How to Successfully Manage CX During a Global Pandemic

How to Successfully Manage CX During a Global Pandemic TW

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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.

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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)
That’s right.

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.

All: (33:13)
Thank you.

Exit Voice: (33:13)
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What is Personalized Customer Service?

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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.

If you’re looking for a more straight-forward approach to successfully achieving personalized customer service, our How-to Guide: Customer Personalization, is a helpful tool. For more information on getting started, you can contact us directly
 

5 Things You Can Start Doing to Go From Reactive to Proactive Support

woman on laptop

Today, businesses thrive when they can provide a convenient, personalized customer experience. That entails answering questions specific to a customer’s concerns and addressing wants and needs of a particular patron, all within a short amount of time.

Certainly, businesses can help customers and provide top-notch customer service when taking on such tasks, but customer service agents can also be a valuable resource when they go above and beyond and reach out to the customer first. We refer to this as proactive support, and it can be a secret weapon to improve the reputation — and bottom line — of your company.

In the world of customer service, timing is everything. According to the Customer Service Barometer study fielded by American Express, 40% of customers agree that they would be pleased by customer service agents taking care of their needs faster. This means companies have to be forward-thinking about their customers’ wants and needs, to get ahead of the curve. With proactive customer service, this goal is highly attainable.

In this article, we’ll take a look at proactive vs. reactive customer service, dive into the importance of proactive customer support, and discuss the five different ways you can transition from reactive to proactive customer care:

What is Reactive Support?

Reactive customer service may be known as the more common type of response. This is the type of support that’s offered once the customer brings the problem to the surface. As HubSpot explained, it’s like using medication — just as one would take medicine to combat symptoms and treat the body to get rid of the impact that has already occurred, customer service agents can use reactive support to address customer concerns after learning about them.

What is Proactive Support?

Software Advice Inc., a partner of Gartner, defines proactive customer support as the strategy used by a company to anticipate potential concerns of the customer. Essentially, it’s enabling customer service agents to reach out to consumers before they are pinged, in an effort to offer a solution or suggestion without being prompted.

Proactive live chat, for example, can be used by agents to address anticipated concerns based on various factors, such as the amount of time a customer spends on a page or a continuous return to a certain page. Online behavior, as well as browsing reoccurrences, are critical bits of information that can allow your customer service team to dive into the immediate needs of customers and address underlying issues they may be experiencing, but are unsure if they should bring to your attention.

Five Ways to Make the Transition From Reactive to Proactive Support

How can you prepare your service organization to anticipate your customers’ desires and to deliver an experience that defies their expectations? In our CEO and Co-Founder Brad Birnbaum’s Forbes piece, he took a deep dive into the theory and practice of proactive service. Below, we’ve outlined the five most important steps you can take now to upgrade your experience and delight your customers with forward-thinking support:

1. Train Your Team

Proactive service isn’t just about analytics, it requires an equal amount of human insight. Before investing in tech, make sure you have a team of engaged agents that are already thinking about your customers’ needs. For example, Outdoor Voices’ agents are able to collaborate more easily because of comprehensive training, amplified by Kustomer’s intuitive interface. Great service starts with great people.

2. Invest in Analytics

By combining human insight with powerful analytics, reporting, and a record of every customer’s history, you can equip your team with everything they need to know about your stakeholders. Just ask Glossier, who works with Kustomer and Looker to get rich insights into customer behavior. If you don’t have all the data in a single customer view, it’s almost impossible to be proactive.

3. Have a Secure Data Warehouse

Beyond having all the necessary data at your fingertips, that data needs to be in one safe, central location or network of locations. This can be a system you’ve created in-house, or a third-party CRM—the important thing is security and usability. Read more about our commitment to security here.

4. Make Searching Easy

When you have all of your customer information in one system, across all of your platforms and integrations, you can create the kind of granular searches for customers that account for their specific behaviors or needs. Once you’re able to identify customers by their last order, their location, their sentiment, and more, surprising and delighting them is a snap. For example, Slice uses Kustomer to segment their users, then automates workflows to deliver more efficient service.

