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5 Reasons You Need to Measure Lifetime Value

In this post by Kustomer VP of Marketing Nelly Rinot, Nelly shares the key reasons why Lifetime Value should be your bottom-line metric for customer experience.

There is a huge number of good metrics to measure your customer service. However, Lifetime Value should always be your top consideration. Here are the top five reasons we’ve determined from our :

  1. Other metrics are geared around your agents, not your customers: Average Handle Time and First Contact Resolution are two prime examples of valuable metrics that don’t give you the insight you need beyond an operational approach. They make sense for figuring out how cost-effective your service is—how many customers your agents can handle before they’re at capacity. But while productive agents can help more customers faster, they should do more than work as fast as possible to resolve an issue. To deliver a good experience, your first consideration shouldn’t be efficiency—it should be whether your customers are happy.
  2. CSAT and NPS don’t give you the whole picture: These metrics are a great way to know whether your service is effective on a macro-level. If customers aren’t satisfied, you need to know. However, knowing that they’re unhappy and WHY they’re unhappy are two very different things. CSAT and NPS measure if you are satisfying your customers in the moment, but doesn’t tell you about their behavior after you’ve engaged. Plus, these surveys only capture a tiny, unrepresentative minority of customers. And in most cases, they’re only speaking to the interaction they just had, not their entire experience with your brand.
  3. Sentiment doesn’t tell you what your customers aren’t saying: Sentiment based on natural language processing is less biased than CSAT and NPS, because it accounts for all the interactions on every channel. That’s a huge step up, but it still won’t answer fundamental questions about your business—you still don’t know what’s going unsaid. Only 1 out of every 26 customers complain if something is wrong with their experience, so even high volume NLP only measures a fraction of what’s going on beneath the surface.
  4. Other metrics don’t take actions into account: For a total customer view, you need to understand all of your customers’ actions and behaviors on top of all the previous metrics. Other metrics don’t record how often they’ve contacted you for service or support, if their buying behaviors have changed, if they’ve abandoned items in their cart, changed their subscription tier, returned or exchanged a product, or engaged with you on social media. All of these actions will help you understand why your customers will or will not come back to buy again.
  5. Lifetime Value is the best predictor of your brand’s success: A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%, according to Bain & Company. Getting customers to keep buying from you is fundamental to growing your business. No matter what else you know about your customers, if you don’t know their Lifetime Value, you don’t know if you’re going to be successful.

Using a variety of customer experience metrics is crucial for getting a better understanding of your business. They all give you an important piece of the bigger picture. However, if they don’t ladder up towards Lifetime Value, then you don’t know how your service, support, and experience are contributing to overall business health. If you aren’t measuring LTV yet, good news—it’s never too late to start.

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

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

How can you prepare your service organization to anticipate your customers’ desires in order to deliver an experience that defies their expectation? We’ve outlined some steps you can start taking to upgrade your experience and delight your customers with forward-thinking support.

  1. Train Your Team: Proactive service isn’t just about analytics, it requires an equal amount of human insight. Before investing in tech, make sure you have a team of engaged agents that are already thinking about your customers’ needs. For example, Outdoor Voices’ agents are able to collaborate more easily because of comprehensive training, amplified by Kustomer’s intuitive interface. Great service starts with great people.
  2. Invest in Analytics: By combining human insight with powerful analytics, reporting, and a record of every customer’s history, you can equip your team with everything they need to know about your stakeholders. Just ask Glossier, who works with Kustomer and Looker to get rich insights into customer behavior. If you don’t have all the data in a single customer view, it’s almost impossible to be proactive.
  3. Have a Secure Data Warehouse: Beyond having all the necessary data at your fingertips, that data needs to be in one safe, central location or network of locations. This can be a system you’ve created in-house, or a third-party CRM—the important thing is security and usability. Read more about our commitment to security here.
  4. Make Searching Easy: When you have all of your customer information in one system, across all of your platforms and integrations, you can create the kind of granular searches for customers that account for their specific behaviors or needs. Once you’re able to identify customers by their last order, their location, their sentiment, and more, surprising and delighting them is a snap. For example, Slice uses Kustomer to segment their users, then automates workflows to deliver more efficient service.
  5. Track the Right Metrics: You need a way to capture how your customers are feeling. That requires a combination of several things. You should be measuring sentiment within customer communications and on social, using surveys that capture metrics like CSAT, NPS, and CES, and tracking behavior across every channel of interaction. For a brand like LOLA, having all the relevant information at agents’ fingertips when customers have a question about their subscriptions is crucial to great service.

