Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement with Sami Nuwar

Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement with Sami Nuwar TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Sami Nuwar to discuss how to successfully attain operational excellence in the CX realm. Sami has a diverse background as a customer experience and operational excellence practitioner. Listen to the podcast below to discover how Sami has become an expert at helping CX leaders reach excellence.

Utilizing Data for Operational Excellence

Senior Principal Experience Consultant at Medallia, Sami Nuwar, helps his team understand and interpret customer data through new technology. In his experience, Sami defines operational excellence as, “The thing that primarily distinguishes customer experience management, the discipline of CX, from traditional market research.” In instances where CX teams lack in this excellence category, Sami suggests that this is due to a lack of data gathering, interpretation, and action. Oftentimes when data is collected at firms, it is ignored and those within the company forget to ask questions regarding that data. It is impossible for effective changes to take place when no questions are being asked about interpreting the data. “Every organization is all about execute, execute, execute, and what we also need to do is have the habit of taking a step back. Let’s pause, let’s breathe and let’s have a retrospective view on things.” Once that data is collected, it needs to be placed into the hands of those who can utilize that data beneficially. To do so, Sami suggests translating data in a way with monetary value, as dollar signs attract key eyes.

Becoming Operationally Sound

Sami understands that converting a CX team to becoming completely operationally sound can be difficult and overwhelming at first. To help clear any confusion, Sami suggests that the main goal is turning data into information that can be used to the benefit of the company. Becoming operationally sound is initially rooted in understanding the company’s vision and the steps necessary to see that vision to fruition. When a vision is set and understood by the team, it allows space for empathetic conversations to take place. Additionally, listening to and empathizing with those in the company can help employers to gain a better understanding of the daily operations. “Whether it’s for-profit, not-for-profit, whatever, talk to the people in that business or in that environment and understand what it’s like to be in their shoes and empathize with them,” Sami elaborates. The last part of becoming operationally sound is to find balance within the organization and to translate data in a way that is relevant.

Advertising Successful Changes

One of the most important elements to operational excellence is often overlooked in Sami’s eyes, which is advertising the successful changes implemented by a department. When successful changes are implemented within the organization, Sami says that it is of the utmost importance to “sell your changes” to others within the firm. He goes on to explain that at first a lot of people won’t be onboard with new changes however, when successes are advertised within the company, people tend to hop onboard and support such changes. “It’s also incumbent upon us to tell people about the change, because if you don’t, then no one’s going to know about it other than you and maybe that other person in that other department. So you’ve got to advertise, you’ve got to promote.”

To learn more about achieving operational excellence, 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:

Operational Excellence | Sami Nuwar

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right. Welcome everybody. Today, we’re going to be talking about operational excellence. This is an important one. We’ve asked about this. You’ve asked about this. So we wanted to bring on an expert in this topic. It’s Sami Nuwar. He’s currently the Senior Principal Experience Consultant at Medallia. Sami, thanks for joining and how are you?

Sami Nuwar: (00:29)
Yeah, I’m fantastic. Thanks for having me.

Gabe Larsen: (00:31)
Yeah, I think this will be a fun one, man. Tell us, before we dive in just a little bit about yourself and your background.

Sami Nuwar: (00:37)
Yeah. I’ve spent 16 years at Verizon Business as a Practitioner of Customer Experience Management. I’m traditionally a researcher. That’s where I kind of got my start and then I evolved into an Operational Excellence Practitioner and then evolved again into a Customer Experience Practitioner. Spent 16 years at Verizon and then a few years at a small manufacturing company. After that, and then joined Medallia around this time last year actually.

Gabe Larsen: (01:07)
I love it. I love it. And for those of us who don’t know a lot about Medallia, give us kind of the 30 second on Medallia.

Sami Nuwar: (01:13)
Yeah. It’s a customer experience management platform. It’s primarily technology that helps you manage the experience, understand that experience, and enables you to do much bigger things. So it’s a technology and a platform, but we like to talk about CX beyond the platform. The technology just makes it easier to do it and democratizes it and now it makes our jobs as people, much easier to spread the love and let other people jump in and help out.

Gabe Larsen: (01:47)
I love it. I love it. I do think Medallia, I mean, you guys have certainly made a name for yourself, so kudos. A lot of people use that technology, I think to deliver some good customer, great customer experiences. Well, let’s dive into this idea of operational excellence and maybe you can just say a big picture. Why is operational excellence so important?

Sami Nuwar: (02:08)
Yeah, I believe that operational excellence and other variants of the term, continuous improvement, to me, it’s the rubber meets the road. It’s where the action should take place for the business or the environment to get better. And it’s the thing that primarily distinguishes customer experience management, the discipline of CX, from traditional market research.

Gabe Larsen: (02:41)
Yeah. Why do you feel like people get lackadaisical on operational excellence? And then I want to get into a little bit, kind of the how here in a second, but is it just because it’s difficult to do? Is it devil’s in the details? But why do you think people don’t get as operationally minded or sound as they should?

