Why Personalized Customer Service? Because Consumers Demand It

The modern customer wants to buy a product, but they don’t want to be treated like a transaction. They’re expecting an experience—and if that experience is a positive one, then a one-time purchase often becomes a lifelong interaction with a company that understands their wants, needs, pain points and history. Unfortunately, most companies are still living in the early-digital Dark Ages, treating their customers like tickets in a queue rather than individuals with real desires and concerns.

According to a recent Kustomer survey, three-quarters of consumers aged 25 to 34, expect personalized communication from retailers, while only 60% aged 65 and older agreed with this notion. This means that personalization is becoming the new norm, especially with the younger generation, and will only continue to grow.

But instead of marshalling their vast stores of data to proactively identify and engage specific customers, many companies are still relying on outdated customer service models that waste their money and customers’ time. This misguided approach frustrates customers—and can hurt a businesses’ bottom line. Poor customer service costs companies $62 billion a year, and lack of personalization prompted 41% of Americans to switch brands in the last year alone.

On the flip side, companies that truly know their customers—everything from their previous purchases, customer service conversations, and preferred channels of communication—often experience double-digit growth, and nearly half of customers spend more when their experiences are tailored to their particular wants and needs.

To retain customers in an increasingly saturated and competitive digital marketplace, companies must learn to quickly and seamlessly address customer needs and concerns as they arise. In other words, they need to use real-time data to give them a 360-degree view of their customers—and then use that data to deliver relevant, personalized, helpful interactions that make the customer feel seen and heard. This approach will transform customers from flashing lights on hold to real people. And when customers are treated like people, they’re more likely to become not only repeat purchasers, but your most loyal cheerleaders.

To learn how to achieve personalized support in three simple steps, download our full personalization guide.

 

Shifting Omnichannel Support from Concept to Reality

The concept of omnichannel customer service has been watered down. It’s more than simply communicating with customers on every channel. True omnichannel support ensures seamless transitions and consistent experiences from one channel to the next. Companies providing true omnichannel support are collecting and harnessing the information gained in every interaction across channels to drive stronger, more meaningful customer relationships, increase revenue streams, and improve operational performance.

Implementing an omnichannel support strategy is a significant investment for any company. From a people perspective, it requires organizational and cultural shifts in how your company and its employees view the goals of customer service.

Customer service must move from a ticket-centric to a customer-centric model. This enables your customer service team to focus on goals, such as reducing customer effort, driving more first call resolutions, and building long-lasting customer relationships, rather than resolving tickets as fast as possible.

An omnichannel support strategy will create more effortless experiences on both sides that yield better outcomes for both customers and agents. It will ensure customers are provided meaningful support that places them in the driver’s seat, and agents will be given the proper context to progress every interaction forward.

From a technology perspective, an omnichannel strategy requires that you have a support solution that can integrate your communication channels and capture the free flow of conversations across channels, displaying the data in a single screen. A best-in-class solution should create a unified home for all of your customer data, regardless of the source, not just the data generated from customer conversations.

An omnichannel strategy backed by a true omnichannel solution will quickly facilitate the customer service that drives loyalty and keeps your customer base growing. To learn more about why customers expect an omnichannel approach, and how your company can benefit, download our guide.

Why the Kustomer experience matters to Abercrombie & Fitch Co

For more than 125 years, our brands have shared a commitment to offering products of enduring quality and exceptional comfort, allowing our customers worldwide to express their own individuality and style. Since our founding in 1892, we have always been known for creating unique store experiences – but the rise of omnichannel retail requires meeting our customers wherever, whenever, and however they choose to engage with our brands. Increasingly, even when the customer journey finishes in a physical store, their journey often starts online.

The digital age has forever changed the retail industry and ultimately, customers’ expectations of it. Simply put, customer service has never been more important, which is why we put our customers at the center of everything we do across all our brands – Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids, Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks by Hollister. As technology has evolved, and the shopping experience has changed to adapt to and anticipate customers’ changing preferences, we saw an opportunity to update our customer service capabilities to meet our customers’ growing needs. We were in search of a new customer service system that would deliver enhanced value for both our agents and our customers.

3 reasons Abercrombie & Fitch Co. chose Kustomer

Partnering with Kustomer helps ensure our current needs are met and gives us confidence that we are positioned to meet our customer service goals now and in the future, as their needs continue to evolve. Here are three key ways Kustomer delivers on our requirements for a new solution:

Personalized interactions

We wanted to align customer service tactics with our organizational mission of putting the customer at the center of everything we do, as well as implement more personalized experiences that would resonate with our customers.

