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Remember how exciting buying your first car was?  I do.  It was shiny and new and had that fresh car smell.  I had researched the one I wanted and day dreamed about all the freedom I’d have to go anywhere once I had the car.

Imagine then when that day finally came to get the keys, instead of handing them over to you the dealer instead sat you down to explain how every part of the car worked.  Before you could drive the car away you’d have to read all the manuals and understand how an engine works.  You’d really have to study and understand everything about the car before you could drive off.  Finally you’d be required to understand the organizational structure of the car dealership and how they operate in order to be able to reach out to them when it was time to service your car or get help.

It certainly would not be a smooth or frictionless experience.

The whole process of learning everything about the car before you could take possession would be quite uninteresting (for most) and make the car feel very complicated and the whole experience less exciting.  Would you remember exactly how the dealership was organized and run in order to service your car?  Why should it be so complicated to get help if required?

Perhaps you would start wondering whether you bought the right car and whether a car is even worth it.  Should you just fly to your destinations instead?  Or take the train or bus?

A bit of an exaggerated illustration I know however it’s not far off from how software vendors normally operate.

When Customer Success organizations spend time trying to educate the customer on every part of the product, or have customers learn everything about their organization, their processes and who to reach out to when help is needed, they are inserting a lot of unnecessary friction into the adoption process and making the product more complicated than it needs to be.

Rather than placing the burden of learning everything about your product and organization upon the customer, Customer Success can use their understanding of the customer to seamlessly fit the product into the customer’s environment making the entire product adoption process as frictionless as possible.

How does Customer Success do this?

First, understand your customer.  Know clearly what they want to achieve so you have the desired outcome or goal foremost in mind.

Then, together with your understanding of their organization, culture and your customer journey (ie. the path to successful product adoption), determine how best to fit the various steps of your product adoption methodology (i.e. your success plan) into their environment as seamlessly as possible.

Essentially fit, or translate, the activities of the customer journey into their cultural vernacular and organizational processes so they don’t have to learn everything about your organization and product in order to get started.  Make the adoption process smoother by figuring out for them what elements of the product they need to know about in order to achieve their goals and how to do that in a way that they’re most familiar with.

In doing so Customer Success is using its understanding of the customer and its experience in successful customer deployments to offload the burden of additional learning from the customer to drive adoption more efficiently.

Bottom line

Do not place the burden of learning everything about your product and your company to drive product adoption on the customer.  Make the process as seamless as possible by understanding the customer and determining how best to fit your product into their organization so they quickly learn and use it, and it feels easy to them while doing so.

This article was first published by Kia Puhm on the DesiredPath Blog here

 

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Leaders, do you know how to lead high morale for great customer service delivery? Customer service work in help desks, contact centers, technical support teams, and ecommerce centers is challenging and stressful.  Are you adding to the reps’ stress or inspiring them to greatness? In other words, are you leading morale for great customer service? Here are the key modern day leading morale steps to guide you.

Start by Removing These 9 Morale Killers
    1. Metric only focus. 

      Metrics are important yet they do not create great service. They measure great service that your teams create. Lead and inspire people to deliver great service. Don’t lead just for metrics.

    2. Disdainful remarks born of your frustration. 

      As pressure mounts on you for better team performance, you may be tempted to slam your team members. This kills morale and performance. Customer service leaders need to inspire not inflame.

    3. Not addressing poor performance and bad attitudes. 

      When one team member is always late, takes long lunches, and does the minimum required, it affects morale and performance of the whole team. When you as customer service leader don’t address it, you kill morale.

    4. Highlighting mistakes but not successes. 

      When people work in a pressure cooker, they need uplift to stay enthused. If you say only the negatives, you push them further down and kill morale. Celebrate their talents and help them to always learn and grow even from mistakes.

    5. No empowerment. 

      In many traditional call centers, employees were treated like rats in a maze that weren’t even allowed to move around! Routine repetitive jobs where people can’t learn, grow, and contribute more of who they truly are kill morale. So, to lead morale for great customer service, tap and empower the talent you hired.

    6. Attila the Hun supervisors and team leaders. 

      The direct leadership of customer service teams has a tremendous impact on morale.  Pushy rude leaders at any level, including and especially supervisors/team leaders,  crush morale. Supervisors and team leaders need training in how to inspire great performance not insult and bully employees. I can help you with that.

    7. Bad mouthing customers. 

      Leaders mistakenly think that bad mouthing customers to team members will make team members feel better. This temporary boost actually kills the morale needed to stay positive and sustain customer service excellence. Empathize with team member challenges yet don’t encourage a hate the customer mentality.

    8. Assigning blame but taking credit. 

      Customer service leaders who take credit for the success of the team yet blame the team when things go wrong kill morale.  Reverse the trend. Take the blame and share the credit!

    9. Ego driven leadership. 

      Leaders, if you make daily work all about what you need, what you want, and your talents, you kill morale. Customer service professionals are giving of themselves and caring about customers eight hours a day. If they have to stroke your ego for those same eight hours, their commitment and morale crumble. To lead morale, leave your pet peeves at home, quiet your ego,  and serve the staff who serve the customers.

