3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

woman on phone sitting on steps

A common saying states that perception is reality. Regardless of its validity, 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 upset customers — according to an Accenture Strategy Research Report, 47% of consumers admit they won’t even engage with a brand after being disappointed. Today’s complex, omnichannel environment makes these stakes even higher.

Analyzing sentiment and empowering agents with data allows them to go above and beyond, providing customers with an experience that promotes not only satisfaction, but also encourages loyalty.

What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?

KM World defines customer sentiment analysis as the processing of information to determine the opinion of a consumer. The time consumers take to ask questions, resolve issues, and share both positive and negative experiences can be used to help an organization evolve.

It’s important to understand that the way this information is gathered has 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.

To deliver the most empathetic customer service experience, an organization must understand customer sentiment across all channels. Let’s take a closer look at sentiment scoring, what’s considered a positive sentiment and three solid reasons customer sentiment analysis is a must for your organization.

What is a Sentiment Score?

According to CallMiner, a sentiment score is the number used to gauge customers’ opinions of a company’s service and products. A positive sentiment score indicates exactly what it describes — customers are satisfied with their experience with the company’s offerings and will likely continue to go about business as usual — and as such, a negative score explains the opposite. Both types of sentiment scoring are important, as they can help a company understand where they need to improve and where they can continue following business protocol.

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis gives you an increasingly accurate temperature check on how your customers feel about your brand, your products and the service you provide. For agents to turn this data into insights, however, they must be able to easily access this type of customer information.

Here are three reasons why customer sentiment analysis is ideal for driving customer loyalty:

1. Customer Service Agents Become 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. From purchase information, shipping information, and return requests, to an accumulation of all internal communications that have occurred, agents should have all the customer details available to them in order to provide the best possible service. But this isn’t always possible without the right technology.

When armed with sentiment analysis, 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 the modern experience customers expect, organizations can’t afford for their agents to have any information gaps. According to Calabrio, 60% of customer service agents feel that they don’t have the tools or technology needed to handle customer issues, and 34% cite a lack of pertinent customer data as their biggest problem. With the right resources in place, companies can properly identify negative and positive sentiment scores and translate the insights into providing an improved customer experience across the board.

2. It Has a Major Influence on the Future of Your Business

When it comes to both acquiring and retaining customers, brands must pursue the new rules of engagement. According to Social Media Today, 70% of consumers have admitted that they turned to the social media accounts of brands for customer service reasons on one occasion or more. Utilizing social media channels is one of the most advantageous moves a brand can make today.

Customer interactions, whether indicating negative or positive sentiment, can be used to benefit the company. This data can be used to get ahead of issues, inform internal product teams of concerns or problems and influence both new customers and loyal ones. Data can reveal how an individual consumer is feeling, and it can also reveal areas in your product or policies that need improvement.

3. Customer Experience Gaps Vanish (With Holistic Measurement)

Unfortunately, many organizations look at sentiment based on the channel: e-mail, phone, chatbot/live chat, social and others, 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.

In other words, siloed data can be analyzed together, but it will usually 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 to repeat purchases, organizations must consider a holistic way of collecting the data to be analyzed more accurately. A customer service CRM platform, that unifies all data into a single view, can help businesses garner insights from cross-channel data.

How Kustomer can help

Understanding how your customers feel can be a useful tool for your business. The organization that achieves a comprehensive, holistic and actionable view of their customer, and leverages sentiment analysis to understand how customers are feeling, can create empathetic experiences that boost 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, no matter the channel. You’ll always know how they feel, and be prepared to deliver exceptional service in customers’ greatest times of need.

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.

 

What is Punk CX and Why Should You Care with Adrian Swinscoe

What is Punk CX and Why Should You Care with Adrian Swinscoe TW

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In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Adrian Swinscoe joins Gabe Larsen to discuss his philosophies and strategies for improving the customer service experience. For the last 25 years, Adrian has been consulting individuals and companies on their marketing and business development, customer insight, and customer service spaces. He has a passion for helping businesses create positive spaces for their customers and helping organizations simplify their strategies to make them more effective. Adrian is also the author of How to Wow and Punk CX, the latter being one of the subjects of discussion in this episode of the podcast. Listen to the full episode below.

What is Punk CX?

Punk CX is a new way of looking at customer service that Adrian thought of back in 2017. He was inspired by the emergence of punk music in stark contrast to the prog-rock era of the 1970s, at which time punk music became a statement to go against the norm. The creators of punk saw prog rock as becoming too measured and overly technical, and Adrian sees a lot of similarities in the customer experience space. Adrian believes that companies were getting too meticulous with their strategies. When instead, they needed to develop more of a punk mindset. Adrian describes this mindset by stating, “It was a very DIY, democratic, back to basics approach. It was more about mindset and daring to be different and being okay that not everybody would like it.” If companies can drop the technicalities and start committing to action-based solutions in their customer service, they will have a greater capacity to help their customers and grow their business.

Connecting Strategy with Business Objectives

To illustrate this point, Adrian shares an interesting story about the interviews he has had with business executives. First, when executives are asked what their customer service strategies are, they repeat all the typical buzzwords; such as omnichannel, effortless, digital, connected, etc. – all responding in similar ways. When asked follow up questions, their answers are even more vague. Adrian recalls, “the second question I say is . . . tell me how your strategy supports and enables the delivery of the overall business’s strategy and overall business’s objectives. And then you get some blank faces.” Overly technical customer service strategy does nothing for the business or the customer if they aren’t aligned with the business objectives. Too many organizations are draining resources on little details that aren’t connected to their business or customers. By simplifying strategies and connecting strategy and objectives, organizations will find their business growing and their customers happier and more satisfied.

How to Simplify and Amplify the Customer Service Experience

Most organizations aren’t listening to the feedback their customers give them and it’s hurting their business. Adrian quotes a study that states “only 20% of them [companies] have actually delivered and developed the resources, the content, the knowledge bases, the facilities and the tools to help customers help themselves.” While most companies know that their customers want to help themselves and don’t want to jump through the customer service hoops, they aren’t investing in finding solutions. Adrian’s recommendation for organizations to simplify and amplify the customer experience is to do the necessary research and start implementing it.

The next challenge for companies to develop punk CX is to keep evolving with their consumers. In a remarkable comment about the true nature of customer service and the need to have a punk attitude about it, Adrian explains:

“People’s queries and inquiries and problems and their questions, they change and evolve over time. So that content needs to be managed and maintained and upgraded on a consistent basis. And so, you need to make an ongoing investment in that if you want to keep ahead of that curve. Because absolutely guaranteed, your products, your services will evolve and therefore the problems or the questions or the queries that your customers will have will evolve as well.”

By researching and continually investing in the customer experience, companies will stay ahead of the curve and give the consumers exactly what they want, the means and tools to help themselves.

To learn more about punk customer experience strategies, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

 

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Full Episode Transcript:

What is Punk CX and Why Should You Care | Adrian Swinscoe

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

Gabe Larsen (00:11):
Alight, welcome everybody to today’s podcast. We’re going to be talking about a little different perspective on how you should be looking at customer service. And to do that, we brought in Adrian Swinscoe. He’s actually the author of a couple books. One that I’ve come across is How to Wow and we’ll be talking a little bit about that today. Then, there is actually another one that came across; we were talking a little bit pre-show, it’s called Punk CX and we’re going to start with that one. He does run his own show at Adrianswinscoe.com. But I’m excited to have you on the show Adrian. How are you?

Adrian Swinscoe (00:49):
I’m great Gabe and nice to see you. Nice to speak to you. Nice to be on your show. Thanks for the invite.

Gabe Larsen (00:56):
Yeah, it’s been refreshing. Again, I did just kind of stumble across Adrian if I’m honest, and I liked some of his content, so I wanted to interview him for this podcast. But this “punk CX” thing definitely jumped out so I want to dive into it. But, before we do Adrian, can you tell us a little about yourself and kind of your background?

Adrian Swinscoe (01:15):
Okay. So quickly, I work in this service experience sort of space and have been in this sort of space for, crumbs, probably somewhere in the region of 11 or 12 years. I’ve been, I have a background as an economist, a teacher, I worked as a business developer in a corporate environment doing an innovation related sort of projects, worked as a general, sort of like a freelance, independent consultant. Nearly bought a steel company at one point. So I nearly became a steel magnet, which was a near miss. Unfortunately, I wanted to be able to wander around with a big hat and a cigar, but that’s obviously in a parallel universe. But right now, I am in this sort of space. My, I describe myself as a lover of simplicity and the human touch with a really useful bit of technology thrown in. And the thing that I really am interested in, and focus on, is how do we build organizations that deliver better outcomes for both their customers and their people.

Gabe Larsen (02:27):
Yeah, yeah. I love it. Great introduction. I’m sorry to hear about the steel mill. Maybe in a future life to your point you will be able to do that.

Adrian Swinscoe (02:36):
You’ll see me on a sidewalk somewhere kind of like smoking a big fat cigar.

Gabe Larsen (02:41):
I’m just not picturing it, but it’ll take me a little time. I’ll get there. So let’s dive into this. That was a great kind of intro of you. I was a little bit taken back as you were talking about this thing of “punk CX.” I was like, Whoa, that feels, truthfully different than I think a lot of people have framed it. Give me kind of the why, what, how. Why “punk CX,” and what does it mean?

Adrian Swinscoe (03:05):
So I’ll give you the short, I mean, I will try and make it as short as possible. About, back in December, 2017, you know, as is my one from time to time, I was in the pub with my friend O’Sheen drinking a couple of pints of Guinness and I was having a bit of a rant about the state of the experience and service and experience sort of space. And I was getting frustrated by the idea that we weren’t seeing really significant material kind of changes in the experience that one; companies were delivering, and two; that their customers were getting. And I was almost a bit like banging on the table, just, I wish some people would do something a bit more punk. And when I say punk I don’t mean the green hair and piercings and kind of like destruction and loud music and raging at people.

Gabe Larsen (03:58):
Right, right.

