CX can be a complicated business. Whether you’re juggling dozens of channels, looking to scale, or want more insight into your team’s performance, it can be complex and intimidating to even know where to start. Do you hire more agents? Do you ask for more budget? Do you invest in new technology? Is there REALLY a magic bullet to your problems?
There is never a clear “right” answer or strategy to any given question, but it’s helpful to understand how other businesses approach their problems. And that’s why we are introducing CX Stories from the Frontlines, a blog series that will showcase how REAL brands are tackling REAL problems with Kustomer.
Online Fashion Company Increases Chat Adoption With Additional Entry Points
A subscription fashion service had a big goal for 2021: to increase their chat usage for their platform in order to increase efficiency. According to recent Kustomer research, chat is the second most popular channel for consumers, and among the top three cheapest for brands to manage. Kustomer performed an audit on the business’ use of chat and helped them implement chat throughout different entry points on their site. This makes it easier for customers to reach out to the support team without having to search their site or switch channels, while also increasing adoption of the method. The brand also wanted visibility into when chats were coming from web vs. app, and to be able to capture and report on missed chats. Since the project has launched, they have increased their chat penetration to 17%, putting them well on their way to achieve the 21% goal for Q1 2021.
Men’s Wellness Company Unifies Data to Simplify the Agent Experience
This leading online brand creates personalized hygiene products for men, but they were finding it difficult to locate the information they needed to service customers efficiently. Kustomer integrated with their e-commerce platform so that all of the customer’s data, including subscriptions and orders, was in one place. Next, Kustomer suppressed the unnecessary notifications from their e-commerce platform that did not add value. This allows their agents to quickly find the information they need without digging through the noise that they don’t. Finally, the brand was able to implement automations that turned some of their frequently used processes into a simple button click. Updates to subscriptions and refund processing can now be updated directly in Kustomer without having to ever leave the platform.
Online Retailer Measures Impact of Logistics Changes on CSAT
A US-based, online women’s retailer wants to improve the customer experience for their international consumer base in 2021. As part of that, they switched couriers for international orders at the end of 2020. Kustomer suggested that the brand implement a multi-query custom report to get a better sense of how they’ve been performing historically, and understand how CSAT may shift once these operational changes take place. Kustomer put together customer report templates for the brand, and the information was eye-opening for them as it had never truly been examined. These reports also put the foundational blocks in place for the retailer to keep an eye on international customer satisfaction, and shift strategies as needed.
We want to hear from you! Let us know if you’re tackling CX problems in an interesting way and we will feature you in the next CX Stories From the Frontlines.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Annette Pedroza to learn about building a customer centric culture. Learn how Annette accomplishes this by listening to the podcast below.
Success Starts with Leadership
Having over 20 years of customer service experience, Annette Pedroza helps companies uncover their CX potential by showing ways in which they can improve their overall customer service techniques as a brand. In doing so, Annette has figured out three of the most impactful methods that make the biggest difference in customer satisfaction. Those three being leadership, assessment, and involvement all help to guide companies to higher NPS scores, better survey results, and long-term customer delight. The first step to having effective, company-wide change is implementing new tactics with those in leadership positions, allowing their example to initiate trickle-down change to other employees. To explain this further, Annette suggests:
I think when employees hear leadership talking about the customer, that’s really important. It’s also when they see leaders modeling customer centric behaviors, when they’ve done something that’s maybe not the most cost effective thing but it’s right by the customer, when they see that, they’re much more likely to follow and be in that same mind frame.
When leaders implement change within their organization and set an example, employees tend to follow suit and positive results are sure to come.
Improving CX Through Company Assessment
Customer engagement should be of the utmost importance when it comes to daily company operations. When Annette is asked to help improve a brand’s CX efforts, she assesses it to create strategies personalized to that brand – tools and tactics that will help enable exemplary customer service. She says:
You’re not going to have one strategy that’s going to fit everyone, but some of the things that I look at specifically are how large is the company that I’m working with? Are their employees open to change? Who are the power players? I think that’s really important, is having a relationship with people within the company who are going to help evangelize the work that you’re doing because other people are following them as well.
One of the biggest keys to profitability is keeping the customers happy. Not only is it important for companies to make money, it is necessary for companies to keep the customer in mind with every part of the company. Aspects such as decision making, marketing, and policies should always keep the customer at the forefront. Using customer data and feedback facilitates necessary change to improve products and services, resulting in happier customers. By assessing internally and adapting as a brand, customers tend to have their needs met resulting in long lasting customer loyalty.
Driving Customer Engagement With Brand Involvement
Annette finds that one of the greatest ways to build a customer centric culture is to become involved with the employees who drive customer success. Setting realistic customer centered goals and holding each other accountable for completion of those goals can also help to build a more customer centric culture. To demonstrate this, Annette tells a story about working with a team of engineers and connecting them with their customers who were using their engineered products. In doing so, they were able to improve product design based on direct customer feedback. Annette says, “Really at the end of the day, the goal was to get everyone thinking in a customer way rather than just doing things the way they always had before.” Aligning a company with its customer centric values and becoming more involved with the internal workings of the brand are crucial to monetary success.
To learn more about the secrets to building a customer centric culture, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
Building a Customer Centric Culture | Annette Pedroza
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, welcome everybody to today’s episode. We’re excited to get going. We’re going to be talking about building a customer centric culture and to do that, we brought on Annette Pedroza. She’s currently a Customer Experience Expert. Annette, thanks so much for joining. How are you?
Annette Pedroza: (00:29)
Hi, Gabe. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Gabe Larsen: (00:31)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s fun. It’s always fun to talk to people like yourself who have a plethora of experiences. Do you mind taking just a minute and tell us just a little about yourself?
Annette Pedroza: (00:41)
Absolutely. So I’ve been a customer experience professional for 20 years. I’ve been primarily in the tech industry. I’ve been at Fortune 100 companies, medium-sized startups. So I’ve kind of done it all and I’ve led from all aspects of strategy and execution. I think what we’re going to talk about today, which is really what’s near and dear to my heart, is instilling and growing a customer centric culture.
Gabe Larsen: (01:07)
Yeah, I loved the talk track and as I mentioned, bringing in years of experience will be great for me and for the audience. So let’s dive in there. Let’s start big picture. You mentioned this customer centric culture. What does that, what does that mean to you?
Annette Pedroza: (01:25)
To me, it means that your customer is at the center of what you do and not just in your words, but in your actions. Does every employee understand what their contribution is to the customer experience? You’ve heard many companies say, “We’re customer centric, we’re all about the customer. Customer’s at the center of everything we do.” And I think, so there’s really a difference between listing that in your values and I think believing it with all your heart, right? And then knowing how to mobilize your company toward customer centricity.
Gabe Larsen: (01:58)
I got to say, Annette. Yeah, that has been for me like the, I love the way you just said that. I just feel like we all know it should be on paper, right? And we all know we can all say the right words. So it’s not like it’s something new. When you talk to somebody, it’s not like somebody who’s like, “Hey, it’s not that we don’t want to be customer centric.” It’s just, how do you do that?
Annette Pedroza: (02:23)
That’s exactly the point, I think, because you can’t just dictate and say, “Hey, everyone starting today we’re customer centric,” and then expect people to know what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do that. So that’s where I come in.
Gabe Larsen: (02:34)
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that definitely will resonate with the audience as, yeah. The devil’s always in the details, right? It’s like, as I’ve listened to some of the feedback of the audience as I mentioned just a minute ago, they recognize the importance of customer service and delighting and pushing customers to be happier, et cetera. But devil’s in the details. So, how do you set that up? I mean, you’ve obviously had some fun experiences in doing this. How do you start to think about building this kind of a customer centered culture?
Annette Pedroza: (03:08)
Well, I have some strategies that I’ll share with you today and give you a couple of case studies. I think that first of all, when I look at this and I think everywhere I’ve been, I’ve used a different strategy just depending on the company. And I think the one thing that’s consistent is you really just need a strong foundation to start. And I have, I actually have three little tips here for you on how you can build that foundation –
Gabe Larsen: (03:37)
Annette Pedroza: (03:37)
So the first thing is you need leadership, assessing and involvement. So you’ve heard before, right? The tagline, it has to come from the top. And it’s true, it really does. I think when employees hear leadership talking about the customer, that’s really important. It’s also when they see leaders modeling customer centric behaviors, when they’ve done something that’s maybe not the most cost effective thing, but it’s right by the customer, when they see that, they’re much more likely to follow and be in that same mind frame.
Gabe Larsen: (04:09)
Yeah. I mean, that is definitely, I don’t want to say cliche, but the, it needs to come from the top down. What do you feel like is the reason it often does it? Is there something that’s the standard hurdle that companies are facing by getting kind of that executive mind?
Annette Pedroza: (04:26)
Well, I think part of it is companies are in business to make money and a lot of times that’s their focus and teaching someone that by focusing on the customer experience, you can really affect your bottom line so much more. It can be really uncomfortable to say, “Okay, we’re actually going to make this shift where the customer is going to be first.” I think I’ve had some experience in having to turn a leader around a little bit, not that they weren’t customer focused, but how do you bring them along to understand that customer experience is the most important thing that you can do for your company? And I think as with any working relationship, you have different strategies that you use to work with different people, but it always comes back to data. Like, “Here’s where we are. Here’s where we want to be. Here are the things that we need to do to get there. And here’s what I think the results will be.” So, let me give you an example of that and it’s something more tangible, I think. For example, our net promoter score is 22 and we’ve done some competitive analysis that says our competitor is at 34, right? And we want to be there, right? And we want to be higher than that competitor. So here are the top issues that we’re tracking that our top customers are having, the complaints that they’re having with our processes or product or whatever it is. And what we do is we can do some analysis to say, “If these things go away, if we make these things better, here is the impact to our NPS score.” And what’s really powerful is if you can say, “We’ve assigned a dollar value to this. So we know that a promoter is worth this much money, and if we can get this many more people from the tractors to pass and the tractors to promoters, then this is the impact to the bottom line.” And what leader is not going to listen to that?
Gabe Larsen: (06:21)
Yeah. I think that last piece is the key, right? It’s just, this space has been notoriously non-revenue focused or non-dollar focused than that last piece. If you can tie your NPS to something that is closer to that dollar, I’m just going to use the word dollars and cents, right? I think that’s where you start to really talk in executives language. And we’ve struggled with that in the past, right? I think a lot of people, they end with, “Well, our NPS went up,” and it’s like, “That’s nice. Did the employee survey go up as well?” Because like, surveys are surveys are surveys, and I don’t mean to mock it but I just, oh I think you nailed something there. We’ve got to get a little better on ROI focus. Okay. So you’ve got one is leadership. What was kind of your next one?
Annette Pedroza: (07:16)
Assessing your specific environment. So you’re not going to have one strategy that’s going to fit everyone, but some of the things that I look at specifically are how large is the company that I’m working with? Are their employees open to change? Who are the power players? I think that’s really important is having a relationship with people within the company who are going to help evangelize the work that you’re doing because other people are following them as well. So making sure that you have that power team. And then I think the third one really is just setting realistic goals, right? To be able to execute on your plan, because you don’t want to put this big plan out there and then it flops because you didn’t necessarily have the bandwidth or the resources or you didn’t get leadership buy-in or you didn’t assess well. But I don’t want you to get discouraged when you think about, “Oh, well leaders, I mean, bandwidth or resources, I don’t have that.” And I say, “Yes, you can,” because even if you’re a team of one, you can start small. I’m going to go through some case studies today, and I can tell you about what I’ve done by myself at a big company, and you can start small and go from there.
Gabe Larsen: (08:26)
Yeah. Yeah, so it’s leadership is a big one. Two is getting that kind of current state assessment and three is more around goal planning and how you measure, manage that, et cetera. Did I get those three, right?
Annette Pedroza: (08:41)
Yeah. That’s, those are the three I’d use as my foundation.
Gabe Larsen: (08:43)
Yeah, perfect. So let’s go into, I’d love to see how these are applied. I know you’ve got some stories, well in your 20 plus years I’m sure you have many stories. But I’d love to hear how you’ve kind of been able to take some of these principles and embed them into an organization or again, got to get this customer centered culture. Any thoughts come to mind on that front?
Annette Pedroza: (09:05)
Yeah. Well, let me tell you about a company that I was with. It’s a medium sized company, about 700 employees, highly valued the customer and their experience. It was even their brand statement about how much they value their customer. But if you asked any one employee how they contributed to the customer experience, they would say, “Oh, customer experience, that’s an operation. Support does that. It’s their job.” And clearly the brand and the culture were not aligned. So my task really was, how do I help them see how they connect to the customer, even if they’re not customer facing? So here’s the task or the specifics that caused this. We had a survey coming in, right? And the survey feedback was such that we were getting feedback that says we’re not so easy to work with. And we hadn’t measured effort before this. And so I said, “Okay, we need to start looking at measuring effort and improving the things that are high effort for the customer.” But at the same time, I’m looking around internally and I’m seeing that we’re not exactly making it easy for each other either, right? For our coworkers. And when I grew up professionally, I’ve always treated my coworkers as my internal customers. I would never hand something over partially done and say, “Oh yeah, spreadsheet’s not, it’s not sorted but you can figure it out,” or, “You’ve got this.” I just wouldn’t do that and I was just seeing a lot of that going on. And I thought, “How can we possibly embark on this journey of making it easy for customers when we’re not making it easy for each other?”
Gabe Larsen: (11:00)
Annette Pedroza: (11:03)
So here we are, this is, again, this is a smaller company. I’m able to launch a company-wide program. I’ve got, leadership buy-in on this. I’ve assessed well, I believe. And the idea was, “Hey, everyone has a customer, whether it’s internal or external. What are you going to do to make it easy for your customer?” And we launched this customer-wide or the company-wide program and we had a kickoff, we had parties at our global sites, we built excitement around it. It was fun. We celebrated success, but also there was accountability involved and we tied it back to their goals. So it really allowed employees who weren’t customer facing to understand the idea of having a customer and making that experience better because if you’re making that experience better for your coworkers and they’re in turn making it better for their coworker. And then pretty soon it’s flowing down the line where the customer is seeing that experience as well. So really the learning here was just creating that, those goals and tying them back to the vision or the brand.
Gabe Larsen: (12:08)
Yeah. And why do organizations on this thing, why do you think they, was there something that kind of enabled you to do this easier? It sounds like you kind of walked through your process in a pretty structured manner, as far as leadership and assessing and getting your goals. Is it, was there, if you had to go back, was there one thing that you felt like made the biggest difference?
Annette Pedroza: (12:33)
I think it was my direct leadership who very much trusted me to roll something like this out and I mean, I think probably I was very fortunate that I didn’t have any pushback on this site. And they said, “Okay, here’s the budget you have to work with, go.” And we really, well because the company was so customer centric in terms of their core value, even though not everyone knew how to do it, I think people really were eager to do that. They really were eager to live that value. And I just had to show them how.
Gabe Larsen: (13:13)
Do you feel like, I mean, I think on each of these steps, and I think that the visual or the story definitely helps kind of put those into the right place. I think on each of them there’s challenges that people often run into, but I’m thinking of the goals one for just a minute. Any tips on kind of double clicking on that step in particular in your story? How do you really come up with the right set of goals and then measure them appropriately? Any tips or tricks there?
Annette Pedroza: (13:44)
Yeah, I think in this, that actually is probably the most difficult part is asking leadership to include something customer related for non-customer facing people to make some goal for them. And so what we did in this case, these weren’t really tight goals, but it was just something for them to achieve. And what it was was I asked every person in the company to make a commitment as to what they were going to do differently. And then those were actually documented visible to everyone and that way we could go back and say, “Okay, here was the goal that you set up earlier this year to say you were going to make this one change in finance, or the way that you provided this feedback to another employee. Did you do it? How did it go?” That kind of thing.
Gabe Larsen: (14:37)
Yeah. I think that’s probably as good as you can take it. That is, that step is not just gets a little foggy sometimes. I think of providing a little bit of that clarity definitely helps.
Annette Pedroza: (14:48)
And really at the end of the day, the goal was to get everyone thinking in a customer way rather than just doing things the way they always had before and saying, “Oh, it lives in Operations.”
Gabe Larsen: (15:01)
Yeah. Yeah. On that last piece, was there a couple of tactical things? Was it team huddles or little marketing materials? Because I do feel like when you create this customer focus initiative and getting some of the organization excited about it and behind it and talking to them about the leadership point, but were there a couple little things you found helpful? Was it just the email communications, but it was at the rally with the managers rallying the troops that kind of got the employees excited? Anything that kind of helped to get the employees around this new way of thinking?
Annette Pedroza: (15:30)
Yeah. Both of those, I would say. So a couple of different things. One, I have a lot of energy around it, so I was excited and then I had hired a new employee who just one of those magnetic people who everyone wanted to be her friend and loved her. And so she was excited about it and telling people about it. And then we certainly had some communications going out coming up to the event, like, “Here’s what we’re going to be doing,” and getting people excited about it. And then not only that, but we had, so this company had a lot of people who worked out of their homes and we actually created mousepads and pens and we had a logo and all these fun things around making it easy. And even people who were at home, everyone got a box with all their goodies in it. So it just was something to get people engaged and excited and it’s something they would see everyday on their desk.
Gabe Larsen: (16:23)
Yeah. I love that. I think sometimes it’s the cell internal is as big as the work externally sometimes. So I like some of those ideas. Okay. So that was one example where you were able to kind of bring these three principles of leadership and assessing and goals together. Have you seen this at other points of your career or in other instances?
