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Keep AI From Feeling Like Sci-Fi With Our Terminology Guide

When the conversation turns to AI, there’s often a Sci-Fi novel’s worth of terminology and jargon that the uninitiated reader has to decode. If you’re looking at using automation for service, then here’s a quick guide to the difference between AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning.

Watch Our Webinar with Solvvy here – The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

Artificial Intelligence as a concept has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, who designed some mechanical devices that could be loosely-termed as intelligent. However the term itself is around 60 years old, and the first applicable AI technologies have only just started coming to market in the last few years.

Machine Learning is a more specific subset of AI. It describes machines’ ability to learn from their mistakes and improve over time. A good example of Machine Learning in practice example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. The more the AI plays, the better it becomes at spotting patterns and predicting its opponents’ moves.

Deep Learning is a further iteration of machine learning. It describes machine learning algorithms that run on multiple layers, mirroring how our own neurons function. A now common example of deep learning is the way that smart assistants like Alexa or Siri process speech.

Also important is Natural Language Processing. NLP is the ability for a computer program to understand human speech, regardless of slang or dialect. By being able to make sense of written or spoken language in the messy and error-filled ways humans normally express it, AI capabilities become much more applicable to everyday life.

What does this mean for service? Artificial intelligence and intelligent automation can take over existing tasks and create new efficiencies that your organization couldn’t dream of previously. Machine Learning is just one example. By suggesting responses agents can use to common customer queries, a partially-automated system could learn the most effective replies and language for your customer base. Deep learning capabilities should extend to IVR trees, and put an end to the common “Sorry, I didn’t get” response from many systems that currently rely on processing speech. And NLP is crucial for chatbots, and for analytics that look at all of the conversations your agents have across chat, social, and any other text-driven medium.

It’s important to build a solid understanding of these exciting technologies as they become more prevalent and relevant to the service and customer experience sphere. To learn more, listen to our webinar with Solvvy: The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation.

Scale-Up Your Digital Experience for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday 2017 was the largest online shopping day in history. Consumers spent over $6.59 billion, a growth of 16.9 percent year-over-year, with $1.59 billion coming from mobile. Cyber Monday is the biggest opportunity out there for North American ecommerce companies, and your customer experience organization needs to be ready for it. This is a time when you can turn one-time shoppers into loyal, repeat customers, and that requires great CX. A seamless digital experience that still feels human will help build a bond between you and your customers that will last long after the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.

Prepare Your Agents to Deliver Incredible Service

Today, customers do most of their holiday shopping online. In 2017, shoppers planned to spend 51% of their holiday shopping budget online versus 42% in stores, Deloitte found in a survey of 4,000 consumers. While many customers line up for sales at brick-and-mortar outlets, it’s just as important that your digital experience is up-to-date during the holidays.

Step back and take a look at your experience: Increasing efficiency can depend on a lot of small fixes, but analyzing the data and finding common agent and customer sticking points are the first steps towards making a difference. Take the time to look at your digital experience as a whole before the busy season starts to ramp up. Small fixes to things like your exchange process or the information customers can access on your site will add up to big efficiencies. This can have a huge impact on the number of customers they serve, and their ability to do so.

Triage your customer requests: Your customer service agents are at the vanguard of your CX during any busy period, so they need to be hired and trained well in advance. If you can equip them more information about your customers, making it easy to access their history with the brand, they can make better recommendations and provide a memorable experience during this hectic time. You should train new or temporary agents to answer the easier questions and perform more common, routine tasks for faster resolution. Save the more complex interactions between experienced staff, or these issues will have to be elevated to them anyway, drawing out the process for agents and customers alike.

Automation with a human touch: To take out some of the pressure, automation can help whittle down the massive volume of inquiries and requests during this busy time. Chatbots are one solution brands are exploring, but you have other options. Simply updating your self-service helpdesk, providing clearer product information, or equipping agents with a tool that suggests relevant responses or knowledgebase articles to share with customers can go a long way towards cutting out the short, simple questions that pile up and distract them from bigger tasks. But you shouldn’t lean on these solutions without considering how they can be used to empower your staff. To deliver a memorable, emotionally resonant experience in the long term, you need a human touch. Use them to help customers connect to agents more quickly, and make sure that agents know everything about your customers. Automation exists to empower employees, not replace them. Any way that automation can speed up service and take busy work off of agents’ desks will pay dividends for your CX.

