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Introduction

While most customer service and support interactions are different on a day-to-day basis, there are a few scenarios and responses that come up every day. While there may be some that are very specific to your company (that have to do with your product or service), there are also several that are uniform across support. In this article, we’ll talk about ten of those such customer service and support complaints, and how you can address them.

I want a refund

If people don’t perceive themselves as getting what they would expect out of a service, they feel entitled to get a refund. And that makes sense! After all, if you ordered a sandwich, for example, and it was missing some of the key components that you’d expected when you ordered, you’d probably want a refund, too. But, continuing the metaphor, if it was your mistake and you’d misread the board, would you still be entitled to a refund? That depends on the sandwich shop and how understanding they are. It would feel great if they refunded you, even though it was your honest mistake, wouldn’t it? You want to make your customers feel that way.

When someone reaches out to you about a refund, try to understand the circumstances under which they came asking for a refund. Was it because something was broken with your company? If that’s the case, then you should definitely give them a refund, as long as it’s within your policy (if you have one). If it’s not necessarily your fault, evaluate on a case-by-case basis, and try to refund as often as you can for that real surprise-and-delight factor.

I want a feature that you don’t currently have

Customers that reach out to you with feature requests are not trying to be annoying. In fact, they probably care a lot about your product, otherwise, they wouldn’t reach out trying to help you improve it. So, when someone does email in about a feature, respond graciously. If you have the feature already, send them the documentation. If you might be building the feature in the future (be honest with yourself, are you really?), then give them that expectation or link them to your product timeline if it is live. Lastly, if you’re never going to build something: be honest about it. It’s a much better experience for your customer and you if you set the correct expectations and help them find a product that fits their needs if yours doesn’t. If you don’t, you’ll spend the next several months helping them with workarounds that aren’t great for them, something that will take up a lot of time and energy for you.

There is a bug in your product 

If you have released a buggy product, or something is broken when your customer receives it, you should own that responsibility. Be honest in your apology about what happened (if you’re able to determine it), and do what you can in your power to make it right by them. If it’s a physical product, send them a new one without making them go through the hassle of sending it back or dealing with shipping. If it’s a SaaS product, and they lost time while you troubleshot and fixed the bugs, maybe offer them a refund or some credits to make up for lost time. Better yet: maybe offer a video consult with one of your success or support team members to help them figure out how to best use your product.

I can’t figure out how to use something

If people reach out confused about how to use a specific part of your product, link them to the documentation around the part that they are having trouble with. If you do not have documentation for that part of your product, provide a direct answer to your customer about how to use it, and then turn that response into documentation in the future. That way, in the future, other customers can find the answer without having to reach out to support, too.

I have a billing problem

Billing pages and account settings can be really confusing. With international regulations changing and requiring different things on a per country basis, you might not have everything you need on your billing page (or it might be difficult to find). Most billing issues can be handled ad hoc as you assist the customer with workarounds, but pay attention to how frequently things are requested. If something gets requested frequently it may be enough of an argument with data to get your product team to build into your actual product to save your team and customers effort and time.

You make a mistake in your response

This is another place where honesty is the best policy. When a customer calls you out on having made an error in your response, own it and admit it. Do not try to pretend like the customer misunderstood, or that you meant something else. If you do, you’ll lose the trust of the customer, which may potentially cost you their business moving into the future. A great way to do this is to say something along the lines of “Hey Customer, You’re right—that wasn’t the right answer. I’m sorry that I sent you something without fully double-checking it first; I know what it’s like to get the wrong information and then have to wait even longer to figure the problem out, and it never feels good. So, thanks for reaching out and letting me know how that affected you.”

The most important part is to acknowledge the issue, align with the customer, and then assure them that you’ve heard their complaint.

I have been transferred numerous times and I’m frustrated.

Listen, you don’t need a blog post to tell you that this is frustrating. If you’ve ever been calling in for support and have been transferred numerous times (which I’m sure you have, everyone has), you know that it’s one of the most frustrating things in the world. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and there’s actually nothing the customer can do to control it. So, acknowledge that for them. Admit that you’re at fault and that you know this kind of thing is frustrating. If you can, track that constructive insight somewhere so that you can make shifts to it later on and create a better experience for your customers. But, in the moment, try to resolve the customer’s issues without any additional transfer and, if you have to transfer, do so with context so they do not need to explain all over again what the problem is.

I have been waiting FOREVER.

This is another situation where acknowledging, aligning with the customer and then assuring them that you’re going to take some action to make it better in the future is immensely impactful. Similarly, take a look at how long they have been waiting, and use that data point to see if there’s anything you could have done differently or better. For example, did they wait forever because one of your team’s processes broke down or was it because you were busy? Or, did they perceive the wait as “forever” but it was actually your normal wait time? If so, it might be time to do some additional hiring.

I have no idea how to reach out to your support team.

Some companies intentionally make it very difficult for customers to know how to reach out to them. While this is certainly a strategy to keep the volume down, it’s usually better to just try to scale, rather than avoid people contacting you. That being said, there will be times, even if you have tried to make your support offering very visible, where people just won’t be able to find a way to reach out and they’ll be frustrated. The best thing you can do here, rather than try to explain why is just listen and hear them out. Acknowledge that they’re feeling frustrated and that that’s valid, and internally track the feedback they are giving you so that you can talk to your user experience team and pass along their thoughts.

Your support person was rude to me.

This is a tough one. Usually, this needs to be escalated to a manager and addressed that way. There are a few different scenarios where this usually plays out: either the customer is perceiving rudeness, but that’s not the intent of the employee; the customer could be frustrated by an employee telling them something they didn’t want to hear; or the employee could actually have been being rude. No matter which of those three (or any other) scenarios it might be, “escalating” to a person in perceived power is always going to make the customer feel better. Once it’s been sent to the manager, they can review the conversation and see if any training or other action needs to be taken with the employee, and assuage the concerns of the customer.

Conclusion

These are just 10 of the most common conversations out of all the ones that you will likely see in support. While they all have a bit of nuance, almost everything can be solved with a little care and appropriate response. Customers, just like everyone else, just want to be heard and acknowledge, especially if they’re going through trouble with your product. If you can give them that, you’re well on your way to repairing relationships–it truly is that easy.

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When was the last time you contacted customer support of an online business?

If you’ve had a customer support interaction recently, did you speak with a real person or a chatbot?

Chances are that your request has been handled by a chatbot instead of a person. As an increasing number of online businesses have started getting real value from chat bots, the use of this technology has skyrocketed amongst many companies in recent years. It is very possible, then, that you have probably interacted with one too (if not more!)

For example, Statista reported that the size of the chatbot market worldwide in 2016 was worth about $190.8 million but  will likely undergo a major increase; up to $1.2 billion in 2025. This means that more and more businesses will buy or develop their own chatbot solutions to improve their bottom line.