5. Track the Right Metrics

You need a way to capture how your customers are feeling. That requires a combination of several things. You should be measuring sentiment within customer communications and on social, using surveys that capture metrics like CSAT, NPS, and CES, and tracking behavior across every channel of interaction. For a brand like LOLA, having all the relevant information at agents’ fingertips when customers have a question about their subscriptions is crucial to great service.
To be smart, personal, proactive, and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together, but doing so is the hallmark of a standout customer experience. Once you can gather and store all relevant customer information, you can act on it with a combination of well-trained employees and specific features within your software platform. When you can connect with individual customers over their preferred channel with the right personalized message, your experience can become a true revenue driver and differentiator for your organization.
Getting there isn’t as simple as completing a checklist—it’s a complex process, unique to every business. However, when all of these threads come together, your customers will see and feel the difference in every interaction. Check out Brad’s Forbes article to learn more.

How Kustomer Can Help You Prioritize Proactive Support

Kustomer’s robust customer service CRM is designed to help your customer service team meet the wants and needs of consumers, all while getting ahead of their common queries and concerns.

Instead of waiting for a customer to ping you, agents can send instant messages to target audiences based on various factors, such as:

  • Time spent on the page.
  • Last page visited.
  • Geographical locations.
  • Attributes based on log-in information.

Are you looking to make the transition to proactive support? Learn more about what Kustomer has to offer by requesting a demo today.

Why 92% of CS Organizations Report a Need for Greater Efficiency

Why 92% of CS Organizations Report a Need for Greater Efficiency TW

We all know that businesses strive to be efficient — not only within the customer service department, but throughout the entire organization. However, as customer experience continues to become more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty, the goal for CX departments to be highly effective can at times feel at odds with the efficiency mandate.

Kustomer wanted to hear from CX workers on the front lines, and surveyed over 120 professionals to understand how they’re feeling. Read on for the findings from our research, and for strategies to achieve efficient customer service without compromising the customer experience.

The Efficiency Mandate

It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of respondents reported a need to be more efficient. A total of 92% of organizations say more efficiency is needed, but 51% also reported that there is a greater need for efficiency than a year ago. Only 6% of respondents said that the need for efficiency has decreased in the past year.

Whether it’s a recession, a pandemic, or changing customer expectations, the success of a business can swing downward swifty and without notice. Organizations have felt this impact strongly in 2020, and the gaps in their strategies that they may not have felt a year ago are now staring them directly in the face. Perhaps efficiency isn’t the number one priority for a customer service organization when business is booming and resources are available. But the power of an efficient AND effective customer service organization can make a massive impact during both challenging and successful times.

A few factors are impacting how organizations are achieving efficiency: 63% of respondents reported having limited staff, while 44% reported being on a strict budget. A total of 42% of customer service professionals reported not being able to currently manage 24/7 support, while long wait times and access to the right tools seemed to be less of a concern for CX organizations.

However, when staff and budget are unexpectedly slashed, having technology tools in place that can minimize that impact and make agents’ jobs easier, is of the utmost importance.


Challenges Associated With Delivering Efficient Customer Service

It’s clear that customer service professionals know they must be more efficient, and aren’t sure how to do so in a way that provides a positive experience to their customers. The fact of the matter is, all customers must be served, and oftentimes there are roadblocks to doing so in an efficient manner.


Challenging inquiries are the number one reason CX teams report that they can’t deliver efficient support. While automation and self-service tools wouldn’t be effective in resolving challenging customer issues, the implementation of these technologies can actually free up agent time to tackle these inherently more time-consuming tasks. Instead of answering simple inquiries like product and policy questions, customer service teams can spend more time on higher level support and relationship-building.