Annette Pedroza: (16:44)
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve done this. I mentioned that I did a whole company-wide rollout of one big program, but you can’t always do that. And good example of doing something a little smaller, starting small would be at a large company. I was working for a Fortune 100 company. Over 10,000 employees, very customer centric CEO, who was really excited about the customer experience, measuring the net promoter score. And we had thousands of customers providing feedback every day, thousands a day. And we had this closed loop call back program where I was routing survey verbatims to process owners to call the customer back, whether it’s to repair the relationship, fix something, but it was something within their organization. So if it was about billing, then that went to the billing group. If the customer complained about the website, we made sure that the website team got ahold of that feedback and then they would call the customer. But I had a lot of feedback that was coming in that was general and there wasn’t really anyone to own those. And so what I did was I contacted some VPs of different organizations and just let them know what I was working on. And I really helped them see the connection between our very customer-centric CEO and how their non-customer facing teams could now have a very direct experience with their customer. And so I was welcomed to present at all hands meetings. And I would go in with all of my excitement and passion around this about what’s happening when we talk to customers and here’s what they have to say and here’s how excited they are that we called them. And here’s what we can learn from them. And before you knew it, I had people raising their hands and wanting to participate. And here now you had employees who were, had no direction. I’m sorry, no direct connection to the customer prior to that. And now they had a chance to actually talk directly to a customer and really live that customer centricity value. And I just did this one team at a time. And before you know it, one VP is talking to another VP and then people are knocking at my door saying, “Hey, we want to participate. How do we get to be part of this?” So really just starting small and just growing your sphere of influence and leveraging that leadership to spread your message. The size doesn’t matter. You can influence the company of any size.
Gabe Larsen: (19:08)
Yeah. I think that small, that’s interesting. Because we, on the last one we were talking and it felt like a pretty big rollout, the previous story. And maybe your second story did end up reaching kind of the same number of people or customers. But I like that idea. Sometimes you don’t realize if you can get, and that’s what principal change management. If you can get one team or one group doing something different and other people see it –
Annette Pedroza: (19:35)
Gabe Larsen: (19:35)
Sometimes that, someone was using the word, sometimes you nail it and you scale it. You get one group to do it and then scale it to the rest of the organization. And sometimes that’s a better way to do it than try to go big or go home. Was there any, again, thinking about kind of tactics or tips on that as you got that small group, it sounds like the other VP, the other people just started to more and more or less naturally hear about it. Did you do anything to help them in that cause or was it pretty just kind of quote unquote viral?
Annette Pedroza: (20:08)
Viral is a good word. Yeah, it did. I mean, definitely it grew organically, but I was on it all the time. There was easily times where I would contact the group and I would maybe get, “We’re not sure. We don’t have time right now.” Because of course that’s really a lot of times with a program like this, that’s what you get, right? We’ve got our day jobs to do. We’ve got so much work and I’m saying, “Hey, I’m asking for one call a month for each of the employees to call one customer a month and so-and-so group is doing it and they’re doing a great job.” And being able to highlight some of the wins that we had and what other groups are doing there becomes a little bit of a competition or we want to be recognized too. So that was, I think a very important tactic at this particular company.
Gabe Larsen: (20:56)
Oh yeah. Those are some good principles, right? You make people start to feel it a little bit and all of a sudden they want to be part of the cool crowd. Makes me remember my high school days of not being part of the cool crowd, but wanting to be part of the cool crowd.
Annette Pedroza: (21:14)
Very cool, Gabe.
Gabe Larsen: (21:14)
No, I appreciate it. I appreciate it. I like the real kind of visual examples that you shared. We’d love to hear one more. I know our time is a little short –
Annette Pedroza: (21:26)
Gabe Larsen: (21:26)
If that’s okay, I’d love to hear one more. They’re just so interesting to hear kind of the real life examples of how you’ve applied this in different situations. Does one more come to your mind?
Annette Pedroza: (21:37)
Yeah. I can have another one. Here’s another one where we really saw a direct impact of the work that we did on our product satisfaction scores. So I was at a large software company and we were running a product survey and we were getting feedback from customers on these specific products. And then we were handing that feedback over to the product teams. And I’d say that the feedback wasn’t exactly received excitedly. I think a lot of companies see this where you have engineers who just put their heart and soul into this product, right? It’s their baby. They created it. And then you give them feedback and maybe it’s not perfectly positive. And then they’re a little bit defensive. It’s like, “Well, of course I’m developing this with the customer in mind. Look at this beautiful thing I created for them, or they’re using it wrong.” One of the ones that I heard. So what we did really, the idea was let’s implement closed loop, right? Let’s do a callback program and route those verbatims, the customer answered the survey. We’ll route those verbatims. And I want to say here that I think a lot of companies will outsource this work, or maybe they’ll say, “Yeah, we have to talk to these customers who are getting us negative feedback,” and they’ll assign it to say, a customer service team who makes all the calls. And instead, we routed these directly to the product teams. By something right to the engineers about their product and that feedback that they had originally been defensive about completely changed, right? Now, they heard directly from the customer’s mouth to their ears. And it was just something so powerful in that interaction that they could have a discussion with someone about, “Wait, what are you trying to do? Oh, how interesting,” right? And so I was hearing from people who were participating, employees, how eye-opening this was for them because they had no idea that they were trying to use the product in this way or that we’ve made something so confusing but seems so natural for the engineer to do it this way. But for the customer, it was so confusing and this was really just eye-opening for them. And suddenly they were on this new mission of product improvement with the customer at the center and our product satisfaction scores within a few months were really, I mean, we saw significant improvement. And I think it really helps to just give them an awareness of the customer as a real person, versus just here’s some, a pile of feedback that I can give you. So I think that information is really powerful and then getting that feedback directly from the customer was even more so.
Gabe Larsen: (24:10)
And so did you, you actually had them jump on the phone at times or make some of the calls or you just gave them the verbatims you were saying?
Annette Pedroza: (24:17)
No, I gave them the verbatims with the idea that they would call the customer or email the customer and make an appointment and talk to them about it.
Gabe Larsen: (24:25)
Wow. Interesting. Yeah, that’s a kicker, right? It’s the product team. I mean, everybody, we all, as the organizations get bigger, the CEO, the product team, the marketing team, they all start to get a little further away from the customer. And just getting the verbatims, I think to that group is actually a good milestone, but how would they actually interface is awesome. Well, did you run into some roadblocks trying to get them to do that? Were they hesitant at first or were they pretty jazzed about it?
Annette Pedroza: (24:57)
Some were, some were hesitant about it. I think first of all, if you’ve never talked to a customer before and now you’re going to talk to someone live, they’re a little bit nervous about that. So the way that I headed some of that off, first of all, I had a very detailed training program for everyone who was going to talk to a customer all about, I mean, down to here’s how the information is going to come to you. Here’s how you’re going to contact the customer to make an appointment. Here’s a template you can use for that. Here are some things we never say. Here’s some ways that we should respond. If the customer says this, you should try this route. We don’t want to get defensive because this is their feedback and they’re entitled to their feedback, it’s their perception. And the other thing that we did too, is we had some really, people who were just great at this and they were willing to, and I was willing to do the same thing is, “Hey, listen to me do a call before you do your first one. You can listen to me, talk to a customer or I can sit with you while you do your first call and coach you along if you need any help.” And so I think that really helped ease people into it. We made sure that the calls happened in the time zone of the person, if we could make that happen where the customer and the developer were in the same time zone. And we also, the other thing we did was we created teams to do the callback. So when possible, it wasn’t just an engineer. Sometimes there was a product manager on there, sometimes someone from support. And I really liked that because what that gave us is that every person brought their own ear, their own perspective, right? And so they all might’ve heard something different and that just made for a better discussion afterward about is there an initiative here that we need to be working on or updating or canceling in that, because of that feedback?
Gabe Larsen: (26:48)
Yeah, wow. I love how you eliminated a lot of the barriers, right? That’s I think the, to get some other people involved, sometimes you gotta make it simple. That process of kind of, time zones and getting them a script or getting them kind of the structure of the conversation. All of that stuff goes a long way because I think about a lot of the product teams I know. You dumped that in their hands and they’re going to be like, “Oh, we can’t do it. It’s scary.” But I think that’s fantastic. You kind of went that far to actually really make it easy for them. And I think you’ve hit on that a couple of times, how do we make it easy for us, not just the customer? Well, Annette, really appreciate the talk track day. We did cover a lot of information. I’d love to hear kind of your summary. As you think about other success service leaders like yourself, trying to build this customer centric organization, trying to get this nailed down, knowing it’s important, but the devil’s in the detail, what advice would you leave for them or summary, a statement as you’ve talked about some different concepts today?
Annette Pedroza: (27:48)
You know, I think the first and foremost you can do it, even if you start small, you know, just start somewhere, you’d be surprised how quickly a positive change like this to an organization can spread. I think that being able to tie some goal, some employee goal to that customer centric vision, I think that’s just becoming more and more important and really just having your data available. If you’re going to talk to a leader about this, make sure that you’ve got defendable information, this really works everywhere. In all different environments. I’ve used it in multiple business models, B2B, B2C. I’ve been in B2B2C. So it works. And you know, I’ve been in product service companies, consumer goods, and like I said, you assess what you have to work with and start with something.
Gabe Larsen: (28:38)
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a great summary. So, Annette thanks so much for joining. It’s so fun to have someone who has so much experience and can share real, tangible stories about things that have worked and lessons learned from it. So if someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about some of these fun stories, what’s the best way to do that?
Annette Pedroza: (28:57)
Oh, sure. You can reach me on LinkedIn. I looked today. I am the only Annette Pedroza that I could find on LinkedIn. So I should be pretty easy to find, be happy to answer any questions or talk to people.
Gabe Larsen: (29:08)
Awesome. Alrighty. Well, hey. Really appreciate you joining Annette, one more time and for the audience have a fantastic day.
Annette Pedroza: (29:15)
Thanks. You as well, Gabe.
Exit Voice: (29:22)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Chris Warticki from Epicor to discuss meeting customer service expectations with balance. Learn how Chris balances customer satisfaction by listening to the podcast below.
Finding Balance through Customer Advocacy
Senior Director of Customer Experience at Epicor, Chris Warticki, has figured out how to lead a well-balanced customer support team through understanding customer advocacy. Balanced customer advocacy is accomplished through not overly delighting the customer, creating a company standard of customer service, and being consistent with that service. He says, “If we go ahead and super delight and over delight our customers, but we can’t consistently deliver that, we give our customers super high highs and super low lows. And certainly nobody wants to be in that type of roller coaster relationship.” Focusing on what matters most in CX situations rather than providing overboard and generalized service, Chris finds that his team has more successful customer interactions. Creating a personalized standard of service as a brand is extremely important to Chris. He highly recommends figuring out what works best for the company and the customer to provide the best CX interactions possible. The most important aspect to creating a standard of service is maintaining that standard so the customers know what to expect with the brand.
Utilizing Company Investments
Another subject that Chris thoughtfully embraces is utilizing the tools that the company has already invested in. While curating his team of CX reps, he has noticed how other companies frequently gather “the three T’s,” as he puts it, to help maximize their CX efforts. Recognizing that talent, tools, and technology, the three T’s, can aid in creating a successful customer support team, he urges companies to invest in what they already have and to use it to their advantage. He states, “Put the human capital to work for you, put the technology that you’ve already invested in to work for you. And then additionally, look at the resources, those tools that you can pull out of your tool chest in order to make those adjustments as necessary.” Utilizing the preexisting talent, tools, and technology, rather than searching for new alternatives, can vastly leverage a company’s investments by proactively searching for potential within. Doing so will promote internal growth and continuous successful customer service interactions.
Employee Empowerment Through Team Collaboration
Exemplary customer service starts with empowered CX agents. These agents typically have a comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of customer support structure in their company. Chris finds that when questions about CX arise, brainstorming with his employees brings about the best answers. He notes, “If you ask the employee base, if you ask the line of business what they believe is the right thing to do, they’re going to come up with the solution.” Brainstorming with a collaborative approach allows for teams to narrow down the most effective solutions and to implement them with ease. This same methodology can be applied to all aspects of business, not just customer support. By asking the employees who on a daily basis handle company affairs, they will tend to produce the most resourceful and practical solutions because of their vast knowledge of internal operations.
To learn more about balancing CX expectations by not rushing to delight the customer, check out the Customer Service Secrets Podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
Don’t Rush to Delight Your Customer | Chris Warticki
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’ve got a fun talk track. We’re going to be talking about this idea of “Don’t rush to delight your customer.” It’s a little bit counterintuitive, but we’ll get to the bottom of it, I promise you that. To do that, we got Senior Director of Customer Experience at Epicor, Chris Warticki. Chris, thanks for joining. How the heck are you?
Chris Warticki: (00:30)
I’m doing great, Gabe. Thanks for allowing me to be on as your guest speaker today on your podcast.
Gabe Larsen: (00:35)
Yeah. Yeah. I think this’ll be a fun one. Epicor. Got a fun career, both at Epicor, before that. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Chris Warticki: (00:43)
Certainly, Gabe. I’ve been 25 years in the customer service industry, along — in parallel with information technology. 20 year career at Oracle Corporation, where I was involved in technical support management, global customer programs, the like of customer satisfaction, customer success, and more. And then just in the last two years, moved over to Epicor Software, running their customer success management team along with similar programs.
Gabe Larsen: (01:14)
Fun, fun. 25 years and then went to Epicor. Good resume, solid resume. I’ll give you that. So let’s dive in. I want to hear about it. Why not rush to delight your customers? Give us the secret here.
Chris Warticki: (01:31)
So Gabe, this is an interesting kind of thought provoking challenge to the audience. It really is kind of counterintuitive. How can I be the Senior Director of Customer Experience and then be anti-delight, right? And so I’ve created this kind of reputation where I am so for our customers, but at the same time, it’s not about super delight or over delight. And here’s the reason why. What we need to do as organizations that are focused in customer satisfaction, is take a step back and understand, have we really created a standard level of service to begin with, or at all? And if we haven’t, it’s better to create the standard and maintain the standard. And here’s why. If we go ahead and super delight and over delight our customers, but we can’t consistently deliver that, we give our customers super high highs and super low lows. And certainly nobody wants to be in that type of roller coaster relationship; certainly not within the customer base.
Gabe Larsen: (02:38)
Yeah, it does seem like this over delight can get, it can be a little bit much, and it actually can lead to sometimes an unhealthy or poor place. One of the things I’d like to hit with you, in addition to this, is let’s keep it at a high level for just a minute. So many people are having a hard time understanding different terms in this space, whether you talk about customer advocacy, or customer satisfaction, customer experience, want to see if we can kind of level set there. And then let’s talk a little about how you find that balance of not over delighting. Let’s start with customer experience. What is it, give me kind of your definition. What does it mean? How does it play out for you?
Chris Warticki: (03:22)
Great question, Gabe. So from the highest level, customer experience is defined by me and many other industry experts as the sum total of all interactions that the organization has with our customers. And often, it’s always related to just one point of presence or one relationship interaction of engagement with customers, instead of looking at how every line of business from presale, to the sales cycle, to the entire customer life cycle, and every relationship touchpoint from every line of business within your organization.
Gabe Larsen: (04:03)
Got it. That’s one. Satisfaction, where do you go on that?
Chris Warticki: (04:07)
So to kind of take a step back from a foundational level, I look at experience as that foundation. It doesn’t have to be the roof. It really is the base layer. It’s everything that’s going on in the organization. And when I came to Epicor, Epicor brought me in to help start a customer success management team. And my first question was, “Well, why do you want this?” And the answer quite frankly, was “Well, because everybody else has one, so should we,” right? So what I needed to do is break down some of the historical definitions and nomenclature that often get marbled together, interwoven, and confused. And so to start out with customer satisfaction, I look at that as the past. And so as we navigate this conversation, we’d take the past, C-SAT is a transaction that has occurred, and we look at it from an example of using a survey, right? Tell us about your experience in order to gauge what your customer satisfaction has become. And that is very tactical and it’s very transactional in nature.
Gabe Larsen: (05:22)
Chris Warticki: (05:22)
So C-SAT customer satisfaction, I look at it as a look backwards into the past.
Gabe Larsen: (05:28)
Okay. So more of a backwards look. Customer experience, a little bit of all of the sum total of all the interactions. Hit a couple of these other — you just talk about customer success, that one throws people off often. How does customer success fit into this kind of big picture here then?
Chris Warticki: (05:46)
So one of the biggest challenges I had when I first began talking about customer success, not only within the industry, but also here at Epicor, was the perception of what people thought customer success was about. And yeah, do we want all of our customers and all these interactions to be successful? Yeah. But let’s just say this, without a customer success team or program of any type, it doesn’t mean that we’re not making our customers successful. Why shoulder the burden of one team or one line of business to just be responsible for success, right? So the way that I look at looking at the past analogy for customer satisfaction, I look at customer success as a strategic, proactive, future-forward look at our customers.
Gabe Larsen: (06:35)
Mm. Okay. So I’m –
Chris Warticki: (06:37)
Understanding their business objectives, looking at the future, the 18 month, one year, 18 months, two years and beyond, how can we help partner to be –
Gabe Larsen: (06:48)
[Inaudible] the future. Okay. I like that. And then is there some for the present? So you’ve got kind of the satisfaction is past, you’ve got success for the future. Where do you go for the present?
Chris Warticki: (06:57)
Here is where most people get confused, and that is in the present. And that’s where I’ve termed the engagement model here at Epicor to be customer advocacy. Customer advocacy represents the present state. These are situations that arise that we would commonly refer to as escalation management, crisis management, again, very tactical in nature. They could be some sort of project management, enabled hand holding with your customers, but they got somewhere sideways in a ditch and they need advocacy. They need an advocate on their behalf. And that’s the biggest challenge. Most individuals confuse customer success with customer advocacy, and no matter what we’ve called these individuals in the past, present, or even now today, and what we might even call them in the future, we all want them to be successful. But at the term, but really what is the use case? Is it based on a past survey? Is it based on the present situation or do we want a future-forward look, partner and really strategically collaborate together going forward?
Gabe Larsen: (08:13)
Yeah, I like that. Okay. So we got experience, we got satisfaction, advocacy, and success. Boy, those all probably could be episodes. Probably all be episodes in themselves, but I’d love to get maybe a quick tidbit on a couple of them about how you’ve then taken that definition and started to just put it into action. How do you actually apply it, or how do you get into the brass tacks of it, so to say. So and I’m thinking about the audience here as well. So let’s start with the experience that sum total of the interactions. Is there a way you’ve thought about working with that definition in your different organizations to ultimately deliver a better experience throughout more interactions than just one or one and done type of thing?