Kustomer allows us to view each customer holistically across channels and time, giving our agents not only the supporting information they need, but also organizing order history and pertinent customer data in a single location. Additionally, we will soon be able to see the entire customer journey, from what they’ve bought, to the offers they’ve received and other products they’ve viewed. This will allow us to anticipate and adapt to a wide range of customer needs in a highly individualized manner.

Improved agent and reporting service

The comprehensive view Kustomer provides also helps simplify and streamline the agent experience. Agents can review necessary information and take appropriate action to resolve issues from a single screen. Most importantly, the entire agent experience is highly intuitive; the quick training process allows our agents to easily get up to speed, and they are able to comfortably utilize Kustomer to its full potential.

As a result, our agents enjoy using the system, and accessing dashboards and metrics to provide management insight into our performance is easier than ever.

A flexible, adaptable platform that keeps pace with customer needs

We needed a solution to streamline and automate time-consuming workflows and business processes to help our agents do what they do best — deliver great customer service experiences.

Kustomer helps to effortlessly manage our customer needs in real time. Operational and routing changes are now more user-friendly and can be easily made in seconds using Kustomer’s queues and routing features. More importantly, Kustomer’s experience in the digital customer service landscape assures us we can continue to improve the customer experience, and that Kustomer will evolve with our business.

Becoming a customer service fixture amongst fads

The digital age has forever changed customer expectations. By unifying the customer experience, helping us streamline how we operate, and providing a platform for future innovation, our partnership with Kustomer has helped us implement and personalize our company’s commitment to quality into each and every customer interaction.

 

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

A common saying states that perception is reality. Regardless of the validity, that perception is widely accepted, and it can have significant consequences on either an individual or an organization’s reputation and credibility.

Organizations face this every day: how to deliver the best possible product while also winning trust through superb service. Even a superior product can fall victim to poor sentiment, as 47% of consumers report they won’t even engage with a brand after being disappointed. Today’s complex, omnichannel environment makes these stakes even higher.

The steps consumers take to ask questions, resolve issues, and share both positive and negative experiences have changed drastically in the last two decades. What was once handled by either a letter or phone call to a company has now evolved into a multi-layered approach that can feel dizzying for an organization seeking to keep pace.

In fact, consumers reach out to brands across an average of seven social media channels alone, which doesn’t take into account the calls and emails to your support team, live chat on your site, and visits to a knowledge base. The ways consumers speak to and about you have the power to change how you interact with, communicate with, and care for them. Their interactions also have the power to influence retention, loyalty, and even new customer acquisition.

To deliver the most personalized customer service experience, an organization must understand customer sentiment across all channels, from online to offline, and owned to earned.

How sentiment analysis helps drive personalized modern customer service

Sentiment analysis, or opinion mining, gives you an increasingly accurate temperature check on how your customers feel about your brand, your products, and the service you provide. This automated process is a crucial piece in achieving the most modern customer service approach possible, as it gives real-time insights customer service agents and managers can act on for both in-the-moment needs and potential future issues. But in order for this to work optimally, agents must have access to this kind of customer data.

Let’s dive into the ways customer sentiment analysis can help you drive customer loyalty.

It turns your agents into advocates

Every time a customer reaches an agent, that agent should, at a minimum, be empowered with all the information needed to provide a seamless experience, including purchase and shipping information, return requests, and all communications that have occurred. When armed with sentiment analysis, however, the agent is properly prepared to connect and empathize with the customer on the aspects of either the service or the product that felt frustrating. This type of communication serves to both personalize the experience while also helping to neutralize potentially difficult conversations.

To provide this more modern experience customers expect, organizations can’t afford for their agents to have any information gaps around the customer. According to Calabrio, 60% of customer service agents state they don’t have the tools or technology needed to handle customer issues, and 34% cite lack of pertinent customer data as their biggest problem. While 54% of customers report using email for customer service, that leaves 46% of other customers using multiple other channels with information and data needing to be tracked.

Because 90% of consumers rate an immediate response as either important or very important when needing an answer to a customer service question, your support team simply doesn’t have the luxury of searching through the myriad of channels and systems while also trying to immediately solve an issue. Automating the analysis of what your customers are saying to identify clearly if it’s positive or negative is critical to providing the customer experience today’s customers need.

When you have the customer experience from top to bottom available in a customizable dashboard or report that is both easily accessible and actionable you can better educate, train, and prepare your agents on how to handle common concerns. This technology can also provide trend level analysis that completely shifts the agent role into a proactive one, advocating on behalf of your brand while also serving the customer where they’re most comfortable, in the quick manner they expect.