Adrian Swinscoe (03:59):
I mean, just doing something which dares to be different. It’s a little bit kind of stand out from the crowd, that’s a bit more experimental, that is a bit of a bit of a change. That idea sat with me for about six months and in the summer of 2018 I started to think about it, started to think about that a bit more deeply. And it made me think about where does, where did punk come from? Now punk came, exploded out of the back of prog-rock in the 1970s. Now prog-rock, for anybody that is a music fan, it was popular. It was also accused of being overly elaborate, somewhat self-indulgent, kind of overly technical. You almost needed a PhD in music to be able to be part of a prog-rock band. In some respects, and in danger of disappearing up its own arse — i.e. it was more interested than it was, maybe, in its fans.

Gabe Larsen (04:59):
I love it.

Adrian Swinscoe (05:00):
And then punk exploded out of the back of that with this idea of like going, well anybody can make music. And it was a very DIY democratic, back to basics approach. It was more about mindset and daring to be different and being okay that not everybody would like it. And I thought that’s cool, but then I thought, you know what’s funny, it’s like the service and experience space I think is starting to exhibit some of the same characteristics as prog-rock did in the 1970s — i.e. It’s becoming overly specialized, functionalized, measured, certified, professionalized, blah, blah blah, yada, yada, yada. All that sort of stuff.

Gabe Larsen (05:37):
It’s over complicated. Yeah, over complicated so many things. Got it.

Adrian Swinscoe (05:40):
And also get into the same point where it’s becoming more interested in itself then actually the people that are supposed to benefit from it — i.e. our customers. And that sort of explains a lot of the lack of real movement and improvement in this whole space, particularly for employees and customers.

Gabe Larsen (05:56):
Got it.

Adrian Swinscoe (05:58):
And I thought, well, if that’s true, then what would a punk version of CX look like? And I was a bit like, that’s cool. Well let me figure something out. And then, what it spoke to was this idea of like trying to inject a bit of urgency, a call to action into the experience space to say, stop over complicating things. Stop, get out from behind your desk and your spreadsheets and your dashboards and all these different sort of things and do stuff that really matters to your customers.

Gabe Larsen (06:34):
Right.

Adrian Swinscoe (06:34):
And so I wrote the book, it’s more like a fanzine or a manifesto. I call it a visual slap in the face for the customer experience industry because it’s not like any other business book in that it’s not 50,000 words of black ink on white paper. It’s like a full color, short pithy to the point. It’s almost designed like an album and that rather than having chapters, I talk about having a track listing. So you end up with this, here’s a title, here’s a few short words that kind of basically makes the point and then ask a couple of questions or maybe just makes a point that says, right, now crack on, get on with it. I’m more interested in better action that produces better results. That’s it.

Gabe Larsen (07:17):
Yeah, yeah. It does seem like I’m still newer to the space. Your point on just kind of a lot of talk, a lot of over complication and just this idea when you kind of deuce it to me, you know, let’s simplify, let’s focus on what matters most. And I mean, again, some of the other things on the outsider, they’re important, but they’re not as important as what the goal of this whole function is; that is obviously to make the customer’s life easier and better. So, as you’ve kind of taken that idea of “punk CX,” I assume you’ve probably seen this in different areas, you’ve consulted different companies. Let’s go into the, not necessarily the tactical, but how would you start thinking about some ways to clear that crap out and just simplify CX or the experience that customers are having with different brands?

Adrian Swinscoe (08:12):
So one of the things I would say, where I would really start, cause you can get a little tactical and you start fiddling around in different sort of things. I think the one thing I would say is that, I think we actually have to start fundamentally at a strategic kind of level. Okay. And the thing that strikes me, and this is where we’re, I think we’re getting caught, it’s creating a lot of problems, is that — I’ve met a bunch of people and particularly leaders, directors, managers in this sort of space. You turn around to them and go, right, fine. I want to ask you a couple of questions. And the first question is, what’s your experience strategy? And they go, right, okay. And they go, we want to create an effortless, digital, connected, omnichannel, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Gabe Larsen (09:02):
Buzzword, buzzword, buzzword,

Adrian Swinscoe (09:04):
Experience. And then it goes like, you’ve got a room of like 50 people and pretty much everybody’s saying the same thing, right? And you go, brilliant, okay, thank you for that. I’m not going to make you wrong just yet, but I will thank you for your answers. And then the second question I say is go, okay, now, tell me how your strategy supports and enables the delivery of the overall business’s strategy and overall business’s objectives. And then you get some blank faces.

Gabe Larsen (09:39):
You get some blanks. Yeah, I can see that.

Adrian Swinscoe (09:42):
And then you end up with this kind of thing with people, and then you’ve got blank faces and then you get some twinges of panic and nervous twitches and stuff going on because people know. Then they’re kind of like, oh, okay. It feels really obvious, but actually that’s the thing. If you’re not connected to what the business is going to really do, then — in time, and I think that time is actually starting, is coming right now, is that people start to challenge the worth of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Right? So that’s one of the big questions is because what we’ve seen is this proliferation of activity, whether it’s like this or that or the other; I don’t want to name and shame any particular areas.

Gabe Larsen (10:32):
Right, right.

Adrian Swinscoe (10:32):
But yet out of all this explosion of activity, you got to look at it and go, yeah, but none of it’s all connected. None of it makes sense. None of it is driving positive changes and outcomes that make a difference to the business and therefore make a difference to customers.

Gabe Larsen (10:48):
Yeah. So, one is that idea that we get so caught up in the minutia sometimes, we need to make sure that we are strategically aligning with what the business wants.

Adrian Swinscoe (10:59):
Exactly.

Gabe Larsen (11:03):
It’s simple but it’s true.

Adrian Swinscoe (11:04):
I know, completely. It’s a bit like, you have to be measured and considerate and everything that you can do because ultimately, it’s about delivering value for both the business and the customers.

Gabe Larsen (11:15):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (11:16):
It’s not about what you want to do. It’s about what is required.

Gabe Larsen (11:20):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (11:22):
And right now we’ve got this elaborate, nest of things; many of which don’t make any sense. So it just feels an expensive mess if you’re an exec — a C level executive looking down at this and going, we’re spending all this money, what are we getting?

Gabe Larsen (11:36):
What are we actually getting?

Adrian Swinscoe (11:38):
And I am kind of getting letters and emails and tweets and all this stuff coming from customers going, what the? I’m spending all this money and I’m trying really hard and they’re still bombarding me with all this crap.

Gabe Larsen (11:54):
All this kind of nonsense. Right? Yeah. Because it just doesn’t work for the customer ultimately. Got it. Got it. So, one is strategy. The other thing I wanted you to kind of click into, you and I talked about this a little pre show, but there was some research you came across and it did feel like another one of those points that was like, duh! Why don’t we do the simple stuff versus making the complicated stuff you want to touch on that briefly?

Adrian Swinscoe (12:18):
Yeah. So, one of the big things that really, really frustrates me is this idea that we know that customers don’t really want to get in touch with us, they don’t really enjoy the idea of the prospect of having to phone and then navigate a phone tree, or send an email and wait for a response, to do all that sort of stuff. So, if you have a problem that you think is a reasonably simple problem, we like to help ourselves. Right? So even my mom and dad who are in their seventies will probably like to do some research and figure out how to do something, try to figure out how to do something first before we try and involve somebody else. Now, the interesting thing is that there’s some research that says that somewhere in the region of 60%, if not more, of all inquiries into help desk, support teams, contact centers, whatever, come about for two reasons. One is that your customers can’t find what they’re looking for on your website or you’ve just failed to answer their question the first time around and you sort of messed it up. So you’ve got this kind of 60% of your inbound demand for help can be solved either by you being better at solving things the first time around, or two, helping customers help themselves. Interestingly, Zendesk, who is one of your competitors, so asked for permission to talk about this beforehand, they produce a piece of research, which said something in the region like 50% of all companies, north of 50% of all companies know this, they understand this, yet only 20% of them have actually delivered and developed the resources, the content, the knowledge bases, the facilities and the tools to help customers help themselves.

Gabe Larsen (14:15):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (14:15):
And I’m going, my mind is exploding here. I’m like, good people. Listen to your customers, hear what they’re saying and do the bloody work.

Gabe Larsen (14:23):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (14:25):
Cause I’ll tell you what, it will make your life easier.

Gabe Larsen (14:28):
Yeah. Yeah. What do we — I mean I love the point because again, I think that’s kind of that, it’s just the simplicity of CX. We get caught up in all the things. Would you say — that 20% number, give or take, it’s very interesting. Well, why don’t we? This does drive back to this “punk CX” thing. We just, we get caught up in all the minutia and we lose that simplicity. That’s the whole point.

Adrian Swinscoe (14:53):
I think the thing that is, that’s part of it. I think there’s also the other part of it is that it requires us to do different things.

Gabe Larsen (15:00):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (15:01):
And the different things include being able to develop, manage, and maintain content that responds to our understanding of what customers want.

Gabe Larsen (15:18):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (15:19):
Naturally, an organization will look and go, well, developing content requires people with different skills. Whether it’s the data analysis and listening skills and then the producing of the content and the quality management and the digital uploading and thereof et cetera, et cetera. But, that requires people and that requires a cost.

Gabe Larsen (15:46):
Yeah.

Adrian Swinscoe (15:46):
Right. And what they’ve got to do is they’ve got to try and manage off. We’re making an investment here in terms of the development thereof of that content against how much we’re going to save on the inbound inquiries, right? And you’ve got to get that balance. Now, the trap that people fall into is they’ll go, Ooh, we’ll develop that content and then that demand is going to disappear. I’m like, no! Because here’s the thing, people’s queries and inquiries and problems and their questions, they change and evolve over time.

Gabe Larsen (16:20):
Right, right.

Adrian Swinscoe (16:20):
So that content needs to be managed and maintained and upgraded on a consistent basis. And so, you need to make an ongoing investment in that if you want to keep ahead of that curve. Because absolutely guaranteed, your products, your services will evolve and therefore the problems or the questions or the queries that your customers will have will evolve as well.

Gabe Larsen (16:48):
I love it.

Adrian Swinscoe (16:48):
And so if you’re not developing that knowledge consistently, this demand here, this inbound query demand may go down a little bit, but it may spring back up again as you do a new product launch. It’s an ongoing investment. You’ve got to try and get that balance there.

