Why Quality Customer Service in Healthcare Is Needed More Than Ever

What Consumers Expect From the Patient Experience TW
 

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

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

Why Customer Service in Healthcare Is Important

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

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

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

Common Patient Complaints

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

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

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service in Healthcare

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

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

Kustomer: The Healthcare Customer Service Solution for You

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Shopping Recap: Here’s What’s Next in Retail CX

Happy Shopping Recap: Here’s What’s Next in Retail CX

It’s undeniable — the retail landscape has changed for good. While the past year forced consumers to shop in a whole new way, it also drastically accelerated digital transformation in a matter of months. Brands and consumers alike, who may have been hesitant to buy and sell online, are now embracing digital customer experiences like never before.

But one thing hasn’t changed: consumers still want consultative, personalized experiences throughout the buyer journey. So how do you deliver in this new digital world?

On June 24th, the best and brightest gathered [virtually] to explore what the future of CX looks like for e-commerce, what consumers expect from a modern customer experience, and how to transform service organizations into a full blown revenue driver through consultative, full-funnel support. Here are our key takeaways.

Stand Out Experiences = Standing Out From the Competition

Delivering stand out experiences — personalized and human experiences that can surprise and delight a customer — is the most successful way to stand out from the competition. Many smaller brands may not be able to compete with the Amazons and Walmarts of the world, but by building personalized relationships, direct-to-consumer brands can win.

“Everyone knows that we can’t beat Amazon on price or convenience. So as long as these two metrics continue to be the primary selling point for customers, we’ll always be playing catch up and that’s a pretty rough place to be,” said Kristen LaFrance, Host of Resilient Retail and Senior Content Marketer at Shopify. “That personal, human experience that differentiate smaller brands from the existing industry giants, now that’s the key to building an engaged community that chooses you and your brand every single time. So what does it take to build a fanatical fan base in 2021? Well, it’s all about changing the stakes of the game.”

LaFrance goes on to explain that you can’t fake community. Mega corporations simply can’t provide genuine relationships with consumers, and brands should only optimize and digitize so long as they can continue to personalize the experience for the customer, for the person who wants to invest in the brand story.

Chance Riley, Director of Growth at Cuts Clothing, explained how they are able to deliver unexpected moments via text. “SMS was a great way for us to just get those urgent new product launch announcements out, or maybe a sale announcement… and we still do that of course, when those moments arise. But we’ve been able to get more personalized and deepen those customer relationships. Sometimes even despite our best efforts, customers might receive a product launch document or a sale announcement through SMS, something that we’re really excited to share with our customers and [a customer] will respond to the text saying something like, you know, that’s great and all, but my last order hasn’t been shipped yet. So what’s up with that? And as a customer we all know there’s nothing worse than the feeling of just being ignored. And before we implemented the Kustomer integration, that’s really in a way what was happening — if you replied to a message with that, “hey, what’s up with that” response, you’d received just an automated response. And now instead of being totally blown off, with the Kustomer integration we’re able to really engage with those customers in a more human way.”

Brooklinen likes to deliver surprise and delight moments with customers to build lasting relationships. Caroline Nolan, Customer Experience Manager at Brooklinen, explains with this example: “We’re trying to bring ourselves into the world of sort of the unexpected, that sort of surprise and delight for customers. Maybe someone reached out to us over Twitter to say, you know, I love your sheets. I wish you still had this specific color. It was my favorite and my cat scratched it. We might know that in the back of the warehouse there’s actually a brand new set of that color. We can send it to customers and just sort of make their day… I think that is what everyone’s looking for, that personalized experience. Someone mentioned that they’re moving into their new apartment and that’s why they’re looking at our sheets. Maybe we have a way of giving them a little something special.”