For example, a company aiming to promote frequency from their most valuable shoppers can set the system to reach out to these VIPs with offers or invitations to come back and shop — all through the customer’s preferred form of communication. And with Sentiment Analysis, if there’s ever any indication that the customer has actually become an unhappy one, this automated system could provide some form of greater incentive to help mend the relationship and bring the VIP back.

Analyzing sentiment and empowering agents with the data allows them to go above and beyond solving problems after the fact. Instead, agents are able to provide customers with an experience that promotes not only satisfaction, but also encourages loyalty.

It influences the future

When it comes to both acquiring and retaining customers, brands must engage in the new rules of engagement. Today 45% of consumers turn to social media for customer service help. This same survey cites the most common reason (57% of respondents) a consumer reaches out to a brand or organization is to find an answer, and the second reason is seeking resolution for a product or service (45% of respondents). However, 34% of consumers also reach out to sing a brand’s praises or provide positive feedback regarding their experiences.

Each of these touchpoints is data that can be used to get ahead of issues, inform internal product teams of concerns or problems, and influence both new customers and loyal ones. These insights can be analyzed for attitudes, opinions, and feelings to calculate various types of sentiment that numerous internal teams can use, including agents who must be prepared to provide the highest level of service required.

When measured holistically, it eliminates customer experience gaps

In order to deliver on the service today’s savviest customers expect, it isn’t enough to simply analyze sentiment. Unfortunately many organizations look at sentiment based on channel: email, phone, chatbot/live chat, social, etc. And that means all the data collected is siloed. The result of siloed data needing to be measured and analyzed together is an analyst somewhere banging their heads against a wall trying to fit a square peg through a round hole.

Simply put: siloed data can be analyzed together, but it will always be inconsistent and incomplete, with gaps that don’t cover the holistic customer experience. When attempting to make sense of the entire customer journey from initial awareness, through repeat purchases, organizations must consider a holistic way of collecting the data to be analyzed more accurately.

How Kustomer leads the way in Sentiment Analysis

Just as anyone running for office knows, understanding how your audience feels about you can speak at a volume often more predictive than sales themselves. The organization who achieves this most comprehensive, holistic view of their customer and automates the customer experience using this logic empowers a customer experience that boosts loyalty, retention, and repeat sales.

Kustomer’s Sentiment Engine specifically achieves this. It’s driven by AWS Amazon Comprehend, and through natural language processing APIs, the Kustomer platform can analyze all incoming text from the customer via Chat, Email, SMS, and Social. It understands negation and modifiers, and calculates numerous types of sentiment ratings from social media monitoring to trend analysis.

While most traditional support platforms have out-of-date architectures with rigid models that limit configurations and silo data, Kustomer’s Sentiment Engine provides a truly holistic view of customer sentiment data that can be acted on in real-time.

If you’re ready to transform your organization’s customer service into one that drives loyalty in the modern age, click here for three ways to get started.

 

Extending the Customer Experience Conversation Beyond the Product

If I’ve learned anything from 23+ years as a digital marketer in the software industry, it’s that customer experience is not just the interaction with a product, but the relationship it starts to build by continually offering relevant content and valuable insights. Having recently joined the Kustomer Krew, I can already tell – they get it. In a company who dedicates itself to helping brands provide a great customer experience, it’s my mission to ensure every interaction with our brand is a great experience, at every touchpoint.

As I make my long commute into the office today, I think about recent conversations of traditional marketing outreach being replaced by content-driven marketing. Essentially, “If you build it, they will come.” But it makes me wonder, with content alone driving my strategy, will I be able to gain the loyalty and the share of voice (SOV) we desire? I imagine our customers are asking themselves does my company’s customer experience lend itself to building the loyalty we desire?

Bringing the Customer Experience to Life

As I embark on bringing the Kustomer Book Club back to life, our second book, “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty” by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi, we’ll explore the idea of whether or not we need to ‘dazzle’ our customers.

Now I realize these authors aren’t talking about the marketing side of the house, but without the marketing, how does anyone know anything anymore? If we don’t search for that keyword, read that blog, or attend that webinar how will we gain those insights, find those solutions to help us drive revenue and retain our customers?

This book lays out the four pillars of a low-effort customer experience, with robust data, insights and profiles. The authors provide the tools and templates one can start applying right away to improve service, reduce costs, and ultimately generate the elusive loyalty that the ‘dazzle factor’ fails to deliver. The rewards are there for the taking, and the pathway to achieving them is now clearly marked.