Sami Nuwar: (02:59)
Yeah, I think in some cases there’s an assumption that someone is acting on the data that has been collected. That was certainly the case of Verizon for a long time. There was an assumption that people are doing something with it and no one is asking the questions. So how do you know that the, like what improvements have been made and how do you know those improvements are working? So those questions don’t tend to be asked. Those are the details that people tend to overlook. We’re so execution focused, every company is, every organization is all about execute, execute, execute, and what we also need to do is have the habit of taking a step back. Let’s pause, let’s breathe and let’s have a retrospective view on things and ask those questions. Is it working? How do we know it’s working? What else do we need to do and who else do we need to get the help from?

Gabe Larsen: (03:58)
I love that. I love that. Well, let’s dive in a little bit. I mean, you’ve obviously had some experience trying to get operationally sound and tight, et cetera. How do you start to think about doing that? Where do you begin this journey to become more, just operationally tight?

Sami Nuwar: (04:12)
Yeah, I think to build that habit, you have to have a clear understanding of what your current state is and at least get an idea, have a vision of where you want to be. And if you don’t have that vision, then at least at a minimum, understand where your current state is and that’ll help you form your vision. So that’s step number one. You’ve got to knock that out. You’ve got to collect the data to gain that understanding and you have to have the conversations with the people inside your business. Whether it’s for-profit, not-for-profit, whatever, talk to the people in that business or in that environment and understand what it’s like to be in their shoes and empathize with them. So, and at the same time balance that understanding with talking with customers and partners and external parties to understand what it’s like to be them too. And so collect all that data so that it becomes relevant for you and then it turns data into information that can be used.

Gabe Larsen: (05:15)
Do you feel like on that kind of understanding your current state, is there different methodologies, tools, best practices you’ve found to actually capture that? Is it mostly interviews? I mean, you kind of mentioned that, is that the way to best do that? Or how do you go about getting that?

Sami Nuwar: (05:33)
Yeah. The mode of collecting, it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and your timeframe. You know, there’s a need to balance. You have to balance the need for relevant information and the timeframe that you’re working within. And in a lot of cases, especially in a business environment, you don’t have all day, you definitely don’t have all year. And so you’ve got the budget, the data collection need and the need for significance and relevancy with the need for time, and time costs money. So, find that balance that works for you and then choose the mode that works for you as well. So for me, what’s worked is a combination of quantitative techniques and qualitative techniques. Surveys are a great way to manage that balance of data relevancy and time because you can get a massive amount of information quantitatively by doing simple surveys. But that typically isn’t enough because surveys just gives you an indication of what the problem is. And maybe some indication of how big the problem is, which you also need to get is the why. And that really comes from qualitative information. So interviews, video is the new up and coming technology that people tend to use a lot of these days. We have a technology called LivingLens, which is really cool. It lets people submit video feedback or audio feedback and then it gets analyzed behind the scenes by the system. So those are all qualitative techniques –

Gabe Larsen: (07:14)
All different ways you can kind of capture it. Got it. Interesting. Once you get this data, you and I chatted a little bit about this before, but I thought it was such a great point. It’s, not all data is good, not all data is the same value. Some data is, I mean, the world is now capturing so much data, we’re having a hard time making sense of the data, getting the validity. How do you kind of walk through or make sure that you’re not being misled when it comes to some of this data you’re capturing?

Sami Nuwar: (07:41)
Yeah, that’s a key point. I mean, one of the other signals that, I mean, I mentioned techniques to collect data from people quantitatively and qualitatively, but the other, and I think overlooked channel for data, is the internal knowledge base within the business, the operational data. We all have systems and machines that capture data from our interactions with customers and our daily business. And that is typically a treasure trove of information and what, it’s difficult to gather because it’s typically incomplete or hasn’t been cleansed enough to be relevant. And so it’s in a state that’s pretty rough. But if we can take that data and test it to make sure that it’s relevant and then marry it with the feedback that you could get from talking with customers and whatever message you choose, then it becomes, it turns that data into information because you’ve added context. The experience feedback that you’re getting on top of the operational data that you’re already collecting and probably under-utilizing, marry the two pieces together and they become relevant pieces of information. But at the end of the day, the first thing you got to do is, whether you’re collecting data from customers or collecting data from internal systems, you’ve got to test its validity. If you fail to test the validity of that data and you make decisions based on the data without verifying that it’s true, you’re risking making bad decisions in setting the wrong course for your business.

Gabe Larsen: (09:22)
I love that. What are some of the data points you’ve found to be most important operationally speaking that you know you’d say, look to the audience, “Guys, these are probably some data points that if you really want to get operationally sound, a couple pieces of feedback would maybe be this metric, that metric.” Anything come to mind on that?

Sami Nuwar: (09:39)
Yeah. I mean, just going back to my telecom roots and this is actually, the example I’ll give you is pretty agnostic. It’s a telecom, it’s a problem, it’s always going to be there, it’s always been there, but it’s pretty much a universal problem regardless of industry and it’s one of time, right? We can never be fast enough. And anybody who’s ever subscribed to a cable, TV, or internet service or a phone service, any kind of service that requires some provisioning or some monkeying, some wrench turning behind the scenes to be done, there’s always an expectation of time of when it’s going to be done, right? When can I expect the technician to arrive? When could I expect some work to be done by you that you’ve promised me?