To be smart, personal, proactive, and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together, but doing so is the hallmark of a standout customer experience. Once you’re gathering and storing all of the relevant customer information, you can act on it with a combination of well-trained employees and specific features within your software platform. Once you can connect with individual customers over their preferred channel with the right personalized message, your experience can become a true revenue driver and differentiator for your organization.

Getting there isn’t as simple as completing a checklist—it’s a complex process, unique to every business. However, when all of these threads come together, your customers will see and feel the difference in every interaction.

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

CSAT is Not Enough—8 Metrics to Better Understand Your Customers

This post originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

There are plenty of metrics, scores, and benchmarks to track your customer experience, but some are better than others. From tracking efficiency and keeping down costs, to measuring the effectiveness of your experience and the happiness of your customers, it’s important to track a medley of different metrics so you can have a complete understanding and advance all of your goals. Here are the ones I think are absolutely crucial for delivering memorable, meaningful CX.

  1. Average Handle Time (AHT): Customers want their issues resolved—fast. Every extra minute they’re on the phone detracts from their experience and your bottom line. Some issues require more time to solve than others, but you need to measure AHT to have a working benchmark to figure out the sweet spot for your customers and agents.
  2. First Contact Resolution (FCR): If your customers don’t like waiting, they definitely don’t like having to call back multiple times to resolve an issue. FCR works well for determining the effectiveness of your service and the efficiency of your agents at solving customer issues—bad FCR is a sign that other things are going wrong.
  3. Zero Contact Resolution (ZCR): Even better than resolving your customers’ issues with a single touch is resolving them completely before they even have to contact you. Even good FCR may be misleading, as some customers have probably already tried to get an answer from your site or product manual, meaning that first call or email isn’t really the first touch. Proactive outreach that delights customers represents an even higher quality of experience, and is well worth tracking.
  4. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): CSAT is extremely important for figuring out how happy your customers are with your service—it’s a crucial piece of information and any customer-centric company needs to have. However, keep in mind that customers are usually just responding to the interaction they just had, not what they think of your brand as a whole. They may be very satisfied with an agent’s service, but still feel like they shouldn’t have had to call in the first place.
  5. Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS will tell you whether your customers would recommend your business to someone else. This is another great way to learn how happy your customers are with your service, and whether you’re generating positive word-of-mouth. However, like CSAT, it can be misleading. Customers may give you an NPS score of “10”, but only actually recommend you to people they feel are as smart and patient as them to put up with the complex support issues they faced. Also, only a minority of customers will take NPS or CSAT surveys, often only after a highly positive or negative interaction—skewing results even further.
  6. Customer Effort Score (CES): CES shines at helping prioritize the sticking points in your experience and where you can smooth out problems to exponentially improve your customer interactions. Since it asks your customers to rate an experience as a whole and not point fingers at individual agents, the results are much more impartial. You can see how your customers really feel, and make decisions about your CX accordingly.
  7. Sentiment: Using natural language processing to track sentiment across all text-driven channels can give you large-scale, unbiased insight. New analytics technologies makes analyzing almost everything your customers say about your brand a reality. You still won’t know what your customers aren’t saying, but this level of insight is becoming easier to achieve and more accurate as technology continues to improve.
  8. Lifetime Value (LTV): Lifetime Value is the ”Holy Grail” of customer metrics. Once you know how your customers are adding to your bottom line, and how experience plays into that, you can truly orient your business around your customer experience. A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%, according to Bain & Company—meaning that LTV should really become the crown jewel of your analytics suite.

By analyzing a spectrum of metrics, from granular performance-based ones to big-picture insights into the health of your CX as a whole, you can figure out where and how your experience needs to improve, and how it can lead your business towards explosive growth.

Tell Me How You Really Feel: The Best Metric For Finding What Your Customers Need

Brandon McFadden is Kustomer’s Customer Success & Support Manager, you can follow him on Twitter at @brandontonio. Read his post on using CES to help your product and service teams work better together here. The following was adapted from a workshop delivered at Support Driven Expo in Portland, OR.