A 4 out of 5-star rating on Goodreads, I invite you to grab a copy of this book and join the discussion on September 4th. Here are a few thought-provoking questions to get those academic juices flowing:

    1. What are the implications for the future? Are there long or short-term consequences to the concepts the authors outline?
    2. Are the authors recommendations doable and will you be implementing any of the templates provided?
    3. Do you agree with the concept that customer experience should be effortless ?

Get the details to join this conversation: subscribe to the Customer Experience Book Club.

 

Kim Hahn is the Director of Demand Generation at Kustomer.

The Connected Customer Experience: Leveraging Data to Drive Hyper-Personalized Experiences and Build Trust

To say we’re living in a customer-centric age is an understatement: companies who fail to prioritize the customer experience are outpaced by their CX-leading competitors by nearly 80%. Additionally, more than half of companies have experienced a serious drop in consumer trust, resulting in an estimated missed $180 billion in potential revenues, according to this Accenture study. There are numerous reasons consumers lose trust in brands they once knew, loved, and purchased from frequently, but 71% of consumers say poor customer service contributes to that trust erosion.

Unfortunately, many tactics that once served an organization well in engendering a customer-first culture simply fail to keep up with the enormous increase in both customer data, and use of connected devices. Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created each day at current pace, and Gartner predicts there will be more than six connected devices per person as early as 2020. This device proliferation and increase in data results in an overwhelming number of touchpoints that must be tracked and connected to the customer’s buying journey. It’s a tall order, but the organizations who will win are those who can use all of this data to scale the customer experience quickly, efficiently, and effectively, and all on the customer’s terms. It’s not just enough to collect data: it needs to be the right data that can be acted on in the moment.

Working with the customer where they’re comfortable

The digital age has changed where, when, and how customers interact with a brand. What was once a simple cycle of seeing an ad, making a purchase, and repeating, has shifted into a looping journey with the potential for numerous friction points that can turn a customer away from a brand all too quickly. McKinsey describes this journey through four critical areas: consideration, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase experience. Instead of assuming a consumer will immediately be faithful to the previous brand purchased, McKinsey states that today’s buyer continues to consider new brands available to them. McKinsey adds the element of the Loyalty Loop, which fast tracks future purchases, but in order for a brand to effectively qualify for this shortcut, they must have fostered lasting loyalty with the customer. And 95% of consumers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty. In other words, helping a customer find the answer they need quickly is a significant indicator of whether or not a brand has continued ownership of that customer’s wallet share.

An additional complication is the increase in possible touchpoint locations: digital searches, email, social media, website, and more. In fact, 31% of millennial customers looking for help reach out to a company via Twitter. It’s important for an organization to connect all relevant touchpoints to a unified customer profile in the event of a customer service interaction, or they run the risk of further fracturing the experience and the relationship.

Brands must be willing to look critically at their existing systems to evaluate if they’re truly prepared to handle the significant amounts of data, devices, touchpoints, and the unified view necessary to provide a seamless customer experience. Tools driven by AI and machine learning are the only way to ensure a business can scale to keep pace.

The expectations for customer agents have never been higher; below are ways that AI magnifies data to bolster a support team so they can create optimal customer experiences.

Automate processes and tasks

KPMG has estimated that the service cost reduction with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is as great as 75%. With the average cost of service centers continuing to rise — voice is $12 per contact, and live chat is $5 per contact — shifting resources to self-service through automation and a knowledge base can result in huge savings. Automation tools can decrease costs to just 10¢ per contact.

It isn’t simply the dollars and cents saved, however, that make automation so impactful to an organization. In one use case, automation can vastly improve worldwide organizations needing to route certain language speakers to agents who can communicate in that language. Additionally, by routing common questions and needs to a self-service portal or base that can both quickly and effectively solve a customer’s problems, agents are freed up to more quickly take on the more complex, nuanced issues that customers face.

While skeptics might be concerned about customers valuing human interaction above all else, according to this report from Statista, 88% of US consumers expect an online self-service portal. In fact, bringing numerous types of customer data touchpoints into one place — and from any resource — creates a more seamless, personalized experience for that customer. This method allows for both speed and a personalized approach to be achieved, and on the customer’s terms.

Augment existing agent support

When a customer dials into a service call center, provides significant information regarding who they are and why they’re calling, and is then directed to an agent for further assistance, the worst possible scenario is that customer then having to repeat all of that information…again. When considering a customer may have also reached out through email and even social media, it becomes even more crucial to use data in the right way. Much like being retargeted by an ad for a product you purchased yesterday, today’s customers are smart and expect organizations to be intelligent with their data. If, after interacting with a chatbot and providing all relevant data, a customer’s issue is escalated to a human agent, the customer expects an agent to already have the necessary context to properly manage the issue. That context should include relevant information like shipping number, previous conversations from both online and offline sources, and previous purchases made, combined into a unified customer profile.

