to ensure your customers are satisfied? How do you stand yourself out as a source of good – no great customer service?
1. Customer Service Experience Must Be Unified And Consistent
More than ever before, businesses now have more channels and avenues that they can use to resolve customer complaints; the options range from traditional call centers, to social media, messaging, SMS, live online chat and even self-service. However, it isn’t enough to just have these channels. Having multiple means of contacting you doesn’t resolve your customer’s issues; you or your employees actually have to deliver strong customer service across all platforms.
This means that customers who contact you via social media, for instance, will get the same level of knowledge, empathy, and responsiveness that they would have gotten from the traditional call centers.
How much resources have you put into your websites’ live chat platform? Are there discrepancies in the answers your customers get via different platforms? Will I get a certain answer via email and a different one via phone call? How consistent are you across all platforms?
2. Your Social Media Presence Needs To Be Robust And Responsive
It is not enough to have Twitter and Facebook pages, they have to be active and run in a way that encourages customers to reach out and ask questions or post a complaint at any time and be sure to get a fast response. A recent study shows that about 30% of customers will share their positive experience on social media and that over 66% of prospective customers pay attention to these reviews – you wouldn’t want the reviews in question to be negative now do you? You should also always consider your brand reputation – that alone is reason enough to offer great services.
3. Reduce Wait Times To The Bare Minimum
69% of the time, the speed of complaint resolution is the first thing that comes to the clients’ mind when they try to recount how they were served. And this is understandably so because I don’t think anyone likes waiting. Customer service is all about providing solutions to customers as soon as possible – you should walk towards reducing wait time.
4. Your Agents Need To Be Empathetic
A lot of customers consider empathy to be one major factor when rating customer service. They also want customer service that is free of unnecessary frustrations like having to be placed on hold or having to repeat said issue to multiple customer service representatives.
Examples of Great Customer Service
Below, I’d like to talk about 4 customer service stories that blew me away when I first read them. They are perfect examples of customer service reps going over and beyond to make sure the customer is happy. The brands are quite popular – Zappos, American Express, Rackspace and Trader Joes – and with service like this, no one is surprised they’ve grown so much.
The Zappos Purse Rescue
This first story is the story of a young couple’s encounter with Zappos, whose core value is to “Deliver WOW Through Service”.
This recently married couple were packing up to move and while the husband was packing, he put all of his wife’s jewelry inside one of her purses, this purse was then put inside what he believed was an extra Zappos box. Unknown to him, his wife was planning to return that purse – in that box to Zappos! She eventually returns the box without knowing that it had her jewelry collection worth thousands of dollars!
When they got to their new home, she noticed that her jewelry collection was missing. After clearing up what happened with her husband, she reached out to a Zappos rep who then reroutes the box directly to his desk. Immediately it arrives, the rep decides to buy a plane ticket and go hand deliver it himself since he didn’t any of her pieces to get damaged or go missing in transit. Wow!
American Express Saves The Day
American Express has a lot of great customer service story, but the one that really stands out to me – that I’ll be sharing today – is the one where a hotel café manager asks the people at American Express to help him get in touch with a customer that made a purchase with their Amex card. You see, he had mistakenly sold them a display cake full of harmful chemicals and wanted to reach them before they ate or served it.
Now, there’s obviously no procedure for this, but American Express’ agent took charge of that situation, located him and called him before the cake was served.
Rackspace – An Example of Service-Oriented Culture
Rackspace is one of the largest web hosting companies on the internet and when one day, their entire phone system and internal servers crashed due to a major system failure, a good number of their employees took the never before seen step of tweeting out their personal phones numbers so panicking customers could reach out to them with any questions they had.
What makes this story even more beautiful is the fact that employees took these steps on their own. No one asked them to and it’s not in their employee handbook. This shows that Rackspace really truly has a culture of great service where customers’ needs are always paramount.
Trader Joe's breaks tradition, delivers groceries to snowed in Elderly Customer
This story’s about a snowed-in 89-year old Pennsylvanian man whose daughter, concerned that he didn’t have enough food, unsuccessfully calls multiple stores trying to get them to deliver. Finally, she called Trader Joe’s and even though they don’t normally deliver, they decided to make an exception that day.
Not only did they take the order, they also suggested a variety of items that may fit the elderly man’s special low-sodium diet! Both the groceries and delivery were free and the food was delivered within 30 minutes of the phone call.
Great customer service speaks for your brand in a way nothing else can. Your employees do not have to tweet private cell phone numbers or fly across the country for their services to be great, but you can empower them to provide experiences that stand out and linger in your customers’ minds long after the transaction is over. Adding a warm human touch to services is sometimes all it takes.
Have you ever asked yourself – What is the importance of customer service? Is it really that important? Does it have to be great? Isn’t good, good enough?
Take a look back at your personal experience with companies, and you’ll agree with us that there have been only a few times that customer service was so great it made you feel like a special customer and not just another unresolved ticket.
Many companies, both the new and the more established ones tend to make the mistake of overlooking or underestimating the importance of quality customer service; perhaps, it hasn’t fully dawned on them that customer service has the capacity to make or break their company.
How? Below, we’ll discuss why customer service is important and why great service must run through all parts of your company.
Increases Customer Loyalty
Great products are not good enough to ensure customer loyalty. In fact, research has shown that customers would rather work with companies whose products are not as good as yours – if they get much better service from them!