Another top roadblock to delivering efficient support is unclear or unknown policies. When agents have to go searching for accurate information, across a variety of systems, customers are sure to suffer. Ensure that you have a solution in place that can surface relevant policy information, with the ability to update it in real time as policies shift and change. Intelligent chatbots can even tap into this knowledge base and surface highly relevant and always-accurate information to consumers instantaneously.

Beyond the nature of customer inquiries, there are additional external factors that customers report are preventing them from adopting efficiency tools.



The top reasons that organizations aren’t adopting efficiency tools, are a lack of executive buy-in and a lack of budget, which unsurprisingly go hand in hand. If leadership doesn’t understand the value behind adopting efficiency tools, they likely won’t allocate budget for them.

Ironically, adopting efficiency tools could completely transform a CX organization from a cost center into a profit center, ultimately benefiting not only the executives but also the business as a whole. Think about it: time is money, and when valuable human time is spent on low level tasks that technology can handle, no one benefits. Tagging conversations, routing conversations, answering very simple questions … all of these tasks can be menial and brain-numbing to customer service agents. With the advent of technology, customer service agents no longer need to be relegated to low level work, and can take a more prominent and important role within an organization.

Not only will agents spend their time answering more challenging and important inquiries from customers, they will also have the time to build long-lasting relationships, proactively reach out to customers, make customers feel heard and valued, and even close more business. This time spent by agents will truly contribute to the bottom line of a business, increasing loyalty, advocacy and brand sentiment.

For the full findings from Kustomer’s latest research, including breakdown by industry and business size, download the full Efficiency Research Report here.

 

To Deliver Personalized Customer Service, You Must First Become Truly Omnichannel

Finger on iPhone

Although many companies bill themselves as purveyors of exceptional, personalized customer service, the reality is markedly different. In fact, for most, a typical customer service experience can devolve to tropes often reserved for speed dating. Too frequently, customers find themselves having to reshare their name, history, and problem ad nauseum when communicating with a brand’s customer service team. And so, what should be a straightforward and personalized experience often becomes a fragmented, impersonal one.

The numbers paint a bleak landscape. According to the CCW Digital Market Study, 49% of organizations felt their biggest concern was a lack of 360-degree view of their customers—as a result, they couldn’t provide a unified experience across all channels. What’s more, insufficient data and disconnected systems make it a challenge for businesses to know enough about their customers to personalize the customer service experience.

Think about it: can you truly deliver on the promise of personalized customer service when that personalization happens inconsistently—or incompletely even? It stands to reason then that customer service cannot be truly personalized without also being truly omnichannel as well.

Let’s take a look at what defines personalized customer service, the benefits of personalization, how you can provide a more personalized customer service experience and the role omnichannel plays.

What is Personalized Customer Service?

Conversations connect people—they always have. And customer service agents must be encouraged and enabled to establish genuine connections with their customers. To do so effectively, they must also have adequate background information and context—on any client, on any platform, in any market, and at any moment. Silos will only inhibit them from delivering on customer expectations and forming a loyalty-building bond. They should understand who they’re servicing and how—and they should have that knowledge at a moment’s notice.

Artificial Intelligence magazine defines personalized customer service as the service provided by an agent that caters precisely to what the customer is looking for. This enables the consumer to gain a connection to your company and feel confident that you have a tailor-made solution that leaves them feeling satisfied after the interaction.

The Omnichannel Approach

In today’s hyper-connected world, you can’t simply think like the customer, you must communicate like them too, and be channel agnostic.
People today connect asynchronously. They have no allegiance to any platform or any one service. And their channel proliferation is happening at breakneck speed. One moment they can be @mentioning your brand on Twitter, while another they’ll be shooting over a screenshot of said @mention over text.

They communicate with friends and family in this manner, perhaps even with co-workers and superiors as well, and expect the same sort of nimble, contextualized, and convenient communication in other facets of their lives. And while they may have a channel of choice, companies must understand that said channel can change over time. Or, over the course of a week.

To put things further into perspective, today’s average consumer uses 10 separate channels to connect with companies. You heard that right—10. By giving customers an omnichannel approach, you increase the chances of reaching them and making it easier for them to reach you.