Not only does the full customer data view aid with escalating issues directly, it can even be used to provide recommendations to the agents before even interacting with the customer. Through AI technology, an agent can be given an automated recommendation for how to best handle the customer’s request, eliminating both time and mismanagement; thereby improving the quality, time, and ease of service for both the customer and the agent.

When AI is used to capture data for context, the technology and the human agent become critical partners in providing the right customer experience. It empowers an agent to be a true specialist, who can change the customer’s outcome in a way automation cannot. The marriage between the two is what elevates the customer experience to a level that promotes long-term loyalty.

Proactively boost future outcomes

As a part of the new expectations customers have for service-related interactions, customers expect their preferred brands to be proactive in handling potential issues. For an organization this can be as simple as customer communication that informs of impending weather that will impact a shipment, or as sophisticated as predicting volume needed quarters in advance based on real-time interactions. In order to accomplish this, however, all relevant data must be gathered in a location where it can be acted upon quickly.

One use case could even enable leads and managers to get ahead of issues in-the-moment. For example, as a call is happening, the voices can be translated into text, then analyzed and graded in real time to measure key indicators that identify a call going south. Instead of arbitrarily choosing which calls to QA, or to QA all calls after-the-fact (and risk missing the ones requiring assistance), AI and machine learning can alert a team lead exactly when to jump in and improve the customer interaction as it occurs.

Antiquated technology looks reactively at improvement; the best customer experience requires proactive use of data as the touchpoint interaction occurs, rolling it into the most personalized experience possible.

Customers who have a good experience are three and a half times more likely to repurchase, and five times more likely to recommend to friends and relatives than those customers who have a poor experience. And 59% of respondents to the Microsoft State of global customer service report say that customer service expectations are higher than they were last year. In order for an organization to scale to meet the growing demand, they must provide a seamless omnichannel experience that connects all touchpoints, automates tasks and processes for maximum efficiency, and proactively uses real-time customer data to further create the best experience. Doing so will empower your agents, and build the trust your customers need to remain loyal for years to come.

Connecting all the data to relevant touchpoints and driving a hyper-personalized experience will change how your customers experience you and your product. Tune into our webinar with guest speaker from Forrester where we break down how you can create an elevated customer experience.

 

Everything CX Leaders Need to Know about Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Customer service leaders have a lot of metrics to track and interpret, with customer satisfaction data as some of the most important — and often underutilized. Satisfaction metrics aren’t just for evaluating the efficacy of your support agents; they also correlate strongly to customer lifetime value and loyalty, and can provide valuable insight to teams throughout your organization.

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions our CX team receives about customer satisfaction metrics. Use this guide as a quick reference point for CSAT, CES, NPS, and sentiment analysis.

What are the most common customer satisfaction metrics?

There are four core ways that customer service leaders track satisfaction:

  1. NPS
  2. CSAT
  3. CES
  4. Sentiment

Here’s a quick (and simplistic) way to think of them: NPS is a measure of loyalty, CES is a measure of effort, CSAT is a measure of satisfaction, and sentiment is a measure of emotion. Finding the right metrics for your customer service operation requires setting a clear purpose for the reporting. The metrics, questions, and frequency you select should align to high-level goals (e.g., do you primarily want to track brand loyalty, improve resolution time, provide product feedback, or monitor agent effectiveness?)

Quick Guide to CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score)

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is most often used to measure a customer’s feelings about a specific interaction with your support team. It’s really measuring the agent interaction versus how difficult it was to accomplish something or feelings about the brand overall. For that reason, it’s typically sent immediately following an interaction with an agent.

“One of the benefits of CSAT surveys is that you can gather feedback from customers immediately after an interaction with your team. This helps you better understand customers’ experiences in real time, and can segment the results by agent, team and most importantly channel,” notes Kustomer’s Senior Product Manager John Merse. “In a true omnichannel environment it’s important to understand that each channel is unique and requires a specific communication style. For example, while you may have a 90%+ satisfaction via email, if you are not tracking chat or SMS, you might find that your communication is not as effective and your overall customer satisfaction not as high as you think.”

Relying on one overall CSAT calculation for an entire customer support operation often isn’t illustrative enough of a metric for an enterprise organization. It’s considered best in class to also be running segmentations to identify any outlier activity. For example, are you segmenting your CSAT scores by demographic or product? And how are you combining CSAT with other metrics more indicative of customer value or loyalty? Read on for more info about how these tools can be used together.