Chris Warticki: (09:03)
We have a lot of tools that the industry uses from a service perspective and one of the most useful ones, not to throw buzzwords out there, is definitely the journey map process. That go along to follow with, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, with our customers and go through the journey map process, or navigating the process map internally of what our customers go through. And that’s been the most effective way of looking at the experience. I honestly don’t think you need to survey your customers or your people internally too much. You don’t want to create survey fatigue. And I definitely have come from some experiences where we’ve done that. And giving customers a break is definitely one of the best things that you can do. But here’s the thing we all know where the problems are. We all know where the bodies are buried. We all know where the issues arise. It doesn’t take a whole lot of digging to identify where some low-hanging fruit or where some really remarkable gains can be attained. And one of the biggest gains that I can share with you and this audience was just in a business process of provisioning a cloud environment for us to, here at Epicor, we journey mapped it, we process mapped it. It took three times as long as what we thought it was taking. I won’t go into the gory details, but we made some very significant power plays within a short period of time that took what the end result was and reduced it by three quarters time and in a very short period of time. Now I will also say to fully complete that process map, it’s taken a lot longer to fully systematically integrate it and automate it, but that’s where we’re going to get the greatest achievement.
Gabe Larsen: (10:55)
Yeah, yeah. Do you find it, and I appreciate the example, but I’m curious. There’ve been others, Epicor, other companies, where there have been those moments that were kind of like just big surprises where it was like, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize we were doing this.” or, “That was an obvious one. Should have probably caught that, but we didn’t.” Is it typically, you don’t find the elephant in the room?
Chris Warticki: (11:20)
I’ll tell you where the biggest aha moment, or maybe it was a moment like, “Oh my goodness.” Maybe it was the surprise, like you’re talking about. And that is, I guess we assume that everything is documented or that everything is going to be seamless or that you can just throw a tool or a widget or some sort of technology at something and it’s going to automatically fix it. The biggest piece here is the collaboration that’s required. When it comes down to it, everybody, like I said, wants our customers and your customers to be successful, getting the right minds to be able to sit together and quickly evaluate, “What’s the business problem we’re trying to solve? And let’s get it documented for future reference so we can lean it over time.” Go from good to great. Go from better to best.
Gabe Larsen: (12:15)
Yeah. Yeah. Yup. Yeah, and getting together with those stakeholders is often a big key in that process. Bouncing around just a little bit, wanting to see if we can tackle this idea because I felt like you set it up and I moved past it for a second, but I did want to come back to, and that’s just, this idea of not rushing to delight. We’ve hit some of these different areas, customer experience, customer success, et cetera. But, I think people really struggle to find that balance there of getting to what matters most, rather than just going overboard maybe on stuff that doesn’t. How do you actually coach your teams to do that? How do you find the balance?
Chris Warticki: (12:57)
I think one of the best recommendations is to ask the individuals in their interactions, what do they consider to be the standard of service in what they do, right? And so you might find, for example, in tech support or in personal face-to-face interaction across the register counter, that some individuals are like, “Well, I think thanking our customers everyday for their business is a standard.” And yet other people might not have even thought of that.
Gabe Larsen: (13:28)
Chris Warticki: (13:29)
Right? Just a simple thank you. But once again, if you ask the employee base, if you ask the line of business what they believe is the right thing to do, they’re going to come up with the solution.
Gabe Larsen: (13:42)
Chris Warticki: (13:43)
So really equip them and empower them to really put the brainstorming, the ideas together, and then collectively say, “Okay, now out of these 12 things, we can’t do all 12 of them, but what is the standard? What’s the consistent top five, top three things that we need to do to be good and that we know we can do every interaction?”
Gabe Larsen: (14:04)
Yeah, yeah. Getting down to those real important ones. I do feel like we try to boil the ocean, right? It gets too much, it’s too many [inaudible] but what are those things that we really need to do? What, do you feel like it is about three, five, seven, ten? What was about the right number typically you found that the team can handle and do on a consistent basis?
Chris Warticki: (14:25)
Yeah. I’m a keep it simple type of person. So following that kiss analogy, I think anywhere from three to five is, three for me personally, is the sweet spot,
Gabe Larsen: (14:36)
I love it. So we hit on a bunch of different topics today. We might have to bring you back to go deeper into some of these areas like customer success. A lot of people have asked about that and how that relates to the customer service world. No, it’s more of a B to B thing than it is B to C so to say, but as you think about the changing environment, some of the different challenges that are attacking different customer service leaders, we’re all trying to find a way to delight or a way to make it easier and keep that customer experience as high as possible. What would be that leave behind advice you’d give to those leaders?
Chris Warticki: (15:11)
My biggest advice is don’t worry about all the buzzwords. It’s not all about gamification or artificial intelligence or machine learning and don’t get absorbed or overwhelmed by all of the stuff that’s out there. Currently in everybody’s organization, you have the three T’s, I call them. You have the tools, you have the technology and you have the talent. Leverage the investments that you’ve made in those three things. In the tools, the technology and the talent. And don’t try, like you said, to boil the ocean. Put the human capital to work for you, put the technology that you’ve already invested in to work for you. And then additionally, look at what are the resources, those tools that you can pull out of your tool chest in order to make those adjustments as necessary.
Gabe Larsen: (16:10)
I love it. Alrighty. Well, really appreciate the time, Chris. Fun talk track on be a little conscientious about delighting your customers, find the balance. If someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about some of these trends, what’s the best way to do that?
Chris Warticki: (16:26)
You can do a few things Gabe, and first of all, to the entire audience, thanks for listening. More importantly, Gabe, thanks for inviting me to this. You have a wonderful dais of professional speakers on your podcast. You can find me, Chris Worticki on LinkedIn. You can also find me on Twitter @cwarticki and I look forward to associating and connecting and linking in and speaking with all of you in the future. So many interactions to come, I’d be more than happy to come back.
Gabe Larsen: (16:57)
Hey, well yeah. We might have to take you up on that. Appreciate the time and the talk track and for the audience, have a fantastic day.
Exit Voice: (17:08)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
One of the biggest shifts over the past few years? A digital-first mindset. While phone support isn’t going anywhere, when you force consumers to switch platforms in order to get their questions answered, you give them a reason to abandon their purchase or generate negative feelings. The less effort, the better — and with the digital-first consumer, chat is often better.
In an effort to understand how brands are currently using chat, why some have not yet done so, and whether there is a disconnect between customer needs and brand expectations, Kustomer went out and surveyed over 100 CX professionals and compared these findings with our recent consumer research.
Why Consumers Love Chat
Think about the online shopping experience. You find the perfect Christmas present for your son, but have a question about whether batteries are included. Instead of picking up the phone or searching for an e-mail address to contact the business, there is a chat widget right there on the page that can allow your questions to be answered effortlessly. While switching channels may not sound like a deal breaker, the data says otherwise. According to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, 79% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact customer service on their preferred medium or platform, and 81% of consumers would abandon a purchase due to a poor service experience.
Chat, as well as social messaging, allows you to instantly meet your customers where they are, whether that is browsing online for products, checking their shipping status, or perusing your social channels. Research from Matt Dixon revealed that only 9% of customers who have low effort experiences display any kind of disloyal attitude or behavior, compared to 96% of those customers with high effort, difficult experiences. And chat does a great job of delivering this effortless experience.
The Business Disconnect
Curiously, businesses are not aligned with these consumer preferences and wants. Only 25% of surveyed customer service organizations are currently using chat, and 18% report they currently use chatbots. When taking into consideration the effortless, fast service that modern customers demand, the vast majority of businesses are missing a huge opportunity and leaving themselves open to competitors.
The top two reasons that companies have not yet adopted chat, speak to a lack of time, resources or strategy internally: the organization does not know where to start, or they have staffing constraints when it comes to managing more channels. However, the third most popular reason speaks to the massive disconnect between CX organizations and consumers: businesses report that they don’t think their customers want or like it. However, according to Kustomer’s recent consumer research, customers rank live chat as the second most popular channel or tactic for contacting customer service, right below phone.
Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chat
Don’t know where to start
Customers don’t want / like it
Lack of customizable solutions
Lack of executive buy-in
Additionally, many organizations report that they are prevented from adopting chat because of the lack of customizable solutions. Seventy-five percent of CX teams say that matching the chat experience to the overall brand experience is important, so slapping any old chat widget on your site just won’t do. Make sure that your customer service CRM can allow your business to build or integrate chat widgets seamlessly, ensuring that all customer data and history is integrated within the chat experience, while maintaining brand guidelines.
When it comes to chatbots, the reasons for lack of adoption differ slightly from live chat:
Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chatbots
Not sure of the benefits
Lack of resources to manage chatbots
Customers don’t want / like it
Tried, isn’t effective
Lack of executive buy-in
As chatbots are quite new, and often involve buying a pricey solution or building one with an internal team, the top reasons for lack of adoption make sense. But 61% of the younger generation prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, meaning that the benefits are clear: your customers now expect chatbots as an option.
Additionally, chatbots free up agent time for more complex and proactive support. They can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like initiating a return or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.
Look for a platform that leverages chatbots and AI-enabled deflection to act as a first line of defense, optimizing a customer’s ability to self-serve so agents can focus on the most important cases and deliver the highest impact.
Want the complete findings from our research on chat? Download the report here.
So, you think you’re ready to invest in conversational automation, but you want to avoid the hype and nonsense? Great, then we are here to help! Keep these seven points top-of-mind as you build out your chatbot program, and you’re sure to see value in no time.
1. Understand Your Metrics
“Containment rate” (the percentage of total conversations fully handled by the bot), or its alternative name, “deflection rate”, is a key metric to track when trying to figure out how well your bot is performing. Customer satisfaction is also important. Keep in mind how the introduction of a digital assistant could alter existing performance indicators. For example, will average handle time increase now that agents are only handling more complex inquiries? Ultimately, a well-defined bot program will be able to communicate increased agent efficiency and customer satisfaction, which equals a reduction in the cost of care.
2. Start With Hello
Your first bot does not need to be elaborate. In fact, we recommend against it. When you are first getting started, pick one or two simple, but useful, use cases to automate. Then, you can learn and iterate as you discover how your customers prefer to interact with a chatbot. No one gets it totally right out of the gate, so avoid wasting time by trying to build something “perfect”.
3. Leverage the Agent
We have seen countless chatbot programs fail to engage the existing front-line customer service team when designing an automated conversational experience. It’s great to learn from data and prevailing user experience research, but your agents are the ones who know how your customers are interacting with the bot. Treat the bot like another agent: when you need performance feedback, use its peers.
4. Templates, Rules, and Machine Learning
Not all chatbots are “conversational AI”, because not all use cases require machine learning. Very effective bots can leverage rules and simple conditional logic, it all depends on the use case. Similarly, natural language processing is great when you have a bot with many different skills and a large corpus of knowledge — why make your customers trudge through structured flows when all they should do is ask the question directly? In both cases, we recommend leveraging buttons, quick replies, and other conversational templates that help the user move through the conversation quickly and efficiently.
5. Know When to Handover
A chatbot is not a replacement for a human agent. Often you need to give the user a way to bail out of tough conversations and difficult questions, and that’s alright. Chatbots are excellent at fully resolving low level queries. However, just because an issue is complicated does not mean a chatbot cannot be helpful. Consider how you can use the bot for information gathering and light triage before routing to the right agent. In these cases, the chatbot helps reduce handle time and expedites the customer’s support request.
6. Automation Happens Elsewhere, Too
Chatbots get a lot of attention when it comes to automation. Often it’s the mental model in our heads for intelligent customer service. Consider other ways you can streamline the customer support experience with a bot, and leverage additional intelligent services: automatic tagging, routing, and prioritization for the agent, just to name a few.
7. Be Customer-Centric
At the end of the day, the success of your chatbot comes down to how well it fits into the support journey and cadence strategy you have outlined for your customers. Consider different segments of customers that might prefer automation to that “direct human” connection. Perhaps automation can be more helpful at the end of an interaction than at the beginning. Take a good look at your customers, and we’ll help you find out the right size that fits.
Want to learn how to get started with intelligent chatbots? Find out more here.
You know the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life”? Well, here at Kustomer our motto is “Happy Customers, Happy Life”. It may not have the same catchy ring to it, but any CX professional can attest to its truth. Creating happy customers resonates far outside of a customer service organization — customers can act as unpaid marketers, they can give insight into product development and campaign plans, they will undoubtedly drive more revenue and positively impact your bottom line.
But what often gets overlooked, is the direct correlation between agent happiness and customer happiness. It’s immensely clear to anyone who has ever called a cable company or visited the DMV, that when agents are forced to jump through hoops, use outdated systems, and deal with a bombardment of unhappy consumers all day long, they likely won’t be providing the best service. But when agents feel empowered, feel their jobs are valued, and — most importantly — have the right tools and technology in place to do their jobs well, they are able to be efficient and effective in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment.
Ultimately, agent happiness directly translates to customer happiness. The more information that agents have at their fingertips, and the more they are able to focus on quality instead of quantity, the happier they will be, and the happier they will make your customer base. Andrew Rickards, Director of Customer Experience at Ritual, has experienced this first hand.
Legacy CRMs were built to manage cases, not customers, and siloed third-party data means an abundance of wasted time. Agents have to look in a multitude of different systems, on different platforms, just to service a single customer inquiry. A true customer service CRM should connect seamlessly with your other data sources and business intelligence tools, while taking the place of your support platform, contact center routing software, and process management solution. With all information centralized, agents don’t have to waste time searching for the information they need to service an already frustrated customer.
Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com, agrees that switching to a true customer service CRM, from an old-school ticketing system, is a game changer for both agent happiness and development. When agents are stuck in the minutia of complicated workflows and a never-ending sea of tickets, they are unable to focus on what’s most important, and find value in their work.
Agents have a difficult role. They are the voice of your brand in every customer interaction, yet when they start that interaction they often barely have enough information to authenticate the customer, much less provide differentiated service to every customer.
To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and helps them deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service. There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information. Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.
Want to learn more about how switching to Kustomer can create happy customers and happy agents? Explore how we stack up to Zendesk here.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Brad Birnbaum, Lauren Pragoff, and Matt Dixon in a virtual summit to discuss developing customer loyalty through achieving effortless customer experiences. Learn how each guest has successfully managed and handled customer service during COVID-19 by listening to the podcast below.
Effective Communication with Asynchronous Messaging
Brad Birnbaum is the CEO and cofounder of Kustomer with over 20 years of customer service experience. Brad has found ways to do more with less, meaning he is expounding on how to keep his employees busy all while offering top notch customer care. With the growth of asynchronous communication in our daily lives; social media, texting, emails, etc., Brad believes that asynchronous communication is the future of CX as it allows for reps to do more with less. He says, “it is a technological shift to improving experiences. It’s a technological shift to higher levels of customer satisfaction. A technological shift to actually improve agent efficiency and we’ve seen this across our customer base.” When the customer has the opportunity to chat with an agent asynchronously, it creates a sense of genuine human communication and allows customers to have their simple issues be resolved faster.
Guiding Customers Through Proper Channels
Lauren Pragoff, Vice President of Effortless Experience at Challenger, works with other companies to create low effort customer service through preparing their frontline employees. Lauren understands that CX reps have had to adapt to a new at-home work environment during COVID-19. While digital efforts are helping resolve some of the simpler issues, when customers call service reps, the reps are now dealing with the most complex customer issues. Not every problem can be resolved with one channel. Lauren summarizes this point by stating, “Not all issues are well suited to all channels, and making sure that you’re enabling the right types of experiences in the right channels is extremely important.” In this ever-changing, pandemic-created landscape, she ensures that agents are still providing customers with the same high quality service by guiding them through the proper channels to accommodate their needs correctly the first time around. The key to guiding customers through proper channels while creating the best CX, is having effective strategies to solve the customer’s issues at the first point of contact.
Low Effort Self Service Through Simplified CX
Matt Dixon is the Chief Product and Research Engineer at Tethr, a company that offers customer analytics through an AI-driven conversational system. In the discussion, Matt notes a shift in customer care toward self service. To paint the modern CX landscape, Matt explains about the current customer, “They’re going to unsanctioned sources of advice to get perspective. ‘What’s the hack, what’s the thing I can do to avoid not just not calling the company, but even going to their website? I want to just try to figure this out on my own.’ But again, customers are very keen and their first step is always digital. Customers want to be able to solve their own problems and find solutions on their own. True, customers are going to unofficial sources to find answers, but there are a few simple things companies can do to improve their websites and digital resources. First is updating FAQ pages on their website. By making sure those are up to date, customers will be able to find answers on the website a lot easier. Second, and as mentioned by Lauren, making sure that the right problems are being directed through the correct channels. Customer service used to primarily be phone call oriented but as technology has progressed, the customers have as well. The key to a successful CX experience is that the customer puts forth as little effort as possible. To Matt, low effort service makes for the happiest customers. As companies focus on these principles and ideas, their CX departments will be groomed for success in the coming months and years.
To learn more about how to effortlessly manage customer service during these challenging times, check out the Customer Service Secrets Podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
How to Successfully Manage CX During a Global Pandemic
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Hi, welcome everybody to today’s virtual summit, the Customer Experience Virtual Summit. Today, we’re going to be talking with leaders that generate loyalty through an effortless experience, and we’re excited to bring this event to you by Kustomer, Tethr and the Challenger Inc Effortless Experience. We’re so excited for this event. It turned out to be just a fantastic overall organization. We have 50 plus speakers. We originally were just going to start with a handful. We’ve got people like Mario from Vengreso. We’ve got Shep Hyken, Mary Drummond. The list goes on. We’re very thankful for each of the speakers who participated and gave their time during these challenging circumstances that we all find ourselves in. In addition, we now have over 2000 registrants. From an agenda standpoint, we’re kicking off today with the keynote here at 10:00 AM, but do know that sequentially, you’ll have a series of speakers that will be released and you can find that in the panel that you are currently logged into. So with no further ado, let’s dive into today’s keynote section. We have three guest speakers that will be having a panel discussion, talking about how to manage customer experience in challenging times. We’ve got Brad Birnbaum, Matt Dixon, and Lauren Pragoff. So with that, let’s have each person just briefly introduce themselves and let’s get going. Brad, why don’t you start?
Brad Birnbaum: (01:46)
Hi everybody. Brad Birnbaum, CEO, and cofounder of Kustomer. I’ve been in the customer service space for about 20 some odd years at this point. We’ve seen a couple cycles of challenging times, nothing like what we’re seeing today, but, I think this is our opportunity where we can all figure out how to adapt and shine and improve experiences for all. So looking forward to talking more about that today.