Gabe Larsen (17:06):
And people just really struggle finding that balance. That’s a really interesting insight. I liked that. I liked that a lot. Well Adrian, man, there’s always more to discuss, always more to go through. We didn’t even get to the, to the 60, what is it, 63 principles in the “Wow” book.

Adrian Swinscoe (17:23):
68 in fact.

Gabe Larsen (17:24):
68.

Adrian Swinscoe (17:25):
I did want it to be 69, but my publisher wouldn’t let me go there.

Gabe Larsen (17:31):
That’s a great way to end this show. We may have to bring you back to dive into maybe not 69, but a couple of these, “How to Wow” customers going forward. But I do appreciate you jumping on. If someone wants to learn a little bit more about you and understand more about Adrian Swinscoe, where should they go?

Adrian Swinscoe (17:49):
Just going to look me up on Adrianswinscoe.com , Which is A D R I A N S W I N S C O E.com. You’ll find everything you need over there.

Gabe Larsen (18:00):
Well, again, really appreciate it, I love the simplicity message. I think it’s something we need. So thanks for taking the time and for the audience, Have a fantastic day.

Adrian Swinscoe (18:08):
Dude, thanks Gabe.

Exit Voice (18:16):
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.

 

The Five Key Elements that Drive Customer Experience with Mary Drummond

The Five Key Elements that Drive Customer Satisfaction with Mary Drummond TW 2

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Mary Drummond, CMO of Worthix, a specialist at improving customer experiences, joins Gabe Larsen on the Customer Service Secrets podcast to discuss the fundamental elements of building beneficial relationships between companies and customers.

The Value Of Time Well Spent

Mary shares an experience she had during a podcast interview with Joe Pine, the decorated author of the book The Experience Economy. As they discussed customer experience, Joe said, “Mary, when people talk about customer experience, they’re talking about something entirely different than what I’m talking about.” When most people talk about customer experience, they’re actually referring to customer service, customer satisfaction, customer relationship, customer success. However, Joe’s understanding of customer experience is centered on the value of “time well spent”. Mary adds to this point, stating, “it’s taking your time to create an experience out of that purchase.” From this perspective, customer experience can be seen in terms of the economic offering of an experience.

Starting With The Customer’s Needs

In order to create these experiences, one of the best starting points is by going through the process of identifying the customer’s needs and expectations. While the advancement of innovation and technology are continually changing the ways in which expectations are expressed, many of the fundamental needs remain the same. Mary shares an example of the basic need of transportation to convey this point. Before the invention of cars, people still needed to get around, but they either walked, rode a bicycle, or used horses to do so. “Now, as value propositions changed, innovation and technology came around. That need was exactly the same, but the expectations of the market started changing. And as the expectations changed, companies adapted to this ever-changing speed of the customer and provided more and more innovation in the form of automobiles.” As a result, Mary claims that it is the company’s job to identify “the need of the customer according to their ever-changing expectations.”

Building on this, the customer’s experience is established through each of the interactions they have with a company. However, these interactions aren’t limited to the moment of purchase, which is the way many companies see it. The interactions customers have with companies and brands begin as soon as they realize their need, and lasts past the point of purchase. In this context, Mary defines the experience as “the sum of the interactions that work together to provide a solution to the need according to the customer’s expectations.”

The Five Drivers of Customer Satisfaction

Mary offers five of the most important drivers that influence purchasing decisions and customer satisfaction. These main determining factors are “price, quality, relationship, social proof, and brand identification.” All of these hold value to some extent when someone is deciding which food to eat, which clothes to wear, or how they are going to spend their day off. “Depending on how they weigh out in a customer’s mind, you can either increase one in order to improve that perception of a good experience, or reduce them in case it’s causing a bad experience.” By examining these drivers and how they impact the customer’s experience, we can get a better idea as to whether the customer views the experience as “time well spent”.

For more ideas on building your customer experience, listen to the Customer Service Secrets episode “The Five Key Elements that Drive Customer Experience” wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

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Listen to “The Five Elements that Really Drive Customer Satisfaction | Mary Drummond” on Spreaker.

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Full Episode Transcript:

The Five Key Elements that Drive Customer Experience with Mary Drummond

Intro Voice (00:04):
You’re listening to the customer service secrets podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen (00:10):
All right, welcome everybody to today’s podcast. I’m excited to get going! We’ve got Mary Drummond. She is the CMO at Worthix. Mary, thanks so much for joining, and how are you?

Mary Drummond (00:23):
I’m good. So I’m like your marketing counterpart here at Worthix.

Gabe Larsen (00:26):
That’s right. We’re like marketing partners. I actually hope we are partnering on more stuff. Mary was just giving me a little tour of how to be a podcaster because outside of being the CMO at Worthix, she is also the podcast host of something called the “Voices of CX.” I probably can’t do it justice. Mary, can you tell us a little about yourself, the podcast and what you do over there Worthix?

Mary Drummond (00:51):
So, more than considering myself the chief marketer, I do truly consider myself the chief evangelist. And it’s probably because other than the CEO, you won’t find anyone in this world who is as passionate about this company as I am.

Gabe Larsen (01:08):
We can feel it from your voice, by the way. I’m like feeling the passion.

Mary Drummond (01:12):
I get genuinely excited when I talk about it. Yeah, but it does, it makes my job really, really easy because all I have to do is then take this passion and convert it into something that people can identify with. So, all I have to do is make sure that I’m distributing that message properly, which is why I have the podcast in the first place. Which is a great way to get that message across, to speak to the people in the industry that actually matter, that everybody else is listening to. And it’s been great because honestly, as the host of Voices of Customer Experience or Voices of CX, I have spoken to some of the most brilliant brains that are out there nowadays. And it’s been the biggest learning process of my life for sure.

Gabe Larsen (01:59):
I can only imagine. I can only imagine. I was telling Mary, I’m setting up on my own journey to become a podcast expert, so she might have to be a little bit of a coach and as I do that, but we’ll save that for a later time. Today, we want to jump into some of the trends and problems facing customer service leaders. And one of the things we were talking pre-show that actually was, you know, and I’m being honest here, it was pretty cool was this idea of not looking at it so siloed. A lot of organizations are looking customer experience as just kind of one point. And you kind of blew that up for me and said, Gabe, it’s different. It’s bigger than that. Give me a little more on that. How are you seeing that play out and why is it so important?

Mary Drummond (02:40):
So, I think that the number one problem that we have nowadays is that it’s really difficult for people to agree on a definition of customer experience. It’s just extremely problematic when you think about it. But when people are looking at the experience, there are a lot of definitions out there. The most accepted or the most commonly used one, and it’s the one that’s used by the CXPA, which is the Customer Experience Professional Association, is the idea that experiences are the sum of the interactions that a customer has with a company. Okay, in a nutshell it’s like 20 words, but basically that’s what it is. So, some of the interactions, right? And I agree with that definition, let’s say with some reservation. Now, customer experience has recently become super duper popular. Everybody’s using it. I like to say that customer experience has gone mainstream and you know, it’s gone mainstream when they start using it in advertising. So if you’re going through airports, you’ll see big signs that say, “Try to improve your airport experience.” I’m like, wow, airport experience… Turn on the radio.

Gabe Larsen (03:52):
Airport experience, well yes, there is an experience I guess. That’s weird.

Mary Drummond (03:55):
The bathroom experience when you’re at the airport is a thing too. And they’ll talk, there’s an ad running on the radio from Quicken Loans and it’s talking about improving your mortgage experience. You know, so experiences have really hit mainstream, which is pretty much a dream. I think that there are a lot of people out there, a lot of authors, a lot of thought leaders that really put a lot of work into making this happening, where people actually care, not only people, companies, investors, shareholders, everybody cares about the experience. So that is great. Now it also means that the message gets diluted and it also means that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding what it truly means. And since the industry is new, there’s still a lot of questions. So I understand that my definition of customer experience might not necessarily be same definition as the listener, but hopefully there is an overlap and hopefully what I do for you makes a little bit of sense.

Gabe Larsen (04:58):
Yeah, one quick followup on that, and I’m still kind of a newbie so I can ask this, but is there a big difference between customer experience and customer service? I mean obviously they’re interrelated, but how would you kind of coach people who are like, why are they people acting like those are different? How would you navigate that?

Mary Drummond (05:17):
That’s my favorite question…

Gabe Larsen (05:21):
If it’s too basic, you can be like that’s a dumb question.

Mary Drummond (05:23):
No, I think that it’s the first thing we need to get out of the way. Especially because your company Kustomer works very closely with customer service. And it’s probably one of the biggest focuses, right? We met at Customer Contact World, which is a conference that’s focused on bringing solutions to call centers and customer service. So there is a huge overlap, but it’s an overlap. One is not the same as the other. So as for a definition, I’m going to use what Joe Pine said. So if you know who Joe Pine is, he is the coauthor of a book called The Experience Economy, which was written in 1999. And it was the book that set off the whole idea of customer experience. So he could be called the father of customer experience. He created this whole concept.

Mary Drummond (06:26):
Yeah, and when I had Joe Pine on my podcast, what he told me super clearly was, “Mary, when people talk about customer experience, they’re talking about something entirely different than what I’m talking about.” So most people, when they’re talking about customer experience, they’re actually talking about customer service, customer satisfaction, customer relationship, customer success. What Joe Pine is talking about when he’s discussing the experience is very much the idea of time well spent. So it’s taking your time and creating an experience out of that purchase. So he’s speaking directly to the idea of an economical offering that is an experience.

Gabe Larsen (07:21):
Yeah, that’s deep. My mind… I’m kind of like, ooh… That was deep. So really, customer experience is kind of, I don’t mean to say it’s better, but it’s on top of, right? It’s like it almost, I would almost say, based on what you’re saying is it is, it’s on top of it. There may be that overlap, but it does feel like it is the broader category of some of these subsets like customer service, customer success, etc.