What is a good CSAT score?

The average CSAT rating is 8.4, according to provider Nicereply, who benchmark a strong CSAT average rating of 8 or higher. The ACSI also offers customer satisfaction benchmarks segmented by industry.

Quick guide to CES (Customer Effort Score)

CES is a newer metric that focuses on experiences with support, typically rating the amount of effort a customer had to go through to resolve their issue. “You can essentially think of CES as tracking the effort a customer puts into using your product or service. The more effort that is needed over time will likely erode their loyalty ,” summarizes Merse. A CES survey, for example, might ask to what extent a customer agrees with the statement X brand made it easy for me to handle my issue. This score helps measure overall effectiveness of support, as opposed to specific agent interactions.

Why should CX leaders focus on customer effort? “If you can only measure one thing, it should be effort,” says Sarah Dibble, executive advisor at Gartner (formerly CEB, which created the metric). “Our research finds that effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty.” Monitoring CES can help support team leaders uncover high-effort pain points in customer interactions — for example, a common trend is lower CES scores when support is available only on limited channels or time periods.

When are CES surveys typically sent? CES surveys are also typically sent immediately following an interaction with the support team, although the duration should be customized to meet the objectives of your team.

What is a good CES score?

Your CES scores will obviously vary depending on the question asked and scale used (e.g., 1-5 vs. smiles/frowns). According to provider Nicereply, look for a bell curve with most responses around 5 or a 6. If your goal is a best-in-class operation, making support frictionless should be a top priority.

Can I use CES in combination with CSAT or NPS?

Yes, many companies find that combining CES and CSAT or CES and NPS gives them a more complete understanding of the customer support experience. Although a CES score tells you effort level, it doesn’t get to the why of the customer’s response or how they feel overall about your brand.

Quick guide to NPS (Net Promoter Score)

NPS is calculated with the percentage of a company’s true advocates (“9” and “10” on a 10-point recommendation scale) minus its detractors (“0” through “6” on this same scale). Based on research by Bain & Co, an NPS survey will always look the same—a scale from 0 to 10. The question itself can vary slightly, but most often reads as: “How likely are you to recommend X Brand to a friend or colleague?”


NPS is often used as a way to identify strong brand enthusiasts and also reach out to detractors. If a customer leaves a negative score, it’s considered a best practice to reach out for more information or to improve the situation with an offer or proactive support.

NPS as a metric also has its detractors (pun intended). In its calculation, a score of six is essentially equal to a zero — meaning improving a customer’s selection from a zero to a six would make no actual difference in the overall NPS score. While that is true in the aggregate, improving individual customer’s NPS scores has great value. Armed with the knowledge about why a customer gave a certain rating, customer service agents can directly address those issues and work with the customer to improve the situation. Companies can even compare CSAT and NPS scores to see how their support teams are helping to improve the individual and overall trends over time.

Quick guide to sentiment scoring for customer service

Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, is the process of determining whether language reflects positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. For customer service, sentiment analysis looks at the emotion behind customer communications. Using natural language processing capabilities, customer experience agents and supervisors can gain automated insights into the emotions behind customer interactions.

Sentiment scores (which assign a value to the message, conversation, and customer) can be used in combination with tools like NPS to get a multi-dimensional picture of customer satisfaction. Generating reports based on sentiment changes or the themes of positive or negative sentiment (like a specific product or experience) can help you better understand your customers.

Why is customer satisfaction important?

There are a range of data points supporting the value of satisfied customers. The core reasons to care about customer satisfaction are obvious: customer loyalty, customer lifetime value, and word of mouth. However, there are also less obvious reasons. Customer satisfaction can also be correlated to agent happiness (ASAT, agent satisfaction); no one wants to make people unhappy all day, so there’s a lot of research showing when one goes up, so does the other. Higher agent happiness of course correlates to retention and lower business and recruiting costs.

Here are some additional stats about why investing in customer satisfaction delivers ROI:

  • A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits from 25 percent to 95 percent, according to research from Bain & Company.
  • When service reps can provide better experiences to customers they feel better about their jobs, and their intent to stay increases up to 17%, according to Gartner.
  • According to CEB Global, 96% of consumers that reported having difficulty solving a problem were more disloyal.

 

What are some strategies for improving customer satisfaction?

