Your Guide to Delivering Quality Customer Service

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No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s critical to pay attention to the quality of your customer service delivery if you want to keep your customers happy. Read on to find out how much of a difference quality customer service can make — and how you can start taking action today.

Quality Customer Service, by the Numbers

The importance of delivering good customer service becomes all the more significant when it’s quantified. Consider these numbers that speak to the value of quality customer service:

What business wouldn’t want to reap the benefits of word-of-mouth exposure and loyal customers who keep coming back?

But, sometimes, the dramatic results and exciting possibilities make it easy to forget where to start. Let’s zoom out and establish a clearer vision for what quality customer service can and should be.

Before You Can Deliver a Great Customer Experience, You Need to Define It

An important first step toward delivering great customer service is understanding what quality service actually looks like — to your customers and to your employees.

What It Means to Your Customers

One way to find out what the ideal customer experience (CX) looks like is to dig into the most common customer expectations. If you understand what your audience anticipates when they reach out to a support agent, you can model your customer service systems and procedures around that vision.

We’ve previously highlighted the top 10 customer service qualities that can contribute to top-notch customer care. Here’s an overview of the characteristics your customers expect to see from support agents:

  1. Respectful: Show an appreciation for customers’ time, energy and business as well as the situation that caused them to reach out.
  2. Attentive: Use active listening skills that uncover what the customer is and isn’t saying, and show that you’re invested in helping them.
  3. Caring: Exhibit empathy and emotional intelligence to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer’s feelings.
  4. Positive: Transform customer complaints into positive touchpoints with the brand by leading with a positive attitude and a warm, friendly tone.
  5. Patient: Demonstrate plenty of patience when attempting to fully understand someone’s frustrating situation and work toward the type of resolution that leaves them a satisfied customer.
  6. Communicative: Employ strong communication skills to ensure that your responses are as clear, informative and helpful as they can be.
  7. Knowledgeable: Be prepared and forthcoming with expert knowledge about products or services, giving your customers the support and answers they’re looking for.
  8. Determined: Prove that you’re actively committed to discovering the root of the issue and arriving at a solution that meets your customers’ needs.
  9. Creative: Use outside-of-the-box thinking and sharp problem-solving skills to tackle more nuanced and complex issues with personalized solutions.
  10. Efficient: Find ways to minimize the time and effort you put into your support services while maximizing the results to improve the customer experience.

If you’re not sure how your business stacks up against the ideal customer experience, take a look at our ultimate CX checklist.

What It Means to Your Agents

Excellent customer service starts with empowered employees. As these customer expectations show, your audience expects to interact with highly skilled agents. But having the right customer service skills is just the baseline.

Customer care agents must also possess:

  • Expertise to represent your products and services.
  • Data to gain a 360-degree view of the customer.
  • Authority to take action on behalf of a customer.
  • Tools to manage their work efficiently.

However, they won’t show up with these resources and capabilities on day one. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff is adequately trained and that they have access to industry-leading software solutions designed to support quality customer care delivery.

Easy Ways to Start Improving Your Customer Service Right Now

With a better idea of what superior service looks like, you can start making informed decisions and steady progress toward improving your customer service and experience. Here are some simple steps to take right away. While they don’t require too much effort, they can lead you in the right direction and result in a much-improved experience for employees and customers alike.

Get Used to Measuring Customer Service Metrics

Your customer interactions can generate valuable data — if you’re prepared to collect it. With the right insights at your disposal, you can identify service gaps, bottlenecks and other pain points for customers and agents.

For example, a high abandonment rate could mean you need to respond to each customer inquiry sooner than you do right now. A high resolution rate paired with a low satisfaction rate could indicate an issue with how customers feel they’re being treated.

If you haven’t done so in the past, take some time to craft and distribute satisfaction surveys and generate internal reports to see where things stand. Focus on measuring and interpreting these important customer service metrics (and learn more about what they mean here):

  • Customer service abandonment rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Resolution rate
  • Average resolution time
  • First response time
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Sentiment analysis

Start Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

Shifting from a reactive mindset to a proactive one can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your customer care. Getting ahead of customer needs and concerns is a great way to promote a more positive CX and better prepare your agents.