But just how effective are these AI-powered assistants at helping online businesses resolve more customer support requests? Their increasing adoption suggests that they’re pretty effective, and with chatbots rapidly gaining popularity, one may get an impression that the age of human customer support operators is over.

However, the 2018 State of Chatbots report found quite the opposite (we’ll talk about this in detail in the next section). It’s quite possible that in the next few years we’ll witness a battle between chatbots and human operators for  the title of being the most effective at increasing the helpfulness of online customer support.

At this time, however, let’s see how you can find a perfect balance between human expertise and artificial intelligence to boost the performance of your customer support.

Human-Operated Live Chat vs. Chatbots: Customer Perceptions

To maximize the effectiveness of your resources as well as the satisfaction of your customers, let’s review how people perceive chatbots and whether they’re ready to trust them with support queries.

As it was mentioned above, the 2018 State of Chatbots report found that chatbots are still struggling to become a go-to source for various requests. For example, the  image below shows that the majority of customers still prefer to contact online businesses via such channels as telephone, online chat, social media, website, and even face-to-face.

Evidently, only 15 percent of customers have chosen chatbots to communicate with an online business. But with all the hype surrounding these AI-powered assistants, shouldn’t there be more people willing to use them?

We’ll turn to the report once again for some answers-fortunately for us, it has some clues. For example, here’s the list of potential blockers to using chatbots that make customers choose other communication channels such as a human-operated live chat.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main reason why people avoid chatbots is that they trust “real-life assistants” with their requests. According to the report, 43 percent of respondents shared this position.

Of course, this is not to say that chatbots don’t have any future in online business. They’re being used by an increasing number of people who want quick content recommendations from businesses or have a customer support request.

In fact, they’ve been doing a good job in helping those who chose them for their requests. According to recent Statista data, 30 and 33 percent of United States-based and global users of chatbots respectively found them to be “very effective” at resolving their issues.

Image Credit: Statista

But what kind of issues can chatbots help people resolve? Clearly, they cannot match the abilities of human operators, so they must be good for simple tasks, right? Well, the aforementioned State of Chatbots report suggested that the range of use cases for chatbots is quite diverse and includes the following.

Evidently, chatbots can complete an impressive range of customer support-related tasks, and some of them are quite complex (paying a bill, getting detailed explanations etc.) Clearly, they can play a prominent role in meeting an online business’ customer support needs.

But what is the role of human-operated live chat?

To get an answer to this question, we’ll turn to GetApp Lab’s recent research on customer service preferences. Surprisingly or not, a large share of respondents – 36.6 percent – said that “talking to a real person” was the factor that had the most value for them in terms of customer support.  

Some other factors such as “Having polite customer support staff” and “Knowledgeable support staff” also pertain to a human-operated communication channel. This is strong evidence that despite the growth of chatbots in customer service, many people still prefer to talk to humans.

Added together, these factors make up 88 percent of the respondents, which means that this percentage of people prefer human assistance. Of these 88 percent, 29.6 percent even didn’t care about the communication channel with customer service, as long as they could speak with a real person.

Besides meeting customers’ preferences, in terms of customer service communication, there’s another good reason why having a human-operated live chat is a must-have option for online businesses:

Voice communication is easier, faster, and more effective than typing messages to a chatbot.

Voice is central to communication, so having people ready to assist customers makes perfect sense.

“It’s a must for businesses that operate in a number of specific industries such as healthcare, travel, and insurance,” says Chelsea Ann Dowdell, a blogger from RewardedEssays. “Since these businesses sell products and services that require additional consideration and often consultation with a real person.”

It’s also safe to assume that live chat is critical for all businesses selling high-end or expensive products because customers need to speak with representatives directly to ensure that their purchase will meet their needs and minimize the risk of wasting a lot of money.

How to Find a Perfect Balance for Your Customer Support Needs

At this point, it’s clear that your business should use both chatbots and human-operated live chat to meet the needs of customers. Of course, chatbots can be better for resolving easy requests while humans are the best for complex issues, so, to tackle the whole range of tasks, it seems logical  to use them both.

The challenge now is to determine specific uses for them.

Before we do that, let’s reiterate some important principles to guide our thinking towards the right path.

  • Chatbots cannot solve 100 percent of customer support requests, so they can not replace humans
  • Chatbots are perfect tools for completing repetitive customer support interactions that human operators don’t need to spend time on.

Anyone with experience in customer service will tell you that a large share of customer requests are high-frequency, common, and simple. These requests tend to be fairly simple to resolve without human operators; moreover, most of them have low value for the business, e.g. recovering a password to an account.

Since the solution is the same for every person making a password recovery request,It seems ill advised to have a human operator type the same reply countless times to so many people.

To illustrate, here are some of the most common customer service questions, as described by Georgias.

As you can see, most of these requests can be automated with chatbots. For example, if a customer requests the status of their order, the chatbot can ask them for its number and then provide a status update, e.g. “shipped.”

The success of chatbots in communicating with customers and providing them with the answers they’re looking for largely depends on the script they use. To ensure that the script, and therefore, a chatbot’s answers to customers, are error-free, proofread them with online tools such as HotEssayService Hemingway Editor, and SupremeDisertations.

In other words, if your online business has a higher ratio of repetitive questions, you can derive a lot of value from chatbots. Your customers shouldn’t wait in a queue to get a simple answer about order status, and likewise, a human customer support operator shouldn’t have to do things like explaining how to recover a password 30 times a day.

On the other hand, there are some specific, complex, high-value customer requests that should be handled by human operators to maximize success. Let’s review some of them.

  • Complex troubleshooting. As it was repeatedly mentioned above, humans should deal with complex customer requests that can not be solved without expertise. For example, these requests may involve gathering some rich information from the customer to determine the best solution as fast as possible.
  • Upselling. Chatbots aren’t good at persuading people to buy things, obviously, so if a customer shows a purchasing intent, he or she must be transferred to a human agent who can offer other similar products. As a result, you’ll be able to capitalize on more upselling opportunities.
  • Win backs. Chatbots aren’t good at being empathetic, either. If a person has trouble with a product or service or is dissatisfied with it, they won’t be able to help. Human operators, on the other hand, are typically trained to offer empathy and advice.

So, since the share of customer support requests handled by chatbots is larger, it may be a good idea for your support to follow the 70/30 rule (depending on the nature of requests you receive). For example, the first respective number indicates the share of customer requests that could be solved without human intervention while the second one shows the percentage of requests that should be handled by operators.

Wrapping Up

Now, let’s summarize the most important takeaways from the article:

  • While the adoption of chatbots is rapidly growing, many customers still prefer talking with human operators to resolve their requests
  • Each business has a large share of customer support requests that could be handled by chatbots (recover a password, cancel an order etc.), so automation is recommended here
  • Human-operated live chat is the best communication option to help customers solve complex issues
  • Human-operated live chat is more personal, so it’s a better option for high value requests, upselling opportunities, and win backs.