Gabe Larsen: (02:11)
I appreciate it. Thanks for joining. Lauren. Let’s go to you next?
Lauren Pragoff: (02:14)
Sure. Hi everybody. I’m Lauren Pragoff, Vice President of Effortless Experience at Challenger where we work with companies to consult and train their frontline staff on providing low effort customer service.
Gabe Larsen: (02:27)
Perfect. Matt, to you.
Matt Dixon: (02:29)
Hey Gabe. Thanks Lauren, Brad, great to be with you today. Super excited about this virtual summit. I’m Matt Dixon. I’m the Chief Product and Research Officer at Tethr. For those of you who don’t know Tethr, we’re an AI machine money venture out of Austin, and we provide conversational analytics. So helping companies take their unstructured data to surface business relevant insights. I, like Brad and Lauren, I’ve been in the customer service and customer experience space for a long time and we definitely have seen some peaks and valleys. This is a bittersweet moment for us. I think a bitter because I’d would rather be with everyone shaking their hands. The flip side is, what a privilege and honor to be with 2000 people today. We’re all interested in improving the customer experience and learning about how do we accelerate out of this morass that we’re in right now.
Gabe Larsen: (03:19)
Yeah and that’s where we want to dive into. I think that’s a good segue. A couple of stats, I wanted to highlight a lot of fun research out there and I want to just throw a few nuggets to kind of set the conversation foundation. 79% of customer service organizations say they’re being significantly impacted by COVID, no surprise there. 63% saying they’re reporting they actually need to cut costs. And a lot of organizations, almost 20% are saying their customer inquiries are increasing dramatically during this global pandemic. So with that, I’d love to just kind of start there. It is a different environment. Things are changing. What is kind of the biggest challenge that companies are facing and how are you seeing them overcome it? Lauren, can we start with you?
Lauren Pragoff: (04:04)
Sure. One of the things that we’re hearing the most from our clients has to do with shifting to a work from home environment. Remote reps have been an interesting topic of conversation across customer service leaders for the last 15 years and a lot of organizations have kind of dabbled here and there, but what we’re finding is that across the last six weeks, there has been just a massive shift in contact center reps working from home. And just like all of us now working from home, that includes balancing childcare and school and partners and spouses also working from home. So, yesterday’s remote rep program is not today’s work from home environment and I think we see just leaders spending a lot of time investing in how to make sure that it’s going well and that customers are continuing to get the service that they would expect.
Gabe Larsen: (05:03)
Yeah and I feel like to your point, work from home isn’t anything new, but it’s almost, it’s accelerated by 200% in the last four, six weeks. Matt, how are companies thinking about solving that problem? I mean, it’s all in here. It’s not going away. What have been some of the tips or tactics you’re seeing where companies have been able to say, “You know what? We’re settling in, it’s starting to kind of work now?”
Matt Dixon: (05:26)
Yeah, so it’s funny listening to Lauren talk about work from home. I was talking to a company just last week and they said, “You know, we’ve debated endless PowerPoints and business cases to put together a work from home remote program and then suddenly, boom, it just got decided for us.” So, the good news is no more business cases and PowerPoints actually required to make a case with us. It’s funny because if you look at one of the things we did recently, our data science team at Tethr, we took a sample of a million customer service calls since the WHO declared Coronavirus was a pandemic on March 11th. And so we took a look at a two week period across 20 companies. The top line was really bad news, as you can expect. And Gabe, it was the same exact thing you were talking about before. Looking at the level of effort or difficulty of those interactions. We saw them skyrocket, right? So no longer are reps dealing with that one off kind of issue with that really emotional, high anxiety kind of interaction with the customer. Now, it’s like, almost every single interaction. It is really critical stuff. It’s financial hardship. It’s in some cases, questions about insurance coverage, right? Not being able to pay bills, things that are really, really tough for our customers right now. The flip side though, as you said, there is good news coming out of this. And the good news is that leading companies, and I would say leading service organizations, are starting to figure this out and they’re doing it really quickly. So a couple of the things we found one is equipping frontline workers with the language techniques, such that they can reduce effort. So I think what customers are really frustrated by right now is that they’re calling in, they’re talking to reps and they feel like the reps are using policies that haven’t been updated since the pandemic, right? “I can’t give you that three month bill extension you’re asking for our policy is seven days.” It frustrates customers. They feel like the reps they’re talking to are not empowered to solve those problems. But what we can do is coach our reps on those language techniques that we know, even if it’s the same answer you’re going to give the customer, maybe the policy hasn’t changed. You can do a lot to actually manage the perception of effort too. We’re seeing companies really lean in on the coaching side. And this is absolutely critical right now is to make sure we are engaged with our reps, not in a one, every two weeks kind of way that most service organizations do, but on a regular embedded in the work kind of way, what we call integrated coaching. Number three, we got to get our reps even though they’re, to Lauren’s point, they’re working from home, they’re all on an island, right? They’re by themselves. They no longer have that colleague sitting next to them, who they can tap on the shoulder for some help. They no longer have that supervisor they can flag down. We’ve got to leverage tools, collaboration tools, to create that virtual community so that they can leverage the wisdom of peers because that’s going to deliver a better experience. And it’s going to make them feel like in this tough environment, they’re not alone. So we are seeing some of those tactics start to emerge and companies are seeing success there.
Gabe Larsen: (08:22)
Man, personally, the coaching one jumps out to me the most. As we’ve gone remote, I think that’s revealed some weaknesses and some of the coaching aspects and doubling down and trying to get the right tools, techniques to do that I think is the right approach to go. Brad, we talked about the work from home as a big challenge and some of the things companies are thinking about doing to overcome that. Other challenges you’re seeing, and tips or tactics on how organizations are trying to overcome those?
Brad Birnbaum: (08:46)
Sure. So, yeah, just as Lauren and Matt said, we, of course, are seeing everybody adapt to working from home in a different way. Not only within our company, but our customer’s agents, right? We’re seeing it across the board. Fortunately I think there’s a lot of good practices you could use. Some we employ real well, right? If you have the right software, whether it be on the CRM side, everything being Cloud based, support side, even if you have some of the modern telephony platforms, they work very well remotely as well. So that’s certainly helpful. But in addition to this, we’re seeing two things at competing odds with one another. We’re seeing inbound inquiries accelerating rapidly for a variety of reasons. We’re also seeing that some of these companies are having the higher amounts of inbound inquiries, unfortunately, have had to cut some of their resources for the reasons we all assume, right? So they’re at competing odds with higher volumes, but less people to service them. And then I’ve even heard anecdotes from some companies that do the bigger ones that do take advantage of offshore BPOs, that the offshore BPOs can’t keep up. They don’t have the same infrastructure they might have here in the United States. So, as an example, they may not have the ability to work remotely, right? They may not have the computing power or bandwidth. I’ve even heard anecdotes that in some countries there are physical security issues, right? Where you can’t allow your data to be in somebody’s home, right? Where other countries may be not be as safe and stable as we are in the United States. So all those things are playing in. Now how we’ve adapted and in ways that I think we’ve helped our customers, not only have we given anybody who’s the customer platform, our ultimate tier for free, which has a whole bunch of great remote working capabilities, things like unlimited collaborators and team pulses or agents are doing and enterprise queuing the route and all that. But, we happen to coordinate the timing of our customer IQ release, which was on April 1st. It happened to coincide right around this pandemic and so much of what the world needs now is deflection, artificial intelligence, machine learning; ways to do more with less. We’ve also given our deflection capabilities, it’s part of what we call Kustomer IQ Lite, to all of our customers. It’s a part of our free tier and everybody gets Kustomer IQ Lite. And we already are seeing with just the recent release of our deflection capabilities, a pretty significant rate of deflection that people are able to achieve, right? So let’s just say for argument’s sake, you’re able to do a 10 or 20% deflection rate. That moves the needle. That’s a significant amount of increase because people are seeing these bursts and by having the ability to deflect. And then when you go further and you really take advantage of AI and ML to help with suggesting responses and routing things more correctly, and understanding the intent of communications better, you can improve your efficiencies dramatically too. And those are the ways, how do you do more with less? That’s what we need to all do right now, because we’re all out being asked to do more with less; less money, less people we’re all being asked to do more with less and we need to take advantage of the tooling and processes out there to do that. So these are some things we’re investing in and we’re seeing work with it across our customer base today.
Gabe Larsen: (12:04)
Yeah. I like this word, I think it is coming up a lot. It’s do more with less, and whether it’s using AI to deflect, obviously in some cases, people are having to kind of literally do more with less people. I’ll open this up, but Matt, maybe we could start with you. When we think about doing more with less, how are organizations doing that? AI, we just got, maybe as one example. Are there other things you’re seeing where people are finding a way to kind of do more with less?
Matt Dixon: (12:33)
Yeah. One of the things that I think is exciting, and I’m sure this is an area that we’ll explore a little bit here is, how do we think about those trends that maybe we’re kind of bubbling below the surface, but are now here to stay. And I think one of them is a shift toward self service and I think some of that is wrought by the very long, candidly long hold times that people are having to endure because maybe that BPO is offline because the call center is closed and because of security reasons, and I’ve run into this personally, Gabe. The agents can’t actually handle your data from their home location, right? So you’re just out of luck. And so instead, you’re trying to get through to one contact center, doesn’t have the overflow capacity, the wait times are through the roof. So what we’re seeing is a lot of customers who might have dialed first, now going to the website first or the app first and I think there’s a tremendous call deflection opportunity there, or live service deflection opportunity. And I think what’s happening, just like coaching, you’re seeing companies kind of outed for under investing in their digital capabilities. This is laying bare that “Hey, we’ve been kind of getting by with a subpar digital experience, but when you take away the live service option through the phone and customers go to a digital channel and it’s sub par, boy that creates a really high effort experience.” And it’s forcing companies I think to invest in and transform aggressively there. I saw, and you guys probably saw this too, that kind of meme that passed through LinkedIn like wildfire, which was, “Which of the following three drove your company’s digital transformation? Was it the CEO, [inaudible] the CTO or C-”
Gabe Larsen: (14:17)
I think I’m the one who passed that? I think I passed that to Brad actually.
Brad Birnbaum: (14:19)
I think you did.
Matt Dixon: (14:21)
Yeah. It’s one of my favorites. It is the number one driver for digital transformation right now. Unfortunately it’s, it’s rapidly accelerating.
Gabe Larsen: (14:28)
Which is maybe something we all needed, right? It’s something we all needed. So we heard a little bit. I like some of the deflection points and you’re seeing that in multiple channels, right? It sounds like in chat, and phone. Lauren as you think about this idea of kind of doing more with less, maybe even on the people side, is there other things people are doing that kind of drive it?
Lauren Pragoff: (14:45)
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. I would suggest doing more with less and maybe a slightly different interpretation because for every company that we’re hearing is slammed with so many contacts, there’s at least one other company, maybe 1.5 other companies, who are actually seeing a dramatic decrease in their contact volumes. And so in a recent survey that we did, a full third of survey respondents said that their contact volumes had dropped by more than 25%.
Gabe Larsen: (15:16)
Lauren Pragoff: (15:17)
Doing more with less, doing more with the people with less contacts, right? So what do you do to fill their time to make sure that you’re staying productive as an organization? We’ve heard a lot of really interesting things in that regard. So companies are being proactive. They’re reaching out to their customers where maybe they wouldn’t have before, helping to either educate them about products or services or proactively solving problems that they see coming. And we’re seeing companies sending their people on rotations, into other parts of the organization, working on special projects, things of that nature, or even fielding calls from other parts of the organization. So really trying to figure out, how do we do more with the people that we have so that we can keep them busy and we can keep them in their jobs even though the contact volumes are decreasing?
Gabe Larsen: (16:09)
I liked that. Yeah, you’re right. There’s always two sides to every story. And that you said a third of companies are reporting decreasing. I love the proactive outreach. I think that’s always been a best practice of customer service support teams, but now more than ever before, it seems to be being pushed to the forefront. I want to see if we can dovetail that into the conversation we were just having about digital transformation. I do think that’s worth probably a double click there. Such a trend that now, yes, we’ve had to go remote and yes, in some cases we have to do more with less, but as we look going forward, the amount of digital transformation that we’re all experiencing has been accelerated, as we were saying. That’s kind of the now forefront trend as we move probably into 2020 and 2021. Digital transformation, how are you seeing companies really take grasp of this and own it more to deliver that exceptional customer experience that they all want to deliver? Brad, can we start with you?
Brad Birnbaum: (17:02)
Yeah. So one thing that not only is in that theme, but in the theme of doing more of less is we’ve seen at Kustomer, we service, as you know, a lot of great brands and we’re seeing a rapid adoption to asynchronous communication because it’s another way of doing more with less, right? A little personal anecdote. I recently ordered from one of the large food delivery services. We increased our order, but the tip didn’t increase and we wanted to increase the tip because we want to do the right thing for the frontline worker bringing us our food and we couldn’t. There was no way to do it in the app, right? So there’s a digital transformation improvement that could happen, right? So, how do I do this? So I went to call and the only option was to call them, to change this and have a two and a half hour hold time. And I said, “Look, I can’t sit on the phone for two and a half hours, right? Just can’t do it. I would love to be able to text you, right? I’d love to be able to send you a Facebook messenger or WhatsApp or even the way customer chat works.” We either work in a synchronous or asynchronous manner, but some asynchronous way to just say, “Hey,” or even an email for argument’s sake, “I just want to crease my tip from X to Y can you do that for me?” I don’t want to sit on a phone for two and a half hours. That’s crazy! Not going to do it, right? They didn’t do it. What we did is we left the tip and cash on the door and called it a day but there’s no way I’m going to do that, right? So, but all I wanted was a simple fire and forget like, “Hey, increase my tip from X to Y. You guys don’t allow me to do it in the app.” So give me a simple, low friction asynchronous way to do it. If I would have been able to text them and get a text back response, even if it was eight hours later, I would’ve been super happy with that experience. Instead, I had a pretty poor experience. I had to go out of my way to take care of that remote worker who was helping my family with food. So there’s so many things that can be a part of digital history. Some of it is how companies construct their experience within their own products and offerings, right? But it’s not just how they allow you to communicate, and we all know how we communicate with our friends and families and loved ones and it’s not only one way. Async communications, super popular now in our daily lives and in our business lives, like whether it be Slack or you name it, across the board and it needs to carry through more to how we can converse with these businesses we work with. [Inaudible] And we’re seeing a huge uptick in Kustomer. We’re seeing these async channels going up dramatically and I think that trend’s going to continue.
Gabe Larsen: (19:31)
Yeah. With all that’s going on, it’ll be, we may see. I mean, I feel like you always see these articles and customer service and sales, is the channel dead? Is the phone finally dead? But the truth is it never, the phone and emails still dominate. This might just do it. This might just push some of those channels to the forefront. Maybe you will actually [inaudible] is too strong of a word for the traditional channels, but interesting. Facebook messenger, WhatsApp. Wow. Seeing these being pushed to the forefront, you might actually have some competition at the top there. Lauren thinking about digital transformation, where does your mind go?
Lauren Pragoff: (20:05)
Yeah. My mind goes to make sure that you are enabling the right issues in the right channels. So some research that Matt and I both worked on back when we were with CEB, really focused on making sure that you’re not sending customers down the wrong channel for the wrong issue. So not all issues are well suited to all channels, and making sure that you’re enabling the right types of experiences in the right channels is extremely important. Otherwise, what you’re doing is just creating a lot of effort for the customer who felt like, “Oh, I could just shoot off this email,” and feeling really good about trying to get their issue resolved. Well, 24 hours later, when you get a response and that response says, “Hey, so sorry, but you’re going to have to call us to resolve this issue, that’s like worst case scenario.” So don’t let the customer send that bad email the first time around.
Gabe Larsen: (21:04)
Yeah. So you’d need to. You can’t just roll out all these new channels. For example, you actually have to have a strategy for each of them or you might kind of ruin the whole experience. Matt, last on digital customer experience, kind of where does your mind go?
Matt Dixon: (21:15)
Yeah, I think this is, we all know digital and the shift towards self service has been coming. It’s like this big looking at your background, Gabe. It’s like a wave coming crashing down on us, right? So it’s true –
Gabe Larsen: (21:32)
By the way, you know that on the north shore –
Matt Dixon: (21:33)
– Of course. I didn’t doubt it for a second, but it is good that you assured all 2,000 viewers [Inaudible]. But I will say, back, we studied this in like ’07 – ’08 and what we found was, Lauren was on this research team at CEB, that 57% of inbound call volume was from customers who were first on your digital channels. They were first on your website trying to solve their problem. Now, a bunch of those customers were just using your website as an expensive phone book, but more of them, a bigger chunk of that 57%, we’re actually legitimately trying to find the answer to their problem, trying to do something online. Fast forward to just, I think last time we ran this research about a year ago, that number is like 80%. So customers are really, they are digital as the first stop and increasingly, a lot of those customers are going to non-company sources of information. They’re going to YouTube. They’re going to unsanctioned sources of advice to get perspective. Like what’s the hack, what’s the thing I can do to avoid not just not calling the company, but even going to their website. Like I want to just try to figure this out on my own. But again, customers are very keen and their first step is always digital. What I think is really interesting is, I’m totally with Lauren, we’ve got to make sure the issues are aligned to the channels. And then, Brad’s point about asynchronous messaging. This is one where I think we’ve seen, asynchronous messaging has been interesting because I always thought of it in the original research we ran, it was sort of like a fast email, right? It was sort of a replacement for email; good for kind of binary communications, but I think what’s happening now and I think this is forced on us by the pandemic, is that asynchronous messaging has to grow up and it has to mature in a really serious way to be able to handle more nuanced, more ambiguous issues that maybe once were handled over the phone with a person where context and background matters. The customer can’t get through on the phone for many organizations right now and they’re relying on that asynchronous channel to address that need in a sophisticated way. Now, the economies of that, that is a great do more with less to Brad’s point because we know the number of concurrent chats or WhatsApp exchanges, or SMS exchanges, a rep can handle is way more than the number of phone calls, which is one. We also know that we can use AI and bots and virtual assistants to automate parts of the interaction. So at least to triage it, maybe siphon off some of those live interactions or those messages, handle it with a bot, but other ones at least get them to the right rep around the right issue and get that rep teed up so they can grab the baton and finish that exchange in that interaction really quickly. The other thing I would say is don’t ignore the importance of getting your static content on your site right. What we find is FAQ’s knowledge articles is where kind of issue resolution goes to die very often. One of the most impactful things you can do is simply rewrite all this stuff on your website and write it with language simplicity in mind. We wrote about this in the Effortless Experience and there are lots of great stories of companies who’ve said, “Look, we’ve invested a lot of self service technology, but the thing that really got our customers to stay on our website and not get frustrated and pick up the phone to call is when we started writing at a grade five to seven reading level so that customers could absorb that information quickly.” So often our content is laden with corporate jargon, industry vernacular, stuff that the attorneys made us add in and it stopped making sense to our customers. And so go back, make it simple and it’ll stick with your customers and siphon off those live calls.