For instance, retailers heading into the holiday rush can beef up their customer support teams with seasonal employees. Companies can anticipate continued COVID-19 complications and prepare with contingency plans and clear communications.

Additionally, brands can adopt an omnichannel approach and provide customer service via phone, mobile chat and even social media. This allows customers to access the help they need no matter what device they’re using to reach out. Even better, customers can switch channels seamlessly, without skipping a beat or losing context. And companies that plan to embrace remote work for a longer duration can implement the right tools to let customer care teams work from anywhere.

Discover the Impact of Upgrading Your Customer Service Software

Bringing the vision of superior customer service to life requires the right infrastructure. Kustomer’s leading customer service CRM platform can help you achieve those goals faster and more seamlessly by providing the data, automation and customization your business needs.

To discover more, request a free demo today.
 

6 Effective Ways to Maintain a Winning Customer Service Strategy

It’s no secret that a strong customer service strategy is the cornerstone of a successful business. Even if your products or services are exceptional, if the customer experience is tainted with one poor interaction, customer loyalty can be lost.

A stellar customer support strategy is meant to enhance the consumer experience as they interact with your brand. Whether they’re curious about the product and have questions, are making a purchase, or need to return something, the steps to accomplish this should be easy and engaging.

But it’s not enough to simply create a strategy and let it run its course. A company must be constantly working to maintain and improve the customer experiences for continued revenue growth. Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to sustain your customer service strategy.

6 Ways to Maintain a Strong Customer Service Strategy

We all know that consumer relations are an important area for businesses to gain a competitive advantage, improve employee and customer engagement and, perhaps most importantly, retain loyal customers. HubSpot recently found that only a 5% increase in customer retention has the potential to increase revenue by 25-95%.

It’s incredibly important to retain customers, not only because it’s more expensive to acquire new ones, but because repeat purchases have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a business’s bottom line. Here are six ways your organization can maintain your customer relationship strategy to improve the consumer experience and, in turn, retention rates and sales:

1. Continue to Communicate With Customers
From surveys and reviews to VOC and other tracking methods, organizations should be constantly communicating and collecting data to determine customer satisfaction long after they have made a purchase. In HubSpot’s “The State of Customer Service in 2020” report, they concluded that companies with high growth are more likely to understand their customers’ thoughts and sentiments about their brand. Some of the most successful strategies included tracking customer happiness and collecting direct feedback through a satisfaction survey.

Finding this information doesn’t need to be difficult or costly, simply continue to reach out to buyers throughout the customer journey and after-sales process. Ask them to complete quick surveys and monitor reviews to make positive changes and ensure customers feel heard.

2. Close the Feedback Loop
On the topic of feedback, it’s not only important to collect it; companies must also work to acknowledge it. When a customer reaches out to explain their negative experience or writes a less-than-stellar review on social media, there’s an opportunity to improve how they view your brand. According to CMS Wire, closing the loop means a company directly responds to customer feedback, no matter if it’s positive or negative.

Continue and end the conversation by offering to make changes or ask the customer to try their brand again while providing them with a discount to reduce churn. At the same time, if a customer leaves a positive review and a brand responds with a thank you, this can increase brand loyalty and turn passive consumers into promoters. Reaching out to consumers this way is proactive customer service.

3. Create a Longstanding Program
There’s no better way to increase customer and employee engagement than by encouraging them to interact and become brand promoters. Creating long-term programs dedicated to understanding the consumer, are great opportunities to receive and study feedback and turn it into action.

Customer-facing programs, like rewards and referrals, make existing customers feel like their individual experience is important, and introduces new consumers to the product or service in an exciting way from a trustworthy friend.

4. Invest in Self-Service Solutions
In the same 2020 HubSpot report, the company was surprised to find that building self-service solutions is a low priority (No. 10 out of 12 options) among businesses. Self-service solutions essentially help customers help themselves. Just like how a self-checkout at the supermarket can help shoppers who are in a rush and only need a few items purchase them quickly, tools like chatbots and other automation can create a better experience for online shoppers.