But, don’t just assume that what you’re offering is great! The best way to know if your buyers will purchase from you again in the future is by offering them what we term Customer Satisfaction.
This gives your customers the opportunity to rate your product or service! If you average a score of 7 or above, you know you did a good job and there’s a good chance they’ll be coming back, and for those who give you a full 10 or even 9, you can count on them to even serve as company evangelists
If your score is 6 or below, you run the risk of losing that client. The best thing to do with this set of clients is to put them on a watch list and have them followed up on. Find out what went wrong and how you can be better – and then work on being better.
Stands You Out
One very significant differentiator in a massively cutthroat marketplace where companies have to compete for clients is customer satisfaction. Only the businesses that find a way to make customer support a core element of their business strategy can survive and possibly thrive under today’s environment.
Let’s consider two companies that offer similar products, how do you choose one? Will your opinion change if someone recommends one to you? How did they arrive at the option recommended? Good customer service makes all the difference!
Companies with an effective customer service culture create an avenue where customers are heard and made to feel special. When customers are made to feel special – they don’t forget. They always have you in mind and recommend your service or product whenever possible.
Reduces Customer Churn
Accenture’s 2009 global customer satisfaction report showed that the major reason behind customer churn was not price but customer service. It established what we’ve always known which is that meeting and exceeding customer expectation when it comes to service makes them your customers for life – or as long as possible.
The importance of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is something that must be understood by businesses as ROI increases in a directly proportional ratio to the CLV.
A recent survey revealed that completely satisfied customers account for about 2.6 times the revenue gotten from less satisfied customers. This just means that if clients don’t like the way you serve them, they’ll avoid purchasing from you whenever they can.
Decreases Negative Word Of Mouth Publicity
Studies have shown that an unhappy customer is likely to tell about 10-15 other people about their bad experience (we don’t need research to tell us this). That’s too much bad publicity and it will eventually affect your bottom line.
There is a direct relationship between customer satisfaction, repeat orders, and increased revenue. Unfortunately, many firms do not actively work towards knowing when they’ve performed badly or how poor customer satisfaction affects their business.
You might not mind losing one client because he/she wasn’t satisfied with your service. However, it becomes a serious problem when you have to lose another 30 customers because of the word of mouth spread by that one unsatisfied customer.
You have to keep measuring customer satisfaction levels to ensure you keep the negative word of mouth publicity at bay.
Acquiring Customers Can Be Expensive - It Is Much Cheaper To Retain Old Ones
This is one customer service statistic that I think everyone knows. It cost about 7 – 8 times more to land a new customer than to retain an old one! If this doesn’t help you understand the importance of retaining your clients through great service, nothing else will. Getting new clients can be an expensive task; you have to spend a lot to first get their attention, and then put in a lot of effort to convince them to try out your product/service.
On the other hand, little or no money is needed to retain an old client, why? You don’t have to get their attention – you already have it! And you don’t have to convince them to try because they already have. Moving forward, any interaction they have with your company will be based on the quality of service they received when they took a leap of faith and tried you out – isn’t is easier to just offer great service so they always think of you positively?
If customer service is so important, how then do you measure and improve it? Try any of the following strategies
Record customer demands by conducting surveys
Send special promotions and offers via email
Educate your customers via blog posts or articles
Find out how happy your customers are by measuring their satisfaction.
Personalize their buying experiences
Customer service has a very important role to play in your business. It is the leading indicator of loyalty, therefore, if you can identify your unhappy clients and reduce their number to the barest minimum, your bottom line will thank you.
It is also a very important way of attracting new customers. Today’s customers care about the add-ons and extra elements they get from buying a product as much as the product itself, so customer loyalty is heavily dependent on your customer satisfaction through customer service.
Everywhere you go, from conferences to online forums to your next door neighbor who doesn’t know what TMI is, everyone’s talking about outsourcing. But what does it really mean?
Outsourcing can be said to be the strategic utilization of external resources and work force to complete tasks that were traditionally handled in-house by the staff of a company. In simple terms, because not all jobs can be done in house, outsourcing makes it possible to delegate specific parts of a project or service offering to efficient service providers who are experts in that particular field.
To further break it down, outsourcing is the process by which a company seeks or requests the support of an external firm to help handle specific tasks so that they can remain focused on the core / most important aspects of their business.
Imagine you’re a software developer or a health care service provider; your core strength lies in developing awesome applications or delivering best-in-class healthcare services. But there are other important parts of your business like payroll processing, IT infrastructure, call center outsourcing etc. To handle these in-house, you may need to employ 10-15 full time employees, which is way out of your operating budget! So what do you do? Employ just one and make do with an inefficient support department? Or Employ the 15 you need and wait for the creditors to come knocking?
Outsourcing is the third option – the better and more practical solution. It gives you the chance to get the services you need at probably half the cost & have experts deliver better results.
How Do You Outsource?
There are 3 main types of outsourcing which are onshore, nearshore or offshore.
Onshore refers to outsourcing done within the borders of a country
Nearshore refers to outsourcing to a company in a neighboring country.
Offshore outsourcing occurs when you outsource to a country far away – usually a whole different continent because it is significantly cheaper. A perfect example would be a company based in the US outsourcing jobs nearshore to Mexico or offshore to India.
WHO should be outsourcing?
You probably don’t realize it but you already outsource some parts of your processes as a company. Let’s take your website, do you have a team of web designers, builders and digital marketing experts in house running it? Or is it outsourced to another firm? Same can be said for your lawyers, janitors, security staff and even auditors.