Clearly, your business will benefit the most from using the live chat and chatbots together to address customer queries. To ensure maximum performance of your customer support, you need to determine its main problem area and ensure that customers get all the support they need.

And don’t be afraid of using chatbots; when programmed appropriately, they can be a huge help with handling thousands of daily support requests and giving your operators more time to focus on more important things.

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The only true competitive advantage for brands is their customer experience. As a result, more and more companies – both large and small – are slowly getting on board with the need to design and deliver a great customer experience in order to support and sustain their growth initiatives. But developing a strategy to deliver that great experience isn’t as simple as deciding you’re going to do it. A lot of work goes into that commitment.

Once you’ve got executive commitment, there are five major building blocks that you must have in order to develop a winning customer experience strategy. (There are more than five, but for the purposes of this post, let’s just focus on these five.) These are foundational elements that must be in place in order for your strategy to be successful.

  1. Customer Experience vision

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you arrive? Your customer experience vision is an inspirational and aspirational statement that outlines the intended experience of the future. It describes the experience you plan to deliver and serves as a guide to help choose future courses of action. A Customer Experience vision aligns with the corporate vision, or, better yet, they may be one and the same.

  1. Culture: values, mission, vision, purpose, brand promise

Culture = values + behavior. That’s an important formula to remember. Make sure that your values are not only defined but communicated to employees on a regular basis. You’ll also want to define associated behaviors and desired outcomes as a result, for each value. And you must commit to hiring, firing, and promoting employees based on your core values. In addition to core values, it’s important to define and communicate your mission, vision, purpose, and brand promise, which is the expectations you set with your customers about the benefits they can expect to receive when experiencing your brand – at every touchpoint.

  1. Employee experience

There is a clear linkage between the employee experience and the customer experience. We know this, and yet many companies still refuse to make the employee experience a priority, focusing instead on shareholder value, the bottom line, or customer experience without considering the implications of a poor employee experience to all of the above. When employees have a great experience (no, that doesn’t mean ping pong tables and beer Fridays), they are happier and more productive, and they deliver a better customer experience.

  1. Customer understanding

Any improvements that you make to the customer experience must be grounded in data, insights, and customer understanding. You must put the “customer” into customer experience. There are three primary ways to do that: listen (identify and measure customer perceptions of the experience today via surveys, online reviews, and other listening posts), characterize (get a deep understanding of who your customers are by developing personas and overlaying them with empathy maps), and empathize (walk in your customers’ shoes and understand the experience today through journey mapping). By the way, these same understanding methods should also be applied to designing and delivering a great employee experience.

  1. Governance structure

Critical to the success of your Customer Experience transformation is a governance structure, which ensures a lot of things, not the least of which is cross-functional commitment and involvement to execute the Customer Experience strategy.  What is governance? It refers to the governing body and policies to ensure that the work that needs to get done, well, gets done. It includes monitoring and accountability to ensure that happens. In a nutshell, governance is about both oversight and execution. This is an important foundation for your customer experience management strategy.

Get these five building blocks into place, and you’re guaranteed a solid foundation for your customer experience strategy. Which of these five do you have already? Which ones are in progress?

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We recently interviewed Lisa Bodell, award-winning author and CEO of FutureThink, and picked her brain on customer experience tips and innovative approaches. At FutureThink Lisa works with organizations to kill complexity, create space for innovation, and get to the work that matters. As a futurist and expert on the topic of change, she serves as a global council member of the World Economic Forum, and has helped thousands of senior leaders ignite innovation at Bloomberg, Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, and more.

Lisa is also an inspired global speaker who brings her message to over 30 countries and nearly 100,000 people each year. She has consistently been ranked a top speaker at Google’s client events. She is also the author of two best-selling books: “Why Simple Wins” (2016), and “Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution” (2012), which was voted Best Business Book by USA Book News and Booz & Co. Lisa has appeared in Fast Company, The New York Times, and WIRED, is a regular contributor to Women@Forbes, and a featured contributor to Harvard Business Review.

How would you define Customer Experience ?

It is the experience a customer has with your company – both literally and emotionally, which is probably most important. Too often, companies put a laser focus on the data around a customer’s interaction with them (how much time did they spend on our site? How much did they buy? How often do they come back or buy again from us?). While important, that’s all transactional stuff. Good customer experience looks deeper to find the emotional drivers that help build the customer relationship. Simply put, it’s also important to understand how customers FEEL about you and about interacting with you. Are you easy to work with or to buy from? How are they treated? How satisfied are they with your products or interactions with you? Would they say they were treated like a customer, or like a transaction? The customer ‘experience’ is multi-faceted, and we can’t neglect the soft metrics; they’re gold.

Should businesses use customer feedback to improve Customer Experience?

Hell yes! Why wouldn’t you? Feedback is underutilized. Every company should survey its customers in non-intrusive, convenient ways (e.g., if you want feedback, don’t send a lengthy survey or force customers to answer questions with annoying pop-ups). There are so many clever ways to get feedback that can help you improve and even come up with innovative business ideas. I love that groups at Westin speak with customers who essentially fired them – customers who said they would NEVER stay with them again – and turned their frown upside down. See, most companies talk to customers that love them. Great – but who cares? Don’t you also want to know what the problems are? By asking customers that were mad, they got real feedback AND turned haters into fans. Brilliant.

What about employee feedback? Should that be considered when looking to improve Customer Experience?

Of course. Your employees have great ideas – just ask them! Especially those on the front line – they hear things you don’t. What do they hear from people? What are the themes? Employees can help you ‘reduce the friction’ in dealing with your company and make the experience simpler for all involved.

Can you share an innovative approach to improving Customer Experience that businesses should apply?

I have several tips to consider. If you want to get ahead of your competition, you need to approach Customer Experience in ways they don’t:

  • Stop talking to people that love you for feedback. Speak with the Unusual Suspects – Speak with people that hate your company or have complained. Also speak with employees. For a unique perspective, talk to kids (how would they rethink your Customer Experience?). Also, speak with businesses in adjacent industries that have similar offerings.
  • Ask Killer Questions – most surveys are boring. Why? Make it hilarious. Or Provocative. Unexpected. For instance – ask these kinds of questions:
    • Ask customers – What could we do that would completely delight you?
    • Ask employees – What’s the most annoying thing for customers that if we changed it, would have a dramatic impact on our business?
    • For prospects – What could we do for you that would make you never consider our competition again?
    • For people in charge of improving your Customer Experience – if you had to blow up your (web site, app, store, customer onboarding etc.) and start all over, draw the ideal process? If you had to speed up the time it takes to complete a sale with a customer to cut it in half, what would you eliminate?

What can businesses do to improve the employee experience?

Reduce the friction to getting things done. One thing we do is host ‘Kill a Stupid Rule’ sessions with clients. We get groups together, and ask a simple but provocative question – if you could kill any rule that holds you back from being more effective at work, what would it be? We can literally get 100+ suggestions in less than an hour, many of which are obvious quick win things to do immediately. Also, most of the ideas aren’t rules – they are ASSUMPTIONS around how we work and can be changed quickly.