Happy Agents Mean Happy Customers

Building trust with your consumers can be difficult — especially after something has already gone wrong. But by empowering agents to address problems with empathy and humanity, and training them to truly listen and act on customer concerns, brands are able to communicate how much a customer truly means to them. Happy agents often do directly translate to happy customers. And it’s important to ensure that agents have all of the technology and strategy at their fingertips to ensure their jobs are as easy as they can possibly be.

Says LaFrance, “We need to ask ourselves what does trust actually mean? And how do we build it in a way that’s healthy and ethical for both our brands and our customers? I always try to think of relationships between brands and customers in a similar way to relationships between two average people. And that means that those connections develop gradually. So clicking on a Facebook ad for a water bottle is a lot like swiping right on bumble. It’s not a commitment but it’s an invitation to a broader conversation… Trust grows from meaningful, open dialogue. It’s really hard to trust somebody if you don’t feel like they’re listening to you. It’s hard to trust someone that says they value your input but never act on it. It’s hard to trust somebody that treats you as a data point.”

Riley agrees that the best way to build brand loyalty is through trust. “It only takes one bad experience to completely destroy [trust]. So to us, we try to remember that and put our best foot forward. Every product we put out, every marketing message, every customer service interaction. And we’re always trying to keep that in the back of our mind because if we can consistently do that, then brand loyalty follows.”

Lauren Panken, Senior Systems Manager, UNTUCKit, also understands that building trust starts with the agent, and she tries to do all she can to ensure they feel empowered. “I think that’s the biggest part of any customer service manager’s job is keeping the agents happy, because those emotions and those attitudes directly relate to how I think the customer experience will go,” says Panken. “Let’s say you start your day off super happy and excited. And then you get thrown off because you have a bad customer experience… we’ll take care of you if that ever happens and we’ll give you the tools to kind of resolve that within yourself so that you have those tools that you can take from your toolbox to know how to manage an interaction like that. I want to make sure that all of the agents are an extension of our team… and I want them to recognize that they’re not secondary.”

Laura Gramlich, Customer Experience Manager at SKIMS, thoroughly understands the importance of keeping agents happy while also ensuring they grow within their roles. “The last thing I would want to do is lower morale with my team. I think keeping up that morale and kind of having us be a front as a group, instead of individuals, is really important in terms of just working together,” says Gramlich. “If I see anyone slipping or having obviously a lower score than normal, I’ll kind of identify that together. But I never give the numbers out as a large group like: this person got this. I think just making sure everyone feels like they’re a part of that team … is really important.”

Nolan of Brooklinen thinks that CX technology tools have a huge part in making agents’ lives easier. “The ability that Kustomer has to have everything in one timeline, [the integration with] Convey updates regularly to say: here’s the tracking information… Maybe a shipment has been paused or there might be a weather delay. We can see that on the Kustomer Timeline. So our agents don’t have to be moving around from tab to tab and trying to grab the correct tracking information… I think having everything in one place especially during our busiest time is super important.”

Customer Service Channels Are Changing

According to recent Kustomer research, preferred communication channels are changing. While older generations still prefer more traditional channels like phone and email, younger generations lean more heavily on digital-first channels like chat and SMS. Direct-to-consumer brands are seeing this as well, and reflecting it in their strategies.

Dan Brady, Customer Success Manager at Pura Vida Bracelets gleaned insights on channels through networking with other DTC leaders. “I’ve actually found that the more people I talked to, it seems like a lot of direct-to-consumer brands are kind of moving away from phones and focusing on some of these other channels that are offered in this day and age… I think anyone who’s a customer service manager realizes that phones tend to be the most expensive platform to be staffed on. They also have the longest average handle time. I know … some companies will have agents doing as many as three, four or five live chats at a time. That’s not feasible when it comes to phones. So we definitely made some adjustments but we definitely still wanted to allow customers the ability to leave a voicemail and know that they were quite literally heard and replied to in a timely manner. So true omnichannel, right?”

