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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Carrie Lemelin to learn the secrets to delivering exceptional customer service in a post-COVID world. Learn how Carrie leads her business by listening to the podcast below.
How to Adapt CX and Build Customer Loyalty
CEO of Be ExtraOrdinary, Carrie Lemelin, identifies some of the challenges modern business leaders are facing in the times of COVID-19. One main challenge businesses face is adapting to an online world of service all while striving to provide the best customer experience possible. When COVID-19 came to the forefront of the world news, businesses had to adapt to stay afloat. When asked about how to properly measure customer satisfaction in this new world, Carrie says, “Basically, it’s about being more agile and being more responsive to the changes that are happening.” Not only is it important to adapt to the changes COVID has imposed, it is also important to continually have a human-to-human connection with customers. Carrie mentions, “Make sure your customers are satisfied along the way and a way to make sure that your customers are satisfied is to listen to your customers, to have the ability to interact with your customers in a variety of different ways.” One of the best methods to retain customer loyalty in a post-COVID world is to maintain human-to-human connections and to make sure your customers feel genuinely heard and listened to.
Digitizing the Customer Experience
Popular in today’s business world, remote workforces are being utilized to provide a modernist approach to CX. It is becoming increasingly more common to find self-service CX on company websites. A huge positive to the digitization of the customer experience is real-time feedback and customer information, which is critically important for CX teams to use when improving upon their service skills and methods. Carrie understands that the most important aspect to successful CX is learning from the customer. To better explain this concept, she suggests, “Your customers that have the loudest voices mean they’re the most angry and those are the customers that have the real good information so that you can actually make a turnaround.” When a customer provides negative feedback, this should be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow as a company. As Carrie says, “Actually, the biggest gift a customer can do for you is to complain.” This advice is particularly helpful when it comes to the digitization of customer service. Bugs can easily be fixed and a seamless digital experience can be delivered when real-time feedback is utilized.
Why Outsourcing Can Be Beneficial
A common question businesses in the COVID landscape are asking is whether or not to outsource customer service agents or other systems. Carrie believes that businesses should absolutely be outsourcing, especially with new growth, as she sees it as the best option to help handle a larger customer base. Having outsourcing experience herself, Carrie notes, “My philosophy is to keep it local if you possibly can and support local businesses that can outsource according to your mission and what you’d like to portray to your customers.” Additionally, Carrie knows that data is key to a successful outsourcing experience. A business should be the sole owner of its data and in doing so, is better able to hold their vendors accountable. Finding the proper balance between internal and external experts is sure to help maximize CX efforts, especially when each agent is aligned with the brand’s mission.
Carrie urges companies to keep their end-user (the customer) in mind with every aspect of CX. Doing so will keep the customers happy and loyal. COVID has certainly impacted businesses in many ways. As Carrie puts it, “The way you handle change is to educate people, to measure what they’re saying, what they’re liking, what they’re not liking and the ability to transform.”
To learn more about the secrets to measuring CX in a post-COVID world, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday and Thursday.
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Full Episode Transcript:
How to Drive Customer Experiences in the Post-Covid World | Carrie Lemelin
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about how to drive customer experiences in this post COVID-19 world. And to do that, we brought on CEO of Be ExtraOrdinary. Carrie Lemelin. Carrie, thanks so much for joining. How are you?
Carrie Lemelin: (00:29)
Very great. Thank you for having me, Gabe.
Gabe Larsen: (00:32)
Yeah. This is a fun one. I’m glad we kind of, truthfully stumbled over your LinkedIn profile a little bit. Wealth of experience. You’ve been doing this for 25 years. You run your own company, all focused on customer experience. You’ve done facilitations training, coaching sessions, definitely an expert in the space. Can you kind of fill in a couple little blanks in your background? You’ve been doing this for a long time. What are some of the fun, fun things you’ve done?