Gabe Larsen: (25:09)
I like that. I like that. The knowledge basis. That stat 80%, up from 50%, that’s a huge number. The last question I wanted to ask before we wrap here guys, is kind of this technology question. A lot of companies with the changes that have happened have been looking for quick answers and then a lot of times they have been going to technologies that they feel like maybe can supply that quick up, right? Like, can I do this better than I was doing it before? And, oh my goodness, we’ve heard about stories like, Zoom, right? It’s like, we’re all on video and that skyrocketing. Are there certain technologies and we don’t necessarily need to go into naming names, but types of technologies that you feel companies should be thinking about adopting more now than ever before to really make this change more successful? Brad, can we start with you?
Brad Birnbaum: (25:58)
Sure. So I think my answer is going to be pretty self-serving.
Matt Dixon: (26:03)
I was going to do the same thing, Brad, so –
Brad Birnbaum: (26:07)
– self-serving but, Kustomer, one of the things we do here at Kustomer is we are a CRM platform. So we aggregate all of the relevant data to provide that rich support experience. And in doing so the customers, they’re gonna get their answers faster, right? And as we’re ramping up on deflection and machine learning and artificial intelligence and customer IQ, and the bots that we’re gonna be rolling out shortly, those will take advantage of that data. So when somebody reaches out and says, “Hey, I’m Brad,” I’ll say, “Oh, Brad, we noticed you ordered sweater three days ago and it was supposed to be delivered and it wasn’t yet. It’s a little late, but guess why? It’s out for delivery today. Do we answer your question? Is that what you were reaching out about?” They’d be like, “Yeah.” So it’d be like, that was an awesome experience, right? I never had, so never touched a customer support agent. The customer felt like you knew them. They got their answer right away. Win, win, win, win, win across the board. So when you’re able to combine all these siloed pieces of information, these siloed communication channels, all these silos, the siloed knowledge base even, we were able to combine it all together with amazing data to support it, understanding the customer, these asynchronous and synchronous communication, omni-channel communication methods with RPA-like business process automation. When you do all that together, it is a technological shift to improving experiences. It’s a technological shift to higher levels of customer satisfaction. A technological shift to actually improve agent efficiency and we’ve seen this across our customer base, right. We’ve seen some of our customers say they saw a 20% improvement in agent productivity when they switched to the Kustomer platform and it’s a result of everything I just mentioned, right? It’s a result of combining data with omni-channel with automations and that is where that magic happens. So that becomes the biggest win, I think, for all parties. Everybody wins. It’s the best when customers win and the company wins, but I think that it was so, yeah, I’d like to think our technology is at the forefront. It’s something everybody should be using to help because it is working. So, yeah, self-serving –
Gabe Larsen: (28:14)
A little self-serving but I think there’s some nuggets in there, obviously. Now more than ever before, when I’m calling organizations, I am probably even a little more frustrated. Having that contextual information rather than just saying, “Give me your ticket number,” feels like maybe that probably is a little more important. We’re a little more on edge than we have been in the past. Matt let’s go to you and then Lauren, we’ll kind of wrap it up.
Matt Dixon: (28:40)
Yeah, sure. So Brad stole my my plan here, which was to also do a self serving pitch –
Gabe Larsen: (28:46)
[Inaudlibe] I would say my cell phone for that one –
Matt Dixon: (28:49)
I do. I mean look, I think it’s right. We always say we love the idea of being low effort for our customers but it’s hard to make the experience low effort if you make the job hard for your reps. If they don’t have the right tools and they don’t have that information Brad was talking about, you’re asking them to overcome that and then make things easy for the customer. It’s a pretty tall order. I mean, where we sit, one of the things we’re pretty excited about, and I think this is one of those things that we’ve seen over time, slow erosion in like survey response rates, specifically post-call surveys, which where most companies are, if they’re lucky in the 10% range, most companies in the low single digits now, and even fewer of those surveys containing actual, actionable, verbatim. Here’s why I gave you the score, the customer score [Inaudible]. So what we’re trying to do is help customers, companies leverage the found data that’s sitting all over the enterprise. So recorded phone conversations, chats, emails, case information, the information that sits in a customer and extract meaning from that your business partners can take action on and that you can take action on as a leadership team to improve the customer experience. And I think that’s a really powerful place to be. After all, I would argue, and I don’t know the latest data that customers today are even less likely to fill out that survey especially when they don’t know if they’re going to get a response back and they’re looking for companies they do business with, to do a better job listening to them, using the data they’ve already got. Now, what I will say, this is going to be, maybe a tee up for you, Lauren. But I also believe technology, you talked a lot about technology and self service and digital transformation, a lot of it being accelerated by COVID-19. I think the knock on implication of that for our people is very real, which is when the easy stuff or the easier issues go away, what ends up happening, and we’ve seen this for a while now, and I think this is really going to ramp up with COVID-19, is that what ends up getting through the nets to the live service representative is by definition, the most complex issues, the hardest to crack problems, the stuff that couldn’t be solved through asynchronous messaging, there was no knowledge article about it. And the customer just has to talk to somebody and they’re going to wait two hours on hold to get in touch with that live representative. So how do we equip our people to be successful in that world? So I think the talent side of things, we can’t ignore in the rush of digital. I think digital and rethinking the way we hire, engage and support our frontline, those are gonna be the two big things that emerge out of this in the new normal, customer service and customer experience.
Gabe Larsen: (31:24)
Nothing more needs to be said, Lauren, that’s a good comment, probably segue to you.
Lauren Pragoff: (31:28)
Yeah. We like to say here at Challenger that in a world driven by technology, your people matter more than ever. The idea that technology is great, but to Matt’s point, what it’s doing is it’s siphoning off all the easy issues and what’s left is your reps getting a barrage of really complex issues, really angry and upset customers. And the other thing with technology is inevitably, there’s going to be a failure somewhere along the way, whether it’s the technology’s fault, whether it’s your infrastructure’s fault, something is going to happen, or maybe it’s a user error, right? Your reps don’t know how to use the platform that they have. When that happens, are your reps equipped to have a human to human interaction that provides a low effort service experience? So I think that companies need to be thinking not only about the skills that they’re training their reps on, but also how are they keeping their reps engaged because their job is getting harder, not easier.
Gabe Larsen: (32:29)
Yeah. Yeah. I like it you guys. A lot of great information talked about today. I think it’ll be a great day, fun to kick it off with Lauren, Brad, and Matt, and talk about how to really handle, manage, be successful with customer service during these challenging times. So for the audience, thanks so much for participating. For the speakers who’ve taken their time, donated their time, to help all of the different customer experience and service leaders figure out the best way to go forward and optimize their current environments, thank you for that. And with that, we’ll sign off and enjoy the rest of the day.
Exit Voice: (33:13)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.
Having all of your customer data in one place is extremely powerful. A holistic customer view can improve the first-contact experience, enable personalized and speedy service, power proactive customer support, and reduce handle times. While having all your customer data at your fingertips can be empowering, information overload can be overwhelming.
Have you ever had a situation where one of your agents saw information they shouldn’t have? Maybe someone edited a data field they shouldn’t be able to change. Have more confidence in your data. Permissioning enables greater data security and integrity.
Now, with the introduction of field level permissions, Kustomer offers a more tailored agent timeline.
Separate Team and/or Business Unit Data
Keep customer data for all your brands in one place, and display only relevant information to agents. Configure agent views as appropriate for your business. Kustomer’s customization adapts to customer support teams that are centralized or specialized. Measure and grow customer lifetime value (CLV) across products. Support cross-sell and co-marketing efforts between your brands.
Improve Agent Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
With field level permissions, you can control data accessibility for specific fields. This means that your billing team or fulfillment team only sees information relevant to their role. Focused views drive down average handle times so your team can help even more customers.
Secure Your Customer Data
Kustomer’s commitment to data security is demonstrated by our SOC 2 Level II certification and HIPAA compliance. Restrict data access at the field level to mitigate risk and de-risk systems for greater compliance. This is essential for clients with highly private personal information in industries such as financial services and healthcare. Limit write access, but permit read access to guard data integrity while maintaining accessibility. This can also be used to support
Intuitive Design for Easy Data Permission Controls
Putting this functionality in the hands of our users gives administrators greater control of their customer data in real-time. Navigate seamlessly between permissioning for objects and fields. Kustomer’s smart settings ensure users don’t create contradictory rules such as granting Write but not Read access. These controls allow you to connect all of your user data to Kustomer’s systems, knowing that you supervise user access.
This next step in Kustomer’s data permissioning model provides enterprise corporations with the controls they need. Learn more about how Kustomer can help your team here.
In a world that’s so heavily focused on utilizing digital technology and social media to create convenient experiences for consumers, making your customer service communication lines as simple, seamless and tailored as possible to specific members of your audience is a must. A personalized customer service strategy is just one way to make a measurable impression on consumers. In fact, according to an ROI of Customer Experience report by Qualtrics, 77% of customers agree that they’re more likely to recommend a brand to someone after having just one positive experience with the company.
But how can you make each customer service encounter a customized one? What is personalized customer service, and how can you deliver personalized customer care that’s beneficial both to your customers and your business? Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of this customized solution and how Kustomer can make it happen for your business.
Diving Deeper: What Exactly Is Personalized Customer Service?
In a recent article, we highlighted personalized customer service and how it works well with an omnichannel approach. Artificial Intelligence magazine defined personalized customer service as the assistance provided by a customer service agent that is tailored to each individual customer, based on their specific wants and needs.
But this approach doesn’t simply bring in more business by chance. There’s a psychology behind personalized customer service. Research shows that customers are keen on personalization, as it helps them remain in control in customer service conversations, reduces feelings of stress and defeat, and helps them feel more empowered as a customer. With more than 50% of customers admitting that they’ve had to re-explain issues to customer service agents in the past, this can have a major impact on business, enabling customers to feel an instant disconnect that leads to distrust and uncertainty with the brand.
What Are the Major Benefits of Providing Personalized Customer Service?
When it comes to customer relationship management, weaving personalized customer service into your strategy is a must for many reasons. In fact, it’s not only beneficial to the well-being of your customers, who could potentially become returning customers, but also to the bottom line of your business. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of personalized customer service on both ends of the spectrum:
For the Consumer
From adding more depth to initial conversations to increasing trust and satisfaction with a brand, personalized customer service can change the way customers look at your business.
More meaningful conversations. When customers enter a conversation with an agent, they want to get as much out of the conversation as they can. Agents who are willing to take a dive deep into the issue and curate a resolution that’s specific to the problem at hand provide an unparalleled experience for customers that can have a major impact on their impression of your brand.
Enhanced trust in a company. It’s very natural to want to spend more time with someone you trust and can confide in. The same idea can be used in a customer service encounter between an agent and a customer. As perfectly stated by HubSpot, “loyalty is rooted in trust, and customers can trust real-life humans more than the ideas and values of a brand.” When customer service agents take the time to analyze a personal customer issue, it shows an element of caring and understanding that fuels trust and compassion from the other end.
Improved overall satisfaction with service. Customers expect quick, reliable service when they reach out to your agents. HubSpot found that 90% of customers say an immediate response from customer service agents is important or very important when they bring a question to the table. What qualifies as an “immediate” response? Research shows that customers want to be answered in 10 minutes or less.
For Your Company
Brands can see a major return on investment when they incorporate personalized customer service into their strategy.
Consistent business. When it comes to making a customer feel valued and appreciated, personalized customer service goes a long way. Pleasing a customer does more than put a smile on his or her face — it often leads to return business for you. Research by HubSpot found that 93% of customers are more likely to become repeat customers at a business that provides optimal customer service, and 90% agreed that they would at least be more likely to purchase more items from said company.
Increased customer loyalty. In our research, we’ve found that curating a personalized customer service experience over one that’s less customized could be the resolution to a disconnect; if a customer doesn’t feel heard in their conversation with one of your agents, they could be less likely to show brand loyalty and more likely to purchase products and services from a company that will, in fact, listen to what they have to say.
Better leverage to improve your current strategy. Because you’re creating more personalized experiences for your customers, you’re getting a better idea of not only what they expect out of that initial conversation, but what they anticipate to get out of your business as a whole. While you may be the expert of your business, the people who purchase your products or services are the same people who are fueling your company with revenue to keep the engine pumping and their opinions are invaluable.
How Kustomer Can Help You Deliver a Personalized Customer Service Strategy
Creating and delivering a top-notch customer service experience for consumers should be top of mind for your company. If your current strategy doesn’t seem to have the impact on your customers that you’d like, Kustomer can help.
Optimal customer service is more important than ever, and learning how to customize each and every interaction with customers is imperative to your success. Our on-demand webinar, Importance of Personalizing Your Customer Service, can teach you everything you need to know about achieving a personalized customer service strategy. We take a deep dive into why customers value personalization, challenges that may occur that can keep you from delivering this type of customer service, and real-life case studies that showcase how Kustomer has transformed strategies for clients in the past.
Customer service leaders have a lot of data to track and interpret, with customer service satisfaction metrics as some of the most important. But these satisfaction metrics aren’t just for evaluating the efficacy of support agents. They also correlate strongly to customer loyalty and can help inform business decisions across various departments.
We’re covering some of the most frequently asked questions our CX team receives about the most valuable customer satisfaction metrics and the best customer service measurement methods. Use this guide as a quick reference point when measuring and tracking customer satisfaction.
Why Is Customer Satisfaction Important?
The core reasons to prioritize customer satisfaction are customer loyalty, customer lifetime value and word-of-mouth brand promotion.
However, customer satisfaction can also be correlated to agent satisfaction (ASAT); when one side’s satisfaction levels improve, so do the other’s. Higher agent happiness supports improved performance, employee retention and decreased business and recruiting costs.
What Are the Benefits of Monitoring Customer Satisfaction?
As we’ve established, delivering a great customer experience makes good business sense from all angles. Measuring customer service satisfaction metrics allows you to find out whether or not you’re actually delivering exceptional CX.
You can identify what you’re already doing well and stick to those strategies. And, you can discover new pain points and areas that need improvement. With a data-driven customer service strategy in place, teams across your company will be empowered to formulate the best customer journey possible.
How Do You Measure Customer Service Performance and Success?
Finding the right customer satisfaction measurement system requires setting clear and actionable goals. When choosing metrics for measuring customer service and developing customer satisfaction survey questions, make sure these are aligned with higher-level objectives.
For instance, do you primarily want to track brand loyalty, improve case resolution time or monitor agent effectiveness? You’ll use different parameters to measure customer satisfaction than you would use to track agent performance.
If you’re seeking a 360-degree view of the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of your customer support, you might want to combine operational metrics with customer experience metrics for a more well-rounded perspective.
What Types of Metrics Measure Customer Satisfaction?
Here are the top four customer service satisfaction metrics to measure client satisfaction:
Net promoter score (NPS)
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score
Customer effort score (CES)
In essence, a quick customer metrics definition would be that NPS is a measure of loyalty, CES is a measure of effort, CSAT is a measure of satisfaction and sentiment analysis is a measure of emotion. Let’s take a closer look at each of these customer service satisfaction metrics.
What Is NPS?
Net promoter score is a calculation of the percentage of a company’s true advocates, and one of a surprisingly versatile customer satisfaction level measurement.
When asked a question such as, “How likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend or colleague?” and prompted to respond on a 10-point Likert scale (with 10 being “highly likely”), advocates are the customers who respond with nine or 10. Detractors are those who respond with a score from zero to six.
NPS is helpful in identifying strong brand advocates, but it also identifies those who are reporting a negative CX. If a customer leaves a low response, it’s good practice to reach out to find out where things went wrong and to offer proactive support.
Armed with more specific knowledge about why a customer gave a certain rating, customer service agents can directly address those issues, thereby potentially improving CX for all customers.
What Is CSAT Score?
Customer satisfaction score is one of the most insightful and specific customer satisfaction survey metrics. It’s used to measure an individual customer’s feelings about a specific interaction with your support team. Again, CSAT is measured through a Likert scale question.
“One of the benefits of CSAT surveys is that you can gather feedback from customers immediately after an interaction with your team,” explains Kustomer’s Senior Product Manager John Merse. “This helps you better understand customers’ experiences in real time. You can segment the results by agent, team and — most importantly — channel.”
For the most accurate assessment of customer satisfaction, you’ll need to measure CSAT across different channels and review the results collectively.
“In a true omnichannel environment it’s important to understand that each channel is unique and requires a specific communication style,” Merse adds. “For example, while you may have a 90%-plus satisfaction via email, if you are not tracking chat or SMS, you might find that your communication is not as effective and your overall customer satisfaction is not as high as you think.”
Customer effort score is a customer service metric that provides deeper insights into CX during a support interaction.
“You can essentially think of CES as tracking the effort a customer puts into using your product or service,” Merse says. “The more effort that is needed over time will likely erode their loyalty.”
A CES survey might ask to what extent a customer agrees with a statement like, “This company made it easy for me to handle my issue.” This score helps measure the overall effectiveness of support.
Gartner, which developed the CES metric, reports that customer effort is the most significant factor in a customer’s loyalty or disloyalty. Monitoring CES can help CX leaders uncover and remedy high-effort pain points in customer interactions for more frictionless support.
What Is Sentiment Analysis?
Sentiment analysis — also known as opinion mining — is the process of determining whether a customer’s language reflects positive, negative or neutral sentiment. Using natural language processing capabilities, CX professionals can gain automated insights into the emotions driving customer interactions.