Sami Nuwar: (10:32)
And a metric that is typical in the telecom space is customer desire due date. That’s an internal, very nuts and bolts metric that is based, it’s based on a time expectation, right? The clock starts ticking and then the clock stops ticking at a certain point and an image of the difference between that, and that’s a metric that’s kept internal, and that’s how they measure their performance among their teams. And the analogous time metric from a customer’s point of view and in a question that you would typically ask them in a survey, for example is, “Did this thing occur within your expected amount of time? Yes or no?” And if not then here’s the follow up question, right? And then they tell you what it is. And so when the customer responds to a survey, they’re giving you their perception of how long it took something to get done.

Sami Nuwar: (11:28)
And so what’s incumbent upon us is to take the two pieces of information, their perceived experience coupled with what the business believes happened, and now we look for matches or mismatches in the data. And what I found at Verizon were huge mismatches. And typically that’s because of the measurement time post, right? So the moment in which we would start the clock and then stop the clock and measure that time was not the same moment in the customer’s mind, right? So they’re a customer, the clock starts ticking at the moment of the handshake and then in the telecom company’s perspective, the clock doesn’t start ticking until you sign that contract and that could be a difference of a few days or a couple of weeks.

Gabe Larsen: (12:21)
That’s so powerful. I love that. I just think those are the types of insights I think leaders need to figure out. It’s the tactical advice that really kind of moves them from one place to the other. Last question then is, once you found this and you got the currency, you found the data, then you got to kind of move into the next phase, the change, right? Where do you go from here and kind of, how do you wrap up?

Sami Nuwar: (12:42)
Yeah, you have got to get that data or that information into the hands of the people that you know are going to drive that change and that’s really where the continuous improvement people, the people that are the lean practitioners, the six sigma practitioners, or the people that are purposed, are driving some sort of operational process improvement in the business. We’ve got to get that into the hands of those people and it’s got to be specific enough that tells them what the nature of the problem is, how big that problem is and who’s impacted by it. Ideally dollar signs, if you can attach some sort of financial component to the problem that really gets people’s attention and makes them act on it. And then hopefully they take some sort of action, but it’s incumbent upon us to make sure either to help them take that action or to ensure that they take that action and hold them accountable to it. And lastly, once the action has been taken, right, and you can see the notice in the change and you’re measuring that change, or you’re tracking it over time because that’s part of what we do, it’s also incumbent upon us to tell people about the change, because if you don’t, then no one’s going to know about it other than you and maybe that other person in that other department. So you’ve got to advertise, you’ve got to promote.

Gabe Larsen: (14:00)
I love that. I love that. Sami, that’s such great advice. And I love kind of the tactical-ness of it. As you, as we kind of wrap here, any quick advice that you’d leave behind for the audience as they try to get operationally excellent in their different support experience teams?

Sami Nuwar: (14:15)
Yeah. I would say that last part that I just mentioned is probably the most important part. We talked about collecting signals and collating it in a way that people can comprehend and then holding them accountable to some sort of action, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to tell people about the change. And I consider that the most important component that’s often overlooked. But if it’s done right, what will happen is it’ll create a reinforcing loop. But people that did not jump into your bandwagon initially, because there’s always somebody who’s not going to jump on board, they eventually do jump onboard later down the line because they see their peers performing because you’ve advertised. You’ve shown that this discipline works and here’s the changes that’s come from it. And those dissenters initially, they didn’t jump on board will eventually jump on board and everybody will sing to the same sheet of music.

Gabe Larsen: (15:07)
I love it. I love it. You got to find those insights. The insights and then the sale. You don’t get it out there, nobody knows about it, it obviously doesn’t, you can’t end up changing anything. Well Sami, we really appreciate you jumping on. It’s fun to have a little more of a true practitioner. Sami is an operational kind of ninja, so it’s fun to hear how you’ve experienced some of that both in your current life and then in your previous life. If someone wants to get ahold of you or learn a little bit more about Medallia, what’s the best way to do that, Sami?

Sami Nuwar: (15:33)
Oh, you can send me a LinkedIn request. I’m on LinkedIn, pretty active on there. So I’ll be happy to connect with you guys and help out wherever I can.

Gabe Larsen: (15:43)
Awesome. Awesome. Well again, hey, really appreciate your time and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Sami Nuwar: (15:48)
Great. Thanks for having me.

Exit Voice: (15:54)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.

 

Your Help Center Software Could Use a Facelift. Here’s How.

Two people discuss selecting a new help center software while working on a computer. Modern help center software aims to streamline customer service professional workflows.

Growth creates growing pains. And often, high-growth brands struggle to scale their contact centers while also managing an influx of shopper queries, such as returns or locating an item. Balancing these forces — scale and volume — often starts with reviewing your help center software and removing manual, time-consuming tasks, including sifting through queues, escalating issues and processing transactions.

What Is Help Center Software?

Simply put, help center or support software enables conversations between customer service professionals and shoppers, who submit support inquiries. The software fields, stores and organizes these queries and displays them to the agent. Within this interface, staff have access to a variety of customer communications and data, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Perhaps most importantly, help center software powered by AI and machine learning can automate agent work and process inquiries without agent intervention, freeing up agent time to tackle more complex requests.