Benefits of Providing Personalized Customer Service

Delivering top-notch customer service is of the utmost importance. Doing so in a personalized manner, via the combination of human interaction and automation, can bring success to your business in more ways than one. Some of the benefits of providing personalized customer support include:

  • Repeat business
  • Enhanced customer loyalty
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • More meaningful conversations that help you improve your strategy

Learn more about how personalizing the customer experience can enhance your business in our personalization how-to guide.

How to Personalize the Customer Experience

Quality customer service is an ambitious tactic. In fact, according to research from Dimension Data, 81% of organizations believe that customer service is a major competitive differentiator. By personalizing the customer experience, more companies can enhance the quality of service they are providing and get a leg up on the competition.

Achieving personalized customer service can be achieved in three important steps:

1. Get to Know Your Customer.
If your business utilizes a platform that has access to all customer information in a single view during the interaction, customer service agents have the context they need to provide personalized experiences This cohesion allows agents to deliver quality, personalized service, and the ability to solve a customer’s problem in a timely manner.

2. Always Meet Customers Where They Are.
When it comes to increasing customer satisfaction and solving issues simultaneously, companies need to incorporate an omnichannel approach. When customer service agents can meet customers wherever they are, whenever they need assistance and not lose context as customers switch channels, they’ll be able to solve issues quickly, efficiently and personally.

3. Use Artificial Intelligence to Your Advantage.
Companies that are ready and willing to thrive in the digital age understand the value that comes with automation. Using resources like chatbots allows technology to take care of the analytical and manual work, giving agents more time and flexibility to handle complex tasks and issues presented by customers. Not only does this free up human resources, but it also enables your customer service team to build stronger connections with customers, building strong customer loyalty.

How Kustomer Enables Omnichannel Customer Service

For too many brands, the need to keep up with the growing number of channels has meant adding solutions at the expense of the customer experience. This multichannel approach has created silos of customer service agents and information. Each channel is staffed with its own team and creates its own record of customer information that isn’t broadly shared among the rest of the customer service organization. For example, if a customer had interacted with an agent earlier on chat and now via email, the chat team and email team would have no record of each other’s conversations or the solutions they each offered, leading to potential agent collision.

Truly omnichannel platforms like Kustomer enable agents and customers to have a single-threaded discussion about a topic that spans all of the channels their customers may use. Agents and customers can seamlessly switch from one channel to the next as needed during a conversation while seamlessly progressing the discussion. And customers never have to repeat information because agents always have the context of every conversation through a comprehensive timeline of previous interactions, purchases, and customer data all in a single view, on a single platform. As a result, you can deliver truly personalized, omnichannel customer service even as the constellation of channels continues to grow.

To learn more about Kustomer’s omnichannel approach, get the Guide to Delivering True Omnichannel Support.
 

5 Ways to Make Your CX Organization More Efficient and Effective

5 Ways to Make Your CX Organization More Efficient and Effective TW

Doing more with less seems to be the struggle for most business leaders these days. It’s interesting, and unfortunate, that it takes a pandemic for companies to start focusing on efficiency. But issues that you used to be able to ignore, are now staring you directly in the face.

The problem with a focus on efficiency is that it is often implemented at the expense of the overall customer experience. The easy response to cutting costs would be to reduce staff, making it harder to reach out to support, and delaying responses. But the outcome of this strategy would ultimately lead to unhappy customers. And take it from me, customers won’t forget this bad experience when things get back to “normal”. The businesses that are able to do more with less in a way that meets or exceeds expectations are the ones that will exit this pandemic with an even more loyal customer base.

So how can you achieve this? How can you significantly cut costs while not degrading the level of support? Read on for our five tips to efficient and effective customer service:

1. Optimize Your Operations

Fix things in your product that cause customers to reach out to you in the first place. This might be offering the ability to track your order status, or completing a return without contacting customer service.