Then Take These 5 Key Steps to Lead Morale!

Now that you’ve assessed your current leadership actions using the nine point checklist above, take these additional 5 modern-day leadership steps to lead and sustain morale and performance.

  1. Highlight meaning. 

    The vast majority of employees today — especially in the younger generations — seek meaning at work. How exactly does their customer service work contribute and impact the organization?  Meaning sustains morale and the inspiration to serve. When customer service teams don’t know their impact, they become bored and uninspired. Educate them on the business goals and how their work helps meet them. Give them specific examples of how they matter.

  2. Create belonging.

    Morale is a critical emotion. Don’t treat your employees as disposable and  replaceable parts. For great customer service morale, make sure they feel welcome and essential in your organization.

  3. Sustain a positive workplace. 

    Engage them with inspirational thoughts, address and replace toxic behaviors on the team, and overcome chronic negativity.

  4. Acknowledge, appreciate, and praise. 

    For great customer service morale, acknowledge individual talents, and offer sincere praise. It sustains the employees through stressful interactions.

  5. Most of all, treat everyone with respect & dignity! 

    In the end, morale is all about daily dignity.  Treat your employees with respect and dignity else they will treat customers as badly as you treat them.

Remember that you are leading *people — not technology, not metrics, not sales goals —  people! That means you must inspire and lead morale. If you’re not leading morale, you’re not leading anyone.

©2019 Kate Nasser. All rights reserved.  If you wish to reprint or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission.

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At Kayako, we’re big proponents of live chat customer support. That’s because we know how powerful it can be at helping boost your customers’ experience—and your business in the process.

Our Live Chat Statistics report found that a whopping 79 percent of businesses say live chat has had a positive impact on their sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.

That’s a pretty rousing endorsement.

Despite their strong preference for live chat, 47 percent of consumers can’t remember a positive live chat experience from the past month. And 43 percent of businesses know their customer experience isn’t good enough. That’s why offering live chat—and getting it right—can have such a big impact on your business as a whole.

Here are 5 of the biggest reasons live chat can radically improve your customer support, to the benefit of your sales and customer retention.

Consumers Love Live Chat Support

Despite the abundance of crummy live chat support experiences, consumers seem to love and prefer live chat support. It’s easy to see why they hold tightly to live chat—it has the potential to be the quickest and easiest support channel.

That’s why nearly half of the consumers we talked to say they prefer live chat over every other support channel. And 38% of those consumers say they’re more likely to buy from companies who offer live chat.

That’s right, simply offering live chat can help you win over new customers and outcompete companies who lack live chat support. Offering live chat that actually works and lives up to its potential, too? That can revolutionize your customer support operation and the way customers view your business.

Allows Your Team to Handle More Cases, More Quickly

In the customer support world, first response time is one of the gnarliest thorns in your operation. At a certain point, it’s hard to bring down first response times without adding more agents—but expanding your team isn’t always a viable option for every business.

That’s where live chat can change the game completely. Unlike phone support that requires support agents’ full attention for the duration of the case, live chat opens up the possibility of handling multiple cases at once.

When agents interact with customers over live chat, they can work on multiple cases at a time—without sacrificing support speed or quality. That means more customers get the help they’re looking for, in less time.

Enables You to Be More Proactive About Support

If there’s one thing plaguing today’s customer support teams, it’s the huge burden of ever-more numerous and demanding customers looking for flawless and instantaneous help. When customers come knocking, your team’s best tool is proactive support.

When we talk about adding live chat as an additional support channel, it can feel like you’re just adding to your team’s already full plate. But in reality, live chat simply offloads customer cases that would have otherwise turned to phone, email, or other support options.

When those customers turn to live chat instead, you have more tools at your disposal to help them proactively—so they can solve their own problems. That means fewer cases actually require a support agent’s involvement.

Real-Time Support Means Real-Time Customer Satisfaction and Feedback

There’s one thing that stands above the rest when it comes to improving your customer support—there’s no substitute for customer feedback. The feedback your customers share is your most valuable resource because it makes decisions for you.

It enables you to double down on improvements that actually carry weight with your customers. It makes it easier to invest in your customer support because you already know those improvements will be effective.

When you offer more real-time support channels, you open the door to even more real-time feedback and data—meaning you can make better, more up-to-date decisions on how to boost your customers’ experience.

Live Chat Opens the Door to 24/7 Support

As technology and culture evolve, the demands and expectations of customers follow suit. That’s why 75 percent of today’s customers expect help in less than 5 minutes. And they don’t just expect that level of support Monday through Friday from 9-5. According to Inc., more than half of consumers want customer support to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Staffing a call center 24/7 comes with its own host of challenges—but live chat can simplify your move to a 24/7 support operation. Since agents can handle multiple cases at once, you can staff fewer team members during off-hours.

