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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Experience is Evolving. Are Your Metrics?

There are a lot of useful metrics for tracking your service, as our CEO Brad Birnbaum recently discussed. However, if you’re just looking at your service through the lens of efficiency and generating the lowest cost to your organization, the chances are that you’re not giving your customers the experience they deserve.

Metrics for Support: AHT and FCR

Many of the longest-standing metrics used to measure customer service are operational in nature: First Contact Resolution and Average Handle Time being two of the most widespread.

  • These metrics work well for determining the cost-effectiveness of your service.
  • They encourage agents to work more quickly and help more customers
  • End-goal is to lower the cost of each interaction

However, this mindset puts a premium on agents working quickly, not delivering a great experience.

  • Agents can scale service, but that doesn’t mean that service is of a high quality.
  • If customers are going away unsatisfied, or keep returning with the same problem, what is the real value of the support you’re offering?

You might be helping a lot of customers, but no matter how inexpensive it is to help each of them individually—you’re still operating your service organization at a loss.

Metrics for Service: CSAT, NPS

Many companies have evolved towards delivering more than just baseline support, but actual satisfying service. A company that delivers service goes further. They invest in their customers to create positive word of mouth and encourage repeat business. Zappos is a good example of a company that brought the benefits of providing real service to customers to the forefront. They strive to make customers happy, offering easy returns and short wait times that make you want to come back for more. If offering a discount means that an agent will save the sale, even if it lowers profitability, then they’re encouraged to take that step. As long as the customer keeps coming back, they’re worth more to the business in the long run. Companies with this service mindset still care about operational metrics, but CX remains a cost center for their business.

  • Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score surveys can tell you how satisfied customers are with individual service interaction.

However CSAT really only tells you if your customers are happy with the service they’re receiving at that moment.

  • Doesn’t fully account for their sentiment around all the interactions they have before and after that engagement.
  • These surveys are biased: the majority of your customers won’t take a CSAT or NPS survey
  • Those that do are much more likely to respond if they’ve had a very good or very bad experience.

While useful as part of a larger mix, in most cases, customers are telling you about the interaction that they just had, not their overall feeling towards your service and brand as a whole.

Metrics for Experience: LTV and Sentiment

To really deliver an incredible experience, agents should prioritize generating repeat business and giving top-quality, personalized service. Beyond that, they should be thinking long term, giving valuable customers a material reason to keep shopping with offers and discounts. If your mindset is about improving your customer experience without worrying about the amount of time or cost behind it, then CX becomes an investment to gain repeat business.

  • Use NLP to track sentiment across all text-driven channels to get large-scale, unbiased insight.

However, you still won’t know what’s going unsaid. Only 1 out of every 26 customers complain if something goes wrong.

  • The key metric has to be Lifetime Value. It’s the only way to know how all the interactions around your brand contribute to a better experience and repeat customers.
  • If you invest in Lifetime Value, then your Customer Experience can drive real revenue for your business: A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%, according to Bain & Company.

Service doesn’t have to be a sunk cost. it can be a revenue center once you shift your mindset towards totally understanding and serving the customer.

Customer service is evolving, and the way you think about your experience needs to evolve with it. Lifetime Value has to be your top metric if you want to run a 21st century CX organization. Without knowing everything about your customer, you’ll never know how much you have to win by putting their needs first. There is a world of business to be won if you offer the best experience possible.

What Are the Modern Metrics for Omnichannel Communication?

In our latest webinar with StellaService, we had a deep discussion about the state of modern service. The changes we’re both seeing are undeniable, but now it’s easier than ever to make sense of this omnichannel world with new, stronger metrics.

The bottom line: To succeed in an omnichannel world, you need to prioritize building lifetime value with every interaction. Here’s how to make that happen:

Service Channels Have Fragmented

There’s no use fighting it: customer service has changed. The rise of ecommerce is driving the spread of service channels over mobile, email, chat, social, and more. More interactions means rising customer expectations. To meet them, you need skilled agents who can move with the customer from channel to channel, always pushing the journey forward.

New technologies like chatbots and self-help modules are reducing the numbers of basic service inquiries. This means that agents need to be even more prepared to solve complex, emotionally nuanced problems. However, as agents have taken on more complex service tasks, their turnover rate has increased—reaching 24% for some organizations.

To be successful, agents must be empowered and ready to deliver consultative service driven by a connected experience—and have the training and tools to do so. They need to have all the information about the product or service they’re offering, and have full insight into the back-end to know product availability and other details. They need more context about customers than ever—how often they’ve reached out over different channels, whether their previous issues have been resolved, and how they’ve felt about previous interactions. And, they need to able to engage over multiple channels at the same time, switching from email to chat to phone with ease. Having a single timeline, where the whole history of customer interactions appears, is the only way agents can take an informed approach to building lifetime value.

Going from Service to Experience Requires New Metrics

With these changes in mind, to understand the value your service is bringing to your customers, you’re going to need new metrics. Average Handle Time (AHT) can give you insight into your overall efficiency, but it’s only valuable if you’re approaching your service organization as a cost-center, rather than a revenue driver. If you’re treating your service as a tool to build relationships with customers, then metrics like Customer Satisfaction surveys and QA reports have more value, but these only give you limited context and insight into how your customers really feel about their experience. What’s the right number to measure?

StellaService and Kustomer both tackle this issue from two different sides—which is why we make such great partners. StellaService Connect motivates agents and prompts a response from customers with a gamified post-engagement survey that focuses on the performance of specific agents. They even allow happy customers to tip agents for job well-done, reinforcing the positive experience. By delivering real-time feedback on performance across every channel, StellaService delivers metrics that drive measurable change. Companies like Williams-Sonoma and Swanson Health Products that use StellaService to create a better environment within their customer service organization see a measurable drop in attrition.

Kustomer’s focus is on increasing Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) and promoting First Contact Resolution—helping agents follow the customer across channels during the same conversation. Agents are empowered to connect with a customer over chat, then call them over the phone if needed, then follow up over email with next steps. This ensures that the customer journey is always progressing, meaning shoppers never have to repeat themselves or start over. From the agent’s perspective, omnichannel can increase First Contact Resolution. However your organization needs to be focusing on FCR and ultimately LTV rather than Average Handle Time, as it will take more time to deliver high-touch, conversational service.

Omnichannel Promotes Success

A fully-enabled omnichannel strategy reaps real rewards for your business. 50% of all customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel journey, so being prepared to deliver great service over multiple channels is a bare necessity. And it shows. Companies with strong omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, versus 33% for companies with weak strategies. A good omnichannel experience is therefore crucial for bolstering your bottom line, as a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. In fact, companies see an increase in customer retention of 2-3% just by switching to Kustomer.

To make sense of this omnichannel world, you need to focus on Lifetime Value. To increase lifetime value, you need to understand and motivate your agents, and empower them to deliver a great experience over every channel at once. Together, StellaService and Kustomer help you do both.

Deliver effortless, personalized customer service.

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