Why Quality Customer Service in Healthcare Is Needed More Than Ever

What Consumers Expect From the Patient Experience TW
 

Healthcare is a sensitive topic for a lot of Americans. It’s become top of mind for many who have seen loved ones sick. We all want to be healthier and have a better quality of life, but unfortunately customer service in healthcare has one of the worst reputations, and people want to veto the experience all-together.

While doctors, nurses, and all healthcare support staff are busy trying to save lives, it’s no secret they are overworked, and the priority in the patient experience can fall to the bottom of their priorities. It is often a thankless job, but fortunately, there is an opportunity to serve the community in an outstanding way that your competitors are lacking.

Why Customer Service in Healthcare Is Important

Keeping up-to-date with the latest medical advances has always been a priority for the healthcare industry, but this means new technology and the opportunity to improve the administration and patient experience can fall behind. With lives on the line, it’s almost a no-brainer where to invest when trying to allocate limited resources.

However, latest consumer trends and research make the lack of customer experience impossible to ignore. Healthcare is contending with evolving patient demands. People want more out of their experiences. Personalized experiences have become the norm in industries like retail and hospitality. According to research conducted by SalesForce, 69% of consumers say one extraordinary customer experience raises their expectations of other companies, and 57% of Americans say the healthcare industry cares more about their own needs than the patient needs.

Younger generations are prioritizing a better quality of life and they’re not afraid to go elsewhere to get treated the best. In the same Salesforce survey, 83% of millennials wanted a mobile app for health coaching and 79% wanted 24/7 text messaging abilities. Compared with other generations, they are especially accustomed to having their needs met in a personalized way and their customer experience in healthcare has been incredibly jarring.

Common Patient Complaints

Healthcare administration staff might be surprised to know that patients dealing with unfriendly staff is not the number one complaint. Although a rude receptionist can sway their entire experience at the clinic or hospital, the biggest complaints are scheduling difficulties, waiting too long, and confusion with insurance and billing. Unsatisfied patients did rank high in feeling like they weren’t heard and did not think they had enough time with the doctor, but it wasn’t the most outstanding problem.

This provides some good news for those in healthcare. A lot of the problems can be fixed with automation and technology. By hiring additional chat support staff, which tends to be cheaper than hiring in-person personnel, you can also quickly address issues and customer scheduling concerns that can be done outside of the office and in the comfort of the patient’s home.

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service in Healthcare

A patient-centric approach is critical to transforming the overall customer experience. People want a seamless experience and this can be provided to patients by offering various communication touchpoints. You might think good service begins with the people, and you’re not wrong. However, setting up good tools and efficient systems will only make the training process easier and more scalable.

People in the end want to feel like they matter and that their concerns are heard. Doctors have limited time, so this offers an excellent opportunity for customer service staff to thrive. By having the right systems and processes in place, you can collect patient feedback and address it in a timely manner.

Kustomer: The Healthcare Customer Service Solution for You

There are a number of ways Kustomer helps the healthcare industry and their patients. First and foremost is keeping up-to-date with HIPAA compliance so that patient data is safe and secure.

Additionally, through the use of AI, Kustomer automates manual tasks, routes conversations, and answers commonly asked patient questions to help people self-serve before talking to customer service.

Kustomer has developed a handy guide that outlines what consumers expect from the patient experience here. With a survey of over 550 US-based participants, Kustomer uncovered that 79% of individuals say service is extremely important when deciding where to do business. In the guide, you’ll learn how to drive more revenue through prioritizing the patient experience.

If you’re interested in requesting a demo or would like to know more about how Kustomer helps those in the healthcare industry, find more information here.

 

3 Reasons Why Customer Complaints Can Help Your Business Grow

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity TW

A business could be doing everything right, but at some point they will receive a customer complaint. It can be easy to place blame on the customer. They might be rude or have unrealistic expectations. But businesses should see the unsatisfied customer as a growth opportunity. Very few businesses actually know how to handle customer complaints in a manner that is both respectful to the customer and shows them that you care about their business. Interested in knowing more? In this article, you will uncover three ways customer complaints are actually a blessing.

How to Handle Customer Complaints

If a customer is unhappy with your service or their purchase, they will likely complain. And it’s more critical than ever to address these complaints. According to Ruby Newell-Legner’s Understanding Customers research, it takes roughly 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. The same research reveals that 70% of unhappy customers whose issues were resolved in their favor said they would be willing to come back. Not only is it critical for businesses to solve a customer complaint the first time, it can truly sway a customer’s lifelong experience with that brand.

According to an American Express survey, U.S. consumers were willing to spend more when companies provided exceptional customer service. In fact, they were willing to spend about 13% more. However, in that same study, 42% of shoppers said that companies were helpful but didn’t do anything extra to keep their business while 20% thought companies took their business for granted. Furthermore, 59% of respondents said they would try a new brand just for the better customer service experience.

While there’s always room for improvement, customer service provides a huge opportunity for your business to shine. If you can deliver an exceptional customer experience, your business will be able to steal market share from the competition.

A Personalized Touch Counts

The next step to navigating customer complaints is to train your customer service team to handle customer complaints empathetically, ensuring the customer feels valued and important. Businesses must capture customer feedback and respond to the dissatisfied ones immediately.

When a business ignores an unhappy customer, it makes them feel like their voice and opinion does not matter. Writing any wrong shows that the business cares and wants to continuously improve by addressing customer feedback instantaneously.

Active Communication Is Key

Customers are turned off by being kept in the dark. If you’ve received their complaint, acknowledge it and act quickly. The best way to handle customer complaints is actively communicating with your customer and letting them know you’re working on the problem right away. Your customer is already frustrated that things aren’t going their way. Don’t add to the frustration!

It’s important to apologize and listen carefully to what their needs might be. If the problem looks like it may take a few days to resolve, be sure to list out the next action steps and what a resolution would look like. Customers don’t want to wait four days to see if they’re eligible for something as simple as a refund. If you can answer some of these questions right off the bat, it’s going to make your customer feel better about the situation.

Empower Your Support Team to Go Above and Beyond

Support teams have a tough job and their hands are often tied when it comes to how to handle customer complaints. Additional positive touches can be critical, especially when a customer has complained. Can your support team give the customer a gift without having to escalate to a manager? How can you empower your support team to go above and beyond while they are in active communication with an unhappy customer?

For example, The Ritz-Carlton is known for its high-end customer service. The tourism and hospitality company has been able to create a loyal fan base. One of the many reasons they are known for their impeccable service is because they have empowered every employee to provide additional touches to make their guests’ experience exceptional.

If the bellhop, for example, overhears a complaint, he or she is able to take it into their own hands and offer free dessert, or another positive touch point, to that client. They do not have to go to the manager for permission or to escalate the issue. This gives power to the employee to quickly react to a customer’s complaint, and they are not held back by company processes in order to make a customer feel valued.

Connect With Kustomer:

Interested in knowing more about how you can deliver excellent customer service in the modern era? Feel free to download our free ebook about four key ways to deliver on customer needs. You can also check out our free report, What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience, so that you and your business can begin implementing a great customer experience that goes beyond what your competitors are able to provide.

 

4 Elements of E-Commerce Customer Service

How Consumer Behavior Is Fueling the Future of Retail CX TW

The world is rapidly changing and that’s good news for businesses in the e-commerce space. In a study conducted by The Global Consumer, more than one-third of global consumers purchased products online at least once per week. This means it’s more crucial than ever to focus on the e-commerce customer service experience.

There’s been a huge bump in online purchases ever since the pandemic began. As more consumers practiced social distancing and stayed at home, their online shopping habits increased. In fact, on a global level, 49% of consumers shop online more than they did pre-COVID-19 and the amount spent online with U.S. retailers alone in Q2 of 2020 was 44% higher than the same period in 2019.

These new statistics mean there’s a lot of room for growth in the e-commerce sector. If you’re a retailer, one of the most important points of contact for new customers is your customer service team, which means it’s imperative that they’re trained and up-to-date with the latest knowledge and know how to go above and beyond for your customers.

What Is E-Commerce Customer Service?

E-commerce customer service is the act of assisting new or existing online customers when they encounter questions or challenges they may have throughout the customer journey. It is the goal for an e-commerce customer service team to provide a pain-free, digital shopping experience for consumers.

An e-commerce business should look at all the ways a customer would interact with their brand and provide assistance for them throughout the digital customer journey. This could mean answering their questions directly on the brand’s website, via social media, or by telephone calls and emails.

The ideal e-commerce customer service experience means customers are never left hanging — no matter what. If you’d like to improve your customers’ experience throughout the buyer journey, here are four important elements you should be incorporating in your e-commerce customer service strategy.

1. Reduce Redundancies and Customer Friction

According to HubSpot Research, the most frustrating thing about interacting with an e-commerce brand is having to repeat their problem to more than one customer service representative. You can prevent this from happening by incorporating an omnichannel communication strategy that allows a customer service agent to see all the ways a customer has connected and interacted with your brand. Don’t take their problem for granted. If a customer doesn’t feel like you’re able to accurately, and consistently solve their problem, they will look elsewhere for a brand that does.

2. Provide Self-Service Options

Customers often dread having to reach out to a customer service agent. They prefer to find the solution to their problem on their own before having to interact with someone. Some of the cheapest ways to improve the customer experience is by providing more self-help and FAQ documentation for that customer.

If you’re noticing a pattern within your e-commerce customer service channels where customers are asking the same questions over and over, you might benefit from creating additional documentation on the website to help customers get what they need quickly without having to ask for help.

3. Replace the Sales Rep with E-Commerce Customer Service Agents

Customer service agents are wearing a lot of hats in today’s market. They’re not only expected to solve tough customer problems, but they’re also an extension of the brand’s image. They need to know how to best service their customers’ unique  needs and personal tastes.

Today’s consumers are turned off by pushy sales reps, but they do love someone who is in their corner and recommending products that are relevant to them. However, it’s a fine balance to juggle these two worlds. It’s important to provide training for your customer service team so they can understand the difference, and learn how to recommend the best products in a way that’s authentic to the brand. Consumers want a personalized experience and you can deliver by having your support team lead them down a path that’s unique and relevant without being seen as salesy.

4. Take Customer Reviews Seriously

Many customers feel like they’re shouting into a void when it comes to delivering feedback to a brand. They’ve taken their time to answer a customer satisfaction survey and, if their feedback was especially negative, often don’t see changes in how the company handles the shopping experience. This is an area where you can really stand out from your competitors.

If you notice a customer has had a bad experience, don’t let their feedback go unnoticed. Reach out to them, offer to make it right, and let them know you value their opinion no matter what. Some of your harshest critics can turn into your biggest supporters if they see first-hand that you value their business and will do anything to make sure they’re satisfied.

Connect With Kustomer:

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd and grab a bigger piece of the pie in the e-commerce market. However, Kustomer is here to help! If you’d like to know more about how to differentiate yourself in the market and improve the agent experience for the customer, you can watch our ondemand webinar here. Delivering exceptional customer service requires companies to empower their team with the tools they need to succeed. Feel free to request a free demo right here and start creating stellar customer experiences today.

 

How To Turn Your CX Organization Into a Revenue Generator by Engaging Customers in the Digital Age

How To Turn Your CX Organization Into a Revenue Generator by Engaging Customers in the Digital Age TW

To facilitate more meaningful, long-term customer relationships, companies must focus on implementing solutions that offer both valuable and seamless support. With customers relying on agents to support their entire pre- and post-purchasing journey, there is a clear opportunity to optimize the customer experience by leveraging critical insight and assistive technology.

By equipping agents to support complex interactions and promote more proactive communication, companies can secure loyal customers that drive bottom-line results and prompt consistent growth in revenue.

Focus on Omnichannel Support

To operate in the digital era, companies must be equipped to support an omnichannel experience. With customers spending more of their personal time validating their purchases with pre-transaction support, they require access to agents who can effectively understand their entire contextual journey. By focusing on an omnichannel approach, companies can work to better understand their customers intentions and adapt support as needed.

According to Gabe Larsen, VP of Marketing at Kustomer, “Omnichannel support can often seem intimidating to businesses because they think they need separate teams to manage these separate channels through separate systems. Your customer data is powerful, but it often lives in other disparate systems making it a challenge to provide a complete picture of your customers. You need to implement a support solution that unifies that data and makes it easily available and actionable for your support team. And since your omnichannel strategy connects all your channels, data on customer interactions travels with the customer and moves as easily between channels as they do.”

As customers continue to utilize different channels, switching between self-service options, live chat, and traditional phone service, it becomes necessary to gain a line of sight into every aspect of the overall journey.

Additionally, when customers increase touch points by requesting support pre-transaction, companies must work to identify these moments to piece together a 360-degree view of the customer later on.

To achieve a more seamless approach, companies must implement Al solutions that ensure flawless escalation and increased efficiency. With modern Al technology, customers using a chatbot service can be swiftly routed to the most qualified agent to receive individual support. By pinpointing the exact moment of frustration or inefficiency, Al works to seamlessly adapt to the customers’ momentary needs, while providing the agent with the necessary contextual information to adequately handle the case.

Once agents gain access to this in-depth customer insight they can more effectively handle the unique influx of questions and services they are currently expected to provide. Companies can then work to provide a simplified experience as customers effortlessly switch between channels without ever having to repeat their inquiries.

Says Ryan Patchitt, Customer Experience Manager at Waldo, “Having that 360-degree customer view, it allows the agents in one click to have an understanding of, from the beginning, from that first order that the customers had with us, has there been any pros or cons throughout their journey? When looking at that, it allows the agents to say, ‘you’ve been with us for X amount of time, we can see that you needed your contact lenses now, a month ago, you seem to be running out at this time of the month, why don’t we change your plan to this?’ and it really helps the agents get a more personalized experience for our customers and it also saves a lot of time which is great for us.”

Leverage Personalization

Once agents can effectively handle a more seamless flow of interactions, they can work to provide the more personalized and empathetic version of support customers are currently seeking.

We know customers do not want to be treated like a ticket number; they want agents to consistently recognize them on every platform and actually understand their intentions and goals. Identifying the customer is one thing, but providing meaningful and personalized support at every touchpoint takes a more comprehensive approach.

This level of support requires access to detailed customer data to go beyond simple recognition and support complex, meaningful interactions. Additionally, it demands streamlined back-end processes to allow agents to direct their focus on the most substantial cases.

“There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship,” says Gabe Larsen, VP of Marketing at Kustomer.

To leverage comprehensive customer data, empower agents with Al tools like customizable insight cards that curate the context and tools needed to facilitate an interaction. With this technology, agents can process returns, issue credits, or rebook reservations all in a single platform. This keeps the most critical information in one place, allowing agents to focus on each interaction by avoiding distracting searches and inefficiencies. Additionally, it allows agents to more effectively act in an advisory role, recommending new products and services that may align with their value-driven mentality — increasing potential revenue opportunities.

To learn more about how to transform your contact center into a profit center, download our latest report produced in conjunction with CCW, right here.

 

3 Ways Your CX Team Can Nurture Life Long Customer Relationships

3 Ways Your CX Team Can Nurture Life Long Customer Relationships TW

It’s 2021 and your CX team can do a lot more than solve customer problems. They have the unique opportunity to invoke positive feelings within your customers — feelings that can help develop stronger, longer lasting relationships. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or D2C business, focusing on nurturing customer relationships will pay dividends. Read on to learn three ways your team can develop beyond problem solving to increase customer loyalty and lifetime value.

1. Nurture your customers by treating them as individuals.

To treat customers as unique individuals, you first must learn about them and use what you learn during service interactions. Let’s start with the first thing you typically learn about someone: their name.

According to the Washington Post, “A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person … When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected and more important. It makes a positive and lasting impression on us.”