Mary Drummond (07:47):
Well, you see, the thing is that Pine was speaking of the economic offering of an experience. So that would be something like, Candytopia right? Where you offering an experience that people go in there and they have this experiential thing with candy and then you have like the ice cream museum or you have other things like Meow Wolf, this like immersive art. You know, so Pine was speaking specifically of these things, but if you take that concept and you apply it to business, what you understand is the experience boils down to the need. Okay, so way before products or companies or anything else, humans had needs. So if you consider before the automobile was created, people still had the need for transportation. So what were they using at the time? Horses. Bicycles. Whatever. Right, that need, that need existed. And the market was somehow providing that need.

Mary Drummond (08:55):
Now, as value propositions changed, innovation and technology came around. That need was exactly the same, but the expectations of the market started changing. And as the expectations changed, companies adapted to this ever changing speed of the customer and provided more and more innovation in the form of automobiles. And you know, nowadays we’ve got electric cars, right? If you think about it, essentially they’re still solving the same basic need that was there from the very beginning. It was being solved by a horse previously. Right? So what the experience, what I consider to be the experience in the business sense is the way that the company is providing the need of the customer according to their ever-changing expectations in the market. This goes from before the moment of purchase, the moment the customer realizes that he or she has a need, all the way to way after that purchase or transaction has concluded. Even once the relationship with the company has so-called ended, the customer continues to have expectations about that brand and about that company. So that’s what I consider the experience: The sum of the interactions that work together to provide the solution to the need according to the customer’s expectations. I know it’s a little bit confusing. That is how we see it.

Gabe Larsen (10:27):
It does seem like, and that goes back to almost my original question and maybe that fits in a little bit, right? There are different points in the customer journey, and oftentimes we have focused on one versus the other, but if you really map out that customer journey, it is pretty long, right? There are different touch points and there’s ultimately different things that drive that overall experience and therefore loyalty or satisfaction that really does drive people to again come back, repeat, you know, grow with you, stick with you, etc. Interesting. I’ve got a noodle on that one for a minute… That kind of customer experience versus customer service idea.

Mary Drummond (11:09):
Well i’ll build on it if you want. So when you have customer service, what you’re speaking of is a very particular moment or aspect of the experience, which is the relationship. So customer service is the relationship that the company builds with their customer. And relationship is crucial, it’s really, really important. But it is one of the multiple factors that ultimately affect the customer’s decision to choose to do business with your company or with another one that’s out there. So there are quite a few factors. So if we say customer experience is customer service, it is not, but customer service is definitely experiential. It’s definitely part of the experience.

Gabe Larsen (12:02):
But it is just part of it. It’s not the whole experience. The whole experience is… Well, paint that picture. So of customer experiences, what are some of the other parts of the experience that aren’t encompassed in customer service? For example:

Mary Drummond (12:17):
If we’re speaking of attending the need, right? So you talk about the need, you have to have a product, right? So when someone purchases a product, there are two like really easy cost-benefit factors that we can take into consideration there, which is quality versus price. So we always kind of make that relation, you know, like okay, I’m going to pay this much to gain this benefit. And pricing is so complex that there are whole schools of business that focus entirely on pricing. It really is very, very complex. But what we do know is that it’s not always directly related to quality. It is at times, but there are other things that affect it, like relationship is definitely one of them. People will pay more for a company that they have a good relationship with. Because it’s important to them, right? So just to kind of explain it really quick, what we believe in is that there are decision drivers and all of these decision drivers put together drives the customer to decide on how much of each they need in order to have a positive experience or negative experience. But it depends on the customer’s need and the expectation that they set for that company. So if I’m an Apple customer and I go to buy an iPhone, am I looking for price? No, I’m not looking for price. I’m not price sensitive. They are the most expensive. What am I looking for? I am probably looking for really good quality and probably looking for a very easy experience. So low effort in usability factors. Right? But there’s also something huge that’s a lot less subjective, let’s say, then price and quality, which is social proof. How you’re perceived by your tribe or by the people that surround you. So take it this way. I don’t know what phone you have, but I get really upset when I’m in a group chat and there’s that one person with a Google phone that’s making all of my text bubbles green. I’m like, just stop it already. Just go away. Stop ruining my group text.

Gabe Larsen (14:36):
I’ve got to stop you because I was having problems with the app. I have this total dovetail. It’s only five seconds, but I was that person. I literally was that person. I switched to a Samsung, or Android, I don’t know what it was. But I switched and the whole executive team at my last company, I hope they’re listening, they were all on Apple. And honestly, you would have thinked, you would have think you would have thunked. You wish you would’ve thought, that I killed the president or something. I’m dead serious. There was like a revolt. They were just like, you SOB, you mother***, we won’t put up for this. We won’t stand for it. And I got peer pressured back. So now, I mean, you’re not seeing this, but I’m holding this up for Mary. I’m back on an iPhone because I got guilty. So, sorry for the for the thing, but yes, I know what you’re talking about.

Mary Drummond (15:33):
Do you see how strong social proof is? It’s a huge motivator. And another one that’s also more subjective is brand identification. So one thing that we’ve seen recently, and you know, it’s been all over the news, is brands taking a more active stance politically and standing behind their beliefs and really making strong statements that maybe 20 years ago companies wouldn’t dare do. Oh my God, talk about something controversial. No way. But the truth is that the generations of today, they really want to stand behind something that matters to them. You know, so you have companies, I’ll give two, Nike is an example of a company that stood strongly behind what they believed in with the Kaepernick campaign that they ran last year. Or what was it, 2018? And analysts were freaking out, “Oh Nike… they’re really gonna take a hit for that.”

Mary Drummond (16:28):
And it was actually very successful, but it really could have gone either way. The truth is that Nike did some really, really deep research and they knew who their customers were and they knew that their customers would back them up even though they would lose some customers. The customers that actually mattered to them would stick around and actually create a stronger emotional connection with the brand because of that. I remember when that whole thing happened and people started burning their Nike’s. I remember going onto my phone as I’m watching the news go to Nike’s website and ordering anything. I just ordered anything because I just wanted Nike to see that people were still going to buy from them, you know? So I’m like, I’m going to buy right here just to show Nike how much I care.

Gabe Larsen (17:14):
So what do you feel like? And some of these examples are extremely powerful. Are there certain things that you’ve found that are the typical drivers to kind of get this? I mean, it sounds like, you know, price quality. You’ve listed a couple. Is there a typical list that you’re like, Gabe, these are the normal ones that companies need to be thinking about to drive that overall satisfaction?

Mary Drummond (17:35):
Yeah, we have five. Now these are the ones that we… So we did tons of scientific research and we narrowed it down to five, and these five drivers, they’re the main influencers of purchase decisions. Now, as you changed the decision, because you see the things that we make decisions all day long and ultimately on a daily basis, we’re constantly weighing out cost benefit. Let’s say, let’s call it cost benefit to decide whether or not something is worth it. So I’m going to give you an example. Waking up at 6:00 AM to go to the gym. Do you want to do it? Hell no. Hell no. Today it was raining so hard in Atlanta and I got out of bed and I’m like dragging myself out of bed. I’m like, I’m going to the gym. Did I want to? No.

Mary Drummond (18:21):
But in my mind, I’m telling myself that the benefits that I’m going to obtain from that sacrifice, what I’m giving up is worth it. So I go and I do it. So every moment in our lives, whenever we’re faced with a crossroad, we weigh out price, which can be money, it can be effort, it can be a sacrifice of morals. There are a series of things that we can do as paying a price in order to gain a benefit. And what does that benefit? It can be a better body. It could be health, it can be anything. So when it comes to purchase decisions, normally we’re giving up money in order to gain a product or service. So what we identified as the five decision drivers or purchase decisions are: Price and quality. It’s not in any specific order… It changes radically according to the customer and the situation. Price and quality, relationship, social proof, and brand identification. Each of the five things that I brought up.

Gabe Larsen (19:24):
Oh, price and quality are one. Okay. Got it. Okay, so say it one more time, one more time just so I got them. So, price and quality…

Mary Drummond (19:30):
Price, quality, relationship, that’s where you come in, right? Social proof, and brand identification. Depending on how these five factors… depending on how they weigh out in a customer’s minds, you can either increase one in order to improve that perception of a good experience, or reduce them in case it’s causing a bad experience. So if your customer has a really good impression of you and you don’t know why, you can run a Worthix survey and find out what’s causing that good impression so you can boost it.

Gabe Larsen (20:03):
Hmm, and really focus on one of those key drivers, right? Because I did like what you had mentioned pre-show, like oftentimes you guys were running these MPS survey and I’m just using MPS an example. But you know, it’s like, “Overall how satisfied are you?” And then you’re like, I don’t know what to do with that.

Mary Drummond (20:22):
Satisfaction doesn’t actually lead ultimately to the buying.

Gabe Larsen (20:24):
Well, I just love the idea of like when you talk about those drivers, I’m like, I can do something with that. I can coach my people. They can own it. We can do something. But satisfaction does feel like it’s so, uh oh, well they’re not sad. Then you gotta dive down more and more, so I like the action of building.

Mary Drummond (20:45):
Satisfaction is great if you’re doing a conformity check, right? So like I’ve got expectations as a customer, is that company living up to my expectations, yes or no? If the answer is yes, then I’m satisfied. If it’s not then no. Now am I going to leave you because I’m not satisfied?

Gabe Larsen (21:04):
Personally, I don’t believe that someone… it’s probably is all over the board. Some people, yes. Some people, no. I don’t know if it’s predictive of what we’re talking about here.

Mary Drummond (21:18):
It’s not because it’s only one factor. So if the price is really, really good, I might stay with you even if you suck. If I’m looking to buy like family heirloom that I want to pass onto my daughter when she grows up, I’m probably not going to measure the price because what I’m looking for is quality. I’m looking for durability, I’m looking for something that’s going to withstand the test of time, right? If I’m looking for a quick fix, something that I’m going to use one or two times, why on earth would I spend all this money for something temporary? So I’ll sacrifice quality, then I’ll probably sacrifice relationship cause all I want is this product for like whatever you know a party. Now what happens is… I’m a customer of Comcast. Okay, this this like the perfect example, because Comcast is known for having truly terrible relationship with their customers right now. Why is it that after five years with Comcast, I am still with Comcast even though their relationship sucks? Because I don’t need to call them that often.

Gabe Larsen (22:23):
It’s quality. It’s finding this balance between the different drivers.