Sometimes processes make life difficult for the customer. The consequence is a poor customer experience. Is complexity to blame for this?

Most complexity we find around us is self-imposed, unnecessary and usually a result of good intentions. We add on to existing approaches or processes, even if they are mediocre or bad,  because it’s easier and faster to do that than to really analyze the experience and start all over again fresh. So, we add on to an existing way of doing things to fix something and guess what? Unintended consequences pop-up. Redundancies. Extra steps. You get the idea.  Everything having to do with Customer Experience should start with the objective: what are we trying achieve FOR THE CUSTOMER? How can we simplify the process and reduce the friction for the customer? What is it that this experience has to do for them (is it speed? Value? Price? Flexibility?) Design for their convenience, not yours.

Is complexity a by-product of growth? How can businesses stay focused and deliver great customer experiences without over-complicating processes?

Typically, complexity emerges due to growth. It’s hard to stay simple as you scale.  I think they need to operate with simplification as their operating system – as in, what’s the simplest way we can deliver this for a customer? How can we eliminate unnecessary things so we can focus on what matters to customers and to our business? Research tells us that companies that operate with simplification have better customer retention, better stock prices in their industry and better employee retention. These companies can charge a price premium of 6% or more and customers are still 70% more likely to recommend them because they are easier to deal with. That’s worth people’s time.

If there was one thing a business could immediately start doing to improve Customer Experience – what should it be?

Stop falling into the complexity trap. It’s not about offering MORE, it’s about offering VALUE. Which often means, LESS.  We have a weird mentality that MORE is better than LESS, and that’s simply not true. I don’t want MORE features or products or services – I want the ones that matter.  The companies today that have disrupted their industries are focused and operate with simplicity to transform the customer experience – and win. Uber makes it SIMPLE to get a car. AirBnB makes it SIMPLE to find a place to stay. Netflix makes it SIMPLE to watch movies. Dropbox makes it SIMPLE to share files. They are all billion-dollar businesses as a result.

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There is no shortage of opinion in the market place about Customer Success; what it is, how to execute and whether growth should be a success metric are all hot topics. My observation is that much of what is written centers around how an organization is built or how one can sell retention strategies in the boardroom, but what if you already have a nicely run success organization (at least in your boss’ opinion)? Have you thought about areas of opportunity? What are the aspects of success you haven’t been able to implement because you just don’t have the time or budget?

There is always an opportunity to improve and likely a mix of both big and small rocks that could be moved today to increase the NPS of your partners, customers and employees.

1. Think Scale

Do your processes work for 40 customers? How about 400? 4000? What happens to your business when you begin to experience true hypergrowth and you have 40,000 customers to engage? Regardless of your current size, unless you think scale, you will not be the proactive organization you need to be in order to grow into the organization you and your investors envision. Are there aspects of your customer touchpoints which can be tech touch? Perhaps there are activities that need to be executed by a human and if so, can the activity be centralized with one person vs. all your CSMs performing the same action? Are your education courses available on-demand, on a platform with usage metrics easily tracked in one location? Are you still onboarding every user/customer with a web-call? If so, why? As you grow, your CSMs should be reserved for high-impact activities. Remember, it’s a lot harder to implement scale when both your internal and external customers are used to the individual, personalized touch you’re offering today.

2. Involve Customer Marketing

When you’re solving for scale, don’t assume you have to do this on your own. Our friends in marketing (especially customer marketing) can help you not only achieve the scaling goals above, but also help solve for onboarding, ongoing engagement, the introduction of new features, celebrate and elevate campaigns and more. This may require a long-term culture shift for not only your team but your CMO as well, as their current success metric is probably centered on lead generation. Helping to develop a (small) team focused on increasing the engagement, NPS and health of your current customer base can be a huge win, and the best part is the systems are currently in place for new customers! Help the CMO grow their sphere of influence while growing engagement and growth by leveraging marketing expertise – it’s a win-win!

3. Creatively Segment your Customers

Believe it or not, customers are not created equal. It’s easy to tie yourself in knots trying to determine the best way to segment your customers, but it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Understand it may take a few iterations to get it right (there are so many options – common options include size of prize (SOP), industry and/or geography) but it should be dynamic. As you grow and as your customers mature, so too should your segmentation. If you split the commercial relationship between sales and customer success, I would examine if there was a segment of your customers who would renew and organically grow a single CSM on the account vs. having two resources (sales and CSM) on the account. Perhaps there is a segment for which you can leverage tech touch 100% of the time vs. another sub-segment of customers you know need that white glove service. It’s crucial to think outside the box with segmentation. I believe there are great efficiencies to be had outside of only segmenting by spend.

4. Ignore Churn

You are reading this correctly. While measuring churn is important, it is only a measurement of the effectiveness of your activity and engagement with your customer over time. If you focus on the negative, the negative will be the end result. If you focus on the positive engagements, the positive is more likely to occur. Instead of focusing on churn, you should focus on the quality of the customer engagements your team is having.

5. Improve the Quality of Customer Engagements

One of the basic metrics many organizations track is how many times they talk/email/engage customers. A simple rule I’ve heard (and employed) is touching every customer, every month. While sometimes aspirational, yet rarely realistic, do you understand the quality? Are your CSMs engaged in high quality conversations with their customers? Are they asking, inquiring and reminding your customer about why they invested in the first place? Are they tying your solution back to a business problem your customer is trying to solve? It’s easy to become a human knowledge base but is that leveraging the skill set of your superstar CSMs? They can do more and should. You should enable their ability through coaching and call reviews to ensure they are engaging in high quality touchpoints.  Looking for a quick win? Turn on video when running a customer call!

6. Understand the Customer Journey

When was the last time you sat in a room (preferably at an exotic off-site location with your team!) and truly gave yourself the space and time to map out the customer journey? I would argue few organizations have done this well. The trick is to not map out the customer journey the way you WANT it to look but to understand the reality of the situation. I was at a conference recently and a Chief Customer Officer commented that the entire 10-foot wall of his office mapped out the customer journey in extreme detail. Understanding how your customers engage with your entire organization, your solution and the business problems they are solving are all important touch points to understand. Invest the time and energy into this exercise as it can change the game.

7. Involve Product

Very few products are built from a customer success perspective. My vision of a customer success friendly product is one which leverages the information I know about my users and A.I. In an ideal world, engineering produces a product that understands the individual user, their goals and their use-case. It will lead the user through efficiencies, education and net-new features and benefits to ensure the product becomes invaluable. Unfortunately, this type of functionality is not easy or sexy to develop, so it will require your best negotiation skills to make it happen.

8. Learn from Customer Support

If you’re like my organization, the support team not only sits in a different physical location but in a different reporting structure from customer success. Collaboration can vary depending on your company culture but ultimately, both of these functions sit under customer experience so it’s imperative both of these teams are on the same page. Imagine, as the head of Customer Success, sitting down with your colleague in Support, analyzing tickets over the course of the past six months? Not only could you flex onboarding or enhance a step or two in your customer journey to avoid more tickets, but it could influence your product roadmap and thereby positively influence the overall customer experience.