There’s obviously a wealth of strategies and improvements CS and CX leaders can make to improve customer satisfaction. Here are a few of the focus areas that can have huge payoff:

  • If you don’t already have it, build executive buy-in and consensus for customer service as a brand differentiator. Sharing examples from leading people-first brands and category disruptors can help drive internal conversations about change. Many enterprise CX organizations are reinventing the names, skillsets, and trainings of their support teams because of the importance of the support experience to customer value.
  • Consider proactive support as a means to divert and avoid negative customer experiences. This can mean everything from pushing notifications about shipping delays to getting ahead of negative reviews with an offer or product exchange.
  • Evaluate whether your customer service technology is empowering your agents to quickly and efficiently resolve customer issues and deliver exceptional quality. Have high expectations for your technology partners to enable best-in-class solutions that have a unified omnichannel experience.
  • Segment your satisfaction scores by demographics, product, support channel, and more to see if there’s any underlying problems in specific areas.
  • Invest in self-service content that’s easy to find and navigate. A strong Knowledge Base or FAQ section can be the foundation for a more efficient customer support function, allowing customers to resolve their own questions without needing to contact support.

Got more questions about measuring and interpreting customer satisfaction metrics? Reach out to connect with a CX expert from Kustomer.

 

Announcing the Kustomer Book Club for CX Leaders

I’m thrilled to use my first-ever Kustomer blog post to announce the launch of Kustomer Book Club. Every other month we’ll be building out a recommended reading list for CX leaders interested in professional and personal development, including staying up-to-date on the latest customer management thought leadership.

If your first reaction is to think you’re too busy for a book club, I get it. Working a long day and then reading a business or industry book can feel like just more work. But I also truly believe that opening ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives is one of the best things we can do for our colleagues, customers, and our careers.

Agree? Please read on.

Our first book club pick is all about bucking convention and becoming a leader who champions new ideas (especially unpopular ones!). Here’s a short description for Originals:

It’s one thing to have new ideas, but another to stand up for them. Adam Grant, one of his generation’s most provocative thought leaders, explores how individuals can recognize good ideas and speak up without getting silenced, parents can raise creative children, and leaders can build cultures that fight groupthink and promote innovation.

Sounds like valuable skills for listening to customer feedback, changing company cultures, and being a better leader. This is also a book blurbed by both J.J. Abrams and Sheryl Sandberg, so you know it’s good. Or the author is just very well-connected.

Topics to think about (and discuss with your teams) while we read Originals:

  • When’s the last time you championed an idea that you knew was strong even though it was unpopular or complicated to execute?
  • Do your teams know they can come to you with dissent or disagreement? (Hint: just ask them).
  • How can our brands encourage AND act on more customer-generated feedback and ideas?

 

Kustomer Book Club FAQs

Q. Are we reading only books about CX and customer service?

A. No! We believe that the best leaders and the best teams are made of well-rounded, curious people. This is a book club intended for professional development, but that is not limited to trends in customer service or experience. In fact, there’s a lot of research on the benefits of being a T-shaped employee/person, especially within industries undergoing rapid digital transformation. (The “T-shape concept” of valuing a broad, cross-functional mindset is typically attributed to McKinsey).

Q. Are you taking recommendations?

A. Absolutely. Especially because there seem to be gender, racial, and age gaps in business book authorship. We are striving to highlight diverse voices in Kustomer Book Club, and would love to receive recommendations. If you’ve got a must-read book, pretty please send it to jesse@kustomer.com.

Q. When will the next book be announced?

A. We’ll announce a new pick every other month here on the blog. To make sure you don’t miss updates, subscribe using the form below.

Subscribe For Updates to our Book Club

 

Jesse Feldman is the Content Marketing Manager at Kustomer.

Kustomer + Jeannie Walters: How to Create an Omnichannel Journey

On the latest Conversations with Kustomer Podcast, we discuss creating an emotionally impactful omnichannel customer journey in an increasingly fragmented service and support landscape.

We sat down with Jeannie Walters to learn the ins and outs of building a memorable customer journey. Jeannie is the CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator of 360Connext. 360Connext specializes in qualitative, human evaluations of the real customer experience through a process called Customer Experience Investigation (CXI). Jeannie is also a Co-Host on the Crack the Customer Code Podcast.

Emotion colors every experience we have—whether we realize it or not. Is there a place you shop just because the people who work there are really nice? Or because you’ve had a positive experience in the past with the brand? Maybe there’s a coffee shop or a bookstore where you end up spending way more than you set out to just because of their warm, friendly experience.

How can customer service and support teams spread that positive feeling when customers are contacting them over the phone, over email, over chat, and across all of these channels and more? It definitely isn’t easy, but it is very possible.