Sentiment scores assign a numeric value to the message, conversation and customer. Reports based on sentiment changes or themes related to positive or negative sentiment can help you better understand your customers and the service they’re experiencing.
Can I Use CES in Combination With Sentiment, CSAT or NPS?
Absolutely! By combining customer service satisfaction metrics, you can access a more complete understanding of the customer support experience. For instance, although a CES score tells you effort level, it doesn’t get to the why of the customer’s response or how they feel overall about your brand. For that, you need additional customer service satisfaction metrics.
What are some strategies for improving customer satisfaction?
Here are six strategies that can have a huge payoff on CX and customer satisfaction rates:
Utilize best-in-class customer service as a brand differentiator. Many customer-first brands and category disruptors have already done this, but it’s never too late for change at your own organization.
Segment your satisfaction scores by demographics, products and support channels to uncover underlying problems in specific areas.
Reinvest in your customer support team with new, customer-oriented skills and training programs.
Deliver proactive support to minimize negative CX. This could involve sending notifications about shipping delays, getting ahead of negative reviews with offers or product exchanges and similar strategies.
Provide customers with easily navigable self-service content. A strong knowledge base or FAQ section helps customers resolve basic issues on their own.
In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Blake Morgan joins Gabe Larsen to discuss the importance of focusing on the customer and its role in attracting more customers. For the last 12 years, Blake has been in the customer service industry as either a practitioner or thought leader. She got her start as a customer service executive at Intel and for the past 5 years she has been a keynote speaker. Blake is dedicated to helping prepare businesses for the modern customer and helping them become the companies of the future. She is also the author of The Customer of the Future and hosts her own podcast titled “The Modern Customer.” Listen to the full episode below.
The Customer and Company of the Future
Times are changing very quickly and the customer service industry is not immune. The modern customers are in an interesting situation because they are being exposed to a variety of service experiences and not all of them are good. So what exactly should we expect from the company of the future? Blake states, “The company of the future has a soul. The company of the future is thoughtful. They’re thinking about more than just how much money they’re making the next quarter. They’re looking at the implications their behavior has on not just the customer, but the employee, the community, the environment. They’re thinking about innovation as a core piece of their competitive strategy.” If these are the characteristics of future companies, how does your company compare?
Why This Change is Slow
There is a very pressing need for change, but it is happening at a much slower pace than what is needed. Blake suggests that this is happening because of the nature of CEOs and their short time investments in companies along with the need to change culture. Changing a company’s culture and being willing to make a long term investment into customer experience isn’t always appealing and is not a quick fix. One of the elements of Blake’s philosophies is the psychological aspect of customer service. This involves the mindset and the culture. If CEOs were willing to invest more time, be more patient and persistent, psychological and cultural changes would occur in a company. Blake recalls, “Customer experience has to permeate through the culture of the company. It has to be in the fabric, in the mission, the values, the way people talk. We’ve got to have that humble, open culture. It’s not easy to simply replicate what somebody else does, especially for big companies that have toxic cultures or have cultures where things move very slowly and change is hard. I think it’s extremely difficult for these companies to change the culture, which is the biggest piece.” Making these changes is a slow process normally, but Blake is optimistic that it will speed up as companies apply the principles in her book and invest more fully in customer experience.
What it Takes for a Company to Stand Out
In the middle of their discussion, Gabe asked a simple, yet powerful question, “Why does CX matter?” Blake’s response is that in today’s world, there is so much product competition that simply having a good idea isn’t enough. She further explains that by excelling in the customer service and customer experience department, companies can manifest their value. It’s important for companies to take the time to care about people and recognize the humanity of the customer. As Blake so eloquently describes, “In a time where many of our products and services are the same, customer experience is the only way to stand out. Our products and services have become commodities or simply competing on price. And maybe that in the short term, but in the long term we want to be relevant. We have to compete on experience on how we make people feel… Thoughtfulness is truly a competitive advantage today.” Quality customer service and experience is essential for the companies of the future and the customers of the future demand nothing less.
To learn more about the customer and company of the future, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
The Customer in the Future with Blake Morgan
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Hi, welcome everybody to today’s show. I’m excited to get going. We’re going to be talking about the future of the customer or the customer being the future. To do that, we brought on Blake Morgan. She is a customer experience expert. She does keynote speaking. She also happens to have a new book coming out called “The Customer of the Future.” It talks about 10 guiding principles that we’ll dive on to just a little bit today. So Blake, thanks for joining. How are you?
Blake Morgan: (00:39)
Hi. Good, thank you. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I love podcasting. I have my own podcasts, so —
Gabe Larsen: (00:46)
That’s right. Can you tell us, maybe add that in, but tell us a little more about you and some of the fun things you do in your day to day.
Blake Morgan: (00:57)
Well, what’s super fun now is I am 29 weeks pregnant, so I’m a mom.
Gabe Larsen: (01:05)
It’s your first?
Blake Morgan: (01:05)
It’s my second.
Gabe Larsen: (01:08)
Blake Morgan: (01:09)
Yeah. So you asked me what’s fun. So I guess that’s like fun. That’s fun news. I also have two dogs. They’re fun as well. And a husband. The one thing I do is I bring my message that if you focus on the customer, if you make people’s lives easier and better, you will always attract customers to you. And that’s the basic message that I bring all around the world, whether it’s on a stage, on my podcast “The Modern Customer,” on my Forbes column. It’s a simple human message that we’ve gotten too far away from treating people like wallets. And we have to be real about how we are building and designing experiences for other people and how do we make them feel?
Blake Morgan: (01:57)
And now feelings are a business metric. And that’s really exciting for people like me. For over 12 years I’ve been telling stories about why how you make people feel matters. And now, businesses are starting to draw the correlation between, oh gosh, we’re making people feel like junk. And I can see our market share shrinking. Oh, it makes sense. So it’s been a pleasure to be able to do this job and I’ve been doing it for about five years, completely focusing on thought leadership. And before that I was a practitioner as an executive at Intel, the chip maker. But I’ve been in the customer world for about 12 years whether as a customer service executive practitioner or on the thought leadership side producing content.
Gabe Larsen: (02:46)
I love it. I love it. Well, let’s dive in. That’s a great intro. I want to hear a little bit about the book, but the looming question– I always like to think about titles and you’ve got this kind of customer of the future. So maybe start there. Who is the customer of the future?
Blake Morgan: (03:00)
The customer of the future. She is already here and I recently heard a quote that “the future is here, It’s just not widely distributed.” And I love that because you know, in your life you’re getting some beautifully easy, seamless, zero friction, personalized customer experiences from companies like Spotify and Netflix and Amazon and Apple products. And depending on where you get your healthcare or your airline, I mean hopefully you’re with the best, but many of us are not. So you’re getting these wonderfully delicious experiences in some areas of your life. But like if we look at the five most hated industries, they are travel, especially air travel, insurance, cable, Telekom and wireless services and internet services. So basically many of these experiences are extremely broken. But then, when we say the future is not widely distributed, but it’s here, the customer is comparing those horrible experiences with the wonderful ones they get. So everyone today is being held to a different standard.
Gabe Larsen: (04:14)
Wow. Yeah. You nailed it with the industries. I’m thinking of my cable bill, my Telekom bill, and like yes, me, me, me. But you’re right, times definitely are changing. So how does that compare to the company of the future? Is that similar? Does it have to react differently with some of the different changes with the customer of the future.
Blake Morgan: (04:37)
Yeah. The company of the future has a soul. The company of the future is thoughtful. They’re thinking about more than just how much money they’re making the next quarter. They’re looking at the implications their behavior has on not just the customer, but the employee, the community, the environment. They’re thinking about innovation as a core piece of their competitive strategy. And that’s why you see — when I put out my lists on Forbes of the most customer centric companies, these are companies that do everything well. They’re good to their people, they have a huge innovation focus, they are good on customer service and they also are trying to look at ways to be more sustainable, to impact the community in a positive way. And so they do everything well. And that’s why when people ask me, Blake, what are the most customer focused companies in the world, I just point them to the great place to work list because we see that companies that are great places to work often have excellent customer experiences and their stock prices are going up as a result.
Gabe Larsen: (05:49)
Yeah, and that first thing you said; companies won’t just look kind of at the numbers, you know, they’ll have a soul. Well why is that so hard to make that transition? Is it that hard? Is it just something we got to kind of do? Because I feel like you still have leaders getting up there and yeah, it’s all the almighty dollar and that does matter. But if the customer is not happy the dollar doesn’t come. It’s like they’re not getting it. Why is that not happening? Or is it as simple — is it changing your mindset or what’s going on there?
Blake Morgan: (06:23)
Yeah, I think we have to look at what individual leaders are measured by and what their goals are. If you think of a CEO, they often come in, take over at a big company and their goal is to be there a few years, turn the company around, make it profitable and then move on to a better paying or more fancy, we’ll say, CEO job. And that’s a problem because for these customer experience programs, they required long term investments. They often require being misunderstood for long periods of time. And when founder CEOs, they focus on their businesses, it’s often the long term view because they aren’t held to the standards by the board. They don’t really care because they’ve built the company, it’s their baby. And they’re willing to be misunderstood. Yeah, like Reed Hastings of Netflix. So I think that’s one of the problems is that the performance metrics for these leaders are not in service of customer experience. They’re in service of the almighty dollar, quick turnarounds. And it’s really a conflict when we think about things like digital transformation that require at least five years or so of sometimes taking a loss in order to transform into a better company.
Gabe Larsen: (07:52)
Yeah, that’s so interesting looking at some of the different examples of like a turnaround CEO versus an original founder, right? That mindset of this is my family, or this is — there’s just such a different futuristic view on that. You mentioned the Netflix gentlemen as an example, you’re right, they kind of see things different. The CEO compensation, yeah that probably would change behavior, right? What are you actually here to do?
Blake Morgan: (08:22)
Gabe Larsen: (08:24)
So, in all of this going on in the world, we talked a little bit about the future of the company, the future of the customer. CX, a lot of people debate its importance. Why, why does it matter so much today?
Blake Morgan: (08:38)
So in a time where many of our products and services are the same, customer experience is the only way to stand out. Our products and services have become commodities or simply competing on price. And maybe that in the short term, but in the long term we want to be relevant. We have to compete on experience on how we make people feel. Um, and that’s why I think customer experience is the great leveling field of our time because any tiny company can build something that’s simply better where they take something that has been the way we do business for a long time that customers hate and just said, well, let’s make it better. Why does it have to be like this? And they simply win by creating something that people just love and can’t stop using. It often comes from frustration. There’s a company called Good Grips or Oxo Grips and the founder of Oxo Grips, which is a company that makes things that are like easy to handle.
Blake Morgan: (09:42)
Like in my shower, I have a window wipe, I guess you’d call it, or like a glass — I don’t even know what the name for this is. Basically, when your shower gets all streaky, it wipes the shower down and it has an amazing grip. And the reason this founder created this company, Oxo Grips was his wife had I believe Parkinson’s or her hands shook. She had a disease where her hands shook and she couldn’t hold things well. And so he created this company with products that were easy for people who had disabilities to be able to hold them. I think some of the best innovation just comes from frustration. Like why does it have to be like this? It can be better. And let’s just build it. And so you asked, why customer experience? Why now? It’s the great leveling field of our time. Experience matters. It is the only way to make a customer remember us and we can no longer simply rest on our laurels and ride our legacies into the future. It just won’t work anymore.
Gabe Larsen: (10:44)
Why, that is true, right? I mean, it’s like when you think you’ve got a cool product innovation and oftentimes, it can be knocked off. Whether it’s here or somewhere else. But yeah, that service level is one of those things that in particular about the customer. And there are multiple areas I think in the customer experience, but I like the service. What’d you say? What’d you call that? The great leveling field for — yeah, there’s something to that. That’s so bloody hard or whatever word you want to use. I’m not, not British, but it’s so hard to meet or knock off because that does require a culture and all these different, kind of, aspects where its products sometimes you can find the ingredients and you can do it quicker. So let’s dive quickly just into the book for a minute. Where is the book at the moment? It’s obviously — we can see it here on your LinkedIn profile, but give us some of the different topics in the book and some of the things you hit on there.
Blake Morgan: (11:46)
Yeah. The book is live, it’s been out since October. I’m really excited because it became a best seller on Amazon and Porchlight books, which is where the conference organizers buy books and the book is based on my 10 guiding principles. In my speeches, I bucket that into three categories and that includes the psychological, technical, and experiential aspects of a strategy. The psychological, the first piece, is the most overlooked piece of a customer experience strategy. And that’s mindset, culture, and leadership development because we don’t realize that the answers are often right in front of our nose and they’re free. But we don’t want to look at our culture. We don’t want to think about, well how do the executives walk around and talk about customers at our company. The second piece is the technical piece and that’s where I dive into digital transformation. Analytics.
Blake Morgan: (12:43)
What is customer experience technology? What does the market look like? And I talk about personalization. And then in the third piece we look at the experiential aspects of the strategy, which are more about marketing, which are more about data ethics and privacy. And lastly, experience design. And so the three pieces again in the book: psychological, technical and experiential aspects of strategy. You won’t find it bucketed like that in the book, you’ll find the 10 principles. But when I’m talking about it 10 is just too damn many for anybody to sit through me. It sounds like a laundry list. So for the sake of like keynotes or podcasts, I explain it in these three buckets, which I think people, it’s easier for them to get.
Gabe Larsen: (13:33)
Three is always a little easier than 10. Where do you feel are the best or the worst as you think about these three buckets? Or is there areas that you typically see we kind of are floundering the most or maybe have the biggest strengths?
Blake Morgan: (13:48)
Yeah, I think that the first is mindset. The biggest is mindset and culture. Because most companies, what they do– and I talk about this often because it’s like the biggest bruise in my industry– is they hire a chief customer officer or they hire an experienced group and that group or that person has no power, no influence, no one in the company really even knows who they are, or what they do. It’s just putting lipstick on a pig really. And even when I worked at a fortune 100 company, I remember asking my boss, because I was an executive in customer service and I said, we have a customer experience group. Well what do they do? And she said to me, Oh, I think they produce events. And I thought, what? That makes no sense. Customer experience has to permeate through the culture of the company. It has to be in the fabric, in the mission, the values, the way people talk. We’ve got to have that humble, open culture. It’s not easy to simply replicate what somebody else does, especially for big companies that have toxic cultures or have cultures where things move very slowly and change is hard. I think it’s extremely difficult for these companies to change the culture, which is the biggest piece. Instead of just hiring one person, like a chief experience officer and then just saying that, okay, we’ve done our job.
Gabe Larsen: (15:15)
Is there a leader or a company that you would highlight that kind of embraces some of these concepts? The customer experience, customer service in a way that is something that maybe you aspire to? Whether it’s the cultural aspect or one of these different ideas. Where would you go with that?
Blake Morgan: (15:35)
Yeah, I would say that from a culture perspective, Workday is one I really like. The founders are just good people and if you find inside the company, just the stories you hear are just human stories of leaders doing the right thing for employees. And they’re one of those companies that’s on the great place to work list. And they’re also known for customer experience. You can’t really talk about customer experience without talking about Amazon. They have changed the game for everyone. I went to Amazon because I wanted to know like, was there any magic or would I find bunnies being pulled out of hats at Amazon headquarters and when I did the tours and met with executives. What I found is that there was no secret sauce or magic that it’s simply a company that’s run extremely efficiently, focused on innovation, very hardworking, humble people. I met a head of logistics who would go driving with his delivery people at two in the morning just to see some of the hiccups or hindering blocks in their process to make more efficient operations for his employees. And I think most people in big companies just don’t have the stomach or the commitment to go through that to go on a 2:00 AM drive just to make something 10% more efficient.
Gabe Larsen: (17:02)
Yeah, that’s what it feels like they’ve been able to do. Right. It’s like that effortless experience. I know I’m stealing that word from others. But they seem like they have mapped that customer journey a billion times. They just know exactly where — they’ve just eliminated every, well, they’ve eliminated a lot of different headaches to make it so easy to do business with them that you’re like, I’d rather do that than go somewhere else. Well Blake, I really appreciate the time. It’s a fun talk track. I’m excited. Blake was a referral. I was talking to someone else and they said you’ve got to talk to Blake who’s got this new book.
Blake Morgan: (17:40)
Gabe Larsen: (17:40)
So I quickly researched her. I wrote out to her, I ordered the book and it gets here in a couple of days. I’ll have to check that out. I’m trying to learn more about the whole customer experience and customer service. So I appreciate the talk track. In summary and then maybe for people who want to learn a little bit more about what you do Blake, how would you bring it to a close?
Blake Morgan: (18:02)
In summary, I think the best thing you can do for your business is hire sensitive, empathetic people who are interested in other people’s experiences. And these are the people that will build beautiful customer experiences because they’re very thoughtful and they really think about what it feels like to be on the receiving end of something. And that’s truly the number one thing is hire thoughtful people, whether they’re leaders, employees, customer focused agents. Thoughtfulness is truly a competitive advantage today. And if you want to learn more about me, I would love to connect with your listeners. Come to my website blakemichellemorgan.com. I’m launching a new podcast soon on entrepreneurship with my husband Jacob Morgan. So hopefully you’ll find that as well on my website and would love, any way I can help, anybody listening please reach out.
Gabe Larsen: (18:58)
Yeah, that’s so fun. As I was talking to Blake pre show it was like I honestly don’t know how to introduce you. You got all these different accolades and things you’re doing. So where should I start? So anyways, do check her out. I think that’s a great idea. We will make sure we put some of that in the show notes. So Blake, thanks for joining. For the audience, have a fantastic day.
Blake Morgan: (19:17)
Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.
Exit Voice: (19:20)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.
In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Gabe Larsen is joined by Shep Hyken to discuss his book, The Cult of the Customer and the different phases of customer experience. Shep Hyken is a customer service expert and has spent 37 years in the industry. He is passionate about customer loyalty, engagement, and management. He is a keynote speaker, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and is currently the CSP, CPAE, and CAO (Chief Amazement Officer) at Shepard Presentations. Shep is very knowledgeable and brings valuable insights to the table as he and Gabe discuss the five “cults” in his book. Listen to the full episode below.
Why Use the Word “Cult” with Customer Service?