9. Build a Holistic Customer Health Metric

The health metric is very much the holy grail of customer success. Does it exist? Will it ever be found? Instead of waiting for the science of customer success to emerge, leverage what you know and enable your CSMs to have that information at their fingertips. Do they know the most recent history of support tickets filed and the resolution status when your team is calling to promote a new feature (especially when their customer has issues with bugs)? Is your billing department on point? Are you sure? Was the most recent invoice sent also the correct invoice? What was their customer’s most recent NPS? All of these data points, and more, are valuable when your teams are engaging your customers. Ensure you are providing your team with the most holistic view of your customer’s experience, not just a one-sided view.

10. Celebrate & Elevate

We all know that without our customers, no matter how great our SaaS solution may be, we would not have a job. We appreciate their investment, their partnership and as customer success professionals, we are the voice of the customer. As it can be in our personal relationships, we can take those we care about for granted. It’s imperative to have a celebrate and elevate campaign (I suggest quarterly, if not monthly), recognizing customers for their business and/or their engagement with your solution. I suggest it be personalized, grassroots and while scale is the name of the game, nothing can beat a hand-written card from one of your CSMs to a user acknowledging an achievement or successful moment that may have been influenced by your product.

Building, running and executing a Customer Success Organization is not easy. It requires the right skills, process, people and technology. While you might not be where you want to be at this very moment, taking the time to improve your current strategy can help you move the needle internally and as a result help your customers succeed. Perfection may be your goal, but it is impossible to achieve without improvement!

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When you consider switching from Zendesk to Kayako and don’t want to dive into the tech details of the process, an automated migration tool may be the best option. One such tool is Help Desk Migration service. It provides an intuitive migration wizard to lead you through the process with a qualified team always by your side to help with any questions.

After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of how an automated Zendesk to Kayako migration works and how to organize the process, migrate the data and get your Kayako helpdesk up and running.

Preparing for the migration

To see the tool in action is the best way to evaluate it. With HDM you can run a free demo migration and check the results in your Kayako account. Works as expected? Move forward.

Cleaning up the database and knowledge base is the next important step. Though it may take time to go through the records, the outcome is worth it. Firstly, the information in the new account will be relevant and easier to work with — secondly, the fewer records, the lower the price for the migration and the less time needed to move the data.

Lastly, the date of the migration is essential. It is recommended to migrate the data in the quietest business hours when the number of incoming messages is the lowest for example on weekends or national days off. But best of all, take a look at the reports to see when tickets come in.

Migrating from Zendesk to Kayako

Once logged in the Help Desk Migration service account, you will be guided through the process. Just follow hints provided by the Wizard.

Take these steps to perform the migration:

1) Open the Wizard and specify your credentials for the Zendesk and Kayako account. Thus the service will establish the connection between the platforms.

You need admin rights for both Zendesk and Kayako accounts. So check this in advance.

2) Choose the records you want to move to Kayako by checking the appropriate boxes. If you’re going to migrate tickets, you also need to check the mapping of ticket fields.

Most ticket fields are mapped automatically. However, you should carefully review the mapping before continuing.

3) When the fields are mapped, you can launch the Demo Migration. This action will transfer 20 tickets from Zendesk to Kayako.

Carefully check the result of the Demo to make sure that the rest of the data migrates correctly.

4) Once you’ve confirmed the result, make the payment and press the complete migration button. You can then close the window and go about your business while your data is being transferred to Kayako.

It is important not to edit or remove any information in your old and target help desks during the migration.

Starting with the new Kayako helpdesk

Now that the migration is complete there are a few things you should do to get Kayako account entirely ready for work. First, enable notifications and automation rules you used in Zendesk or add new rules in Kayako. Second, if you migrated knowledge base articles, update internal links and inline images. Lastly, redirect incoming support channels to Kayako. Check if all links and forms your customers use to contact your company lead to the new platform.

That’s it, and now you can enjoy all the possibilities of Kayako helpdesk software. As you see automated migration doesn’t involve any exporting or importing or preparing any files. So the migration is a pretty simple task even for a non-tech person.

Want to give it a try? Run your Demo migration and make your own impression of the service.

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Customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss joined us for a webinar where she spoke about her new book ‘Would You Do That to Your Mother’, and how businesses can provide customer service that would quite literally “make mom proud!”

Bliss urges companies to make business personal to earn ardent fans and admirers, by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?“

“Make Mom Proud” companies give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it. They turn “gotcha” moments into “we’ve got your back” moments by rethinking business practices, and they enable employees to be part of the solution to fix customer frustrations.  

About Jeanne Bliss

Jeanne is the Founder and President of CustomerBliss & Co-Founder of CXPA. She is one of the foremost experts on customer-centric leadership and the role of the Chief Customer Officer.

A consultant and thought leader, Jeanne guides C-Suite and Chief Customer Officer clients around the world toward earning the right to business growth and prosperity, by improving customers’ lives. Jeanne pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer and is an architect of the customer experience movement.

Since 1983 she’s been a five-time Chief Customer Officer, has Coached 15,000 global executives on how to earn admirable growth by improving lives, she has delivered 1,500 keynotes, and has authored four international best-selling books on Customer Experience.

Webinar: What we covered

As customers, we want our lives to be improved. We want to be honored, taken care of and shown dignity and respect and therefore our customers want the same.

Many of the lessons we learned as kids are things that we fundamentally know need to exist inside our business operations, in how we treat our customers and how we treat our employees.

Jeanne gives examples of people who grew their businesses by honoring the human at the end of their decision by enabling people to act in good conscience and remove actions that may be unfavorable to customers.

The practices Jeanne touches upon are primarily organized around the notion of, “Would you do that to your mother?” and making business personal.

The characteristics she identified as drivers for this behavior are:

  1. Be the person I raised you to be – Are you honoring the dignity of employees’ lives so they can honor the dignity of customers’ lives?
  2. Don’t make me feed you soap – Are you getting rid of those things that are complicated that make customers’ lives difficult?
  3. Put others before yourself – When you design or build or launch or create something, is your focus on your customers or on your business? What do you start with first?
  4. Take the high road – Do you establish a balanced relationship with your customers where both sides feel like they are in a united relationship? Don’t hold all the cards and keep a balance.

Jeanne points out how these 4 behaviors have become the standard for most of us with regards to how we act in our lives.  We strive to apply the lessons we learned as kids to the way that we behave at work. As both employees and customers, we gravitate to companies who create environments that encourage and celebrate these behaviors.   

Be the person I raised you to be

As a manager or business owner one should always enable people to bring the best version of themselves to work. To help them achieve this, it’s important that businesses entrust their people, develop them and enable them to take action.