Are you collecting customer names today? If yes, your CX team should be calling customers by their name as often as possible. With the combination of Kustomer’s dynamic text and shortcut feature, CX agents can automatically insert customer first names into responses. This saves ample time for agents and leaves a positive impression on your customers.

2. Collect enriched customer data to enable a tailored CX experience.

To nurture is to care, and give attention to, someone or something that is growing or developing. The relationship your customers have with your brand on an individual level develops over time. Your CX team can and should adjust it’s approach to reflect those different stages. It’s clear: CX teams excelling in this category do so because they’re enabled with data. If one of your highest spending customers comes into the support queue, treating them like the VIP they are would make for a fitting experience. Being able to identify which customers fall into this segment is where enriched customer data comes into play. This approach can be reimagined for any kind of customer segmentation that aligns with your business.

3. Use a customer timeline to optimize agent communication.

As your relationships mature over time you’ll develop a history with your customers. With the Customer Timeline within the Kustomer platform, you’re arming your agents with that rich history. By adding tracking events you can further enable your CX team to tailor their communication to fit the customer’s profile as well as where they are on their journey with your brand. Whether that be giving a new customer a warm welcome or seamlessly picking up an older conversation right where it left off, your team has the tools at their fingertips to personalize interactions and build lasting connections.

Nurturing your customers for life long relationships starts with a human-centric approach, and that’s why Kustomer was built. Customers are humans we’re interacting with — not tickets. Want to learn more about how to deliver a customer-first support strategy? Download our guide right here.

 

Customer Recordings and Their Usefulness with Steve Richard

Customer Recordings and Their Usefulness with Steve Richard TW

Listen and subscribe to our podcast:

In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Steve Richard from ExecVision and Vikas Bhambri from Kustomer to learn about recording customer phone calls and how the data is useful to CX agents. Steve is the Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder of ExecVision where he strives to improve performance by analyzing data. Listen to the full episode to learn more.

Are Phone Calls Dying Off in the CX World?

For years, phone calls as a means of communication between CX agents and customers has been under great speculation. Debate amongst the customer experience community over whether or not this communication channel would eventually die out takes place frequently. Email, once being in the hot seat, was thought to dwindle as a channel because of advances in modern technology. This, however, simply isn’t true. Email has held strong in its place amongst omni-channel communication, as will phone conversations. Interesting data resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic shows that phone calls between CX reps and customers have boomed within the last year due to heightened pandemic anxiety. This can also be attributed to customers wanting to talk to actual human beings rather than a chatbot when something goes wrong with their order. These phone calls are a goldmine of data information and companies should do everything they can to gather this data, as it is helpful for a multitude of reasons. One reason being that customer experience agents become self aware when they have the ability to revisit past phone calls, study their conversation skills, and understand what went right or wrong. Companies can also learn from the collected data.

The technology’s improved where they can take thousands, millions of calls, do their analysis on it and actually make business decisions. And those business decisions aren’t limited to the enablement of the agent. It’s changing policy. Change in product. Change in marketing offers. That richness of data is something that is now available to the business at large.

Team Development Through Data Analysis

Steve believes that recorded customer calls are crucial to team and brand development in a holistic sense. Information such as common issues with products, competition details and much more can all be unearthed through call data analysis. Plus, data collection is most impactful when teams work in an environment that is comfortable enough where mistakes can be made without fear of strict reprimands. Instead of calling out an agent’s mistakes in a customer call, Steve explains that this is a prime opportunity for leaders and agents to learn together and to make adjustments where necessary. Furthermore, companies can learn from CX representatives by analyzing their call data and noting the common practices amongst the highest performing teams. Common traits amongst these teams should be capitalized, prioritized, and implemented across the board. For leaders who understand the value in data analysis but are struggling to streamline the process to a standard of excellence, Steve suggests pinpointing a few crucial questions reps must ask, then training them to improvise as they go. “Think of it like jazz. It’s like, there are certain notes you just have to hit and then from there improvise.” When agents are matched with the training necessary to spark fluid conversations all while hitting the main points, call data is sure to be accurate and advantageous.

How Companies are Winning with Phone Call Data

Successful corporations are winning in the customer field when they see the true value in data and use it to their advantage. Steve examines the two different types of call data that firms can collect, the first being human generated. Human-generated data includes all of the information a CX agent might collect during a call for their record. The second form of data is derived directly from the original content source — the phone call itself. This entails talk-to-listen ratios, call length, reasons for customer complaints, and transcripts. For companies to be successful, Steve conveys the importance of data translation and understanding what it means to the success of the brand as a whole. For example, traditionally, swearing has had a negative connotation in the CX world until more recent years. Now, swearing is a part of everyday jargon and reflects positive rapport between the customer and the agent, unless of course used within negative contexts. On this Steve mentions, “Rapport means different things to different people. For one person it’s weather. For the other person it’s talking about their problem. So make it so it’s as objective as you can.” Another example of institutions winning with customer data is it allows leaders to determine the perfect talk-to-listen ratio that is appropriate for the brand. Lastly, Steve urges CX teams to take control of their calls and to look inwards for examples of best practices, because learning from each other is remarkably effective.

To learn more about recording customer calls and capitalizing the data, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “Call Recordings Are the Secret to Better Customer Support | With Steve Richard” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

The Secret to Better Customer Support | Steve Richard

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going here today. We got a good friend of ours. I’ll let him introduce himself. Steve Richard from ExecVision. Steve, how are you man?

Steve Richard: (00:20)
Doing well? This is great. Haven’t done one of these live ones yet.

Gabe Larsen: (00:23)
Yeah, well we have about a million people joining. So this is, this is pretty important that you prepare. Thanks to you for preparing for that. Which I know you wouldn’t do any of because you told me you didn’t. But nonetheless, you’re a man who knows truth, and we’re going to talk truth today. So can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do over there at ExecVision?

Steve Richard: (00:45)
Yeah. Very, very passionate about working with salespeople, support people, customer-facing people, service people, to improve performance. I mean, that’s what it’s all about is getting people better. Everyone’s always talking about metrics all the time and it makes me nuts because I go, “What’s the point of measuring the sprinter to help folks get better?” So my whole career has been dedicated to that to see entire teams and departments elevate performance on a bunch of different fronts.

Gabe Larsen: (01:09)
I love it. Well said, man. A fellow LinkedIn spammer. I haven’t seen you as much on LinkedIn, man. Have you been, you’ve been a little, a little less aggressive on that?

Steve Richard: (01:17)
It’s hard. It is. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of time and effort. I’ve been heads down with a bunch of new SDRs internally.

Gabe Larsen: (01:22)
Yeah. Yeah. I know. We’ve seen like a lot of that going on and I miss it. I love spamming people on LinkedIn. This allows me to at least do it once a week. So I’m glad Vikas and I are able to do that. Vikas as always, you want to introduce yourself briefly?

Vikas Bhambri: (01:37)
Sure. Your partner in crime. Head of Sales and CX here at Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (01:40)
Yep, and I’m Gabe. I’m over here Kustomer as well. So let’s dive into this topic. Wanted to go a little tactical, little strategic. Maybe we start high level. Call recordings, how it can help customer service agents. Give me the big picture as to why. What, why is this even a topic to be talked about?

Steve Richard: (01:59)
Well, I mean, you got to have a business reason and most people don’t start with the business reason in mind and there should ideally be a metric and there should be a way of seeing it as improving. For many of course, it’s going to be your NPS, CSAT type of thing. But increasingly we’re seeing a lot of service and support organizations, especially post-pandemic, are starting to have more of a revenue focus. Maybe not necessarily a KPI yet, but, but things like, we want to make sure that they try to save a customer or work with a customer on billing payments, whatever it might be, do something that’s more revenue focused and that maybe they’ve done before. If it’s a sales team, of course it’s revenue conversions, those kinds of things. Or even just simply offering your products. A lot of places now, you’re seeing that they’re incenting folks to just try to ask for the customer to buy something else if they’re happy, of course, issue resolution times, all of that. So if you don’t have a business metric in mind when you’re gonna start, it’s like you don’t have a goal to get to. If we’re going to break a four minute mile, we should know that our goal is the four minute mile before we training. And then the other thing is historically, it’s been all QA. The whole thing has been all about people behind the curtain. They get all the call recordings, they get all the data, and if you go talk to the average person who works in a contact center now at home and you say, “What do you think about QA?” They go, “Ugh.” I go, “Why?” They say, “Because they’re like the police. It’s like compliance. They, I can’t, it just, they make me nuts.” So there’s no relationship there. So rather than trying to create a positive, productive growth culture, instead by and large, they’re perceived as being negative. So we’re starting to see people change the way they think about that where they go, “Wait a minute. I can actually have one of my agents listen to 10 minutes of their own call recordings per week.” And that’s a good thing to do because they become self-aware. That’s very different, I think, than what it used to be. It’s changing the whole paradigm.

Gabe Larsen: (03:51)
But isn’t Steve. I like the title business. Vikas, maybe I’ll throw this one to you. Isn’t the phone dead? I mean, do we really need call recordings anymore, you guys? Because is anybody even using the phone? Vikas, why don’t you start on that?

Vikas Bhambri: (04:04)
The prediction that the phone as a channel, as a customer service channel is dead has been like, we’ve been talking about it in the industry for about five years or probably over five years and it’s not happening. The consumer still wants to use the phone and what I would say, email as a channel, you see chat and other social, et cetera. But when it really hits the fan, right, when I need something done, people pick up the phone because they want a human being at the other end. Half the reason might be because they want to explode on somebody because they’ve been so frustrated with the other channels, your self service, your app, whatever it is, and they’re at the point of no return. And at the end of the day, there’s still a demographic, right, that prefers the channel. So the phone is a channel. So no, the phone as a customer service channel is not going anywhere. In fact, what you will see is, especially in this pandemic, people are seeing, they’re actually seeing the phone channel explode because of the heightened anxiety and expectations of the consumer. So no, the phone is not dead.

Gabe Larsen: (05:14)
Thanks Vikas. Well, you were going to agree to –

Steve Richard: (05:18)
Well no, I wouldn’t. I’m going to add something to that because I think everyone who, anybody who’s watching this who’s a customer of customer in that persona, don’t we wish that one of these things would go away? Don’t we wish that when we add all these omni-channel things and all of a sudden we’re monitoring Instagram, that other communication channels would go away? But they don’t. It’s really unfortunate. And then, Gabe, you’re right. In some situations, it depends on who your customer is. In some situations you’re right. They probably don’t have a need or a very, very small need for a phone-based channel. But I’ll tell you, I’ll give you a personal experience. I’ll just throw name right out there. I was a customer of HelloFresh. I did their initial offer. The meals were fantastic. I’m horrible at getting myself downstairs in time to prepare dinner. So my wife generally cooks, she kind of pushed back on them a little bit. They kept sending me offers and everything like that online, in the mail and everything. I had some, a few chat sessions with them, but I really ultimately wanted to call them and find out if there was a way that they could have a package that would meet my wife’s needs really. Not even my needs, but I couldn’t. And that’s the sort of situation where it’s like, why just keep throwing out more and more offers over email for lower and lower, it wasn’t about a race to the bottom. It was about configuring the package so it met her needs. So I think we have to be very considerate about who our customers are, what we’re offering to our customers and then the communication channel is going to follow for both sales, service and support, all the above.

Gabe Larsen: (06:45)
Yeah. Interesting. All right, fine. The phone is good. I’ll –

Vikas Bhambri: (06:50)
By the way, Gabe, just on that, because some of us are a bit older. People have been predicting email. Email was supposed to die first. Remember that. An email as a support channel is still alive and well. So I think Steve hit on a really relevant point, which is the customers want choice. And as much as we, as CX professionals want to be like, “We’re going to add Twitter so that we can sunset this one,” the customer simply won’t allow that to happen.

Steve Richard: (07:19)
If you’re selling to, I shouldn’t even say tweens, now, if you’re selling to tweens, you’ve got to be on House Party. I mean, no kidding. I mean my eight-year-old kid. Eight-year-old, ten-year-old kids, they never heard of Facebook. They’ve never heard of Twitter. They spend all their time on House Party.

Gabe Larsen: (07:35)
Yeah. Well, good thing those aren’t our customers because I don’t know House Party, but I’ll have to look that one up. I do have an –

Vikas Bhambri: (07:42)
You know, Gabe’s going to be doing TikTok videos.

Gabe Larsen: (07:47)
TikTok. Yeah, okay. We can talk about that after. Let’s talk about the second part because the Q&A thing is, that resonates a lot with me, right? You’ve got a call center, a service group and you’ve got these police running around, mostly, but they’re not enabling, right? It’s like they are more like the police and it’s just compliance to do this. And so call recording has never gotten to the place where it may be and Vikas, got to where it was in sales, where you guys used call recordings as really an enablement thing. Not really like compliance, but like, “Hey, what could I have done better or said better?” See power of companies thinking about taking it from a disabler to an enabler from an actual than coaching perspective. Are they, walk us through kind of that step by step process or guide us on that. Because I think some people are, I don’t think they’re there.

Steve Richard: (08:36)
Yeah. I mean, actually I was just talking to one of our bigger customers or logos on our website. They’re going through this process where first and foremost, there’s the mindset shift and cultural shift in the agent or in the rep because it’s hard for them to go, “Wait a minute, you’re not doing this just to take paycheck away from me? You’re not going to tell me that my variable comp has been docked because I said something wrong? You’re actually trying to help me get better. I don’t believe it.” So let’s start with the whole, like get them to believe and feel comfortable. You’re in the safe place, it’s okay to fail. You have to have a definition of good. You have to have calls, score cards that are aligned with the ideal state for a particular call type or a particular chat session type, SMS, whatever it might be that they’re trying to do. And that’s where a lot of people get hung up is there are many varying definitions of good. So we’ve got to get the leadership team first and foremost has to be aligned and rowing the boat in the same direction because if they don’t do that, we’re in trouble. And then the idea of, and I don’t want to just like paint QA as a film because they’re not. And I talked to a lot of QA people and a lot of them are saying, “I want to get more involved in doing things like surfacing,” great examples for the team to learn from. But I don’t think they felt empowered to do that stuff until now. And just like you said a minute ago, the pandemic accelerates all trends.

Gabe Larsen: (09:57)
Vikas, I mean, how have you seen this play out? I mean, do you feel like some people are actually getting to that enablement standpoint and if so, what does it look like? Anything you’d add on the use of call recording?

Vikas Bhambri: (10:05)
I do. I think what’s really changed the game is frankly, the technology has improved greatly, right? It used to be in the QA environment, which was the priority with call recordings. People had to do a random selection because you can’t go and listen to 10,000 recordings and like, “Okay, I’m going to listen to one out of every X number of calls and then I’m going to do a scorecard, et cetera.” What’s changed the game is the ability to take voice, convert it into text, create these big data environments. Now, the companies that are getting it are seeing the richness of this data, right? Because to me it’s one thing to have a, you know, an agent go in and hit a dropdown and say, “Who was the reason for this call?” Here’s the disposition. Customer was upset because product was broken or product didn’t arrive on time. Now you’ve got a big data environment that can actually be looked at to say, “Wait a minute, we analyzed this call. It wasn’t that the product didn’t arrive on time. It was actually,” to Steve’s point, “the product wasn’t configured to my satisfaction. And yeah, it didn’t arrive on time as well,” right? So I think there’s a lot that now companies are able to do. The technology’s improved where they can take thousands, millions of calls, do their analysis on it and actually make business decisions. And those business decisions aren’t limited to the enablement of the agent. It’s changing policy. Change in product. Change in marketing offers. That richness of data is something that is now available to the business at large.

Steve Richard: (11:39)
Product market fit. You know? Absolutely. The, so it’s the surfacing of the moments that matter. The metaphor is so obvious. There’s, prior to this, prior to the AI revolution, it’s a big, huge pile of call recordings. It’s like a needle in a haystack and now we’ve got a magnet [inaudible] to get them out.

