As competition reaches new heights among e-commerce merchants, businesses have come to realize that delivering a superior customer experience can be a key differentiator for customers. Kustomer was built to deliver on those expectations while maintaining efficiency and profitability for customer service departments. In recognition of that achievement, we are proud to announce that Kustomer is a finalist in the 2021 SaaS Awards Program in the category of “Best SaaS Product for Customer Service/CRM.”
Head of operations for the SaaS Awards, James Williams, said, “Just as SaaS technologies have been vital in pivoting organizational functions to respond to global crises, they will be essential as we look forward to returning to normal levels of productivity.”
Customer service has changed drastically over the past fifteen years, when things like smartphones and Twitter didn’t exist. Customer service software was not built to accommodate the expectations and channels of today’s customers, but Kustomer is.
Many customer service solutions on the market today are ticket-based, meaning they identify the customer as an attribute of an inbound or outbound message and build the communication around that ticket. These systems prioritize the metric of a “done ticket” over a customer relationship. In contrast, Kustomer puts the customer as the center of each interaction. By tying existing applications, business processes, and performance to the experience of the customer, companies are able to deliver more human interactions, as they know the full context and history of that customer and how they’ve interacted with the brand in the past.
Additionally, customer service organizations are now being forced to do more with less. Kustomer increases customer service efficiency by automating and streamlining repetitive and manual tasks with the help of AI. Through intelligent chatbots, low-level conversations and information gathering can be deflected, freeing up agent time for more challenging and meaningful customer interactions.
The CX organization is invaluable to a business and in the online world, they are often the sole face of the brand. We pride ourselves on being able to partner with our customers to deliver on the high expectations of their customers.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe and Vikas are joined by Laurent Pierre from Microsoft Azure to learn the secrets to making a CX team valuable. Listen to the podcast below to discover how Laurent and his team at Azure use customer-centric strategies to create the best experience.
Guiding Customers to Solutions Using Empathy
No longer are the days of bank teller-esque transactions where each experience is done as quickly as possible with little consideration for customer satisfaction. Situations like these leave the customer feeling like another ticket number or a tick mark while the teller counts down the minutes until they’re off for the day. Many companies, particularly in the tech sector, recognize that there needs to be a radical shift in how they approach modern CX. Azure is a branch of Microsoft that was created for the benefit of the customer through every step of their journey. Laurent attributes its success to the mindset of being customer obsessed since the very beginning and carrying that concept throughout the entirety of the brand’s decisions. Keeping the customer in mind or being truly customer obsessed means that each team member has empathy and passion for solving problems and guiding people to solutions. Rather than just solving the initial problem, Laurent emphasizes the importance of being proactive for the customer. “We’ve got to go out there and look at what’s going on with the customer’s environment and pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, we noticed this is about to happen. We need to do something now.’” A proactive approach gives companies a huge advantage over the competition because it shows the customers how much the brand cares about their experience and what they’re willing to do to keep them around for the long haul.
Employee Experience: The Missing Ingredient
A key component to the ultimate customer experience that many companies often forget is the employee experience (EX). This is just as important as CX in many ways. Providing an excellent EX starts with hiring the right talent. This is where leaders can make a difference in the employee experience early on by selecting the kind of people they want on their team. “I look for lazy problem-solving. What I mean by that is I look for people who love fixing problems, but don’t want to solve them more than once.” From there, it’s easy for leaders to deliver EX that boost office morale and employee satisfaction with their hand picked team of agents, further leading to higher NPS scores and customer loyalty. The employee experience is an integral part of CX because if your employees aren’t happy, your customers surely won’t be happy either. We’ve all been there, waiting on the phone for forever, hoping an agent picks up soon, only to be met with someone on the other end of the line who sounds like they couldn’t care less about the product issues. A little bit of friendliness goes a long way with customers and when they feel like their problems have been addressed and listened to, they’re more likely to continue shopping with your brand. When employees are passionate about the company, their role, the product, and the customer, lasting success happens as a result.
Partnering with Leaders Across the Board
Customer experience shouldn’t be the role of solely the CX team, rather, leaders from different departments should consider joining forces with leaders from CX and finding ways to incorporate the customer into all aspects of business decisions. Aligning departments is a great tactic to get the company as a whole on the same page of customer expectations. For Laurent, he has members of the Sales team jump on calls with Support and identify gaps where their software doesn’t work for the consumer. “You have to have that mentality of looking at the customer journey from end to end and make sure that everyone is on the same page about it. Make sure that everyone is engaged so you have a customer for life.” By involving people who manage different branches of the company, it builds a sense of empathy for the customer and for the CX team on a much larger scale. At the end of the day, we’re all human and each customer interaction should be treated with a compassionate response.
To learn more about Laurent’s work and how to add value to CX, Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
How to Drive Business Value With Your CX Team | Laurent Pierre
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’ve got a fun talk track. We’re going to be talking about CX transformation, really this idea of driving business value with your CX team and to do that, we’ve got a special guest: Laurent Pierre. I’ve been calling, I’ve been saying that wrong and he corrected me just a minute ago in a true Americano/American accent or whatever. But do you mind just taking a minute and introducing yourself? Tell us a little bit about your background.
Laurent Pierre: (00:43)
Sure. Hi, my name is Laurent Pierre. I’m the general manager for Azure CXP and that’s the customer experience wing in engineering for Azure. I joined here about 10 months ago after a 14 year stint at IBM.
Gabe Larsen: (00:57)
Awesome. I’m excited. I think you’ve got a fun background. It would be fun to tap into that, talk about CX. Vikas, over to you.
Vikas Bhambri: (01:04)
Vikas Bhambri, Head of Sales and Customer Experience here at Kustomer. Gabe’s partner in crime.
Gabe Larsen: (01:09)
Awesome. Then I’m Gabe. Run growth here at Kustomer. So let’s dive in. I’m wanting to talk big picture and start with this. It does seem like when it comes, I’m hearing this more and more, that CX, we are just having a hard time figuring out how to talk to the CEO and really drive that kind of business value. They talk about things like CSAT, they talk about things like NPS and they are important often, but when they go and try to get money or they try to get buy in from that executive level, sometimes that CEO is like, “What does NPS mean? I talk dollars and cents, like, how is this affecting our top, the bottom line?” And there is a little bit of a disconnect. Vikas, I wanted to maybe start with you. What would you add to this? I mean, you play a bulk here as a CX leader and you had executive experience. Why is this? Is this a problem? Why is it a problem?
Vikas Bhambri: (02:03)
I think it goes back to the very nature of looking at a contact center customer experience team, a call center. And that, I think, ties to a very antiquated way of thinking about how you do business with your customer. It’s a transaction, right? I do a transaction. I sell you something and in a nirvana world, I never see or hear from you again, right? And, oh my goodness, you have a problem. And now you want to reach out to my team, you know what? I just want them to solve it and I want them to make you go away. So I think that that kind of paradigm is shifted because at the end of the day now, every business is a subscription business. Every customer has to have high lifetime value because we, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. You’re spending so much to acquire that customer on the front end then if you don’t sell them more or you don’t retain them, you’ve lost money on that. It doesn’t matter that they bought something from you. So now, it’s not that I need these people to actually sell anything necessarily, if they don’t deliver that exceptional experience, I won’t be able to ever sell that customer again. That is –
Gabe Larsen: (03:17)
I like that framing. Laurent, how would you kind of think about this, Laurent? I mean you, big picture. How should CX teams be thinking about driving that value or what, is this a problem you’ve seen?
Laurent Pierre: (03:27)
Absolutely. It’s a great question because when I look at where I, when I started in the industry 20 some years ago, it was all about the metrics and I always hate using this phrase but it fits here, where often sales teams are referred to as coin operated people, right? And so one of the things I learned over time is that you have to pull the sales team into the process and you have to understand what their targets are. Not only from a number perspective, but from a customer view of one of their projects. And so, as I evolved and grew up in support, I realized that, let’s park the metrics. Let’s get involved with the customer, understand their projects, connect with the services team that’s delivering it because oftentimes, we find customers spend ten, 20, 30 million dollars, but they don’t have the skillset to do it.
Laurent Pierre: (04:14)
And so what we ended up doing is we started taking our support team leaders and plugging them into the monthly calls with the sales teams. Then in addition to that, we started identifying gaps where the customer purchased technology, but couldn’t maintain it, which ended up in a support call, which ended up in a bad experience, which also ended in customers coming to support to solve things that should have been solved via services. And so if you don’t connect those dots along the way, through the CX journey, you’re going to have multiple touch points that are problematic, full of friction, and then ending up with a customer who says, “Give me my money back.”
Vikas Bhambri: (04:50)
Right and you know this, Laurent, in the early days, particularly in software, right, salespeoples’ mentality was, and literally, “I’m shipping you a disk then I’m done.” And I remember in the early days of my career, I was a sucker who was left [inaudible]. It was a nightmare because the customer was like, “Wait, this is what he or she told me it did. Oh, wait, I have these three other requirements that aren’t addressed here and all of those other things.” But at the end of the day it was a, I mean, what were they going to do? Like sending the disc back? No, but now as a service world, it’s like, “Wait a minute. If you don’t have what I need, I either won’t renew or even worse, I’ll call out material breach and I’ll just shut you down completely.”
Gabe Larsen: (05:38)
Do you feel, Laurent, I want to go into some of the details that you’re talking about, how do you start to connect that business? How do you get the value to the forefront? And some of the ways and methods you found this to be successful in previous lives or in your current life? You talked about a couple of them, but maybe start at the top. What, how do you, where do you, where would you start to advise people to start as they want to get down to this kind of business value?
Laurent Pierre: (06:01)
I think the biggest thing is identifying and knowing where you are in your CX maturity model and your journey, right? Some people are just getting started. Some people are dabbling. Some are pretty mature. You have your startups, your mid-size companies, and you have large companies like Microsoft. And so you often have a lot of things that are culturally based, but then when you start looking at it, you have to tie the CX program to the business objectives, right? Because in most cases, I’ve been at companies where the CX budget was a million dollars and they said, “Good luck, Laurent.” I’ve been at places where it’s ten, I’ve been at places where it’s been 20 million. And each time when finance comes back and says, “Okay, what did we get for the ten million dollars we just gave Laurent to run CX?” And so what we ended up doing is we started attaching ourselves to those projects where we were influencing what was happening quarter by quarter.
Laurent Pierre: (06:47)
So it wasn’t enough to wait until the end of the year to get funded. Every quarter, we were sitting there with the sales team, identifying the projects, the digital transformation projects with the customers, and then looking at how we can partner with education and services. And then what we started doing was had the sales team actually tag in the system our influence from a CX perspective. And so sometimes a customer didn’t have, for example, the highest level of support and they needed it. So I just partnered with the sales team and said, “You know what, I’m going to give you my best guy and put a SWAT team together. Anything that happens this quarter, our SWAT teams are going to swarm on top of it and make sure that it’s not an impediment to close the deal.” And as we started doing that, we started finding new ways to engage with the customer. And customers actually started inviting us to the technology selection and other vendors were there as well. And so that’s what we started doing to change the dynamic and not see us just as the break-fix reactive support organization.
Gabe Larsen: (07:43)
I like it. I do feel like if you told most CX leaders, one of the keys to driving value is to go hang out with salespeople, I don’t know if they’d like that. Those two are sometimes oil and water. What do you say to that, Vikas?
Vikas Bhambri: (07:57)
Well, look, we’ve taken a very unique approach at Kustomer. At Kustomer, the buck stops with me. Sales and CX report into one leader. Now that might not necessarily be operationally feasible that a company like Microsoft or a large-size company like that, but it’s more around the premise, right? For us, the reason we did this and we did this intentionally when we set up the organization, was having one throat to choke or hand to shake. It says, I own the customer journey from beginning to end, right? From the moment we have that first discovery call all the way through their life cycle, that partnership being cemented, but more importantly, as a software service business, that continuing iteration with our customer success team, our support professional services team, and actually our sales team as well because our sales team is also always engaged.
Vikas Bhambri: (08:52)
For me, having that end to end leadership and visibility is extremely important, particularly in a software service business. But as I said earlier, whether you know it or not, and if your CEO doesn’t know it, shame on you, every business is now a software as a service. You have to have that mentality of looking at the customer journey from beginning to end and making sure that every piece of the puzzle, everybody on your side and the customer side, as in forwarded, is engaged in how we want to make sure that we have a truly a customer for life, or look at that lifetime value also.
Gabe Larsen: (09:27)
I do think that will [inaudible]. Bringing the post-sales into that sales role and finding tangible ways to do it, like you’re saying, Laurent, because I think some people may say, “I get it but every week the role gets a little bit harder than tagging actually records or being part of the conversation, or actually getting part of the sales conversation.” Wherever it happens, that’s a differentiator of vendors, to your point, didn’t have that. I love it. Where do you go next? What other ones have you found that drive that value?
Laurent Pierre: (09:56)
So, I think the biggest thing for me is I always tell folks when we’re having these debates and discussions that you can’t deliver customer experience without EX. So, you can’t deliver CX without EX. And so if your employees are not understanding the process, they’re not skilled, they’re telling the customer some wacky things on the phone that really upset them, right? Just the little, the smallest things that you would think wouldn’t upset them would kill a deal. And so one of the things that we’re looking at, as well as making sure that our employees are equipped to deal with these enterprise-level challenges, these mission critical things that they know the customer, know the product, and probably one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from customers is like, “Every time I call the support center, I have to, re-explain my environment. I have to re-explain my architecture.” And so that’s why it becomes important to understand your customer. Segment them but also align industry-related technologists that can speak not only the technical language, but the business language, whether you’re in banking or retail or manufacturing and aligning those together.