This approach is absolutely critical to building a spirited and engaged employee relationship.

Before we move on to a case study ask yourself – “Would you leave your mom in the middle of a hospital hallway and forget her there?”

Jeanne points out how many of the processes that we create to be efficient for ourselves sometimes don’t wire in the humanity, the dignity or the feelings of the customer who has to go through them.

“It’s very important to wire care into our operating processes. As we’re enabling people to do their work, enable them to be Care Givers.” – Jeanne Bliss

Case Study

In 2007 Toby Cosgrove, CEO of Cleveland clinic brought all his employees together and told them – “Patients come to us for high quality care – but they don’t like us very much”

So, what did they do?

  1. They decided to create a simple rule which was the ‘No passing rule’. This meant that nobody could walk past a call light without going in. Overnight everyone’s job became that of a ‘Care Giver’.
  2. They put the title of ‘Care Giver’ on everybody’s cards
  3. They identified the disconnect in how doctors cared for people and changed it so the approach is personal and connected. They did this by connecting the silos and ‘rounding’ or taking care of the customer, an approach that takes into consideration the entire family.

Don’t make me wash your mouth with Soap!

As business we inadvertently put our customers through some inconveniences we don’t necessarily realize. From waiting, lack of communication and not knowing your customer’s journey with our business e.g what their last purchase was or with whom they spoke with last.

Jeanne breaks it down for us by asking “Would you ask your mom to keep re-introducing herself to you?”

Around the world, many businesses require customers to remember who they spoke with last and what they purchased, which tends to create value erosion as customers aren’t known and honored for who we are.

Case Study

Stitch Fix is a company that is (as Jeanne puts it) a Netflix for clothes. You give your info and preferences and a few weeks later they send you a curated box of clothes. Their approach involves getting to know you first and then curating clothes to support your life.

The folks at ‘Stitch Fix’ have built a ‘You know me engine’.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask and learn from customers
  2. They ask you to send over your Pinterest pins
  3. They use AI by looking at other people with similar likes and preferences and curate items that you would gravitate towards
  4. Adding humanity to the mix. They have stylists who listen and have conversations with their customers.

While other clothing businesses were losing money, Stich Fix saw unprecedented growth.

Put Others Before yourself

This particular characteristic is about honoring how you’ve built what you’ve built from your customer’s point of view. You need to remember to start with customer goals in order to achieve your own.

Once again, ask yourself – “Would you turn down your mother’s warranty claim only 3 days out of warranty?”

What would prevent this from happening is understanding the moments in your customer’s life when they’re going to need you a little a bit.  

Jeanne tells us that enabling our front line and people with the knowledge of how and when to make exceptions is key. It’s about proactively developing  things and gestures your people can do to help customers in difficult situations.

Case Study

Alaska Airlines developed a “We trust you toolkit” for all their employees. They have identified the few things that may happen to someone while flying and identified these vulnerable moments people may find themselves in.

Every single person from the Baggage handler to the people on the phone to the people working at the check-in desk all have access to a mobile app with a series of options that they choose to take for their customers based on the situation.

Alaska Airlines’ CEO encourages ALL employees to act and help the..

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Looking for an intercom alternative that’s easy on your pockets and doesn’t skip on any functionality? Well, we’ve done some homework and put together a list of 3 intercom alternatives that are packed with features and functionality you’d look for to engage visitors, convert prospects, and support customers as your business grows. 

First things first – What do you use Intercom for?

Intercom is used by many who look for a Live Chat and simple CRM that they can use to acquire customers and grow their business. Businesses that have a need for help desk ticketing and a knowledge base also have the option of purchasing add-ons to achieve that functionality. However, lots of businesses tend to use other 3rd party apps for other features such as help desk ticketing and knowledge base functionality.

Why go with 3rd party solutions?

As most of you may already know, Intercom is expensive and not every business feels Intercom’s equivalent of a Help Desk and Knowledge base is worth the price. Due to this many users look for cheaper alternatives to Intercom that are easier on the pockets.

Intercom charges for Visitors, not REAL users

If you’ve ever used Intercom and attempted to understand their pricing model, you’d have noticed that they count each visitor that you log into their system as a user. Over time, you will build up tens-of-thousands of logged users.

Intercom recently changed their pricing policy and now charge for “Active Users”. The definition however of an “Active User” is anyone you may have contacted at least once in the last 90 days.

This also includes any user that may have had their data updated. So, technically, each new visitor irrespective of engagement, counts as 1 user for at least 90 days.

Chatbots don’t solve problems, humans do.

Intercom offers chatbots and visitors expect bots to solve the issues they come with. A user typically spends a few minutes trying to find answers and soon realizes the bot is incapable of solving any issues but rather acts as a knowledge base with personality.

Visitors don’t consider your response time as a measurement of good customer experience, instead the time it takes to find a solution to whatever issue they came with is what they will take away from this experience. 

Intercom does not merge or organize conversations from the same user or organization

Unlike Kayako, Intercom does not merge conversations with a particular contact into a single thread.  Nor does Intercom do it on an organizational level, keeping conversations with an organization under one umbrella.  Many times agents using Intercom are not aware of what their colleagues may have communicated to a contact at a company. Not merging conversations creates such issues where one contact from a company may end up receiving different replies from different agents. 

What makes up Intercom’s solution?

Intercom’s solution is essentially Live Chat, Help desk with a shared inbox, Help center & knowledge base, Simple customer database for leads and contacts and of course, a chatbot.

Note: Chatbots cannot solve issues; instead they pass messages on to a human while your customer waits for someone to get back to them.

Now that we know of what Intercoms shortcomings are, here are some of the best Intercom alternatives you can move to in 2019

HelpCrunch

Starting at $19/user/seat Helpcrunch is a decent Intercom alternative if you’re using Intercom just for sales and are looking for something cheaper. The solution is focused on driving sales and is definitely a cheaper Intercom alternative. However, many fail to mention that Helpcrunch is mostly just live chat. The solution lacks the features and functionality that Intercom offers in add-ons. 

If you’re using all of Intercom and looking to move to a solution that packs similar features, then Helpcrunch is not the best fit and you’re better off looking at one of the more ‘complete’ feature rich help desk solutions.

Kayako

Live chat (also an in-app messenger), Ticketing, Facebook and Twitter support, Help center (Self-help/Knowledge base)

Kayako’s Inbox plan starts at $15/user/seat and is a fully integrated feature-rich help desk with functionality all businesses look for to support their growing customer base.

Kayako’s entire product offering has something for everyone and is more geared towards customer service and support as opposed to just sales and lead gen. Keeping this in mind, you’ll notice that the heart of the solution is the help desk with live chat and a knowledge base. Being seamlessly integrated allows your agents to engage website visitors as they browse your site, as well as provide real-time service and support to existing customers.

Unlike most customer service and support solutions, Kayako is full-featured, fully integrated and holds nothing back. There are no expensive add-ons or hidden costs.  You get access to all the features and functionality your business would need to provide customer service to 1 or 1000 customers.

