Speakeasy: A Conversation Among CX Leaders

Speakeasy: A Conversation Among CX Leaders TW

We recently held an exclusive invitation-only online Speakeasy with CX executives in California. These leaders ranged from digitally-focused to family-run organizations, across all sizes and industries. The primary purpose of the event was to engage our Kustomer community to discuss complex topics during these difficult times. The conversations naturally flowed from how their businesses are handling the COVID-19 crisis, to transformation while resources are crunched, and finally their top three strategies for success.

What Is Being Done NOW

An executive began by reciting a quote from their CEO: “don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” And boy did that ring true. A key theme that kept surfacing was the importance of unifying product and CX. It’s critical to get buy-in and support from product and engineering around co-owning the CX goals. For instance, you may set a goal for the amount of CS contacts per thousand transactions, and the product team should take this information into account during development.

Several other executives stated that they had a growth problem during the pandemic. Finding the right resources to help the business scale was an issue. Others stated that their CX issues were a mixture of stagnation and scale, and they were seeking to optimize workflows to minimize the impact of furloughs. Regardless of whether the business was scaling or contracting, everyone agreed that baseline tickets were rising and removing friction between product, engineering and support was critical. A great example of this success was raised during the conversation: “How many times have you issued a support request to Netflix?” Most everyone responded: never.

Transformation While Resources Are Crunched

There is an old technology world competing with a new technology world that is now thriving. Is the old technology still relevant? Many organizations are moving towards modern technology and digital transformation.

One executive stated that they were part of the old school class of folks who thought that CX couldn’t be done from home. And yet, they transitioned their CX team to work from home in a week. Interestingly, the CX leader started the process a few weeks before COVID hit as she had a funny feeling. They configured laptops and had them out to agents who previously did not have access to laptops at all.

Another executive stated that their agents, based in London and Austin, already had laptops to successfully work from home, but 200 agents in the US needed monitors to work from multiple screens. Employees came back to the office for basic accessories like chords and power plugs. There was some hesitation about voice quality or even security using home computers, but that went away after the first week. The pandemic accelerated their business continuity plan and now challenges occur more due to kids, school and scheduling.

Many companies saw a surge in volume, so job enrichment and training had to be put on the backburner. They needed more people or more resources to get the job done. However, work from home presented some challenges around measuring metrics and understanding who can sustain remote work and who may not be up to par.

One executive stated, “I think there were people getting away with it at the office and the home office is not conducive to working. Kids are maybe getting in the way. Some folks are struggling and may not be candidates for working from home.”

Luckily, many individuals think technology can help. The CEO of one organization used to work at stodgy banks, and he doesn’t want that for his current company — he wants to be different. He wants to adopt AI and transform into a modern financial institution. Other executives stated that their companies were not as forward-looking on AI, and convincing management could often be a challenge.

Moving the Customer Experience Dial

A CX executive began the conversation by stating that moving the needle 1% is a good thing, and focusing on one single metric that does so could lead to success. In his case, it was support cost as a percentage of revenue. This metric scales because it is clear to everyone.

“If you double the revenue, you can double support costs,” he said. This metric sets a north star and ties every team back to the results. The CX group doesn’t own the code, the product or messaging, but once you touch the customer, you can take what the customer is saying back to the other departments. If a customer tells you a problem, it’s your job to take that problem to the business, and potentially increase revenue as a result.

Organic growth occurs when there is no friction. Look at a disruptive company like Netflix. You never contact Netflix support, and you don’t have friction. Everything slows down if you don’t eliminate friction.

Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

It was overwhelmingly agreed that baseline tickets were rising and that it was important to remove friction between product, engineering and support. In a recent report by Kustomer, How the Pandemic is Affecting Customer Service Organizations, the data mirrors the conversations at the Speakeasy. Our study found that 79% of customer service teams have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, while only 1% reported no change at all. Of the customer service representatives surveyed, 48% observed longer wait times for their customers, 39% reported a lack of resources and 64% said they needed greater efficiencies. According to reports, inquiries are up across phone, email, web and social media channels.

In order to address this, Brad Birnbaum, Kustomer CEO, recommends leveraging technology that can “automate low level support with the help of AI.” This allows a greater number of customers to be served immediately, while freeing up agents to deal with more-complex issues — and 57% of respondents said they were seeing more of these than normal.

To reiterate a comment from one of our CX leaders, “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”

Your Top Ten Takeaways
1. Do a better job of capturing feedback and delivering to the product team
2. Build a strong product team for better customer experience
3. Reduce CX costs by 50% under the notion of do no harm to the business
4. Offer personal value-based services
5. Innovate support solutions like an effortless experience
6. Improve the bottom line AND customer satisfaction
7. Improve knowledge of the product and industry across the company
8. Hire people with industry-specific knowledge
9. Implement self-service as customers want to serve themselves
10. Use all the data you have to make support an effortless experience


Everything CX Leaders Need to Know About Customer Satisfaction Metrics

woman on phone

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.

The Customer Experience Summit Is Coming Soon

The Customer Experience Summit Is Coming Soon TW

Things have changed. We all understand that. Customer service and customer experience organizations are not operating like they were just one month ago. Teams are not simply thinking about great customer service anymore, they are thinking about working remotely, doing more with less, and building customer loyalty more so than ever before.