Written communication and scripts can ease some of the growing pains associated with language and cultural barriers between your team and your customers—making it more viable to hire off-hours help in corresponding time zones.

Live Chat for Better Customer Support

Offering live chat support to your customers can have a huge and outsized impact on a whole host of things—like customer satisfaction, your competitive edge, and your support team’s overall workload and burden.

Whether you’re looking to reduce first response times, stretch a small support team, or build a 24/7 support operation, live chat can be an incredibly powerful tool in your belt.

For more info on the state of live chat, check out our Live Chat Statistics report.

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When looking for the best help desk several factors should be considered. For instance, you’d want a help desk that can cater to your small business and scale as you grow. And you’d want features you need now and those you’d need later, at a price that’s affordable and small business friendly. The perfect Help Desk as a Platform offers more than just basic help desk functionality. It should allow you to build upon it through native and 3rd party integrations.

Kayako provides you with a full featured help desk software that allows your customers and prospects to get in touch with you through email ticketing, live chat and social. For anyone interested in self-service or for the times your team is unavailable, Kayako’s self-service features such as its knowledge base and help desk portal make it easy for customers and prospects to find what they’re looking for at a pace that suits them.

  • 89% of millennials use a search engine to find answers before making a call to get customer service
  • 67% of them have increased their expectations in the past year regarding customer support
  • 78% of millennial customers have moved their business somewhere else after one single poor customer service experience

– Salesforce

However, what makes Kayako unique is its ability to capture customer journeys and conversations across your business. This is made possible by building upon Kayako through native and third party integrations. For instance, integrating Kayako with your website, Salesforce, Paypal, Stripe, Mailchimp, Shopify and other solutions your business uses, allows Kayako to gain intelligence and be able to identify interactions across all these and hundreds of other applications.

Kayako’s journeys and conversations allow us to see the first marketing touch in the form of an email or a webpage visit or a popup add that was shown to the customer all the way to the ticket opened with support and the last communication that took place.

What makes this level of customer logging possible is the ability for Kayako to integrate with close to 1000 apps.

There are literally hundreds of help desk software to choose from and many of these platforms require expensive add-ons to support your business needs as you grow. Live chat for instance is charged as an additional feature by many help desk providers and in many cases so is the knowledge base. Kayako offers all this and more straight out of the box. There are no hidden costs or recurring fees that our customers are subjected to. We keep things simple by providing customers with the best Help Desk as a Platform experience possible. Everything you could ever need while supporting your customers has been provided.

Another feature that’s changing how customers are supported is to have collaborators from different teams and departments jump into the conversation as and when needed. This feature empowers customer support reps as they get access to experienced resources from different departments from across your business. Both collaborators and support reps have access to the complete customer journey and have full context at a glance – no need to reference 3rd party applications. The customer on the other end has an extremely personalized experience as the support they receive is focused on solving their problem in a manner that is not generic, scripted or robotic. Roping in resources from different teams automatically forces them to work harder and perform better as it is in each team’s interest to want the least number of issues with work they’re directly responsible for.

Providing support that’s intelligent and well informed requires features such as journeys and conversations – that log a customers entire journey across numerous touchpoints and softwares. This includes interactions with shopping carts, payment portals, support teams and email. Something that could only be made possible through Kayako’s Help Desk as a Platform.

Setting us apart as a true Help Desk as a Platform is Kayako’s live chat that can be added to your website as well as your Android and iOS apps. Kayako’s live chat can also be added to your help center giving you the ability to contact and support customers while knowing the exact nature of their problem. Kayako’s live chat also allows you to automatically send out messages to website visitors through proactive messaging rules  that let your business communicate with website visitors based on their behavior on your site.

The criteria for engagement rules all have to do with the behavior or identity of a visitor to your website or app. You can choose several different rules to set the criteria for auto-messaging. Each message that’s received is then forwarded to a department and team member of choice.

If you like what you go ahead and take Kayako for a test drive to experience these awesome features for yourself!

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As your business grows, it’s inevitable that your customer service team’s workload will grow right along with it. While there are ways to lighten the burden on your support team, at some point, there’s no substitute for a bigger team.

It’s a common challenge for businesses across the globe. So much so that nearly half of the contact center leaders Forrester surveyed expect their teams to grow 5-10% over the next year—and 14% of them expect to grow by more than 10%.

You know and trust your current support reps and they’ve proven their metal when it comes to solving customer problems and inspiring customer loyalty—but how can you ensure new hires have what it takes to make that happen?

When it’s time to bring on new agents to your team, there are 10 essential customer service skills you should hire for.

1. A+ Communication Skills that Transcend the Medium

Customer service agents do a lot of different kinds of work throughout the day—and with new channels for customer support popping up all the time, their job is one that evolves constantly. If there’s one standout skill that today’s omnichannel customer service teams need, it’s top notch communication skills.

Great communicators are clear. They know how to explain themselves so anyone on the other side of the phone or computer screen can understand them effortlessly. It goes the other way, too—good communicators understand, not just what’s said to them, but the subtext and emotion behind it.