They can receive answers to their questions quickly, saving both them and the organization time. As customer expectations continue to grow and service teams must do more, self-service tools help everyone have a better experience and be more efficient.

5. Use Automation to Create a Personal Experience
Maintaining your customer service experience is all about continuously improving the interactions consumers have with your brand, and a big part of that is personalization. At a high level, this means knowing their customer history and personalizing interactions to treat them like a person and not just a transaction number. More specifically, it can also be about providing them with unique offers and opportunities that they would like.

Of course, getting to know a customer personally takes a lot of time and effort. It’s impractical to expect a customer service team to understand the intricacies of each customer, but that’s where having a unified customer data platform and automation can help. Smart chatbots with access to unified customer data can be used to a business’s advantage. While artificial intelligence of this nature isn’t a replacement of your people-savvy staff, they are an easy way to make customers feel heard and make their experience more immediate, without sacrificing personalization.

6. Improve Your Digital Customer Service
As more customers than ever make purchases online, it’s important for companies to improve their digital customer service strategy in hand with their in-person interactions. On top of utilizing automation and self-service tools that can quickly collect data and diagnose problems, digital systems must be integrated with other information stores for seamless customer experience.

Customers require access to support in whatever medium is most convenient to them in the moment. For instance, if they are shopping on your mobile app for the first time and have trouble navigating, there should be an effortless way to contact customer service within the app, vs. having to switch devices or channels. Today’s customers expect an easy and hands-off experience, and digital tools can help businesses achieve this by providing a seamless process for resolving problems.

Strive to Improve Your Customer Service Strategy

As you work to maintain an excellent customer service strategy, you should expect to make changes to your processes along the way. As you receive customer feedback and data, you may uncover untapped opportunities to improve their experience and use their advice to the benefit of your organization.

Customer service technology can help you maintain and improve your approach to customer service. Kustomer empowers your service team to deliver an exceptional and personalized brand experience driven by unified data and customer insights.

There’s an unlimited number of opportunities to impress customers and deliver an experience beyond their expectations, and the right tools help you capitalize on them. We are always keeping up with the latest trends to provide the solutions our partners need, to create, execute and maintain an exceptional customer service strategy. Request a demo today to schedule your quick 15-minute introductory call and learn how Kustomer can help your business thrive.
 

How to Bring an Intelligent Customer Experience to Your Organization

How to Bring an Intelligent Customer Experience to Your Organization TW

I was beyond excited. I had the perfect gift for my wife for our anniversary planned out. After doing some initial research I had an ad pop up on my Instagram feed that provided exactly what I wanted — a personalized canvas with our wedding song on it. I pictured my wife opening up the package on the day of our anniversary and being overcome with emotion. I was sure that I had “husband of the year” in the bag. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as I had planned.

The order process for this personalized canvas was very straightforward. I specified how I wanted the canvas to look and provided the exact wording, the canvas size, and the design. It was three weeks until our anniversary so I believed I had plenty of time. I put in the order and they sent me an email that said it would take them 1-2 days to provide me a proof and then 1-2 days to complete the canvas before shipping it. It was exactly what I saw on their website before I ordered. I knew I was cutting things a little tight but wasn’t worried. After four business days, I approved the proof they sent me, I kept waiting to get the confirmation that my order was shipped. After four more days I emailed them on a Friday asking where my order was. I started to freak out as I was down to a week before our anniversary.

I finally heard back from them on the following Monday (as they don’t work on the weekends): “We are a little backed up on our orders. We had more orders come in that we weren’t prepared for “. While they were extremely apologetic in their response they were putting my “husband of the year” award in jeopardy. Two days later I emailed them again asking when my order would be shipped. They responded quickly that it would be shipped the next day and to my relief, it was. It’s too bad that it was shipped on the same day as our anniversary. My wife is very understanding and wasn’t upset. I was disappointed though as this whole situation could have been avoided. Organizations need to consider how they can be more proactive in their approach to the customer experience so they don’t let down their customers and create lifelong customers. This is at the core of becoming an intelligent customer experience (CX) organization.

What Is an Intelligent Customer Experience?