In the manufacturing industry, it is now very common to see businesses moving from one country to another. The cereal you had this morning was made across the border, you socks were made in Turkey, your coffee, in Kenya and most of the mobile gadgets you use were made in China.
So to answer the question, anyone can outsource, even you.
How Does Outsourcing Work?
Outsourcing has been around for a long time, the internet has only made it so much easier to execute. Technological advancement and the easy accessibility to hardware, software, and internet connectivity has made the world one global village so outsourcing is now so much easier. People can work from just about anywhere and seamless communication can now be done across longer distances than ever before.
BPO, KPO and ITO? What do they mean?
These refer to three different types of outsourcing:
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) involves getting a third party to handle certain operational functions, e.g., customer services, payroll, accounting, inventory etc.
Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) requires more advanced technical skills. Services that can be outsourced under this category include legal services, content writing, data research and analysis, research and development and intellectual property.
Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) involves the tech-based functions such as software and application development, network administration and web development.
What Are The Benefits Of Outsourcing?
If outsourcing didn’t exist, imagine how much would it cost (both in time and money), to produce that special coffee mug of yours in house. Throw in growing your own beans, producing your own milk and sugar, and no one would ever drink coffee again.
Outsourcing saves a lot of money. Companies the US, UK or Europe can save up to 65% of costs just by outsourcing labor to other countries.
Other benefits include;
Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to leverage on the many years of experience and advanced business practices of the hired firm to help grow your business quickly. Their knowledge and understanding, coupled with the many years of experience they bring, ensures the job is done to a standard that can rival that of any other firm around the world. This invariably results in greater efficiency and greater productivity – and would definitely reflect in your company’s bottom line.
Focus On Core Areas
Outsourcing specific tasks to third party professionals frees up time and energies so you can channel them into building your brand, invest in research and development while ensuring that you offer your clients better value and services.
Save On Infrastructure & Technology
There would be little or no need to invest in certain infrastructure if you outsource some of your processes to a third party company. The business partner you outsource jobs to would take responsibility for the infrastructure needed to execute it.
Access To Skilled Resources
You won’t need to employ & train staff. We all know that it can be tedious and expensive to expand you customer support. Firms like 31West will handle all your customer support needs and keep your customers coming back for more. We employ world-class business practices which we have perfected over the years, as a result of catering to different clients from all over the world.
Faster & Better Services
Offer your clients better deliverables while minimizing the time it takes to reach the marketplace. Outsourcing makes it easier to get your ideas converted into products in the shortest possible time frame.
Looking To Outsource Your Company’s Customer Support?
Over the 10 years, 31West has proven to be a reliable outsourcing partner for different businesses spanning across different industries all over the world and we’d love to work with you too! If you think your business would benefit from the expertise of a skilled contact center like ours, please click here to contact us.
Measuring effectiveness of information systems was difficult until the Delone & Mclone’s Model for information system assessment came along. This model examines all the dimensions of information systems and categorizes all aspects that play a part in evaluating them.
Delone & Mclone’s model consists of six brackets that assess few quality indicators under them. These indicators are connected to each other and do have some level of inter-dependence. The six divisions are system quality, information quality, service quality, intention to use, user satisfaction, and net benefits.
System quality bracket in the Delone’s framework assesses parameters of systems in place such as ease of use, user-friendliness of the system, security and responsiveness of the system.
For Call Centers
System quality measures certain operational factors of the system such as the availability of the system to provide services 24/7, the reliability of system’s infrastructure and intelligent call routing to provide customers the ultimate experience.
The information presented by the system is assessed to measure its effectiveness. Information is examined on the basis of length, comprehensibility, usefulness to customers, and whether the information is updated and well-organized for the consumers.
For Call Centers
Information quality is the measure of content’s authenticity, it’s lucidity, and the extent to which it is customized and personalized for the customer. Call centers have call scripts, communication training for executives, and an information database to ensure that the information reaching the customers is of the utmost quality.
This bracket in the framework analyses the service provided to the customers. It assesses whether the service is prompt, responsive to customer demands and if it’s fair and knowledgeable.
For Call Centers
This basically comprises of all the parameters that indicate the quality of service delivered by the agent to the customer. In terms of call center services, it includes telephone etiquettes, knowledge and competency, adherence to protocol.
INTENTION TO USE
Under this bracket, the theory assesses all the reasons for which the customers are using your service. From solving queries to getting new info or educating oneself about the product or service, the reasons could vary depending on the purpose of information systems.
For Call Centers
Customer’s intention to use your call center service will be for a variety of reasons. It can be for inquiries, orders, technical support, financial transactions, and other services.
User satisfaction is a measurement of the customer’s overall satisfaction and if the interaction with service served its purpose or not. It also takes into consideration if the customers are willing to recommend the service based on their satisfaction levels and experience.
For Call Centers
According to this model, user satisfaction covers the entire consumer lifecycle journey and assesses all the steps taken to address the consumer queries such as information retrieval, data entry, and answering the query. It includes quality indicators such as average handle time and on-hold time.
Net benefits to the customers assess all the positive and negative effects of the service provided. From enhanced knowledge about the product or service to time saved in operating the system or using the product, everything is taken into consideration. Some of the rare negative aspects can be technology dependence, the need to learn or relearn the new products, etc.