Have a mobile mindset: Also, keep in mind that many customers will start their journey on mobile, using it to find deals and coupons, inspiration on social, competitive prices, and to read customer reviews. According to Salesforce, mobile made up 64 percent of shopping visits during Cyber Monday. This information needs to be easy to access and find on mobile—if it’s not, your customers may end up getting answers from your competitors instead. Ideally, the same agent should be able to respond to and SMS messages, chat with the same customer on desktop, then call them on the phone on the phone and back. Mobile experience is a deciding factor at this time of year, and shouldn’t be neglected.

Be ready for anything: You should be ready for something to go wrong. The holidays will push your team and your technology to their limits. More than likely, something will give—and even if it doesn’t, your team should be prepared for it. Train for the worst-case scenario, like your site going down, or a major storm disrupting shipments. Proactive outreach can help handle some of these issues before they get out of control, allowing you to make contact with customers before they have a chance to reach out. Leading up to Cyber Monday, make a list of common customer complaints or problems, and make sure every agent knows the solution. If your agents are prepared to diffuse holiday stress and help out no matter the situation, your customers will thank you.

Cyber Monday is overwhelming for even the most prepared ecommerce brands. However, every step you take now to ready your customer experience organization now will pay back tenfold for your agents and customers alike. By the way, this year Cyber Monday is November 26th—but you already knew that, right? Mark those calendars, and start making progress towards an amazing online shopping experience for this year, and the years to come.

What Is It Like to Work on the Product Team at Kustomer?

If you’re interested in joining the Kustomer team, check out our Careers Page.

What is it actually like to work here at Kustomer? We’re going to help answer this question in a series of interviews with folks from every department to tell you about their unique experience, and how it applies to anyone looking to join our team.

Here’s Peter Johnson, VP of Product at Kustomer, to share what it’s like to build our powerful platform for customer experience:

Q: What is unique about working on and building the Kustomer platform?

PJ: We get the chance to totally challenge the status-quo in the support space and re-imagine what a modern CRM should look like. We get to ask questions like, “Could ticketing be done better?” or “How can we improve on legacy routing models?” These are old problems being reimagined in modern tech, and we’re at the forefront of them.

Q: What skills and programming languages do we recommend applicants know and use on our team?

PJ: Project Managers and Designers don’t need to be able to code at Kustomer! Though it doesn’t hurt to know HTML/CSS or Javascript. I think the most important skill is being able to learn quickly. Yes, having previous experience leading a dev team, designing in Sketch, working in Agile, etc. are all helpful traits. However, the best PMs/Designers are open-minded, data-driven, curious, and genuinely give a shit about the products they design.

Q: What features are the product team most proud of?

PJ: Many come to mind: Obviously the Customer timeline, Synchronous and Asynchronous Chat Product, and Chat Conversation Assistant are highlights. Though I’d say that I’m even more amazed at what we were able to ship considering how quickly we shipped it, with such a small team, and in such a short timeframe.

Q: How does Kustomer set up its Product team for growth and success?

PJ: We try to inject data into the decision-making process as much as possible—both qualitatively and quantitatively. Existing customer feature usage metrics, as well as feedback, are extremely important in our future feature decision-making. There’s a quote I love that says “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

Q: If you had to describe the Product team in one word, what would it be?

PJ: Kustomer. We commonly use the phrase “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.” At the end of the day, no phrase or one word sums up our team better. The results our team’s hard work and output can be seen in the Kustomer product.

Q: What kinds of things does the Product team do as a team outside of work?

PJ: A few recent events we’ve done: a ping-pong outing at Fat Cat, lunches in Bryant Park, drinks at the Pennsy—we definitely have a lot of fun as a team.

Q: Where have other members of the Product team worked in the past?

PJ: Social networks, CRM software companies, real estate management software, health startups, video chat software, and more.

Q: What are some of the benefits of working at Kustomer?

PJ: Beyond things like great health insurance and snacks, I’d have to say ownership. You have the chance to design and be a part of launching a totally original product that has your fingerprints on it, and is used by thousands of people every day. It’s a really satisfying feeling to own a product end-to-end.

If all of this sounds makes you think, “Wow, Kustomer sounds like the kind of place I want to work,” then we have some good news. We’re growing fast, and are hiring for our Product team in our NY office RIGHT NOW! If you’re interested in joining our team, apply directly here.

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

In our CEO and Co-Founder Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece for Forbes, he dives deep into the theory and practice of proactive service.