Gabe Larsen: (11:56)
So Steve, what are you finding the, Vikas gave a couple of examples, but what are you finding when people, the way people are using data, are they looking for key words and then coaching people on keywords? Are they doing more like Vikas said? Like actually recategorizing or classifying calls based on some of this data or how are they using this intelligence to actually change?

Steve Richard: (12:17)
You’re going to get data from two places. You’re going to get human-generated data from things like stages, dispositions, types, all those kinds of things that an agent might enter in on their system of record. And then you’re going to get data from the, what’s the content of the call itself. And that’s going to be things like talk versus listen ratios. That’s going to be things like, of course, inflection or a sentiment that people have messed with. And then certainly the transcript. And there are a lot of other things as well so some of the data is going to come in human generated, some is going to come in system generated. And then it just becomes a question of like, well, what does that mean? And I’ll give you a real example.

Steve Richard: (12:58)
One of our clients that we work with, they initially were, they had a hypothesis that said basically longer average call duration is better for their world for a service. Now that’s typically against the grain of what you think, but from what they’re doing, it makes sense because ultimately they can create a lot more customer value and sell a much bigger machine. So they thought that, but then when they actually went and looked into the data, it turns out that wasn’t the case at all. It actually turns out there was like a Goldilocks zone. There was a sweet spot. So now instead of saying, “Make them as long as possible and get as much as you can, get as much as you can, as fast as you can, and we want to keep you four to six minutes for this particular call type.” That’s a good insight. That’s something that we can actually drive towards. That’s a four minute mile that we can hit.

Gabe Larsen: (13:39)
Interesting. Have you found other, I don’t mean to be on the spot, but now I’m interested in the other neat insight, you gave just a client example, but other things in the data you found maybe across your general audience or across customer basis that are data driven best practices? So for example, you just talked about like call time, that being one. Words that flag that you say, “Man, when people say this, it does decrease satisfaction.” Any other kind of data-driven insights you’ve found as you guys have played with some of your own data?

Steve Richard: (14:10)
One of the things that’s funny is swearing. People always associate swearing as purely being a negative. A lot of people just like to swear, a lot of people actually swear and that’s a sign of rapport. So if someone’s swearing, it actually is a good thing. So that’s one of those ones that generates a lot of false positives that people are surprised by. Another one is of course the talk to listen ratio. Now, if we’re in a sales context, we’ve all been taught that we should listen more than talk, but that’s actually not the case. So that old lady Tony rule is not true. It’s really, it floats right between about 40%, talking to 60% talking because there has to be a dialogue and a back and forth that happens. That’s another thing.

Gabe Larsen: (14:50)
Are you telling me that statement that my old mentor, that you have two ears and one mouth and you need to use it and that that’s not true?

Steve Richard: (14:58)
No, it’s true. However, when you actually look at the percentages, when you look at calls where someone talks 20% of the time and listens 80% of the time, you know what you call that? Larry King, Oprah. That’s, it’s an interview. And even then the people who have studied them, the great interviewers are even talking 25, 30% of the time because they have a preface for their question and they’re reacting and they’re confirming and they’re clarifying. So a lot of these kind of axioms that we’ve held will be like gospel [inaudible] or not. They’re not at all. And the data’s starting to tell us that. That’s fascinating. And then one more quick story in that and in terms of a transcript data. One of our customers is, competes against Amazon. And it seems like everybody competes against Amazon. And one of the things that they offer as kind of a neutralizing them is something called shipping saver. So what they want to be able to do is anytime there there’s a discussion about freight, they know there needs to be a discussion about shipping saver. So they need to A, measure that and then B, when it’s not happening, we need to help the agents change their behavior because when we bring our shipping saver, we have a better probability and odds of success against Amazon.

Gabe Larsen: (16:07)
Got it. So you actually could flag something like that in the conversation. One more question maybe before we wrap here, you talked a little bit about a formula or having a company come up with a structure or a scorecard in order to assess calls. Is there kind of some best practices on that? Like a typical kind of process people are normally running there or how do they come up with that ideal score card?

Steve Richard: (16:34)
When you look at QA, historically they’re scoring on 30 points or more. I mean it’s, and it takes them a long time to score a call and that’s why they do random sampling. And that’s why they really don’t get through that much. It doesn’t seem to be as efficient as it could be. If we’re going to then empower our agents and supervisors to an extent with their own converse, with their own calls, we’ve got to take that from 30 points down to like ten because the human being won’t do it and think of it like jazz. It’s like, there are certain notes you just have to hit and then from there improvise because a lot of people say, “Well, I don’t want him to be scripted.” We get it. It’s not a script. At the same time, we do agree that these are the seven points that they should hit pretty much for every one of these calls.

Steve Richard: (17:18)
And if not, choose NA. And once you get the leadership team and they go, “Yep, those are the seven,” then you’re good. And then one more thing, phrase it, this is a little trick of the trade. Does the agent blank or does the rep blank? And it’s something I’m borrowing from adult learning and sales enablement, people L and D. Does the rep blank? Because it’s a present tense and it’s something that people know how to fill in the answer and we want to make it so it’s objective, not subjective as much as we possibly can. Don’t make it squishy. Does the agent generate rapport? No. Rapport means different things to different people. For one person it’s weather. For the other person it’s talking about their problem. So make it so it’s as objective as you can or no greater than ten, does their agent blank?

Gabe Larsen: (18:02)
I mean, Vikas, you’ve been in this place. You’ve been in call centers for a hundred years. What, anything you’d add to this around people kind of messing this up?

Vikas Bhambri: (18:12)
Yeah, no, look. I think there’s, a lot of times I go back to what Steve said. The QA behind the curtains, looking at these giant scorecards. Where I’ve seen people flip it is to say, “Let’s look at what’s working.” So let’s, let’s assume the three of us worked in a thousand person contact center and Steve month over month has the highest NPS. Why don’t we look at the last 10,000 calls that Steve has had? Not a random sampling. Let’s once again, you need a big data environment. Let’s say, and we had a telco customer that did this. And one of the things they found was simple things that they then put into their scorecard and behavior and their enablement, which was simple things like saying thank you at the end of a call that made such a difference, right? It was asking the person up front, “What can I help you with today?” Right? So being able to look at 10,000 of Steve’s calls and come up with the three, five things that this top performer does, right, and then replicate it over a thousand people. I think those are the things where people are flipping it from not scorecards built in a vacuum, but actually what works out on the floor.

Gabe Larsen: (19:33)
I love that.

Steve Richard: (19:34)
They use the data, inform the scorecards, and then the trick becomes, even if it’s one thing you’re trying to change, changing one thing across a thousand people, that’s usually the hardest part.

Gabe Larsen: (19:44)
Yeah. Yeah. The change management comes in. But what I really liked that idea of kind of studying the best. It’s good to see some regulars. We got some regulars back here. Abdula. I haven’t heard from Abdula in a long time. Fatuma. Thanks for joining. It’s always good to see you guys jumping on the show. We need to actually get these guys to do more comments. So thanks for jumping on. All right. Well closing comments, as we think about call recording and how it helps customer support. Steve, let’s start with you and Vikas, we’ll end with you. Steve, what do you think?

Steve Richard: (20:12)
I’m going to, I’m going to shout out Christie, you have to assert control of the call. And I love that. And what it comes down to is if you can leverage, here’s the reality, the best practices are already in your four walls. Almost always. Can we just simply surface the best practices with big data and get people to do it? That’s it? Final thoughts.

Gabe Larsen: (20:32)
Love it. Vikas?

Vikas Bhambri: (20:33)
Yeah, I think that’s it. I think you’re sitting on a goldmine. You may not even know it. You’ll know more about your competitors, about your pricing, about your product, right? I mean the front line are your eyes and ears but they may not even be digesting this as you’re on a five, seven minute call. You may not even be digesting all the richness that the customer’s giving you. So look at the data, analyze the data. And I think that will allow you to make a lot of informed business decisions.

Gabe Larsen: (21:01)
All right you guys. Well, there you have it. Two experts. Call recordings. How that can be used to change or transform your customer service center. Love the tactical and yet practical advice, you guys. So thank you, Steve, for joining us as always Vikas, thanks for jumping on. For the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (21:21)
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How to Fix the Gaps in Your Customer Experience Strategy

How the Right Customer Service CRM Can Make Your Customer — and Agents — Happier TW

Every business understands the importance of good service, but few are able to deliver an excellent customer experience that gets your most dedicated followers raving about you. Consumers value good customer service, and they’re much more likely to buy from a company again when they’ve had a good experience with a company representative., But how do you perfect the science of CX and deliver a consistent experience to every person who interacts with your brand?

With so many resources being focused on top-line revenue growth strategies, companies are really missing the mark by not optimizing their front-line experiences with their buyers. In order to deliver an excellent customer experience, you have to first take a look at what is missing in your organization and what is preventing you from delivering a stellar customer experience.

What’s the Difference: Excellent Customer Experience vs. Customer Service

The key difference between these two is that customer service is just one part of the puzzle. Customer service is directly serving a customer one-on-one and dealing with their unique challenges. The customer experience, however, takes a holistic view of everything the organization is doing to bring a joyful experience to the entire customer journey. This is the key piece that brings buyers back for more and turns a pseudo-buyer into a raving fan that can’t get enough.

When you create a strategic customer experience strategy, you’re no longer leaving each customer interaction up to chance. An excellent customer experience also increases brand trust, consistency, and trackability. People don’t just value good customer service, they value the personalized service a brand can bring into their experience. People want to feel like the brand cares about them and that the products and services are matching their needs and pain points.

However, brands are falling short in this department. A good customer service experience often falls to the bottom of the investment queue, while marketings and sales budgets take center stage. But don’t worry, there are ways a brand can maintain an excellent customer experience without breaking the bank.

The Importance of Good Customer Experience

A study by Nielsen showed that 73% of millennials were willing to spend more on a product if it was a socially conscious brand. This means a large demographic wants the companies they do business with to care about them and the types of products they’re bringing into the world. In another study conducted by Porter Novelli’s 2020 The Business Imperative For Social Justice Today, they highlighted that 71% of Americans believe companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues and 56% of participants said when companies do not talk about social justice issues in their marketing or communications, they’re perceived as out of touch. When you deliver a good customer experience that incorporates your core brand messaging and its values through impactful communication, it resonates and builds a stronger brand connection with your audience.

There are also devastating impacts to a business when they deliver a bad customer experience. It is estimated that more than $62 billion is lost each year due to a bad customer service experience, and roughly only 10% of buyers say that brands meet their expectations when it comes to a good customer experience. It’s not that these buyers have high expectations; brands are unconsciously making their customer experience services difficult to use, and not user-friendly.

An excellent customer experience strategy doesn’t involve reworking your entire organization top-to-bottom or even require excessive retraining of your support team. You’d be surprised how small incremental steps in the right direction can move the needle ten-fold. For example, putting yourself in your buyer’s shoes and going through ‘a common problem’ they experience can reveal interesting insights into how your brand can improve and lessen the frustration a customer may experience.

4 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience in Retail

Get to Know Your Customers

Do you know what’s important to your customers? Are there social issues they’re fighting against? Brands who stand up and advocate for the very same causes your ideal customers care about can earn more money, more praise, and more brand loyalty. Customers want to know that their brand is a part of a bigger vision than themselves. They do not want to support a company that’s just about the bottom line. There is a huge buyer sentiment shift happening, where modern consumers want brands to be transparent, they want employees to be treated fairly, and they want to know brands are supporting their local community.

By understanding what’s important to your customers, you can offer a personalized service that they haven’t seen or experienced anywhere before. You can do this by incorporating important initiatives throughout the customer service experience, whether that might be having one of your agents proactively explain the company’s values and social missions, or incorporating relevant statistics or facts within your website materials. This attention to detail ends up earning you a loyal customer who is happily recommending your services to their friends and family.

Develop Protocols to Quickly Act on Agent Feedback

Your customer service agents are on the frontlines, and can spot common themes and trends with your customers. What are your processes right now to help capture customer sentiment and data point they’re collecting “on the ground’? By quickly incorporating regular agent feedback, this can actually be the easiest way you can turn an ‘okay’ customer experience into an excellent customer experience.

Capture Customer Feedback in Real-Time

How happy are your customers after they’ve interacted with you? This is a critical piece in understanding more about your customer and what type of experiences they’re having with your brand. With the right technology, organizations can send an immediate and automatic feedback survey each time a customer has finished an interaction.

Provide a Unique Shopping Experience

Through the use of reporting and analytics, businesses are able to determine how satisfied a customer was after their shopping experience. You can re-engage your customers based on their preferences at a future time and get them to come back for more. Personalization is key in the digital world where every business is trying to grab your buyer’s attention. If you already know what your buyer likes, values, and believes in, it becomes an easy entry point to offer the right products and services..

How We Can Help Your CX

Companies are having a hard time finding unique ways to deliver a personalized customer experience, but through automation, AI, and machine learning, you can free up agent time to build more meaningful relationships with your customers, instead of being bogged down in busy work.

Kustomer can help identify key gaps within your systems and processes and help you fill them. Through our CRM platform, CX organizations are able to access customer history across channels and platforms seamlessly, resulting in a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction. Consumers want to know you care about them, and by offering personalized service, leveraging effective systems to collect feedback, and the ability to act quickly on that feedback, you will earn your customers’ trust and drive more sales.

Don’t miss the chance to  improve the customer experience. Through strategic implementation of the right tools, you can cultivate a loyal customer base that will never forget you.

Kustomer offers a seamless CRM platform that helps easily track and deliver on your brand promise across multiple channels. Interested in learning more? Check out this handy (and free!) buyer’s guide.

 

What Is Live Chat and Why Is It Great For Your Business?

The Undeniable Power of Chatbots TW

Consumers want options more than ever before and, more importantly, they want them quick. If you look at the three biggest customer service trends for the future, they all point toward automation and AI handling simpler tasks, and human agents dealing with complex issues.

Our buying trends have evolved too. More people prefer to shop online and have their packages delivered right from the comfort of their own home, rather than travel to a physical store. Digital natives have also grown up with technology, and interacting with this tech has essentially become second nature. Consumers are used to getting the answers they need in an instant, and they expect online businesses to fulfill these expectations.

Unfortunately, businesses are slowly adapting to this online trend and, even if they do incorporate some form of live chat, they’re only using a fraction of its full functionality. If you’re looking to get ahead of your competition, then providing a business live chat service directly on your website will be one of the key strategies to help you stand out and convert skeptical buyers into happy fans.

The simple fact is: e-mail is too slow, and very few people want to be put on hold and wait to speak to a customer representative when they can quickly ask the question in a chat widget right on the site. Chat allows consumers to get help directly on the platform they are using, while also allowing them the flexibility to continue browsing the internet while having a customer service conversation. Phone wait times can vary, and many people don’t like having one ear ‘on’ as they wait for customer support.

Millennials report feeling less stressed and pressured when they interact with a live chat feature, and users who engage in a chat and quickly get the answers to their questions are also more likely to spend more money. This means a business could be losing 30% in additional customer buying power just by not having a chat feature!

Live chat is definitely here to stay and it’s in every organization’s interest to adapt to the changing times of what their customers prefer.

What Is Live Chat?

A live chat is when a customer support agent is helping a customer in real time through a chat widget on a company’s website. Agents can quickly answer a customer’s questions based on their needs and provide a more customized experience. This live chat experience is somewhat different from an automated chatbot experience because chatbots already have a pre-determined and pre-filled response repository for them to use and can quickly recall commonly asked questions. Live chat is a step up, for when a customer needs individualized support and wants to talk to a real person.

Live chat offers a competitive edge because customers feel like the company they are doing business with cares about their time and needs. The biggest source of frustration for many customers is the inability to speak to a live person. The chat box provides a low cost way to deliver that experience to their customers, and it’s incredibly simple to use, both for the customer and the agent.