What’s more, Kayako offers a lot of customizations with the ability to integrate with over 800 third party applications. For those of you interested in working sales, know that Kayako has a native Salesforce integration in addition to other popular CRMs. A powerful API is also available should you want to embed live chat in your web-app and use it as an in-app messenger.

Kayako’s live chat is fully customizable and can be embedded in your help center, website and web-app/mobile app as an in-app messenger with the help of an API.You can also configure your live chat to proactively engage website visitors and prospects with pre-defined messages based on the following engagement rules:

  • Page URL – the URL the visitor is on
  • Browser language – the visitor’s browser language
  • Number of visits – the number of visits to a page within a session
  • Number of pages viewed – the number of pages visited within a session
  • Time on site (in min) – the time the visitor has spent on the site, in minutes
  • Time on page (in sec) – the time the visitor has spent on the page, in seconds
  • Business hours – the business hours for team from which the conversation is coming
  • Page title – the title of the page the visitor is on
  • Referrer URL – the URL of the page the visitor arrived from
  • City – the city the visitor’s IP address is in
  • Country – the country the visitor’s IP address is in
  • Engaged during this visit – whether the visitor has already been proactively engaged during this session 

And here’s what it looks like to a visitor or prospect visiting your website:

Unlike Intercom, Kayako merges conversations from the same contact into a single thread and associates those conversations with the organization that the contacts belong to. These may be accessed by any agent from the shared inbox view.

In a simple per seat/month cost you also get to create a beautiful Help Center to give your customers a single destination for support that’s available 24/7 – even if your team isn’t.

Zendesk

Zendesk offers several products and add-ons depending on your need. These range from Live chat (Chat), Ticketing (Support), Knowledge base (Guide) and a Cloud call center (Talk).

At first glance their product offering appear to be overwhelming and can confuse anyone looking for a one size fits all solution.

Many of the products require some time to research and fully understand but when you do dive into each one you realize you’re getting the same if not more functionality at a slightly better price than Intercom. Zendesk also brings with it over a decade of market presence, great support and a stable product.

However, if you don’t have time to mix and match and want to keep things simple, you could always go with the complete Zendesk Suite that starts at $89/user/month (quite steep when compared to many of the other help desks out there). For someone using all of Intercom, a comparison would need to be made with Zendesk’s all in one suite which is priced at $149/user/month for the enterprise plan. Intercom however, will end up costing $202/month with 2 seats included (Intercoms active user policy applies).

Conclusion

The solutions we talked about offer the features and functionality you would need to replace Intercom and continue growing your business by acquiring new customers and retaining old ones. All three products offer stable platforms that are tried and tested alternatives to Intercom. At the end of the day it’s your business needs and budget that will determine which solution is best suited to your use case.  

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As your business and customer base grow, there’s a question every support leader has to answer: Do we need to expand our support operation?

When you serve more customers, the demands on your support team grow. But that’s not all—those demands fundamentally change, too. Like when you enter new global markets and, suddenly, your team has to grapple with language and cultural barriers.

Customer expectations don’t change just because your business is growing either. Seventy-five percent of customers online still demand help in 5 minutes or less.

And when you add in support across time zones, 24-hour support eventually becomes the answer. In fact, Inc. notes that 51% of consumers want a business to be available to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The biggest problem businesses face when they move to 24-hour support is quality. When you extend your hours and grow your operation, it’s all too easy for the quality of your support to falter.

So how can you build a 24-hour support operation that exceeds expectations and inspires customer love? That’s what we’re tackling here.

Do you need to offer 24-hour support?

Offering support around the clock is a big undertaking—financially and otherwise. That’s why so many businesses compromise on support quality when they do. With that in mind, let’s first make sure you’re really at a point where your business needs a 24/7 support operation.

Generally, it all comes down to two main things:

  • Your core business offering and
  • Your customers.

Depending on the products or services you offer, your customers may not need support at all hours of the day and night. Similarly, if all of your customers live in the same time zone, you might have less to lose by offering 9-5 support exclusively.

So the first “pre-step” to setting up a 24-hour support operation is asking yourself these four questions:

  • Does your product or service deal with anything time sensitive? For example, Airbnb prioritizes 24-hour support because customers need access to lodging 24/7.
  • Do you have many customers in different time zones? Even if your product isn’t typically used during off-hours, if your customers are spread across the globe, their “business hours” will vary. That was the case for Basecamp, which moved to 24-hour support as they grew.
  • Do customers use your product extensively 24/7? If not, you might be able to consider other options, rather than staffing a full 24-hour operation.
  • Are service and support core differentiators for you? Top notch customer support can be a key competitive advantage—if support is how you set your business apart, it’s a good idea to expand that differentiator by offering 24/7 help.

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s a good bet that a 24-hour support operation is worth your time and investment.

Step 1: Ask the Right Questions

Now that we know you actually need 24-hour support, let’s talk about how to set it up. The secret to building a support operation that customers love is to start with the right frame of mind.

The best support system is driven by customers, their needs, and their preferences—so it’s vital to develop a solid base of knowledge about your current support operation and how well (or poorly) it serves customers.

Are we meeting customers’ service expectations right now?

That’s the first question you need to answer. If the answer is yes, you have a good foundation on top of which to build your 24/7 support. If not, your efforts might be better spent working to optimize and improve your existing operation—before you expand it to 24 hours a day.

Either way, your 24-hour support operation should be built upon real data and information about your customers’ tendencies and your support team’s activity.

How do your customers prefer to get support?

If 99% of inquiries come through live chat, you may not need to offer five different support channels during off hours.

Are their language or cultural concerns that need to inform your support team’s location?

As we’ll get to in the next step, you have options to consider around the logistics of expanding your operation. It’s important to take language, time zone, and cultural concerns into account when you weigh those options.

What does your team’s case load look like throughout the day, and how is it growing?

It’s not always necessary or workable to jump right from 9-5 to 24-hour support. Looking at the data around case load and growth can help you decide where to focus your efforts and set both short- and long-term plans for building your support team.

Step 2: Consider Your 24-Hour Expansion Options

Once you’ve completed what we’ll call the information gathering stage above, you can use that info to inform your decision on how to expand your operation. You have 3 main options around the logistics of how your team will cover 24-hours worth of support:

  • Expanding your local team and/or their hours
  • Adding remote employees or dispersed office(s)
  • Outsourcing or partnering with another support organization

The best option depends heavily on your individual team, long-term business goals, and your customers. And you don’t have to choose just one—you can draw on any combination of those options (and at any time) as your support operation and demand grow.

Expand Your Local Team and Hours

Your first option it to simply grow your local team—by hiring more support agents, expanding their hours, or both. Expanding your local, in-house support team works best if your product is complicated or involved. You end up saving time, money, and effort because it’s easier to train existing and in-office employees.