2. Increase Your Self-Service Offerings

Gone are the days of putting up an FAQ page and hoping your customers find the right answers. You need to leverage intelligent automation to put the right information in front of your customers at the exact point they need it. With tools like AI-powered chatbots, you have the ability to not only extract exact information from knowledge base articles, but allow customers to complete actions on their own.

3. Empower Your Agents With Better Technology

Your agents shouldn’t be wasting time looking up key information in multiple systems. I’ve seen examples of companies looking up information in 8+ systems to handle one customer issue. How are agents supposed to be efficient if their computer screens are covered in post-it notes and they have multiple tabs open? Find a solution like Kustomer that connects to all of your core admin systems and allows agents to search and take action on data in the platform they are already operating out of. The below example shows how a delivery service can consolidate all key order information directly into Kustomer.

4. Route Intelligently

You should be able to route issues to the right team based on issue type, customer value, skillset or capacity. There is no experience worse than chatting with support and hearing: “Sorry I don’t have the answer to that question, but let me forward you to the team that does.” Don’t force the customer to guess which of 10 phone numbers is the right one to call, or make them e-mail multiple departments to solve their issue. Instead, use technology that routes based on keywords or even better custom objects about that customer (status, order value, country, etc).

5. Get Ahead of Issues

Proactively reach out to customers before they reach out to you. Get ahead of any problems, like fulfillment issues and weather delays, or educate customers about how you’re keeping them safe and healthy in uncertain times. Use a platform like Convey to give full transparency into the delivery lifecycle. Then utilize a platform like Kustomer to engage with customers based on delivery updates.

Hopefully, you found these five tips helpful. The most important piece is balancing doing more with less, while making sure customer expectations are met…or even exceeded!

 

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

woman on phone sitting on steps

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

Organizations face this every day: how to deliver the best possible product while also winning trust through superb service. Even a superior product can fall victim to upset customers — according to an Accenture Strategy Research Report, 47% of consumers admit they won’t even engage with a brand after being disappointed. Today’s complex, omnichannel environment makes these stakes even higher.

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

What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?

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

It’s important to understand that the way this information is gathered has changed drastically in the last two decades. What was once handled by either a letter or phone call to a company has now evolved into a multi-layered approach that can feel dizzying for an organization seeking to keep pace.

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

What is a Sentiment Score?

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

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

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

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

1. Customer Service Agents Become Advocates

Every time a customer reaches an agent, that agent should, at a minimum, be empowered with all the information needed to provide a seamless experience. From purchase information, shipping information, and return requests, to an accumulation of all internal communications that have occurred, agents should have all the customer details available to them in order to provide the best possible service. But this isn’t always possible without the right technology.

When armed with sentiment analysis, the agent is properly prepared to connect and empathize with the customer on the aspects of either the service or the product that felt frustrating. This type of communication serves to both personalize the experience while also helping to neutralize potentially difficult conversations.

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

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

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

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

3. Customer Experience Gaps Vanish (With Holistic Measurement)

Unfortunately, many organizations look at sentiment based on the channel: e-mail, phone, chatbot/live chat, social and others, and that means all the data collected is siloed. The result of siloed data needing to be measured and analyzed together is an analyst somewhere banging their heads against a wall trying to fit a square peg through a round hole.

In other words, siloed data can be analyzed together, but it will usually be inconsistent and incomplete, with gaps that don’t cover the holistic customer experience. When attempting to make sense of the entire customer journey from initial awareness through to repeat purchases, organizations must consider a holistic way of collecting the data to be analyzed more accurately. A customer service CRM platform, that unifies all data into a single view, can help businesses garner insights from cross-channel data.

How Kustomer can help

Understanding how your customers feel can be a useful tool for your business. The organization that achieves a comprehensive, holistic and actionable view of their customer, and leverages sentiment analysis to understand how customers are feeling, can create empathetic experiences that boost loyalty, retention and repeat sales.