Mary Drummond (22:29):
And when I think about the effort that I’ll have to leave Comcast and go to their competition, and then is there competition going to be that much better? Not necessarily, right? So in that specific example of Comcast, I’m not going to leave. But then again, internet isn’t a market that’s that commoditized. You don’t have that many players out there. It’s not like retail where you have hundreds of options. So depending on the industry you’re in, if you’re in an ultra commoditized market where price isn’t a differentiator, nor is quality, then you really have to stand out on other things like relationship.

Gabe Larsen (23:06):
You start to play those different games, yeah.

Mary Drummond (23:09):
And that’s where you have to innovate, truly innovate in the experience. So, you know, an example that I give all the time is Chewy. I don’t know if you know who Chewy is, it’s like a subscription for pet food. It’s like the most basic thing in the world. Chewy doesn’t sell cheap dog food. They’re more expensive than Amazon. They don’t sell super high quality or any different quality than all of the other pet stores out there. They’re selling the exact same products everybody else is selling. So an ultra commoditized market. How does Chewy get their customers to stay with them? How do they guarantee that loyalty if they’re not different at all in price and quality? Well, they really work hard on their customer service. They really work hard in their relationship. They like cultivate this intimate relationship with their customers. They’ll write handwritten cards. My dog got a birthday card! A birthday card in the mail from Chewy! These are these little things that make a difference.

Gabe Larsen (24:22):
Fascinating. Fascinating. So these companies got to find the different things that really drive their differentiators or behaviors, which really can separate them in the market. And you’ve narrowed it down to five doesn’t mean you have to do one could do the other. It’s about finding what’s unique in your industry and potentially commoditize a non-commoditized market. Well, Mary, that was not what I expected. I had like 10 more questions we’re going to have to bring you on again next time. But I really like this idea of experience looking at the whole journey and then the drivers that potentially drive that and you obviously narrowed it down to five. I’m going to have to think a little bit about that.

Gabe Larsen (25:02):
So as we wrap, if someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about what y’all do over there at Worthix, what’s the best way to do that?

Mary Drummond (25:13):
Okay, well I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram and everywhere is like @drummondmary, it’s really easy to find me. I’m like the one and only. You find some other people, but they look very sketchy. So don’t go with them. I’m like the one and only @drummondmary who looks like a person that would give you lots of interesting thought leadership.

Gabe Larsen (25:32):
So don’t follow them, follow her.

Mary Drummond (25:34):
Don’t follow them. You can also find me on Medium if that’s where you get your fix. And worthix.com to learn more about Worthix.

Gabe Larsen (25:42):
I love it. I love it. Well, it does it seem like a cool technology.I love the talk track and I’m looking forward to interacting more. Thanks again for joining and I wish everybody a fantastic day.

Exit Voice (25:58):
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.

 

3 Keys to Modernizing the Customer Experience

3 Keys to Modernizing the Customer Experience Twitter

Customers are gravitating towards brands that fulfill great experiences, leaving those that don’t in the dust. With this in mind, brands are beginning to realize that customer experience is directly tied to their revenue. According to a 2016 study by Forrester, superior CX drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers can easily switch to competitors that deliver a differentiated customer experience. Since then, 81% of organizations cite CX as a competitive differentiator and research continues to support the notion that more organizations are leveraging CX to gain an edge against their competition. By ignoring CX, brands are missing out on market share and revenue.

In this blog post, we share three ideas and concepts that will help you modernize customer experience and transform your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center.

Take a True Omnichannel (NOT Multichannel) Approach to Customer Experience

Many believe that the concept of omnichannel dates back to 2003, when Best Buy created a strategy that centered around the customer in order to compete with Walmart’s electronics department. At this time, retailers were starting to see online sales grow at a fast pace, especially for items that didn’t require you to touch them to feel confident in a purchase decision, such as electronics. All that was needed when it came to shopping for consumer electronics were specifications and dimensions of the products. Best Buy knew that since they could not compete with Walmart’s low prices, they would have to take another approach, one that focused on the customer experience both in-store and online, while providing superior post-sales support. This is where the concept of “customer centricity” was born, which is at the core of an omnichannel approach to customer engagement.

So what does a true customer-centric omnichannel approach look like in 2020? Let’s start by first explaining the concept of multichannel, which is often mislabeled as omnichannel.

In the diagram above, we have the typical multichannel model of customer engagement, where the customer reaches out through the channels of their choice. Each individual engagement becomes a “ticket” or “case”, with different customer support agents tackling each issue. This creates three main problems:

1. Each agent fails to recognize that their colleagues are working on the same issue, which in turn becomes an unnecessary expenditure of resources for the company.
2. The customer experiences inconsistencies with how their issue is solved, as each agent may have their own way of wording or solving the issue.
3. Unless the agents recognize that these tickets are from the same customer and take steps to merge them, reporting will be skewed, as there may be different response times, resolutions and CSAT scores for each ticket.

Now let’s take a look at what a true omnichannel customer engagement model looks like:

In this model, we are still meeting customers when and where they want to be engaged, yet on the back-end there is one major difference: each individual engagement shows up as one conversation for a single agent to respond to. This sole difference alleviates the three problems outlined above.

So how does a true omnichannel approach help turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center? According to Aberdeen Group, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies.

Differentiate by Appealing to Your Customers’ Emotions

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, economist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, introduced the idea of a dichotomy between two modes or systems of thought. “System 1” is fast, instinctive, unconscious, automatic and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, calculated and logical. In these modes of thought, “System 1” dominates “System 2”, as it takes much less effort, making it the default system.

If you have ever worked in customer support, you will quickly notice that some customers may be disrespectful and downright nasty. But it’s important to note that none of these outbursts are personal attacks and are oftentimes the expression of frustration when it comes to solving their problems. This is an example of “System 1” thinking and the impact of this “System 1” thinking from your customers is a powerful double-edged sword. The reward or punishment for solving their issue is magnified by social media and online reviews. As Spiegel Research Center finds, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Each interaction will either create brand advocates for your company that will help bring in more revenue, or brand detractors that will bring negative financial repercussions. That being said, we can create more brand advocates if we meet customer expectations.

This begs the question: what does the modern day customer expect? Nowadays, customers expect their problems to be resolved quickly, effortlessly and empathetically. Essentially they want to talk to an agent that is a “System 2” thinker.

As a leader in your organization, it is imperative to set up an infrastructure that is designed to take into account the emotional component of the customer experience. Fortunately, modern day artificial intelligence (AI) methods such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analytics, deep learning, and multi-dimensional neural network mappings can be leveraged. These sophisticated technologies allow for functionalities such as customer sentiment analysis and automatic language detection. By considering how your customers are feeling, your organization can take appropriate action to ensure they leave the interaction happy and on their way to becoming brand advocates.

Streamline and Automate Customer Experience Business Processes

In a traditional CX technology ecosystem, customer data is siloed. Each individual system may require manual updates as agents work through each ticket or case. Reports will need to be pulled from separate systems in an attempt to get a 360 degree view of the CX organization. In this ecosystem of siloed customer data, we are not only pulling agents away from being in front of customers by requiring manual data entry, we are also compromising the integrity of our reporting and visibility into the CX organization. Ultimately, this is hindering our ability to be agile and adjust to changing customer expectations.

The solution to these problems caused by fragmentation is to consolidate your customer data into a customer experience platform that is capable of taking all of your customer data and making it viewable, searchable, actionable and reportable. Notice we are not talking about a helpdesk product, but rather a next-generation platform for customer experience, support and service.

With all customer data under one roof, business process automations can be leveraged to their full potential. Automations are no longer limited within each individual silo, but instead can impact the entire CX ecosystem.

As businesses are seeing a bigger impact on their revenue directly from customer experience, CX leaders need to ensure that their technology is up-to-date in order to stay competitive. The days of customers tolerating poor experience are over. Think about it—your closest competitor is just a 15-second google search away. As they should, customers expect more from us. Fortunately technology exists today to modernize your customer experience, build more brand advocates, and ultimately turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center. It’s time to take a good look at your organization and ask the tough question: is my CX organization built to deliver a modern day customer experience that will turn brand detractors into brand advocates?

 

23 Customer Service Trends Every Service Leader Must Know About

23 Customer Service Trends Twitter

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Every year new buzzwords and trends are introduced into the customer service space. Some are just ‘words’ while others are impactful trends that can really change a business for the better. How do you know which trends are most important and which ones to ignore? It’s not easy, so we decided to help you out and identify the 23 trends every customer service leader should be aware of to effectively run their business in 2020.

1. The Power of Prioritization

People want to feel special and brands continue to find ways to make that happen. One popular method in 2020 will be using the power of prioritization to route certain customers to specific reps, ensuring a seamless and special experience.

2. Voice Search Pops up on the Customer Service Radar

According to a study by PWC, 65% of consumers aged 25-49 talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. This trend is catching the attention of customer-centric organizations as they struggle to determine how voice search will or should impact their organizations. Little action will happen for this in 2020, but a lot of talk and discussion will.

3. Omnichannel Becomes Obvious

Consumers care less and less about the idea of omnichannel. They just want to be able to focus on getting ahold of a company no matter the channel and no matter the time of day. This means organizations have to look at omnichannel experiences as table stakes, since its no longer acceptable to deliver a disjointed and inconvenient communication strategy.

4. Reps Will Focus on the Customer, Not Finding the Customer’s Information

This crap has to stop. A recent report noted that customer service reps spend 25% of their time looking for information about the customer. Are we really doing this? I know the answer is yes, but it shouldn’t be. It’s time to empower our reps to spend time solving problems rather than trying to figure out who the customer is and where to find their information. Look for this to change in a big way in 2020.

5. Self-Service Becomes an Expected Approach

You knew this one was coming, so don’t act too surprised. Gartner studies say that only 9% of customers report solving their issues completely via self-service. That number isn’t going to cut it anymore and leaders know it. My advice: don’t get behind this trend, get ahead before you get left behind.

6. #SocialService Becomes a Must

You might be familiar with social media playing a role in customer service, but in 2020 expect that trend to get much bigger. Social media channels like Instagram will lead the way, adding new and more convenient ways for customers to interact with agents on the channels where they spend the most time.

