Why Knowing the History of Your Customer Is the Key to Success

Why Knowing the History of Your Customer Is the Key to Success TW

When it comes to building a successful customer service organization, you always want to start with defining your business outcomes. So the first question becomes: what do you want to achieve? Is it increased customer loyalty? Increased revenue? Incremental customer growth? Without understanding your ultimate end goal, knowing a customer’s history may seem unnecessary. But as soon as you identify your goal, it’ll become clear that your organization won’t be successful without access to customer history, and you’ll instantly know what about the customer’s history is most valuable to understand.

Let’s think of customer relationships more broadly. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about building a relationship with a new friend or significant other? You’ll most likely want to learn about who that person is on a deeper level. This helps you understand why they make the decisions they make, what their habits are, and more generally, who they are as a person.

You should follow that same mindset when it comes to your relationships with customers. The way you approach a customer varies depending on the type of business you are in. Whether it’s B2C or B2B, both are equally as important. Your customer is purchasing from you for a reason, and it would be a missed opportunity to not understand why. An inadequate view into this information will disrupt your team’s ability to create more meaningful interactions that will leave a lasting impression and keep valued customers.

Customer History for B2B Organizations

If you are in the B2B space, you know how much of an investment, in both time and money, your customers are making by switching over to your business. Clearly, the previous provider didn’t work for them, and if you never bother to understand what their pain points were and why they have moved over to you, you’ll end up making the same mistakes, likely resulting in churn. It is incredibly important to always identify customer challenges, map out how to solve them and ensure that you are delivering value at every opportunity. At the end of the day, if your service still can’t solve some of the pain points they have presented, the relationship might not make sense and it’s better to set proper expectations right at the forefront. People yearn for trust and that goes hand-in-hand with powerful and effective business relationships built on a collaborative plan that sets out to overcome obstacles. This can only happen when you understand and have access to, your customer’s history.

Delivering on B2C Consumer Expectations

In the B2C space, younger generations are continuing to trend towards higher expectations from the brands that they engage with. They are looking for easy access, real-time information, and proactive approaches that make their day-to-day easier. Customer service in today’s digital world is what makes you stand out from your competitors. Knowing your customer’s purchase history, loyalty status, preferences, or even sentiment with your brand, allows you to treat them with higher levels of service, increasing customer loyalty. This, in turn, makes your own team’s lives easier and helps to prevent fatigue. Arming your team with such valuable information allows them to act quickly and spend less time tracking down information, which grants them more time to think creatively and respond more thoroughly.

Whether you are working with a business or you are engaging with individual customers, knowing a customer’s history will allow you to avoid the same mistakes or disruptive experiences they have been faced with in the past, and build long-lasting, lucrative relationships.

Interested in learning more about what your customers expect, and how to deliver? Check out our research on modern day consumer expectations.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

Just How Is the Global Pandemic Impacting Customer Service Success?

Just How Is the Global Pandemic Impacting Customer Service Success? TW

Customers are anxious. They’re stressed. They want answers quickly. And customer service organizations are being asked to do more with less than ever before. Unfortunately there’s no escaping the current environment we are living in, and customer service teams are seeing changes as a result. But how exactly are these organizations being affected?

Kustomer surveyed over 150 customer service professionals to find out.

Circumstances Affecting Customer Service Success

Businesses are having to change how they do business and interact with customers during this time. One of the biggest shifts? Adjusting policies. Seventy-seven percent of individuals reported that they have had to learn new policies due to COVID-19. It’s essential to arm your team with the information they need to instantaneously service customers. Make sure your technology can intelligently surface relevant information from a knowledge base, so all agents are delivering consistent and high-value service.

Additionally, 64% of respondents reported a need for greater efficiencies during COVID-19, while 57% reported having to deal with more complex issues than usual. It’s more important than ever to automate low level support with the help of AI, to free up agent time for issues that are more complicated and emotionally-wrought.

Just How Is the Global Pandemic Impacting Customer Service Success? Stats

How Success Metrics Are Changing

Luckily, it doesn’t seem like customer service success metrics are being significantly impacted by the global pandemic, and in some cases, organizations are seeing improvements. There are large differences from organization to organization, even in the same industry, implying that the way a customer service team handles the current circumstances has a huge impact on how customers react. Improvements in success metrics may be happening for a couple different reasons:

  1. Customer service organizations are taking extra measures to proactively help their customers and deliver empathetic service
  2. Customers are more understanding and know that organizations are struggling, so don’t have as stringent standards

It’s imperative to keep a customer-centric mindset, as loyalty becomes more essential to secure, and continue to measure the success of your team, adjusting accordingly. Make sure you have access to reporting and analytics, and understand where you’re falling short and where there are greater needs.