Today, it’s more than just phone communication skills or written communication skills. Customer service teams need to possess communication skills that transcend the medium—skills that carry over from phone to social media to live chat and more.

2. Emotional Intelligence

In the customer service world, some things can get dicey. Angry customers, system-wide outages, messed up orders… there are a lot of ways for a support conversation to get heated. The best customer service reps need to be able to handle high stakes conversations and turn them into positive customer experiences.

Sixty-eight percent of the customers American Express talked to said a pleasant customer service rep was the cornerstone of a positive support experience. But emotionally intelligent agents take it a step further than just being friendly.

They’re adept at understanding and empathizing with customers—beyond that, they’re able to identify and set the right tone, use the right language, and take the right actions to solve customer problems to the satisfaction of the customer.

3. Teamwork and Asking for Help

When every customer service agent is helping a different customer, it’s easy for your team to get siloed. They don’t communicate about common questions or customer problems. They don’t collaborate on the solutions.

The best customer service teams work together constantly. They aren’t afraid to ask for help or a second opinion and display a brand of teamwork that extends beyond the cubicle walls of your contact center. Customer service should collaborate with sales, with designers, with everyone responsible for the front line customer experience. After all, your support team understands the customer like few other departments can. Their input is invaluable in driving towards a better customer experience overall.

4. Active Listening Skills

Listening skills are arguably one of the most undervalued skills you can have—as both a person and a customer service representative. The truth is, few of us really understand what it takes to actively listen.

In a customer support conversation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about your response while the customer is still talking. That’s a recipe for sub-par solutions and less than satisfied customers. The best support teams possess otherworldly active listening skills that enable them to better understand customer problems and propose the best (not just first or quickest) solutions.

5. Patience and Empathy

If there’s one skill the digital age has thrown into short supply, it’s patience. Patiently waiting as customers explain a problem. Patiently walking a less than tech-savvy customer through a solution. Patiently letting an angry customer vent frustrations.

All of these are vital functions of your customer support team—but the instinct to rush and to defend are ingrained in all of us. That’s why it’s important to prioritize hiring for patience and training your support team on how to practice patience, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

Slowing down and practicing patience enables some of the other skills we’ve highlighted, like active listening and empathizing with customers. Neither of these can really happen when your team is rushing, so it’s important (on top of training for patience) to empower reps to slow down—without having to worry about performance metrics tied to time.

6. Leadership and Taking Ownership

We know that the best customer service teams are full of reps who are empowered with the authority and knowledge they need to solve customer problems. The best support agents take full advantage of that autonomy. They demonstrate ownership of finding and implementing the best solution for customers.

They also show leadership in rallying the rest of the team behind their mission—encouraging all reps to work together to better serve customers.

7. Problem Solving On-the-Fly

While there are some things that merit slowing down customer interactions (like showing empathy or diffusing a tense conversation), searching for the right solution isn’t one of them. That’s why it’s important for your customer service agents to be expert problem solvers.

No matter how well your team is trained or how in-depth their customer support scripts are, there will always be customer problems that require a unique solution. The last thing you want agents to have to do is delay the conversation while they search for a solution or ask for help.

That’s why the best customer service reps are able to think on-the-fly and come up with creative solutions to the more unique customer problems they see.

8. A Drive to Learn

Being able to quickly and effectively solve customer problems comes down to two things: problem solving skills and a deep knowledge of the product. According to the American Express’ 2017 survey, 62% of the customers they spoke with said the “representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key” to a positive service experience.

While you can train your customer service team on the product and common solutions, it takes a self-driven desire to learn in order to develop the kind of knowledge and experience that grows from real customer service interactions.

The best support reps are always striving to improve, to learn, and to better serve customers. Something like that is hard to teach, so it’s best to hire team members who already possess a drive to learn and continuously improve.

9. A Thick Skin

As customer support professionals, we strive to create positive customer experiences. Sometimes, though, it isn’t in our power to help every customer or solve every problem. When that happens, it isn’t uncommon for customers to get angry.

Most of us instinctively want to defend ourselves, defend the company, explain the situation. But the best customer service pros know that not every customer is a peach. Some customers won’t be satisfied. They aren’t interested in a solution.

When your team has done all they can to diffuse an angry customer, reps need to be able to shake it off and be ready to help the next customer—and that requires a thick skin.

10. Improvisation

The best laid plans fail, and the best researched and tailored script falls short. You do all that you can to prepare and equip your team for real customer problems, and you send them to the phones. Once they’re in the trenches, your agents have to be able to improvise.

New, unforeseen customer problems may pop up. Unexpected glitches or outages crowd the phone lines. No matter what happens, it’s vital that your support team can handle the unexpected and find a way to solve customer problems that they haven’t explicitly been given solutions for.

The Right Stuff for Customer Service

A whopping thirty-three percent of those American Express survey respondents said that “efficiently answering questions is the most important skill that a customer service agent can have.”