As DTC markets grow — and with them, consumer expectations and inquiry volume — technology must keep up. Modern help center software eliminates low level tasks and deflects repetitive questions, empowering customer service professionals to be more focused and reducing per-contact costs. What makes great software? Read more below.

Why Focus on Help Center Software?

Few business facets are more important than customer service. Speaking about 2021 customer service trends, Allegra Ubbes, a senior advisory specialist at Gartner, summarized the market this way:

“Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business. Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), managing talent and data.”

Adding to their analysis, Gartner surveyed service executives about their priorities. Topping their lists: digital channels and functions. “Customer service leaders feel a distinct pressure to meet customers’ expectations for digital service channels and keep pace with competitors’ service offerings,” analysts write. “As a result, service leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time adding or integrating channels.”

However, research finds this creates a “costlier, more complex network of channels to manage without improving the customer experience and insufficient reduction in live volume.” Put another way: not every help center software – and the channels they facilitate – can power the sleek shopping experience that buyers want. On the contrary, that software may damage customer relations and the company’s bottom line.

Make Friends With Customer Experience (CX)

Simply sidestepping help center software all together isn’t going to solve this issue. Indicators suggest brands can anticipate a sustained surge of digital customer queries. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) found there’s a good chance 2020-based forces have permanently altered the CX industry. As such, brands should take notice.

Training their sights on the November-December holiday season, NRF found retail sales rose to $789.4 billion, an 8.3% increase over 2019. Online and other sales outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores grew 23.9% over the previous year as well.

Greater sales activity creates a cascade effect on business operations: starting with increased urgency placed on customer service professionals and their tools, such as help desk software. How great a spike in activity? Just under 70% of respondents said they fielded more customer queries in 2020 when compared to the previous holiday season.

And there’s a price tag attached to excellent CX. Researchers found an overwhelming 86% of buyers said they’d pay more for a product when that shopping experience comes with superior customer service. When there’s demand for — and more money to be made — with great customer service, avoiding help center software isn’t an option.

Help Center Software of Your Dreams

Alright, so those are the stakes. But what factors should a customer service professional weigh when evaluating different help center software? Look no further than software that leverages the latest technology to make agents more efficient and effective.

Additionally, there are five pillars of every modern support software:

Holistic Customer View. See the whole picture. Often answers are found by combining information from different sources. Opt for a software that uses a holistic customer view, and displays every item of internal and external data into one actionable interface.

Powerful Automation. Give your agents more bandwidth to focus their energy on pressing tasks with AI and machine learning, which completes small, easy tasks that don’t require a human touch.

True Omnichannel. Endlessly toggling between engagement channels burns valuable time and energy, which could be spent delving into customer queries. Choose a help center software with omnichannel features that empower agents to switch between channels without ever leaving the conversation.

Sentiment Fluency. Customer service can be a huge source of data. Let AI do the hard work. Software with sentiment fluency interprets shoppers’ feelings and turns them into actionable insights.

Customization. It’s a bad idea to add tools that aren’t a good fit for your operation. Cumbersome solutions burn resources, and can ultimately harm a customer’s shopping experience. Choose a software that seamlessly integrates with your existing operation.

Help Center Software Solutions

Want to see these fives pillars in action? Check out Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform for managing high support volume. When there’s a surge of customer queries, not just any help center software will do. Delve deeper into this topic, and discover how artificial intelligence can reduce time spent on minor tasks and create a more enjoyable shopping experience for customers.

 

Video: How to Deliver Stellar CX Remotely

Woman engages with customer service queries at home on laptop.

Have you and your teams struggled with the transition to remote customer service, and want more control on how you’re delivering a stellar experience to your customers? The Kustomer Platform bridges the gap between addressing accountability problems (are my agents really working?), giving you a seamless way to track important data points about your customer.

What is Remote Customer Service?

With an uptick in people working from home and being online more than ever before, consumers need and expect customer support 24/7. Your remote customer service agents should do everything an in-house CS rep can do: take calls, process high-level customer questions, and be attentive to your customer’s unique needs. The good news is, your brand can offer a completely remote customer service experience and you don’t need to rent costly office space to deliver an exceptional experience.


Here Are 4 Simple Ways To Deliver Stellar Remote Customer Service:


1. Easy Access

  • All you need is an internet browser and standard wifi, and you’re good to go!

2. Seamless Collaboration

  • Through easy integrations, you can loop in cross functional teams and use tools like Notes, @mentions, followers, and more.

3. Easy Oversight

  • Remotely manage your CX tool with confidence.
  • Quickly get a bird’s eye view of customer service agent availability & capacity.
  • Jump into active conversations and manage queue assignments easily.

4. Stay Efficient & Effective

  • Finally! You can leverage a true omnichannel CRM to create a detailed picture of every customer and help them stay engaged on any platform.
  • Easy automation of repetitive tasks.
  • Access all the data you need in just one place!

Want To See What Effortless Remote Customer Service Looks Like?

You can request a 15-minute live intro call with one of our representatives here, or you can see the Kustomer platform in action by getting a behind-the-scenes look here.

 

Get to Know These Common Customer Service Problems and Solutions

Benchmarks: What We’re Seeing For Average Handle Time and First Resolution Time in Q2 & Q3 2020 TW

As the direct-to-customer market grows, many brands continue to adopt traditional approaches to customer service and stumble over the same obstacles again and again. How should customer service professionals rethink client care? And where should brands even begin this process? Let’s unpack some common customer service problems and solutions.