How can you prepare your service organization to anticipate your customers’ desires in order to deliver an experience that defies their expectation? We’ve outlined some steps you can start taking 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’re gathering and storing all of the relevant customer information, you can act on it with a combination of well-trained employees and specific features within your software platform. Once 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.

Get more advice on delivering proactive service from Brad’s piece in Forbes.

Why Companies Are Switching from Ticketing Systems to Kustomer

Ticketing systems have been around for decades. Ticket numbers, formal emails (“don’t reply below this line”), isolated data (“what is your order number?”), have been a part of our lives as customers and customer support professionals. It’s hard to believe a better world is possible. Kustomer, built by industry veterans, was created with a different vision in mind—a customer-centric platform that ties together all the conversations and business information about a customer into a single timeline, together with powerful workflows that enable customer-first companies to execute their customer experience vision. In the past year, a number of customers have successfully migrated from ticket-based solutions to Kustomer. Here are a few items that CX agents and executives who made the switch have highlighted about making the move:

1) From Isolated Tickets to a Single Timeline View of the Customer

How many platforms does your team use to communicate with customers? Is your team in constant need to merge tickets? Because tickets from different channels are often disconnected, it’s easy to run into a customer who is chatting with another agent while you’re in the middle of replying to their email. Or worse, you might reply without knowing that they’re already being helped.

In Kustomer, you can see all the communications with your customer in one place. That means that real omnichannel communication is possible. You can go from emailing with a customer to chatting with them, to calling them on the phone, and see all those records in one conversation. That’s because the customer is the atomic unit of our platform—everything revolves around them.

2) From Disconnected Solutions to Actionable Integrations

How many tabs does your team need to keep open at the same time? When your customer support platform is disconnected from the rest of your platforms, agents need to keep copying and pasting customers’ email addresses into your admin systems to get even basic information about the history of their interactions with your company—past orders, delivery status, etc. Kustomer pulls data from all your platforms and tools and arranges it in a way that makes sense for your business.

With Kustomer’s single timeline view, the customer is the focal point, not individual conversations. Not only does Kustomer merge every interaction into the same conversation automatically, it also integrates with your other systems—like Shopify or JIRA, just to name a few. That means you can see when orders are dispatched and delivered, or previous items that customers have added to their carts or subscribed to on your site. All of this is displayed in that same timeline, so you have a deeper context whenever they reach out. Everything is completely customizable, so it’s easy to create a view that empowers your team to tackle your specific business challenges.

With this level of integration, tasks like returns or reimbursements can be completely automated (as we’ll discuss in the next section). No matter if your business is pizza, shoes, or software, Kustomer can be customized to show your agents everything they need to know in a single window. Orders, shipping info, product or version number, buyer and seller information, and social interactions can all appear beside each customer in bespoke “K Objects”. This makes it easy for agents to get the whole picture and take the next best action, or communicate with the right parties while staying on one platform.

3) From Repetitive Tasks to Intuitive Automation

Kustomer makes it easy to automate commonly-used workflows so that your agents can focus on connecting with customers rather than rote tasks. Don’t be limited by basic workflow functionality that won’t simplify your agents’ day-to-day work. Now you can define intelligent, branched workflows and reports encompassing all customer-related systems in your business.

Because Kustomer integrates with your other platforms, it’s way more powerful than just showing your customer history—it allows you to act on it. These branched, multi-step workflows make it easy to efficiently scale your team and automate simple tasks. Sending instant follow-up emails or processing a return is now only a click away and no longer has to take your agents’ attention away from the customer.

4) From Reactive Support to a Proactive Experience

Proactive service solves for what your customers need. That means it may be something they haven’t even asked for, like a faster delivery to avoid an incoming storm that might cause delays. It’s one of the best ways to build stronger relationships and deliver meaningful experiences. Ticketing systems are inherently reactive, as agents only respond when customers have a problem or a question. Because Kustomer keeps all of your customer information in one place, you can create granular searches for customers around specific behaviors or qualities, all on the same platform. That means your service isn’t just efficient—it’s smart.

If you want to build customer loyalty, you can search for customers that may have bought a product that could give them an issue, then send them all a message proactively. Let’s say your new mascara is mislabeled as “Vegan”—you can look up all the customers who have preordered it, then send them an email letting them know the mistake and offering a free refund or exchange if they don’t want it—all before their orders have arrived. Or if there’s going to be a storm that affects customers in a certain geographic area, you can notify all the customers with orders going to that region with a list of options before their shipment is delayed. With all your customers’ information in one place, it’s easier to surprise and delight them than ever.