Most of the time when people see the word cult, they automatically think of small groups of individuals with negative and radical beliefs. “Cult” does not typically have a positive connotation. However, by discussing the latin origins of the word, Shep explains that it actually means a group of people with common interests and a unified goal. In this sense, cults aren’t inherently bad and the word could reference a lot of different groups. Shep states, “It’s a group of people that have a common interest and in this case, the cult of the customer is all about people that are fanatical, if you will, about taking care of their customers, both internal and external…” Throughout his book, Shep uses this word not only to describe the overall commitment and passion to positive customer service, he uses the word “cult” to describe different phases of the experience.
The Five Cults, or Phases, for Customers and Employees
To better understand the experience of customers, Shep created these five cults. The first is uncertainty, meaning that the customer is lacking knowledge or experience with the company. After moving through uncertainty, the customer arrives at alignment. In this phase they better understand what the company actually does and the company’s mission. Third is experience: where the customer actually has personal experiences with the product or service. Fourth, take ownership. When a company takes ownership for any unfortunate mistakes or mishaps, they gain the customer’s trust. Fifth, amazement. Shep recalls, “Now if it is positive and it’s predictable and consistent, you’re actually operating into the ultimate cult, the cult of amazement.” Additionally, Shep relates these phases to employees as well as customers. For example, when a new employee joins a company they have uncertainty, then they learn and align, have experiences, take ownership, and then, hopefully, enter the amazed state.
Consistency and Amazement as a Realistic Goal
While reaching the amazement cult and staying there seems like an unattainable goal, Shep assures that it is possible. It may be a fluid experience but it is possible. To understand how it is possible, Shep defines amazement as being “consistently better than average.” By taking the time to understand customer expectations and then creating better than average standards, customer loyalty will spike as well as customer satisfaction. Consistency is the key to being in the amazement cult. To make this point clear, Shep states:
I’ve been talking about consistency since the 80s. No matter how good you are, if you’re one day good and the next day okay– even if you ever dropped below average– you’re still going to be seen as inconsistent . . . To be better than average means simply as Horst Schulze, the cofounder and first president of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Organization, said “If you want to create a world class brand and be recognized for amazing service, just be 10% better than average all the time.”
Finding the weaknesses or trouble spots in your company, reevaluating customer expectations, and creating goals of consistency is the way to help every customer have an “amazing experience.”
To learn more about The Cult of the Customer and its various applications in the customer experience realm, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
The Cult of the Customer | Shep Hyken
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Hi, welcome everybody. Today we’re going to be talking about cult, the cult of the customer. I think it’ll be a fun dialogue. To do that, we brought in Shep Hyken, probably heard about him. I’ve been tracking him for six months. People have probably been doing it longer, but I’m newer to this space so that’s my excuse. He is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling, he’s got an author, keynote speaker, and he does run his own company. So, you’ll see him across multiple channels, very active on social, got a podcast. I think we’ll learn a lot today and I would definitely advise after, to make sure you follow some of his thought leadership content. So Shep, thanks for joining and how are you?
Shep Hyken: (00:54)
Hey, thanks for having me. Great to be here. Excited. And while you may have only been doing it six months, I’ve been doing this about 37 years. So, I don’t know if any — I guess I have had followers for 37 years because there are people, this is true. My very first contract I ever signed to do a speech was in 1983 with the company, Anheuser-Busch, or Budweiser. Yeah. And just about two months ago — I mean, I’ve worked with them, gosh a hundred times, maybe more over those years. Okay. But my most recent one was just a couple of months ago. So some of those people had been following me for a long time.
Gabe Larsen: (01:33)
Shep Hyken: (01:33)
And hiring me.
Gabe Larsen: (01:33)
You say 1983? Is that what you said?
Shep Hyken: (01:36)
Yeah. Yeah. Before you were born maybe?
Gabe Larsen: (01:38)
I don’t want to go into it, but it’s pretty close.
Shep Hyken: (01:41)
I know. I look young and I’ll tell you why. I cut my hair off. Just shave it all off. No, you can’t see — has he got gray hair? Well, unless I take my shirt off, you won’t know. Back hair could be gray, but hey, we’re not going to do that here. But seriously, old guys that are bald, they don’t look old until one day they do look old. But I’ve got about another 10 years before that happens.
Gabe Larsen: (02:05)
Yeah. Well I won’t make you share your age, but it sounds like 37– That’s a long…we’ll just go with that.
Shep Hyken: (02:10)
1983 I started my business. Yep.
Gabe Larsen: (02:12)
You are a seasoned professional. Wow. Well again, tons of information we’re going to try to dive into it today. Let’s start high level cause when I saw this book, I mean it is kind of a revised edition coming out, but this idea of cult. I mean most people see that and they’re like cult, that’s some weird people doing some weird stuff in some weird place.
Shep Hyken: (02:34)
It’s got the rep. It’s got the rap and the rap — got the reputation and a bad rap. Cult is actually, it’s an interesting word. And by the way, this is a completely updated, revised edition; new stats, facts. We took out a few of the case studies that weren’t relevant. We got rid of some names of people that are in jail now that we used as examples. They’re now, they’re no longer part of the book. True. That’s true. I won’t tell you who it is either. No, it’s true. There was a guy in there who’s in jail right now. He’s out of the book.
Shep Hyken: (03:05)
You never know what’s going to happen. Right?
Gabe Larsen: (03:08)
You don’t, you don’t.
Shep Hyken: (03:08)
So, the word cult. When I sent the book out, the first time the book came out, I actually sent it to a bunch of my clients. One client sent it back, a healthcare system that has a religious persuasion and said, the word cult disgusts me. You will never work for my company again.
Gabe Larsen: (03:28)
Whoa you’re kidding.
Shep Hyken: (03:28)
Whoa, Whoa. I apologize profusely. But, if you read the back cover of the book or the inside jacket, it says cult is not a dirty word. The word cult is really, first of all, it comes from the word cultus, the Latin word cultus, which means care and tending which is interesting. But beyond that, the actual definition of a cult is not about fanaticism. It’s about a group of people with common interests headed toward the same direction, doing the same thing.
Gabe Larsen: (03:59)
Is that right?
Shep Hyken: (03:59)
So, in effect, it could be a religious order, but it could also be a bunch of people who go out and it’s almost like religion. Every Sunday morning you see them running through the park, working out together. So it’s a group of people that have a common interest and in this case, the cult of the customer is all about people that are fanatical, if you will, about taking care of their customers, both internal and external; creating an environment that’s care and tending toward those people. And, ideally doing such a great job that these customers, especially the outside customers, become evangelists; which is why the subtitle is “Create an amazing customer experience that turns satisfied customers into customer evangelists.” People that will praise what you do and share and spread the word about how great you are.
Gabe Larsen: (04:50)
I love that. You know, I don’t — there was another gentleman, Russell Brunson, he’s kind of a marketing guru.
Shep Hyken: (04:56)
Yep I know Russell.
Gabe Larsen: (04:57)
Cult-ure. Like CULTure, culture. Like something that people are a little more intense about that they really care about and want to be a part of. You’re right. I like that the history shows that it’s not just a negative, kind of crazy people that we sometimes assume. But there is kind of a positive– just a group of people that are really dynamic in following the cause.
Shep Hyken: (05:19)
So here’s some trivia. I’ll give you trivia that I’ve never shared with anybody before. I don’t think I have anyway. So when this– I did not come up with this title. When I was approached by Wiley a dozen plus years ago to write this book, I had the idea that would be called “The Customer Focus,” which is after my training programs.
Gabe Larsen: (05:41)
Shep Hyken: (05:41)
And they said, we’ve got a different title. We would like you to consider, “The Cult of the Customer.” Whoa, that’s an interesting name: Cult. The “cult” caught my attention too. So ironically, that summer I saw a woman speak, she was wonderful. She’s the one that came up with the Aflac commercial. “Aflac.” So she talked about how it would be a polarizing commercial; that people would love this because it’s funny, people would hate it because it’s stupid, but everybody else would remember it no matter what because who’s going to forget Aflac. Right? And so, I asked her. I had a chance to ask her about the word cult in the title, and she says it will do the same thing that Aflac does in a sense. And that if people are walking through the bookstore and they see “The Cult of The Customer,” they may stop and look at that word cult because it jumps out at them.
Shep Hyken: (06:34)
And it may cause them to pick up the book and look at it. Some people, it’ll just like, “who would use that word in a title,” and others will go, “well that’s a really interesting way of putting it.” So in effect — but everybody remembers that word cult because it just stands out.
Gabe Larsen: (06:49)
Oh my heavens. When I first saw it, it did.I think you nailed it.
Shep Hyken: (06:54)
Gabe Larsen: (06:54)
It’s a little bit of a head turner. You walked by and probably some people are like, what? But other people are like — so whatever it is, good for you because it worked.
Shep Hyken: (07:04)
It worked. We sold a lot of books. When it first came out, it immediately, interesting. It was the number one book of all books sold on Amazon for just a real short time. But it was the number one book. It stayed number one in business for weeks and weeks. It also hit the Wall Street Journal list, the USA Today list. And I was surprised it didn’t hit the New York Times. The next one did. But this one still, it hit a bunch of good lists.
Gabe Larsen: (07:31)
Wow, well, congratulations on a bunch of books. Yeah, I’m sure the title had something to do it, but the content as well. So let’s hit the content. Can you talk about these five cults or phases customers go through? Maybe start there.
Shep Hyken: (07:45)
So, I started to look at — my goal in life is to simplify the complicated. And it’s not even that complicated. We want to create an experience that gets people to want to come back. Well, let’s talk about what people are thinking through their journey. And the first time a customer decides to do business with someone, no matter how good the reputation is, they can only hope that it’s going to be as good as what’s promised.
Shep Hyken: (08:11)
And I call that the cult of uncertainty. That’s a phase that customer’s in. The next is they’re going to get into alignment. So they get into this cult of alignment. They’re starting to understand what the company’s about. And by the way, B2B, B2C doesn’t matter. It’s, I want to understand who it is I’m dealing with, what they’re promising me. Okay, I get it. Now I need to experience it. And as I experience it, hopefully I’ll like it and it’s a good experience and I like that experience, but it’s not predictable yet. It only becomes predictable when it’s repeated, when I can count on it. So you go from uncertainty to alignment to experience, and then you go to ownership. That’s when it is predictable. People say things like, “they’re always so helpful, they always get back to me, they always are friendly.” Yeah, the word “always” followed by something good.
Shep Hyken: (08:57)
Now, if it is positive and it’s predictable and consistent, you’re actually operating into the ultimate cult, the cult of amazement. And that’s where, and by the way, amazement can be over the top, blow me away. But you can’t count on over the top experiences every time. Usually, you have to wait for a problem to fix it. Or maybe you overhear something and you can surprise someone. But if day in and day out, you’re just predictably above average and creating that positive experience where your customers go, “I love doing business with them.” And if you said, well, what do you like about them? They always get back to me so quickly. They’re always, like I said, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly. You can use all those. Even when there’s a problem, I know I can always count on them. Which by the way, when you’re in amazement and then there’s a problem, that customer immediately goes back to uncertainty. Immediately. And if you handle it right, they quickly jump back to amazement. And that’s when they’ll say, even when there’s a problem, I know I can, here’s that word, always count on them. So that word “always” followed by something positive.
Gabe Larsen: (10:01)
But that is scalabil– it’s consistent.
Shep Hyken: (10:06)
Consistency counts. I would say that as I do my speeches, I don’t know how many, I mean I’ve done thousands of them over the years, but, as I’ve been talking about consistency; I’ve been talking about consistency since the 80s. No matter how good you are, if you’re one day good and the next day, okay, even if you ever dropped below average, you’re still going to be seen as inconsistent. So if on a scale of one to five where one is bad and five is great, three is average or in the middle. To be better than average means simply that Horst Schulze, the cofounder and first president of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Organization said, if you want to create a world class brand recognized for amazing service, just be 10% better than average all the time. Because that “all the time” part that’s not easy to do.
Gabe Larsen: (10:57)
Yeah, but that’s interesting because we do — sometimes we celebrate the crazy stuff, right? The over the top, I think is the word you used. And those are nice, but it does require maybe a big blow up or a big problem. It’s that consistent, repeatable, scalable, whatever other word you want to throw in, that 10% above average. But it’s getting there. That ain’t that easy.
Shep Hyken: (11:20)
Well over the top is hard. I mean, you know, it’s like if you’re a server at a restaurant and you overhear a couple talking that it’s their year anniversary and you surprise them with a cake with a candle. That’s not really over the top, but that’s a surprise. Okay. But if the rest of the time you are inattentive and didn’t bring them their drinks fast and the food came out and it was sloppy the way it was, put–. See, you’ve got to always be — I want them to say, “you know what, that server was wonderful and that surprise was amazing.” And wonderful is attentive, friendly, nice, made suggestions. And that’s a very simple hospitality example. But again, B2B, it’s the same way. We’re a manufacturer. We’re selling to a company. You feel good about the order you place. I call you up and say, just want to let you know the order– or I email you– the order has shipped, here’s tracking information. I’m going to watch it too. I call you to let you know it arrived and, or I email you to let you know, and I’m on top of it. And you’re saying to yourself, wow, these people have it together. And when that happens again and again you go, “I can always count on them.”
Shep Hyken: (12:29)
That’s why people love Amazon. It’s because they send out these notices, your order is placed, your order has shipped, your order is received. Then on top of that, if there’s a problem, they have a pretty great system of management.
Gabe Larsen: (12:42)
I want to get through the rest of the phases, but just one more click on that because that’s like the Holy Grail. That consistency. It just seems like we can’t do it. Is it because we don’t have the technology, the wherewithal, the knowledge, that there’s just too many complications? How come we’re not there?
Shep Hyken: (12:59)
I believe that the majority of the problem with inconsistency, sure there are issues built into a process that can be fixed. But a lot of the problems have to do with people where they’re not paying attention to what’s going on in that moment. And I will tell you when I work with clients and one of the exercises we’ll do is say, I want to have the group sit down in small groups and talk about– come up with the three biggest problems you hear customers complain about all the time. And I love this because they come up with some great ones and I go, all right, let’s figure out what the most important one we want to deal with. So this happens all the time. Oh yeah, it happens every week, every day. I go, well, if it’s happening all the time, why haven’t you fixed it yet? Okay. And by the way, some things are not fixable. Jeff Bezos said, we don’t need a customer service department. We need to be that good that customers should never need to call us for anything. And that worked until the shipment went out of the warehouse and then UPS, FedEx, Post Office, whoever it is, picked it up and lost it on the way. Now, it wasn’t in Amazon’s hands. It isn’t even Amazon’s fault. By the way, every time a customer called and said, where’s my shipment? It didn’t get here. And they found out that it was lost by UPS, FedEx, or Post Office, whoever. Amazon always said, no problem. We’ll take care of you. Okay. And see, that’s the kind of thing that kind of started that consistency of ownership. And whenever there’s a problem, I always say, apologize, acknowledge or acknowledge and apologize, doesn’t matter. Fix it. That’s the third step. Acknowledge, apologize, fix it or discuss what you’re going to do. Take ownership of it. Don’t blame others, just get it done. And number five, do it fast. And when you do that, you’re going to restore confidence. Now, even though a shipment that’s lost isn’t Amazon’s fault, how quickly they say, we’re going to get one out to you right away.
Gabe Larsen: (14:52)
They take ownership and they recognize it. You know, it’s funny, I remember one time, just to be thinking of your example when you talked to your group. I started even new at this company, but it’s funny when you have fresh eyes on a perspective problem. I remember I joined this company right in the front door, there was this big orange cord that kind of went across the front of the office. And I remember walking in and thinking, guys, why is this orange cord here, this large orange cord? Every day we have this step over it. And you know, to a point, it’s like, well, it’s just always been there. [inaudible]. So sometimes we don’t even acknowledge it because it has become just what we deal with. The orange cord is in our way. It’s always there.
Shep Hyken: (15:39)
There’s an old story. Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker who’s passed away, used to tell a story about — there’s a big family dinner and the little girl says, “mommy, why do you cut the end of the roast off before you put it in the oven?” And mom thought about it and she says, well, that’s what your grandma taught me. And so she went to grandma, “grandma, why do we cut the end off the roast before we put it in the oven?” And she goes, “well that’s actually, that’s a very good question. But when I learned how to cook a roast, that’s the way I was taught by your great grandma.” Great grandma, four generations is in the room. She goes over to this elderly woman, “great Grammy, why do you cut the end of the road off before you put it in the oven?” And she said, because those roasts are so big, you have to take the end off so it will fit in the oven.” But the oven has got bigger, but they still kept cutting the end of the roast off. And it’s like, because we always did it that way and sometimes we become so used to something that it just doesn’t phase us. So back to the original concept, when our clients say this happens all the time ago, why is it happening all the time? There’s got to be some way to eliminate or at least mitigate it. So anyway, we have digressed away from the five columns.
Gabe Larsen: (16:54)
I’m so sorry, that’s so fun.
Shep Hyken: (16:56)
Oh I love it. This is what happens.
Gabe Larsen: (17:00)
[inaudible]. Oh man, you’re right. Bless his soul because that was a lot of great quotes. So go ahead and finish the five. I did have one other question.
Shep Hyken: (17:06)
Those are the five. We’ve got uncertainty into alignment, into experience, ownership and then amazement. And by the way, you mentioned Gabe, as you walked into a new company, employees have the same exact experiences that customers have, the five phases or five calls. Because when you walked in to work with, you know, this new company Kustomer, which by the way, I love the way they spell it. Different. Okay. Because whoever said — there is truth to this, that spelling is no indication of intelligence. Okay.
Gabe Larsen: (17:41)
Shep Hyken: (17:43)
Very smart people just don’t know how to spell. Okay. You spell by remembering, by feeling it and kinesiology. I don’t know. There’s all kinds of ways they talk about, anyway.
Gabe Larsen: (17:53)
He’s mocking because we spell it with a K. For those of you who don’t know Customer with a K.