Below, we outline common obstacles, such as adapting to new customer preferences and gauging success, and cover modern solutions.

Customer Service Basics: What’s the Problem?

Despite popular wisdom, a majority of buyers do not want to speak to a support agent. That’s according to a survey by market research company Forrester. Analysts found most customers simply want accurate, relevant and complete answers to their queries. Why does this matter?

Returning to the study, more than 50% of U.S. adults said they’re likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Speaking to only those one-in-two shoppers for whom speed is a factor, whether or not a brand closes a sale depends on how quickly customers can locate answers related to a product.

Delving deeper into this topic, 70% of adults said valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

Customers are increasingly using self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for customer service, which apply less friction to the shopping experience, Forrester researchers write.

Examples of these channels include:

  • Web or mobile self-service.
  • Online forums or communities.
  • Live chat.

Of course, now’s not the time to unplug and retire the landlines. What this report points to is a more nuanced, tech-forward approach to our customer service problems and solutions — an approach that is more vital now than ever.

How Did COVID-19 Shift Customer Service

COVID-19. Social distancing. Virtual connections. With an eye on the upcoming year, Forrester suggests customer service centers will adapt to a shifting market, one shaped by the pandemic. There’s a “need for a more empathetic service experience,” analysts write. Additionally, customer service will become a lifeline for an estimated 33 million consumers.

“With U.S. unemployment peaking in April [2020],” they write, “millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities.” They suggest responsible organizations provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in a form that meets customers’ needs.

Concurring with the above trend, Forrester predicts a sharp, 40% spike in virtual customer support cases, placing greater scrutiny on brands and greater urgency on their support agents to meet shoppers’ preferences: namely a demand for self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Finally, Forrester projects the creation of hybrid store/contact center roles. While brick-and-mortar stores have been hurt by the pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines, they haven’t been erased. Assuming a hybrid posture towards customer service problems and solutions creates the greatest opportunity for brands to meet shoppers’ needs.

Tackling Customer Service Problems and Solutions

As we covered in a previous blog post, customer service agents who aim to improve their care face a unique challenge. So often, the starting points for new solutions are major issues that may be intangible and tricky to define, such as:

  • Inefficiency.
  • Feeling ineffective.
  • Immediate need to deflect conversations.

Equally challenging is gauging the benefits of your customer service. Of course, a five-star review on a public forum is a clear sign. Generally speaking, these kinds of signals can be few and far between, creating gaps of time without concrete feedback to indicate how well a service center is performing. Where should you look to get a sense of how your service is affecting consumers?

First, look within. Everyone benefits from excellent customer service, not just shoppers. When buyers are happy, that can radiate to an entire organization, boosting morale and — potentially — translating to sales. And in that way, a company’s bottom line becomes a clear, tangible gauge of customer service efforts.

And second, check your workloads. Customer service takes time to perform, especially when done well. As such, professionals may find themselves overburdened when fielding a large volume of easy to answer conversations, and unable to attend to more serious cases. Often, giving agents the freedom to deflect avoidable queries is a matter of implementing tech solutions, such as self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Customer Service Solutions

Here are just a few options that are available to customer service professionals:

  • Providing shoppers with resources, such an easily accessible FAQ section.
  • Installing an AI chatbot.
  • Implementing a proactive outreach strategy, allowing agents to address customer concerns before they arise.

Learning how to tackle customer service problems and solutions doesn’t have to stop with this blog post. Trust Kustomer as a source of invaluable tactics for honing your custom service center strategy. Learn more.

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows TW

There’s nothing quite as exciting as growing — and scaling — your business. Along with the excitement comes an all-important need to stay focused on scaling your customer service offerings to meet the needs and expectations of your ever-growing customer base. As your business grows, it’s essential to prioritize providing the best possible service that aligns with your organization’s core competencies, without breaking the bank.

Utilizing a CX CRM platform, such as Kustomer, allows you to focus on three key areas: communication, automation and documentation. By prioritizing these three tenets, you’ll be able to successfully scale your customer service offerings as your business continues to grow.

Communicate

As with any organization that prioritizes the customer above all else, accurate and instant communication is essential to ensuring that you’re able to provide an exceptional customer experience. A true omnichannel CRM aggregates all channels into one single view, so customers are able to communicate seamlessly on their preferred platform, and agents have all the information they need to provide a personalized experience. With access to a knowledge base, agents have up-to-date information at their fingertips to ensure they’re providing accurate answers to customers’ concerns.

Automate

Automation can be leveraged in many ways in intelligent platforms like Kustomer. Businesses are able to tap into the power of queues and routing to automatically route specific conversations to the most appropriate agent. Utilizing business rules ensures proper actions are taken on conversations automatically, and when combined with documentation, CX organizations can ensure that all conversations are properly tagged and ready for a thorough review at a later time.