When you combine this robust search capability with automated workflows, intelligent and proactive outreach can become a reality.

By putting all the information about your customers in a single view and making it easier than ever to act on it, Kustomer is winning over companies across industries. To try our powerful platform for yourself, schedule your demo today.

This Is Why 51% of CX Leaders Aren’t Reaching Millennials

As Millennials rise to become the largest buying force globally, it’s increasingly important for businesses to connect with them and win their loyalty with stronger customer experiences. However, according to the latest NGCX Benchmark Report, lack of strategy and execution are keeping businesses from creating a CX strategy aimed at Millennials.

Download the report here.

Specifically, 26% of respondents cited “Execution” and 25% cited “Lack of strategy” as the greatest obstacle preventing them from becoming more customer-friendly towards Millennials. However, 89% of organizations surveyed acknowledged that Millennials have distinct preferences that require a more fine-tuned strategy to meet them. “Executive buy-in” was the lowest-reported obstacle, making it clear that the majority of companies already know that they need to be shifting their approach to reach the next generation of customers—how to do that is another question entirely.

Download the full research report based on responses from practicing CX executives, and you’ll learn:

  • The channel that 30% of CX leaders have made their top budget priority, and how they split their focus between every channel to build stronger relationships.
  • Why CX leaders are lagging behind in creating full omnichannel strategy to reach millennials, and where they’re finding real success.
  • The percentage of your competitors who have made creating a tailored millennial CX strategy a top concern.

Learn more in the full benchmark report.

Live Chat: What Does a Modern Solution Look Like?

When organizations are considering a chat strategy, there’s a common debate over whether live chat or a messenger app is the right method to use for client communication. Both models have pros and cons, but technologies have evolved to make a hybrid approach not just possible, but effective. By blending both models together, you can test, collect feedback, and grow—and new tools make it easier than ever to take the best from each approach.

Read about Kustomer Chat’s new features here.

But before we define the benefits and drawbacks of each, it’s important to define the difference between “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” messaging.

Synchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with “Live Chat”, where a customer can only maintain one chat “session” at a time with an Agent. These conversations only exist for as long as the customer is active or at least one agent is online.

Asynchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with email, social media, or SMS messaging. Within these channels, neither the customer nor the agent communicate in real time. This means customers can start a chat and come back to it an hour later without worrying about ending “sessions”.

What’s wrong with Live Chat?

Chat used to be confined to a website, where customers would wait for an agent to become available. If they got disconnected or refreshed the page, the session would end. To keep customers from waiting after sending their chat message, many organizations would disable the chat experience on their site whenever agents weren’t available. Once connected to an agent, customers would have to stay confined to their desk chairs chatting back and forth until they resolved their issue.

The Old Version of Live Chat: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers get instant replies and immediate feedback, which sets that expectation going forward.
  • CON: The “session” philosophy means a customer can’t message you from their computer, and then respond to you from their mobile phone.
  • CON: Normally works based on “agent availability” meaning that if agents are maxed out or not available chat is removed, and you are asked to leave a message or worse, the website hides chat completely.
  • CON: Missed/Dropped Chats immediately stop a conversation and require everyone to start over.

Why Have Messaging Apps Replaced Live Chat?

With the introduction of smartphones, app-based communication shifted customer expectations. They could open an app, click “contact support”, and start a conversation, but didn’t have to wait around for a reply. When a reply did come, they’d get a notification to check it and keep the conversation going. This allowed customers to move freely from a desktop to their mobile app if they needed to get up and grab a coffee, for example. The ease of use across any device lead to a natural shift from the need to be “live” to customers becoming accustomed to asynchronous messaging within third-party apps.

Asynchronous Messaging App: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers can start a chat from their computer and finish it from their smartphone.
  • PRO: The app is always available as a means to collect and store customer issues while “offline”, which agents can follow up on later.
  • PRO: Past chat conversations can be stored and replied to for context.
  • PRO: Customers don’t expect instant replies.
  • CON: Conversations are never “closed”, making it hard to measure agents on that metric.
  • CON: Conversations with customers are dragged out over a longer period of time, slowing down resolution times.
  • CON: Customer can always reply to old conversations, which can make it harder to follow up and provide timely or quality support.