How Does Live Chat Work? A Quick Walkthrough

For those who might be unfamiliar, a live chat interaction would look something like this: there is a popup on the client website, usually located at the bottom of the right-hand side of the webpage, that appears when a user or customer lands on that page. Within this automated chat popup, you will typically see a friendly customer agent profile picture and they will ask the user, “Hey there, how can I help you today?” This allows the user to quickly engage within chat if they are having trouble finding the right information they’re looking for. After that, the conversation with the customer has started and a personalized relationship with the customer gets built with a live agent.

On the back end, what the live agent sees is slightly different: They should have access to a single, holistic timeline view of the customer where the agent can quickly view aggregated data particular to that individual, and provide a personalized service to that customer.

Your live agents will actually have insights into what their potential customer is interested in, how long they’ve been a loyal customer, and utilize templated responses within the system to help respond faster to multiple customers asking for similar things.

When using a customer service CRM, businesses can integrate different apps and platforms into one central workspace, making it quick and easy for agents to service a customer on chat. Customers can be intelligently routed to the most appropriate representative at the beginning of the conversation, spam bot conversations can be automatically flagged with the help of AI, and customer feedback can be measured directly within the chat conversation.

What Are the Benefits of Live Chat on Your Website:

It’s Convenient

The biggest live chat benefit: it’s the most convenient channel for customers. They don’t have to switch platforms or switch ‘contexts’ in order to get the information they’re looking for. For example, if they’re forced to call a customer service agent, they’d have to get out their phone or switch applications on the phone (if they’re already on mobile), and wait in a queue for an agent to help them. For the average user, that’s a lot of frustration and wasted time. The same applies to e-mail. Although you don’t have to talk to someone, waiting 24 to 48 hours to get a response to a simple question can sour their experience.

Increases Purchase Conversions

Customers love to get an answer to their question within a few minutes, not hours, and often hop on chat to get what they’re looking for right away. This means the role of the customer service agent has changed. They no longer simply provide solutions to problems, but instead are offering upfront advice to customers and clearing any roadblocks they might have with the product or service. After having their queries answered, customers are more likely to make their purchase right then and there, leading to more purchases.

Cart abandonment is one of the biggest challenges an online store has, but if you have a live customer service agent ready to answer any questions, you give customers a real-time incentive to buy from you.

Low Cost … and It’s Personalized

It’s become rather inefficient to have a CS agent answer a phone call live: it doesn’t allow them to service more than one customer. Afterall, you can only speak to one person at a time on a call. With chat, this is no longer the case. An agent can manage multiple conversations at the same time while they’re waiting for customers to find their order number or look up additional information for the agent.

The power of personalized service also goes a long way for the customer; it gives them a sense of confidence and trust when they know there’s a real person on the other side of the conversation. When you have an increase in customer satisfaction, customers are more likely to buy from you again.

Removes Language Barrier

According to the U.S. Census, roughly 21% of the American population are non-native English speakers. That means a large swath of your customer base may not feel 100% confident in their speaking and writing ability. E-mails can appear too formal and nerve-wrecking for someone who speaks English as a second language and they may be overly critical of incorrect grammar. The same can happen with phone calls.

With the right customer service CRM, AI can identify the language the individual is speaking in during the live chat and route them to a native speaker. It gives non-English speakers a better, more informal way of communicating with a customer representative. If you don’t have a representative that speaks the customer’s native language, that’s okay too. Through technology, live chat can take translatable snippets of typical questions and answer it in the customer’s native tongue. Chat provides a more relaxed way for a non-native speaker to communicate, and it’s also very forgiving of any grammar mistakes too!

How Effective Is Live Chat?

We know the benefits of live chat, but what does the data say on its effectiveness? Based on research conducted by Econsultancy, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels compared to any other customer service channel at 73%. This compares to 61% for e-mail and 44% for phone.

According to data collected by Invespcro, 63% of consumers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat, and 42% of customers prefer giving their contact information within chat, which is higher than any other lead generating method. People who engage in chat are also spending about 60% more per purchase than those who do not.

Do you have high shopping cart abandon rates? Live chat can help fix that. According to Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57% And another report from Barilliance shows that cart abandonment rates are even higher on mobile devices, up to a whopping 85.6%!

This research is further confirmed by Forrester: 57% of participants said they’d abandon a purchase if their questions weren’t answered quickly enough and 44% of consumers said that having their questions answered by a live person was “one of the most important features a company can offer.”

Business Benefits of Live Chat

Study after study has shown that live chat is an effective way to prevent cart abandonment, increase customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. By having a live person on the other line, your buyers can have their complex issues fixed and you can give your customers a more personalized experience based on their unique challenges and needs at one of their most critical times: when they’re ready to buy.

Despite all the benefits of live chat, there is also a huge business disconnect happening right now. Only about 25% of customer service organizations are currently using chat, which means 75% of businesses are not leveraging the power of this amazing tool, resulting in money and opportunities literally slipping through the cracks.

Cart abandonment is a huge problem for businesses everywhere in the online world. A live agent is like having a personalized salesman to talk to your prospect and give them the boost of confidence they need in order for them to buy. It answers their questions and any objections they have in real time, which means purchases happen on the spot. You have the unique opportunity to guide a user through a roadblock, something that is not always possible with other forms of customer service communication.

Another benefit to providing a service in real-time is that the world is a very busy and distracted place, if a user has to ‘come back later’ to make a decision, chances are they’ve moved on completely, and once you’ve lost them, you’ve lost them forever.

Think about all the effort that goes into marketing and sales, but what about customer service? You have the people already knocking at your door, it’s just about taking that extra personalized step and leading them to the right place that will help solve their core problem.

Interested in Getting Live Chat on Your Website? Connect With Kustomer

If you’d like to find out more about Kustomer and how we can help, get in touch for a demo. You can also check out our handy (and free!) guide about The Undeniable Benefits of Live Chat, if you’re looking for more information on how to deliver superior customer service through the use of live chat, chatbots and more!

 

4 Ways to Relieve Customer Service Agent Friction

How the Right Customer Service CRM Can Make Your Customer — and Agents — Happier TW

Customer service agent friction can be a major pain point for many businesses, because there are innumerable variables in the customer journey that can be hard to account for. However, if businesses want to scale, they need to remove as many roadblocks as possible that might be preventing the customer from purchasing, resolving their problems, or having a seamless customer experience.

Customers have reported that they’d completely leave a website and abandon their cart if their questions or concerns weren’t answered quickly enough. More consumers value the ease of communicating with a brand than ever before, and customer service agents are on the forefront of representing a brand, becoming the single source of truth for customers to depend on.

If you have poor systems and processes in place during the customer service handoff, your customers will notice and become easily frustrated. With so much money going into marketing and sales budgets, it’s important to tighten up the backend so that your dollars go further and your customers report high satisfaction rates, finish the buyer cycle with ease, and are excited to come back for more personalized service.

What is Customer Service Agent Friction?

Customer service agent friction is when customer service agents are having a hard time fulfilling customer requests and getting to their conversation backlog quickly. This can be a big contributor as to why a customer might not have a pleasant experience. Many people prefer a frictionless experience, and if agents are struggling to keep up with inbound conversations, customers will get frustrated and potentially leave for the competition.

What is Customer Friction?

Customer friction refers to everything that a customer might face that brings their purchasing decision to a halt or prevents them from completing a transaction. It can also mean common questions or problems a customer might have, but can not find the solutions to. The goal in the end is to remove all obstacles a customer might face when they interact with your brand. There can be many factors as to why customer friction might occur. For one, the quality or usability of a brand’s website may not be up to par. The business might have limited operational hours, or it could be difficult for the customer to get to the payment form. Customer friction can also occur when dealing with uninformed staff or excessive customer service wait times.

Why Reducing Agent Friction Matters

Businesses need to take a hard look at their internal processes. Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they’d completely abandon their cart if their questions weren’t answered quickly enough. Delays can happen when a service agent doesn’t have all the information they need, and this leads to people taking their money elsewhere. Sometimes this information is dependent on other departments, like the fulfillment center or finance department, and agents need to individually reach out to a different team. You can prevent this from happening through the incorporation of CX software that already has an internal knowledge base that houses critical company information to help agents with their information roadblocks.

If customers aren’t satisfied with their customer service experience, they’re more likely to be vocal to their friends and family about it, and make a point to deter others from doing business with the brand. They are also less likely to return to a brand if they’ve had a negative customer service experience. Valuable dollars and additional revenue could be saved just by investing in a streamlined process to help agents be more efficient and effective.

The Most Common Agent Friction Problems

Many businesses operate on an old-school, or traditional CS model. A customer comes to the brand with an issue, a ticket gets created, this ticket gets assigned to an agent, and then they work on it until there’s a resolution. This all sounds great in theory, but we’re living in a more evolved world and customers are actually contacting brands on more than one platform. Here are some of the common problems CS teams face:

Conversation volume

Under the traditional CS model, there is a common issue that occurs: duplicate tickets get created for the same customer when they reach out on different social platforms. This often leads to having two customer service agents dedicated to the same problem, causing the customer to repeat themselves more than once. It also causes the customer a lot of frustration because they might get two different solutions to their problem, and this gives them a dissatisfactory and disjointed brand experience. With an omnichannel solution, CX organizations can prevent this duplicate ticket creation right away because the customer is at the center of every interaction.

Customer conversation backlog

Agents might be diligently working through conversations, but because the internal processes on the backend are broken or not intuitive, your agents might actually be spending too much time on repetitive tasks that could be automated. This holds up the conversation with the customer or requires the customer to wait a long time for their problem to be solved. In this fast-paced world, customers do not want to wait 3-5 days to see if they’re eligible for a product exchange, refund, or whether their item will be back in stock.

A backlog of conversations is costly for any organization because it holds up not only the customer’s time, but the agent’s time as well. By reducing this agent friction, customers receive faster service and agents are able to focus 100% of their time on complex problems without having to waste resources on low-level, repetitive tasks. This is one of the easiest roadblocks to remove, and will set your agents up for success.

Long Wait Times

In conjunction with the problem above, customers hate long wait times, even when they know their agent is working in the background to help them. Customer service agents might depend on external factors or other departments in order for them to answer their customer’s question knowledgeably. The good news is that technology and automation can help you determine where you can shorten the process, reduce handoffs within the team, and get those response times down so that your customers leave feeling happy.

Lack of Data: What’s Working? What’s Not?

The biggest problem for companies when it comes to reducing customer service agent friction is due to the fact that they do not have the data to see why a customer might be slipping through the cracks. Many companies are going in blind when they’re interacting with their most important asset: their customers. Why leave it up to chance to see whether your customer leaves happy or not? By tracking key data points, you can use that data to improve your process and better prepare your CS team.

Kustomer – The Solution for You

If you’re tired of not having the data to make smart decisions and service customers quickly, Kustomer is your ally. Our omnichannel solution helps relieve customer service agent friction and gets you the data you need to see where you can optimize your internal processes. Our holistic customer view, knowledge base integration and powerful automations, allow customer service agents to focus on the most important issues without having to toggle between systems and tabs.

If you’re interested to know more, request a live personalized demo for free!

 

Competing and Winning in Challenging Environments with Matt Dixon and Vikas Bhambri

Competing and Winning in Challenging Environments with Matt Dixon and Vikas Bhambri TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by guests Matt Dixon from Tethr and Vikas Bhambri from Kustomer to discuss Matt’s most recent research on over one million customer service phone calls. In this episode, they discover what the research indicates and how leaders can utilize the data to their advantage. Listen to the full episode to learn more.

Adapting in the Biggest Stress Test Ever for CX

Soon after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Matt Dixon and his team of professionals quickly got to work analyzing data from 1,000,000+ customer service calls. This last year has been described as CX’s greatest stress test ever because teams are having to constantly adjust and adapt to the ever changing world. A year in the making, the data is showing what teams are and aren’t doing correctly in this new environment. Something that Matt hopes teams will make note of, is pre-pandemic, about 10% of customer service calls were classified as difficult. Seemingly overnight, the amount of difficult calls jumped to a whopping 20%, overwhelming underprepared CX agents. As history shows, greater difficulty in customer experience interactions leads to greater amounts of negative word of mouth marketing and upset customers. This then leads to more people being unwilling to purchase goods or services from a brand because of high difficulty interactions. To help teams adjust to a new normal and return to work, Matt offers some practical and actionable tips in the episode. He explains that making sense of collected data is key for all teams who want to be successful in the future. “Data is voluminous. It is unbiased. It’s unvarnished. It’s really actionable in the technology that exists today.”

Using Data Proactively Now and for the Future

Data is constantly being discussed in modern CX conversations on a global scale. It seems that more and more companies are turning to using data to gather helpful information about their customers. No longer are the days of QA teams and reps who had to take detailed, tedious notes on every customer interaction to gather data and search for opportunities for improvement. New technologies allow for that data to be automatically collected, scored, and reviewed. Brands would be wise to implement data collection and implementation on a company-wide basis, as it plays a major role in customer success and higher NPS scores across the spectrum. Matt believes that in order for that collected information to be holistically useful, teams have to be proactive about the way they utilize such data – to not only solve immediate issues, but to use it to predict future issues and customer difficulty. Matt explains that data can be used to prepare for “The thing they’re (customers) probably going to call you about in a couple of days or weeks or months. … It’s a very low effort way of thinking about the customer experience.” In addition to this, Matt believes that so many companies spend too much valuable time concentrating on gathering survey responses that would be better spent on analyzing data that is stored within the technology they already have access to. As CX leaders learn more about their technology and how they can use it to collect data, customer satisfaction is sure to skyrocket.

Employee Satisfaction Leads to Brand Loyalty

The topic of employee satisfaction has gained traction in the CX realm. Leaders are starting to recognize the importance of having teams of agents that are happy, rewarded for their efforts, and satisfied with their contributions to the company. The year of customer experience calls that Matt and his team analyzed revealed that big brands are being exposed and their weaknesses are being made public. Their lack of training and agent accountability is contributing to public distrust of these big brands. Vikas uses the example of reps working from home without direct supervision that are telling customers to complain on social media because they don’t have the tools, permission, or training to properly help them. Matt and Vikas believe that it is extremely important to hire the right people, train CX agents correctly, and establish a level of trust with them so that they can work independently and efficiently. “If you haven’t hired the right people and you haven’t helped coach them on the behaviors that’ll lead to success, when you put them in an at-home environment, that becomes really apparent really quickly.” When these agents feel that they are trusted and have the freedom to make crucial decisions on part of the customer, brands are more likely to win. Evidently, customer interactions prove that when the agents are happy, trusted, and feel like their efforts are important to the company, customers are happy and have a greater chance of staying loyal to the brand.

To learn more about 1,000,000+ customer calls and what the data shows, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “What 1,000,000 Customer Service Calls Tell Us About Why Your Team is Losing and How They Can Start | With Vikas Bhambri & Matt Dixon” on Spreaker.

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Full Episode Transcript:

What 1,000,000 Customer Service Calls Tells Us | With Matt Dixon & Vikas Bhambri

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right. Welcome everybody to today’s show. We’re excited to get going here. We’re going to be talking about customer service research. What 1 million, it’s more than a million phone calls, tell us what the heck you’re supposed to be doing to be successful in customer service. And to do that, we brought on a couple of special guests. One you know, Vikas Bhambri, and the other is Matt Dixon. Guys, why don’t you take just a minute and introduce yourself? Matt, let’s start with you.

Matt Dixon: (00:37)
Yeah, sure. Gabe, thanks for having me on. Matt Dixon, I am the Head of Product and Research at Tethr, which is an AI machine learning venture out of Austin, Texas. Prior to that, I hailed from CEB where I ran the customer experience and customer service practice for many years there. And I worked on all the research related to effortless experience, customer effort, score, effort reduction, some of which we’ll talk about today, hopefully.