After recently writing a piece about using CES to help your product teams, I received some questions asking, among other things, what CES even is. So I wanted to go over that here.

Customer Effort Scoring is one of the most effective ways to understand how your audience feels about their experience, and has some distinct advantages over methods like CSAT and NPS. The principle is simple: you’re asking your customers how difficult it was to solve their issue or complete a transaction. Like NPS or CSAT, it only takes one question to get the information you need. Below we can see two examples of CES survey questions:

So what makes a Customer Effort Score such a useful metric? The answer is rooted in human nature, specifically feelings. 96% of customers don’t complain when they’re unhappy, however they’re four times as likely to defect to a competitor if they have a problem. So while finding out if your customers enjoy their experience is critical, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Here’s the kicker: 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. So even if your service is best-in-class for your industry, if your customers have unknown, higher expectations and your service feels lacking, they’re going to retain that feeling going forward. So the real question for the data-driven team is: How do you quantify feelings?

That’s why CES is so useful—it can tell you how your customers really feel, where other methods focus on intent and how your customers see themselves instead of addressing the feelings that drive their actions. While your clients may give a high CSAT score, what they’re saying is “I really liked talking to your team, they are AMAZING!” (and who doesn’t want to hear that?) but what they might also be thinking (feeling) is, “Why did I even have to call in the first place?” Most people don’t want to speak badly about or hurt the career of an agent, especially when they solved the problem, but they will hold a negative experience against your brand as a whole when their expectation was that the fix should have been easier—or if they never expected to have this problem to start with. To make matters worse, this usually only manifests itself when it is time to recommend your service/product. Lesson? Your agents might be doing great work (of course they are, you hire great people), but that doesn’t always lead to more referrals and repeat customers.

Typically this is where NPS seems like it should provide the other half of the picture you’re missing from CSAT. If customers are satisfied but not willing to recommend you, then something in your experience is lacking, right?. There’s nothing wrong with that assumption, but NPS also has pitfalls of its own, once again sabotaged by feelings. Often, customers will say they would recommend you to their friends, but in practice, they don’t. Interestingly, the problem is found in the NPS question itself: “How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend?”. When we think of our friends, we think of people just like us, same skill aptitude, same patience, same willingness to put up with the “why did I even have to call about this” issues. But in reality, when it comes time to make the actual recommendation, they balk. They think “oh, they aren’t as technical as me” or “they likely don’t have the same patience with that issue like I did”. So while maybe they would recommend your product in general, on a one-to-one basis, they might have lingering doubts about a difficult experience and don’t feel their personal friends would have the patience to deal with your service.

What NPS and CSAT don’t do well is make it easy to identify your customers’ hidden frustrations and reluctance to advocate for you in the real world. Neither help you pinpoint the parts of your product or process that cause the most frustration, not simply have the most quantity. This is why 82% of US companies report that they are “customer-centric”, while only 18% of US customers agree. Clearly, there’s a disconnect between how companies see themselves, and how customers see them. But if their NPS and CSAT scores are high, why should they think otherwise?

Ultimately, this is because customers are thinking: “If you really cared about me, then why are you making it so hard to do something I think should be so easy?” It’s probably a question you’ve even asked yourself when you’ve been on the phone with customer support. Fortunately, with CES, these feelings are able to be captured and quantified.

Let’s look at an example of the Customer Expectation Gap in action. I recently had two experiences where my expectations and the reality were way off, giving me two very different opinions of the organizations I was dealing with after the fact. Those organizations were Amazon and the DMV—about as different as you can get. One is “tech” and optimized to solve your problems, and the other is the DMV.

I’m pretty sure that if I offered you the choice of getting a new license at the DMV or requesting a refund from Amazon—you would choose Amazon every time (and for good reason, their support is fantastic). While I didn’t have to choose in the moment, I did have to get a refund for a Netflix gift-card purchased through Amazon (silly me, didn’t coordinate with my brother). Given their renowned and very streamlined buying experiences, I thought the process would be just as easy. In a way, you could say that they trained me to think this would be just as easy as buying. This, frankly, is the blessing/curse of tech. We spend endless time making things easier, automating, reducing effort—meaning it hurts that much more when this doesn’t happen with Support resolutions. Inversely, around the same time, I needed to replace my license at the New York City DMV—a much-maligned experience and a staple of 90s stand up—albeit for good reasons. I expected this to be an all-day ordeal (ok, maybe half day), because it had been before in multiple states over the past 20 years for me. I had been trained to expect the worst.