While asynchronous messaging has become more popular, there are some great concepts that underlie Live Chat functionality, like using Agent Availability to set expectations. Instead of completely removing the experience of chat from your site when agents aren’t available, you can collect customers’ info and issue, and then pass them to another channel for follow-up—setting the expectation that a reply will not be live.

Modern Chat Gives You the Best of Both Worlds

Ideally, you can bridge the gap between these kinds of synchronous and asynchronous messaging by providing a customer the ability to chat live with an agent, but maintain an asynchronous state when agents are not available or over-capacity by shifting the conversation to channels like email or text messaging or setting expectations about your reply times.

Customers need a fast response to get an answer or complete a sale—like asking about clothing sizes on a retail site—but you can’t always provide 24/7 communication. That’s why your chat tool needs to evolve to combine the best features of synchronous Live Chat and an asynchronous Messaging App. Kustomer chat is always on, allowing you to set business hours so that customers have the right expectations. That makes it easy to provide synchronous chat when agents are available, and asynchronous when they’re not. The history of every conversation is saved across platforms, so it’s easy for agents and customers to move from platform to platform for a fully omnichannel chat experience. The option to close conversations makes chat support more efficient and easier to manage and measure, and because everything is tied to the customer, agents have all the necessary conversation when they start a new one. Modern chat solutions meet the expectations of your customers and the needs of your business—and with Kustomer Chat, you can deliver the best possible chat and messaging experience.

Kustomer’s Chat makes it easy to deliver the experience that’s right for your team and organization. To learn more about our latest additions to our chat offering, read our product update here.

How CX Can Increase Bookings for Travel and Hospitality

For travel and hospitality brands—airlines, hotels, online travel agencies, and more—their businesses triumph or suffer based on the number of bookings their customers make. The online travel market is expected to reach $1,091 Billion Globally by 2022, and in the US there were up to 65% more daily bookings in the first quarter of 2017 over the previous quarter. There’s a huge amount of business to be won, but also fierce competition. If companies can even get a fraction of their users to complete a booking when they otherwise wouldn’t, that’s a huge incentive to invest in a full CX strategy. How can travel brands deliver an experience over digital that will encourage customers to follow through and book that hotel room, flight, or tour?

Follow customers across platforms and sites.

Travelers don’t like to stay in one place—whether that’s on vacation or their customer journey. They often bounce from site-to-site doing research while switching from mobile to desktop and back before booking. More than a quarter (28%) of bookings via online travel agencies are preceded by a click on another device, while the same is true for almost a third (32%) of direct bookings, according to Criteo. That means you need to have a platform that can follow your customers wherever they go, and make it easy to provide support or answer questions over the phone, SMS, proprietary chat, or email.

Mobile is especially crucial for sudden bookings.

Up to 80% of last-minute bookings and purchases are made on mobile devices. Whether this is because a customer missed their flight or had to book an extra night in a different hotel, your mobile experience has to be streamlined to easily and quickly surface the information customers need when they need it most. It also helps if agents can know the context of a customer’s recent order, because helping to book the next flight out when a customer is on their way to the airport requires more urgency and different insight than if they’re calling about a trip that’s been planned months in advance.

Desktop is still where customers make their final decision.

When given the option, it seems like customers are just more comfortable hitting “buy” when they’re at their work or home laptop or desktop computer, rather than a phone or tablet. While the data shows search and evaluation takes place across multiple devices, a strong two-thirds of travelers (66%) prefer to book accommodations on their desktop, with only 34% favoring a mobile device or tablet. If you know which device customers are using, then you can adjust your service and experience accordingly. You can even use proactive chat to encourage them to book something they’ve been looking over on one device when they get back to their screen of choice.

Make sure your experience is transparent and straightforward.

Hiding important information isn’t going to encourage your customers to finish booking. If anything, it will do the opposite—prolonging the process and increasing the chance that they’ll abandon the interaction entirely. Be upfront with costs and extra fees, doing so will streamline your experience and decrease the number of requests to your support team asking for clarification. Also make sure that when those requests do come through, that your agents are equipped to clearly describe the ins and outs of your pricing and regulations.

Pair customers with the right team members.

With a robust understanding of your customers and their needs, you should be able to route them to agent or subject matter expert who can help them with their specific request, no matter who that might be. If a customer begins a conversation about billing with an agent through your site’s chat function, it should be easy to route them to the accounting department if needed. An advanced customer engagement platform should be able to track every conversation and the associated data across any channel—your site, on mobile, over email, and across your contact center. This is the only way to create a real-time data repository that your CX team can use to deliver even better service and booking experiences.