Gabe Larsen: (01:04)
Awesome. Awesome. Vikas, over to you.

Vikas Bhambri: (01:06)
Sure. Happy Friday, everyone. Vikas Bhambri, Head of Sales and CX here at Kustomer. Looking forward to the chat with Matt and Gabe.

Gabe Larsen: (01:14)
And you know myself, Gabe Larsen. I run Growth over here at Kustomer. So Matt, what does it feel like to be a celebrity? I mean, people must come to you. This question, by the way, those of you that –

Matt Dixon: (01:24)
[Inaudible]

Gabe Larsen: (01:28)
People must come to you and be like, “You changed my life.” I mean you wrote Effortless Experience, you wrote Challenger. I mean, how does it feel to be a celebrity? I’m partially kidding, but those are big books. A lot of people have been impacted by them. So number one, thank you. But in all seriousness, what does that kind of done differently for you in the way you’ve kind of managed your career so far?

Matt Dixon: (01:49)
Well, thank, first, thank you for the kind words. I think they’re, the first thing I’ll say is this. Those books and all that research was a big team effort. So it, it’s a kind of an awkward thing to have your name on a book that you know there were dozens and dozens of people behind, putting that research together. But at the same time it’s been a pretty fun journey. We’re, I think in both sales and customer service, we’re a little bit different from a lot of the other folks out there. I mean, you and I know a lot of the same folks in the sales world. I know you hailed from that world as well prior to your time at Kustomer in the customer experience and customer service world. And I think there’s so many good expert, kind of subject matter experts and thought leaders out there. What I think makes some of this research different is the thing I still try to stick to today is I’ve never run a call center. I’ve never been a Head of Customer Experience. I’ve never been a call center rep. I think I’d be, probably be an awful call center rep. I’ve also never been a salesperson. I’ve never run a sales organization and I’ve not, I have not carried a bag for 20, 30 years like many of the other folks out there writing about sales. I think what makes me different, and some of the folks I worked with on that research, is that we’re researchers. We brought data to the air against some of the big questions people were asking.

Matt Dixon: (03:07)
So Challenger, it was, how do we sell the information to power buyers? And we’ve been taught for so long that it’s all about needs diagnosis and relationships and this kind of thing. Is that actually true? And we found with the Challenger research, a lot of that stuff was built on flawed assumptions, or at least it didn’t stand the test of time and the data currently shows a better way to do things from a sales perspective. In effortless experience, very similar. We’re all taught to believe that more is better. It’s all that delight and wowing and exceeding the customer’s expectations and we shouldn’t do that as companies. We should have a great brand that delights, a killer product that delights, great pricing that delights, a sales experience delights, but when things go wrong, we’ve found that’s not the time to delight. That’s the time to get things back on track and make it easy for the customer. Play good in customer service.

Matt Dixon: (03:52)
And so I think in some ways I like, I don’t know that I put myself up in the Pantheon of like the MythBuster guys from Discovery Channel, but I, and that’s kind of how I think of, my career has been a lot about that. Trying to bring science to bear, to test some of these assumptions that a lot of people have that feels so right. And then we never stopped to question whether or not they’re actually true and there’s a lot that we go and test and we find out it’s actually true, but there’s a lot that we tested we find out it’s actually wrong. And I think exposing that for sales leaders, customer experience leaders, contact center leaders, customer service leaders is really important and really valuable because it helps them proceed with clarity and allocate the resources better.

Gabe Larsen: (04:30)
Yeah. Well, I think that’s one of the things that I’ve appreciated about the methodology in the CX space. It seems like it’s fluffier at times, right? It’s a day on the phone with Zappos for 50 hours to make somebody feel good. There’s just so much kind of feel good stuff, that I remember reading the Effortless Experience and it was the first time I was like, “Oh my goodness, a data driven view into customer experience that I think maybe isn’t the standard.” So I do think it is nice to have some research. That’ll set up our conversation as we jump in. Vikas, I mean, your experience with the Effortless Experience, or it’s got to be one of those books, that’s just, you’ve talked to maybe a hundred thousand people about?

Vikas Bhambri: (05:09)
No, look it’s, Matt and team did a great job. It’s top of mind for a lot of folks right now, right? In terms of just how do you compete effectively? And I think the effortless experience in terms of that experience that you can deliver, not only externally, but internally with your team, and then how do you use data to iterate that experience, right? I think what Matt and team do is they’re looking at it at a macro level, across many customers and many trends. And then, what any operational leader needs to do is then apply it to their business and say, “Look, let me look at the metrics in my data. These are the bars that I want to aspire to. What do I need to do to get there?” And looking at the data within their own tools and tool sets and saying, “Where am I falling short?” So I think it’s that perfect convergence in terms of how do people effectively compete in what’s becoming a very challenging environment, right? New companies popping up in every space, almost on a daily basis.

Gabe Larsen: (06:05)
Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s get into kind of then, some of the latest research and it may not be the latest latest, because it seems like every time I talk to Matt, he’s got something new on his, on his cuff, but –

Matt Dixon: (06:16)
[Inaudible] Now I feel lazy because I have –

Gabe Larsen: (06:23)
[Inaudible] four weeks old. What the hell?

Matt Dixon: (06:28)
[Inaudible] me lately.

Gabe Larsen: (06:28)
Yeah, that’s right. This isn’t good enough. So maybe kind of give us the backstory on this. Obviously it was COVID related. A lot of phone calls. Fill in the blanks as to why you started it, what it is.

Matt Dixon: (06:39)
Yeah. So we at, just a little bit of background. So at Tethr, we are in the conversational analytics space. I know a lot of the folks on the, listening on that are familiar with that technology. We’re one of the players in that space. And so we work with a lot of big companies around the world. And what was interesting is we take their phone date, phone call data, we take their chat interactions, their email changes, other other data, and we help them make sense of it. And to understand what’s going on in the customer experience, what the reps are doing to the good and to the bad. What the customer’s experience is with their product and their digital channels and so on and so forth. And one of the things we noticed is, with COVID in that, obviously it took the world like in a blink of an eye, just changed a lot of what we do. Think about a call center leader, multiple kind of dynamics at play. On the one hand, all of my reps who used to be sitting together in a contact center that are now all working from home. No access to peers, no access to supervisors, no shoulder to tap to ask for some help, really working on an island. And then you add onto that the fact that customers are now calling about maybe not entirely new issues, but much more acute issues. So think about, for instance, a utility company, we work with a number of utility companies. They’ve always had a certain percentage of customers that call for financial hardship reasons. I’ve lost my job. My spouse has lost their job. I can’t pay my electric bill this month. I need to go on a payment plan [inaudible] will shut my power off. That, we found in one company in our study, the number of financial hardship-related costs increased by 2.5x almost overnight in the span of like a couple of days. The number of people calling in saying, “I can’t pay my bill. I cannot have you turn the power off. And I don’t know when I’m going to be able to pay to pay you guys. So I need to, you got to come up with a plan and it’s got to be a new, creative plan, right? Because I don’t know when I can get back on track financially.” That produced this perfect storm for customer service leaders. So we started hearing from a lot of our customers, “Hey,” like, “let’s get under the hood of what’s going on in these conversations. What’s changed for our reps? What’s changed in the customers, with the customer’s expectations? What are the good reps doing that we need to do more of? What are the reps doing to the bad that we need to do less of, and let’s get our arms around this because this stuff is happening so fast.”

Matt Dixon: (08:57)
And so that’s what we did. We collected. We took a sample of calls. A million calls total from across 20 different companies. And we specifically picked those companies because we thought they represented a broad cross section of the economy. Some industries really effected like travel and leisure, some less so. And so we combined, we created the sample and we went in and we studied it. One of the first things we did was we scored all of the calls for the level of effort. So we had built an algorithm at Tethr, we call it the Tethr Effort Index, think of it like a predictive survey score. So rather than asking your customer at the end of a call to tell you how much effort that call was and for those of you familiar with the Effortless Experience, you know a customer effort score is one of these things that we talk about a book. That relies on a survey, but what we built a Tethr was a machine generated algorithm that could take a recorded phone call and the machine could tell you basically, here’s the score you would have gotten on the survey if the customer had filled it out, but without the high effort experience and the expense of asking the customer to fill out a survey.

Matt Dixon: (09:57)
So the first thing we did was we started collecting calls on March 11. We picked that date because it was the date the WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. We ran the study for two weeks to get a million calls sample from across 20 different companies. So that was a subset of the total call volume those companies do with us. And we scored those calls and we looked at what the scores were before and what they were after. And we saw a real increase overall in just the difficulty of calls, so the effort level of calls. And for those of you again, who know the research, know that effort corresponds with churn. It corresponds with negative word of mouth. It corresponds with customers unwilling to buy more from you, unwilling to accept the save offer, right? When they get transferred to the retention queue.

Matt Dixon: (10:42)
Specifically, we saw before the pandemic for the average company in our study, it was about 10% of their calls that would have been scored as difficult on our scale. It’s a zero to 10 scale. So we’re looking at the scores in the zero to four range. Those are the bad ones. In the study, so after March 11th, for those companies, that percentage doubled to 20%.

Vikas Bhambri: (11:02)
Wow.

Matt Dixon: (11:03)
So now, one fifth of their total call volume was in that zone of customers who are likely to get on social media and badmouth you, likely to churn out, not likely to buy anything more. They’re going to go in and tell their neighbors and their friends and their colleagues, “Don’t do business with these guys. It’s a terrible company, they’re treating me,-” and again, a lot of the, it was compounded by the way the reps were handling that. The fact that they’re all working from home and we get into a little bit of that, but it was kind of a staggering overnight change in the dynamic.

Gabe Larsen: (11:31)
Well, and I think that’s obviously, I think we’re all experiencing that. So it’s not too surprising from an interpersonal perspective. I can relate. Obviously taking this call from home at the moment. So if I understand the basis of it though, it did start in March 11th, it went for two weeks. Million plus phone calls, cross segment of the industries, just touch on that real quick. It was, you did try, it was pretty variety. So it wasn’t just hospitality and travel. You felt like you got a pretty good cross section on that.

Matt Dixon: (11:57)
Good cross section. So we, we’ve got in there some consumer products companies, some travel and leisure companies, utilities, financial services, card issuers, telco, and cable. It was a broad cross section. We had a couple of more B2B tilted companies as well. So we felt like we had a pretty good sample that we could say, “It wasn’t all skewed towards travel and leisure.”

Gabe Larsen: (12:18)
I love these different industries. Go ahead, Vikas.

Vikas Bhambri: (12:20)
Let me touch on one thing, which I think is really interesting. I think this is about the data, right? And I think if people aren’t using their contact center or CX data in the best of times, shame on them. But especially now, and I think there’s a real opportunity for companies to do what we call proactive service. And I think a great example of this is if you’re an insurer and you’re seeing that 20% of your volume coming in is around, “Hey, I want a reduction in my premium because I’m not driving my car,” why not use that data? Go out to market like my insurer’s done and say, “Hey, we’re giving you a credit to your account because you haven’t even asked for it, but chances are, you’re not driving. So we’re giving all our,” and look at the positive press and you’re seeing some big insurers now are catching on to this. And people are like, “Wow. My insurer’s thinking about me in this time of need.” And I think using that data, because chances are, they were going to give people individually, those credits anyway. One, you’ve reduced your conversation volume into your contact center because now you’re proactive about it and you’re getting positive press. Any thoughts on that and how people might be using that data creatively?

Matt Dixon: (13:29)
Yeah, no, I mean, I think you’re right. So the, a couple comments, one is, being proactive, I think was one of the things we wrote about in The Effortless Experience. Not just solving this issue, but thinking about the next issue proactively for the customer. The thing they’re probably going to call you about in a couple of days or weeks or months, but you as a company know this, so you can use your data to predict that, and you can fully resolve it for the customer. It’s a very low effort way of thinking about the customer experience. But the other thing in general, I totally agree, Vikas, with what you’re saying. That I see, I’m constantly surprised by how little companies, big companies actually leverage all the found data in their enterprise and how much they obsess about getting more data from like, for instance, post-call surveys.

Matt Dixon: (14:17)
So that to me, I find to be like, it’s just this weird head snapping thing that I don’t understand at all, which is they all obsess about post-call surveys. What do we need to do to get more customers to respond to our survey so that they can tell us how much effort the experience was? And I always think, “Well, you’re recording all your phone calls and your email exchanges, and your chat interactions, your SMS exchange and all this stuff on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and social. Like you have enough data already to know what the experience was. Why are you obsessing about your survey response rate?” And it just, it’s so interesting the way, and even when you get down to it, I hate to be pessimistic here, but our data in this view, but I think part of the reason is they get paid on survey response rates and NPS scores and things like that. And so that’s why they obsess about it. It’s not, ultimately, if they really wanted to fix customer experience, there are way better sources of data in the systems they already use so that they can be more proactive, so they can find those effort causes and drivers and do something about it. It’s, that data is voluminous. It is unbiased. It’s unvarnished. It’s really actionable in the technology exists today, you know? Sure. 10 years ago you needed a QA team, kind of with headsets, listening to calls, making notes and surfacing opportunities to get for improvement. But you don’t have to do that today. Machines can do that at tremendous speed and scale and so, but it surprises me why more companies don’t do it.

Vikas Bhambri: (15:38)
Yeah. I mean, the thing is if you send somebody a 15 page survey after an interaction, right, if you’re in the travel industry, for example, right, after I’ve spoken to a customer service professional, it’s like you had good interaction. And I don’t think maybe it’s a, maybe it’s a lack of understanding at the executive level that what kind of data occurs in these conversations, right? If you’re a marketeer and you don’t realize that the best feedback you’re going to get about a promotion or an offer or a competitor, what a competitor’s doing, is in those conversations. If you’re a product person and you don’t realize, “Wow, like my contact center gets real-time feedback on a new feature or a new service that I’m providing,” there’s a lack of understanding there about the richness of the data that resides in the contact center environment.

Matt Dixon: (16:27)
Yeah. I agree. It’s, I think there’s this assumption that it’s the data in so far as leverage, it’s really just valuable for making contexts in our interactions better. So, but we find when we go into those conversations, it’s a gold mine, Vikas, as you’re saying, of the insight around your digital experience. What were all the things the customer was trying to do on your website or your app before they picked up the phone and called that they’re actually telling the rep or complaining about in the conversation and you’ve just recorded it? What are all the things they talk about with respect to your product or your feature or your pricing, or your competitive differentiation, or about the sales rep who oversold them on the product or service to begin with, and now they’re calling in disappointed? So there’s just tons of insight there for all parts of the enterprise, not just for the QA team at the call center.

Vikas Bhambri: (17:11)
Right.

Gabe Larsen: (17:12)
No, I love that. So this is one way I think companies are trying to kind of do things differently in this, it’s been called the new normal or the new world we live in, using data in a way maybe they haven’t done. There were some other things that you were alluding to, Matt based on findings you have, and we’ve put a link in the chat for the actual HBR article that you wrote. So if you want to see some of the additional findings but I want to get into some of these takeaways. Where did you kind of go based on then the data that was revealed? Can you maybe start at the top? So we got data, one, and then what’s next?

Matt Dixon: (17:43)
Yeah. So we, so the highest level again, we found a doubling of the predicted effort level of interactions from pre-pandemic to in the pandemic or pre-March 11 to post-March 11th. The other thing we found as we started digging into what was really driving this was, and I think you found that generally speaking at the highest level, this is this higher level of effort in these interactions was sort of born of two different things. And they’re kind of, there’s a little bit of overlap. And on the one hand I mentioned before, customers who are feeling a lot more emotion and anxiety, driven by things like financial hardship, coming in really frustrated because maybe it took them two hours to get through to a rep because now the call center doesn’t have access to the outsource that they used to provide overflow support. The call volume has spiked, and now there’s a longer hold time. So they’re frustrated to begin with. They’re doubly frustrated maybe because they went to a website and what in normal times wasn’t such a big deal, now it was a really big deal because the alternate option going in self-serving failed them. They’re talking to a rep who they feel like is dealing with policies that really haven’t been updated in light of the pandemic. So you might be asking for a bill payment, that utility example I used before, a bill payment extension or a payment plan. And they’re still pushing customers to the policies that existed before the pandemic. And they haven’t really updated us because the company moves really slowly and they just feel like they’re dealing with people who are just throwing out policy and hiding behind policies.