While the current environment won’t last forever, it’s important to properly prepare for extreme circumstances if and when they 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.

 

The Key KPIs to Analyze When Comparing Internal and External Support Agents

This is a guest blog written in collaboration with a Kustomer partner: CloudTask

What will bring you the most success? An internal team, an external team, or a combination of the two—and how can you find out which will be the most effective?

That’s where KPIs come in. What you focus on will always be dependant on your organization, and your product or service. However, we have highlighted some of the most important factors below.

Track whether your clients are interacting with internal or external agents, and analyze the stats behind this to see which team is performing better.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

If a customer’s issue is solved on first contact, the benefits are far-reaching. The following stats compiled by PhaseWare speak volumes:

  • Every 1% improvement in FCR results in a 1% reduction in operating costs
  • A 1% rise in FCR leads to a 1%-5% improvement in employee satisfaction
  • FCR increases customer cross-selling acceptance rates up to 20%
  • 98% of customers experiencing FCR will remain loyal to your company

Average Handle Time (AHT)

Ever become irritated by an interaction that takes way too much time? 23 minutes waiting to be connected, 7 minutes speaking to one agent, 9 minutes on hold, and an extra 12 speaking to agent two—sound familiar? You’re not the only one That’s an AHT of 51 minutes. The longer the AHT, the worse every other stat will be for your organization.

Customer Retention

It costs 5 to 30 times more to attract a new prospect than retain an existing one. There are a wealth of factors as to why a customer stays with you, but the quality of customer support is one of the key ways you can increase client retention.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The score that measures how likely your clients are to recommend your organization on a scale of 1 to 10. When people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred, this is key.

And Many More

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) – the average score from a survey you receive at the end of your interactions on how satisfied you were.
  • Abandon Rate – the % of customers that leave the interaction before their query is solved.
  • After Call Work (ACW) – the amount of time your agents are taking to update a clients information post-interaction.
  • Quality Assurance – measured internally. Did the agent follow best practices and procedures?

The list could go on…

So, Internal or External? What is Right for You?

It depends… This is an impossible question to answer and will always be dependant on your organization. We will briefly touch on the quality and the cost of the two.

Quality

Outsourcing has really changed over the past few years. Of course, there are still a number of bad examples, but it is now easier than ever to have a high-performing, top quality outsourced team. Also, with technology the way it is nowadays, it’s now easier for any team, in any part of the world, to be aligned.

Some organizations will need their support teams to be internal, but it is just as possible to achieve the same quality, sometimes more, by going externally.

Cost

External teams usually cost less. First of all, they are often based in countries that have cheaper labor, and secondly, because you don’t have to take care of all the extra costs in addition to the salary—from training to taxes, recruitment to holiday pay, and more. Afterall, an in-house employee costs a lot more than you may think.

What About Combining the Two?

This is an approach many leading organizations have chosen to adopt. After all, with technology today, it can often feel like there is no gap between internal and external teams. At CloudTask, we have our head office in Miami, and further offices in Colombia, Nicaragua, Brazil, London, and the Philippines. Problems do occasionally come up, but much more often than not, we’re working as one united team.

There is no perfect formula for combining the two. However, a popular way to achieve is to have external teams highly-trained in resolving common issues that can be solved with simple, repeatable outcomes. For example, for a software company, this could be handling common licensing questions. Then when it comes to more tailored and complex coding questions, there may be an internal specialist who is in place to handle these queries.

Processes and technology can also be put in place helping to get the right query, to the right person, in the shortest possible time. For example, an interactive voice response (IVR) – an automated response to help direct calls to the ideal department.

So Where Now?

Really the thing we want to leave you with is to be open to all the possibilities. What will work best will depend on your business.

There is only ever be one way to truly know and that is through data. There is no harm in testing each approach. If done in a professional manner, you should be able to see a level of success with each option. However, it’s likely that one way will stand out above the others and that will be the way to go.