However, getting my refund from Amazon was the real bureaucratic nightmare, stretching across four calls and two 15-minute chat sessions, and taking over 2 days to resolve. On the other hand, the DMV was a breeze. I booked ahead online, found an “express office”, checked-in on a screen, followed an express lane to an automated machine, and was done in less than 30 minutes. Now, I’ve been bragging about the NYC DMV to my friends (who think I’m crazy), and certainly haven’t recommended ever getting a gift card from Amazon. The funny thing is that If I had called up Amazon expecting a hassle, I wouldn’t have remarked on it, and if I had known that the DMV had become so cutting-edge (kind of), then maybe I wouldn’t have been wowed. So as you can see, it really is the combination of how I felt about the experience, my expectations, and the relative effort I had to expend that determined whether or not I became an advocate.

To be clear, none of this is to say that you shouldn’t measure NPS and CSAT. You absolutely should, and they are crucial metrics for understanding your business. But if you want to know how your customers really feel about your experience, they leave too many gaps. With CES, you can fill those gaps and get all the context you need to identify where your experience is weak, and how you can improve it. So maybe start by adding a 2nd CES question to your post-issue CSAT survey, you may just be surprised by the results. Remember, it’s not about what your customers say—it’s how they feel that creates impact at the moment of their referral, making repeat purchases, and when they decide to churn. If you would like to learn more about how you can act on this information, feel free to check out the companion piece: How CES Can Help Your CX and Product Teams Work Better Together.

To learn more about how Kustomer can help you better understand your customers, request a demo below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conversations with Kustomer Podcast: How Do You Go From Support to Experience? Featuring Jeremy Watkin and Nate Brown

What’s the difference between support, service, and experience—how do they inform one another, and what can you do to improve each? Our Director of Marketing Chen Barnea sat down with two CX luminaries to get their perspective on how to define customer experience, the best ways to understand and deliver it, and why companies should move towards an experience-first mindset.

Nate Brown is the Director of Customer Experience at UL EHSS, as well as the Founder of CX Accelerator. Jeremy Watkin is the Director of CX at FCR, and has more than 17 years of experience in the space. Together, they had an insightful discussion about the relationship between support and experience that you can listen to yourself above. While their chat with Chen covered a lot of ground, but we’ve picked some of the highlights for you below:

What is the difference between customer support and customer experience?

Nate shared a great quote to help explain the fundamental difference between these two concepts:

“Customer service starts where customer experience fails.”

So you can view customer service a the reactive response to a point in the journey reaches out to resolve an issue.

Therefore customer experience is more of a designed element that’s meant to prevent that service interaction in the first place.

Jeremy noted that some of the confusion around the distinction comes from a recent trend. “A lot of companies have started calling their service teams CX teams, which is a little clichéd—there are so many other pieces at work in the customer experience. I appreciate the sentiment that support teams need to have a role in the customer experience, but they aren’t the entire experience itself.”

Why is the customer experience mindset becoming more prominent?

According to Jeremy, the reason is simple: good CX is good business. “Customers love having their issues solved, but they’d love it even more if the issue they had never happened in the first place. I think that’s ultimately what’s driving the transition.”

Customers are fed up, and are finally asking for the experiences they’ve always deserved, as Nate describes: “This transition is fueled by customer frustration. People are waking up and realizing that they don’t need to spend three hours on the phone with customer service to get the experience they should have had from the beginning.”

Combined with new companies that are changing the game and raising the bar by reimagining the customer experience, every business has to look to deliver a more holistic, impactful experience instead of baseline support.

How can CX leaders help bring about these changes in their organizations?

As with so many other initiatives, change has to start from within: “The only way is by starting with the employee experience.” Said Nate, “Employees mirror that experience they have internally with the customer. Improve the internal culture, and the external experience will improve as well, as agents will naturally bring that experience and excitement and project it outwards.”

Jeremy agreed, highlighting Voice of the Customer initiatives as an example. “I think it has a snowball effect too. When it comes to VoC, frontline agents have a channel to share frustrations. As companies start to listen to that and put it into practice, you naturally see employees become more engaged and excited about improving CX.”