Add Remote Employees

Remote employees are your best option if you answered “yes” to the question about cultural or language barriers back in step 1. Support agents located in the same time zone as your customers means you don’t have to worry about staffing during off hours (by offering higher pay or other perks to entice agents to take off shifts.)

Bringing on remote employees can also be a good way to get your feet wet in a new region where you’re considering opening an office or location. And if your company already has a remote employee strategy, much of your work is already done here. It’s a win-win.

Outsource or Partner

Outsourcing your customer support operation is an option during business hours, too. You may have even looked into outsourced support for the 9-5 shit already.

Even if outsourcing wasn’t the answer then, here’s the thing: the calculus changes a little when it comes to offering support 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Handing off support during non-business hours might be the most pain-free and quickest way to expand your support hours—while still offering the personalized, in-house support you’re known for during the hours when most support queries come in.

Step 3: Implement and Tweak Your Support Operation

The best support operation expands and evolves in line with your need and business growth.

The first 2 steps are aimed at setting up a 24-hour support operation that works for both you and your customers. The last step is all about maintaining the quality of your support, during and after that expansion.

What does that look like? To start, it’s vital that your support team’s culture continues to strive for customer happiness above all. When you hire and train new agents, prioritize things like emotional intelligence and customer empathy. These are the traits that lead to quality at scale.

The next step is to gather customer feedback on your support operation constantly, and continuously use that information to improve your 24-hour service. Building an operation customers love is mostly just about listening to what customers tell you—and then actually acting on it.

Finally, as your support team and the demands upon it grow alongside the business, set aside time to audit and reassess your operation. Are your answers from step 1 still the same? Is your decision from step 2 still the best option?

24-Hour Support Your Customers Love

Making the jump from Monday through Friday 9-5 support to a 24-hour operation can set your business up to build an enduring competitive advantage that makes customers fall in love. By gathering information and asking the right questions upfront, you can build 24-hour support that works for you and your customers.

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Now that 2018 is slowly wrapping up, companies are looking into starting 2019 with a ready-to-go customer experience strategy.

If this is the case with you as well – don’t worry. It’s still not too late to get in on CX and reap its benefits.

It’s still a relatively new field but that’s not to say it’s an easy strategy to develop.

In fact, 81% of CX leaders say their companies will compete nearly solely on experience within the next few years but only 22% of leaders say their efforts have exceeded customer expectations.

The fact of the matter is that if your customer’s experience is poor, customers will eventually switch brands – it’s only a matter of time.

This is why it’s so important to have a strong customer experience strategy.

If, for some reason, CX hasn’t been on your radar until now, you should consider implementing it as part of your bigger customer retention strategy.

Luckily for you, it’s not too late to start.

So, if you’re just thinking of starting 2019 by applying a customer experience strategy to your business – here are some key trends you might want to keep an eye out for to help you get started.

1. Instant gratification

Customers don’t like waiting. Period.

Whether it be for waiting for the site to load, for a response to their emails, chat questions and more – they expect their problems to be top of the line priority for you.

Now, this makes sense when you think about it. Customers look to spend the least amount of time and effort. If they don’t like something, they’ll abandon a site, even if what they’re looking for might be just a click away.

According to Kissmetrics, 47% of visitors expect a website to load in just under 2 seconds and 40% of them will leave if it takes more than 3 seconds. Likewise, 84% of customers have given up on a business due to a live chat being a frustrating experience and having a slow response time.

This means businesses are losing revenue simply based on a customer’s initial impression of them, and this happens even before any actual interactions take place.

Speed and convenience are some of the biggest factors affecting customers in general. This is the case with the live chat experience as well. It’s vital your team gets this right if you want to attract and retain customers.

(Pro tip: chatbots are useful for this).

For small and overburdened teams this can be hard though.

So, to cut down on response times, consider keeping all of your support conversations in one place or setting up notifications for real-time conversations.

Most customers (42%) already prefer live chat over other forms of support (even email and social media) as it allows for them to get their questions answered in real-time. As a company, if you’re looking to meet your customer expectations and retain them, be sure to work on your instant communication strategy.

2. Personalization

According to Segment, 71% of customers find impersonal experience frustrating and feel that they’re talking to a robot instead.

It’s an interesting trend but 19 out of 20 consumers would also rather receive personalized and actually helpful expert support, even if it’s slow paced, over low-quality support. Consumers value high-quality support over speed – quality over quantity. Not surprisingly though, 93% of companies that invest in personalization, tend to see higher conversion rates in return.

So far, the trend is that personalization increases conversion rates and sales – but that’s not all.

Personalization also influences what people buy, it affects brand preference and builds loyalty among customers.

If you want to see personalization done right, just look at Spotify. Their music recommendation algorithm (based on your interests) has gathered millions of fans with playlists that fit their individual preferences.

In the eCommerce world, you can use your data similarly to personalize products and services more effectively.

Whether it’s emails greeting them by their name, or tailored packages based on previous buying habits, customers are used to getting what they like without companies having to ask.

Businesses looking to offer the best customer experience in 2019 should definitely look into utilizing their customer data as a way to make their relationship more personal. Having access to their buying habits, pain points, and how they interact with your brand is a great start.

Segmentation is key to understanding your target audience.

Know who you’re targeting and make sure you’re connecting with your customers on a personal level.

3. Predictive analytics and insights.

Speaking of data and machine learning, one of the biggest impacts you can have on your customer experience in 2019 is thinking steps ahead of your customer.

Though you can’t predict everything, it’s always a good idea to try and walk a mile or two in your customers’ shoes.

Predictive analytics allow companies to develop more effective strategies and identify valuable opportunities to improve CX ahead of time. As opposed to basing decisions on your interactions with customers that may have affected your reputation in a negative way.

Prevention is better than cure.

Using big data and preventing mistakes before they even happen can save you a lot of time and money down the road. In turn, customers will have a better experience with your business.

To better map out your analytics, consider attaching relevant CX metrics to your decisions that impact the end user. Knowing in advance what your customers want is a strong way to improve your overall CX strategy. It gives you a better understanding of your customer and puts you ahead of your competitors as well.

Ideally, all this will be based on data and insight that you gain from your customers. So, it shouldn’t be a shot in the dark, but rather, a way to bring you and your customers closer.

Predictive analytics help you stay ahead of the curve in terms of your customer behavior and purchase patterns, while for your customers this means a smoother and a more intuitive way of interacting with your brand.

Conclusion

All in all, as important as the above trends are, it’s also crucial to implement CX as part of your company culture if you want to get far.

Customer experience is more than just trends and data to increase conversions and sales.

It’s all about providing the right experience tailored for each individual customer. It’s about looking at things from your customers perspective and showing empathy.

One of the biggest CX challenges is identifying what exactly your customers want and delivering on that – It’s about living up to your customers’ expectations.

So, if you’re thinking of implementing customer experience strategy in 2019, start focusing on the needs of your customers.

Once you gain a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, you can then start implementing the above key trends and take your customer engagement to the next level.

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