Once you have the winning formula, you will be in a great place to thrive!

Want to learn more about hiring an external customer support team? Download CloudTask’s ‘Beginners Guide to Launching a Remote Customer Support & Customer Success Team’
 

Blurring Lines in Enterprise SaaS; The Race to Own Customer Data

By Ed Sim
Original Source: http://www.beyondvc.com/2017/04/blurring-lines-enterprise-saas-customer-data.html

Note: This blog post was written by one of our investors. We loved it and thought you would too.

I’ve written before about the competitive nature of SaaS and the amount of entrants in every category.

Lately after every conversation, I feel like the world is being divided into two camps and there is a massive battle going on in terms of who is going to own them and how. To oversimplify, I’ll call it pre-customer and post-customer domination. And there are companies looking to blur both of those categories as well.

It’s pretty hard to create a new system of record these days as Salesforce, Marketo, Gainsight and the like are building tighter lock-in around their products. That’s not to say it can’t be done as those companies have larger fish to fry, mainly huge enterprise customers and $1mm + deals. Opportunities abound in the SME (small, medium enterprise), and we’ve seeded a number of founders going after that space.

The Race for the Customer — Owning the Central Repository for Customer Data

After every pitch, I seem to hear one thing — we will be the central place where all customer data resides to make intelligent decisions. Forget about web analytics, marketing automation, email platforms, customer support, customer success, and sales intelligence. The world is moving towards an all-in-one place and holistic view of the customer. This is the blending of tons of different SaaS segments and every company is adding more data to their approach. With APIs everywhere, this is making it easier for companies to start integrating data from multiple sources. Doing that is not the hard part; getting in the mind of the end user of these apps and ensuring seamless workflows will be much harder. At the end of the day, the more you know about your customer, the easier you can understand their mindset, and increase their happiness, and thus your revenue.

Data-driven platforms like segment, looker, and mixpanel have an interesting view as a central repository for customer data which feeds into apps. Mixpanel, it seems, is going one step further trying to capture more value from their customers by creeping into customer success. App players in various segments want to move beyond customer support and into proactive marketing campaigns. Gainsight is pitching how to operationalize the customer lifecycle with cross-functional collaboration and proactive marketing. I can go on and on. This race also plays into another theme, automation and intelligence. Once the data is clean and in one place, it is easier to analyze and make predictions. We made an investment in March of 2013 in Preact, a SaaS platform for customer success which sold to Spotify. The company never completed its mission but big on Gooley’s mind was proactive intelligence. I now believe we have the tools and customer understanding to start to pull this off.

What Are Buyers of SaaS Doing?

As this is happening, more forward-thinking companies I’ve been speaking with are starting to organize their teams around a total customer happiness experience. What this means is onboarding to success to renewals and expansion are starting to fall under one leader. In addition, they have 3–4 various systems where customer data resides and separate teams for success and support and marketing are attempting to integrate data for their workflows. Lots of money and time is wasted and these companies are looking for a better way. Some more technical startups are even building home-grown solutions to solve this problem.

This all makes sense because at the end of the day what companies really want is a holistic view of their customer. This includes every touch point from first web site visit to email conversion and sign up to onboarding to customer success and expansion and finally to customer support. All channels should be monitored and when a support rep answers an email, call or chat, all of that information should be at their fingertips with no hunting around. When a marketer wants to send out a new email campaign, they should be able to segment based on how many interactions with the customer support team, customer success team, and sales and drive a better data driven email. When looking to expand account size, customer success or reps need to understand every touchpoint and interaction, they need to know the sentiment, and have that all in one place to convert.

Who is Going to Win?

My bet is that a startup will win this battle, one that is not burdened by legacy customers, one that can be Switzerland sitting on top of all of the other platforms, and one that will build real intelligence (using machine learning) with the data they are extracting from all other systems. It may start from an application first view solving a specific problem (customer support, customer success, CRM, email) with expansion into gathering more data or from a data platform/analytics first approach with further expansion into applications. Ultimately though, what’s needed is not just a unified data layer but also a single pane of glass to allow any workflow to seamlessly communicate with customers. As the team at kustomer likes to say, “customers are the atomic unit” and all decisions should be driven off the customer as the unique ID and not tickets or other tech jargon.

Whoever wins this race will surely be a massive company, and I look forward to watching this play out over the next few years.

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