With AI, businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service opportunities. Think about chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information, and solve low level inquiries like business hours, policy questions and “where is my order” (WISMO) inquiries. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Document

Documentation is performed in a few ways within CRM platforms like Kustomer. First, you are automatically documenting your correspondence with your customers. This allows you to see past engagements and find areas where your team can improve while you scale. A solid QA program of past conversations is imperative for any organization scaling their customer service organization. Second, this documentation allows you to search across your interactions to find trends. Are you answering the same question(s)? If so, you can uncover those insights through reporting functionality, and then you can update your knowledge base to get that answer into your customer’s hands quicker, or adopt chatbots to automate those conversations. Lastly, utilizing pre-built messages for common inquiries allows agents to engage with customers quickly, accurately, consistently and efficiently.

Scaling a customer service organization doesn’t need to be a scary task. Business growth means you are succeeding, but you must remain focused on delivering the customer service experience that your customers expect. Prioritizing communication, automation, and documentation will allow you to succeed in this endeavor.

Want to learn more about how to scale your CX org? Download our definitive guide to scaling your customer service, without losing the human touch.

 

Calling All Community Builders with Scott Tran

Calling All Community Builders with Scott Tran TW

Listen and subscribe to our podcast:

In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Scott Tran from Support Driven to understand creating a sense of community during challenging times. Learn how Scott brings a bit of normalcy to employers and employees alike by listening to the podcast below.

Laying the Foundation for Support Driven

Founder of Support Driven, Scott Tran, has the special ability to connect people through online customer support and community. Having a background in customer service, Scott set out to improve his CX skills and to have better interpersonal relationships. Throughout his career, he has found that his favorite part of CX is helping people through effective problem solving and genuine human interaction. He says, “Probably the best part was just the connecting with real people who were using your product, right? And helping them to actually use it or helping them through the problems that they were having using it.” His background in customer support has helped him lay the foundation for the community of Support Driven.

Using Slack as a Means for Effective Communication

Communication is key when it comes to proactive conversation and this can be seen in all aspects of customer support as well as daily living. Recognizing that aspect, Scott’s company offers Slack as a means of correspondence between those who join Support Driven. Slack allows for people to connect and chat online through instant messaging. Using Slack has provided the opportunity for people to connect to those who work CX in similar industries through sharing tips for success, working from home set ups, et cetera. Scott adds, “The Slack is the heart of the community. It’s where we connect.” Working from home has become part of the new normal and integrating Slack as a channel for communication opens up possibilities for connection and togetherness.

Building a Sense of Community and Connection

Scott’s career has aided in his understanding that authentic communication and interaction are an integral part of daily life that many have been lacking company synergy amongst the pandemic. In an effort to reduce the emotional strain of an upheaved life schedule, Scott founded Support Driven as a mode of connecting people and creating lasting relationships through online community support. Support Driven was created as a way to hire employees, search for jobs, and find people who share similar career paths and interests. Scott has noticed that those who come to Support Driven in search of community often create lasting online friendships. He mentions, “They stay because that’s where they start making friendships and that’s the place where you connect with your friends or maybe somebody who you used to work with.” On top of creating friendships, Support Driven has generated multiple channels of hobbies that people can connect through. Channels such as parenting, working from home, or even sourdough baking have all brought people closer together during these challenging times.

To learn more about bringing an online community together, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “Scott Tran with Support Driven | Building a Hearty Community” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

Calling All Community Builders | Scott Tran

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, welcome everybody. I’m excited to get going today. Today, we’re going to be talking about a community that’s popping up. How it’s used, what is it? It’s become a great resource for a lot of people out in the market. We want to take a chance to talk about that and some of the things that are actually being talked about in that community. To do that, we brought on the founder of Support Driven, Scott Tran. Scott, how are you doing?

Scott Tran: (00:32)
Doing great. Thank you for having me on your podcast.

Gabe Larsen: (00:34)
Yeah, man. We’re excited to talk through this. This actually goes well with the talk track. So maybe we’ll just jump right in. Tell us just a little bit about yourself and how you kind of created the support group and community.

Scott Tran: (00:52)
Yeah. So my background is as a software engineer, I was in a big startup and was also responsible for doing customer support and that’s how the community got started from just learning how to do that better. And it started as a podcast and then about a year after, we started the community in 2014 and it’s been growing ever since.

Gabe Larsen: (01:16)
I love it. I love it. So you kind of just got it. So you were, I’d forgotten that you were actually a technical support guy, is that right? You did the job.

Scott Tran: (01:23)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, in the big startup there’s a lot of hats, including support and yeah, it was just, I knew that I wasn’t very good at it. So I went to find people who could be there professionally and that’s how I got connected to people who do customer support every day. And went to a conference and I met a lot of great people there and that was the start of the podcast. Yeah, and it’s just been a lot of fun and it was that interview from the podcast that kind of gave me the idea to start the community.

Gabe Larsen: (02:00)
Got it. I’d forgotten that [inaudible]. I got to ask, while you were doing support, what was the thing you liked most about it and the thing you liked least about it? I know I’m pushing you back into the past, but what are the things you like and dislike?

Scott Tran: (02:15)
Probably the best part was just the connecting with real people who were using your product, right? And helping them to actually use it or helping them through the problems that they were having using it. I think the worst part was probably, for me the worst part was just knowing that I wasn’t very good at it, right? There’s this moment where you can tell, I guess actually a second sense of taste, right? You can tell if you’re good at something or not and I wasn’t because I would go back and I would read, reread responses I had given to people and was very engineering speak at the time. Was just very technical and not a lot of, just very much about like solving the problem, not about what the bigger picture –

Gabe Larsen: (03:13)
I like that.