Gabe Larsen: (10:57)
Wow. Wow. So you’ve actually got the place. I mean, we’ve talked a lot about routing and trying to get the right person to the right person, right employee for the, the right customer to the right employee. But you’ve gone pretty deep on what it sounds like. You’ve gotten the ability where one, we’re trying to motivate the employees, but you’ve gone pretty deep in getting the right person. Technical knowledge, business knowledge, so that when that customer is actually interfacing with the employee, it’s a very real conversation because there’s a lot of knowledge transfer happening. Is that, did I get that?
Laurent Pierre: (11:27)
That’s exactly right. And so, for example, in retail, we have Black Friday coming up. For during the summer, we have these flash sales on their websites or throughout the year and aligning people who understand what that looks like and the October, November, December months are make or break for a lot of retail customers. You can’t afford to have a subscription down or a service down. So you have to align people with plan A, B and C to make sure if a region goes down or there’s a place impacted, that we are quickly there. And so monitoring and being proactive. Gone are the days of let’s wait for the case to come in to solve it. We’ve got to go out there and look at what’s going on with the customer’s environment and pick up the phone and say, “Hey, we noticed this is about to happen. We need to do something now.” And that’s what I’m finding. Even here at Microsoft. Again, I’ve been here 10 months, but those are the kind of things that we’re putting in place and are in place in many areas.
Gabe Larsen: (12:23)
Yeah, interesting. I wonder, sometime you mentioned the Microsoft thing and I think one, excuse, you probably hear, Vikas, you’re doing a little better at saying this than I am, but it’s well, yeah, we’re at Microsoft, so everything is possible, you know? I mean, you can throw resources at it. I don’t have that ability to be flexible, be proactive. How would you respond to that statement? I don’t know if it’s, I don’t believe it’s true, but it’s not always just about the brand and the resources. It’s gotta be something else.
Laurent Pierre: (12:53)
So, I mean, for me, I go back to when I worked for a a hundred million dollar company 20 years ago, and there’s smaller, maybe 300 people worldwide, right? And basically at that time, we didn’t have the resources. And as a matter of fact, we had to be creative with the small resources that we had. And so for example, to ask a customer who just spent a million dollars, a small business, on software to spend another $200,000 for premium support to get a technical account manager, was often not feasible. There was always this little gray area of, I’d like to have it, but I can’t afford it. So it was, we said, “You know what, let’s give them 60 days as they’re coming up or whatever time frame it needs to fill that gap, get them on the tracks and get them into a steady state. And then if they can afford it later, great.” If not, we disengaged and let them go to the regular process, but we don’t want to drain them as well.
Gabe Larsen: (13:44)
I notice all the time, people making excuses. I don’t want to use that word, excuses, for not delivering a great customer experience because we don’t have the resources. We don’t have, how do you react to something like that? How do you coach people through it?
Vikas Bhambri: (13:57)
You know this, we’re not Microsoft, but I didn’t get to finish yet. Here’s the key thing. At a company at our stage, versus even at Microsoft, it’s all about the mentality and how you’re thinking about it. And I’m sure Laurent’s only been at Microsoft for ten months, but I think anybody who’s read what’s in the public domain understands that there has been a fundamental shift at Microsoft. The thing we think about the customer experience, particularly under Nadella, right, the transformation that Microsoft is going through. We at Kustomer, by the very nature of our business and our mission from day one, if our mission is to help brands deliver amazing customer experience, then we as a company, we’re customer obsessed from day one. So, as I said before, we very proactively thought about even the leadership structure and the organizational structure, but then mapping out that customer journey, and that customer journey is constantly iterating on it as our customers change. They grow, we go global, we have to do different things. And then maturing each of the functions. The sales function and how they think about selling, the professional services team, the customer success and support, boosts that mentality of how will you really think what is the currency in the business? And for us, and it sounds like Microsoft as well, currency is that customer. As long as you’re thinking around that, it doesn’t matter whether you have the funding resources of Microsoft or that of Kustomer, or even that of [inaudible].
Gabe Larsen: (15:41)
I like that. Laurent, I want to come back to you on that. I mean, it does seem like Microsoft in general has kind of shifted from more of a product company to really just a customer obsessed company. I’m putting words in your mouth here a little bit, but let’s go like more of a whole company initiative. Any insights you would add of how companies can turn because, to Vikas’s point, if you don’t have the focus is the customer from the top down, bottom up, sideways in, whatever you want to call it, you just can’t really get there. Any insights in how Microsoft or your division has been able to really bring that to the forefront and execute on it?
Laurent Pierre: (16:17)
Absolutely. So interestingly enough, the division that I joined is specifically too, it was formed specifically to address that question, where we wanted to bring empathy into engineering and support. So understand what the customer’s journey is and not treat the interaction like a bank teller transaction, and no offense to the banking industry, but a transactional way, right? It’s basically, we wanted to get into the journey of the customer, lifting and shifting, understanding what it costs from a skill development standpoint to run their organization. And so our team, basically we start with the customer and Jason Zander, our EVP, has a phrase. “We want our customers to love Azure.” How do we do that, is we make sure that our people, when you talk to them, when you’re emailing them, when you’re engaging, they feel it coming off of our team members and how we’ve done that is we’ve assigned people, specifically to customers to get deep into that journey, not at the surface level, but all the way down to their projects, their delivery, and how that project ties into the business objectives for that particular year or forward.
Gabe Larsen: (17:22)
I love that.
Vikas Bhambri: (17:24)
I love that you touched on empathy because to me, and you mentioned the employee experience, if your employees aren’t excited and passionate about product, mission, etc., it’s very hard for themselves to deliver empathy well. I think what gets lost in all of this, Gabe, at the day, is push come to shove. We talked about $30 million deals. And this project that, at the end of the day, when this conversation happens, it’s between two human beings.
Laurent Pierre: (17:55)
Vikas Bhambri: (17:55)
That’s all it is, right? And if somebody in our world, in the customer experience world, more than likely is coming to you because they have a problem. And so how you on the other side are equipped, intelligent and capable also to show them empathy, I understand you’ve got a problem. And I think that whole thing, the very definition of a customer is somebody who does a transaction. I think that a fundamental flaw in this whole thing is that the very definition of a customer is somebody who does a transaction, but at the end of the day, it’s just somebody who wants help. And I think that empathy is extremely critical and kudos to you, Laurent, and your team, for kind of bringing that into the discussion in a tech world, which can sometimes be very unsympathetic.
Laurent Pierre: (18:43)
Gabe Larsen: (18:43)
Very no empathy, right? So Laurent, we’ve got a couple of good secrets from you. Before we end, I want to see if we do one more. You talked a little bit about this idea of bringing sales into the conversation. We talked a lot about kind of empathy and employee, bringing the EX to the CX. What other things have you found getting this value to the top and making the CX team just really who they can be?
Laurent Pierre: (19:03)
I think the biggest thing is that when we’re on the phone solving problems or engaging with them online, one of the things that we find is that it’s not enough, again, to fix the problem. You also have to listen to other things that are going on in the background. And so when you fix that one break fixed issue, you say, “Hey, by the way, I also noticed that’s happening. Let me send you some best practices around this so at 2:00 AM when your system goes down, here’s what you can do.“ Second place is education and skilling. Oftentimes that’s also a coin operated part of the business where the education team is trying to sell education services. Throughout the weeks and months we have that material in house. We actually go out and do, we can do some workshops. At one of the companies before Microsoft, we actually went and created a webinar for one of our customers because they were asking for it. They just hired about a hundred people that weren’t skilled in our product. And we said, “You know what, let’s go in there and help them.” And guess what? Our tickets went this way. Our MTF went that way, because we are able to enable them, not that, it was at our cost, but that’s what we identified to say, “You know what, let’s just go get it done to make them better at using our product.”
Gabe Larsen: (20:14)
Yeah. I mean, so it’s a little going above and beyond, right? It’s not –
Laurent Pierre: (20:19)
Gabe Larsen: (20:19)
Not just watching your handle time or whatever, it’s providing, I think, using some, stealing your words, you’d mentioned before, these kind of memorable moments. I just don’t know how you teach that. How the, have you figured out any, I loved your example of the webinar, but it just seems like it’s hard to get CSRs to see those moments or see those things. Because they’re very focused on just solving the problem often and to then go above and beyond, any thoughts on getting people to see more than just the problem at hand?
Laurent Pierre: (20:51)
For sure. So for us, the proof in the pudding was when our NPS shot 30 points after a year of doing this, right? So that got everybody’s attention because that’s unheard of to have something like that happen, but we got it done. And it’s through those things. So in support, what, some of the times, especially when I was at smaller companies, we basically would mark some people and say, “Okay, you’re off the queue, you’re off support. You’re going to go and do these ten minute how to videos.” And we’re going to upload them to their website. We’re going to go through and collect. When I started working with AI at IBM, we said, “Let’s go find out what our customers are reporting issues about every week, the repeatable cases that show up time and time again.” We took our top 30, converted them to videos, and guess what? Those areas of the business, those calls went down. Our video hits on YouTube went to a hundred thousand a month in those same areas, right? And this is something that everyone’s like, “Oh, Laurent. Stop wasting your time. Don’t do this. No one’s going to watch them.” And we start, we saw it steadily ticking. And again, we didn’t ask for extra funding. I just carved out this small team at the time. I think it was maybe 60, 70 people, at the time. I said, “You two, you three, we’re going to go do this little [inaudible] project.” And that’s what, you have to be brave enough to do that. Take the pain in the front and know that the returns are going to be in the end. And if it fails, hey, you fail fast and you start all over again to something new.
Vikas Bhambri: (22:10)
I agree, Laurent. And the one thing I would add to that is for leaders like Laurent that are over these operations is it also starts at the hiring. And the one thing that I look for, in fact, I was on an interview with a potential member of my CX team for a while. I look for lazy problem-solving. What I mean by that is I look for people who love fixing problems, but don’t want to solve them more than once, right? It’s like that person who sees like the hose pipe is leaking and just keeps running it out there every day. And it’s like, “Oh, it’s leaking. It just keeps, I’ll just water the lawn longer.” The guy who’s like, “Wait a minute. If I wrap this once I only have to do it for five minutes next time.” That’s the ideal. And that’s, I think something is somewhat unique in the customer experience world. We’re actually looking, I just said it, we’re looking for lazy people who want to solve problems.
Laurent Pierre: (23:10)
I love that.
Vikas Bhambri: (23:14)
That’s my big giveaway. My little secret.
Gabe Larsen: (23:16)
I was going to say, I don’t know if we should tell people to look for lazy CX. [Inaudible] Like you always do. I love it.
Laurent Pierre: (23:27)
Listen. Hey, I probably would say it definitely the folks at Microsoft might start looking at me a little funny, but I understand completely the sentiment of what you’re trying to say for sure.
Gabe Larsen: (23:37)
Awesome guys. Awesome. Well, as we route today, talking about providing more business value and recognizing that business value from the top down for CX teams, let’s get kind of a closing remark from each of you. Vikas, maybe we’ll start with you then Laurent, we’ll go to you. What would you leave with the audience today, trying to get their CX team to provide more value ultimately to a leadership team that wants that value?
Vikas Bhambri: (24:03)
Look, here’s the thing. You, as a CX leader, you are delivering value to them. That argument is over. The question is how do you then reflect it back to your c-level, your CEO, CFO, COO, whoever it is? I think the key thing to look at, and we’re on a little bit to some of these, NPS is a key metric. Why? Because the more your customers are out there advocating for you when you’re not in the room, guess what? That delivers more prospects in business to the bottom line, right? The other is lifetime value, right? So whether you’re in the tech business like Laurent and myself, and you’re looking at increase in subscription, increase in ARR, et cetera, that’s one piece of it. But regardless is understanding how much more, I don’t care if you’re selling retail goods, garments, whatever it is, how much more is that particular customer applying from us over time that has interacted? It’s almost looking at like an AB task. Customers who never deal with our CX team, what is their level of future acquisition versus those that do engage in it? The data’s all there. It’s in your systems, et cetera. Make sure you can flush it out and articulate it back to your CX team as you look for this investment on a quarterly annual basis.
Gabe Larsen: (25:19)
I love it. Laurent, what would be [inaudible]?
Laurent Pierre: (25:22)
Well, I would add this, as I said before, you can’t deliver CX without a great EX, right? And in addition to that, I would say that when you’re looking at how we’re engaging your customers, you look at personalization, look at creating those memorable moments, and how we tie that back to the business is the CX program has to be linked to how we’re supporting and influencing the revenue generation. If you try to have a CX program and try to sell it only to the customers will feel good, right, it’s not going to be enough. You need to translate that into, “Oh, by the way, we’re doing this to reduce costs here, increase efficiencies there, and also make sure that that end to end customer journey is something that they will tell everyone else about. Have our stock software be sticky in their environment and make sure that they have a low customer effort score across the board.”
Gabe Larsen: (26:12)
I love that. I love tying it into some revenue streams. That’s a fantastic idea and something I think we can all do a little bit better at. So, Laurent, thanks for joining in. Really appreciate the talk track. Vikas, as always, really appreciates you. For the audience, have a fantastic day.
Laurent Pierre: (26:23)
Exit Voice: (26:30)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe and Vikas are joined by Vasili Triant to talk about all things digital CX. Vasili is the Chief Operating Officer at UJET, a partner of Kustomer, creating a product that delivers the ultimate experience for the modern consumer.
Is Voice Dead?