Gramlich at SKIMS also doesn’t utilize phones. “When we launched, it was like… what will we be doing in order to really be able to understand our customer? We didn’t really know who that customer was going to be. We had an idea but you’re never going to know until it happens, right? But we didn’t have phones. We only had email and of course, social media correspondence. We noticed that, because we are a high profile company, we knew we were going to have a large social presence. We’ve continued to have that. So DMs, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera, that’s been since the beginning. But during the pandemic we’ve launched SMS messaging, which has really been that sweet spot between phones and also live chat because a customer can still pick up their phone and message us at any time.”

Cuts Clothing thinks that usage of more digital channels will continue to grow. “SMS…. when we first started using it was fairly rare,” says Riley. “I wanna say there weren’t a whole lot of brands utilizing it. But now, of course, that’s changed significantly and I’d expect that to continue to be the case especially as customers become more used to being able to interact with brands through text. It’s kind of like the more brands that utilize the channel the more customers are comfortable interacting with brands in that way. So sort of like a flywheel effect wouldn’t be a surprise.”

But the true key to success is ensuring that the entire customer journey, across all channels, is consistent and exceptional. “Remember, your customers probably haven’t heard the term omnichannel and even if they have, it’s not something that they’re thinking about when they’re shopping at your store,” says LaFrance. “Instead of trying to set up sales pitches at every single touchpoint, our focus needs to be on creating a unified funnel where the point of conversion is flexible to the customer’s needs, regardless of how they got there. Basically true omnichannel is about a unified customer experience above everything else.”

Did you miss Kustomer’s Happy Shopping Conference? Don’t fret. You can watch the whole thing on demand right here.

 

3 Reasons Why Customer Complaints Can Help Your Business Grow

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity TW

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

How to Handle Customer Complaints

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

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

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

A Personalized Touch Counts

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

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

Active Communication Is Key

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

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

Empower Your Support Team to Go Above and Beyond

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

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

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

Connect With Kustomer:

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

 

4 Elements of E-Commerce Customer Service

How Consumer Behavior Is Fueling the Future of Retail CX TW

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

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

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

What Is E-Commerce Customer Service?

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

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

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

1. Reduce Redundancies and Customer Friction

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

2. Provide Self-Service Options

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

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

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

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

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

4. Take Customer Reviews Seriously

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

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

Connect With Kustomer:

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

 

Enjoy the Ride by Switching to Kustomer with Eric Chon

Enjoy the Ride by Switching to Kustomer with Eric Chon TW

Listen and subscribe to our podcast:

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.

Listen Now:

Listen to “Switching CX Gears with Zwift | Why They Decided to Transition” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

Switching CX Gears with Zwift | Eric Chon

TRANSCRIPT
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)
Very cool.

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)
Fair enough.

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.

 

The Future is Ticket Free with Brad Birnbaum

The Future is Ticket Free with Brad Birnbaum TW

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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.

To learn more about how Kustomer can help your business, 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:

The Future is Ticket Free | Brad Birnbaum

TRANSCRIPT
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)
Yeah. Yeah.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

Focus on Omnichannel Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leverage Personalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows TW

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.

Communicate

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.

Automate

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.

Document

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.

Want to learn more about how to scale your CX org? Download our definitive guide to scaling your customer service, without losing the human touch.

 

Kustomer Launches New App Marketplace, Making It Easy for Businesses to Connect Tools, Processes and Data Into a Unified Customer Experience

Kustomer Launches New App Marketplace TW

Curated Set of Integrated Apps Helps Businesses Streamline CX Operations to Improve Agent Productivity and Customer Satisfaction

 

New York, NY – February 23, 2021Kustomer, a top-rated CRM for modern customer experiences, today launched the Kustomer App Marketplace, a curated set of applications and integrations that can be easily added to the Kustomer platform for a unified, omnichannel customer experience. By integrating communications, ecommerce, social, productivity, advanced analytics, and other best-in-class apps with the Kustomer CRM platform, businesses can activate omnichannel CX operations more quickly and efficiently.