Intelligent CX involves leveraging the technology and data that exists today to create a better overall customer experience. This includes sharing data between the different teams such as marketing and customer service, creating new roles to act on the data, and leveraging new technology such as AI.

Eliminating the Silos

Too often, organizations suffer from a lack of communication between different functions such as marketing, customer service, sales, and manufacturing. The loser in all of this is the customer, and ultimately the business, as companies will lose potential revenue and customers.

Intelligent CX organizations have more open communication and data transparency which creates a more fluid transition between the discovery and buying customer journey stages. As an example, the manufacturing team at the customized canvas company should have informed the marketing and support teams that orders would be delayed. They then should have updated their website and order emails so I would be aware of any delays and sent proactive communication of these delays while I anxiously waited for updates. Instead, I was the one that had to reach out to their customer service team a few times for updates. The friction points that existed in my customer journey could have been avoided by breaking down the silos within this organization.

Use Data to Provide a Differentiated Experience

The second component of an intelligent CX organization is leveraging the data you have about the customer to provide a better customer experience. This was the first canvas that I was purchasing from this company, yet there didn’t seem to be an acknowledgment of that. I felt like any of their other customers. If this data was appropriately used they could have:

  • Proactively reached out when they realized that my order was going to be delayed
  • Routed my issue immediately to the next available agent
  • Provided me with an exclusive and personalized offer as a first-time buyer to help drive repeat business.

We’re seeing organizations with an intelligent CX mindset collect more data at each touchpoint. They are also creating new roles that combine CX and analytics to help deliver on an organizations’ CX vision.

Embedding Artificial Intelligence

The last component of an intelligent CX organization is applying AI to inject automation and machine learning into the customer experience. AI takes advantage of the data that you have and helps organizations act on it in ways that could never be done before. This not only generates additional revenue but can result in significant cost savings.

During the purchase of my customized canvas, AI powered technology could have detected a delay in the processing of my order and proactively sent me an email without having to reach out to the customer service team. Another example is having an AI-powered chatbot on their website that could have provided me with an updated status so I didn’t need to wait until Monday to receive a response. These examples are just a small slice of what AI can do. Smoothing out these areas of the customer journey by leveraging an intelligent CX mindset is what transforms a good customer experience into a great one.

The Time for Intelligent CX Is Now

We need to go beyond providing a great customer experience — customers are expecting more. Intelligent CX organizations break down the silos that exist between different departments, they collect more data and better leverage existing data, and they embed AI into their CX processes. This ultimately creates an extraordinary, frictionless experience for your customers that will result in brand loyalty and ultimately drive a more profitable business.

PS: While it was late, the canvas has a special place in our home and reminds my wife and me of our wonderful wedding.

How to Bring an Intelligent Customer Experience to Your Organization Inline

 

How Automated Online Customer Service Can Transform Online Banking as We Know It

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Banking has changed drastically over the years. Today, you don’t have to drive to the bank and meet with a teller to make a withdrawal or move money from a checking to a savings account. Instead, you can use a secure app to take care of these menial tasks from the palm of your hand.

These features in online banking demonstrate just a few of the many ways customers feel satisfied by the convenience the digital world offers. Add automated customer service opportunities to online banking and it becomes even more advantageous — to both the customer and the business offering the service.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits that come with adding automated online customer service options to online banking:

Seamless Communication Efforts

For most customers, instant communication provides immediate gratification. According to an Accenture Financial Services Banking Report, 49% of customers agreed that instant support is a key factor in building loyalty with a bank. Customers have always had the option to call into their banks to speak with a representative about an inquiry, but are oftentimes left on hold. With an instant online customer service option, customers can get the answers they need in real-time, whether from an agent, a chatbot or a knowledge base.

Preferred Way of Banking

Today, many consumers live in a fast-paced environment and expect as much convenience in their daily lives as they can get. According to PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey “Mobile users set the agenda,” with 15% of customers preferring to utilize mobile banking and agreeing that most of their banking is done digitally.

Furthermore, a Gartner survey revealed that 44% of respondents choose their phones as the preferred device for resolving a problem with a company. Through customer service automation, banks can provide quick answers to customer questions on their preferred mobile channel, while saving valuable agent man hours for more challenging customer problems.