Listen to hear our answers to these questions:

  • What is the process of mapping the customer journey?
  • How do you retain your customers’ trust?
  • How can customer experience professionals use empathy while designing the customer experience?
  • When should you rely on data to design your journey, and when should the process be more intuitive?
  • How can you deliver a personalized experience for each customer?
  • How can customer support organizations improve the experience more proactively?
  • How is this process of mapping the customer journey different for B2B versus B2C brands?

For the latest from Kustomer, follow us at @Kustomer on Twitter.

Live Chat: What Does a Modern Solution Look Like?

When organizations are considering a chat strategy, there’s a common debate over whether live chat or a messenger app is the right method to use for client communication. Both models have pros and cons, but technologies have evolved to make a hybrid approach not just possible, but effective. By blending both models together, you can test, collect feedback, and grow—and new tools make it easier than ever to take the best from each approach.

Read about Kustomer Chat’s new features here.

But before we define the benefits and drawbacks of each, it’s important to define the difference between “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” messaging.

Synchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with “Live Chat”, where a customer can only maintain one chat “session” at a time with an Agent. These conversations only exist for as long as the customer is active or at least one agent is online.

Asynchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with email, social media, or SMS messaging. Within these channels, neither the customer nor the agent communicate in real time. This means customers can start a chat and come back to it an hour later without worrying about ending “sessions”.

What’s wrong with Live Chat?

Chat used to be confined to a website, where customers would wait for an agent to become available. If they got disconnected or refreshed the page, the session would end. To keep customers from waiting after sending their chat message, many organizations would disable the chat experience on their site whenever agents weren’t available. Once connected to an agent, customers would have to stay confined to their desk chairs chatting back and forth until they resolved their issue.

The Old Version of Live Chat: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers get instant replies and immediate feedback, which sets that expectation going forward.
  • CON: The “session” philosophy means a customer can’t message you from their computer, and then respond to you from their mobile phone.
  • CON: Normally works based on “agent availability” meaning that if agents are maxed out or not available chat is removed, and you are asked to leave a message or worse, the website hides chat completely.
  • CON: Missed/Dropped Chats immediately stop a conversation and require everyone to start over.

Why Have Messaging Apps Replaced Live Chat?

With the introduction of smartphones, app-based communication shifted customer expectations. They could open an app, click “contact support”, and start a conversation, but didn’t have to wait around for a reply. When a reply did come, they’d get a notification to check it and keep the conversation going. This allowed customers to move freely from a desktop to their mobile app if they needed to get up and grab a coffee, for example. The ease of use across any device lead to a natural shift from the need to be “live” to customers becoming accustomed to asynchronous messaging within third-party apps.

Asynchronous Messaging App: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers can start a chat from their computer and finish it from their smartphone.
  • PRO: The app is always available as a means to collect and store customer issues while “offline”, which agents can follow up on later.
  • PRO: Past chat conversations can be stored and replied to for context.
  • PRO: Customers don’t expect instant replies.
  • CON: Conversations are never “closed”, making it hard to measure agents on that metric.
  • CON: Conversations with customers are dragged out over a longer period of time, slowing down resolution times.
  • CON: Customer can always reply to old conversations, which can make it harder to follow up and provide timely or quality support.

While asynchronous messaging has become more popular, there are some great concepts that underlie Live Chat functionality, like using Agent Availability to set expectations. Instead of completely removing the experience of chat from your site when agents aren’t available, you can collect customers’ info and issue, and then pass them to another channel for follow-up—setting the expectation that a reply will not be live.

Modern Chat Gives You the Best of Both Worlds

Ideally, you can bridge the gap between these kinds of synchronous and asynchronous messaging by providing a customer the ability to chat live with an agent, but maintain an asynchronous state when agents are not available or over-capacity by shifting the conversation to channels like email or text messaging or setting expectations about your reply times.

Customers need a fast response to get an answer or complete a sale—like asking about clothing sizes on a retail site—but you can’t always provide 24/7 communication. That’s why your chat tool needs to evolve to combine the best features of synchronous Live Chat and an asynchronous Messaging App. Kustomer chat is always on, allowing you to set business hours so that customers have the right expectations. That makes it easy to provide synchronous chat when agents are available, and asynchronous when they’re not. The history of every conversation is saved across platforms, so it’s easy for agents and customers to move from platform to platform for a fully omnichannel chat experience. The option to close conversations makes chat support more efficient and easier to manage and measure, and because everything is tied to the customer, agents have all the necessary conversation when they start a new one. Modern chat solutions meet the expectations of your customers and the needs of your business—and with Kustomer Chat, you can deliver the best possible chat and messaging experience.

Kustomer’s Chat makes it easy to deliver the experience that’s right for your team and organization. To learn more about our latest additions to our chat offering, read our product update here.

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