For Call Centers
Net benefits are the benefits you are likely to get when you are able to provide excellent call center services. Growth in customer base, increased sale, market share, profit, and return on investments in the call center services are some of the indicators of net benefits of positive customer service experience.
USE CASE: BRITISH AIRWAYS
British Airways is the United Kingdom’s largest airlines with 36 million passengers flying out annually to about 216 destinations. British Airways have a network of customer relation offices that respond to passengers through phone, email, and fax. In the year 2003 British Airways was facing a major customer communication crisis. It was facing multiple issues such as complicated processes, service failures, higher turnaround time, less efficient case handling, and prolonged claim settlement time.
Astute services deployed the ePowerCenter solution to solve all the above problems. We assess the solutions with the help of D&M model to examine all the quality indicators specifically.
The ePower center was an integrated solution and a web-based single application that used the single global database. The system issues were solved by using a centralized system for all the customer communication all over the world.
Because of centralization executives had access to all the information such as baggage tracking, operational customer databases, and reported claim information. This gave access to all the real-time access to customer data helping the executives to in turn provided with an apt solution and proper information to all their queries.
By providing an overview of customer issues and communication methods at a granular level, Astute provided a glimpse into the quality of service that was being provided. Various strategies to reduce the overall time and smooth conversations were implemented.
Intention To Use
The intention to use the services by customers included tracking missing baggage, knowing the status of claims, refund or payment of money, etc.
As the global head of customer relations at British Airways, Frances Taylor explains, ‘We expected it to significantly impact efficiency, customer recovery and continuous improvement on a global scale. And it did. Today, the ePowerCenter solution enables our service representatives to quickly resolve customer issues, enhance recovery and continually improve our ability to measure and act on what our customers are saying. It is vital to our continuous improvement program.’
Following benefits were reported by British Airways after the successful implementation of ePowerCenter Solutions by Astute.
Automation of workflow between departments and regions greatly improved the service quality.
All the claim processing and complex customer related processes have a turn around time of 1 hour now compared to earlier processes that took days and weeks to complete.
Enhanced data collection and reporting capabilities of ePowerCenter has helped British Airways to improvise their services to enhance their offerings and customer service experience.
Quantifying certain aspects of information systems has always been a challenge. Delone & Mclone’s model of assessing information systems has made it easier to assess all the aspects and quality indicators of information systems. The model has been revised time and again to suit the ever-evolving information systems. Delone & Mclone’s model does a great job at evaluating all effectiveness parameters for call centers and helps to look at all the performance indicators separately. Also, it assesses all the 3 essential aspects of call center services very well i.e. information/data, communication, and the system.
Though this model might be too simple for some of the complex information systems and some quality indicators might overlap each other, it is still the most elaborate model out there for evaluating call center effectiveness. By assigning indexes to indicators, we can arrive at a fairly accurate value for each of the indicators.
Our client, a health care technology solutions provider was scaling up rapidly. Aggressive marketing & new feature releases resulted in growing support queries. Turnaround time for support tickets started hitting north of 36 hours. SLAs were not being met. Feature adoption & referrals took a beating. Customers were happy with the product but not with the service. NPS fell <6. We took ‘unity in diversity’ literally and a successful collaboration helped bring NPS to 9.
About the Client
Our client, a leading health care technology solutions provider in the US. They offer innovative, cloud based solutions for hospitals & health care practitioners. In under 24 months, they expanded their operation covering 14 states and 31 cities.
Aggressive marketing, rapid expansion of product portfolio & new feature releases resulted in large number of support queries going unanswered. From accessibility to private cloud deployment, all sorts of queries were coming from customers. Our client did not have enough bandwidth to deal with the volume of tickets. Healthcare industry demands 24/7 support desk availability. This is another big concern for the client. SLAs were not being leading to increase in penalty payouts. Basic triage queries were answered after 24-36 hours. Due to the large volume of support tickets, Level-2 team spent most of their time answering level-1 queries. This lead to compromising level-2 issues.
Intense product training, high attrition rate & prohibitive cost made it unviable to expand the in-house support team. NPS had dropped to 5.8 which was a big concern for the management & investors.
Turnaround time of over 24-48 hours.
Increase in penalty payout due to unmet SLAs.
NPS score of 5.8 & falling.
Growing concerns with management & investors.
Compromised quality during after-hours & weekend support.
Growing dissatisfaction amongst clients & users.
We identified 3 main causes for these problems.
Inadequate customer service team
Ongoing product training
Managing 24/7 Support infrastructure
High cost of running an internal support team
Since the client was running out of their resources for handling the queries we deployed a total of 18 support reps. We built 2 teams of 9 Reps each. Team A covered business hours on weekdays while Team B took charge of after hours & weekends.
Internal Mandate: Zero Inbox before sunrise, every single day.
Only level-2 issues would be escalated to the client’s in-house support team. It was important to provide level-2 team with all the information to be able to easily reproduce the bugs.
Having done plenty of simple & complex process transitions, we did not take much time to draw up a robust & efficient plan to start migrating the process.
Challenge 1: Structured Knowledge base
The client’s development team was constantly adding new features & improving existing ones. This required an efficient knowledge base system. Development team had to make sure they were constantly updating the knowledge base. Level 2 team regularly updated existing articles to keep them current. Our support teams’s contribution was largely to build template answers to make the support process error free and efficient. With an easy-to-search, updated & handy knowledge base system in place, half the battle was won.
Internal Mandate: Publish self-help articles, training videos and other content for faster on-boarding of new support trainees.