For nearly 30 years, experts in the CX industry have heard rumors that voice as a communication channel is dead and useless for navigating customer problems. With voice being such a popular mode of communication, one can’t help but wonder if this is true. According to Vasili, not only is voice still relevant to CX in 2021, but in the last year, all communication channels have skyrocketed in popularity. “The reality is it’s not that one channel is taking over another. All channels are on the rise. So voice is increasing. Chat’s increasing….They’re all increasing.” More recently, the industry has experienced a shift towards digitizing CX, making good customer experiences more accessible on a multitudes of platforms. As more platforms such as voice, email, direct messages, chat, text, etc. are more commonly used in the CX space, the amount of interactions needed to solve customer problems also rises. “The number of interactions per consumer is actually on the rise. So instead of having a singular interaction, we’re having multiple interactions to solve one problem.” This increase in interactions is necessary for providing a more holistic experience to consumers.
Adapting to the Modern Customer’s Habits
A holistic approach to CX doesn’t stop simply at omnichannel communication. The modern customer lives in a world of mobile phones, uploading to the cloud and for companies to keep up with the ever changing customer-scape, they have to adapt to new technologies to stay relevant. It’s important that leaders stay informed on the latest CX technologies to keep customers happy. An agent should be equipped with the tools to meet their customer on their preferred communication method. For example, if a customer is having difficulty with an appliance, they should have the option to text a picture of the problem to the CX agent rather than describe it over the phone. When options like photo and video messaging are included in communication channels, it helps customers feel better understood and their problems are solved more efficiently. “A lot of times what we say is meet the consumer where the consumer is at, instead of pushing the consumer out to places maybe they don’t want to be.”
Change or Be Changed
Change is inevitable, but why is it so hard to cope with? When Vasili urges leaders to take action and to start looking for places within their organizations to adopt modern CX technology, he isn’t pretending that change is easy to accomplish. In fact, he recognizes how hard it is to choose the right technology and the right time to implement it. Many leaders feel the pressure to fully integrate their systems and go digital but hesitate to do so because they don’t know how. The ultra-modern technology provided by Kustomer and UJET can help alleviate some of this pressure by offering the solutions to ticketing and CX problems. Keeping customers in mind is another helpful tactic for tackling new processes and technology. When it comes down to it, stellar CX is about creating a seamless customer experience and having empathy for the entire customer journey. As Gabe Larsen puts it, “It’s change or be changed.”
To learn more about evolving in the mobile age, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
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Full Episode Transcript:
How Companies Are Evolving in the Mobile Age | Vasili Triant
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alrighty, let’s get rocking and rolling. We’re excited to go today. We’re going to be talking about how companies are evolving in the mobile age. You got myself, Gabe Larsen. I’m the Vice President of Growth. Vikas, why don’t you take a second, introduce yourself? And then we’ll have Vasili introduce himself.
Vikas Bhambri: (00:28)
Sure. Vikas Bhambri, Head of Sales and CX here at Kustomer. Gabe’s sidekick and 20 years CRM contact center life.
Gabe Larsen: (00:36)
Awesome. Vasili, over to you.
Vasili Triant: (00:38)
Vasili Triant, Chief Business Officer here at UJET. Formerly was the Vice President and GM of the contact center business at Cisco and prior to that, I was actually CEO of a cloud contact center company called Serenova. So happy to be here.
Gabe Larsen: (00:52)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, exciting to have you. Excited to get going today. Wanted to start maybe, Vikas, with you kicking it off and then I’m going to jump in.
Vikas Bhambri: (01:02)
Yeah look, I mean the cloud industry is transforming at a rapid pace. I think, what we’ve seen particularly in the last six, 12 months is that we are now seeing our customers and prospects in the market just adopt new technologies and the big drive and the makeshift to digital. And what we often hear from people in the industry, analysts, et cetera, is that voice as a channel is dead right? And no. Vasili, you mentioned you were at Cisco and now UJET. What’s your take on that? Does voice have a play in a world where people want to WhatsApp and they want to chat and they want to SMS? Where does voice sit in this market?
Vasili Triant: (01:42)
You know, we’ve, the voice is dead thing I’ve heard since the late nineties. And I think the idea originally started that with digital transition, people start using internet more, commerce started becoming over the web. The idea was, if you move to chat, you could reduce voice interactions. People wouldn’t want to go over voice and you would reduce costs of transaction. And that was a big move of the late nineties and pretty much the first decade of the two thousands around like, “Hey, how do we reduce costs?” The reality is consumers want to communicate with brands via channel, I’ll just call it X, and voice continues to be a big part. But the reality is it’s not that one channel is taking over another. All channels are on the rise. So voice is increasing. Chat’s increasing, right? So they’re all increasing. Actually the number of interactions per consumer is actually on the rise. So instead of having a singular interaction, we’re having multiple interactions to solve one problem. Like you may do chat and voice and maybe like a tweet at the same time, right?
Gabe Larsen: (02:54)
Yeah. It’s interesting to see these different channels, people from thinking every channel that’s added is going to cut down the conversations and it seems to add more conversations to the overall mix, but I love the phone is dead. It’s I mean, you probably, it sounds like you’ve been hearing it for now 30 years and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon. So what do you think about the space? I mean, you’ve been doing it for a long time Vasili, and certainly the trends and the challenges have shifted. Consumer expectations have shifted over the last little while. Obviously COVID now playing a big role in consumer expectations. Where are we now? What are some of those big rock challenges that the contact center market’s facing?
Vasili Triant: (03:37)
It’s an amazing time right now, just overall, right? So I kind of see things in really kind of two dimensions at this point. And we’re in, by the most evolving, rapidly evolving transition in the contact center space, because unfortunately COVID has become this defining moment where, what used to be like, “Hey, I’ll get to a cloud transition at some point,” now it’s, “I have to because one, my business, it can’t be in brick and mortar or has some limitations on brick and mortar, but also the consumers are changing how they’re interacting my brand.” Like I’m not going anymore to a Macy’s or Nordstrom or a Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy things. I’m just doing everything online. So you have this change of how consumers are dealing with brands, and frankly, there’s a rise in just overall activity from brands and consumers in whether it’s retail or sports and buying things delivered to their home.
Vasili Triant: (04:33)
There’s a second dimension, which is we now have to evolve and where are we going? And those kind of break down into there are these legacy cloud solutions, we call them kind of cloud 1.0 solutions, that were originally migrated from on-premise into data centers. And we added multitenancy as an industry. And that’s a majority of the vendors out there. There’s cloud 2.0 which builds solutions that leverage infrastructure as a service, which really increased reach and the idea was to increase scale. But the problems really blanketed all of these vendors around reliability, scalability, reach, ease of integration with all these other applications. And now you have this rise of what we call cloud 3.0, which is purpose built for this era of consumer transition, of brand transition. It obviously, there was no prediction that COVID was going to happen, but there was a prediction or an idea that consumers and the world will be more mobile, be more smartphone centric and connect in different ways than we did before.
Gabe Larsen: (05:38)
Hmm. I mean, do you feel like when it comes to most of the market, this, COVID hit a lot of companies, fairly hard, meaning they worked, they weren’t remote ready. They were playing in kind of this on prem. You don’t necessarily have to put a number to it, but a fairly large number of people were kind of playing in that 1.0, 2.0 realm when it came to their contact center technology expertise, et cetera. Is that fair?
Vasili Triant: (06:06)
I would say that a majority of the people, there’s still 80 to 85% of contact centers are still in on-premise technology. You have another 15% that we’re playing with what I call the 1.0 or the 2.0 transition. So in that dichotomy, you have the prem folks that are like, “I have to do something. I have to get there and I’ve seen issues with cloud 1.0. Who can solve my problems in this modern era?” And then the folks that were in cloud 1.0 are now some of them are having booms in their business. And they’re saying we need platforms and solutions that can scale both, like scale number of transactions and users, but also scaling, “Hey, by the way, we actually have to get to CX transformation. Like we actually have to make customers happier,” because if I don’t like you, Gabe, I can just drop an ad or drop a website, just go to another website. Like it’s no longer what store you’re driving by or what restaurant you just saw. You’re looking at everything electronically most of the day.
Gabe Larsen: (07:07)
I mean, Vikas, you’ve played in this space for a long time, why haven’t some of these companies not be able to make that transition? As Vasili talks about it I’m like, “What a bunch of fools! Why are they waiting so long?” Why is it so hard?
Vikas Bhambri: (07:20)
The change is hard, right, in the best of times. And I think when you look at these organizations, the three big prongs to any transformation, right? We’ve got the people first and foremost. And I think for a lot of these organizations, when they think about retraining their agent, when they think about [inaudible], when they even think about their training guides, they take pause, right? Like, “Oh my goodness. We’re going to have to do this all over again. We’re going to have to build it if doesn’t exist,” right? So I think that becomes one area. The second is their processes. I think a lot of them, to Vasili’s point, it’s less about the technology. It’s, have your processes actually adapted to the modern consumer? And look, I mean, you look at the, telcos are a prime example. They just haven’t. They’ve got a monopoly, there’s a reluctance to change or willingness to change.
Vikas Bhambri: (08:15)
But I think until those verticals or industries get disrupted, they really say, “Look, we’ll just going to handle things status quo.” And then ultimately it’s the platform challenge, right? The thoughts or concerns about going from 1.0 or 2.0 to 3.0 and the generalization. And you know, that consultants in the past that created this concept of, well, this is going to cost you millions of dollars. And a lot of times, if people are like, wait, I really, so I think those are the three things where it’s not we aren’t smart people, et cetera. Most of them that Vasili and I speak to will tell you, “We know we have to do it. It’s just a matter of the when and the why.”
Gabe Larsen: (08:53)
I’m surprised that it’s 80%, I’m seeing multiple comments of people. I just popped the, Sheila, she agreed with me, Vasili, that 80% is the number of people. So we’re not talking about a small, there’s a lot of people who have now been forced into a very uncomfortable position, but you know what? There’s nothing like –
Vikas Bhambri: (09:09)
Well here’s the thing. Like, and I’ve said this to you before, and Vasili, I don’t know if you’ve heard me say this. The pandemic, in a way, has created the biggest stress test that at least I, in my career, in the contact center, CRM industry, I’ve ever see., Whether it’s broken people’s technology where they’re like, “I want to send my agents to work from home, but they literally cannot pick up the phone and get a dial tone,” to, “My processes don’t work.” And now the consumers are barring them where Vasili said, we’ve seen interactions go up naturally in the course of years. Now we’re seeing four or five and we spoke to one CEO who’s said he’s seen 50 X the number, I mean, it was almost an unbelievable number, the number of interactions for the stress test.
Vasili Triant: (09:53)
One of the challenges that is actually happening right now, though, is there is, there’s kind of two pieces to this transition. One, I have to get my agents to cloud. So we’re just going out and buying cloud solutions. And of course you can look at the public markets right now in any SaaS company and in our space is frankly just booming regardless of what we call fit for purpose. The second part is, I need to get to CX transformation. Like, how am I going to be a better company than my competitor? And how am I going to like listen to my consumers? And it’s kind of most things like if your car broke down, is the answer that I need to find a car that works for how many kids I have, how far I’m driving, my budget on insurance or is it, I just need to go get a car, right?
Vasili Triant: (10:37)
And there’s a lot of companies right now that are like, “I just need to go get a car and then I’ll worry about the CX transformation later.” And what you’re going to see is kind of this double bubble of companies moving to cloud, then realize, “Okay, I got that problem solved. Now I actually have to improve customer experience because this didn’t meet my needs.” Or, like the common thing you might hear from some companies is, “Oh, we have outage Wednesdays or outage Thursdays,” because the platform just can’t meet those needs. And this is a lot of the things that you’re seeing out there. There are some companies taking their time saying we have to make the right move to engage our consumers because it’s about cloud, but it’s also about how do we improve customer experience because lifetime value is more important than either cost of transaction or just even general uptime.
Vikas Bhambri: (11:28)
Yeah. I would say to that point, I am speaking now more to the C level about this, than ever before. And I think it’s because this has become, once again, the stress test, that’s flagged this for a lot of CEOs, COOs and this is broken. And I think that the contact center to a degree has done a great job of shielding the executives from this, and everybody’s focused on top line growth, et cetera, right? So now these things are hyper escalated visibility. When you have slow down Wednesdays, or when people consistently are contacting your agents and you’re just like, “I’m swearing my system. I hate this thing. That’s like my, one of my biggest pet peeves. My systems are slow or our systems are slow today. My system just rebooted.” People are taking to the airwaves on Twitter and Facebook and all calling these brands out. So now it’s getting visibility at the exact level.
Gabe Larsen: (12:25)
Yeah, whether you like it or not, it’s coming. I think Kristen from the audience send us a messgae. Change is imperative. I think people are recognizing that, but how do they do it? As you think about some of these successful companies you’ve coached, you worked with clients specifically, how are then companies, they’re being forced to do it, how are they actually being successful in making that transition?
Vasili Triant: (12:48)
I think the biggest success that I don’t know if I’d say we see or I see or the companies that actually start looking at the problem from them being a customer of their own company, right? When I break it, when they kind of break it down one more level and say, “If I’m dealing with my own company, how am I entering? How am I, what are the touch points and what is my frustration?” A lot of times what we say is meet the consumer where the consumer is at, instead of pushing the consumer out to places maybe they don’t want to be. And so when we talk about how is customer service evolving in this mobile world, where is your consumer? Are they on their smartphone? Are they on their PC and their website? Like, you need to understand that and you need to meet them there.