Carrie Lemelin: (01:02)
Oh, some of the fun things I’ve done. So it’s kind of ironic how I got started in this. I’ve actually been in the energy space for a very long time, never thought I would, but one of the major projects that I’ve worked on recently was a very large $55 million smart grid initiative, where I was responsible for customer experience from start to finish. So being able to pull 15,000 customers that didn’t even realize that they were going to be involved. So getting people’s attention to be able to educate them, to be able to do regulatory compliance, to be able to take it from soup to nuts. So it was a great experience because what we had to do is we had to reach customers, energize customers, and to be able to have customers be satisfied, which it’s very hard to do these days, especially –
Gabe Larsen: (02:02)
It is. And the industry too is fun and unique, right? I do feel like every industry has its own challenges with customer satisfaction. So some of your experience in a little more unique industries will be fun to bring to bear and bring to the audience. So let’s jump in. You and I talked a little bit pre-show. Certainly the world has changed and things are just different. I am getting used to saying, they’re not going to change back. They are just going to be different. And so whether you want to change or not, you have to. So want to hear some of your things you’re thinking about as people are adjusting to all this different world stuff. Wanting to start with kind of the idea of measuring customer satisfaction. Talk to me about why that’s important, how you’ve done it yourself, or coached other organizations to do that.
Carrie Lemelin: (02:54)
Sure, sure. So it’s funny, we’re talking about post-COVID, but actually, I think it’s going to be an ongoing saga. Just like you said, basically it’s about being more agile and being more responsive to the changes that are happening. And one of the, your earmarks, if you will, is to be able to make sure your customers are satisfied along the way and a way to make sure that your customers are satisfied is to listen to your customers, to have the ability to interact with your customers in a variety of different ways. You know, we’re talking about being digital with customers because we can’t be face-to-face with our customers a lot of times. So for instance, you’ll have retail establishments that have curbside service. Well, how do you interact with a customer? First of all, how do you get the order? How do you notify the customer that you’re here? How do you interact real-time? And many organizations do not have it all pulled together. They may have pieces of this all in different places, but they don’t have it all pulled together. And you have to be able to do that. Having real-time access to how customers feel, especially as customers are frustrated, is the ability and having a system that can help you to notify you that there’s a problem and then fix it on the spot to be able to keep your customers happy.
Gabe Larsen: (04:36)
And do you feel like, I mean, people, obviously they all want to get to that goal of keeping people happy, but it is a little bit hard to figure out what are some of the right things to measure. How do you kind of get into the, “What?” What should you be measuring as you think?
Carrie Lemelin: (04:55)
What should you be measuring? Well, I’m going to put this back on you, Gabe, and I’m going to say, how do you measure today? Because first of all, a lot of times what organizations will do is they’ll look at their happiest customers and they’ll put that proudly on the wall as satisfied customers. But the fact is, and they have a multitude of channels, whether you’re interacting via, let’s say you’re doing electronic billing or electronic payments or text messaging, did they measure all of the variety of channels? Okay. So having real-time access to this information is mission critical, especially as you’re changing, something like that. So first of all, you have to be able and I say, measure it all. Measure it all real-time, as close to real-time as you possibly can, and then not only look at your satisfied customers, actually the biggest gift a customer can do for you is to complain. Your customers that have the loudest voices mean they’re the most angry and those are the customers that have the real good information so that you can actually make a turnaround.
Gabe Larsen: (06:07)
Yeah. Yeah. I like the channel. I mean, the channel thing is just something that a lot of people are talking about because there’s so much change and customers are trying to interact with them in more ways, more channels.
Carrie Lemelin: (06:21)
Think about – I’m sorry.
Gabe Larsen: (06:22)
No, finding that ability I think is just spot on. Sorry, go ahead.
Carrie Lemelin: (06:26)
No, think about Kustomer. Think about the companies that have the best interactive websites. You have self-service because everybody’s moving to self-service. Those that actually have the ability to give your feedback real-time, those are the best websites. They’re easy to understand. They’re seamless and not too much information, just in time information.
Gabe Larsen: (06:52)
How do you feel like people are, there’s obviously more disgruntled customers than ever before. People are, “Where’s my order?” That seems to be one that’s talked about a lot these days. But people have been kind of just more antsy about it and I feel like people have been, because they’re more antsy they’re sometimes a little bit less satisfied. How do you measure and manage those disgruntled customers?