It sounds simple, but a lot goes into efficiently and effectively solving customer problems. The 10 customer service skills we’ve listed go a long way in ensuring your customer service team is equipped and prepared to create effortless customer experiences!

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There is a lot of focus on employee engagement and experience these days. And with good reason, customer-centric culture is the backbone of good customer experience. Richard Branson famously said “If you look after your staff well, they will look after your customers. Simple.” He was right, of course, and Virgin is a shining example of a brand that has successfully differentiated its offering based on customer experience.

Branson spent his career building organizations around this mantra, so it might be unrealistic to transform your employee experience overnight, but you can follow in his footsteps. This starts with engaging and empowering employees, and there are actions that all organizations can take to make the shift.

Let employees be the change they want to see

Often front-line teams have an excellent pulse on the customer’s wants and needs. Yes, it’s important to regularly gather customer feedback through research and customer listening, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also listen to the voice of the employee. These insights can be just as useful to drive ongoing improvements to the customer journey. What’s more is that this is also a way to engage and employees and improve service.

When employees know they have a say in the evolution of customer experience, they will take more ownership of their individual contributions. For customer-facing teams, this means accountability for customer service and outcomes.

In practice, gathering feedback can be as simple as an employee suggestion box or a monthly team brainstorming session. Don’t underestimate the power of this. Some pretty ground-breaking ideas, such as Amazon Prime, have come from similar humble suggestion box beginnings. The key is to acknowledge the feedback and set up a process for actioning prioritized suggestions. If employees don’t see that their feedback is being authentically taken onboard, it won’t work to empower teams.

Put employees on an equal footing with customers

Being a customer-facing team member is hard work, and the old adage of “the customer is always right,” does little to empower employees. Under this philosophy, the employee is considered secondary to the customer, which might create scenarios where employees feel belittled. It is not a stretch to imagine how an employee who feels disempowered would be less inclined to provide great customer service.

Many brands, even prestigious brands in the service sector, are turning this customer-is-always-right concept on its head and positioning employees on equal footing with the customer. This is where we must carefully differentiate between the idea of being in service of someone, versus providing a service to someone. The latter empowers the service provider, whereas the former does just the opposite.

The Ritz Carlton, a brand renowned for its service culture, has successfully done this. They state their service motto as “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” This philosophy, which permeates their employee engagement from hiring to performance management, acknowledges the honor and dignity in service while empowering employees to provide great service to their customers, as equals. 

Let employees make the call

Policies and procedures should serve to support teams and uphold brand standards, but there will always be scenarios that fall outside of the standard playbook. When employees are faced with a difficult situation without a clear answer, empower them to use their judgment and take ownership of the decision.

It might be challenging for business leaders to give up control, but if you hire, train and manage teams around a cohesive service strategy, and support employees with clear guidelines and expectations, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Will there be mistakes? Of course, but these wouldn’t necessarily go away if teams had to run everything up the chain of command for approval.

When employees are empowered to make decisions, it creates a direct line of accountability to customer outcomes, which should mean that employees are addressing each situation with a service mindset. Multichoice, Africa’s largest satellite TV and media entertainment provider, launched an internal customer experience improvement campaign called #99 problems. This campaign invited all employees to contribute to fixing the top 99 pain points along the customer journey. When I interviewed Clint Payne, the Senior Manager of Customer Experience at Multichoice, he said that employees are also consumers, and as a leader he needs to “think about how we can get out of the way and help facilitate the delivery of better experiences. Employees already know what to do. The key is enablement.”

Multichoice’s campaign was no small undertaking, but this type of empowerment can start at a smaller scale. Team leaders can implement policies that allow employees to make decisions about what to do when things run off the normal script. Just remember to provide clear guidelines and to support the employee’s decision. If things go wrong, it can provide an opportunity for gentle coaching, but if employees are worried that their decisions will be scrutinized, this won’t work.

Encourage employee self-care

Richard Branson emphasizes the importance of looking after employees, but there are limitations to what an employer can do. Organizations should also encourage team members to advocate for and look after their own needs. Employee wellbeing programs, self-determined paid leave and flexible working hours are all the result of organizations deciding to put employees in the driver’s seat of their employee experience. This is the next step in ensuring that employees feel valued and cared for. Gallup reported in the 2017 “The State of the American Workplace” that employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales.

For front line staff, organizations should proactively encourage self-care that addresses the specific challenges of being at the coal face of customer experience. Customer service can be taxing even when things are running smoothly. Add an angry customer or a service delivery hiccup into the mix, and it’s no wonder that burnout is often higher among front line staff. Organizations should pay special attention to the self-care needs of these teams and empower employees to take control of their wellbeing. It’s easier to look after the needs of customers if you feel relaxed, confident and supported. The practicalities of this will vary from situation to situation, but perhaps it means providing a channel for an employee to vent after a difficult interaction with a customer or enabling team members to take a break to get re-centered if needed.    