Vasili Triant: (13:35)
One of the things that we hear a lot about is, “Hey, what about Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn?” And the comment there is, if your consumer is already at Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, they’ve already had a failure of customer experience with you. And now you’re trying to solve the problem after the fact, like they’re already ticked off, you got to get to the front end of it. And if you can do that and look at it from the consumer’s perspective, then you can figure out where is their journey and what are the things that we need to offer them? It’s really about digital transition right now, and being able to offer those options. And there’s not a lot of things that do it all. There’s a lot of great marketing messages. There’s a lot of like, we can talk about automation. So one hammer saying, how do we improve customer experience? But then there’s a whole other segment of the industry, it’s like, how do we automate the front end? Because if we automate the front end, we think people want to not deal with a live person. Or we think that we can reduce the number of agents which ends reduces costs and maybe it helps our P and L. The reality is you have to back up and think about it from being a consumer yourself, whether you’re viewing a banking application or insurance, or any type of on-demand tech, whether it’s Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, whatever it may be, right?
Vikas Bhambri: (14:53)
Yeah. That goes back to the early discussion we had around voice. And this whole thing that we’ve been hearing in the industry for 20, 30 years, that voice is dead, and nobody wants to call the 1-800 number. No, nobody wants to call your crappy line. Nobody wants to scream at your IVR. That’s like they speak to me and give me your number or give me yes or no and then don’t understand what I’m saying. And now yelling and screaming. It’s not that, we still see that when push comes to shove and consumers really want to get ahold of you, they want to speak to somebody else on the other end of the line, right? Because that’s a great example –
Vasili Triant: (15:31)
One, but yeah, the biggest thing, one context, right? That’s the other thing too. Like if I speak around my house and then all of a sudden I pick up my phone and I get on a website and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, there’s like a website that was just about what I’m speaking.” Like, there’s this expectation from consumers of what technology can do today, and so it’s like be smarter. So when I do call in, you should know that where I was either in your app or on your website, let me skip the first couple of steps. Like, why do I have to press one for English and two for Spanish? Shouldn’t you know that either I’m a Spanish speaker or an English speaker? And not buying like legacy things, just like caller ID, but like where I’ve already got it digitally authenticated at an application or on a website, like if I’m on your website and I already have it translated in Spanish, when I hit contact us and I go to a phone number for like either a web RTC call or something like, why are you asking me that question again?
Vasili Triant: (16:24)
Skip it. I actually called a major hotel chain that I deal with the other day and they put this big, massive automated speech thing in front of it. And they’re trying to solve my problem. Like, oh my God, I just want the person that I usually deal with so I spent a few extra minute, getting through all that, got to the person. And then they said, “How can I help you? Can you give me your information?” I’m like, “I literally just did all my authentication.” And they actually had it before and they lost it with this whole automated thing. It doesn’t pass the information all the way through. And that was, I said, “Forget it. I’ll just go to the website and just deal with it myself.”
Vikas Bhambri: (16:58)
And that’s the thing and I often talk about this and I think over the last 10, 15 years, no offense Gabe, we’ve seen a lot of investment in the customer acquisition side of the house. Sales and marketing technologies to that point of hyper personalization that Vasili talked about. I talked to my wife about, should we be buying a new bike for my daughter? And next thing we know we’re getting bombarded on every website we go to, every app we go to with advertising for bicycles. And then we acquire the customer, we sell them that bicycle, and then something goes wrong. The pedal breaks or the seat breaks and we’re like, “Oh no. Now we’re going to send you to this antiquated infrastructure back in the 1950s,” right? Kind of like black and white screen. And now you’re going to have to do all this to get your problem solved. So it’s amazing. And I think that the tide is turning where people are like, “I’ve invested in that acquisition, but I really need to have that same focus and mindset on personalizing the customer support service side as well.”
Gabe Larsen: (18:02)
Yeah. It does feel like it’s time. And the time obviously is now, so Vasili, recently, we both kind of announced a fun partnership between UJET and Kustomer, but I’m curious to talk some challenges and some of the successful ways people are overcoming those challenges. How is UJET jumping in and solving some of these challenges in addition by themselves, and then with the Kustomer addition to our partnership?
Vasili Triant: (18:25)
Yeah. So we’re just an ultra modern, like new way of looking at things. We built a platform that took into account how everything has evolved in this era of technology. So forgetting just infrastructure pieces for a moment, what are the common things that happen when a brand is trying to gather information and flow in order to then answer the problem and you start with data, right? So you need all the data in one place. What is everybody doing? They build all these systems and then try to integrate all these data stores or systems or records. We’ve purposely built our application for CRM and ticketing. In other words, we said, “Where are brands going to want all their information? They’re going to want it in their CRM or ticketing platform.” So we purposely built an application for that. We don’t store any of that, we actually put it in one place. It’s not about integrating and starting to have these data disparities, but more unifying it. Also, when you’re looking at something it’s all in one place, and then you can answer problems better. The second thing is the biggest thing, frankly, is where are consumers today? They’re on their smartphones. They’re on the web and meet them where they’re at. So we essentially embed the connectivity between a consumer brand in their app, and we don’t make the consumer go outside of it. So you can get things like, know how long they’ve been on either a page or a place within the mobile app. You can know geolocation data, all kinds of different things around the problems already looking at and skip steps. What does that mean? I may know that Vasili shouldn’t go into an automated attendant to start asking me all these questions and he needs to go to a live agent right away, or his problem might be simple. Let me put them into a virtual agent.
Vasili Triant: (20:11)
And I can connect through voice, chat and then do more advanced things like share photos, share videos. I was dealing with an appliance company the other day and I built this new house, put all these new appliances in, and I’m trying to explain the problem. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I just want to show you. What can I do?” “Well, we don’t have an email for individuals, but you can send it to this thing.” I mean, there’s like all these delays and we enable real-time communication through a lot of different methods so that essentially consumers can interact with a brand the way they want to. And we make it seamless between that mobile experience and web. And the reality is, this is where consumers are today. They’re on these devices. And so you need to be able to interact with them there. And we just do it differently. Now with Kustomer, it’s interesting because you all have taken an ultra modern approach to the ticketing and service problem. And then we’ve taken this ultra modern approach to customer experience. So the types of brands that are really looking for that CX transformation, what’s better than this ultra modern approach from two companies where it just blends together? The integration becomes seamless. You’re not looking really at two different applications, but essentially one solution to solve my customer service problem.
Gabe Larsen: (21:29)
Yeah. I love it. Vikas, what would you add to that?
Vikas Bhambri: (21:32)
No, look, I think the key thing is that data and giving access to the agent, right? So you have that human experience. For me, it’s bringing in that data of who the customer is, where they are in their journey, right? All the data that UJET gives us in terms of where they are in our app, where they are on our website, what are they looking at, what did they do, who do we know? Because you can authenticate as well, right? Bringing that all then to the agent to get right to the heart of the matter, resolve that problem all effectively, for one, the customer’s happiness. But then the brand’s efficient. Now I can actually handle more of these inquiries, the surge that Vasili talked about earlier. So really it is a win-win for the agent, the brand, and then effectively the consumer.
Gabe Larsen: (22:17)
I like that, you guys. We fit a lot today. As we wrap, we’d love to just have a quick summary. We got a lot of CX leaders out there, contact center leaders trying to make this transition. What’s that one thing you’d leave them with as they kind of get ready for a fun weekend here? We’ll start with you.
Vasili Triant: (22:35)
I’ll take that one then. I’d say we’ve got to find the solutions together that are ultimately going to make your customers happy. And that’s what we’re passionate about is making your customers happy at the end of each of those experiences and along the entire journey.
Gabe Larsen: (22:51)
Love it. Vikas, closing remarks from your side?
Vikas Bhambri: (22:53)
Yeah. The last thing, I think when a lot of people see the joint offering between Kustomer and UJET, their minds are blown. Like, “Wow, this is what I dreamt up. This is what I thought.” I’ve heard these comments repeatedly for the last three years. But then people are like, “Well, we’re not there yet”. It goes back to what Vasili was saying about earlier at 85% of these people on the 1.0. I think it’s really about working with UJET and Kustomer to say, “How do I kind of walk through a process or change management?” Crawl, walk, run. This stuff’s getting me there. Right? You don’t have to knock it all out. Especially the, I think a lot of the enterprises see it. And they’re like, “This is modern. This is new.” But it’s better for the new age company. And eventually those new age companies are going to come eat your lunch if you don’t figure it out sooner or later. So what I would say is figure out ways to kind of start the adoption process now.
Gabe Larsen: (23:47)
Oh, I love it. It’s like change or be changed. It’s happening whether you like it or not. Guys, thanks so much for joining. Vasili, it’s great to have you bring in that experience. Vikas, partner in crime, thanks as always for jumping on. And for the audience, have a fantastic day.
Exit Voice: (24:05)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
We’re excited to announce the launch of the KustomerAAPI employee resource group, or ERG, at Kustomer.
What is KustomerAAPI?
KustomerAAPI is a voluntary, employee-led resource group that works to raise awareness, share resources, and provide support for AAPI experiences in the workplace.
With the recent increase in the visibility of anti-AAPI hate crimes and the continued erasure and invisibility of AAPI histories and experiences in the public discourse, we aim to provide a designated space at work to support the diverse experiences of AAPI colleagues.
The mission of KustomerAAPI is to create and maintain an inclusive space for all Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander employees at Kustomer. This means that we work to:
Foster a strong sense of belonging and community among AAPI employees
Advance the professional and personal growth of all AAPI employees
Raise awareness and facilitate discussions of AAPI culture
Build solidarity with Kustomer Alliance for LGBTQ+ Learning, Inclusivity, Empowerment, and Safety (KustomerALLIES), KustomBlack ERG, and ERG allies
How does KustomerAAPI support its mission?
KustomerAAPI will host monthly meetings open to all AAPI employees and allies. These meetings will provide support and a communal space to existing and future AAPI members of the Kustomer organization. We’ll also communicate KustomerAAPI initiatives in the ERG communication channels and company-wide town hall meetings.
We’ll also promote open dialogue and facilitate discussions around AAPI issues in the workplace. Through these community dialogues and discussions, we hope to share knowledge with both AAPI members and the company on inclusive practices to ensure a healthy and accepting company culture where AAPI members can thrive.
KustomerAAPI is gearing up for our kick-off meeting to discuss programming for the coming months. As the KustomerAAPI grows, we hope to share our mission and resources and work with other Kustomer ERG and ERG allies to sustain a diverse and inclusive workplace. Join us!
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Eric Chon and Vikas Bhambri to learn about making the switch to Kustomer to service their users. Eric is the Community Support Manager at Zwift – an MMO cycling and running game for exercise at home. Listen to the full episode to learn more.
Enhancing a Zwifter’s Route with the Ultimate CX
Zwift is a physical training program that allows users to exercise from home and tour maps with other Zwifters on stationary bikes. Each player’s avatar is displayed on screen in a virtual world with varying levels of terrain difficulty. What attracts cycling and running enthusiasts to Zwift is the option to stay home and still have a great, sweat-inducing workout. As inclines change in the virtual world, cycling becomes more strenuous, which gives the game a more realistic feel. The game also has incremental awards that entice players to cycle more often, to join teams, and to interact with others throughout the trails. Because of this user collaborative environment, Zwift needs a strong CX backing to support users throughout their gameplay. Eric and his team made the switch from Zendesk to Kustomer and the benefits to their customers have been endless.
The Making of a Seamless Integration
Change is hard, especially for big brands like Zwift that require an entire support team of expert representatives to provide the best experience for users. For Eric’s team; however, changing from Zendesk to Kustomer was a seamless transition and they recommend that all leaders make the switch ASAP. The reason for switching CRMs, according to Eric, is he believes that CX is a human-to-human interaction and a platform that encapsulates those beliefs into one space is vital for customer success. Eric often finds that other leaders overuse buzzwords like omnichannel to gain attention in the CX world, causing such terms to lose their true meaning. Many companies think they’re qualified as omnichannel simply for offering multiple communication routes between customers and agents. For a brand to be truly omnichannel, their CX teams need to have the ability to switch between communication channels seamlessly to continue the conversation, rather than only offer direct messaging, emails and phone calls as chat routes on their own. “So for example, you send me a chat or an SMS, but I’m trying to get you to fill out a document. You’re not going to do that on your cell phone. I’m going to email you a PDF that I need you to fill out. You can, that is true omnichannel.”
Throw Tickets Away – It’s Time for Human Interaction
Customer culture is constantly changing. Long gone are the days of customer delis where each ticket represents a person and the transaction is done quickly without much regard for customer satisfaction. When agents have a ticket counter or “deli” mentality, they don’t truly understand the why behind CX and how it helps brand loyalty in the long run. This is the responsibility of the leaders – to train their teams to have empathy for the why behind their roles, and to help them understand how each role impacts the company. The use of platforms like Kustomer helps teams maintain a sense of self and identity with their brand because it doesn’t force companies to adapt to new processes, rather, it works for the company as is. This way, leaders don’t have to copy and paste from an old system to a new one to make their processes more efficient and pretty. “When you start seeing everything click, when you really start to see the advantages in the process, your mindset is going to change.” Changing how agents approach CX by having an understanding of the why and taking advantage of modern CRM platforms like Kustomer will surely enhance the customer experience and result in lasting loyalty.
To learn more about Zwift’s transition to Kustomer and Eric’s work, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
Switching CX Gears with Zwift | Eric Chon
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Today. We’re going to be talking about switching CX gears with Zwift. We’ve got special guests: Eric Chon, Vikas Bhambri. Eric, let’s start with you. Can you give us kind of just a quick introduction, who you are and a little bit about Zwift?
Eric Chon: (00:26)
Hi. Yeah, sure. I’m Eric. I’m the Community Support Manager at Zwift. Zwift is a online cycling platform and running, multi-sport to kinda get you off your keister and exercising. It’s a sports MMO, so you’ll be running and cycling with basically everyone else in the world that’s currently running or cycling on our many, many courses.