There is a great deal of opportunity out there for travel brands of all types, and all it takes is a bit of innovation and inventive spirit to gain an edge in the market and get more customers to convert. The travel experience starts long before a customer reserves their flight, and it’s crucial to pay just as much attention to your CX before your customer books their trip as you do after.

To see how Kustomer can improve your experience, request a demo below.

Conversations with Kustomer Podcast: How can Marketing and Customer Support Create a Consistent Experience? Featuring Sue Duris

As Customer Experience overtakes product and price as the key differentiator for many brands, it’s increasingly important that all parts of the organization work together to deliver seamless communications and service.

Our Director of Marketing Chen Barnea sat down with Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience for M4 Communications and a leading CX strategist, to discuss the evolution and importance of CX for B2B and B2C companies across verticals. While their chat covered a lot of ground, we’ve highlighted some of the key points below.

Investing in CX pays off. This is especially true if you’re a leader. According to a Temkin report, CX Leaders see a 17% compound average growth rate, versus 3% for laggards. Customers that receive a great experience are likely to purchase again, and 11 times more likely to recommend a product or brand.

Consistency is key, especially for retail. But it’s also very important for B2B organizations too, especially those with a long sales cycle. Both kinds of organizations need to have a C-suite that is championing that vision of the customer experience and explaining why it’s so important to rally behind it, and how everyone fits in. Without that commitment, alignment, ownership, Customer Experience initiatives just won’t work.

CX is not a shiny new toy. You need to have a strategy and purpose for tackling CX. It can’t be done piecemeal, either, with the Contact Center pioneering an initiative, but then the experience dropping off once a customer contacts Sales or Marketing. Inconsistency is one of your greatest enemies to a great experience.

Don’t neglect the employee experience. Engaging your employees and communicating what your experience should look and feel like is crucial. They’re the ones who are making that experience a reality. It takes more than just surveys. You need to speak to your employees in person and get qualitative insight, backed up by hard metrics. Once you can take those insights, build them back into your experience, optimize your CX, then look for insights again, you can create a closed loop of constantly improving experience.

There are three kinds of metrics. Metrics based on perception, description, and outcome. Perception-based metrics are about your experience and how your customer understands it. They include metrics such as NPS, CES, and satisfaction. Description metrics are based on observable events, like FCR and AHT, and ensure you’re being efficient and effective. And outcome metrics are things like how many customers renewed their contracts or upgraded their package. Bottom line: you need all kinds of metrics to cover the entire scope of experience.

Experience is a mindset. It’s more than just a strategy or process. It’s who you are as a company, and as individuals. Customer centricity needs to start before a prospect even knows about you—it’s in your bones, your culture, and it’s how you truly create consistency. Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value is the goal of any CX effort, and the only way to do that is to have a mindset where you’re putting your customers first.

Start small. If you haven’t invested in CX at all, you can always begin by sending out an NPS survey and segmenting customers based on that score. From there, you can work in more complex layers of metrics and build up your understanding.

This is just a taste of the wide-ranging discussion on the podcast, so if this sounds relevant to your needs, be sure to have a listen.

To learn more about how Kustomer can help you deliver a more consistent and effective experience, request a demo with the form below!

How CES Can Help Your CX and Product Teams Work Better Together

Brandon McFadden is Kustomer’s Customer Success & Support Manager, you can follow him on Twitter at @brandontonio.

This post was adapted from a workshop delivered at Support Driven Expo in Portland. We had a blast sharing and learning with the Support Driven audience, check out their recap here, as well one from Jeremy Watkin at FCR that discusses our presentation as well!

While they may not always understand each other, your Customer Experience (CX) and Product teams actually do want the same things. However, they speak two different languages. With the right metrics, specifically using Customer Effort Scores, you can make informed, data-backed decisions from customer feelings that will ensure you’re making the right choice.

Product goals typically focus on adding new features, achieving parity with competitors, or fixing issues that are affecting adoption, ease of use, or the ability to wow your customers. Their job is to anticipate what the customer will want next.

On the other hand, CX is usually focused on what customers say they want now—because they hear from them every day, all day. CX wants faster handle times, lower email volumes, reduced complexity, and the power to wow your customers.