Challenge 2: Agent Training
Training new Reps, quickly is not an easy task. Rapidly growing product makes it harder. Throw in the complexity of a technology product, its no mean task. Keeping error rate to <0.1% & you can feel the heat.
To prevent new agents from being overwhelmed with a ton of information, we split the knowledge base into very small modules. After training the agents on a particular module, they would be shown the customer side of the application. It was important for the agents to known what our customers saw & used. Thats the only way our team would be able to relate to the customer. After a week into training, agents were asked to post draft replies to simple tickets. The tenured agents would review the draft, if correct, send it as it. If not, modify it suitably & educate the trainees on what they missed.
Internal Mandate: 21 Days rigorous training program for new agents & maintain error rate of under 0.1%.
Challenge 3: Collaboration with client’s in-house team for a seamless service delivery.
For an evolving technology product & servicing a hypersensitive healthcare industry, it was very important to ensure the service delivery was seamless, accurate and timely. Any deviation in the above parameters would lead to unwanted time overruns and jeopardise the effectiveness of the entire process. Keeping this in mind we had to ensure that our team was constantly collaborating with the clients in-house team. We also made sure that our collaboration was not limited to the support function but also encompassed other verticals like Product, Sales, Development, Customer Success and Finance. Our team was the face of the company and whatever we said or did directly impacted the brand. We received calls and emails not only for support issues but also billing queries, new client on-boarding, renewals and everything in-between.
Result – A positive brand image and delighted customers
As a result of our comprehensive solutions delivery, the overall turnaround time in addressing support tickets was reduced to <4 hours. Customer satisfaction levels soon saw a steep curve with a heightened satisfaction level, about 60% more than what was recorded earlier. NPS improved to 9.2.
This helped our client retain existing customers, renew contacts while up-selling other offerings.
Management & Investors were confident of a sustainable growth.
Taking into consideration our rich domain knowledge & 12+ years of experience in handling high volume help desk services, it was cost-effective and profitable for our client to entrust us for this engagement.
How To Tame That Angry Customer & Deliver Delightful Customer Service
Organizations are trying their best to impress their customers. In this world of neck to neck competition, delivering the best customer service compared to the competitors is a must. Crisis strikes when your service witnesses a downward spiral, not only failing to impress the customers but also disappointing the existing ones. Do not underestimate the power of disappointed or angry customer’s wrath. They can tarnish your brand image to a great extent considering the outreach they have on the world wide web. Here are few ways to tame that angry customer who might create havoc if not dealt with on time.
Strictly No Excuses
Justifying your failure to meet customer demands or explaining the inconvenience of your product is the last thing you must do. Whenever you include reasons for all the inconvenience that has been caused to the customer, it looks like you are trying to shirk off the responsibility. If you want them to know what went wrong then write them an elaborate response, only after the complaint/problem has been solved. Never mention the reasons prior to addressing the customer’s complaint.
Show A Little Empathy
Teach your service agents to show empathy in the extremist circumstances. A little empathy goes a long way. People always remember when someone understands them as an individual. Empathy will make your customers feel that you are on their side and they will show more patience than they would have otherwise shown. Disappointed customers look for empathy primarily and not the reasons for your service or product impediments.
Organizations that have complex technologies deployed for their products/services might not be able to solve customer issues quickly. But sending a response saying that ‘our executives are working on solving your problem’ gives the customer an assurance that he/she will get some solution. By not replying or sending a delayed response you just elevate their anxiety and anger, causing even more damage. A rapid response can benefit you in more than one ways. A research by Harvard Business Review found that people who received a quicker response from their airlines were willing to pay more for their upcoming flights.
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Give Personalized Service
Try to make it seem personal when you are solving customer’s problems/queries. You can do this by either putting only one customer service agent at the point of contact for the customer. Don’t make them call several departments to get their complaint addressed. Personalizing all your communication from emails to calls to in-store attendants will reorient the brand image in customer’s minds.
Take Some Time For Yourself
An inconvenience caused to your customer is an equally discomforting experience to you. With all the anger being vent out on you and you having no solace to seek in such critical times, take some time for yourself to just develop the patience to deal with everything. Maybe just take a break for coffee or take few minutes to sit and ponder over what went wrong and how it can be fixed. This will give you more clarity of thought and you won’t feel lost with all the negativity your customer is throwing at you. You will have to be at your best in the worst of situations to deal with angry customers. Give the same leeway to your employees as well who are dealing with angry customers on your behalf.
Following are some of the ways to build a loyal clientele.
Give Priority Let the world know that being loyal to your brand and products has its own perks. Pamper your loyal customers or prospective loyal customers and spoil them enough so that they won’t leave you for a long time. Indulging your loyal customers will entice other customers to become brand loyal as well because they’ll soon realize that staying loyal to you has enough privileges.
Let Them Say It For You In this age of social media, people like to brag about everything and anything. Let people boast all the privileges they are getting from you. Not only will it make them feel special from all the attention they get from being your loyal customer but will also add many more loyal customers to your casket. Hence, brands these days are having social media influencers as few of their loyal customers who talk about their brand time and again.
Anticipate Customer Needs Understanding your customer’s current needs is not enough anymore. You will have to gauge all the past patterns and deliver a product which will suffice their future needs as well. Apprehending your customer’s needs well in advance will not only help you to stay ahead or at par with market trends but might also aid you in uncovering a completely new consumer segment.