What technologies are the most important for improving your experience?

There is no shortage of technologies meant to help improve CX, but the right one will accomplish the right goals. As Nate described, “If your agents have bad tools and no visibility into the journey because it’s all divided between different toolsets, it leads to frustration, and that will come through to the customer. Conversely, If you have good tools that enable the employee to do their job well, then that positive experience will be passed on to them instead.”

How do you measure agents as you make this shift?

Every CX metric can help give you an idea of the effectiveness of your experience, but simply measuring is not enough. “What about Average Handle Time?” Asked Jeremy, “Sometimes you actually want your AHT to go up because you’re trying to deliver a more personal experience. For metrics, the important thing is WHY it’s going up or down.”

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. If you’re looking to expand your horizon beyond your organization and broaden your perspective on CX, definitely consider signing up for CX Accelerator as well.

Want to learn more about Kustomer? Try our platform for yourself

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.

How to Scale Your Support Team

Growing your business is hard enough—but growing your service organization alongside it comes with its own challenges. More agents customers mean more complexity. To help make sense of your growing CX team, we’ve listed some common stumbling blocks and some intuitive solutions to get around them.

Agent Collision

Tickets coming in from multiple channels makes it hard to separate out who owns what. When a customer gets annoyed with wait times, they will often start reaching out over several different channels with the same problem. Agents working in these different channels then have no way of seeing that it’s the same person, and the customer ends up getting a response from more than one team member on chat, email, and wherever else they reach out.

The solution to this problem sounds easy, but is a huge shift in service philosophy. Give your agents ownership over the customer relationship, so that they are responsible for satisfying individual customers over many channels, instead of all the customers in one channel. By making your service omnichannel, agents are aware of every conversation happening with each customer.

Disconnected Data, Disconnected Systems

As your business expands, so too do the places and ways you store customer data. If you don’t rein these in, then agents end up wasting time switching between applications and hunting for information in back-end systems.

If agents have to go into multiple systems—ordering, shipping, customer information, and more—to see all the information about the customer, then copy that information and paste it into another screen, their workflow grinds to a halt.

To overcome this obstacle you need to be able to have all of your data in one place, with systems that integrate with one another, and a way to turn that insight into action. When agents don’t have to spend time hunting in separate systems for information they need, that makes everything in your service organization easier to scale—because your agents are more efficient and productive than ever before. Just the ten seconds agents save from not having to switch applications can translate to days of work saved in one month alone.

From Reactive to Proactive Service

When you scale your business, you do everything you can to keep up with your customers. However, all the effort it takes to simply respond to and stay on top of their queries leaves no time for any forward-thinking, proactive engagement.

You soon won’t have the luxury to pick up the phone and call every customer who gave you a low CSAT score. You need to be prepared to deliver that same level of 1-1 service, but on a much greater scale.

Automation is going to go a long way towards freeing up your agents’ time. Anything you can do to learn more about your customers and their needs before they’re transferred to an agent is going to massively increase your efficiency. Chatbots that ask a few simple questions about the issue a customer is having can simplify the experience for customer and agent alike. Smart segmentation that makes it easier to determine the right actions based on informed personas will save even more time and effort. Proactive outreach can inform an agent to send an email, or even automatically send an SMS, if an item is going to be delayed, giving customers options for how to proceed.

Team Reporting and Monitoring

As your team grows, so too does your need for detailed reports and insights. However, these reports are often in separate products for different channels, forcing you to spend a prohibitive amount of time creating and combining separate customer reports. To make matters worse, these reports are often delayed by hours or even days, meaning you can’t really see what your team is doing in real time. Many businesses that are scaling quickly also tend to start using more remote agents and teams to work faster. You are going to need a way to effectively monitor them in order to provide proper coaching.

The answer to your reporting problems is to be able to query, segment, and display reports through custom dashboards in real time. If your current solution doesn’t have these features built-in, they aren’t going to spring up overnight. And without proper reporting, you won’t be able to fully understand what’s happening in your growing team.

It can be difficult to successfully scale your support team—we know. Without a modern platform for customer experience, it might feel nearly impossible. Learn more about how Kustomer can help you avoid the common pitfalls of efficiently scaling your team here.

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.

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