Support teams with the right systems and tech

So many customer experiences are automated these days. Apps, chatbots, IVRs, you name it, customers are well-equipped to do things on their own and be their own first line of defense when an issue comes up. That means that when customers do opt for an in-person experience, it’s because they need assistance with something complex, are looking for expertise, or are simply seeking the element of human connection. Teams need to be geared up to rise to the occasion and make the most out of these experiences.

The same automation and digital innovation that has revolutionized most customer journeys can also be harnessed to help teams be prepared to deliver great customer service. Nordstrom has been on the forefront of retail innovation. This extends not only to what the customer sees, but also how the organization has invested in capabilities to empower teams. In 2018 the retailer acquired Bevyup, a start up with platform enabling sales associates to communicate with each other on the backend and to extend outreach to customers through such things as style boards. At the time of acquisition, Nordstrom planned to incorporate Bevyup into a new Nordstrom employee app supporting the needs of their sales associates and other front-line teams.

This is just one example of how innovative brands are empowering teams with the right systems and platforms, so these teams can focus on delivering meaningful and engaging customer service. When investing in tech-based solutions, leaders should evaluate if there are opportunities to streamline processes or proactively feed information to customer-facing staff so they can be prepared and empowered.

None of these suggestions are quick fixes, but they do begin to catalyze change by supporting teams to focus on what’s important, fostering accountability and deepening employee engagement. These interventions will be most effective in environments where leaders have laid the foundation with a clear customer-centric purpose and vision. All will require time and leadership dedication, but if organizations act on opportunities to support and empower employees, this will in turn translate into better service experiences.

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We had the pleasure of hosting customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken earlier this month for a half hour Q&A session on why customer experience matters so much and what businesses must do to create the best experiences for their customers.

Shep, has been guiding organizations and customer experience professionals since before the industry knew what the term ‘customer experience’ meant.

In addition to being a customer service and experience expert Shep is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.

Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution, Amaze Every Customer Every Time and Be Amazing or Go Home. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

But above everything else, Shep practices what he preaches which makes us all want to listen to what he has to say. He was kind enough to take time out to answer our questions.

We kicked off the session by getting everyone on the same page by asking Shep what customer experience really is and why it’s important for companies.

Shep tells us how back in the day customer experience used to be called customer service and and those words were almost interchangeable! But today, customer service is part of the overall customer experience and it is end to end –  from the moment a customer thinks about doing business with you to every interaction in-between.

“Customer Experience is interactions with people, the product and anything related to the experience a customer has doing business with you.” – Shep Hyken

Shep adds that by delivering a great customer experience the price is going to be less relevant, given the product does what it’s supposed to. As long as a business is competitive and it’s delivering this great value in the form of the experience and the service the customer receives, as a business you get to enjoy (ideally) a less competitive environment from the standpoint of having to charge the lowest price every time.

Giving the example of Amazon and how people find them to always have the best price, Shep tells us how the e-commerce giant allows you to buy a product from a 3rd party vendor at a lower price if you like. Amazon allows users to navigate to another vendor, but by delivering the amazing experience they do, it gives them the confidence that fewer people will click on the 3rd party vendor.

“You’re no longer compared to your direct competitor – you’re compared to the best the customer receives from anyone” – Shep Hyken

Here’s an old interview of Jeff Bezos where he talks about this focus on customer experience.


Jeff Bezos In 1999 On Amazon's Plans Before The Dotcom Crash - YouTube

Jeff was ahead of his time and has disrupted the industry with the level of service Amazon brings to the table.

In Shep’s book “The Convenience Revolution”, he talks about convenience as a way to differentiate from the competition.  The point he makes in the book is that the best companies are the ones that make it easy for people to do business with them.  

“The experience businesses bring should be frictionless and it should be all about convenience.” – Shep Hyken

According to a study by Siegel and Gale if you were to have bought a portfolio of stocks 10 years ago with the top 10 companies rated for best customer service and made sure you had the top performing companies in your portfolio each year, you would have doubled your investment. However, Shep points out that Siegal and Gale came up with a simplicity report the same year that focused on the companies that are easiest to do business with, like Amazon, Netflix and Uber. Shockingly, these companies outperformed by more than 679% in the same 10 year period and offered an 830% return on investment.

“A customer’s experience with a business starts with the first touch. It could be your website, marketing material, sales and customer service and support interactions – they all have an impact on the overall Customer experience.” – Shep Hyken

With regard to the things businesses can do to provide a better customer experience, Shep talks about how the customer experience can always be improved, and that businesses need to be able to identify where things need to get better. To do this effectively, one needs to journey map the heck out of their business!

“Make sure you’re aware of every touch-point, human or not, so you’re able to track every interaction and then give your people the tools they need to deliver a great customer experience.” – Shep Hyken

Here are 6 areas of convenience that Shep walked us through that take the customer experience to the next level.