When these two teams work in sync, amazing things can happen. CX has especially deep insight into customers wants and needs based on thousands of firsthand interactions, while product has the full scope of your company’s technological capabilities, business goals, and product roadmap, and are great at coming up with new innovations before customers even know what they want. However, there’s often a recurring problem in the Product / CX dynamic. When Product has the window of time to ask CX for their input on what “problems to tackle next”, the two sides can disagree. When looking at where customers spend the most time using the platform, and where they’re having the most difficulties, CX will advocate for smoothing out a more complex problem that affects fewer users. Product will often lean towards reducing the highest quantity (because that represents a larger base of users and a more frequent touchpoint), so that a greater number of users will have an even faster experience.

While seemingly different, there is one key ingredient: Both teams want to wow customers! Finally, common ground!

Another common language we all speak are shared company goals. The aim of all these features and fixes are the same: more renewals, more referrals, more repeat customers, and faster resolutions. Making decisions about how to get there can be tricky. This is because it is hard to measure the feelings of your customers, yet feelings are how humans make decisions.

At this point most teams will most likely look to NPS or CSAT to help give direction towards the issues to focus on fixing, but those traditional metrics can often be very misleading. Scenarios wherein a customer gives you an NPS score of “10” may only actually recommend you when they find someone who they feel is just like them (as smart and with the patience to put up with the complex support issues they faced). Most of the time, when the moment comes for them to make the recommendation their NPS score said they would, they don’t do it. Likewise, CSAT may provide a very high 9/10 rating of your amazing agents, but what the customer is left feeling is “why did I even have to call in the first place?”. Feelings are the gateway to actions. So while they like spending time with your agents, it doesn’t mean they will feel comfortable continuing to deal with these issues (churn) or suggesting you to a friend. This is all because of the expectation or effort gap.

So, how do you get to the root of this disagreement in expectations AND quantify feelings? It seems like the correct course should be obvious. Product is in the right on this one surely, the fix that affects the most users (in this example it’s improving refund requests) should be completed first. Why would the CX team think otherwise?

This is where CES shines. As CX pros, we see a different side to the story in this chart. The problem that is only affecting a minority of users (plan correction, in this case), is where you’re letting customers down the most. Sure, it’s lower quantity/volume than the other issues, but those customers are having a far worse experience based on their expectations, and taking up just as much of CX’s attention/time as the other issues. CX hears their complaints, and their frustration is visceral. From your customers’ perspective, it seems like making their experience way better would only require you to “just change a bit of code” (cut to thousands of engineers slamming their heads against their desks). AHT is important, but only tells part of this story, but CES makes it much clearer.

Measuring CES puts the severity of the problem in stark relief, and puts a hard number next to what your CX team has been feeling all along. Now it’s easy to see that these customers are doing more than spending more time on the phone—they’re actively struggling to deal with your company, and you’re probably losing them as a result. This issue is even greater if you’re a startup designed to “save you time” or “simplify” our lives, you’re literally training your customers to expect everything (including service) to be smarter, faster, and effortless. This problem is even worse if you are in an industry where external factors can slow up resolutions (medical, financial, insurance, etc). Improving the other issues on this list shouldn’t be neglected, but prioritize the customers who are unhappy first. Most won’t notice if their attempt to get a refund was 15 seconds faster (a 25% efficiency gain!), but they will definitely appreciate when a more complex issue becomes a breeze when the “industry norm” is so much more—and will likely save your CX team more time in the long run.

There’s even a school of thought that says you shouldn’t fix those simple problems that your team is great at handling and consistently giving that wow experience because it is another chance to exceed expectations. This is because every interaction is a chance to build a deeper relationship with your customers, and if you’re delighting thousands of them with a simple call or email, you’re deepening each one of those connected feelings in the process. This is despite having a problem in the first place. Remember, you are often judged more on your resolution than you are on the problem itself. Of course, you want every experience to be as smooth as possible and for customers to never have a problem, but by not trying to eliminate these homerun issues entirely you get easy opportunities to impress and excite your customers. Certainly, something to consider when making the case to not always simply fix the highest volume issues. And, with CES, you’ll always know if those issues are beginning to wear your audience’s patience thin.

In my experience, Product and CX are on the same page 95% of the time, but they may not always be speaking the same language. So when there is a disconnect, it’s always down to looking at the data to clear up those disagreements. Ultimately, CX deals with feelings directly more than any other team, and are therefore tasked with quantifying the qualitative. For that reason, having a platform that measures CES can drive CX and Product teams to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations.

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