With the advent of social media, customers can do more damage than they could’ve done 10 years ago. A single tweet or Facebook update can bring your brand to ashes, creating disbelief in the minds of people. In this age, when the world is more connected and everything is transparent, it is imperative to handle all your customer queries on time and courteously. It’s not anymore about losing that one customer but losing several others and the prospective ones as well. Hence, a customer service gone awry is definitely a big deal at such time but with adequate care, it can be certainly taken care of. Consider some of the above points to fix your customer service woes.
With so many options in all the industries for all kinds of products, there’s a stiff competition in the market to win customers. So how can brands differentiate when customers are spoilt with so many alternatives? Though the first thing that comes to mind is product differentiation, ultimately the products/services will have some similarities as they are made to solve similar problems and meant for same or similar target audience. Businesses have realized this and have gone a step further in order to entice the customers. They not only solve problems with their products/services but also provide a great experience with their customer service. This helps to etch the brand image deeper into the minds of consumers as they have two reasons and not one, to recall the brand or product/service. One being the problem that is solved and the other is the great experience. More and more business organizations are realizing this and have started giving paramount importance to building customer relationship. Let’s look at some organizations who have not only done the customer service well but have done it phenomenally well!
Apple – Creating Exceptional Brand Loyalty
Everyone is aware of how Apple enjoys tremendous brand loyalty from its customers. The customers who buy Apple products are known to be Apple Fanatics as they don’t stop at buying one product from the brand but will end up buying all their tech products from this brand. Hence, loyal customers are not just loyal to the product but loyal to the brand. What makes Apple such a huge success when it comes to customer service is its relationship building style. To put it more precisely, they don’t just sell a product they sell experience.
Describing one such feature designed by Apple to deliver irresistible customer service experience, Micah Solomon, a Seattle-based customer service consultant says, ‘companies should take a cue from Apple when it comes to creating the ultimate customer experience. The tech giant has extensively analyzed what consumers like and hate about shopping and has taken steps to address those issues. For example, customers can schedule appointments with a “Genius” at the Genius Bar in Apple retail stores so they don’t have to wait around for the next available clerk.’
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Bank of America – Developing A Pull Strategy For Customer Service
You must be annoyed by banks calling you to tell you about their new credit card schemes or reasonable loan EMI options. Very few in this industry realize that it’s not about convincing the customers to buy their services but about compelling them. Customer service shouldn’t be a push strategy but a pull strategy. Bank of America is one such big player who seems to be getting this right. They have taken inspiration from Apple Genius and offer more than 3,000 digital ambassadors at various locations to educate customers about bank’s crucial mobile-banking services. They were ranked No. 1 in 2016 and 2015 by Keynote Scorecards that assesses various digital features offered by financial services. Statista.com reported in 2016 that out of 323 million people living in the United States, 24.33 million use Bank of America as their primary bank.
Rackspace – Integrate Customer Service In The Organizational Culture
Rackspace is a Texas-based cloud services and web hosting provider. They have integrated customer centric organizational culture and serve as a great example of how customer service isn’t just another vertical but a crucial driving force of the business. Their efforts have been duly recognized by the industry, winning them prestigious accolades such as ‘Stevie Awards’. Not only have they included customer service in their core values and mission but also have developed unique ways to educate employees about the same. Some of their distinctive techniques to train employees about customer service include role-playing and personal assessment tools for employees.
The Ritz-Carlton – Fanatic Customer Service is never too much
Customer service is the oxygen for hospitality industry on which it survives. Ignoring customer service or delivering a sub-standard customer experience is not an option in this space. Ritz-Carlton surely knows this and has been doing more than just a great job. Their legendry customer service stories have been written in prominent books as well.
One such example is of Mr. John Di Julius. John had forgotten his laptop charger in the room while staying at The Ritz Carlton. He received the charger immediately next day and along with it was an extra charger given by Ritz Carlton, just in case he needs it as he was traveling for business. Renowned business organizations such as Apple Inc have been following The Ritz Carlton’s footsteps and learning a thing or two from this customer service legend.
Fanatic customer service is never overdone. Customer service is crucial to all the businesses as all the businesses are for the people, by the people entities. Customer service used to be looked at as a cost instead of a crucial investment. Inevitably, they have changed their approach considering the need for providing great customer service. No matter, how great your product or service is, don’t forget that at the end of the day, customers are the one who decide its fate.
Customer service is more complex than it sounds. Though it’s complex, it’s not rocket science, a proper plan & good resources are enough to provide great customer service. One such method involves having call scripts.
You must have heard about scripts used by tele-calling executives and might have pondered over how robotic it sounds. Customer service agents also use such call scripts to make their communication with customers more precise and effective. These scripts aren’t dialogues to be recited by service executives but a mere pilot document. In this article, we will be talking about its benefits for successful customer service experience and how to have an effective script for successful customer experience.
Taps Into Relevant Pain-Points
By having a pre-defined script of questions asked by the customers, you can detect which pain-point they are exactly hinting at. This will reduce the time and energy spent in asking n-number of questions to arrive at a problem-statement. Hence, an elaborate script which lists the various questions asked by customers will help to craft a to-the-point response.
Helps the agents to direct the customers in the right direction
Whether it’s a call to action/buy or directing them towards a solution for a problem, a good script will assist the agent to direct customers in the right direction. Not all the customer service agents will be good persuaders or problem-solvers but a good script along with adequate training will help them to deliver the best service. Dell’s customer service has been applauded time and again for their prompt and effective approach. They usually have standard operational tasks that are predefined which helps them in detecting the problems accurately leading to a fulfilling customer service experience.
