Your Guide to Delivering Quality Customer Service

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No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s critical to pay attention to the quality of your customer service delivery if you want to keep your customers happy. Read on to find out how much of a difference quality customer service can make — and how you can start taking action today.

Quality Customer Service, by the Numbers

The importance of delivering good customer service becomes all the more significant when it’s quantified. Consider these numbers that speak to the value of quality customer service:

What business wouldn’t want to reap the benefits of word-of-mouth exposure and loyal customers who keep coming back?

But, sometimes, the dramatic results and exciting possibilities make it easy to forget where to start. Let’s zoom out and establish a clearer vision for what quality customer service can and should be.

Before You Can Deliver a Great Customer Experience, You Need to Define It

An important first step toward delivering great customer service is understanding what quality service actually looks like — to your customers and to your employees.

What It Means to Your Customers

One way to find out what the ideal customer experience (CX) looks like is to dig into the most common customer expectations. If you understand what your audience anticipates when they reach out to a support agent, you can model your customer service systems and procedures around that vision.

We’ve previously highlighted the top 10 customer service qualities that can contribute to top-notch customer care. Here’s an overview of the characteristics your customers expect to see from support agents:

  1. Respectful: Show an appreciation for customers’ time, energy and business as well as the situation that caused them to reach out.
  2. Attentive: Use active listening skills that uncover what the customer is and isn’t saying, and show that you’re invested in helping them.
  3. Caring: Exhibit empathy and emotional intelligence to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer’s feelings.
  4. Positive: Transform customer complaints into positive touchpoints with the brand by leading with a positive attitude and a warm, friendly tone.
  5. Patient: Demonstrate plenty of patience when attempting to fully understand someone’s frustrating situation and work toward the type of resolution that leaves them a satisfied customer.
  6. Communicative: Employ strong communication skills to ensure that your responses are as clear, informative and helpful as they can be.
  7. Knowledgeable: Be prepared and forthcoming with expert knowledge about products or services, giving your customers the support and answers they’re looking for.
  8. Determined: Prove that you’re actively committed to discovering the root of the issue and arriving at a solution that meets your customers’ needs.
  9. Creative: Use outside-of-the-box thinking and sharp problem-solving skills to tackle more nuanced and complex issues with personalized solutions.
  10. Efficient: Find ways to minimize the time and effort you put into your support services while maximizing the results to improve the customer experience.

If you’re not sure how your business stacks up against the ideal customer experience, take a look at our ultimate CX checklist.

What It Means to Your Agents

Excellent customer service starts with empowered employees. As these customer expectations show, your audience expects to interact with highly skilled agents. But having the right customer service skills is just the baseline.

Customer care agents must also possess:

  • Expertise to represent your products and services.
  • Data to gain a 360-degree view of the customer.
  • Authority to take action on behalf of a customer.
  • Tools to manage their work efficiently.

However, they won’t show up with these resources and capabilities on day one. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff is adequately trained and that they have access to industry-leading software solutions designed to support quality customer care delivery.

Easy Ways to Start Improving Your Customer Service Right Now

With a better idea of what superior service looks like, you can start making informed decisions and steady progress toward improving your customer service and experience. Here are some simple steps to take right away. While they don’t require too much effort, they can lead you in the right direction and result in a much-improved experience for employees and customers alike.

Get Used to Measuring Customer Service Metrics

Your customer interactions can generate valuable data — if you’re prepared to collect it. With the right insights at your disposal, you can identify service gaps, bottlenecks and other pain points for customers and agents.

For example, a high abandonment rate could mean you need to respond to each customer inquiry sooner than you do right now. A high resolution rate paired with a low satisfaction rate could indicate an issue with how customers feel they’re being treated.

If you haven’t done so in the past, take some time to craft and distribute satisfaction surveys and generate internal reports to see where things stand. Focus on measuring and interpreting these important customer service metrics (and learn more about what they mean here):

  • Customer service abandonment rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Resolution rate
  • Average resolution time
  • First response time
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Sentiment analysis

Start Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

Shifting from a reactive mindset to a proactive one can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your customer care. Getting ahead of customer needs and concerns is a great way to promote a more positive CX and better prepare your agents.

For instance, retailers heading into the holiday rush can beef up their customer support teams with seasonal employees. Companies can anticipate continued COVID-19 complications and prepare with contingency plans and clear communications.

Additionally, brands can adopt an omnichannel approach and provide customer service via phone, mobile chat and even social media. This allows customers to access the help they need no matter what device they’re using to reach out. Even better, customers can switch channels seamlessly, without skipping a beat or losing context. And companies that plan to embrace remote work for a longer duration can implement the right tools to let customer care teams work from anywhere.

Discover the Impact of Upgrading Your Customer Service Software

Bringing the vision of superior customer service to life requires the right infrastructure. Kustomer’s leading customer service CRM platform can help you achieve those goals faster and more seamlessly by providing the data, automation and customization your business needs.

To discover more, request a free demo today.
 

Everything CX Leaders Need to Know About Customer Satisfaction Metrics

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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:

  1. Net promoter score (NPS)
  2. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score
  3. Customer effort score (CES)
  4. Sentiment analysis

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.”