Kustomer’s Sentiment Engine specifically achieves this. It’s driven by AWS Amazon Comprehend, and through natural language processing APIs, the Kustomer platform can analyze all incoming text from the customer, no matter the channel. You’ll always know how they feel, and be prepared to deliver exceptional service in customers’ greatest times of need.

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

 

Why Efficiency Is More Important Than Ever During the Global Pandemic

Why Efficiency Is More Important Than Ever During the Global Pandemic TW

Even during the best of times, businesses strive to be more efficient. There are always things to improve upon, always more customers to service, always proactive outreach to do. But when circumstances shift rapidly, and businesses are asked to do more with less, finding ways to be more efficient suddenly becomes priority number one.

Kustomer recently surveyed over 150 customer service professionals to better understand how they are being impacted by the pandemic, how their business is adjusting as a result, and what customers are expecting during their greatest times of needs. One thing became abundantly clear: being efficient and effective is not optional.

More Inquiries, Less Time

Across industries, customer service teams are seeing a 17% increase in customer service inquiries during the global pandemic. Phone inquiries are seeing the largest uptick, with a 34% increase, followed by e-mail (28% increase) and web (24% increase). Social channels are being impacted the least, with only a 7.2% uptick.

Why Efficiency Is More Important Than Ever During the Global Pandemic Stat

Not only are companies having to handle more conversations, they are having to do it in a largely remote environment. Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported difficulty working remotely, and 23% reported that they did not have the correct tools in place to successfully work in a remote environment.

It’s essential to have a customer service strategy, and the correct technology in place, to handle bursts in activity and enable productive remote work. Look for tools that leverage AI and intelligent automation to power self-service and low-level information gathering. This will free up agent time for more high level and urgent support, while allowing customers to get their questions answered immediately.

Ensure that the technology you have in place allows for collaboration between remote team members, so you can pull in the necessary individuals to solve customer issues quickly. You should also be able to manage your team with confidence, even if you can’t be beside them. Having a view into what your agents are working on, and being able to intervene if necessary, is key to a successful remote CS team. And most importantly, your customer service platform should be easily connected to by all of your agents with a basic internet connection and standard browser.

How Organizations Are Adapting

The circumstantial changes associated with the global pandemic are causing some real changes for organizations. Unfortunately, 63% of CS organizations reported a need to cut costs during the global pandemic, with 46% reporting a need to reduce staff. All of this means efficiency is incredibly important. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said there is a need to adopt more automation for efficiency, and 56% said there is a need to invest in new technologies. And unfortunately, customers aren’t giving businesses a break when it comes to speed. Quick service is one of the top three most valued customer service attributes during this time. Doing more with less is the name of the game in 2020, so put the tools in place to adjust sooner rather than later.

What CS Teams Need

63% of CS organizations report the need to cut costs
46% of CS organizations report the need to reduce staff
90% of CS organizations report the need to adjust policies
56% of CS organizations report the need to invest in new tech
59% of CS organizations report the need to adopt automation for efficiency
80% of CS organizations report the need to reach out to customers proactively

Why Efficiency Is More Important Than Ever During the Global Pandemic Stat 2

While the current environment won’t last forever, it’s important to properly prepare for extreme circumstances if and when they do occur again. Our full report has a plethora of additional industry-specific and general data, as well as actionable takeaways you can put into practice today. Download it here.

 

How Automation Is Changing the World of Customer Service

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Today, many industries rely on technology to operate successfully. More so, our current climate has forced businesses to shift to remote work, making digital reliance more critical than ever. Consumers are expecting great customer service no matter what, even when face-to-face interaction isn’t an option.

That’s where automation comes into play. According to Business News Daily, many business owners are already taking advantage of automation in one form or another, as it can be highly valuable to a company’s bottom line.

“Automation takes a lot of forms,” Fred Townes, co-founder and COO of a real estate tech company shared with Business News Daily. “For small businesses, the most important thing is [repetition]. When you find something you do more than once that adds value … you want to look into automation.”