Carrie Lemelin: (07:21)
Disgruntled customers. Well, It depends if you’re dealing with them live or whether you’re dealing with them. So the best time to deal with a disgruntled, if you’re on, let’s just say you’re on the phone. So you’re talking on the telephone, you’ve got somebody who’s really hot. What you want to be able to do is let the customer be heard, make sure that you’re listening to the customer. The closest you can be to the real-time interaction, the best that you can be responsive and you can actually respond to what it is that they’re upset about. Sometimes customers are unrealistic in their expectations. It’s okay. Being in this COVID world, unfortunately what’s happened is our bubbles, our personal space bubbles have increased. Our tolerance for customers has decreased. And our willingness to interact as humans has really taken a turn. So you just have to be human and you have to listen and you have to interact.
Gabe Larsen: (08:22)
I feel like the human part, we often talk about customer service and customer experience, but this is being human. It still is human-to-human interaction. I think that’s super, duper important.
Carrie Lemelin: (08:33)
And I’m sorry. And being able to say that you’re sorry. If something doesn’t go the way it is, you say, “We’re just learning too. We’re trying to do this better.”
Gabe Larsen: (08:42)
Interesting. Want to switch gears just a little bit from measurement to this idea of outsourcing. I know you have some experience with it and definitely people are talking about different facets of outsourcing, right? But a lot of people are, they’re growing very fast. And so they’ve had to look for outsource. A lot of people are outsourcing technology. Maybe a different facet as they go from on-prem to the cloud, right? So this word seems to be happening a lot. When should you, why should you, how should you, what’s your thoughts on outsourcing?
Carrie Lemelin: (09:17)
Excellent question. As we’re growing, as we’re changing, especially as you talked about going to the cloud, during COVID, we’ve had to move to a remote workforce, we’ve had to leverage technology in ways that we’ve never had to do it. And should you outsource? Absolutely. So you don’t have to be in control of everything, but it’s where strategically that you outsource. As a business, you want to outsource in areas that you can commoditize. It’s never in a business’s best interest to outsource, sorry. So it’s always holistically to one provider. You want a variety of providers in certain areas where there are expertise. So many companies are trying to package things together. They may be very good in moving to the cloud, but then they want offer you this whole package, which isn’t necessarily in your best interest. So you want to have internal experts as well as external experts. You also absolutely want to own your data, own your data. Do not, so many companies, I’ll see, you’re talking about outsourcing IT. What ends up happening, is you give the keys to the kingdom, you give them access to the data and all your tools. And then when you want to make a change, you have to go to them and you’re beholden to the outsource person. It’s always in your best interest to have expertise on your team. It’s also that you own your own data so that they can, and to keep your vendors accountable and then to be able to, whenever you have someone that you’ve had just a long-term relationship with and they have it doesn’t, usually it’s not as cost effective for us as business owners as we’d like it to be.
Gabe Larsen: (11:20)
Yeah. Yeah. I definitely, I definitely agree. I like that idea though. Keeping the data. Some stuff you do need to make sure you have the capability on. You still, it’s still your business and you’re still the quarterback. So don’t give up ever. Keep your data. You don’t give up everything. There’s certain things you still need to keep control of.
Carrie Lemelin: (11:40)
Along the lines of customer satisfaction as well. And customer, a lot of call centers when you’ve had high volume call centers have outsourced to third world countries or others. Let me give you an where we actually outsourced. And we were from the Northeast and we actually outsource to a company down in the Southeast. And we had a lot of accents and the people that were answering the phone and they knew that they weren’t from the Northeast. And we actually got push back because we weren’t hiring local. Now in certain circumstances, it makes sense to outsource. But my philosophy is to keep it local if you possibly can and support local businesses that can outsource according to your mission and what you’d like to portray to your customers.
Gabe Larsen: (12:33)
Interesting. Yeah. I feel like I’ve struggled with the outsource concept. It’s just, I think being, outsourcing, you need to, that’s not always the case. I feel better when I feel like I’ve got something that I can give to an outsourcer that they can then take and kind of scale. And I don’t have it internally figured out. I always have a hard time going with with outsourcers. But then sometimes I get stuck in that ever evolving loop of, “Well, you’ve never got it perfect so how can you go to an outsourcer?”