“Businesses are racing to integrate new communications channels, artificial intelligence, chatbots and other innovations to create seamless, bespoke customer experiences at every step in the customer journey. This can be challenging when legacy technologies and complex integrations get in the way,” said Brad Birnbaum, Co-founder and CEO of Kustomer. “With the new App Marketplace, we are making it easy for businesses to extend the value of their Kustomer CRM platform with plug and play apps that modernize and unify omnichannel operations. Businesses can now tame their CX ‘frankenstack,’ creating the seamless, agile operations they need to connect in more ways with more customers.”

App Marketplace Provides Measurable Benefits To Brands and Partners

The Kustomer Marketplace makes it easy for businesses to better inform customer interactions, boost agent productivity, streamline operations, and reduce total cost of ownership with these features:

  • One-Click Install Apps: Businesses are using the App Marketplace to assemble and adapt their CX ecosystem without the need to engage expensive development resources.
  • Full CX Ecosystem Integrations: Businesses can tap into a large and growing list of integrations to unify their customer service systems, connecting every element of an omnichannel customer experience.
  • Seamless CX Operations and Unified Customer Visibility: By linking every element of CX operations and data, CX organizations can put a single view of the customer at agents’ fingertips. Agents can quickly find, share and act on information across the tech stack by creating one central place to stay focused and get work done.
  • Centralized Tools Management: Customer Service Operations can now go to one central marketplace where admins can install, integrate and maintain third-party apps with the Kustomer CRM platform.
  • Fast Track to a Growing Marketplace: Partners can tap into new revenue streams with a comprehensive app development platform and resources to join an established marketplace of qualified buyers.

“Streamlined operations and unified customer experience are imperatives today as businesses scale to deliver more personalized service on tighter budgets,” said Vasili Triant, Chief Operating Officer at UJET. “We are proud to be selected as one of the first apps featured in the Kustomer App Marketplace and believe it will become an essential hub for businesses looking to build the modern CX operations needed to serve today’s increasingly digital and mobile consumers.”

In November 2020, Kustomer signed an agreement to be acquired by Facebook, subject to customary regulatory review. Once the acquisition closes, Kustomer will continue to serve its customers and work with its partners as part of the Facebook family. With complementary capabilities, more people will be able to benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however they need it–via phone, email, text, web chat or messaging. In particular, Kustomer will be able to enhance the messaging experience which is one of the fastest growing ways for people and businesses to engage.

About Kustomer
Kustomer is a top-rated CRM, helping top brands deliver modern customer service that creates customers for life. Through AI-powered automation, Kustomer scales to meet the needs of contact centers and businesses, enabling companies to deliver effortless, consistent and personalized service and support through a single timeline view. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of some of the leading customer service brands like Ring, Glovo, Glossier and Sweetgreen. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $174M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Coatue, Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

Media Contact:
Cari Sommer
Raise Communications
cari@raisecg.com

Join us for our webinar on February 25th, 2021: How to Unify a Modern Tech Stack for Seamless Customer Service

Register Now

 

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020 TW

I would say that 2020 has been unprecedented, but let’s face it — we all want to permanently retire that word. From both a personal and professional perspective, it is undeniable that the past year has brought immense challenges, and you wouldn’t be alone to wish it was all just a fever dream.

While we are literally counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, it goes without saying that there are some permanent lessons that can be learned from the hurdles we faced in 2020. It was a year of success for Kustomer, with immense product developments, award wins and acquisitions, but customer service was also more important than ever before.

Without further ado, here is Kustomer’s look back at 2020.

Lessons From a Challenging Year

Many organizations are struggling to understand when they’ll go back to “business as usual”. And the fact of the matter is, they likely never will. The new way of working that 2020 forced upon CX teams will have lingering effects, and consumers are now used to doing business in a whole new way.