7. A Focus on a Customer-Centric Organization

People have been talking about customer service for ages, but now it’s not just about talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. What does that mean? It means organizations don’t just have a pricing strategy, product strategy, sales strategy, or a go-to-market strategy. They will also have a formal customer strategy at the center of their organizations.

8. The Acceleration of the Scalable Service Department

Many businesses struggle to scale their teams based on seasonality and look for outside help to do so. In 2020, the remote rep will continue to grow in popularity as companies find this to be a viable solution to their scalability requirements.

9. Bigger Customer Service Budgets

You heard me right. Customer service organizations will continue to have bigger budgets. In fact, Gartner reported that worldwide spending on customer experience software grew 15.6% to reach 48.2 billion in 2018, and I don’t see that trend slowing down anytime soon.

10. Customer Service Goes Outbound

Inbound customer service has been the norm for a long time, but things are changing with companies looking to go “outbound” to customers in a major way. Rather than relying on internal teams to send communications, reps and customer service teams will be empowered to proactively push out notifications and communications to individuals and groups through any channel.

11. Contact Center Turnover Continues to Be a Problem

A recent report stated that contact center turnover is between 30% and 35%. This trend is not likely to change, with most companies failing to crack the code on retention issues. Until companies start looking at this through the lens of the customer, they’ll continue to fail. Employee engagement and customer engagement need to be managed together, and then, and only then, will companies start to crack the code on employee turnover.

12. The Customer Experience Rises in Priority as a Marketing Strategy

Marketing and customer experience are both important functions, but if you don’t manage them together you lose powerful synergy. In 2020, more organizations will recognize the power of bringing these two functions together as more CMOs incorporate customer experience into their overall strategy, especially for B2C brands.

13. Companies Find Ways to Lower Cost Per Channel

According to the 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll, live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact. That’s a lot! In 2020, companies will continue to master omnichannel and find ways to lower their cost per contact on these different channels.

14. Deflecting Will Be Part of Every Team’s Strategic Plan

If you haven’t heard the word “deflecting” yet it’s either because you’re not in customer service or you haven’t been paying attention to all the buzz. Deflecting is the idea of routing some of the tedious work of reps to self-service channels where customers can find the answers themselves rather than talk to an agent. This is a conversation every customer service organization will have in 2020, so if you haven’t started, now is the time.

15. The Phone is Not Dead

The phone is still the most popular channel for getting issues resolved, and it’s not going away anytime soon. That doesn’t mean other channels will not play a role in customer service. It just means abandoning the phone would be a really poor business strategy.

16. The Instant Gratification Revolution

You thought customers wanted speed before, wait and see how 2020 plays out. Customers are not just demanding quicker service, in some cases they are revolting if they don’t get it. Speed has and will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in customer service.

17. Chat Begins to Overtake E-Mail as the Number Two Channel for Customer Service

According to a Gartner study, phone still dominates for issue resolution, but chat officially passed e-mail for the second spot. Watch this trend continue as chat provides a more personal and real-time resolution option for customers.

18. Personalization Becomes Even More Personal

Personalization is an obvious trend that most companies are trying to master. But in 2020, watch for this trend to take on even more meaning as companies push the limits of personalization by not just personalizing the service experience, but also the product experience.

19. AI Isn’t Taking Over the World, but It Will Be Part of Every Customer Service Team

AI is still more buzzword than reality, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. In fact, the opposite is true. Customer service leaders need to start looking for ways to use AI to streamline their operations and make the customer experience better if they want to stay ahead of this important trend.

20. Video Support Becomes a Reality

This one is scary for a lot of people who don’t want to, or who don’t like to, get in front of the camera. We’re so used to hiding behind phones and computer screens, this may be a harder trend than most to adopt. Seventy eight percent of consumers expect online and in-store retailers to treat them the same according to a recent Kustomer survey. With this statistic, video becomes a very important tool and companies will find a way to start building video into their customer experience.

21. Convenience Becomes the Number One Factor for Customer Experience

Matt Dixon is still right. The amount of effort a customer has to exert directly impacts their overall experience. That idea was written in the famous book “Effortless Experience” years ago, but the idea is not going away. It’s actually getting bigger. Customers want convenience, or this “effortless experience” more than anything else, which will force organizations to simplify their processes and look for ways to make it easy for customers to do business with them.

22. The Mobile Experience

According to Stat Counter, desktop usage is declining while 52% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile. If you really want to be customer-centric, you have to figure out how to provide great customer experiences through mobile.

23. Bots and Humans Partner to Deliver Great Service

Bots don’t have to work alone, and neither do humans. Look for brands in 2020 to bring the bot and the human together through interactive ways that ultimately drive efficiency.

Find out what else customer service leaders should be aware of in our buyer’s guide.

Download Buyers Guide

 

This content was featured in one of our latest podcasts.

Listen Now:

Listen to “23 Customer Service Trends Every CS Leader Must Know” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

 

Kustomer Talks Exceptional Customer Service at CCO

CCO 2020 Atlanta Twitter

Customer experience leaders are coming together next week in Atlanta to learn and network with peers, and understand trends and best practices in their field. It’s Chief Customer Officers, USA 2020, and Kustomer will be there to deliver the keynote on how technology can enable omnichannel, personalized customer service.

Placing the customer at the center of any organization has never been more important. Competition is high and customer patience is low, and according to a recent Kustomer survey, 78% of consumers would not shop with a retailer again after a bad customer service experience.

CCO, USA will see customer experience professionals come together to understand how to utilize the latest technology, what strategies can prompt organizational changes, and how to professionally develop your staff. It’s an opportunity to debate, discuss and learn, with some of the leading minds in customer service today. What better way to start the year?

Be sure to join Kustomer SVP of Sales & CX, Vikas Bhambri, as he discusses how technology can help deliver on customers’ growing expectations in 2020. The consumer of today expects seamless, personalized service on every platform, instantaneously. Bhambri will explore the importance of a 360 degree view of the customer, how technology can help deliver a personalized experience, and how today’s leading organizations are achieving this mandate. Join us at The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta on Thursday, February 6th at 11:30am.

If you can’t make it to CCO 2020 in Atlanta, but still want to chat about how Kustomer can help you reimagine customer service, contact us anytime.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 here.

 

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.

Kustomer Localization is made for Global Teams

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve an seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel.

Whether you service customers around the world, or have a team that communicates in multiple languages, our localization features will help you provide personalized customer support. We focused on developing features that make teams more efficient as well as automating tedious tasks associated with providing multilingual support.

Automating Language Detection

 

When your customers contact you, Kustomer is now able to automatically detect the language of the message using Amazon Comprehend dominant language detection. Oftentimes a new message will require your team to have to identify the language, and then assign it to another team or agent. This manual triaging by language is time consuming and ineffective. Automating the language detection for inbound messages allows you to route conversations to the correct team or agent, providing quick reply times. When language detection is enabled, you’ll also be able to get sentiment analysis in multiple languages, helping you to better understand your customer. Language detection will allow agents to work more efficiently by automatically sending messages and displaying Knowledge Base articles in the customer’s’ own language.

Making Translation Easy

We focused on making processes as time-efficient as possible. One of the Localization features that enables this is Snippets. Teams can easily insert translated content into messages, email templates, and Knowledge Base articles. Let’s say you want to provide your agents with an automatic response to questions about returns. You can quickly create a snippet for “return policy” with corresponding translations for languages you want to support. Then, when your agent uses a shortcut with the “return policy” Snippet, it’s automatically translated based on the customer’s language. Adding in personalization is easy too, just combine Snippets, Shortcuts, and Dynamic text and your agent is fully empowered to provide quick personalized support in the correct language.

Enabling Agent Adoption

It’s not just your customers that are global. Many support teams are based all over the world, and it’s important that users can access and use Kustomer in their native language. Unlike other tools where translations are limited to certain features and interfaces, in Kustomer you’ll have full access to language translations across all our features and the user interface. The user interface can be used in over 51 languages (both Right to Left and Left to Right). See a list of all available languages in Kustomer.

For more information about Localization and its included features, check out this article.

The Customer Service Evolution: Cisco’s Investment in Kustomer


This post by Shiv Sharma originally appeared on the Cisco Investments blog.

Do you dread your interactions with Customer Service? Are you tired of identifying yourself, your problem and all your interactions with the product or services to multiple agents? Do you wish call centers were more respectful of your time? Well, you are not alone.

As both an enterprise technology investor and a leading provider of Customer Care technology, we realize that this market is at an inflection point. An organization that was historically focused on cost efficiency and customer call deflection is now going through a dramatic shift. Enterprises are realizing that Customer Support can serve as a competitive differentiator and increase customer loyalty, thus driving higher customer lifetime value. Moreover, as leading brands have created exceptional user experiences in their interactions with customers other brands are feeling the pressure to up-level the experience they deliver to their customers as well, including Customer Support. Finally, companies are realizing that increasing customer intimacy is a top priority in a world where trends and distribution channels are rapidly shifting.

With that said, we at Cisco Investments are thrilled to announce our investment in Kustomer, a fast-growing SaaS startup which is fundamentally changing how companies manage Customer Support.

What is the opportunity?

At Cisco, we are witnessing firsthand a change in purchasing behavior. Enterprises are asking for more customer-centric, “customer journey” solutions and are also beginning to adapt their own offerings to customer preferences. It began with enterprises introducing support for multiple channels (e.g., SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter) and should accelerate as enterprises allocate greater resources to digitizing legacy contact centers. Successful B2C brands sit at the forefront of this trend and are early adopters. These companies use Customer Support as a lever to provide an exceptional, differentiated customer experience. Our thesis is that this trend will continue to accelerate within these newer customer-centric brands, and more traditional enterprises will soon follow suit.

Why do we like Kustomer?

Let’s take a look at how Kustomer enables organizations to drive an improved customer experience through customer support:

A customer-centric view of ticketing

Unlike most ticketing systems today, Kustomer ties inbound support issues directly with the customer and not a multi-digit case number. This method provides agents with context on who that customer actually is. For example, agents can view purchase history, customer sentiment (using a proprietary AI), promotional offers received, and historical interactions. This is a fundamentally new approach to customer service that enables a more human and personalized service that is lacking in the industry.