With all of these problems, we know that the desire to come together as a community to learn has not changed. Now more than ever, we need to share our knowledge and figure out how to adapt to our new realities. Just because we can’t travel, and many of us are working from home, doesn’t mean we can’t learn and grow in our professions. It doesn’t mean we can’t hear from amazing speakers and learn from each other on how to take our customer experience organizations to new heights.

So instead of just worrying about what this new reality means to our net promoter score, we decided to do something about it. Kustomer is partnering with Tethr, and the Challenger Inc. to bring together organizations like Thankful.ai, Convey, StellaConnect, ExecVision, Ada, Aircall, Fullstory, Worthix, Simplr, Guru, Lessonly, Gallup, Vengresso, Stream and many more to host an amazing one-day virtual event.

The Customer Experience Virtual Summit gives attendees the opportunity to come together and learn from each other, as well as some of the most influential thought leaders in the world. And the best part is, we’re bringing the conference to you — wherever you may be in the world.

Join us on May 6th as leaders from across the customer experience and customer service community bring in-depth sessions on topics that you care about most.

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Starting a Revolution: The Launch of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast

Starting a Revolution: The Launch of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast Twitter

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Three years ago, I wanted to start a podcast so…I did. A mentor of mine, Ken Krogue, told me that if I was going to do it, I needed to be consistent. I’m not sure he thought I’d take his advice but after three years we recorded more than 250 episodes and had nearly 20,000 subscribers. It was a blast and we want to do it again, but this time the focus will shift from the sales experience to the entire customer experience.

This isn’t just another podcast, it’s a podcast focused on customer service secrets. Customer service is broken and you and I both know it. Why? Think about the last time you were surprised by the service a brand provided to you. Can you remember? If you can, it’s probably only happened once or twice in your lifetime and that’s exactly the problem. We as consumers are WOWed by customer service so infrequently that it is a shock when it happens.

I had a friend tell me the other day that he had booked a dinner reservation for his son and when they got there the restaurant immediately welcomed them with birthday wishes and he was…shocked! I was happy for him and I could tell, as he spoke, that he was generally impressed. But, as I thought more about it, I couldn’t help but think, really? He made a reservation for his kid’s birthday and the restaurant acknowledged it? Is that how desperate we are for great customer service? Sadly the answer is yes and it’s got to stop.

The brands that are winning are ones that create memorable and personal experiences with their customers. The phrase “customer obsession” gets thrown around constantly, but it doesn’t quite get to the bottom of how we should be treating our customers, only that we should be obsessing over them. “Customer care” gets more quickly and directly down to brass tacks. When we really, truly care about our customers, and build a company culture that supports this care, we’re able to become leaders and disruptors.

And what do our customers care about in 2020? They no longer want to be treated like a transaction or a ticket. They want to feel like a valued part of the brand, and often choose where to shop because they identify with a brand and believe in their mission and values. Being able to deliver on a brand promise, before, during and after a transaction, naturally leads to a community of advocates. Customer service can be your most powerful tool, building up lifelong fans that go out and market your business for free, or your quickest downfall. The choice is yours.

The Customer Service podcast will launch in the next two weeks and each week a new episode will come out on Thursday’s at 6 AM ET. It will focus on helping leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who will share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

We need a new type of customer experience and this podcast will help facilitate it. We want to help build modern CX leaders instead of traditional ones.

  • Modern CX leaders are waging war against transitional thinking and they are winning left and right.
  • Modern CX leaders are turning their service centers into profit centers while traditional leaders are focusing on cutting costs.
  • Modern leaders are asking for forgiveness as they break barriers while traditional leaders are still looking for permission to be great.
  • Modern leaders are doers not talkers.
  • Modern leaders test everything with data while traditional leaders are still guessing.
  • Modern leaders have a playbook, while traditional leaders simply throw hail marys and hope to get lucky.
  • Modern leaders do whatever it takes to win, while traditional leaders are doing their best.
  • Modern leaders are changing the world and traditional leaders are simply trying to change their pay.

If this sounds like you, get ready to join us as we help revolutionize the customer experience!

Here’s a quick preview:

Listen to “What is the Customer Service Secrets Podcast?” on Spreaker.

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23 Customer Service Trends Every Service Leader Must Know About

23 Customer Service Trends Twitter

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

1. The Power of Prioritization

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

2. Voice Search Pops up on the Customer Service Radar

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

3. Omnichannel Becomes Obvious

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

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

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

5. Self-Service Becomes an Expected Approach

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

6. #SocialService Becomes a Must

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

7. A Focus on a Customer-Centric Organization

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

8. The Acceleration of the Scalable Service Department

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

9. Bigger Customer Service Budgets

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

10. Customer Service Goes Outbound

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

11. Contact Center Turnover Continues to Be a Problem

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

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

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

13. Companies Find Ways to Lower Cost Per Channel

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

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

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

15. The Phone is Not Dead

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

16. The Instant Gratification Revolution

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

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

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

18. Personalization Becomes Even More Personal

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

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

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

20. Video Support Becomes a Reality

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

21. Convenience Becomes the Number One Factor for Customer Experience

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

22. The Mobile Experience

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

23. Bots and Humans Partner to Deliver Great Service

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

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

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This content was featured in one of our latest podcasts.

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

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Kustomer Talks Exceptional Customer Service at CCO

CCO 2020 Atlanta Twitter

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

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

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

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

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


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