Matt Dixon: (19:11)
That’s kind of on the customer side. Then the agent side, think about it. And you’ve got to be empathetic to the agent situation here, too. Many of these agents who are now working from home, the fact of the matter is that before the pandemic, most of them were working in kind of a factory floor model of a contact center where they were, they sat in a group surrounded by colleagues who they could tap on the shoulder and ask for help. Supervisors they could wave their hand and flag down for assistance or a policy exception in the moment. They were given a script, they were given a checklist. They had access to all the resources they needed. There were kind of like cogs in the machine. What happens when you send all those folks out to their home offices and now they’re left to their own devices?

Matt Dixon: (19:52)
What you find is that in some cases, maybe we didn’t hire people, we didn’t hire the right people. And maybe in some cases we never coached them on the behaviors that could lead to them being successful. We just kind of told them to stick to the script and just follow the rules, follow the checklist. That doesn’t really work in a situation where customers are calling in about high-anxiety, high-emotion issues. And they’re asking reps to make exceptions and make up their minds and decide things on the fly. Then what do you do if there’s no tenured colleague or supervisor you can flag down? You’re sitting in your basement or your living room doing your job. It’s really, really tough. So what that means is agents are shirking responsibility. They’re citing policies. They’re saying, “Hey, I can’t really help you. Maybe you should write a letter to the company. Sometimes that gets their attention. And you know what you might want to do is just bad mouth them on Twitter, because if you do that, they usually jump to it and they can help you out.” You know? And I’m not kidding. There’s a lot of that going on and it, that then compounds the frustration from customers. So beyond that, we started to look at, I think the good news is there are things we found in the research that are, we think tools and ways forward and we’ve talked a little bit about those, but let me pause here and just see if you have any thoughts, Gabe or Vikas, on that piece of it.

Gabe Larsen: (21:03)
Yeah. Any response to that? I mean, definitely a customer side and an employee side. It sounds like.

Vikas Bhambri: (21:08)
No, I look, I think I, Matt, I’ve been saying for weeks as we’ve been doing these is, this is the biggest stress test that the contact center industry has ever gotten. And I think a lot of the fundamentals that were broken at a macro level across the industry, but individually are in for specific brands are being exposed. And I think that lack of training and empowerment is one that is absolutely coming to the forefront because for somebody who’s been walking the floors of contact centers for 20 years, this even today, there’s the culture of the supervisor walking the floor, looking over the shoulder, providing guidance, jumping in and saying, “Hey, let me listen to that call. Let me coach you through it,” and forget the technical limitations. How do you do that? Now when you’ve got, maybe you’re a supervisor of 20 people and now they’re disparate and they’re working from home, forget the, like I said, the technology limitations, how do you actually do that? So I think, like I said, we’re exposing a lot of the flaws and I think, what are some of the changes we’ll see going forward is that ability to empower and really create this into a knowledge worker role, right? Because as self-service takes care of the low level simple questions, you’re going to see, I think you’re going to see this in the contact center regardless of the work from home environment, but you’re really going to need people who can handle those difficult questions.

Matt Dixon: (22:36)
Yeah. We actually, there’s another one, I don’t know if, Gabe you throw this up on the, with the other article, but there’s an article we wrote in 2018 about T-Mobile’s journey toward a different in kind of knowledge work environment for their contact center, where they basically told their reps, “You guys are now small business owners and we are, our job as leaders is to figure out what’s getting in your way of delivering the right customer experience. Is it a policy? Is it that you don’t have the right tools? You don’t have the right, you’re not on the right platforms that the connection speeds too slow? What is the thing that’s getting in your way? But you tell us what you need. We’ll clear the road for you. Your job is to own the customer experience and come up with creative solutions, but use your own judgment.”

Matt Dixon: (23:15)
A lot of that really increases the importance of hiring great people, coaching them in a really effective way, giving them great manager support and putting them in a climate that really rewards people for using their own judgment; doesn’t just tell them to stick to the script. So that article was called Reinventing Customer Service and I encourage everyone to read that because it picks up on this story that Vikas is talking about. When the easy stuff goes away, by definition, what’s left is the more complicated stuff that the live rep is handling. And you need to have really good people who can exercise their own judgment, and that’s even more important. And what becomes apparent is when, if you haven’t hired the right people and you haven’t helped coach them on the behaviors that’ll lead to success, when you put them in an at-home environment, that becomes really apparent really quickly.

Matt Dixon: (24:01)
And so it really, this is, I think there are two trends that’ll be kind of shot through a tunnel of time with COVID. I think one is digital and specifically omni-channel capabilities. The ability for companies to seamlessly switch, obviously work that you guys do at Kustomer, to switch from one channel to the next. I think the ability, the effectiveness of asynchronous messaging in particular, chat effectiveness, SMS effectiveness, customers used to use that stuff for simple binary interactions. Now, when they’re looking at a two hour, wait time in the phone to queue, they’re going to go try that chat channel first, right? And see how far they can get. What that’s doing is it’s forcing chat to grow up really fast and forcing our chat bots to get really smart really quickly. I think the other trend that will be shot through a tunnel of time is agent empowerment and hiring great people, putting them in a climate of judgment where they can leverage the expertise of their peers, but more importantly, where they’re trusted to do what they know is right, because we trust that we hired great people and we showed them, here are the boundaries in the sandbox we can’t go across for regulatory reasons or legal reasons, but within that, use your judgment. Do what you think is right for the customer. We’re not going to script you. We’re not going to checklist you. And it turns out putting customer reps in those environments means they deliver actually better outcomes, more customer-centric outcomes, and they deliver better results for their companies, higher NPS scores, lower churn, higher cross-sell and up-sell. And that’s exactly what T-Mobile saw in their experience.

Vikas Bhambri: (25:27)
Yeah, and if I can just touch on what Matt said about that omni-channel experience. It’s really delivering that same experience, regardless of channel. I talked to a lot of customer service leaders that complain you gave the example of people going to Twitter to complain. And I didn’t know agents were actually coaching them to do that. I can see why. And it was really interesting. I remember a few years ago, I did some work with an airline where I met their social team, the Twitter team, and they were like, they walked into the room, like really like a group of alphas. They were talking about how they had a separate set of policies that they were able to do than the core contact center, because they were like, “When people complain on social, we have the ability to offer them refunds and things that the core team isn’t.” I was sitting there laughing. I’m like, “This is not a good thing. You’re basically training people to go to social media, to amplify their voice so that they get better customer service.” And I’m like, “That is a fail because what you’re doing then is you’re training them to go to these places.” And so for me, omni-channel experience, it’s not just about delivering the channels, but you should have a uniform experience regardless of which channel that customers coming to you with. So I thought that just, when you mentioned Twitter and agents guiding customers to that just triggered that airline story.

Gabe Larsen: (26:44)
Crazy.

Matt Dixon: (26:45)
Because they say, “Well, look. Actually the alpha team is on that group. I know several companies, big name companies that put their best reps, you graduate into the social team. When you reach the highest level of agent status, that’s where you go, like, that’s the destination job. There are no rules or no policies do whatever you want. And what they’re doing is teaching their customers that the way you get the best service from this company is by publicly complaining about it.

Gabe Larsen: (27:08)
Sure.

Matt Dixon: (27:08)
And it’s just like –

Gabe Larsen: (27:11)
Yeah. It’s funny that that’s what, that’s the world we’re in though, you guys. Our time is unfortunately come to an end, such a fun talk track, always more to discuss. We did leave the link to the HBR so you can dive in a couple more of the findings and the research. Matt, it’s always great to have you. Vikas, thanks for joining. For the audience, have a fantastic day.

Matt Dixon: (27:29)
Thanks.

Vikas Bhambri: (27:29)
Thanks.

Matt Dixon: (27:29)
Take care guys, bye.

Exit Voice: (27:38)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.

 

The Power of Data for a CX Organization

The Power of Data for a CX Organization TW

Data. The buzzword we can’t escape. The subject of many a podcast, workshop, TEDTalk — you get it. By now, most organizations understand the impact of acquiring, analyzing, and modeling data to drive business decisions. And while many like to wax poetic about how data is changing the world of customer service forever, there’s not much talk about actionable ways to architect or use your data. The phrase “data modeling” might feel like PhD material, but it really just refers to a process for using data to help you predict business performance (even if you’re just working from pivot tables in a Google Sheet).

When you want to use data to address a business challenge, it’s important to ensure that you fully understand the problem at hand. This concept might feel like a no-brainer, but I often find that companies don’t spend enough time trying to understand the issue. As a CX Director or team lead, you may feel like you have a solid grasp on the problem, but that problem may be understood differently by your agents — or even your customers! Lean into this step to fully understand all facets of the issue as you begin to sort through existing data and identify gaps in the data that need to be filled.

As a Customer Success Manager at Kustomer, I have the privilege of seeing firsthand how companies big and small are integrating data-centric strategies into their operations. Below are some of the most recent use cases that inspire me.

Using Data To Understand International vs. Domestic Performance

The Power of Data for a CX Organization Inline

One of my clients wanted to explore how their business performed internationally, and how that performance compared to their work in the United States. They have always gathered contact reasons for each of their conversations. They also possessed the country info for each of their customers (primarily gathered through their shipping addresses). Segmenting customers into international vs domestic audiences — and breaking down the count of unique contact reasons within these segments — yielded interesting conclusions for their CX team. It’s probably not a huge surprise that “where is my order” topped the list of contact reasons for each segment, but there was a clear divergence in the data after that. Their team was able to dive deeper into these reasons to build a more tailored content strategy for their international customers and improve international sentiment.

Using Data To Understand Which Products Are Most Likely To Be Damaged During Shipping

Another client wanted to examine which of their products were most likely to be reported as damaged in transit to the customer. While they collected whether a customer reported a damaged item through the conversation’s contact reason, they did not collect the product SKU that was associated with each of those “damaged” contact reasons. The business began training their agents to fill out SKUs for specific contact reasons, and they reinforced that training by building logic into the Kustomer Platform that required the SKU to be provided when the “damaged” contact reason was selected for a conversation. As they’ve begun collecting this data, they’ve been able to determine which of their specific products are damaged at higher rates, and adjust their shipping and packing strategies to better protect those items. Not only does this work increase sentiment and trust for their customers, but it also helps the business to save money spent on replacements and refunds.

Using Data To Understand How Sales Team Consults Contribute To Revenue

One of my clients has a sales team that helps customers navigate the company’s inventory and acts as consultants through the buying process. However, that sales team is not involved in every experience — they’re simply present if the customer wants or needs their expertise. My client wanted to understand how these consults were contributing to the company’s revenue; what was the ROI for these consults? In order to get this insight, the company began to automatically tag customers as “sales influenced” for 24 hours after a consult was completed with their sales staff. If that customer places an order in that 24-hour window, then the sale is attributed to the sales team’s efforts. This process allows the business to better understand how effective these consults are, and whether to update the process or continue forward.

Interested in learning how the Kustomer Platform can uncover more data-driven insights for your business? Schedule a demo here.
 

Four Tips for Transforming CX with Hunter Schoettle

Four Tips for Transforming CX with Hunter Schoettle TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Hunter Schoettle from PatientPop to uncover the four secrets to transforming the customer experience. PatientPop offers support to private healthcare practices and Hunter’s team is able to handle every aspect of CX with these four helpful tips. Listen to the podcast below to find out how you can transform your customer experience.

Tip 1: Build a Strong Base for Relationships

Being the Head of Customer Experience at PatientPop, Hunter understands the importance of having CX that goes beyond the standard. Hunter has developed four tactics for transforming the customer experience to a standard of excellence. The first is caring for the people within the company. Hunter creates a principle of honesty and understanding within PatientPop by hosting a work environment in which his employees feel cared for and comfortable in. Hunter explains:

I think that having happy employees, happy people, is going to drive those positive customer interactions. And even if you’re talking about the technology itself, having happy engineers working on your product, they’re going to be a lot more dedicated to driving results and delivering things that are going to help our customers.

When the people who work at the company are happy, their satisfaction scores are more likely to increase and customers are more likely to continually use the product. Even those who don’t interact with the customer on a daily basis are better able to provide superior products and services because their happiness in the workplace reflects on the customer satisfaction scale. Building a strong base for relationships between employees and leadership is just the first step to transforming the customer experience.

Tip 2: Utilize Data Effectively

The second step is to use data to the company’s advantage. According to Hunter, data is key to making decisions because it offers unbiased and emotionless information that when utilized effectively, can greatly benefit the company as a whole. In order to correctly use this resource, it is important to automate data availability to save time and talent. Further, it is also important to continually update and analyze the collected data. Because data offers an unbiased look into how the company is performing altogether, it is a valuable resource that should be constantly monitored and used in all aspects of implementation of policy and decision making. Hunter mentions, “Put a lot of thought into how you’re going to organize it (data) and what you’re going to look at if you want to be successful in the long run.” Questions can be answered through looking at data. If a CX team wonders why a customer is leaving or what needs to be fixed to keep customer loyalty, the team would benefit greatly from looking at collected data and implementing it into aspects of improved CX.

Tip 3: Step Outside of the CX Role

Hunter’s third step to transforming CX is to step outside of the CX role and engage with other parts of the company. This method effectively optimizes the customer experience because of the insights gained from other teams working together to provide the best products, services and experiences. To further expound on step three, Hunter says:

Really what I mean by that is I love getting outside of my role and knowing what’s going on in the rest of the organization. I want to know what sales is doing. I want to know what implementation is doing. I want to know what the customer success team is doing, support, product, so on and so forth. And I think that knowing all of those things and having a pulse to some extent around those areas really gives me the ability to be proactive.

When teams are interconnected not only in the customer experience side but throughout the whole organization, the company is more likely to retain customer loyalty. When asked how to better insert oneself into different roles within the company, Hunter says that persistence is fundamental in getting insights from other parts of the company, especially if the others are standoffish at first. Additionally, having a strong agenda with a clear direction helps to get started on working with other teams to collect more data and insights.

Tip 4: Actively Listen to and Learn from the Customer

The last step to transforming the customer experience is to listen to the customer. Hunter sees that many CX agents say they are listening to the customer; however, he finds that most of the time they are not really listening with intent but are just waiting for the opportunity to get the job done as soon as possible and to move on to the next person. Generally, the customer is going to tell a brand everything it needs to know about the products or services offered through their feedback. Hunter notes a difference between actually listening to the customer and hearing the customer. He says, “So I think that really, truly listening to your customer and actually understanding the issues that they’re having before trying to solve them is one of the biggest things that a lot of companies miss on.” Allowing customers the time needed for them to fully speak and express their issues, taking notes, actively trying to understand their problems and figuring out efficient solutions are all imperative to gaining customer loyalty and useful data. This tactic helps eliminate wasted time on misunderstandings and helps to create a customer-centric culture in which customer feedback is valued and is essential to improving upon the brand as a whole.

Hunter urges organizations to implement these four helpful tips to transform their customer experience. To learn more, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday and Thursday.

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Listen to “Transforming and How to Do That | With Hunter Schoettle” on Spreaker.

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Full Episode Transcript:

The Four Steps To Transforming a CX Organization | Hunter Schoettle

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about transforming. How to do that on the customer experience side with a little bit of a healthcare focus and to do that, we’ve got Hunter Schoettle joining us. He’s currently the Head of Customer Experience at PatientPop. Hunter, thanks for joining man. How are you?