Having concise information in one place will help to pull out the relevant data quickly while interacting with the customers. This will reduce the overall time taken to arrive at the probable solution. Even if the customer service is not for complaint redressal but for instigating a call to action, a faster response will lead to higher conversion rate.
Understanding incoherent problems
You must have heard doctors talking about how most patients can’t articulate the problems accurately. This isn’t the case only in health-care industry, it’s a standard problem across all the other industries as well. Hence, customer service agent must be able to understand the unsaid problems and concerns of the customers. A script that gives an elaborate explanation of various customer replies or questions can help in diagnosing such queries.
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Know when to involve seniors
As much as these call scripts needs to be kept flexible and the employees need to take the onus in order to provide great customer service, they should also know when to involve the seniors and other experts. A script must have clear indications of when the executive can take ownership of the problem and when they have to get the seniors or experts involved. Such clarity will reduce the hassle and time taken while dealing with complex problems and queries.
Now that you have read about what a good script does to bring about an overall good customer service experience, let’s have a look at some of the aspects that play an integral part in developing a perfect customer service script.
Feedback from the front-line
Your front-line employees are basically your customer service agents. More than often the scripts are either developed by the supervisors or managers or business writers. But no one can make a more valuable contribution than your agents as they have a first-hand experience of dealing with customers. Taking feedback must not be an informal activity but a continuous process to incorporate relevant feedback into the script.
Keep your script flexible
Have you ever spoken to a customer care executive and felt that their answers are too limited? Worse even, have you ever encountered an agent who had no answers to some of your unconventional product queries? Your script must be flexible for the service agents to answer according to customer’s demands. Also, it is important to train your customer service agents to be flexible and not just rote-learn the script. Both your script and the customer service agents must be well-equipped so as to not let the customers leave disappointed.
Your agents must be able to step into your customer’s shoes while interacting with them. It’s our innate nature to accommodate people who understand us and hence, your customer’s will bear with you, in case the service is delayed or is not up to the mark. Therefore, your script also needs to have an empathetic tone to all your answers and the questions should also be mentioned in a way that customers ask.
Having call scripts might sound rigid but not having a script at all is an absolute no. One needs to understand that script doesn’t dictate all the things that you’ll be saying to consumers but is a guiding document that aids the service agents to grab relevant information quickly and ask the right questions. By incorporating few points given above you will be able to retain your customers for a longer time and keep them happy.
The Power of Social Media Customer Service: Are You Doing Enough?
Social media customer service has caught a lot of traction these days. It’s a one of a kind strategy that wasn’t pushed by the companies but by the consumers. Consumers vehemently wanted the brands to take cognizance of their brand interaction and preferred to do so for more than one reasons. We take a look at this new disruption in the world of customer service and try to understand what has led to such an upsurge of this trend.
According to Harvard Business Review, 86% of Fortune 500 companies are on Twitter, 87% are on Facebook and 97% are on LinkedIn. Whether small, medium or big, all companies have started incorporating social media for branding these days. The whole world is going digital and it’s an obvious strategy to mark your presence in this digital world.
Provide Service Where Your Customers Are
Online product launches, social media posts, company blogs are some of the most common digital strategies used by organizations. They usually position their brands on social media to gain visibility. But they seem to overlook its potential to provide prompt customer service. Instead of using social media just for promotions they must leverage its potential as a channel for two-way communication between consumers and brands. About 90% of the consumers surveyed by Q2 2016 Sprout Social Index Report, have interacted with brands on social media and prefer to do so. Hence, it’s clear as glass that consumers want customer service verticals to adopt new-age social media platforms.
Though there are very few organizations who realize this there are also the likes of Domino’s who have gone a step further and introduced service features such as ‘Tweet-to-order’ wherein customers can tweet their orders to Domino’s. Not only will this strategy reduce the time taken to place an order but will also help in getting more business, consequently, as constant order tweets will reinforce the brand and entice customers to order from Domino’s.
It definitely makes sense to provide services on platforms where your customers are most active instead of dragging them to old and conventional methods such as phone and email, website page, etc.
It’s A Necessity, Not A Choice
Whether you use social media to strike a dialogue with your consumers or not, consumers are going to talk about your brand unabashedly. Therefore, it makes much more sense to communicate with them and gauge their needs and queries. Nowadays, silence on any subject on social media is taken in a bad light, especially, when you are liable to answer. Hence, providing social media customer service is not an option anymore it’s a need and a critical business strategy.
‘Amazon Help’ on twitter is a great example of social media customer service done right. They have a twitter handle called ‘Amazon Help’ which acts like a live complaint redressal system on Twitter. Consumers find it incredibly convenient to write a Facebook post or tweet instead of going to the website to register and write a complaint/query or write an elaborate mail for the same.
A Gold Mine Of Data And Consumer Behavior Patterns
By data, we don’t mean extracting it the Facebook way but a deliberate observation of consumer demands, frequent queries and complaints can give you insights about your product/service pain points, consumer needs and demands and a general feedback about your product/service. By keeping a track of these patterns, you can mine deep insights which could be used further to improvise your product and consumer service.