Personalization is Key

Automated customer service can make sure customers’ demand for speed aremet. One way to ensure this is by investing in a customer service CRM platform that understands the digital age as well as customer expectations. Kustomer, for example, has worked with companies to help them achieve efficient and effective customer service that enhances the overall customer experience. Using artificial intelligence and intelligent automation, Kustomer can transform online banking into an even more convenient option for consumers who want immediate service and total control of their personal finances on any channel they choose.

Interested in learning more about how Kustomer can provide automated customer service to the world of online banking? Reach out to us directly today for a demo.

A New Era of Customer Engagement — Omnichannel Demystified

With rapid technological change comes communication changes and today, the method and medium have both shifted. Most people connect with one another asynchronously, using text, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Snapchat and more. And as our methods of communication have developed, so have the expectations of how brands should interact with us. We expect them to correspond with us like friends, at times with immediate (synchronous) responses and at times the delayed responses.

No matter what age and generation you yield from, today’s consumer naturally begins their service journey on digital and mobile. But companies and brands still make you switch to voice without a seamless transition and journey continuity. And 32% believe that phone is the most frustrating customer service channel, primarily because of the discontinuity and disjointed nature of switching from digital communication to phone. There is nothing more frustrating than having to start your customer service journey from the beginning, because the agent has no information about your previous interactions. It’s clear that if brands want to reach their customers, they are going to have to change.

Today, brands are still offering an outdated customer experience built for the old paradigm of communication, real-time voice. Consumers have new expectations, especially when it comes to the continuity of a conversation. For example, if a customer starts a conversation via chat, they expect an immediate response. But, when that same consumer needs to continue that conversation offline, whether it’s via email, phone, or text, they expect the brand to have knowledge of their history and to be able to pick up right where they left off, even if it isn’t immediate. When brands don’t meet the expectation of continuity of conversation, consumers get frustrated. 65% of consumers are frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels. And 32% switch because they are fed up with speaking to multiple agents.

But how are brands supposed to keep up with increasing consumer expectations when the technology they use is outdated? Most customer service software was built before the first iPhone. Those solutions were developed for an older way of communicating: traditional real time voice solutions. They claim to help businesses provide a seamless customer experience through a multichannel approach, because true omnichannel support is “just a myth”. With multichannel support, teams are siloed. These segmented teams are taught to only deliver voice or chat or email or text or social support, which results in different and often disjointed experience for the end customer. But companies can offer true omnichannel support if they have the right tools, which enable a seamless transition between channels. And when they are properly equipped, agents that previously only answered questions in a single channel can all provide a seamless customer experience to each customer no matter the channel. Since 56% of customers have to re-explain an issue when speaking to customer service, and frustration rising, teams need to be empowered through their tools. With the right technology, these agents can handle requests from any channel and provide support across channel switches, decreasing repetition and providing a better customer experience for the customer’s full journey.

Choice matters. Customers don’t want to be forced to use a channel to make it easy for a brand and respond in the channel they are most comfortable using. Brands should offer multiple channels, so consumers can choose their preferred method (asynchronous or synchronous) and mode, whether it’s chat, text, social, or voice. However, delivery of a good customer experience is more important than choice, especially since 82% of retailers expect to compete solely based on customer experience. So when choosing which channels to focus on, make sure you can excel in each channel. Delivering exceptional service through a single channel like voice will still be more powerful from your customer’s perspective than offering multiple channels with inconsistent, poor service.

So what do brands need to do in order to meet new customer communication expectations? Perceived multichannel isn’t strong enough, and won’t deliver the customer experience today’s consumers are expecting. Brands must engage with consumers in the way that they would engage with friends and family, focusing on omnichannel and delivering a strong, consistent customer experience.

About Kustomer

Kustomer is the first CRM for customer experience that focuses on customers, not tickets, enabling companies to know everything about every customer. Used by Outdoor Voices, Slice, SmugMug, and more, Kustomer provides businesses with a full view of every customer’s lifetime. Kustomer unifies all relevant data, customer history, apps, and systems, enabling informed service actions. Kustomer was founded in 2015 with headquarters in New York City.

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