Changing Consumer Attitudes Means More Digital Commerce

While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to ask a question, or call a customer service number for assistance, now may find it more convenient to click on a chat widget while they browse your site online, or reach out to you on social after seeing your ads.

In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved. Consumers are also more open to self-service options, with 53% of consumers preferring to self-serve versus speaking with a company representative. The same percentage of consumers also think that chatbots improve the customer experience, with that cohort growing to 62% among consumers aged 18-24. It’s therefore important to consider new, digital-first service options for 2021 and beyond.

Speed and Efficiency Beat All

Many CX teams were forced to do more with less during the global pandemic. An unfortunate result of forced closures meant that the economy shot into a depression, and organizations needed to be scrappier than ever. Kustomer research revealed that 63% of CX organizations needed to cut costs during the global pandemic, and 46% reported a need to reduce staff. At the same time, the volume of customer inquiries was rising (by 17% on average), and 57% reported needing to deal with more complex problems than usual. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported an urgency for more efficiency, and 59% reported the need to adopt more automation to achieve efficiency.

While it is true that some organizations have seen digital inquiries somewhat normalize after a spike earlier in the year, the pandemic has revealed significant gaps in CX strategies. What seemed like a nonurgent need—adopting new technology to increase efficiency—is now staring CX organizations directly in the face and preventing them from being successful. Whether it’s a similar unthinkable event that shakes the economy to its core, or simply a busy holiday shopping season overwhelming agents, organizations must be prepared to scale efficiently, at lightning speed.

Customers Are People Too

As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer base. We could all take a page out of their book.

To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and enables them to deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service. There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information. Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

Kustomer’s 2020 in Review

This wasn’t just an important year for the customer service space, it was also a momentous year for Kustomer as an organization.

January – Kustomer kicked off the year at NRF, where we not only rubbed (pre-COVID) elbows with CX retail experts, but also learned about the importance of delivering an exceptional experience to create customers for life.

February – Kustomer launched our first ever podcast — Customer Service Secrets — to help leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

March – COVID-19 transformed business as we know it in March 2020, and as a result Kustomer began offering our Unlimited Package to customers for free, to enable seamless cross-functional communication and dynamic team oversight in a remote environment.

April – In April Kustomer officially launched Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests, which was even more impactful during a time when agents were being asked to do more with less.

May – Kustomer kept the momentum going in May by acquiring Reply.ai — a top-rated customer service automation company — and began offering enhanced chatbot and deflection capabilities in the Kustomer platform.

June – For the first time, Kustomer was recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. We believe this recognition underscores Kustomer’s important role in the space, where we are paving the way for the next generation of customer service CRM, driving intelligent and scalable experiences.

July – In July, Kustomer kicked off a new and exciting partnership, after being selected as the only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the Shopify Plus Certified App Program. Our enhanced integration with Shopify Plus helps brands and customer service agents optimize and personalize their experience, all within the Kustomer platform.

August – Kustomer was honored to be named the fastest growing SaaS company by SaaS magazine. Driven by the move to digital-only experiences, changing consumer behavior, and demand for omnichannel service, businesses in many industries turned to Kustomer in record numbers in 2020.

September – Kustomer released powerful new consumer research in September, breaking down what modern consumers expect from the customer experience. The research revealed that consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute they consider when shopping, right below price, speaking to the importance of delivering on consumer expectations.

October – While we couldn’t get together in person, that didn’t stop Kustomer from hosting our premiere event of the year — Kustomer NOW. Attendees were able to gather insights from the brightest minds in the CX space, like Drybar founder Alli Webb who spoke about how her business was built from the ground up with the customer experience in mind.

November – In November we took the next step in the “Kustomer Journey” and announced that we signed an agreement to be acquired by Facebook subject to customary regulatory review. Once the acquisition closes, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however customers need it.