Shep Hyken: (17:57)
Is the K backwards? No, it’s Customer with the K. So, here’s the thing. The employee comes in and they go, Oh, I’m looking forward to work. I hope I love this job. Hope. Hope is not a strategy as they say, but hope is also an indication of uncertainty. Now I’m in there, I’m being onboarded, I’m learning about the mission, the values, the vision. Now I’m getting into alignment. I’m understanding it. So now I’m going to go to work. I understand this is what we’re supposed to do, this is how we’re supposed to be, and now I’m experiencing this and hopefully I’m liking it. By the way, I’m assuming that I’m enjoying this experience. Can’t wait for tomorrow. Oh, more of the same, more of the same every day. Now I’m owning it. And when you say to me, how do you like your job when you come home and your partner, your spouse, your best friend says, how do you like your new job? And you say, I love working there. You’ve now moved that employee from hope or uncertainty into amazement.
Gabe Larsen: (18:56)
Wow. Yeah. So, the employee’s journey does follow those same things, those five phases or five cults. Got it. One thing I wanted to dive into on the five, you talked just a little about the employee side of it, but we were talking about consistency. Is it– how possible is it really? I mean, you’ve been doing this for 37 years Shep, so you can just tell me it’s not possible, but is it really possible to get to that amazing level? I mean, can you be that?
Shep Hyken: (19:22)
Yeah, that’s the whole point. That’s what I try to preach to my clients. And by the way, I have lost a couple of speeches and projects because my definition of amazement is better than average all the time. And, there was a client that said, we need to always be, we need to blow our clients away every time. We need to prove to them over and over again. I go, you prove it when you’re consistently better than average. And by the way, the client defines who and what average is, but you can get a pretty good idea after being in business for a while, what your clients basic expectations are, and then say, where can I make it better? Where can I exceed it? I don’t ever want my client — you could say this, or Kustomer, you can create standards. You could say our clients will never be on hold for more than 45 seconds and if they are on hold, they’ll be given the option, by technology, allowing us to tell the client, “your call really is important in spite of what other people say and we value your time. We unfortunately are overwhelmed today and your whole time will be about four minutes or we can call you back at whatever time is convenient.” And you know, there’s a system that allows them to just punch in the numbers on their keypad and that shows you appreciate their time and effort. I can’t stand calling and they say it’s very busy, please hold, forever. We don’t know how long it’s going to take. So anyway, there is an example.
Gabe Larsen: (20:50)
We almost don’t even put up with that anymore. Now that we know there’s a different option, right? So, I love that definition of amazing, by the way. It just makes it so much more obtainable. That that does makes me feel better.
Shep Hyken: (21:01)
Little better than average all the time. And that means, and you can set your standards and you could say you’ll always return a phone call within two hours. You’ll always return an email within whenever. And you create these standards and you know, these standards are not just acceptable, but they will impress your customers. And you do that by talking to your people about what they know impresses their customers both internally and externally. We do an exercise here, in our office — and we teach our clients all over the world to do this — where every week they have to bring in an example of a good experience that they’ve created either for an internal or external customer. Sometimes it’s just, give me a general customer service moment of magic, positive thing again or give me an example of when you did something very specific that we’re talking about and they have to look to find that example. And what will happen is they’ll make that example happen, which is great because now they’re service aware, they’re making an effort to make things happen, so it’s positive. By the way, the types of exercises we’re talking about are included in the book. At the end we have a whole workbook and these are the same exercises that our trainers from our company go out and deliver to companies all over the world, so it’s included as part of the book.
Gabe Larsen: (22:15)
Let’s get there. I mean we’ve hit on a couple of points. I love some of the action items. If someone wants to learn more about you — get into the book. We’re obviously recording it now. It will be hopefully releasing soon here in conjunction with this session. What would you recommend to take the next step and learn more about Shep Hyken and what he does?
Shep Hyken: (22:35)
Well, you can go to hyken.com but if you want to learn more about the book, cultofthecustomer.com, and you can learn more or go straight to Amazon. By the way, if you buy the book, you need to go back to the website and there is, you’ll see it as you scroll down– I’m looking at it now– a big circle with a star in it says if you already pre-purchase a book, click here for your free gift. But you know what, we are going to modify the free gift just a little and let me tell you what we’re giving away. Anybody that clicks on that will get free access to one of my courses. We charge $49 for this course. It’s an online service course. Here’s what I want people to do. You can look at it as an individual. Print the workbook out, fine. If you’ve got a group of 25 people, print out 25 workbooks. It’s your paper at that point, and show it to everybody. You’ll have a great one hour with a group of people — have an hour long customer service workshop that you’ll be able to do with your group. No charge. Once you get it, you’ve got to use it because it’s not going to be there forever.
Gabe Larsen: (23:40)
Got it. Oh I love it.
Shep Hyken: (23:41)
Gabe Larsen: (23:43)
Cult of the Customer. Um, make sure we get that. Shep best of luck. Again, sounds like the book, the new version of the book, obviously it’s been out for a while, but new version with new stories, nobody from jail, et cetera.
Shep Hyken: (23:56)
It’s crazy. Yeah. And if I won’t tell you — if you read through the book you’ll go “Oh I know this is.”
Gabe Larsen: (24:02)
I probably don’t. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time. A great talk track on the Cult of the Customer. So again, appreciate you taking a minute for the audience. Have a fantastic day.
Shep Hyken: (24:14)
Thanks Gabe, thanks for having me. Bye bye.
Gabe Larsen: (24:16)
Bye bye. Alrighty and that is a wrap.
Exit Voice: (24:29)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.
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.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
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.
It’s a day of love, romance and positive feelings…. that is until white lilies are delivered instead of red roses, or a winter snow storm causes a shipping delay for that diamond necklace she’s been waiting for.
During peak shopping days, like Valentine’s Day, customer loyalty is on the line. A mistake not only means an angry customer, but could mean embarrassment and conflict due to a missing or incorrect present. The way that companies handle service inquiries during these seasonal rushes is of the utmost importance. They must treat customers with empathy, and understand that problems and questions can hold a lot more weight during stressful holidays.
The National Retail Federation reports that $27.4 billion is going to be spent this Valentine’s Day, a whopping 32% increase from last year. So follow these tips to avoid getting caught in cupid’s crossfire.
Prepare for Scale
If you’re a retailer that caters to romance, like florists and jewelers, prepare for an uptick in orders and inquiries. Your apps and websites should be able to handle an increased load, and you should have staff in place to handle the spike in customers reaching out. By leveraging technology that incorporates AI and automation, low level support tasks like business hours and shipping information, can be deflected away from your agents, freeing up their time to tackle more difficult inquiries and making sure Valentine’s Day goes off without a hitch.
Deliver On Instantaneous Conversations
As much as we all wish our significant other was planning a lavish evening months in advance, the truth of the matter is that last minute gift buying is… the norm. Customers will likely be ordering flowers or chocolates mere hours before they want them to be delivered. Make sure you’re able to manage real-time fulfillment, as well as real-time conversations.
In order to deliver truly instantaneous support, agents must be able to have the full context of every customer interaction at their fingertips, no matter the channel or issue. Did the customer just receive their order? What is the sentiment of their interaction? Did they just have a conversation about the same issue on a different platform? Being able to see this all in one view, versus opening new tickets for every new interaction, means you’re able to serve customers quicker and build relationships faster.
Be Channel Agnostic
Your customers are on the go. No matter whether they are at work, on the train, at dinner or on their couch, you need to be available to them. Make sure that your customers are able to contact you on whatever channel they’re active on, and switch between those channels seamlessly and without losing context. When time is of the essence, your customers don’t want to have to start the conversation over again.
Communicate Seamlessly with Customers and Vendors
Marketplaces may have a particularly difficult time handling seasonal rushes. Let’s say a customer is ordering a bottle of champagne to be delivered to their partner when they get home from work. To ensure a seamless process, marketplaces will have to use a system that can enable communication with customers and vendors simultaneously to solve any issues. Traditional customer service solutions force agents to switch between multiple platforms and screens, instead of connecting conversations between customers and vendors in a single view.
Your brand doesn’t want to be the reason for a break-up. Prepare properly and deliver exceptional support, and you and your customers will live happily ever after.
Deliver effortless service and measure performance in one powerful platform.
At Kustomer, we pride ourselves on helping companies deliver support that satisfies customers, builds loyalty, and drives retention. That’s because our customer-centric platform is different from the legacy ticketing systems that create cumbersome and fragmented service experiences. Through a single workspace that unifies customer data, agents are empowered to meet customers’ needs on any channel they use.
And while SLAs and productivity metrics are incredibly valuable when measuring support success, we believe the best indicator comes from customers themselves. Their feedback drives continuous improvement for businesses and their support operations. And while satisfaction measurement solutions can provide powerful insights, they require additional budget, splinter customer data and agent experiences across multiple systems, and fail to account for the varied communication experiences on each particular channel.
That’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of Kustomer Satisfaction—our native tool that measures, tracks, and manages customer satisfaction across all your support channels, directly in the Kustomer platform. With Kustomer, providing effortless service and gaining incredible insight into how your customers feel regarding their interactions exist together in a single platform.
Kustomer Satisfaction is built on the backbone of the Kustomer platform, enhancing your ability to gather feedback and incorporating satisfaction information into the agent workspace, making customer satisfaction or effort highly visible and actionable. Surveys are simple to set up, designed to make survey taking easy and engaging, and optimized for each of your channels to ensure high response rates and confidence in how your team and agents are performing. Go a level deeper in your satisfaction evaluation by targeting and surveying specific customer segments.
Tailor surveys for an optimal experience on each channel.
Each channel is unique, and requires a specific style of communication. Customize Satisfaction questions and survey styles on Chat, Email, SMS and Voice conversations to ensure high response rates anywhere your customers communicate. Chat and Email Satisfaction surveys are built natively in Kustomer, so customers provide feedback directly from the conversation, without interruption.
Collect feedback from whomever you want, whenever you want.
Don’t rely on a single overall score for your entire customer support operation. Segment and survey customers at any time based on any desired criteria (VIP status, lifetime value, products, demographics, etc.), expanding your ability to rate customer experience and providing a more detailed picture of satisfaction.
Analyze your results.
Monitor topline trends, and drill down into results for specific channels, teams, agents and interactions to identify coaching, content, and policy opportunities that will take your support team to the next level.
Kustomer’s product and engineering teams round out June with the release of new reporting capabilities, enhancements to chat and email channels, and more.
Introducing New and Improved Report Exporting
We’ve completely revamped our CSV report export functionality to provide users more control, flexibility, and transparency when creating and exporting reports for one-off analysis.
When exporting CSV reports in Kustomer, users can:
Save your past reports to make it easy to quickly update and export reports in the future.
View and manage your full report export library, including exports currently in progress, completed exports, and exports drafted, but not yet run.
Customize your reports by choosing the object attributes you’d like to include and arrange them by dragging and dropping them in the order you wish them to appear.
Updated Chat Assistant to allow for unlimited picklist options to be viewed during a Chat conversation.
Made email reply-to/from alias list searchable to help manage and leverage a greater number of email aliases directly in the customer timeline.
Improved tracking and reporting of “total time spent” by agents, so admins can now track agent activity based on Kustomer default statuses (available, busy, unavailable, offline) and custom statuses they create.
The Kustomer platform now alerts users when they open more than one tab in their browser running Kustomer, in order to limit the potential performance issues that occur when multiple tabs with Kustomer are open at one time.
Added ability for admins to set and manage permissions around forwarding Kustomer conversation transcripts to outside email addresses.
Created company-based classification in the Kustomer timeline for B2B organizations, which links company details to customer, conversation, and custom object views so B2B users can more easily manage multiple companies in Kustomer and quickly view relevant company details at a glance.
Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, improving integrations, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added to Kustomer over the past few weeks:
Satisfaction: Measure, track, and manage customer satisfaction or customer effort across all channels using our native new, flexible survey solution in Kustomer.
Enhanced Amazon Connect integration to add callback support. Users will now see incoming calls labeled as “Callbacks” so they’re aware a customer still needs to be connected. When a callback is initiate, the conversation will be created with a “callback” subject, and assigned to the agent automatically.
Optimized data integration between Kustomer and Segment, enabling organizations to instantly send any customer data from Segment to Kustomer in real-time.
Enabled search editors to set and save default results columns to be used across the organization
Updated “Reopen” logic for Queues And Routing where a User’s status will be used to determine if a conversation should be unassigned and re-queued.
Added data stream and API reporting functionality to disclose total time spent in custom statuses.
Enhanced webhooks capabilities to convert XML payloads to JSON, which grants the ability for XML payload data to be used in creating workflow triggers.
Consolidated the design of conversation events to display into a grouped, collapsable row, improving agent conversation UX.
Made it easier to see which teams and users have access to non-public searches via the Search Settings page.
Added ability to export Conversation Viewed data to report on each time a user views a conversation, including start and end timestamps.
Added Queue attribute as an option when exporting Conversation data.
Expanded audit log timestamps to specify down to the seconds.
Added pagination to workflows list when the total number for an organization exceeds 100.
Simplified assignment drop down menus when creating business rules by removing deactivated teams and users.
Added ability to send emails via Gmail integration with attachments larger than 5MB
Reduced the time a customer can be unavailable in chat before an agent’s chat response will be automatically sent to both the customer’s chat window and their email.
Added ability to toggle Typing Indicators on or off for agents and customers in chat.
Latest iOS SDK Release: Version 0.2.1. Recent updates include support for Typing Indicators and Satisfaction capabilities.
Latest Android SDK Release: Version 0.2.3. Recent updates include support for Typing Indicators and Satisfaction capabilities.
This is a guest post by Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Experience at FCR.
Are you in the habit of closing the loop with customers that offer negative feedback on post-interaction surveys like Customer Satisfaction or Net Promoter Score? I certainly hope so, because it’s a great practice that many companies aren’t in the habit of doing. When I led a customer service team, I was very proud of the fact that we made every attempt at closing the loop with the upset customers we knew about, and by some combination of resolving their issue and offering compensation, we managed to save a good many of them from churning.
But what about those customers that don’t complete a survey voicing their displeasure? What about those where something goes wrong and it’s “too much trouble to complain?” Or perhaps they do complain and the disinterested reply from support is enough for the customer to cut their losses and move on to a company that actually wants their business. And then there’s that statistic where upset customers tell dozens of people about negative experiences while happy customers tell a small handful of their friends. I’m convinced that someone invented that statistic to strike fear into the hearts of customer service leaders with the sole purpose of selling books, software, consulting, etc.
Regardless, it’s the upset customers I don’t hear from that keep me up at night—the unhappy ones we’ll never have the opportunity to save. There’s got to be more we can do, right? What if I told you that more customers are offering feedback about how we can improve and keep their business? It’s time that we start listening to the “voice of the customer” far beyond surveys, and the great news is that what once seemed far off in the distant future is totally possible right now. Let’s discuss further.
A Survey is Not Enough
I love surveys. The act of asking for feedback and then taking the time to act on that feedback is what fuels a great continuous improvement process, but it alone as a voice of customer program is incomplete at best. In my work at FCR, I see a wide range of response rates to surveys anywhere from 10 to 30%—and rarely beyond that.
Can a company really consider a voice of customer program robust if it doesn’t hear from 70% of its customers? If our goal is to truly understand what’s driving dissatisfaction and drive our customer churn rate down, we need to do more. Customers are giving feedback on traditional support channels and social media, and we must listen to that valuable non-survey feedback as well.
Sentiment Tells Us Much More
Consider for a moment relationships and what we know about nonverbal communication. In my own relationship with my wife, most of the feedback I receive about how to be a better husband is nonverbal. Whether it be “the look” or perhaps a tone of voice, I had better be adept at recognizing her signals long before she has to explicitly tell me she’s upset.
Natural language process (NLP) works in much the same way, by understanding not just what customers are saying but the way they’re saying it. Considering the fact that only 1 of every 26 customers actually complains when something goes wrong, the ability to capture customer sentiment from all customer interactions including social posts, voice, email, chat, and SMS significantly broadens our understanding of what customers are saying. And it allows us to recognize an upset customer—sometimes long before they give explicit feedback via a survey. Now we’re on our way to listening to 100% of customer communication with our company. But there’s still more.
But Actions Give Us the Full Picture
Traditional contact center platforms do a great job of helping us pull in customer communication from a variety of sources and respond in a timely manner. For teams of all sizes this is important, and the ability to track a myriad of KPIs helps us measure success, but these systems are almost exclusively predicated on the customer reaching out to us first. Are we to assume that if the customer doesn’t reach out, they’re happy?
If that’s your assumption, you may want to read up on customer journey mapping. This is the exercise of looking at the customer journey from A to Z, identifying all of the places customers touch your company (AKA touchpoints), and evaluating that experience. As I’ve learned about journey mapping, I’ve come to realize what a small (but important) role customer service plays in the overall customer experience.
Clearly a modern contact center platform must take into account the entire customer journey and understand what customers are telling us at each touchpoint with their actions. A few ideas where this might come in handy include:
Understanding whether the customer is a first-time buyer or long-time customer.
A regular subscription stopped or downgraded after a long history of purchasing regularly.
Order fulfillment or shipment is delayed.
There might be a variety of issues. The ability to see this full picture of the customer’s history allows us to take a more proactive approach and reach out to customers, sometimes before they become aggravated.
Focus on Customer Lifetime Value
Now this is starting to sound like the comprehensive voice of customer program we’re going for. We’ve moved beyond reacting to customers with known issues and are proactively acting based on patterns in the customer journey. There’s a final, invaluable ingredient, or metric, in this process that’s so often missing from the process of supporting customers: lifetime value.
Understanding how much a customer has purchased historically and potential future spending is an invaluable tool for a couple reasons. First, it allows your support team to understand what it might take to make things right when something has gone wrong. For example, if a customer spends $25 per month, a $10 coupon might be appreciated, but if they spend thousands annually, that same $10 credit might be insulting.
Second, with lifetime value, we can offer a premium level of service to those high value customers. When it comes to proactively reaching out to customers at various points in the journey we’re now working smarter, not harder by prioritizing our reach out first to those that spend the most and/or have been with us the longest.
A true voice of customer program should absolutely strive toward a 360-degree view of the customer’s experience—and this is totally possible when we can easily see support history, feedback, sentiment, actions and lifetime value. With that information, we shift our approach from a reactive to a proactive one. Once that’s occurred, I see a future where customer service leaders everywhere sleep a whole lot better at night.
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional. He’s also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.