Gabe Larsen: (00:52)
I love it.
Eric Chon: (00:53)
It’s pretty cool.
Gabe Larsen: (00:53)
And then would you tell us just a little more about some of the things you do in that role as the community leader over there at Zwift?
Eric Chon: (01:02)
Oh, sure. So I set a lot of the policy regarding our support initiatives. I lead a team of 15, 16 people located all over the world: in London, in, well now definitely distributed all over the world. In Australia and Japan. And we basically handle all the volume that’s coming in and act as a kind of a liaison between what our members are saying and how our game is developed.
Gabe Larsen: (01:32)
Love it. Alrighty. Well, again, it’s exciting for you to join Eric. Excited to get into the conversation. Vikas, real quick, over to you.
Vikas Bhambri: (01:38)
Yeah. Vikas Bhambri, Head of Sales in CX here at Kustomer. Eric, I guess my one question for you, is there any truth to the rumor that the Tour de France is going to be done through Zwift this year because of the pandemic?
Eric Chon: (01:51)
Well, actually the Tour de France happened through Zwift actually. So it was the month of July, we hosted the first ever virtual Tour de France. We did two races every weekend and it was also the first time that there was an officially sponsored Tour de France for women.
Gabe Larsen: (02:11)
Vikas Bhambri: (02:11)
There’s a big Zwift event coming up, right, in the fall? I was reading something about it, but yeah, I think it was a big global virtual race, right? That you all are hosting and coming up in either the fall or winter?
Eric Chon: (02:27)
I believe so. The big thing that’s really coming, I will say this, is what we call is Zwift Academy. And Zwift academy is our big initiative where we have these training plans all set out and then through this grueling process, anybody can join just to either increase their fitness, one man, one woman have a shot at becoming part of an actual pro team. And we’ve been running this for several years as well.
Gabe Larsen: (03:02)
It sounds like Vikas, you’re an avid. You’re a, how do you know all this stuff?
Gabe Larsen: (03:06)
Look, I’ve known Eric now for a couple of years and I’m a big fan of Zwift. I can’t lie and say, look at me. You can tell I’m not as –
Gabe Larsen: (03:13)
I was going to say, yeah definitely don’t exercise. I can tell you that. We actually only want to see your head.
Vikas Bhambri: (03:20)
Gabe Larsen: (03:20)
Well, awesome. Well let’s get into it. So today we’re going to talk a little bit about switching CX gears with Zwift. You obviously made a platform change recently, Eric, where you guys jumped onto the Kustomer platform from a different platform. And today I wanted to just hear a little bit about the why, the what, and the how. So if you can, maybe start with the big picture and just tell us, why did you even start looking for a different platform? What were some of those pains you started to feel that maybe brought you to ultimately partnering with us?
Eric Chon: (03:56)
Well we wanted a platform that’s a little bit more human, that allowed us to interact with our members and potential members in a more organic way. The old ticketing kind of system made me feel too much like, I’ve used this analogy a lot, but like a deli counter, right? You pull a ticket, you get answered, you throw the ticket away and then you move on. And if you write back, the tools to know like where, like what problems you faced in the past, weren’t great. You kind of had to search for it. So we’re definitely looking, everyone always says omnichannel, omnichannel, omnichannel. That was the buzzword for a long time. And nothing really truly delivered what we were looking for.
Eric Chon: (04:39)
When we came upon Kustomer. Actually it was mentioned to us through FCR as a potential to take a look at because they knew that we were kind of dissatisfied with what we were at. So we checked it out and it was kind of weird to see like, this timeline is exactly what we want. This is exactly what we’re looking for. Every conversation, every email, phone call, chat, text message, it’s all in a line. You can kind of see the whole history the customer’s journey, right? From one day saying, “Hey, I want to join your platform,” to like, “Is this the right thing to get to? I can’t connect this thing because Bluetooth is all messed up.” And so any agent or colleague that kind of reads through that gets a complete picture. And that’s fantastic.
Gabe Larsen: (05:23)
Yeah interesting. So originally you were, you had this kind of ticket-based program and you were feeling needs to be a little bit more customer centric. And then some of these things started to hit you in the right spot. This omnichannel. I got to just click on that real quick. That is a buzzword, right? And you kind of hit on that, “Omni, omni, omni.” What makes the solution not Omni channel because everybody says, “We’re omnichannel,” and everybody thinks they’re omnichannel. And what does omnichannel mean for you? And how did you kind of find that then in the Kustomer platform?
Eric Chon: (05:54)
It’s kind of interesting also because I haven’t heard it until everyone started talking about it and I’m like, “Oh, that makes sense.” Like what you want, you want all of your contacts to be in one spot and you want it to, if you want to switch, the idea to me, the idea of an omnichannel is where you’re supposed to meet the customer where they want to be contacted. And where we were before the chat program is very robust, but it was a completely separate program. It was an acquisition. So to pull data or to see things, it was, you’d have to have a separate tab, have a separate window. Same thing with the phones, cell phone support. All of this stuff was separate and it was harder for our agents to kind of tie that information together.
Eric Chon: (06:41)
What I really like is how Kustomer handles it again, like I said, it’s all in one timeline. If we’ve discovered that someone really wants to have us text them, we don’t technically offer text support yet, but the capability of like, “You know what, the last time you wrote in, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m just sending you an email, but could you text me a follow-up,'” you can do that. And it’s all part of the, it’s all part of the flow. You can reach out and connect with that person the way they want to be connected. There’s the golden rule, which is to treat people the way you want to be treated. But there’s the platinum rule which is to treat people the way they want to be treated. And I feel Kustomer allows us to follow that platinum rule.
Vikas Bhambri: (07:22)
Yeah, Gabe. I think this is one of the things that whatever Zwift’s moving to is what a lot of the traditional vendors, old vendors, to call more traditional is much more respectful I guess, is they just rebranded multi-channel to omnichannel. And for them, what that meant is we have all these channels and you can use email, you can use chat and you can get them into one ticketing platform. What they were missing were two key things that Eric alluded to. One is that ability for either the customer or the agent to change the channel. So for example, you send me a chat or an SMS, but I’m trying to get you to fill out a document. You’re not going to do that on your cell phone. I’m going to email you a PDF that I need you to fill out. You can, that is true omnichannel. Being able to go to these traditional ticketing platforms that market themselves as omnichannel; you get an email, you’re responding an email; you get a chat, you’re responding and chat. That’s not true omnichannel.
Vikas Bhambri: (08:19)
The other thing that a customer jumps in the middle of that same issue from a chat to an email or vice versa is merging that together. And what we, we look at it as a conversation into a single conversation, and we call it a multichannel omnichannel conversation where you’ve got different touch points that have come in, but the conversation is around the same topics. Really look, you can call something whatever you want, right? But at the end of the day, I think the true principle of what omnichannel is, is what Eric’s alluding to.
Gabe Larsen: (08:50)
Interesting. Interesting. I like that, kind of bringing it all together. Eric, it sounds like that struck a chord. Let’s be on the [inaudible] piece for just a minute. So I don’t know if it was the, kind of mentioned multiple screens, right? But also disability too. Now that sounds like a couple of different data sources in one view. Were you bringing in a couple of different pieces of data to kind of optimize that customer experience?
Eric Chon: (09:16)
So prior to that, yeah, it was, I’m going to use, I’ll use chat as an example here for sure. In order to get our chat information from one to, because everything was done in GoodData, which is a heck of a platform to try to understand. It’s very powerful, but we had to create a separate ticket for each chat that came in so that it would be funneled into the system. I don’t know if that’s still the case but that was a huge pain process to try to get that. And then to get the relevant data across, it really was hours and hours and hours of my time to even get it to some kind of semblance of understanding how many chats came in, where they were coming in, what they were asking for, and could we tie them to the same user?
Vikas Bhambri: (10:10)
One of the things, Eric, that we often hear from folks that are using ticketing platforms is that the ticketing platform is kind of the source of the inquiry from the customer. But a lot of the data that resides about the customer sits in other systems, they kind of, we call the swivel chair where I’m living in a ticketing system like Zendesk and the inquiry comes in from the customer, but then I’m going to another system to go and research it, or maybe find out more about them. Like for instance, what were the kind of the different systems that you were using that the support team had to kind of pivot between? And then were you able to bring any of that into one single view in the customer platform?
Eric Chon: (10:54)
Yeah, well between chat phones, our three main lines of contact, they were all separate systems. So getting them all together and one was a challenge. In Kustomer, they’re all in the same platform. And so they all filter into the same data set. It’s a lot easier for us to kind of see, “Okay, well, how many calls did we get? How long were they? Which teams worked on them and did that call turn into a chat? Did that chat turn into an email?” We can see that transition. We can see how many of those there are and have the tools to be able to see like, well, how often are we channel switching, right? From one to the other, that kind of information is just readily available at Kustomer.
Vikas Bhambri: (11:35)
And one of the things is, from your perspective as being this leader, change is hard, right? And particularly in the support world and you guys have gone through explosive growth and you have a lot of projects on your table. So the last thing you want to do is go in and implement a new customer service platform. What were some of the things that you considered in that as you were going through this process, the retraining of agents, the migration of data, and then how did that actually transpire as you were moving from Zendesk to Kustomer and working with the customer implementation team?
Eric Chon: (12:16)
I mean, we were younger, this is two years ago. I wouldn’t say we’re able to do riskier things, but for us, it’s a constant state of experimentation. It’s like, we want to find what’s best for us. And if we know we have the known quantity and we had all these known pain points and you’re like, “As we scale, this is not going to work for us.” We saw in Kustomer a huge potential to address every single one of those. And we knew that it was going to be, to switch from one to the other that we’ve been in for several years, it’s always going to be tough. But we know that the potential there was to not only just, I don’t know how to put this, to create a support platform that works for us as for us, instead of us trying to adapt to the platform itself was high.
Eric Chon: (13:11)
And that was one of the main reasons why we did it. That, and of course all the ability to keep everything on one channel. The implementation team led by Christina was phenomenal. Really, really smooth over a lot of the things that we had issues with. To be fair, I’m going to say with her experience, she even allowed us to improve our own internal processes. Taking advantage of what Kustomer had to offer and allowing us to think about things in a different manner that we didn’t think were possible before.
Gabe Larsen: (13:42)
Yeah. So it sounds like the implementation went very smooth. As we, as you think about other customer experience leaders, community leaders, service leaders who are thinking about making that switch, I think you said it right, you were kind of embedded, it’s a little hard, no one wants to change, it feels uncomfortable, what advice do you have for them? What kind of things would you leave for that audience as they contemplate the same decisions you went through just a little bit ago?
Eric Chon: (14:16)
Document everything and it’s always going to be, it’s harder and easier than you think it’s going to be, right? Obviously, any kind of big switch, it’s always going to be harder than you think. But when you start seeing everything click, when you really start to see the advantages in the process, your mindset is going to change. How we decide to approach customer support evolved and that is huge. We are, it’s not just about the metrics, although of course the metrics are very important, right? But satisfaction with the ability to handle these things, customer satisfaction, customer effort, they all improved. So, you keep your eye on that and you’ll understand that it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Gabe Larsen: (15:03)
I like that. Short-term, sometimes things can be harder. Long-term it does pay off. Vikas, what would you add? I mean, we’ve kind of experienced this. Coach people through it. What are they going to be thinking about as they switch?
Vikas Bhambri: (15:14)
You know, I think Eric started at the beginning, right? Which is you’re entrenched with whatever ticketing or system you’re using today. So first of all, being cognizant that change is hard, right? And it’s something, that whole change management process around educating your team as to the why. Eric was really articulated well. Why are we doing this, right? And it helps people understand why you’re going to go on that journey. And then it’s to really map out, we’re not just trying to cut and paste what we’re doing in an old system into a new system and make it a prettier screen. It’s using this as an opportunity to actually improve something. So whether it’s working with somebody like Christina on the Kustomer implementation team, or whether it’s even sitting back and revisiting some of the decisions you maybe made two, three years ago when you first implemented that other system, is there a better, or is there a different way that we could do today? But I think there’s really some unique opportunities, not just changing technology, but also not only changing the process, but in some cases seeing people talk about changing with people and helping inform the people, because it’s a very different world when you come in and you’re now interacting with humans. It’s human to human, as opposed to what Eric was saying, you’re this guy at the deli counter just taking these numbers or tickets. Right now, you’re dealing with human beings. You actually get to be more empowered. So we’ve actually heard from customers that their retention has gone up and people actually enjoy their role because they’re actually being able to get all this data and being empowered to deliver an amazing experience. With the ticketing systems, it’s really about that immediate transaction that you have with that particular customer.
Gabe Larsen: (16:59)
Awesome. Awesome. Alrighty well, Eric, really appreciate you jumping on. Vikas, likewise. For the audience, hope you understand. Hope you’ve got a great make the switch week. As we coach companies, as we think about helping leaders make the change, you can see Eric did it and he turned out all right. We’d advise you to do the same. So have a great day and we wish you the best.
Eric Chon: (17:24)
Take care. Thank you for having me guys.
Exit Voice: (17:32)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
An excellent customer experience is just as important for you and your clients as it is for us and ours.
This is why I joined Kustomer as the Director of Global Support a little over a year ago: to help transform our team and improve the experience we deliver to our clients.
I’m excited to share that Kustomer now offers 24/5 global support, from Sundays at 6pm ET through Fridays at 9pm ET. This is a major milestone and one of the many significant changes we’ve introduced to deliver fast, efficient support to our customers around the world.