December – Close on the heels of the announcement, Kustomer hosted Social Commerce Live, an action-packed, free digital event showcasing the power of social channels to build lifelong relationships with your customers. You can still watch on demand and gather insights from brands like Glossier and Bravo.

Kustomer Top Content

In case you missed it, check out some of Kustomer’s top content from the past year, where we explore break down the current state of affairs in CX:

E-Book: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence for Competitive Customer Service
Report: What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience
Guide: The 2021 CX Prep Guide
Webinar: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations
Blog Post: Top Metrics and Strategies for How to Measure Customer Service Performance

 

Top 5 Customer Experience Predictions For 2021

Top 5 Customer Experience Predictions For 2021 TW

Customer experience (CX) is a determining factor in whether customers are loyal to a brand or not. Over 80% of companies who prioritize customer experience report an increase in revenue. So, how can businesses ensure their CX is up to scratch?

Brands must stay on top of CX trends in 2021.

2020 brought huge changes to the business world and impacted customer service and operations across the board. Next year will undoubtedly bring even more fascinating developments. Below are five emerging trends that we predict will shape customer experience in 2021.

Remember, you heard it here first.

1. Personalized Customer Service With AI

The words “artificial intelligence” (AI) conjure images of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his iconic Terminator role, or epic Hollywood showdowns between man and antagonistic machine. But don’t worry, 2021 isn’t going to feature any giant robots wielding machine guns. At least, we hope it won’t.

It’s no secret that AI is transforming the way businesses interact with their customers. Microsoft predicts that by 2025 as many as 95% of customer interactions will be through AI.

Sales and CX teams are using business VoiP services equipped with AI to quickly address customer queries and improve their communication. The transportation industry is waiting in anticipation as automated cars threaten disruption. In finance, financial services companies leverage AI to recommend personalized products and services to individuals. It’s moving fast, and businesses need to keep up with AI developments to stay on top of their game.

AI re-imagines customer experiences and end-to-end customer journeys. The result? Improved customer experience that’s both integrated and personalized..

With AI, brands can be available to their customers at every stage of their journeys, instantaneously. Leveraging AI can help businesses better understand customers and deliver better CX, resulting in higher conversions and decreased cart abandonment.

One of the biggest customer experience trends happening right now are the challenges customer service teams are having in handling an increase in customer support calls, emails, and social media inquiries. Customer service teams can employ AI to handle low-level support issues in real time, and gather initial information for live agents before intervention is needed. This results in lower wait times and fewer frustrated customers.

In a world where a good customer experience strategy can make or break a business, AI is a great tool to ensure customers feel their time is valued and stay loyal to a business. Here are some examples of how businesses use AI to streamline CX initiatives:

  • Automated answering service for sorting and routing support
  • Automating manual tasks like tagging
  • Intelligently routing to the most appropriate agent
  • Augmented messaging that allows chatbots and human agents to work in tandem. The bots handle simple queries, and the agents can take over when it gets too complicated.

Enhanced support through call monitoring and real time suggestions for representatives.

The two major growing customer experience trends in 2021 within the AI customer service software industry are chatbots and virtual assistants. Here’s a closer look at how both technologies can automate business functions and boost CX initiatives:

Chatbots

Businesses in various sectors have already employed chatbots to better deliver on customer needs and improve the speed at which business can help consumers.

The chatbot market size is projected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024. We’ll see businesses using chatbots to cut operational costs and streamline customer service processes. They can’t completely replace humans, but chatbots can:

  • Provide instant answers to simple customer queries, 24/7
  • Collect customer data and analyze it to gain insight into customer behavior
  • Reduce pressure on customer service staff by automating low level support, allowing them to deal with more difficult inquiries
  • Increase customer engagement and conversions

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants allow users to interact with spoken language (Hey Alexa! Hey Google!) and help to relieve pressure on support staff by enabling interactive in-app support for users. AI virtual assistants are rising to new challenges and playing a vital role in automating customer service interactions.