Scott Tran: (03:13)
Yeah. And so I knew I had a lot to learn and I did. I mean, I think there’s so many great people in the customer support space that are so helpful and kind of open with sharing their knowledge –

Gabe Larsen: (03:32)
I love that.

Scott Tran: (03:32)
And that was –

Gabe Larsen: (03:35)
That was kind of the beginning of it? That’s fun to hear. So tell us just a little more about the community. I mean, obviously you’ve been doing that for a couple months. If I wanted to know a little bit more about its purpose, where do I find it? What’s kind of going on? Give us kind of that overview.

Scott Tran: (03:51)
Yeah. We have a home online at supportdriven.com. Right at the heart of the team right now is our Slack because we started out in Slack and have continued to grow it. Then you can kind of come and meet people who do support across a bunch of different industries. Because I think, so basically every business requires some level of customer support and, you got SaaS companies, e-commerce, delivery companies, just companies selling physical products across the whole range. And I’ll say probably the thing that draws people to the community tends to be either, finding the other people that they can talk to, who do what they do. And so it’s kinda like, “Well, how do you solve this problem?” The other thing that draws people is looking for either hiring or looking for jobs. We get a lot of people joining who are looking for their first job in customer support.

Gabe Larsen: (04:58)
Got it. And is it more, from an audience perspective for those people who are listening, I mean, anybody kind of customer supporters [inaudible].

Scott Tran: (05:12)
Yeah. The world’s pretty, in terms of like everybody’s wanting to join, right? Because you don’t even have to work in customer support to join. The people in our community tend to be from technology and online companies, because I think those are the people who are seeking out online communities.

Gabe Larsen: (05:39)
Yeah. They’re kind of already there. So they’re kind of looking for that, right?

Scott Tran: (05:44)
Right.

Gabe Larsen: (05:44)
And it’s mainly the Slack. So the Slack is kind of the place where most people are interacting the most often, et cetera.

Scott Tran: (05:51)
Yeah. The Slack is the heart of the community. It’s where we connect, right? It’s where people come in and engage with each other. People can come and ask questions or look for jobs and post jobs. We do have a couple of other places where we get together but the Slack is the center of it.

Gabe Larsen: (06:13)
It’s prominent or center place. And then as you watch that community, and you and I were talking about this a little bit before, but certainly things changed in the last weeks, months, whatever, wherever you were, wherever you are. A little bit of a pulse on that. Just quick thoughts. How has the community reacted or what are some of the things that they kind of been thinking about or doing?

Scott Tran: (06:39)
Yeah. So we’re in the midst of, most of us I think are in the midst of either sheltering in place or locking down, right, because of Coronavirus and that’s affected almost all of us. A lot of us are working from home for the first time, right? I am learning that. I’m navigating that. And there’s also a lot of people who, a lot of businesses affected, especially like in travel and companies that support travel and events, right? And so we’ve seen some companies have more demand, like because we also have like delivery companies in our community, so they’re kind of overwhelmed, right with support requests. Other companies, other people are kind of going through layoffs right now. So we’re kind of seeing processes of the wider picture of what’s happening across the world and some companies are seeing more trends, right? We’re seeing questions in the community about all those things. We’ve had people who’ve unfortunately had to go through and lay off 30, 40, 50% of their staff and then reaching out to the community to capture, like “I’ve set up this great team where we’re in a business model that isn’t really doing well at any time.” I’d love to help them find, get help.

Gabe Larsen: (08:19)
And that is something, the job sites is something that they potentially can find an opportunity in that community. So as you kind of look at the pulse of the community, are you finding people are finding solutions to some of those problems, whether it’s work from home, like people are getting kind of used to it and the lay of things? Are people figuring out how to kind of handle that sort of volume or being able to be effective with less people?

Scott Tran: (08:51)
Yeah. I mean, the heart of our community is coming in and asking questions to other people who would probably say some similar things. So for example, like [inaudible] we’ve totally had people asking questions about like, “What kind of setups do you have at home? What kind of tuners do you use, headphones? We had, and just sharing tips in terms of managing working from home for the first time. You have people coming in and asking that, and people who’ve been doing it for awhile, respondents, but also people who are also in the exact same boat, right? Like they just started this week or two weeks ago, three weeks ago. So yeah, I mean, it’s, we’ve got probably like a dozen different channels that kind of highlight things like working remotely to customer experience, right? And so there are places where you’ll find people that you can ask these questions, right? And a lot of them will respond. Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (10:07)
I love it. I love it. Yeah, those are definitely, I think the issues of the time, right? It’s efficiency, it’s cost savings, it’s working remotely. All I think seem to be kind of the things that we’re all talking about as we try to adjust to this new world and it sounds like Support Driven is a good place to find. So –

Scott Tran: (10:27)
Yeah. I just also wanted to share that there’s also a social aspect to it, right? So we have channels dedicated to like different hobbies and that’s often been a way for people to connect in these times.