System of record for Customer Support

Traditionally, CRM and Customer Support operated as silos in an organization. However, enabling support teams to proactively utilize customer data offers a powerful dimension to deepen the understanding of one’s customer base. For example, if a B2C company is sold out of a particular pair of jeans, support agents could proactively reach out to customers and propose a potential alternative based on original purchase intent. Also, brands can offer preferred treatment to loyal customers by routing to the most skilled agents with the shortest hold times.

A truly omnichannel solution–both customer and agent-friendly

Kustomer differentiates on its ability to natively support customer communication with the most popular chat, messaging, and social media channels. Also, for the agents’ benefit, Kustomer unifies these conversations into a single-pane of glass whereas historically these have existed in separate windows on the agent desktop (i.e. voice, chat, dedicated social agents). This improves agent efficiency and productivity.

Integrates customer service with complex workflows

Kustomer is a highly configurable solution that enables companies to integrate custom workflows with various enterprise applications. We believe this functionality will be critical to Kustomer’s ability to scale, differentiate in competitive enterprise RFPs, and deliver on the promise of improved productivity for the customer service function.

Management team’s track record of success

Last but definitely not least, we are absolutely thrilled to begin working closely with Kustomer’s management team. The Kustomer team is the most experienced collection of innovators in the customer service domain. Before founding Kustomer in 2015, CEO Brad Birnbaum and CTO Jeremy Suriel founded Assistly, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011 (re-branded Desk.com at Salesforce). As we got to know Brad and the team, it was apparent that Brad leveraged his experiences to architect a solution that truly fills a gap in the market landscape.

The future outlook of Kustomer

Our mission is to support the modernization of the enterprise, and we are thrilled that our investment in Kustomer strengthens that commitment. The rapid adoption seen by Kustomer in the short time since their product launch confirms that forward-looking, customer-centric companies recognize and value Kustomer’s product offering. Going forward, we are excited to work with Kustomer to help accelerate the reach of their platform to organizations that are seeking to leverage Customer Support as a competitive differentiator.

About the author: Shiv Sharma joined Cisco Investments in 2017 and focuses on investment and acquisition opportunities in the Collaboration market. Before joining Cisco, Shiv interned at Fidelity International in London analyzing global internet equities and worked in Private Equity at Palisade Capital Management where he focused on various growth-oriented investments. Previously, Shiv was an Investment Banking Analyst in the Technology Group at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

These Are the Top 5 Takeaways from Our Direct-to-Consumer Summit

The Direct-to-Consumer approach has changed the way we discover, shop and buy. To take stock of this monumental shift, Kustomer hosted some of the most influential and innovative DTC brands to discuss their approach to loyalty, relationship-building, and experience.

A common thread is that this shift in the consumer ecosystem has put a greater emphasis on the relationship brands have with their customers. Every brand, not just DTC companies and startups, have to value customer experience, loyalty, and lifetime value above all in order to reach modern consumers.

1) Personalization with Purpose

Your customers expect more than a one-size-fits-all experience. They’re all different, and they know that their data should be put to use to make their experience better.

If there’s one brand that knows one size doesn’t fit all, it’s custom shirt manufacturer Proper Cloth. “We have smart sizes—we ask the customer ten questions around height, weight, fit, tuck-in preference, and from that we predict what set of custom size dimensions would be most optimal,” said Founder Seph Skerritt. “This was a big data problem, but as we grew we had a rich data set to build a bigger advantage upon. We used that to improve the customer experience and streamline the onboarding experience.”

Jewelry and watch marketplace TrueFacet makes sure that they’re using a granular segmentation process to send the right messages to the right customers, as CEO Tirath Kamdar describes: “Our customer segmentation is behavior-driven—and then we use demographic information on top of that. We’ve created curated programs to help with our customer segmentation. We target each of our consumers in different ways to build loyalty.”

Personalization isn’t limited to product features, it’s also valuable to personalize content, marketing messages, and other touchpoints. As Alison Lichtenstein, Director of Customer Experience Design at Dow Jones summarized: “Personalization is important—knowing the exact content each person is reading, focusing on serving up the next best article, section, newsletter—we want to anticipate what the customer needs and putting that in front of the person, to make sure they continue to be engaged.”

The push to personalize is even built into Dow Jones’ strategy at the highest level. “We’re evangelists of customer service, we’re constantly thinking about how we can resolve customer issues. But we also focus on the agent experience, helping them help the customers. It’s a huge piece in helping us differentiate. We want to be able to help personalize.”

2) Communication is Crucial

New DTC brands are doing more to connect with customers. Digital channels create more opportunities for conversations, as chat and social multiply the amount of places customers can ask questions and engage.

“When things go wrong, you need to be constantly talking to your customer service team to find patterns, identify the issue, and then make the fix.” Said Britta Fleck, President and Managing Director of Glossybox North America, “Constant communication with your customers provides a better end experience.”

For DTC sofa startup Burrow, they’ve also found that more communication is better. “In the past we’ve tried two approaches. The approach of constantly updating the customer and keeping them in the loop was more successful than giving them a code—communicating with your customers is very important.” Says Co-Founder Kabeer Chopra.

To keep the conversations going, loyalty programs are a natural fit. They ensure that customers stay engaged and reward them for their enthusiasm. Glossybox is pursuing this strategy in earnest, “We’re doing a lot around loyalty, we like to reward our customers. We’re looking into pausing subscriptions over vacations etc, but we don’t want to make it difficult for users to unsubscribe. Either.” More communication can lead to a better experience, but that experience still has to take precedence. “We can only personalize our offering to a certain extent, but what really increases lifetime value for us is listening. And it’s easier sometimes than answering.”

3) Brands, Not Channels

While communicating over every channel that your customers use is important, this communication has to be held together by a strong strategy for the brand. As Mike Vroom, Customer Service Manager at UNTUCKit put it: “Customers interact with brands, not channels.”

Glossier has a similar view, as their Director of CX Erin Miller described, treating every interaction with customers as it’s own channel—they’re not thinking about where they’re interacting with you, but about how they’re going to solve their issue or get the information they want.

This also means that your brand has to communicate with customers in a way that feels warm, natural, and human. Mark Chou, VP of Growth Marketing and E-Commerce at Away, is changing up the way his brand communicates by switching from a reactive to a proactive service model. “When you make mistakes, you don’t hide them from your friends. The same should true for your customers. You can turn a screw-up to a shining moment for your team—being proactive as a customer service team can turn a mistake into a moment for your company that you are proud of.

4) Create Connections with Culture

Above all else, your customer experience should strive to create stronger connections. Interacting with customers one-on-one is highly personal, and doing so in a genuine, meaningful way can have a lasting impact. To do this more effectively, you need to know what your company stands. Daryl Unger, VP of Customer Experience at meal delivery brand Plated, has a strong perspective on the importance of building relationships for his brand. “Food is extremely personal, we aren’t in the business of fixing issues and solving problems, we are in the business of building strong emotional relationships with our customers.” Building relationships based on emotion has some key benefits as a strategy as well. “We remember emotions much longer than transactions. We spend a lot of time studying customer behavior and patterns, which helps us learn when we should proactively reach out—which is very important in a subscription ecommerce business.”

Similarly, Rent the Runway has built their company culture into their customer experience, which helps them build strong relationships with millennial shoppers. “Culture is in the fabric of our brand,” said Tyler Nicoll, Product Manager at RTR, “We have to be woman-first, and we’re changing the landscape by doing something that’s not common in tech companies.” RTR has a full female finance team as well, and are an inclusive company that invests heavily in sustainability initiatives. “Millennials choose brands based on social consciousness,” concluded Nicoll, which is why creating a strong brand built on solid principles makes it easier to form relationships with them. To make it easier for their agents to connect with renters, Rent the Runway’s Integration with Kustomer allows them to automate certain workflows that used to be manual, so they can spend more time working with customers and less time inputting data.

BarkShop and BarkBox understand dogs and dog owners. By getting a rich picture of their customers and their pets by using data analysis—and by using their insight as pet owners themselves—they’re able to deliver exactly what their customers need. “We’re understanding what the needs of our customers are, and figuring out what they need to meet them.” Said Melissa Seligmann, BarkShop’s General Manager.

As the conversations at our event have shown, the Direct-to-Consumer revolution is shaking the foundation of how we do business. As digital advancements make it even easier to cut out middlemen and deliver totally new kinds of experiences, customers will come to demand the same kind of convenient experiences they get from DTC brands from traditional ones. Those that can innovate, adapt, and bring a higher caliber of experience and smarter ways to buy will be the ones that succeed.

For more insights on the DTC approach, download our whitepaper: 4 Secrets to the DTC Experience Every Brand Can Master.

Scale Your Online Marketplace Faster Through Customer Support

The Marketplace model is exploding in eCommerce, so much so that it’s taking over entire industries. By 2025, it is estimated that Marketplace companies could account for $335 billion of revenue globally. If you’ve used Lyft, ordered from Amazon, gotten a late night snack through Seamless, or stayed in an AirBnB, you’ve participated in a Marketplace transaction.

With the Marketplace model comes unique challenges. Managing a Marketplace business where you don’t own all the pieces increases the complexity of delivering support. Imagine a Marketplace that connects boutique shop owners with customers around the world. If a shipment goes missing, who owns that mistake? Who does the customer communicate with? Who ultimately fixes the problem and makes sure the customer walks away happy?

Successful Marketplaces know that a great Customer Experience isn’t just about delivering a product. Everything comes down to supply and demand. To really succeed, you need strong relationships with both buyers and sellers. The best Marketplaces elevate everyone’s experience. The necessity of managing so many relationships adds to the complexity of delivering great support in a Marketplace environment.

The Complexity of Marketplace Support

Most support solutions are designed for 1-1 interactions. Traditionally, companies focused only on the relationship with the end customer. For Marketplaces, there’s more to it. You have the Marketplace team talking to their vendors, who are talking to their customers, who are also talking to the Marketplace—all with their own workflows.