I’ll walk you through the recent improvements we’ve made to our customer support, in addition to what is on the roadmap.
Growing Pains Lead to New Opportunities
Around the time I joined, we were going through some growing pains as a CX organization. We had recently doubled our client base and had the will, but without the right foundations and structure in place to help us succeed.
I started our transformational journey by getting to know my team and our clients. Some of the questions I asked were:
How is everyone feeling about their role and responsibilities?
Do they have enough knowledge to do their jobs well?
What kind of feedback are we getting from our clients on our performance?
What specific things do our clients need from us to help them make the most of Kustomer?
I discovered that our team was very stressed and lacking confidence in their abilities. They were taking longer on some issues because they weren’t given the proper training and tools to help them do their roles well. They also didn’t understand how important they were to our overall mission here at Kustomer. So I set out to change all of that and help them succeed.
Over the next 12 months we went through a whirlwind of change:
We re-evaluated our job descriptions to ensure we had the right hiring profile for our team, and started recruiting for Technical Support Engineers to ensure we had the right blend of technical and customer facing skills. For the first time, we added Sr. Technical Support Engineers and made sure we had a mix of junior and senior team members to help round out our knowledge. Additionally, we expanded our coverage to 24/5. We now have team members covering the EU, East Coast, Midwest, West Coast and APAC regions.
And we didn’t stop there. We made sure to improve our new hire onboarding to ensure training consistency and reduce the onboarding timeline of our new hires from six months down to one, achieving an 83% decrease in ramp up time! We introduced Business Impact on our forms and chat channels which allows clients to set their own priority on each issue so we can help resolve problems in the timeline that works best for our clients. We also introduced formal critical coverage outside of our normal business hours via the “critical” business impact selection to allow us to provide after-hours help on urgent issues.
On top of everything, we added holiday coverage to provide better support during our clients’ busiest times, and shifted from transactional to consultative support. We ensure that we understand our client’s configuration and needs before tailoring a solution to their unique environment. Lastly, we added Kustomer Live! monthly training webinars and ad-hoc training, as requested, and introduced a pilot Premiere Support Program to offer short term dedicated support for clients who may need a little extra help from time to time.
Stepping Into Our Customers’ Shoes
We also made significant improvements to our own instance of Kustomer (Alpha) so that we could use all of the amazing features that our customers have been using so successfully, for our own client support.
First we set up custom reporting and rolled out team metrics. Here are some of the improvements we’ve seen:
We have been consistently hitting or beating our targets for the last six months.
First Response Time goal is under one hour, and is currently at 28 minutes
Average Duration goal is under two business days, and is currently at 1.9 business days
CSAT goal is 4.5 or higher, and we are currently at 4.7
Additionally, we integrated Kustomer and Jira and added automations to help us keep issues moving forward, and we brought client information in from our sales tool so we have a better understanding of who our clients are, as we’re supporting them. We can also more easily see when clients are running into repeated issues and address them at the core.
We continued to optimize by introducing Queues and Routing, which reduced our First Response Times by 50%.We also increased visibility through various searches and reporting to help us see problematic trends and react more quickly to larger issues.
Finally, we introduced automation to help our team members better manage their daily workloads, and we implemented chat to set better expectations on First Response Times and allow us to handle critical issues.
We may have accomplished a lot, but we are just getting started! The changes that we’ve made have had a profound impact on our team and on our clients. When I talk to the team now they tell me they feel more empowered to do their jobs and are excited to be a part of our bigger mission here at Kustomer — to deliver an exceptional client experience.
Feedback from our clients has been phenomenal. We get five star rating after five star rating for speed of turnaround, quality of response and level of product knowledge.
This year we’re continuing to focus on improvements to our onboarding so we can scale our training as we grow. We’re adding more advanced training to help us reduce turnaround time and will be introducing a formal quality assurance program for our agents to ensure we’re delivering high-quality service consistently. We’re also planning some changes to our chat channel to allow for more real-time responses to high priority issues.
We love to hear feedback as we continue to make changes. Please feel free to reach out to me and share your experiences so we can continue to focus in the right places to improve your experience.
About the Author
Gordana Warga is a B2B technical support leader with extensive experience transforming teams across various tech stacks and industries. She finds proactive ways to quickly improve the client experience through automation, enhanced training, and process improvements. Her teams are empowered to consistently exceed their goals and partner with clients to help them better utilize SaaS products.
For every CX organization, the ability to effortlessly collect, organize, and analyze customer data is foundational to success. As a customer service CRM, Kustomer has always understood the importance of data. Whether it’s easily ingesting information into a customer timeline, delivering instant resolution through self-service, or helping an agent understand a recent customer conversation, Kustomer uses data to make magic happen and save your business countless hours.
That is why our product team is always working on new ways to leverage data to support your needs. Today, I’m excited to introduce three new features — conditionally required attributes, customer picker and user picker — that, when combined, help you not only streamline data but also get more value from the Kustomer platform. After all, no feature is an island; the real power of the platform is unlocked when features are used together.
Let’s begin by exploring each feature and how they can work together to paint a more complete picture of your customers.
Customer and User Pickers
Put simply, user picker and customer picker attributes track relationships. They help you ensure that agents have the full range of information needed to best service customers and identify the right team member for additional support.
For instance, let’s say you want to track which customers refer new accounts to your business. To do so, you could create a customer picker attribute for Referral Customer on the Company object.
Similarly, if you want to track which person on your team is the Purchasing Manager for a particular type of order, you could create a user picker attribute for Purchasing Manager on the Order object. Or, if you want to track the main point of contact for clients, you could create a user picker attribute for Customer Success Manager on the Customer object. As you can imagine, the range of relationships you can track using customer and user pickers are endless.
Conditionally Required Attributes
While customer and user pickers let you capture more data within the Kustomer platform, conditionally required attributes let you simplify the agent view and display certain attributes only when they’re needed. A typical example is only displaying a State attribute if a Country attribute is set to United States.
By requiring that the attribute value be set before a conversation closes, Conditionally Required Attributes promote data consistency. For instance, let’s say that for any product issue that is reported, you want to know which stock-keeping unit (SKU) had that issue. You could display the Product SKU value and require its value to be set before a conversation closes only if a Product Issue attribute value is set. As a result, agents will have greater insight into the customer’s product issue, so agents can tailor support accordingly. You’ll also be able to identify trends across product issues and escalate matters to other departments more efficiently.
How These Features Work Together
When used together, the customer and user picker attributes and conditionally required attributes can help you streamline your agent workflow and uncover new insights. For instance, let’s say you run an e-commerce website that sells computer parts and you want to assign a specialized agent to any customer who is reaching out with a technical issue.
First, you will need a Contact Reason attribute to track why a customer is reaching out. Multi-level list attributes are great for these:
Next, you’ll need to create a Technical Agent attribute with a user picker:
Once these attributes are created and added to the Insights Panel Details, you can configure your conditionally required attributes! For this use case, you’ll want to conditionally display Technical Agent when Contact Reason is set as Technical Issue. You’ll also want to make Technical Agent required, ensuring that every conversation with a technical issue has been given a technical agent before it is closed.
These simple changes help you optimize your workflow and promote good data hygiene among agents. But there are so many more opportunities for insights and automations that lay ahead.
Leverage the Rest of the Kustomer Platform to Amplify Benefits
Since each conversation with a technical issue has been given a technical agent, you can easily report on, or create automations based on, these attributes. For instance, you can create a Custom Report comparing conversations with a technical agent assigned and those without. Or, you can create a Business Rule that automatically assigns conversations that require a technical agent to a different queue.
The important thing to understand is that data-driven features like attribute types or conditionally required attributes are at the foundation of the Kustomer platform, with additional features built on top of this foundation. Being thoughtful and thorough in your configuration of Klasses and Kviews and combining platform features such as the ones we covered today are some of the best ways to get the most out of the Kustomer platform.
In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen meets with Brad Birnbaum, the founder of Kustomer, to learn how teams can adapt to accelerated growth and advancing technologies. Listen to the full episode to learn more.
It’s All About Building Relationships
Brad Birnbaum has years of experience working in the world of CX, leading companies to excellence with the proper tools. His reason for founding Kustomer is he regularly notices that many companies lack skills in the relationship department. Meaning, that the relationships brands should forge with customers simply are nonexistent. He took note of how customers are treated, many like tickets or numbers and to Brad, this is a big misfortune and missed opportunity. Thus, Kustomer was born. “The thing that we observed was so many companies were not treating their customers like people, right? They weren’t establishing the relationship with their customer that they should.” Kustomer is a customer service CRM platform created to make experiences seamless. Brad explains the three founding principles upon which Kustomer stands. One, to know everything there is to know about your customer and use that knowledge to your company’s advantage. Two, having the correct omnichannel to make it possible for streamlined conversation across multiple platforms. Three, making the agent’s job easier and simplified by removing unnecessary steps with automation.
Start Early with Omnichannel Conversations
For optimal growth, leaders should take omnichannel communication into account when creating and selling a product. The modern customer has various resources such as: email, cell phones, chat bots, and Facebook Messenger as a means of grabbing an agent’s attention. With the communication explosion, adopting omnichannel early on to the CX toolbox is a great practice for service effectiveness, especially since this is difficult to implement further down the line. Brad believes that omnichannel often gets overused and consequently loses its meaning amongst CX leaders. He prefers the term “megachannel” to describe how proficiently the Kustomer platform closes the gap between customer and agent by using multiple forms of messaging. “Which to us means being able to converse with your customers in all the different channels that you support in a seamless, single threaded conversation. Which by the way, sounds pretty obvious, but nobody actually really does and I challenge any of our competitors on that.”
Why You Need Data Automation
The current CX climate is “adapt or die,” as Brad says, which is due to technology advancing at an accelerated rate. Brands that refuse to adapt new principles and technologies simply won’t survive with the modern customer. Antiquated services don’t allow agents to work efficiently, as they often have to copy and paste data across multiple screens. With a CRM like Kustomer IQ, teams have proven to be up to 25% more efficient at their jobs, meaning that more customers are helped and more time and money is saved for the company – a win, win, win situation. “Let the computer think for you. It can do it…Let your systems do the work for you.” Another plus to data automation is fewer accidents made by human error because these platforms gather helpful data and store it for agents to use at any given time. “Having that data to enhance and enrich those support experiences is invaluable, right? It’s necessary, as a matter of fact. Customers expect it.” When CX agents have access to the proper tools and data, NPS scores are sure to skyrocket.
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Full Episode Transcript:
The Future is Ticket Free | Brad Birnbaum
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
And we are live. Welcome, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about this idea of a ticket for your future and to do that, we brought on CEO and co-founder Brad Birnbaum. Brad, thanks for joining. How are you?
Brad Birnbaum: (00:24)
I’m doing great today, Gabe. How about yourself?
Gabe Larsen: (00:27)
So we’re excited to jump into the topic. For those of them who maybe don’t know you as well, can you give us just a quick background on yourself and a little bit on Kustomer and then we’ll dive into some questions?
Brad Birnbaum: (00:44)
Sure. I’ve spent my entire career building customer service software. Started in the nineties, had a bunch of great companies along the way, a bunch of good exits along the way. Most recently co-founded Assistly, which was a SMB SaaS customer support software. We ultimately sold it to Salesforce a couple of years later and spent a few years in Salesforce and saw the value of their platform. So the aging nature of the technology and the capabilities of the platform and knew the world needed something better, needed something modern. And took all the learnings of these past 20 years, took the learnings of kind of seeing, seeing what archaic products do and realizing there’s just a better way to service and support customers. And that’s what we’re all about here.
Gabe Larsen: (01:29)
I love it. I think you answered kind of my first question. A little bit about why you ended up founding Kustomer in the first place. Let’s jump to the second thing I had on my mind.
Brad Birnbaum: (01:39)
Well, actually, hold on. I think we could go longer. The reason we founded Kustomer is not because of my prior history as much, but it’s the things we observed, right? The thing that we observed was so many companies were not treating their customers like people, right? They weren’t establishing the relationship with their customers that they should, right? As you and I have gotten to know each other over the past year we’ve learned where they’re from and how many people in your family and your likes and dislikes, and that’s just how people form relationships. In businesses and customers, no different, right? And so many of the traditional systems of yesteryear didn’t think that way, right? They treated customers as a single transaction, right?
Brad Birnbaum: (02:25)
They treat them as a ticket and we just don’t believe that’s the right way to do it anymore. So when we created the Kustomer platform, Kustomer with a K of course, we knew we needed to revolutionize that and everything about the product and the platform we created had that in mind, right? How to make the relationship at the heart of the interaction and to know everything about the customer and to be able to understand their likes and dislikes and be able to action that. So for us, Kustomer platform was founded on three principles. One, knowing everything about the customer and be able to use that to have an amazing relationship and support the customer properly. Two, having proper omnichannel. Which to us means being able to converse with your customers in all the different channels that you support in a seamless, single threaded conversation. Which by the way, sounds pretty obvious, but nobody actually really does and I challenge any of our competitors on that. And three, taking advantage of RP, like business process automation and machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate the routine and mundane tasks of a customer support agent so that the agents are able to have those relationships and focus on the important thing at hand with supporting their customers and not go into five different screens and copying and pasting data, doing all those monotonous tasks, which are just not necessary anymore. So we knew we needed to solve all of those things. And in doing so, the Kustomer platform has really revolutionized the way companies are supporting their customers. And we’ve heard this time and time again over the past few years about how C-SAT levels have increased, of how agents are more productive and effective, right? Sometimes as often as 25% more productive than on legacy systems. So it just works. And it makes sense actually, if you think about it.