Gabe Larsen: (10:42)
Oh cool.

Scott Tran: (10:42)
We’ve had quite a few people start making sourdough bread because they’re at home now. You’ve also got a parenting channel, so people are sharing kind of some tips in terms of, “Great, my kids are home now,” right? “What are you doing?” right? “Because I still need work.” And I think that’s really the glue of it, right? So, because I think people come for questions related to work, right? But they stay because that’s where they start making friendships and that’s the place where you connect with your friends or maybe somebody who you used to work with now works somewhere else, right? And the community is the common ground, as a place where you can get together and stay in touch.

Gabe Larsen: (11:28)
I love it. So if someone wanted to learn a little bit more about Support Driven or even join the community, where would you direct them? How do you start?

Scott Tran: (11:37)
Yeah, you can just go to supportdriven.com. There’s a pretty big button right, the join the community. There’s a join the community button and just click on that, fill out the form and you’ll get in.

Gabe Larsen: (11:49)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Scott really appreciate you joining. Best of luck. Be safe during these challenging times and excited to check out the community and get a little bit more involved. So thanks for joining and have a great day.

Scott Tran: (12:01)
Awesome. Yeah, thank you.

Exit Voice: (12:10)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more Customer Service Secrets.

Your Guide to Delivering Quality Customer Service

woman in carriage

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 the benefits of 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 experience for continued revenue growth. Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to sustain your customer service strategy.

What Is Customer Service Strategy?

A customer service strategy is a well-thought out plan on how to handle interactions with customers. Many brands strive to offer a consistent experience throughout all channels, but it can be difficult to implement if you don’t first take a step back and think about what it means to create a winning customer support strategy — one where the customer sees the benefits and the company can scale effectively. Here are six ways companies can build and improve the customer experience without a massive reorganization.

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. Regularly Communicate and Engage 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 to purchase a few items 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 businesses must do more, self-service tools help everyone have a better experience and be more efficient.

5. Use Automation to Create a Personalized Customer 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 support 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

credit card

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 Engagement: Omnichannel Customer Service

With rapid technological change comes communication changes as well. 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 with delayed responses.

Today’s consumer naturally begins their service journey on digital and mobile. But companies and brands can still make you switch to voice even if that isn’t your preference. Thirty-two percent of consumer believe that phones are 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, and reduce the frustrations of their customer service agents, they are going to have to change. And that change is omnichannel customer service.

What is Omnichannel Customer Service?

Omnichannel customer service is multiple communication channels integrated within a single system. A customer service CRM looks through different channels and captures the free flow of conversations coming in. It displays the data on a single screen and it also unifies your customer data, regardless of its source.

By having the right set of tools in place, brands can enable a seamless transition between different social channels and platforms. The omnichannel customer experience begins when a customer starts a conversation via chat and gets an immediate response, but then the customer continues that conversation on a different channel, whether it’s via email, phone, or text. With omnichannel capabilities, brands have knowledge of their history and are able to pick up right where they left off.

However, many brands use an outdated, siloed approach that can end up being more difficult for their customer agents. Since a lot of brand’s customers begin with a digital or mobile experience, if they’re not getting the right attention they need quickly, they become frustrated and seek out other methods of communication, or worse, other brands. When brands don’t meet the expectation of continuity of conversation, consumers get frustrated. Sixty-five percent of consumers are frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels. And 32% switch because they are fed up with speaking to multiple agents.


 

Solve the Problem for the Frustrated Customer

People want to feel like they matter and when brands use a traditional multichannel approach vs. an omnichannel approach, it can feel sluggish, outdated, and like your customer is fighting an uphill battle. Brands are offering an outdated customer experience and it’s hurting their reputation and customer experience.

When you deliver an inconsistent experience across different communication channels, it makes it look like you don’t care about your customers. Traditionally, brands will respond to a customer based on the context or social platform they’re using, but what happens when the user decides to message your brand on Instagram, and then follow up with you on email?

For most companies, it means that even though it is only one person, two support tickets get created for the same issue. Now, you have two dedicated members of the support team working with one customer and that customer now has to repeat themselves twice to get their issue across.

When you implement an omnichannel customer experience, you have one agent dedicated to one person and you build a stronger relationship, because the customer has a low-effort experience. An omnichannel approach helps create a consistent experience across all channels your customers want to reach out to you on.

Personalized Omnichannel Customer Service

Offering a personal touch to your customers in such a digitalized and automated world goes a long way to building customer loyalty and raving fans. With an omnichannel approach agents can see, at a high level, who is contacting them and easily address the customers’ problem without having to switch between channels and platforms. This saves time and helps answer customers’ questions a lot more effectively and efficiently. For brands, this means their customer promise gets enforced no matter what platform customers prefer to communicate on.

By providing such a personalized experience, you not only increase the productivity of your customer service agents, but customer satisfaction expands. Customers are often surprised that they don’t have to repeat their issue over and over because this is an area where many brands fail. Customers have reported ‘falling in love all over again’ with a brand because they felt valued and understood.

Get the Right Omnichannel Customer Experience

Kustomer is the first CRM for customer experience that focuses on customers, not tickets, enabling companies to know everything about every customer. Click here to request a demo and see how we can create streamlined customer experiences.

 

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