Hunter Schoettle: (00:29)
I’m doing awesome. Thanks for having me.

Gabe Larsen: (00:31)
Yeah. Yeah. Excited to have you. It’s fun to have a little bit of a different flavor around customer experience and some of the things you guys are doing in the healthcare space. I think from the product standpoint or the service, all the things you, it’s so different, but I think kind of this customer experience will be fun to hear your per view on it. So before we dive in, tell us a little about yourself.

Hunter Schoettle: (00:54)
Sure. So right now, like you said, at PatientPop. They’re a practice growth platform for private practices across pretty much every specialty. So I work with everything from med spas to dentist to neurosurgeons. So get a really diverse group of people there. I, like you said, running the customer experience department, so we still have a startup vibe. We just got the series C so really, really kind of growing more into a mature company at this point, but I definitely still get to wear a ton of hats. Had a lot of background in sales, which taught me that kind of just, figure it out mentality, get stuff done, whatever it takes. So I enjoy having a challenge. I handle everything from customers threatening legal against us, contract law, I’ve read copyright law, all the way to just managing our Google My Business. I respond to the reviews on there. So the main bread and butter, main focus though is on customer attention and that’s really where my department thrives and gives the most value to the company. Using those frontline interactions to both gather data and then analyze and use that to help continually improve the product.

Gabe Larsen: (02:09)
I love that. And tell me one more time, the primary customers that you guys are servicing, one more time, or what type, who are they again?

Hunter Schoettle: (02:16)
So private practice doctors, pretty much any specialty right now.

Gabe Larsen: (02:22)
Interesting. Yeah, that’s going to be fun. And then just for the audience, if you’re wondering, you do not say his last name as you think you [inaudible]. Don’t ask his last name because I can’t even say it again. So you’ll have to hit him up on LinkedIn if you want the phonetic spelling of, or the phonetics of how to actually say –

Hunter Schoettle: (02:46)
You nailed it on the intro though.

Gabe Larsen: (02:46)
– phonetically put it in there. All right, well let’s jump in. I mean, you’ve been doing this for a while. I’m interested to see if I can pull from you some of these keys or secrets to the way you’ve been able to transform that customer experience in your space. Where do you start?

Hunter Schoettle: (03:02)
So there’s really four main things that I’ve kind of looked at. I think the most important one to me is always the people, which sounds counterintuitive when you’re talking about tech and SAS and all that, you really think that tech and whatnot is more but, more important, but everything behind that is always going to be the people. And I think that having happy employees, happy people, is going to drive those positive customer interactions. And even if you’re talking about the technology itself, having happy engineers working on your product, they’re going to be a lot more dedicated to driving results and delivering things that are going to help our customers.

Gabe Larsen: (03:42)
Yeah. I mean, that’s something that I think most people, they say but it’s easy to talk the talk, it’s hard to walk the walk, or people kind of intuitively know it, but they have a hard time figuring it out. Anything come to mind that you’ve been able to actually put that into practice where you have actually been able to get that engagement level of your employees to a level that does translate to happier customers?

Hunter Schoettle: (04:05)
Yeah, absolutely. So I think a couple things, one is the, that question actually sparks a different story that was originally coming to mind, but I have one individual on my team. He is a rock star performer, always doing great, but he’s really, really hungry for more career growth then he wants to move up and so on and so forth. And I think that everyone thinks that career growth means promotions, merit increase, et cetera, et cetera. But realistically it doesn’t always have to come in that. So he was always a good performer, but I started having him train the new hires, work with people that are newer on the team, getting him a lot more exposure to some of those hard management skills. And that changed his entire attitude in the office and his performance numbers, even though they were already great, he was already leading the team, we saw a definite lift in those and the feedback from the customers in turn has also improved. So we constantly monitor that as well.

Gabe Larsen: (05:10)
Interesting. Yeah. And sometimes everyone thinks it’s about the money, right? Or they think it’s about the physical things, but sometimes it’s different. I think each person is different. Sounds like you figured that out [inaudible]. So people, I mean, have you thought much about the hiring? It seems like people always struggle getting the right people in the door and then engaging them. Quick thoughts on the hiring process, anything figured out there?

Hunter Schoettle: (05:35)
Yeah, absolutely. So I think there’s a couple of things around hiring. One is just really investing in the interview process and making sure you’re learning everything. I mean, that’s kind of obvious, but once someone’s in the door, it’s investing in them personally and professionally. So, I like to build really strong relationships. I like to where people are personally. I think that knowing that someone’s family member is sick and changing how you interact with them that day, that week, whatever, goes a long way to making sure those employees feel supported, feel engaged, and if an employee likes their manager, likes their director, likes their leadership, they’re going to work a lot harder, on the flip side as well. So and then it also comes to supporting them professionally. So you have to support your careers and I think that’s the bigger part about hiring is if you want top talent on your team, you have to support the top talents, careers. You can’t hold on to them and try and keep them pigeonholed into where they are performing great on your team. You have to be okay with supporting them, moving on if you don’t have the right opportunity for them. And I actually just ran into that. I know we had spoke about that before. Before were on here I had one a woman on my team who I’d been working with for two years. She’s been my direct report, seen her grow tremendously and she’s gotten to the point where she has a lot of options. I don’t have the right opportunity for her growth right now. But we were talking and I actually choked up teared up a little bit when I was telling her that I would give her a great reference, whatever it was. But that level of relationship is really what I look to build with my people.

Gabe Larsen: (07:23)
Cool man, yeah. I mean, I think a lot of people say their people are their assets or it’s just hard to actually do it, to find a way to get beyond the general conversations and get to a personal level. And sometimes actually, I’ve heard other people discourage that like, “Hey, keep it professional. Don’t get to that level where you are really good friends.” That sounds like you’ve felt like you found a pretty good balance on that front.

Hunter Schoettle: (07:46)
I’d definitely say it’s a fine line. I think there is, too personal is definitely a very real thing, but I like to have some personal relationship for sure. But there definitely is a way too personal. I still have to keep it professional, of course. Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (08:02)
I think that’s fair. That is, I think finding the line is what separates great leaders from others. So people’s one side. The second place you talk about a little bit is based on the data piece. Talk to me about how you’ve kind of found a way to break through and make data something that enables you to transform.

Hunter Schoettle: (08:22)
Definitely. So I think that data is one of the most, I mean, I guess it’s redundant to say one of the most important things when we’re talking about the most important things, but data is huge. I use it every day, all day. And really when it comes to decision making, everything, I try to keep the emotions out of it. I keep my feelings, my thoughts, all of that out of it. And I just stare at the data, look into what’s actually going on, what the facts are. And I think there’s a couple things that I really key into here. One is automating data availability. So if you have to do a huge manual effort to get the data that you’re after, then you’re wasting resources. So being able to access the data that you need regularly is one huge factor there. And then another is just generally the analysis of it — what you’re looking at, where you’re going with it, so on and so forth.

Gabe Larsen: (09:23)
Got it. Yeah. Is there a certain, feels like people, and this is another one where I think people are like, “Yep, yep. We need to use data, but I don’t know. One, my data is so dirty or it’s in disparate systems.” I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.

Hunter Schoettle: (09:36)
Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (09:36)
Like, “I know I need the data, but part of it’s in my CRM and the other’s in the ticket system, I got a chat program over there.” It’s like, I keep saying it on here, this guy told me about his frankenstack and I just can’t get over it. It was such a funny word. He’s like, “You mean my frankenstack?” I asked him about the technology stack and he’s like, “You mean my “frankenstack?” But is there a certain, so is there certain metrics that you’ve found that are outside of the norm that actually tell the story you want? Because sometimes I’m feeling like we’re looking at numbers and I did, I had a call today where a woman was saying, “You know, we’re looking all about call handle time. But what we didn’t realize is our maniacal focus on handle time was really decreasing our net, our overall customer experience. And so we had to like find this balance.” Any thoughts on metrics? How to watch them, which ones are right?

Hunter Schoettle: (10:27)
Definitely. Definitely. So the first part of that statement, very true there’s data all over the place that’s housed in many different areas. So I definitely feel that still. I haven’t solved that problem myself just yet but I think that is another big one is how clean your data is leads back to how everything else, how your decision making is, et cetera, et cetera. But some of the main things that I really focus on is you got to start early. You got to really sit down and think about, put a lot of thought into how you’re going to organize it and what you’re going to, what you’re going to look at if you want to be successful in the long run. And what my team has done, we’ve built our own custom object that we work out of which is a case or whatever. I don’t want to use too much Salesforce lingo, but it’s our own custom object within Salesforce. And we’re constantly tooling it to make sure that we’re adding data points, changing, adapting, moving on, and we put them into big buckets. And so it’s products, service, customer service, expectations versus performance, costs versus value, things like that are really the things that we’re looking to gather. And the main metric that we’re actually looking at is when customers are requesting to cancel and when customers actually do cancel, why are we losing customers? And how can we fix the issues that cause a customer to leave us? And I think that if you’re, if you’re focused on the end of the funnel there and fixing those main issues, you’re going to be getting the best return on investment from a customer experience standpoint. Because A, you’re going to be increasing your customer attention at the end of the day, but you’re also going to be those mad customers that maybe aren’t mad enough to cancel it are still going to be having those same issues. And you might be shifting the NPS needle to moving them into more promoters and then even upstream, you’re fixing the same issue and can increase your new sales. Kind of a backwards funnel approach.

Gabe Larsen: (12:37)
No, no. I think that’s, I haven’t heard somebody or I haven’t had somebody explain it that way, but I like that. I think that’s a different way to look at it, but maybe the backwards funnel, that’s an interesting way to kind of frame that. Maybe we need to frame it differently because sometimes I think we’re getting off in the wrong direction when it comes to metrics. Okay, so you got the people side a little bit, all data, where do you go next?

Hunter Schoettle: (12:57)
So, I think one of the big things for me is, what is customer experience? To me, it’s the entire customer journey. So I think that if you’re in a customer experience role and that’s something you’re really focused on, you really don’t have a role. And I, what I really mean is get outside your role. So I’ve actually never even read my job description. I don’t know what it says. I know it says, “Do these things and perform in these areas.” And I hit those. I hit my goals, all of that, but really what I mean by that is I love getting outside of my role and knowing what’s going on in the rest of the organization. I want to know what sales is doing. I want to know what implementation is doing. I want to know what the customer success team is doing, support, product, so on and so forth. And I think that knowing all of those things and having a pulse to some extent around those areas really gives me the ability to be proactive when it comes to leading back to that data is what am I going to be tracking? Maybe I need a new data point based on what someone in sales is doing. Maybe sales is trying new price floors, or pitching a new product, trying to get a higher attach rate. And I can put new data points that my team can start tracking moving forward to see on the end of the funnel there, is that a positive or negative effect to when you’re looking at those cancellation requests?

Gabe Larsen: (14:22)
Yeah. Is there any advice on doing that and getting out of your box? I mean is it just the umph to do it? Is it setting up a weekly conversation with somebody outside your, or any quick advice for people who kind of want to do that, but are lacking kind of that, what’s the best way to kind of operate a little bit outside my box?

Hunter Schoettle: (14:43)
So, I mean, first one is definitely persistence. I think that there are a lot of, a lot of people love opening up and letting others come into their org or their department and like explaining it. But sometimes it can feel intrusive. So sometimes people are a little more standoffish to having you involved in some of their department’s meetings, but I think it’s just being persistent and being able to show the value of you being around and working together. And then you hit the nail on the head. I think that weekly meetings or bi-weekly meetings is huge to just continue looking at trends. And I think that as long as you have a good agenda and are going over the biggest trends, pertinent trends, and focusing on more bigger picture items opposed to, a lot of times, people want to get nitpicky into like one account, things like that. I think as long as you have a strong agenda and focus on bigger trends, bigger items, then you can get a lot of really valuable things in terms of, I work with sales on a bi-weekly basis and we look at different trends and processes that they’re working on to continue improving, which then leads into implementation. They have better accounts, better expectations set, leads and so on and so forth throughout the journey. But there’s a lot of different ways. It all starts with persistence though.

Gabe Larsen: (16:08)
Yeah. I think the persistence, someone used the word pleasantly persistent or something. It’s kinda like we were talking about the personal and professional. There’s this line of persistence, pleasantly persistent. This is what I do. And I’m like, “Okay.”

Hunter Schoettle: (16:24)
There’s also a big relationship key there as well, which you touched on there, but you got to build relationships across the departments, which leads into once you have those good relationships, that personal relationship, you can start using that to start accomplishing some of that and using that persistence with those people more directly and intentionally.

Gabe Larsen: (16:47)
Yeah. The relationships make a big difference. So, all right. So we’ve got people, data, getting a little bit out of the box and then where do you end?

Hunter Schoettle: (16:56)
So this has got to be the most obvious one for sure. But I think a lot of people don’t do it and it’s to listen to your customer. The customer is going to tell you everything that you need to know. And I think the reason that I even bring that up is a lot of people think they’re listening to their customer, but they’re actually not. And so a customer might say for example, “I have an issue with the product. The product’s not working.” And then say interaction with the support rep. Product’s not working. Support rep just jumps on it and starts trying to fix the product. Or really the issue is not that the product’s not working. The issue is that the customer doesn’t know how to use the product, or hasn’t adopted the product in the way that it’s supposed to be used. And it’s really more of an educational issue where that support rep, they tried to solve the problem before they knew the story. So I think that really, truly listening to your customer and actually understanding the issues that they’re having before trying to solve them is one of the biggest things that a lot of companies miss on. And the way I put that into interactions with my frontline in my department is the first five to ten minutes of our calls is just the customer talking. We have a quick intro and then just let them talk. And then it gets silent. They say, “Oh, I have an issue with this.” Get silent. You wait five, ten seconds. And then they open up and go then just line by line. We take notes. And then, and then once we’ve got that full story, that’s when we go in to actually solve the issues for them. And I think training across departments with things like that is a super important thing. Our frontline, my team, hears it all the time. “You’re the first person that truly listened to me.” And that’s something you don’t want to hear very often. You want to make sure that you’re truly listening to your customer.

Gabe Larsen: (18:50)
Yeah, yeah. That is, that’s another one that I think people talk about, but they, your point, they don’t do as much. So I like that. I think that’s a fun talk track. Hunter, appreciate you taking the time to join us today. If someone wants to reach out or continue the dialogue, what’s the best way to do that?

Hunter Schoettle: (19:08)
I’m fairly active on LinkedIn. If I get messages, I usually look at them. I’d say that’s probably the, probably the best way for now.

Gabe Larsen: (19:19)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, really appreciate it. Transforming customer experience in healthcare. Those are some of the lessons learned from Hunter. So Hunter again, thanks for taking the time and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Hunter Schoettle: (19:32)
Absolutely. I appreciate it, Gabe.

Exit Voice: (19:39)
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Building a 90 Day Roadmap to Customer Excellence and 3 Simple Tips with Shannon Martin

Building a 90 Day Roadmap to Customer Excellence and 3 Simple Tips with Shannon Martin TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Shannon Martin to learn about building a 90 day roadmap to successful customer service. Learn how Shannon has built an excellent team to provide world class customer service by listening to the podcast below.

Problem Solving Through Connection

Senior Director of Travel Partners Group at Expedia Group, Shannon, reveals the secrets to structuring a successful CX team with a 90 day roadmap. The first step to 90 day success is to build a connection through asking questions. Doing so is sure to uncover problems that need to be solved within the brand that customers are experiencing. This is an especially effective way to cater the ultimate consumer experience because this method is created by design-led thinking. When asked to evaluate a design-led thinking company culture, Shannon says, “Even though it’s a bit of a buzzword today, I do think customer service professionals have done this for years because our concern is always what’s the impact of the customer? What is their experience finding the problems?” By asking questions to the customer and further quantifying problems that need to be solved as a result, a company becomes more vigilant and better customer service outcomes are sure to ensue.