Automation doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing the customer experience, rather, it can better equip agents with the information and resources needed to better service customers. Customer service is just one of many factors business owners can automate and see improvements in terms of scalability and overall efficiencies.

Why is Automation Valuable in Customer Service?

AI in customer service has had a good reputation for some time. In fact, last year, research predicted that digital customer service options would increase by 143% this year. When automation handles the repetitive tasks, it frees up time for agents to interact directly with customers. With the help of AI, customer service agents have more time to interact with more consumers, with less strain, and see a major impact on scalability.

Customer expectations are different than they were a decade ago. Consumers understand the capabilities of technology and want to feel that businesses are taking full advantage of it. Businesses that utilize different service types online, such as self-service and full-service options, are providing their customers with flexibility. Giving customers the opportunity to help themselves, through carefully curated content and online chatbots, are a few ways to offer self-service. Since 67% of customers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, this flexibility makes it easier for customers to get the answers they need as quickly as possible.

How Can Businesses Make the Switch?

If your business has yet to implement customer service automation, you’ve come to the right place. Kustomer strives to make personalized, efficient and effortless customer service a reality for any business. As a multi-channel SaaS platform with powerful AI capabilities, Kustomer enables companies to contextualize all conversations to not only better understand each customer, but also to eliminate the distracting, time-consuming tasks that fall upon agents.

From cross-channel conversations to automated business processes, the Kustomer platform can help your business improve overall efficiencies by automating routine actions and eliminating manual tasks altogether.

Interested in learning more about how automation can change your customer service reputation? Contact Kustomer today to get started.

The Benefits of Intelligent Automation in Customer Service

Man with iPad

Now more than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a fundamental cornerstone of business operations and is changing the way that companies across the globe work. In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide forecasted spending on AI to reach $79.2 billion in 2022, with a growth rate of 38% between 2018 and 2022.

Speaking to the world of customer service, intelligent automation is a solution that can personalize the interactions between businesses and their customers while making the experience more efficient and streamlined.

Let’s take a closer look at what defines intelligent automation and some of the benefits it can bring to customer service:

What Is Intelligent Automation?

According to Forbes Council Member Vik Renjen, intelligent automation is defined as the combination of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) used to mimic the behavior of the customer by using applications to find and transform data into business processes and workflows. In customer service, intelligent automation can be used to capture valuable data that supports and manages customer interactions automatically.

What are the Benefits of Intelligent Automation in Customer Service?

AI doesn’t have to replace humans in customer service, rather, it can be used as a supplemental tool for providing necessary information and assistance to customers and agents alilke. Here are some of the benefits that come with intelligent automation in customer service:

Improved Scalability
Chatbots, one form of AI that can be beneficial, help organizations scale their services to more people than they would be able to provide through live agents alone. These bots can be used to collect information from customers, suggest automated responses and assist agents along the customer journey. They can also answer simple questions, such as those around business hours, return policies, order status and more.

Increased Attention to Conversation Wants and Needs
Intelligent automation can be used to pinpoint topical keywords throughout a conversation to better assist the customer. One of the customer service features available in the Kustomer platform is Automated Conversation Classification, which uses intelligent automation to categorize conversations via machine learning, so that the conversation is immediately routed to the most appropriate agent to properly meet his or her specific wants and needs.

Improved Resourcing Processes
AI can also be used to predict conversation volume during certain periods to assist management in delegating work and managing staffing requirements. Additionally, AI can be used to track how well agents are performing; with an understanding of how much “work” AI is handling, and where agents are falling short, management can get insight into the knowledge of the agent and provide training or additional resources based on the information.

How Kustomer Can Help

Intelligent automation is a key factor behind Kustomer’s ability to serve its clients and their customers. Kustomer uses Kustomer IQ to automate time consuming processes and provide teams with valuable insights, so that businesses can provide consistent, personalized customer service in a timely manner.

Interested in learning more about Kustomer’s solution to your current customer service platform? Contact us directly today to get started.

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