There are many FMCG brands who conduct insight mining just to study the trends for their future references. Imagine having a real-time data from so many consumers with little cost and moderation! Taking insights from online consumer behavior is going to be incredibly important as it’ll help you to get an insider view of your consumer’s preferences.
It’s More Than Answering Complaints & Queries
Social media customer service is more than just addressing complaints. It involves a wide array of activities wherein consumers seek information about various features of a product or service or just want to know the value addition quotient. Most of you must be aware of Facebook messenger bots deployed by KAYAK, a fare aggregator, and travel search engine website. KAYAK.com is using Facebook messenger to communicate with their clients and answer their queries.
Bank of America is another such elite name in this list of organizations using Facebook messenger bot. Bank of America has been engaging with its consumers via Facebook messenger to communicate real-time alerts about new products and other financial information.
Social media has changed our lives more than we could have imagined a decade ago and there’s no doubt that it’s going to change it even more. Social media has revolutionized the branding arena. From personification of brands to talking against social issues brands have been sailing in new waters fearlessly. It’s time that they also shift their customer service verticals from the phone, email, a website to social media platforms and keep up with incessantly evolving consumer dynamics.
5 Tips on How to Build a Knowledge Base or Help Center from Scratch
Building a knowledge base is an instrumental process for any organization, no matter the size. Given the growing customer base, your support reps will have to create answers all the time in the absence of a knowledge base. It’s not that answering customer questions is a problem, but drafting the same answering over and over certainly is. The online help center acts as a rich knowledge base that can direct your potential customers and even internal employees. It provides information that can help you fly high without much help.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t invest in online help center software or their knowledge base. They ignore documentation and online support services. As a result, customers don’t have a tutorial, help menu or a user guide to rely on. If you wish to ensure long-term business success, you must have a document for everything.
With this being said, here is a quick overview of how to build a help center from scratch. These tips can be used by all organizations. These are cornerstones for any help center you decide to develop.
#1 Understand Crucial Elements to Include
Have you ever gone through Google Chrome’s help menu? This is Google’s help center. This is a comprehensive document. Likewise, have you gone through a car’s technical manual? Well, this is also a document that can lend you a hand of help. The idea of having documents may sound hilarious. But, this is essential.
You help center can have documents made of videos, texts, and images. The ultimate aim is to explain more about your products and services. It should act as a repository of official information. It must be a leaflet that can be used openly by potential customers. Above all, it must stick to all standard operating procedures created by internal management. The amount of content in Microsoft’s Help Menu for Office delivers everything from advanced to simple pieces of information. This is must be the ultimate goal. Always focus on converting novice users to experts. The should be a window to everything your product and service is.
As a growing organization, never assume that people don’t need or read manuals or documentations. They actually do when there are issues. Some people go through every page looking for the perfect solution. Before approaching a help desk, they go to the online knowledge base. So, design your help center with care!
#2 Pay Attention to Internal Structure and Navigation
The help center should be carefully structured. It is important to ensure that the structure is correct. Try to create plenty of diagrams and flowcharts. Regardless of what your product or service is, you must document everything. Use clear & easy to use language. Ensure you write shorter sentences and bulleted list where ever possible. Its easy to comprehend.
Keep the following perspective in mind when creating solution – What would your customers want and say about your product or service? How does the customer use the functionalities of your product or service? This must be the tone of your content. All technical terms and processes should be explained in a simple and comprehensive manner. You should break down the workflow into multiple menus. Try to teach the workflow in logical steps. You can use an online help center software to assist you in breaking huge workflows into small logical steps. As mentioned previously, multimedia is a great tool in any knowledge base contact. Try to replace lengthy documents with videos and audio files. If you are building your help center from scratch, this is the best and “first” place to start.
#3 Check Knowledge Base Accessibility Across Device and Platforms
Once the document is prepared, you should host it online. In this modern world, Google is considered as an ideal platform for hosting. This is where all online customers come for information. As a thumb rule, you should post your help center and documentation online for everyone’s benefit. This is what the virtual world calls knowledge base, support center or help center. Your documentation should be accessible by Google and other major search engines.
There are plenty of online software programs to assist you in building a knowledge base. You can use these applications to build your knowledge base using markdown, rich text, and HTML. In the long haul, you will require a single place for all your documents.
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#4 Outline the Contents Clearly
As you browse through various online knowledge base, you will witness a very standard layout. You will find a search box located at the top / start of the page. Below the search box, you will find outlines of the document and groups of articles. These articles are used by customers who want to dig deeper into the product and learn more. The best way to display search results is in chronological order. Display the latest tips, tricks, and articles on the top. The above format is what you find in online knowledge bases.
#5 Surfacing your Help Center
Last but certainly not the least, your document needs to be surfaced. After spending several months developing your content, you should tie it to your website. Developing a help center from scratch is just half of the entire battle. The other half depends on how you link it to your website. You must include the help center in the header or footer menus. If possible, introduce a help and support tab on your website.
Start Building a Rich Knowledge Base
You might want to build the perfect knowledge base overnight, but it’s not possible. Perfecting the contents of a rich-knowledge base is a journey & it takes time. Most likely, you will get a mixed response with both good and bad reviews. Sometimes, customers will be swept off their feet with the information while some things will also go south. So, you must be prepared to take the feedback in a positive light and incorporate changes as soon as reported. At first, your goal should be to fill-in the knowledge base with information, followed by refreshing it regularly and keep it up-to-date.
I hope this gives you a good starting point to building your own knowledge center & delight your customers.