Testing Promising Opportunities

The next step of the 90 day roadmap is to test and learn based on the data gathered. Once these problems have been identified, it is important for CX leaders to look at all of the options to find the most promising opportunities. As Shannon says, “You really want to pick a few promising opportunities, the ones that look like you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. And there’s no guarantee that those will be the one, but it will give you a place to start.”

A prime example of testing and learning was when Shannon’s team identified how to better provide a customer experience. She understands how difficult it can be for brands that have CX teams across the globe to implement change. Shannon believes that one of the best ways to effectively implement tests and change is to start with a focus group and if said group shows positive results, change can then be implemented globally. To do this, Shannon’s test group displayed a more consultative approach to CX, rather than that of a strictly problem solving approach. Additionally, her team cut all handle times and allowed the agents to provide service at their will without constraint. This ultimately led to higher customer satisfaction scores, employee satisfaction scores and a profound increase in revenue.

Slow Down for Success

The final step to creating and actualizing an effective 90 day roadmap is to take things piece by piece and day by day. Something a lot of newer brands evidently struggle with is they tend to overleap oneself and become overwhelmed with amounting problems that need solving. Shannon’s solution is to find the right opportunities and to create change in small and effective steps. She mentions:

Everybody’s like, “Oh, I need to fix these 20 different things in my first 90 days.” No, you don’t. You definitely cannot do that. It’s impossible. But if you can find a few promising things where you can start to make incremental change, over time, incremental change actually becomes huge. And that’s really the only thing that you could easily expect in the first 90 days is, where can I make some really promising, incremental change?

Starting from scratch and working in small steps can bring long-term benefits and success. Working each day towards a goal and doing what is necessary in increments to achieve that goal can help launch CX teams to their biggest wins.

CX and CS leaders alike could greatly benefit by using Shannon’s 90 day roadmap to customer service excellence. Identifying problems by creating a connection and asking targeted questions, testing and learning from data, and solving problems day by day have all proven to transcend teams to CX greatness.

To learn more about the secrets to creating a 90 day roadmap, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday and Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

The 90 Day Roadmap to Customer Excellence | Shannon Martin

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. Fun topic, very fun topic. We’re going to be talking about this idea of a 90 day roadmap to customer excellence and to do that, we brought on Shannon Martin. She’s currently the Senior Director, Travel Partners Group at Expedia Group. Shannon, thanks for joining. How are ya?

Shannon Martin: (00:30)
I am great. It’s a lovely rainy day here in Texas, which for most people may not be exciting, but for Texas, it’s a great day.

Gabe Larsen: (00:39)
I love it. I love it. Well we appreciate you joining and want to jump into some of the lessons learned from your cool career. But before we do that, maybe tell us just a little bit more about your background.

Shannon Martin: (00:51)
Sure. Even though I am part of the Travel Partners Group at Expedia now, prior to that, I was the Head of Global Customer Experience Operations for HomeAway, which became Vrbo, which was acquired by Expedia.

Gabe Larsen: (01:06)
Yes.

Shannon Martin: (01:06)
So I’ve got at least 20 years, I don’t want to say exactly how many, in the customer service world, starting with frontline management and then going all the way through to everything that supports customer service.

Gabe Larsen: (01:19)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, yeah. You look at, check out her LinkedIn and you’ll find that she is, she’s seen the movie once or twice, so it’d be fun to kind of dive into this idea of starting up and optimizing your customer excellence transformation. So let’s start at the top. As people think, I think this is one of the big challenges, I’m new to a job. I’m thinking about trying to kind of optimize the structure, the strategy, but there’s so much coming at me. How do you start? How do you start thinking about this 90 day plan of being able to just do it and do it right?

Shannon Martin: (01:52)
Well, if you’re coming new into a company, you obviously don’t know what you don’t know. The big thing these days is design-led thinking, take your approach to those first 90 days in that design-led thinking framework, then you realize the first thing you need to do is figure out what problems you need to solve. And then from there you can start thinking about, “All right, I’ve figured out a problem. What are some of the things that I might be able to address?” And then start designing some tests to see if you can actually make a difference in those areas? Because even those incremental tests could start to show you some goodness that you can expand on in a broader base later.

Gabe Larsen: (02:34)
I, yeah, this design-led thinking. It seems to be a little bit of a buzz, not a buzzword, but something that I think not everybody knows about. Could you just double click on that a little bit because it does, it is for some, a newer phenomenon. How would you explain that? What is it?

Shannon Martin: (02:49)
What’s funny about it is in the customer service world, I think customer service people are naturally designed to do this, but you always want to start with the customer’s problem. What problem are you trying to solve? And so once you understand what problem you’re trying to solve, then you can think about, “Okay, what are the processes that impact that problem? How does a customer get to the point where they have that problem?” And then you start looking at breaking that problem apart and what can you then fix? And then it all becomes a question of testing; test and learn. How do you tweak this one thing? Does it make a difference? How do you, and then expand that to different parts of the process? So even though it’s a bit of a buzzword today, I do think customer service professionals have done this for years because our concern is always what’s the impact on the customer? What’s their experience finding the problems?

Gabe Larsen: (03:44)
I like that. I like that you’re right. In some ways it’s been around for a while, but it does take a couple of new avenues, a little bit more structure in the way that you kind of talked about it, right? Problem and process and product and bringing those all together. Let’s maybe double click into some of those thoughts. I like the design-led thinking of how you then approach those 90 days. Where do you typically start?

Shannon Martin: (04:03)
Gosh, the first thing is you need to go out and you gather your data right on the problem. And the best way to gather the data is talking to people. This is actually a twofold benefit. Not only can you start to understand the customer’s problems and concerns, but you start to build relationships with the people on the front lines. At VRBO, our customer service agents talk to 10,000 people a year.

Gabe Larsen: (04:29)
Wow.

Shannon Martin: (04:29)
And my joke was they had the Vulcan mind meld with their customers. If you wanted to know how something was going to go over with a customer, talk to customer service agents. So that’s where I start, like just getting their information, getting in their ideas, round tables and surveys, and just going down to someone’s desk and saying, “Hey, what are you seeing? What are you hearing today about X, Y, and Z?” So again, not only are you starting to gather your data on what the customer problems are, you’re also hearing directly from the folks that probably have ideas on how to solve those problems and building the relationships with those teams. It’s all gonna give you a lot more trust in grace when you start to suggest some changes later.

Gabe Larsen: (05:14)
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, people feel, I feel like people, they do try to get to their customers, but sometimes they don’t get the information they want out of it. It’s like, I love that you kind of talk about this idea of building connections by asking questions. Is there certain ways you’ve found to get the right information out? Is it about structuring the right questions? Is it about just getting to the right people or make sure you get to the right customers or any thoughts on kind of that double click on actually extracting some of the goodness out?

Shannon Martin: (05:43)
There’s so many frameworks and how you can do it. I have usually taken a little bit more of an unstructured approach and I might start out with, “Hey, what are you hearing about our billing issues right now?” And it’s something, I mean, that seems like a fairly broad topic and there can be lots of questions or lots of answers that could come about. But oftentimes agents have something that’s very top of mind and they’ll say, “Well, what we’re seeing right now is that refunds are taking more than the normal amount of time.” “Okay. Tell me more,” and it really becomes like the, “Tell me more, tell me more,” once you have that breadcrumb to go after, then you can actually start looking at more structured data to figure out how big the problem is. So if you’re seeing a payment issue in New Zealand, like, “Okay, what payment provider are we using in New Zealand?” Well we’re using this particular one, I’m not gonna name names. And so then you actually start, you go to the case management system. It’s like, “Okay, how many contacts did we have? How many bookings do we have? Okay, we’ve got a fairly good percentage of things that are not happening.” And then you go to engineering and it’s like, “Okay, are we seeing anything happening here?” So you start gathering all your data now that you have that breadcrumb or that starting point that identifies a problem. Because once you, you have some anecdotal problems, but then you need to quantify them. How big of a problem is it?

Gabe Larsen: (07:13)
Yeah. Yeah. I was thinking as you said the, “Tell me more, tell me more,” concept of somebody saying something like that. They said the five whys. It’s like you’re having a problem, why? Well this. Well, why? Well, why? And pretty soon after the fifth one they said, usually you’ve got down to the root cause of what’s really driving this person or what they care most about, or what’s really kind of putting them in that position. That, “Tell me more,” that’s fun. I’d forgotten that. Okay. So getting the connections and asking the right questions is number one. Where do you kind of go to next, as you think about this road map and this design-led thinking transformation?

Shannon Martin: (07:52)
Right? The normal, the thing that we normally look at, so before you come up with a specific solution, right, you have to, there’s some maybe policy process kind of the softer things that you need to figure out. And in that case, you also want to look at all your options. So let’s say you identified 20 different problems like, “Okay, I’m going to narrow it down. What are just a couple of promising opportunities that we have here?” And they could make a small change that can make a big difference, or it could be a big change that happened that fixes every customer. That’s like, not as likely, but you really want to pick a few promising opportunities, the ones that look like you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. And there’s no guarantee that those will be the one, but it will give you a place to start. It will help you feel like you’re not boiling the ocean, right? Everybody’s like, “Oh, I need to fix these 20 different things in my first 90 days.” No, you don’t. You definitely cannot do that. It’s impossible. But if you can find a few promising things where you can start to make incremental change, over time, incremental change actually becomes huge. And that’s really the only thing that you could easily expect in the first 90 days is, where can I make some really promising, incremental change?

Gabe Larsen: (09:17)
Yeah. You, and this might go into your back on a little bit but I’m always interested. As you’ve gone through some of these exercises, and you found some of these few promising opportunities, have there ever been some surprises where you’re like, “Oh man, here’s a fun one. A fun part of the process that we could change or part of the customer experience, or even something in the employee experience, that we could change that would ultimately kind of produce bigger results.” Anything come to mind that again, some of these maybe few promising opportunities, that you’ve found in different situations?

Shannon Martin: (09:54)
I’m trying to think. We, there have been so many along the way. I’m just thinking of something particularly goofy that springs to mind but, there’s a whole idea just in how you finish your call, right? You never want to leave the customer with a negative, right? So the standard question has always been, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Well, the answer then is no, which is a negative and that’s not necessarily how you want to end a call.

Gabe Larsen: (10:25)
Oh, interesting. Interesting.

Shannon Martin: (10:25)
And so we actually tweaked how our agents completed their calls and said, “Have I answered everything for you today?” And, and at that point, then the customer has the opportunity to say, “Yeah, actually you have,” or “No, wait a minute. I have one more thing.” Just that one small thing, again, very small thing in the process. And we saw a shift in our customer satisfaction scores.

Gabe Larsen: (10:51)
I love that.

Shannon Martin: (10:51)
Customers were left feeling more positive, especially in a case where the agent had no ability to change the outcome, right? So it’s perhaps a policy thing, or perhaps in our case, a traveler was unable to get a refund from the property owner because of the property owner’s policies, whatever the case may be. But it definitely helped the customer recognize that now this agent has done everything they can, and it was reflected on the customer satisfaction scores.

Gabe Larsen: (11:21)
I like that. No, that’s fine. I appreciate that because sometimes it is those small and simple things that lead to big changes, big results. And sometimes those are the things you need to be able to find, especially if you’re new or you’re trying to map out that. It’s always, I feel like quick wins. If you can find some of those things while you work on the bigger pieces that allow everybody to be satisfied. You, your boss, your customers, your employees, everyone wins.

Shannon Martin: (11:47)
Yeah. [Inaudible] Hear about it. They’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s kind of nice to be able to say that.”

Gabe Larsen: (11:52)
I like that. Okay. So we have building connections–kind of getting the questions right, simplify it down, focus on some of those quick wins or find those promising opportunities. I like the way you talked about it. Then where do you go last here?

Shannon Martin: (12:07)
And the last one is where it can really be fun and sometimes requires a little bit more creativity. And that’s where you test and learn. So you’ve identified your promising, some places to start and you need to be able to test your theory. And again, if you’re going to make a small change and you have 3,000 agents globally, you’re not going to be able to test it across 3,000 agents. Like that’s just too much to ask, but you identify a set of agents, maybe in a single region, or even a single team, depending on how much time you have so that you can have them try something just to get a signal. So we had an interesting test that we ran, because we were trying to get our agents to shift from strictly problem solving to being more consultative. And when we first started it, they were struggling with that. They’re like, “Well, I’m not a salesperson.” Like, “We know that, but you’re helping the partner or customer run their business better with our tools. So you have the technology, you can teach them and consult with them on how to do that better.” Well, guess what happens when you go into consultation mode and you’re having these great conversations? Your handle times go up. So then our agents were struggling with trying to, we didn’t cap handle times, but everyone kind of watches handle times. And so we ran a test and said, “Okay, no holds barred. You guys are no longer being monitored. We’re not even gonna look at handle times for you in this test, all so that you can do this consultation.”

Gabe Larsen: (13:51)
Wow. Wow. Awesome. Awesome.

Shannon Martin: (13:55)
In the results that we saw, customer satisfaction went up, employee satisfaction went up, revenue went up because those partners were learning how to do their business better. And we saw a return based on the revenue that came back to the company on the accounts that were in that test group. So it was one of those things that we got enough signal on that test. And I think we ran it for three months, that particular one. I was like, “All right, this is how we’re going to run it going forward,” because we know giving up control over that handle time, allowing the agents the freedom to have those great conversations with our partners, led to an overall better experience for everyone.

Gabe Larsen: (14:38)
Yeah. Wow. I love that, the idea of kind of nail it and scale it. You got to find a small group of people that you can inject that change on and then see if you can actually do it. I love the idea. So funny, we find ourselves, as you were talking, I’m just, we think we’re being customer obsessed sometimes because we’re looking at things like handle time. But really that’s actually disabling the customer to have a better experience because we’re so interested in this metric, but yet we think we’re being customer obsessed, but really we’re being customer not obsessed. But –

Shannon Martin: (15:16)
Metric obsessed. Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (15:16)
It’s interesting that sometimes the metrics can not lead you astray, but sometimes they can give you mixed messages. I’m feeling, I’m hearing that a lot. Like people are like, “Well, my numbers are good, but my overall customer experience is not good.” It’s like –

Shannon Martin: (15:36)
I always say you get the behavior that you encourage. And if you’re encouraging shorter handle times, the agents, they’re smart. They’re going to figure out how to whip through those things and move customers through faster even though they may not want to.

Gabe Larsen: (15:53)
Yeah. Oh, fascinating. I need to send this recording to a few people. So, okay. Well Shannon, we really appreciate your time. As we kind of think about wrapping, we’d love to just get a quick summary from you. You hit a bunch of different things, but you’ve got different CX leaders, CS leaders out there trying to kind of get this transformation or get into this excellence mindset. What’s that last piece of advice you kind of leave with them?

Shannon Martin: (16:18)
If you get just a tiny bit better every day, then at the end of the year, you’re going to look back and you’re going to see, “Wow, we’ve made some incredible improvements.” So, it really is those tiny steps. As long as you’re doing everything you can to get a little bit better every day, you’re going to get big wins down the road.

Gabe Larsen: (16:37)
So yeah, that’s the small crawl, walk, run, I’ve often said. Crawl, walk, run. So if someone wants to get in touch with you or continue the dialogue, what’s the best way to do that?

Shannon Martin: (16:48)
Definitely on LinkedIn. So Shannon Martin, and I guess the LinkedIn handle is S-L-E-A-R Martin.

Gabe Larsen: (16:55)
And I can attest, she does respond. That’s how I found her, on LinkedIn. So she does respond.

Shannon Martin: (17:03)
Definitely. Definitely. Always willing to share.

Gabe Larsen: (17:03)
Awesome. Okay. Well, I really appreciate the time today, Shannon, and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (17:16)
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