  1. Frictionless – Make it easy for people to do business with you.
  2. Self Service – Put control in the customer’s hands. Anything you can provide them where they get control. Let customers move at their pace
  3. Technology – What tech can you incorporate in your business to make life easy for your customers
  4. Subscription Model – Beneficial to the customer and company. Things happen on-time like clockwork. By paying a small fee you’ll always have the latest and greatest version of the product. Great examples are the Dollar Shave Club and Microsoft’s product licensing
  5. Delivery – taking it to the customer
  6. Accessibility – hours of operation, location and how available you are to your customers.

To get better one needs to measure everything. To identify whether you’re doing things right always be measuring churn says Shep.

“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it” – Peter Drucker

Come up with metrics that helps you see where you are. You can use simple surveys such as CSAT and NPS to benchmark and work to get better.

A great way to know where issues lie is to speak with your customer support people and ask them what the most common customer complaints are. Sit down and work on coming up with ways to address these issues.

Many businesses look to hire cheap resources and train them to fit certain customer centric roles. Unfortunately you can’t always train people to be more empathetic and caring.

“You can train people to be better at customer service but you have got to come with the tools” – Shep Hyken

Shep tells us about how according to Jim Bush  – Head of customer service worldwide at American Express pointed out that Individuals that have a hospitality background tend to be better candidates for customer service roles, as you can always teach employees to flip through screens. It’s the hospitality mind-set that they come up with that makes them ideal candidates for the position.

Even with the right employees results cannot be achieved unless you’re taking care of your employee base. To ensure growth your employee base must be happy as their well being is key to a successful business.

“Employee golden rule – Do unto your employees as you want done unto the customer” – Shep Hyken

Leadership has to decide what they want as a company culture. The leader has to demonstrate the behavior they want their employees to emulate and they have to be the role model.

Shep walked us through this concept he has called FUN, where F stands for fulfillment, U for Uniqueness and N for Next. This concept forces you to ask three important questions:

  1. Do we have people in the right job that Fulfills them?
  2. Do they have a unique talent that’s special that fulfills them and that you can take advantage of? – give them what they need that helps exploit their unique talent?
  3. Next – what can you do to get employees excited about coming to work? Could be a new project or service or a new product.

If you’d like to hear more of Shep, visit shep.tv or follow him on twitter @Hyken

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You can use Kayako to keep an eye on every interaction your business has with the customer with Kayako’s Journeys and Conversations.

Sign up for a trial and test drive these features free for 14 days.

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Switching help desks is a lot like changing smartphones. It takes some time to import your contacts, download all the necessary apps, get used to the new interface but at the end of the day you know its good for you!

With Desk.com being shut down in 2020, we have prepared a short guide on how you can transfer your data from Desk to Kayako using an automated data migration tool.

Here are the steps you need to take to successfully plan, migrate and get started with Kayako.

Planning the Migration Choose a weekend or a time with low traffic and set a date for migration

You should schedule the move for the dates when support activity in your company is at its lowest. Depending on your industry it could be the weekend, start of Q1 or even around public holidays. A good way of determining a day for this is to check your Desk.com reports to see when the support requests are at their lowest.

Review the database and configure Kayako

To perform the migration, you need a Kayako account that’s up and running, with custom fields created in it. From there, decide which data you want to transition. You can either manually refine your database in Desk.com or reach out to our team to filter the data.

Tip: with Help Desk Migration you can filter your data or incrementally migrate your records. For instance, you could migrate open tickets first, then closed tickets or migrate only the tickets for the past year before migrating everything else. At the end of the day you can migrate based on priorities set by you and your team. It all depends on what data is most important to your organization.

Move a small part of records to test the process

Integrity is top priority for data migration. So it makes sense that you should be able to test the waters before diving in. With HDM you can run a Free Demo migration and see if your transfer needs some fine-tuning.

Migrating to Kayako

The migration begins with signing up with Kayako and connecting your Desk.com and Kayako accounts with your migration tool, in this case HDM. From there you will need to choose the records you want to migrate, map the ticket fields and perform the Demo Migration.

After checking and approving the results of the test import you can start the Full Data Migration.

To check the progress of your migration, sign into your HDM account. Or just wait for an email informing that the migration is complete.

Final Steps after the Migration

Once the transfer is finished, check the imported records in Kayako. If everything looks good, finish off by setting up Kayako as your new help desk by redirecting all support channels to Kayako. 

Want to give it a try? Set up a Free Demo Migration. When you’re ready to migrate, don’t forget to claim your discount. Contact your account manager at Kayako for details or email us at sales@kayako.com.

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Customer service and experience have taken on a growing urgency for businesses large and small. Offering customers out-of-this-world customer experience is one of the most effective ways today’s businesses can set themselves apart and inspire loyalty and brand love from their customers.

Teams that deliver that kind of customer service have one thing in common: they’re constantly working to improve. Great customer service isn’t static—it changes and evolves with things like technology and customer expectations.

No matter how stellar your customer support metrics are today, there’s always something you can do to drive them even higher. To that end, we pulled together 7 of the most effective ways to get better at customer service.

1. Set the Right Expectations

Giving your customers service and support that exceeds their expectations and inspires their loyalty starts at the very beginning: setting the right expectations.