Gabe Larsen: (04:03)
I like the pillars. I think that’s a nice overview of a ticketless environment. I want to dive into maybe though, just real briefly, let’s do the omnichannel. You touched on that one. What does it mean to be truly omnichannel?
Brad Birnbaum: (04:18)
Sure. So first off, all of our competitors were created before this thing ever existed, right? They’re creating a different generation, a different era. They didn’t really grow up with the need for omnichannel. So it’s not ingrained in their product. And it’s really hard to add after the fact, right? So most of our competitors will say, “If you send me an email, that’ll be a ticket.” And then to have a ticket ID, you get assigned to a particular agent. And if you don’t get a response fast enough, maybe you send them a text or have a chat session and maybe ultimately phone call then. In our competitor’s products, those will all be three separate tickets. They will have three separate ticket IDs. They will possibly, probably be assigned to three separate teams. God forbid you get three different answers when you respond, right?
Brad Birnbaum: (05:04)
Which happens. We call them agent collisions. They happen all the time. And what you got is a frustrated customer because they’re now having multiple different discussions with different people around the same problem across different channels. You’re wasting time, right? Because many of your agents are basically servicing for the same customer and it’s just not a good experience. The way we solved it is all of that will aggregate into a single, what we call conversation. And you can context switch between any of the channels we support. We support an immense amount of channels. And in real time, at the same time, you and I can be on a phone call right now and you can say, “Hey, Brad. Can you just like text me the user, the page that shows me the user on it?” I could just send you a text with that, right? I just want a phone call. How else would I? And I’m texting you in that conversation at the same time. And again, through all of the channels, we’ve got the synchronous channels, the asynchronous channels, the voice channels: WhatsApp, texting, chat message, Facebook Messenger on and on and on, and it works really, really well. And it’s been game changing and it makes you realize, how could you do this any other way, right? It’s like, how did you do it before –
Gabe Larsen: (06:14)
[Inaudible] I think, right?
Brad Birnbaum: (06:19)
Yup. And I will say this, like we probably do ourselves a disservice by using the term omnichannel because everybody’s used the term omnichannel. So it’s like omnichannel, omnichannel. We see it so differently that, as I said, I do think we’re doing ourselves a disservice by calling it omnichannel. I think we should call it megachannel, but whatever we call it, it is different, right? It is different than everybody else’s definition of omnichannel.
Gabe Larsen: (06:41)
Brad Birnbaum: (06:42)
It’s important. Most important, it’s the way your customers want to communicate with you, right? They do context switch as we all communicate with one another, we and the business world, we’ll text and we’ll Slack and we’ll email and we’ll phone call and that’s just normal on a day to day. Even you and I, Gabe, like, that’s how we’ll converse, right? Many different ways. I’m sure we’ve emailed, Slacked and phone call at each other at least once today already, right? Like, and that’s normal and often around the same topic. So it just, it just makes sense when you think about it.
Gabe Larsen: (07:14)
To bring those all together under one roof. Okay, that’s omnichannel. CRM is a loaded term. It’s been used in many different instances. It’s obviously in sales, it’s in marketing, it’s in service. Why do you think CRM is such an interesting and important component of a modern ticket lists and service solution?
Brad Birnbaum: (07:34)
Yeah, well CRM is, the term’s been around forever. People often equate it to SFA, sales force automation, right? Just on the sales front. And I think the more generic definition is not that it’s customer relationship management. It’s how the business interacts with the customers and the data around them. So for us, we absolutely are a CRM system because we have a tremendous, we can have a tremendous amount of data about the customers, whatever the business provides. So if you’re a retailer, very often we’ll have your full customer record. We will have orders. We’ll have information about those orders, perhaps billing exceptions or delivery exceptions, or when it got delivered, you name it. Across the board. Having that data to enhance and enrich those support experiences is invaluable, right? It’s necessary, as a matter of fact. Customers expect it.
Brad Birnbaum: (08:22)
They, when I call whomever it is that I call for support, whether they’re using my product or not, I expect them to know everything about me, or if I call them by cell phone, they already have my number. I expect you to know my profile. I expect you to know I’m calling because I ordered something four days ago and it hasn’t yet been delivered. I can’t find it, right? I don’t want to have to say, “Hey, I’m Brad. Here’s my date of birth and my address. And I’m calling you because you see that order I placed four days ago? I never got it.” I expect you to know that about me. You should. In today’s day and age with computers and data, there’s no reason not to. And that needs to be applied to customer support and customer service. It has to be applied to it.
Brad Birnbaum: (09:02)
It’s expected at this point in time. It’s table stakes. And you’d be surprised how many companies support their customers without that data, right? Where they’re like, “Oh, all right. Let me, I see that you’ve reached out to me and system A. Let me try and look you up in system B. Let me try and find why you might’ve called.” Let the computer think for you. It can do it. Of course it can do it right. Let it do the work, let your systems do the work for you. And for us, CRM is fully understanding the relationship the business has with the customer as I said earlier, and leveraging data to do that. And we’ve got a very, very robust CRM platform. It’s enterprise class in terms of permissioning, object level permissioning, record level permissioning, field level permissioning, who can see and do what to any objects, right?
Brad Birnbaum: (09:46)
And data validations, and really incredible whizzy wave view builders that we call k views. Everything’s with a K. So k views around these objects and being able to action these objects. You can run business process automations on an object. As an example, let’s say it was a shirt and you needed to return it for a larger size. You would see that object in your timeline, you could just hit return on or exchange for a larger size. And one of these automations that’ll talk to all the back office systems take care of that seamlessly. Instead of taking the human, many screens, and many minutes, it takes a computer milliseconds and boom, you’re done. Everybody wins. The customer gets the resolution faster. They’re happier. And by the way, automated so less accident prone. So it’s more likely to be correct. Agents service you faster, as they’re more productive and effective, and they’re not wasting their time on things. Businesses, money, C-SAT levels go up. The agent productivity goes up. It’s just a win, win, win across the board.
Gabe Larsen: (10:40)
Yeah, well it definitely feels like it’s different than CRM. Maybe you’ll get that KRM. Maybe you’ll be able to rename –
Brad Birnbaum: (10:45)
One day, one day, we’re going to coin KRM.
Gabe Larsen: (10:48)
Well, let’s go to AI. One of the things people are talking about a lot as we move into this next generation of customer expectations is the automation side of the house. It’s the data side of the house. How does that create that modern service experience and how does it eliminate the ticket?
Brad Birnbaum: (11:05)
Well, in the spirit of knowing everything about the customer and understanding all the ways you like to communicate and having that omnichannel communication, you want to take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence in several ways. One way might be for deflection, right? Customer reaches out through email or text, or any of the asynchronous messaging channels. We have an amazing chat bot and we want to be able to take advantage of that, right? So try to service the customer through a chat bot, right? It could be a simple search in our knowledge base and deflection could be more advanced, full chat bot experience where you’re actually conversing with the chat bot. And then that ultimately gets to leverage the CRM data that we know about you, to say, “Hey Brad. We noticed that you ordered a shirt a couple days ago and had it delivered this afternoon. Is this what you’re reaching out about?”
Brad Birnbaum: (11:55)
You say, “Yes, it is.” And then it’s like, “Cool. We noticed it’s set to be delivered tomorrow. Anything else we can help you with?” “No, thank you.” Boom. That’s a pretty incredible experience and one that we all expect nowadays. But then you can do other forms of AI right? We have customers that use machine learning for routing, right? To make sure the right customer, the customer gets to the right agent, right? Sometimes their businesses are so segmented that different agent teams can’t really service all customers, right? They’re only training with certain capabilities and we’ve got some customers using the machine learning capability of our platform to make sure that the customer conversations get to the right group of agents regardless of how they might’ve self-selected. The machine learning is way better than that. And we’re seeing it with incredibly high success rates in the mid to upper nineties of high levels of accuracy. So really great stuff.
Brad Birnbaum: (12:44)
Suggesting responses. Once a day, if an agent is engaged with the customers, suggesting response, which for us is also the next action, right? So you can suggest how to respond to the customer and are using what we call shortcuts. And our shortcuts do a lot of different things, right? Not only do they send texts, but they can even do actions in our system. And you do that and it does categorization, classification. So there’s so many things that you could use with intelligence, with machine learning and AI. And we’re just touching the tip of the iceberg with what we’re doing in the customer platform. As a matter of fact, we’ve rolled out an entire offering, which we call Kustomer IQ and it’s going to be pervasive through our entire product offering. We’ll see it in predicting reporting trends. You’ll see it potentially one day in helping analyze fraud. There’s so many potential use cases, but right now, we’re working on various forms of self service, various forms of incredible chat bots, various forms of making agents more productive.
Gabe Larsen: (13:44)
Yeah. Well, we hit a lot of topics today. I want to see if we can get kind of a summary from you. Obviously consumer expectations have changed. People are frustrated with ticket-based systems. Today was all about a ticket-free future. If you think about leaders who are really trying to up their game when it comes to customer service, what do you leave them with today?
Brad Birnbaum: (14:04)
Well look, the world is changing faster than anybody, any of us ever expected, right? The pandemic has increased the rate of digital transformation by many, many, many orders of magnitude. We’ve all seen the charts. Some say it’s digital accelerate. Digital transformation accelerated five years like that. We’re seeing e-commerce, the drive to e-commerce move at rates completely up. Just nobody thought it could ever happen at the rate of increase that’s going on. So you’ve got to adopt your business, right? Business is moving online faster than ever. We’re seeing so many traditional companies converting to almost becoming modern, direct to consumer companies. You have to adapt, right? It’s kind of adapt or die, right? You have to adapt. And that is how you do business in every facet of how you do business. Customer service is of course a critical part of it, right?
Brad Birnbaum: (14:51)
You can have a great product, but poor customer service, and you probably will not have repeat customers. You won’t have customer advocacy and in the end you probably won’t win. So you can’t have a great product without great customer service and why not take advantage of the most modern ways to do so and the best tools to do it. And you need to really rethink that, right? And the world has evolved in so many ways, why shouldn’t the way you support and service your customers evolve?
Gabe Larsen: (15:15)
I love it. Well, Brad really appreciate you taking the time. Everybody, this week is make the switch week. We are empowering leaders who have been frustrated with these ticket-based systems, upgrade to a modern customer service CRM. So Brad, thanks again for joining. For everybody else, have a fantastic day.
Brad Birnbaum: (15:32)
Thank you all. Have a great day.
Exit Voice: (15:40)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more Customer Service Secrets.
“The past year fundamentally changed the way companies do business and made customer service agents truly the front line for many organizations. Kustomer was proud to help enable these organizations in providing exceptional, efficient customer service,” said Brad Birnbaum, founder and CEO, Kustomer. “I’m pleased that our team has been recognized by Business Intelligence Group for its dedication and innovation to this critically important area of business.”
“On the frontline of our uncertain times are customer service professionals and suppliers without whom we wouldn’t be able to live as comfortably as we have for the last year,” said Maria Jimenz, COO of the Business Intelligence Group. “It is our honor to recognize Kustomer as they are leading by example and making real progress on improving the daily lives of so many.”
The Excellence in Customer Service Awards celebrate those who are winning by supporting their own customers and those who are developing the tools to help others find success. Awards were given out to consultants, outsource partners and technology providers for superior performances in the past 12 months.
Organizations from across the globe submitted their recent innovations for consideration in the BIG Innovation Awards. Nominations were then judged by a select group of business leaders and executives who volunteer their time and expertise to score submissions.
About Business Intelligence Group www.bintelligence.com
The Business Intelligence Group was founded with the mission of recognizing true talent and superior performance in the business world. Unlike other industry award programs, these programs are judged by business executives having experience and knowledge. The organization’s proprietary and unique scoring system selectively measures performance across multiple business domains and then rewards those companies whose achievements stand above those of their peers.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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:
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.
When it comes to building a successful customer service organization, you always want to start with defining your business outcomes. So the first question becomes: what do you want to achieve? Is it increased customer loyalty? Increased revenue? Incremental customer growth? Without understanding your ultimate end goal, knowing a customer’s history may seem unnecessary. But as soon as you identify your goal, it’ll become clear that your organization won’t be successful without access to customer history, and you’ll instantly know what about the customer’s history is most valuable to understand.
Let’s think of customer relationships more broadly. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about building a relationship with a new friend or significant other? You’ll most likely want to learn about who that person is on a deeper level. This helps you understand why they make the decisions they make, what their habits are, and more generally, who they are as a person.
You should follow that same mindset when it comes to your relationships with customers. The way you approach a customer varies depending on the type of business you are in. Whether it’s B2C or B2B, both are equally as important. Your customer is purchasing from you for a reason, and it would be a missed opportunity to not understand why. An inadequate view into this information will disrupt your team’s ability to create more meaningful interactions that will leave a lasting impression and keep valued customers.
Customer History for B2B Organizations
If you are in the B2B space, you know how much of an investment, in both time and money, your customers are making by switching over to your business. Clearly, the previous provider didn’t work for them, and if you never bother to understand what their pain points were and why they have moved over to you, you’ll end up making the same mistakes, likely resulting in churn. It is incredibly important to always identify customer challenges, map out how to solve them and ensure that you are delivering value at every opportunity. At the end of the day, if your service still can’t solve some of the pain points they have presented, the relationship might not make sense and it’s better to set proper expectations right at the forefront. People yearn for trust and that goes hand-in-hand with powerful and effective business relationships built on a collaborative plan that sets out to overcome obstacles. This can only happen when you understand and have access to, your customer’s history.