If you’re wondering what a good CSAT score is, check out this list of benchmarks segmented by industry from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

What Is CES?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Segment your satisfaction scores by demographics, products and support channels to uncover underlying problems in specific areas.
  3. Reinvest in your customer support team with new, customer-oriented skills and training programs.
  4. 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.
  5. Provide customers with easily navigable self-service content. A strong knowledge base or FAQ section helps customers resolve basic issues on their own.
  6. Evaluate whether your customer service technology is truly empowering your agents to deliver exceptional quality. Have high expectations for your technology partners and find software solutions that support a unified omnichannel experience.

Got more questions about measuring and interpreting customer satisfaction metrics? Connect with a CX expert at Kustomer.
 

How to Turn Data Into Action and Measure the Success of a Support Team

How to Turn Data Into Action and Measure the Success of a Support Team TW

Data is powerful, perhaps more than many of us realize. It contains nearly infinite applications. Yet while its limitless possibilities are seductive, they also provide ample opportunities to get lost in the weeds. One of the most useful applications of data in the support world is the measurement of your team’s performance. With the help of historical data, you can learn a thing or two about how your team performed in the past. But how can you take it a step further? Turn your data into action and use it to build a strategy for the future.

Define Success

Think through the ultimate goals that you are trying to achieve. While it may be tempting to chase a quick average handle time or a CSAT benchmark, you might find more use in pursuing customer outcomes as your primary goal. As CA technologies notes, “measurements don’t always indicate the outcome of the work, and whether it’s truly impacting the business.” Are your customers happy? Are you providing the service that you advertised? These outcomes, while abstract, can elicit more empathy from your support team than a simple number. Use your metrics as a secondary focus. If your agents are instructed to simply make your customers happy, they’ll be less likely to game the numbers in their favor.

Monitor Your Team in Real-Time

One of the most difficult aspects of measuring team performance is the fact that we are continually looking towards the past. Average handle time, first response time, and similar metrics only show you what’s happened. A real-time view of your support team can be a powerful tool.

Use something like a Team Pulse dashboard to understand how your agents are performing in the present. A dashboard like this can show you how many conversations are currently being handled, how many conversations have been recently completed, and which types of queues are currently in use. What’s even more insightful is the ability to understand which agents are at full capacity and which agents have bandwidth to take on additional tasks. If you notice that one of your agents is perpetually at or over capacity, that may be a signal that they need help.

Dig Deep

If you are working in the customer support space, chances are high that you already have a good handle on the basics. You know that fast average response times are desirable and long average handle times should be avoided. Instead of rehashing common knowledge, let’s dig deeper into a sample dataset. For this exercise, I’ll use the 2018 customer survey data provided by San Francisco International Airport.

I’ve cleaned the data to focus on a handful of variables: day of the week, gate, boarding area, STRATA (AM, MID, PM), peak vs. off-peak, and satisfaction score. Satisfaction scores are ranked from 1 – 5. Let’s say I’ve been tasked by SFO to understand why certain passengers may have ranked their experience lower than others. Are there trends to discover?

First, I want to see if I can predict which variables are most likely to affect the CSAT scores.

There’s a couple of interesting things to note here. “STRATA” is the most highly correlated with satisfaction scores. In other words, whether a passenger flies at morning, midday, or evening can influence whether they are satisfied with their experience. This correlation may be a hint that I need to analyze the teams that service the airport during those chunks of time. As a disclaimer here, this particular model captures only a sliver of data. It still provides a good sandbox.

Knowing that time of day may be a factor in customer satisfaction, I dig deeper.

We can see here that the overwhelming majority of respondents are happy with their experience (ranking SFO with a 4 or 5). However, we do see that respondents who fly at STRATA 3 (ie, on flights departing after 5pm) are more likely to report lower satisfaction scores than other times of day.

Finally, I want to understand how satisfaction scores are reported by boarding area.

Another interesting observation emerges. Passengers who flew through boarding area A were more likely to report lower satisfaction scores. It’s worth noting that this boarding area also had the highest number of respondents.

Given what I’ve uncovered through the data, now might be the time where I want to approach the team to understand what’s happening from their perspective. Maybe there aren’t enough staff for the number of passengers moving through boarding area A after 5pm. Maybe there’s construction. Either way, I would start by speaking with the team to understand, rather than using the data as a weapon.

While this example may seem hyper-specific, consider the fact that SFO could be your support team, STRATA could be their shift schedules, and the boarding area could be something like the type of customer request.

Adapt and Evolve

Consider how new technology can affect your support team’s KPIs. Be on the lookout for “red herrings” in your data. Let’s say you’ve invested in a chat deflection tool as part of an ongoing initiative to drive efficiency through artificial intelligence. Part of this investment means that many of the common support requests typically fielded by your agents are now handled by AI. Initially, you celebrate the rise in deflected inquiries, but you become concerned about dropping CSAT scores. You determine the cause after careful investigation: your chat deflection tool is handling simple requests while your agents are working on more complex customer issues. These complex customer issues don’t always have a straightforward answer and satisfaction scores are suffering as a result.

It may be tempting to pull the plug on your deflection tool to save your satisfaction scores and the team’s morale. But instead of retreating, dig deeper. Consider the fact that you may need to start documenting a new type of data like a complexity score. Find a way to measure the complexity of your customer requests and use that data to paint a more accurate picture of your team’s success.

Want to learn more about how the right customer service software can help your team perform to the best of their abilities? Download our Buyer’s Guide here.

 

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