Carrie Lemelin: (13:04)
It could be. So Gabe, think about this. It doesn’t have to be your bread and butter calls. Maybe it’s just in an emergency situation or to be able to scale, to meet the needs of customers. So you have to look at areas that you’re willing to outsource and not. From a call center perspective, I was always against, pretty much, because my, being extraordinary is all about providing that extra level of service and the way you do that is hiring the right people, having satisfied employees that really want to make a difference for customers. And it’s very hard to hire for that.
Gabe Larsen: (13:41)
I love that. I think that’s, I think you nailed it. And just our last couple minutes, I wanted to get one other aspect from you and you’re multifaceted. So I hope you don’t mind me switching topics around a little bit, but the other big push in this post-COVID world is just the push to digitization. And I’ve seen some stats saying we’ve accelerated six years in kind of our move, globally speaking to more of a digital world. And a lot of companies weren’t ready for it. A lot of companies struggled with it. A lot of companies trying to wrap their head around it. Quick thoughts on getting digital?
Carrie Lemelin: (14:19)
Sure. So we’ve all had to. So we got hit in the back of the head and we’ve had to go from paper to digitization overnight, overnight. Paper processes no longer work depending on where you are. But my guess is we’ve got, like I said before, we’re going to have some ability to digitize information. I mean, think about it, Gabe. When you print something on a printer and you scan it, you’ve got a digital image of all this content that you have. What are doing with it? Are you printing it out and doing something with it? You’ve already got a digitized. So what it means is you have to be able to put it someplace. A database that you can search it, you can store it, you can retrieve it. And it sounds simplistic, but it really isn’t. And then to be able to automate where it makes sense. Now that’s going from basic paper to having systems that actually integrate and work together and having the ability to manage that. So that’s digital transformation at its best where the vast majority of companies are right now is just cobbling standalone systems together and trying to get access to information.
Gabe Larsen: (15:44)
Yeah. I had someone tell me, I said, “How’s your CX technology stack?” I think I’ve mentioned this on another episode, but it’s been so funny. He’s like, “Oh, you mean my Frankenstack?” Yes. I guess you could refer to it as that. He’s like, “Well, that’s the problem. I’ve got this chat program that doesn’t talk to my CRM and I’ve got a ticket system that doesn’t talk to anything. And I’ve got this order system that sits over in Florida and doesn’t talk to anything.” And he’s like, “It’s just a Frankenstack.”
Carrie Lemelin: (16:21)
Frakenstack. That’s notable.
Gabe Larsen: (16:21)
Yeah. Anyways. Well, Carrie, it’s been so fun to have you on. I do think there’s so much going on. A lot of interesting points around digital, around measurements, around this idea of potentially outsourcing. We’ve talked about a lot. If you were summarizing, what’s that kind of leave behind or that leaving advice you’d give to CX/CS leaders trying to kind of navigate these interesting times? What would you leave them with?
Carrie Lemelin: (16:45)
So, perfect. Thank you. So to have a platform that has the ability to scale and to be agile and to be changeable, to be able to maximize your ability to outsource where you can for cost savings, but also to keep in mind your end user, which is your customers, and to look at how they are in times of change. The way you handle change is to educate people, to measure what they’re saying, what they’re liking, what they’re not liking and the ability to transform. That’s what I would say.
Gabe Larsen: (17:27)
I love the word transformation. That’s what we’re all trying to do, whether we’re trying or not, we’re all having to transform. So Carrie, if someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about what you guys do, what’s the best way to do that?
Carrie Lemelin: (17:39)
Probably, LinkedIn is probably the best platform.
Gabe Larsen: (17:42)
Oh, I found you.
Carrie Lemelin: (17:42)
LinkedIn’s probably the best.
Gabe Larsen: (17:47)
I love it. Alrighty. Well, thanks.
Carrie Lemelin: (17:49)
I mean, I can give you an email address and follow up.
Gabe Larsen: (17:52)
I think LinkedIn’s probably a good place to start. So definitely feel free to reach out to Carrie you guys, if you have additional questions, but thanks so much for joining Carrie and for the audience, have a fantastic day.
Carrie Lemelin: (18:03)
Thank you very much. Have a great day, everybody.
Exit Voice: (18:10)
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