Slice, a Marketplace for pizza, has experienced this challenge firsthand. Pizza shops want to know when their customers complain. Slice Customer Support handles complaints from both the hungry customers and the pizza shops. Cody, Director of Product at Slice, says “We have to interface with many restaurants, who all have different workflows that we need to accommodate. Our team wants to provide service that allows them to run their business better, not just answer their questions.”

Our tools often shape the way we work, but most tools aren’t built for this. Most systems aren’t designed to support so many complex relationships and that can contribute to a poor end-user experience.

Ultimately, managing the Marketplace means ensuring a consistent experience for the end customer. All the complexity behind the scenes shouldn’t make it more complex for the customer to get problems resolved. Customers shouldn’t need to know how your business works, in order to do business with you.

Building Relationships, Not Transactions

Multiple relationships mean a complex data model. A simple transaction like a return or exchange means communicating with a multitude of systems, many that might not even be owned by your company. From package tracking to conversation management to inventory updates—support teams are on the hook for a ton of moving parts. And they have to search for the correct information across these many disconnected systems.

Usually resolving an end customer concern means logging into several point solutions. Support team members will look up shipping numbers in one tab, confirm inventory in another, all while reading customer conversations in another help desk screen. Support teams are overloaded with transactional systems, instead of focused on relationships.

Relationships are built on a shared history. Knowing the past experiences of buyers and sellers means that support teams can provide proactive, helpful advice. Getting this data into one place empowers support teams to build stronger relationships with both vendors and purchasers.

We need to focus our data models around the one thing every transaction has in common—the end customer.

To visualize what this data model looks like, imagine pulling up a support conversation with an AirBnB customer in your help desk. If you’re only looking at the customer’s history, you’d see their past reservations. That’s helpful! But you’re missing part of the picture—you also need to view past host bookings to see if there’s a history of issues there. Only by connecting to both the buyer and seller can you truly understand the source of the issue.

Supporting Multiple Stakeholders

When supporting a Marketplace, there’s so many stakeholders involved, both inside and outside the organization. Vendors want to know customer concerns, Marketplace support teams want to improve their own service and product teams want insights to improve too. Like Slice, all businesses want to provide value to their vendors.

Thinking beyond the individual conversations with customers, you need a data model that delivers insight on both buyer and supplier behavior. Lyft drivers want to know what riders say about their experience. They also want to know where the most profitable ride requests come from, and how many riders they can expect to serve in a day. The Lyft product team wants to know what tasks trip-up customers when booking. And the support team wants to know when things go wrong so they can staff their contact center effectively.

That’s a lot of information to sort through and deliver to the various stakeholders—but there are even more valuable insights to glean if you’re able to identify issues early on.

With a platform that’s designed to help businesses unlock the data that’s being collected in support conversations and build better workflows around them, you can do more. If your platform operates on a flexible data model like Kustomer, even unconventional businesses like a pizza marketplace can fit the tool to their needs.

Finding Business Value in Your Platform

Businesses can struggle with balancing the individual needs of a customer with their strategy for the entire company. Traditional help desks aren’t helpful. They let you export raw data, but aren’t set up to serve up insights for the business.

Using a customer experience platform will help you serve up insights from customer conversations to the major stakeholders without the need to hire a data scientist.

Showing Internal Teams the Value of Support

How many teams wish they could talk to customers all day long? Marketing, product, and executives all want to know more about how customers think and the problems they have. But often, that valuable information is locked up in Customer Support conversations. Getting that data out of your service platform in a usable format and into the hands of internal teams is often an impossibility.

If you can highlight trends in customer contacts, focus on your neediest vendors, and illuminate your biggest areas of opportunity—all from the customer conversations you’re already having—then you’ll be able to share this valuable insight with relevant stakeholders across the organization.

Building Stronger Relationships with External Partners

Companies are successful when their customers are. Using a support platform with a flexible data model means you can pull insights from your partner’s perspective. Independent vendors often don’t have the big business tools to gather their own business intelligence.

That’s where a great Marketplace support team comes in. Being able to analyze customer trends and serve up insights for their business means building a stronger relationship. Your support platform shouldn’t just provide value to you—it should provide value for your partners too.

Highlighting Opportunities For Business Intelligence

The best tools help you grow. If you’re thinking of your help desk as just an email inbox, you’re missing opportunities for growth.

Pulling out service trends, customer questions and feedback can highlight new markets to expand into. Combining this with other data can help superpower your growth machine.

A Platform for Marketplaces

Supporting customers in a Marketplace environment is a tough gig. But tools are improving to help support teams be more effective in building relationships. Using a support platform with a flexible data model means that your workflow (however complex) doesn’t need to compromise.

If you’re working with multiple stakeholders, you need software that makes complicated relationships simple. Take a test run of Kustomer and see how we can help you manage your Marketplace.

How Subscription Companies Can Deliver a Better Customer Experience

Subscription’s rising popularity isn’t a fluke. There are a lot of real benefits for customers and businesses alike that you don’t get from traditional retail. Customers receive just what they want delivered to their door—even things they didn’t know they wanted—with no extra effort required.

However, their biggest benefit is also a huge drawback. Because customers don’t need to think about their subscriptions all the time, it’s easy for them to cut them loose once they stop adding value to their lives. This is why brands with subscription models are plagued by churn. Customers might jump on with ease, but if they don’t find lasting value, the novelty wears off.

Subscription-based companies must reward loyalty. They should be incentivizing customers to stay with them for the long haul, delighting them with new surprises and offers based on the length of time they’ve been subscribed. Every delivery must be used as an occasion to build a deeper connection. Agents need to be well-trained to deliver a complimentary experience, consulting with customers on their options and learning more about them to better target offerings.

There are more than 2,000 subscription box services on the market right now, but only a small percentage will still be doing business this time next year. To succeed, subscription businesses need to deliver a valuable customer experience. What does this level of customer experience look like on a practical level?

Rewarding loyalty

Bespoke Post and Boxycharm reward the customers that have been subscribed the longest with more hand-picked, high-value options in their boxes. The upfront cost pays for itself, as customers keep subscribing in anticipation of future surprises.

Asking questions

Every change in behavior is a chance to build a deeper connection. For a brand like Material World that delivers personalized outfits, if a customer puts their delivery on hold, it’s only in their interest to find out why. If the customer is going to be traveling somewhere warm, they could even send their box to where they’re going to be staying—with some tropical inspired options inside.

Exceeding expectations

Don’t hesitate—if a customer is asking about upgrading their subscription tier for a brand like SprezzaBox, reach out and follow up with a personalized offer. After trying out a free trial of a premium box for three months, they’re more likely to be convinced to bump up their subscription permanently!

Digging for more data

For classic subscription brands like Birchbox, agents should take every opportunity to learn more about their customers. They should be reaching out to customers to fill out their profiles, sending surveys to get a better understanding—and their organization should be empowering their agents with the data they already have.

Being proactive

If bad weather is about to roll in to a particular region, rather than being reactive and waiting for customers to respond with questions about a shipment, a brand like LOLA with a time-dependent delivery can reach out to them as early as possible and present them with new shipping options to avoid a delay.

As both brand new and legacy brands catch on to the benefits of subscription model, the delivery box options will only grow. However, the subscription companies that understand their customers and use great service and customer experience to ensure their loyalty are the ones that will last.

Want to see how Kustomer can help your company? Find out how we enable ecommerce business here.

From Bots to Superheroes: Empowering Agents to Deliver Amazing Service with the Help of Chatbots

There are a lot of buzzwords gaining traction as we settle into 2018, but probably none are bigger than “Bot”. Particularly in the customer support arena, as companies look to further reduce the cost of serving customers. This has resulted in the rise of chatbots. However, no matter how good the technology, bots aren’t going to be able to resolve every situation or interaction anytime soon. That means that transferring from bot to agent will remain a crucial part of the chatbot experience. What do agents and customers expect when the time comes for them to be connected?

Chatbots are undoubtedly improving and becoming better at seeming human while collecting crucial customer information—their name, address, and description of the problem—and based on that they may be able to produce some initial solutions.

However, the risk companies face is that they give their customers flashbacks to the 90’s. That means an experience that’s identical to the Interactive Voice Response phone trees that end up connecting them to an agent who needs to ask all the same questions over again. How can brands prevent this? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Put Agents in the Driver’s Seat: Empower agents to select the right channel to engage with the customer and best resolve the issue.
  2. Deliver Complete Context: The agent of the future will be a critical thinker. If you provide them with all the information they need about the customer story so they are well-informed of their profile and history, agents can craft some of their own dialogue based off of talking points from reference scripts. While this creates a more natural customer interaction, it also means that agents must be able to think on their feet and deal with possibly tense situations. Adapting to every situation and keeping calm and focused under fire is thus crucial for great customer service.
  3. Give Agents a Heads-Up: Automate agent alerts based on changes to the customer’s status, order updates, or snoozes so they’re always aware and ready to connect.
  4. Enable Empathy: It’s always great for agents to show empathy, but empathy is hard for any human being to deliver if they don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Brands can use tools like NLP (Natural Language Processing) to provide some insight into how the customer is feeling at the time of engagement, and know whether their outlook is positive, negative, or neutral.
  5. Streamline Connectivity: Efficiency is still critical at the point of contact, but not at the detriment of communication skills. Create personalized shortcuts that don’t just display simplistic customer information like name and email, but provide details of their relationship such as recent items they’ve viewed, their current sentiment, their order’s delivery status, etc.

For brands to be successful in the future, the hand-off between bot and human needs to promote a differentiated experience. If your customers have to start the process all over again when they switch to an agent, then they’re better off just connecting with one in the first place.

However, if your customer can go from speaking with a bot to an informed and empowered agent, that’s a game-changer. If your agents are equipped with all the context and transaction information they need, then they’re well-placed to deliver a meaningful experience. Combining chatbots, automation, sentiment analysis, and a full view of the customer is what it takes to turn your agents into heroes and deliver next-level service. Instead of going from a bot to a human who’s asking mundane questions, doesn’t know anything about the customer, and is powerless to make a decision, they can be connected to a CX superhero.

Vikas Bhambri is Kustomer’s VP of Global Sales and Customer Success

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