Small and busy customer support teams can’t always provide the same things large companies can. As a small business, you have other strengths that make up for it—but that may not always be obvious to customers. It’s your job to set the right expectations, so customers get the service they need without expecting the impossible from your team.

The first step to setting customer expectations is to be transparent and communicative about your team’s availability, including when and where customers can find support and how quickly they can expect a response.

Publish this information in your website footer, on your support page, and any other areas where customers find your team (like in your Twitter bio). If that information changes, be proactive about letting customers know and updating your availability and average wait times across your web properties.

2. Train and Empower Your Reps

There’s a lot you can do to get better at customer service. But at the end of the day, if your support reps are unhappy, unengaged, and micromanaged, the quality of your customer service will suffer.

Salesforce notes that as employee engagement rises, businesses see as much as 100% higher customer loyalty. That’s because a happy, engaged support team creates better customer experiences, period.

Building an engaged and empathetic support team comes down to 3 main steps:

  1. Hire the right reps
  2. Train them on more than just product—teach them how to make customers happy
  3. Empower them with the tools and autonomy to solve customer problems, without time-consuming and frustration-building escalation tiers

When you hire the right people, they want to create great experiences for customers. From there, it’s your job to give them the knowledge, tools, and authority to do that.

3. Aim for Customer Happiness Over Other Success Metrics

When it comes to measuring the performance of your customer service team, there’s no shortage of metrics and numbers you can track. You can gauge first response times, average handle times, customer feedback scores… the sky’s the limit.

But what do all those numbers actually mean? At the end of every day, there’s only one question that really matters: did we leave our customers happy? That’s the guiding light of customer service and support—but it often gets lost among all the other things we can measure.

The best way to combat KPI creep is to infuse an emphasis on customer happiness throughout your team, its leadership, and the company as a whole. Let customer satisfaction be the North Star of all your day-to-day activities and tasks. If other metrics (like call handle time) slip, ask if the dip was in service of creating a better experience for customers.

4. Meet Customers Where They Are

In today’s technology-immersed world, customers have some expectations about where and when they can get support from your team. They expect omni- and multichannel customer service that’s infused with the same high quality and personal brand touch across every channel.

When someone reaches out for support on Twitter and your social manager shuffles them off to email, that adds unnecessary steps and frustration for the customer. But when companies engage with customer service requests on social media, those customers go on to spend 20-40% more with the company.

That’s why today’s customer service champs meet customers where they already are. Don’t shuttle customers off—provide support in the channel they choose. Part of that comes down to breaking your support team out of their silo. Support reps should work with your social, community, and sales teams to provide support how and when customers need it.

5. Infuse Customer Interactions with Your Brand’s Voice

Speaking of providing a consistent experience across support channels, customers measure your business by the sum of every interaction they have with you. That means every touchpoint is an opportunity to convey your brand and your priorities—regardless of where or when it takes place.

Branding isn’t just for marketers, and it doesn’t go away as soon as a lead becomes a customer. Customer support interactions are one of the most powerful, yet underutilized, opportunities to set your brand apart from impersonal and generic competitors.

Follow these 3 steps to humanize your customer support and infuse every customer interaction with your brand’s unique voice:

  • Write scripts in your brand’s style
  • Train your support team on how to speak in your brand’s voice
  • Encourage customer service reps to connect on a personal level
6. Offer Support Proactively

We know what you’re thinking. My team works hard enough to tackle incoming support requests. The last thing they need is to reach out to customers who aren’t asking for help yet.

But here’s the thing: proactive customer service can actually ease the burden on small, overworked support teams. By reaching out to customers proactively, you can solve problems before they become problems. That’s a better customer experience, right? That’s why a whopping 87% of customers want brands to reach out proactively about customer service issues.

By cultivating robust self-service support and reaching out before problems arise, you can stop customer support cases before they become customer support cases—lightening the burden on your team. Proactive customer support is about 2 main things:

  • Engaging with the right audience
  • Giving customers the information they’re looking for
7. Gather Customer Feedback and Actually Act on It

At the end of the day, the best ways to improve your customer service depend mostly on your customers and their unique needs and preferences. That’s why there’s absolutely no substitute for real customer feedback.

Here are the two keys to customer feedback:

  • You have to give customers a compelling reason to share their thoughts
  • You have to actually use their feedback

All the customer insights in the world aren’t worth much unless you put them into action—unless you use that information to actually change and improve the way you and your team interact with customers and provide support. There’s no faster way to alienate customers than by asking for their input and promptly ignoring it.

Listen to your customers, act on their experiences, and you’ll be well on your way to providing the best customer service.

Give Your Customers Better Service

Today’s customers come to brands with a lot of pre-formed and strongly held convictions about the customer service and support they want. That’s a huge opportunity for brands who make it a priority to provide the best possible customer experience.

With the 7 steps above and a resolution to continuously improve your customer service, you can take advantage of that opportunity—and leave your competitors in the dust.

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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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