Delivering on B2C Consumer Expectations
In the B2C space, younger generations are continuing to trend towards higher expectations from the brands that they engage with. They are looking for easy access, real-time information, and proactive approaches that make their day-to-day easier. Customer service in today’s digital world is what makes you stand out from your competitors. Knowing your customer’s purchase history, loyalty status, preferences, or even sentiment with your brand, allows you to treat them with higher levels of service, increasing customer loyalty. This, in turn, makes your own team’s lives easier and helps to prevent fatigue. Arming your team with such valuable information allows them to act quickly and spend less time tracking down information, which grants them more time to think creatively and respond more thoroughly.
Whether you are working with a business or you are engaging with individual customers, knowing a customer’s history will allow you to avoid the same mistakes or disruptive experiences they have been faced with in the past, and build long-lasting, lucrative relationships.
Are you someone who likes to get the most out of their CRM? Are you someone who likes to learn new things? Well, we have great news for you! Based on customer feedback, we have created a team dedicated to learning and training to help our customers get the most value out of Kustomer and deliver best-in-class customer experiences. Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our brand new learning management system, Kustomer University.
Kustomer University will house courses on platform navigation, configuration, and best practices. New admins will love our guided program, Kustomer 101, which will take you through everything you need to know about managing your Kustomer instance. Experienced admins will enjoy our advanced courses and certifications launching later this year. Onboard your newest agents with our Kustomer Agent Training course, which gives them a platform overview and best practices for supporting customers using the platform.
Just as Kustomer is customer-centric, Kustomer University is designed with you in mind. Built with realistic expectations of your day, Kustomer University delivers microbursts of training to help you level-up your platform proficiency in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. Our training team layers content into need-to-know bite-sized learning guides that deliver new information in a fun, easy-going way that will challenge you just enough to make it stick. Our courses are typically less than 15 minutes, comprised of two to four minute lessons. We mix engaging video, best practices and activities to make the most of your time with us.
We’re committed to investing in training for all users of the Kustomer platform. Later in 2021, keep an eye out for more advanced content on our most powerful features, training for supervisors and team leaders, and in the second half of the year, we’ll be launching our first certifications. We’re also excited to explore in-person workshops and custom training options later this year.
We’d love to know what else you’d like to see in Kustomer University. Admins can submit and upvote training requests directly in Kustomer so we know how to best prioritize our roadmap. Head to Settings > Feature Requests and select Training as your request category.
Log in to Kustomer University today by going to your avatar menu in the platform, or visit us directly at university.kustomer.com. Log in with your Kustomer credentials —there’s no need to create any new passwords or add any bookmarks.
Growth creates growing pains. And often, high-growth brands struggle to scale their contact centers while also managing an influx of shopper queries, such as returns or locating an item. Balancing these forces — scale and volume — often starts with reviewing your help center software and removing manual, time-consuming tasks, including sifting through queues, escalating issues and processing transactions.
What Is Help Center Software?
Simply put, help center or support software enables conversations between customer service professionals and shoppers, who submit support inquiries. The software fields, stores and organizes these queries and displays them to the agent. Within this interface, staff have access to a variety of customer communications and data, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Perhaps most importantly, help center software powered by AI and machine learning can automate agent work and process inquiries without agent intervention, freeing up agent time to tackle more complex requests.
As DTC markets grow — and with them, consumer expectations and inquiry volume — technology must keep up. Modern help center software eliminates low level tasks and deflects repetitive questions, empowering customer service professionals to be more focused and reducing per-contact costs. What makes great software? Read more below.
Why Focus on Help Center Software?
Few business facets are more important than customer service. Speaking about 2021 customer service trends, Allegra Ubbes, a senior advisory specialist at Gartner, summarized the market this way:
“Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business. Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), managing talent and data.”
Adding to their analysis, Gartner surveyed service executives about their priorities. Topping their lists: digital channels and functions. “Customer service leaders feel a distinct pressure to meet customers’ expectations for digital service channels and keep pace with competitors’ service offerings,” analysts write. “As a result, service leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time adding or integrating channels.”
However, research finds this creates a “costlier, more complex network of channels to manage without improving the customer experience and insufficient reduction in live volume.” Put another way: not every help center software – and the channels they facilitate – can power the sleek shopping experience that buyers want. On the contrary, that software may damage customer relations and the company’s bottom line.
Make Friends With Customer Experience (CX)
Simply sidestepping help center software all together isn’t going to solve this issue. Indicators suggest brands can anticipate a sustained surge of digital customer queries. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) found there’s a good chance 2020-based forces have permanently altered the CX industry. As such, brands should take notice.
Training their sights on the November-December holiday season, NRF found retail sales rose to $789.4 billion, an 8.3% increase over 2019. Online and other sales outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores grew 23.9% over the previous year as well.
Greater sales activity creates a cascade effect on business operations: starting with increased urgency placed on customer service professionals and their tools, such as help desk software. How great a spike in activity? Just under 70% of respondents said they fielded more customer queries in 2020 when compared to the previous holiday season.
And there’s a price tag attached to excellent CX. Researchers found an overwhelming 86% of buyers said they’d pay more for a product when that shopping experience comes with superior customer service. When there’s demand for — and more money to be made — with great customer service, avoiding help center software isn’t an option.
Help Center Software of Your Dreams
Alright, so those are the stakes. But what factors should a customer service professional weigh when evaluating different help center software? Look no further than software that leverages the latest technology to make agents more efficient and effective.
Holistic Customer View. See the whole picture. Often answers are found by combining information from different sources. Opt for a software that uses a holistic customer view, and displays every item of internal and external data into one actionable interface.
Powerful Automation. Give your agents more bandwidth to focus their energy on pressing tasks with AI and machine learning, which completes small, easy tasks that don’t require a human touch.
True Omnichannel. Endlessly toggling between engagement channels burns valuable time and energy, which could be spent delving into customer queries. Choose a help center software with omnichannel features that empower agents to switch between channels without ever leaving the conversation.
Sentiment Fluency. Customer service can be a huge source of data. Let AI do the hard work. Software with sentiment fluency interprets shoppers’ feelings and turns them into actionable insights.
Customization. It’s a bad idea to add tools that aren’t a good fit for your operation. Cumbersome solutions burn resources, and can ultimately harm a customer’s shopping experience. Choose a software that seamlessly integrates with your existing operation.
Help Center Software Solutions
Want to see these fives pillars in action? Check out Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform for managing high support volume. When there’s a surge of customer queries, not just any help center software will do. Delve deeper into this topic, and discover how artificial intelligence can reduce time spent on minor tasks and create a more enjoyable shopping experience for customers.
Have you and your teams struggled with the transition to remote customer service, and want more control on how you’re delivering a stellar experience to your customers? The Kustomer Platform bridges the gap between addressing accountability problems (are my agents really working?), giving you a seamless way to track important data points about your customer.
What is Remote Customer Service?
With an uptick in people working from home and being online more than ever before, consumers need and expect customer support 24/7. Your remote customer service agents should do everything an in-house CS rep can do: take calls, process high-level customer questions, and be attentive to your customer’s unique needs. The good news is, your brand can offer a completely remote customer service experience and you don’t need to rent costly office space to deliver an exceptional experience.
Here Are 4 Simple Ways To Deliver Stellar Remote Customer Service:
1. Easy Access
All you need is an internet browser and standard wifi, and you’re good to go!
2. Seamless Collaboration
Through easy integrations, you can loop in cross functional teams and use tools like Notes, @mentions, followers, and more.
3. Easy Oversight
Remotely manage your CX tool with confidence.
Quickly get a bird’s eye view of customer service agent availability & capacity.
Jump into active conversations and manage queue assignments easily.
4. Stay Efficient & Effective
Finally! You can leverage a true omnichannel CRM to create a detailed picture of every customer and help them stay engaged on any platform.
Easy automation of repetitive tasks.
Access all the data you need in just one place!
Want To See What Effortless Remote Customer Service Looks Like?
You can request a 15-minute live intro call with one of our representatives here, or you can see the Kustomer platform in action by getting a behind-the-scenes look here.
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
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.
As the direct-to-customer market grows, many brands continue to adopt traditional approaches to customer service and stumble over the same obstacles again and again. How should customer service professionals rethink client care? And where should brands even begin this process? Let’s unpack some common customer service problems and solutions.
Below, we outline common obstacles, such as adapting to new customer preferences and gauging success, and cover modern solutions.
Customer Service Basics: What’s the Problem?
Despite popular wisdom, a majority of buyers do not want to speak to a support agent. That’s according to a survey by market research company Forrester. Analysts found most customers simply want accurate, relevant and complete answers to their queries. Why does this matter?
Returning to the study, more than 50% of U.S. adults said they’re likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
Speaking to only those one-in-two shoppers for whom speed is a factor, whether or not a brand closes a sale depends on how quickly customers can locate answers related to a product.
Delving deeper into this topic, 70% of adults said valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.
Customers are increasingly using self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for customer service, which apply less friction to the shopping experience, Forrester researchers write.
Examples of these channels include:
Web or mobile self-service.
Online forums or communities.
Of course, now’s not the time to unplug and retire the landlines. What this report points to is a more nuanced, tech-forward approach to our customer service problems and solutions — an approach that is more vital now than ever.
How Did COVID-19 Shift Customer Service
COVID-19. Social distancing. Virtual connections. With an eye on the upcoming year, Forrester suggests customer service centers will adapt to a shifting market, one shaped by the pandemic. There’s a “need for a more empathetic service experience,” analysts write. Additionally, customer service will become a lifeline for an estimated 33 million consumers.
“With U.S. unemployment peaking in April ,” they write, “millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities.” They suggest responsible organizations provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in a form that meets customers’ needs.
Concurring with the above trend, Forrester predicts a sharp, 40% spike in virtual customer support cases, placing greater scrutiny on brands and greater urgency on their support agents to meet shoppers’ preferences: namely a demand for self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.
Finally, Forrester projects the creation of hybrid store/contact center roles. While brick-and-mortar stores have been hurt by the pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines, they haven’t been erased. Assuming a hybrid posture towards customer service problems and solutions creates the greatest opportunity for brands to meet shoppers’ needs.
Tackling Customer Service Problems and Solutions
As we covered in a previous blog post, customer service agents who aim to improve their care face a unique challenge. So often, the starting points for new solutions are major issues that may be intangible and tricky to define, such as:
Immediate need to deflect conversations.
Equally challenging is gauging the benefits of your customer service. Of course, a five-star review on a public forum is a clear sign. Generally speaking, these kinds of signals can be few and far between, creating gaps of time without concrete feedback to indicate how well a service center is performing. Where should you look to get a sense of how your service is affecting consumers?
First, look within. Everyone benefits from excellent customer service, not just shoppers. When buyers are happy, that can radiate to an entire organization, boosting morale and — potentially — translating to sales. And in that way, a company’s bottom line becomes a clear, tangible gauge of customer service efforts.
And second, check your workloads. Customer service takes time to perform, especially when done well. As such, professionals may find themselves overburdened when fielding a large volume of easy to answer conversations, and unable to attend to more serious cases. Often, giving agents the freedom to deflect avoidable queries is a matter of implementing tech solutions, such as self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.
Customer Service Solutions
Here are just a few options that are available to customer service professionals:
Providing shoppers with resources, such an easily accessible FAQ section.
Installing an AI chatbot.
Implementing a proactive outreach strategy, allowing agents to address customer concerns before they arise.
Learning how to tackle customer service problems and solutions doesn’t have to stop with this blog post. Trust Kustomer as a source of invaluable tactics for honing your custom service center strategy. Learn more.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as growing — and scaling — your business. Along with the excitement comes an all-important need to stay focused on scaling your customer service offerings to meet the needs and expectations of your ever-growing customer base. As your business grows, it’s essential to prioritize providing the best possible service that aligns with your organization’s core competencies, without breaking the bank.
Utilizing a CX CRM platform, such as Kustomer, allows you to focus on three key areas: communication, automation and documentation. By prioritizing these three tenets, you’ll be able to successfully scale your customer service offerings as your business continues to grow.
As with any organization that prioritizes the customer above all else, accurate and instant communication is essential to ensuring that you’re able to provide an exceptional customer experience. A true omnichannel CRM aggregates all channels into one single view, so customers are able to communicate seamlessly on their preferred platform, and agents have all the information they need to provide a personalized experience. With access to a knowledge base, agents have up-to-date information at their fingertips to ensure they’re providing accurate answers to customers’ concerns.
Automation can be leveraged in many ways in intelligent platforms like Kustomer. Businesses are able to tap into the power of queues and routing to automatically route specific conversations to the most appropriate agent. Utilizing business rules ensures proper actions are taken on conversations automatically, and when combined with documentation, CX organizations can ensure that all conversations are properly tagged and ready for a thorough review at a later time.
With AI, businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service opportunities. Think about chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information, and solve low level inquiries like business hours, policy questions and “where is my order” (WISMO) inquiries. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.
Documentation is performed in a few ways within CRM platforms like Kustomer. First, you are automatically documenting your correspondence with your customers. This allows you to see past engagements and find areas where your team can improve while you scale. A solid QA program of past conversations is imperative for any organization scaling their customer service organization. Second, this documentation allows you to search across your interactions to find trends. Are you answering the same question(s)? If so, you can uncover those insights through reporting functionality, and then you can update your knowledge base to get that answer into your customer’s hands quicker, or adopt chatbots to automate those conversations. Lastly, utilizing pre-built messages for common inquiries allows agents to engage with customers quickly, accurately, consistently and efficiently.
Scaling a customer service organization doesn’t need to be a scary task. Business growth means you are succeeding, but you must remain focused on delivering the customer service experience that your customers expect. Prioritizing communication, automation, and documentation will allow you to succeed in this endeavor.