As a top CX trend in 2021 and beyond, virtual assistants are set to become more customizable, contextual, and conversational.

Contrary to popular belief, virtual assistants aren’t being used to replace humans completely (Blade Runner, anyone?), but to streamline CX while freeing up human agents for important tasks.

2. The Future is an Omnichannel Approach is

A good customer experience strategy is becoming complex, with 51% of businesses using at least eight channels for CX alone.

In 2020, many businesses closed up shop and transferred themselves completely online. Many are still adapting to new strategies of providing digital customer service, as well as enhancing their CX initiatives to cater to customer expectations in a virtual space.

As CX organizations implement important customer experience trends for 2021, they need to focus on providing seamless, omnichannel CX to foster brand equity and drive sales.

Consumers demand consistent and highly personalized experiences as they interact with brands on various digital devices. For example, they might start interacting with a brand on Twitter and continue the conversation through e-mail. They’ll expect a seamless and integrated experience, no matter the platform.

A successful omnichannel CX seamlessly integrates online and offline communication channels to form a unified and unforgettable experience from the first to last point of contact.

If a customer base is interacting with a brand through phone, e-mail, live chat, social media, and SMS, as well as offline, a unified customer experience is a must.

In 2021 and beyond we’ll see more businesses further their digital transformation using instant communication to remove friction throughout the customer journey, and we’ll also see businesses tapping into customer data to personalize CX. As businesses plan their 2021 customer experience strategy, we’re likely to see big changes as brands acclimatize to an omnichannel customer service approach with increased virtual support.

3. Connecting Data to the Customer Experience in 2021

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the power of customer data in driving business outcomes and ROI. With customers expecting personalized, in-the-moment online experiences, the value of real-time data insights is paramount.

At present, predictive analytics helps retailers increase their margins by up to 60%. This number is set to grow as AI reaches greater capabilities.

Brands collect transactional, behavioral, and sensor data to form a customer ID that informs business goals as they move forward. This customer data is crucial to understanding what their CX does and does not get right.

Businesses are gaining deeper customer insights by collecting transactional customer data, analyzing customer behavior, segmenting personas, and more. Once all this data is collected and stored, predictive analytics can help businesses to understand how they’re succeeding or falling short of their objectives.

Businesses are using all this data about their customers to enhance the customer experience. How? By providing feedback in real-time, predicting customer needs, and identifying which customers they might lose. As a result, CX agents can satisfy their customers and prevent problems from arising.

As brands continue collecting meaningful data to build an omni-touch, real-time experience that allows customers to feel heard and understood, this will be one of the CX trends in 2021 that will continue for years to come.

4. Customer Service Goes Remote

With the recent advancements in technology, customer service and support have been able to optimize operations online. This has changed not only best practices and strategies, but also what customers expect from businesses.

This trend has a huge impact on businesses, employees, and, inadvertently, customers.

Remote working has plenty of benefits for all parties. Businesses can save significant costs on rent and technology, and hire from a more diverse talent pool. On the flip side, employees can work from anywhere (including their beds) and reduce commute time. No wonder most people who have tried remote work never want to go back!

Adapting to this shift can prove challenging. Remote working teams need to learn new methods of providing effective customer service from their homes or co-working spaces. It’s also essential that they find tactical ways to streamline project collaboration and to share information and customer data.

They’ll need to adapt to communicating in a virtual space, employ automated software to streamline operations, and find methods of staying motivated and on top of tasks.

As customer service goes remote, customer service teams will continue to face challenges when it comes to delivering an impeccable CX without setting foot in the office, but with the right technology, that allows for remote collaboration and oversight, it’s possible.

5. A Personalized Customer Experience Strategy Is Key to Success

As a top customer experience trends in 2021, we can expect businesses to customize their CX and meet customer expectations.

Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences to be tailored to their needs. Businesses need to focus on providing customers with relevant and valuable information. Customers demand proactive, valuable, and relevant outreach from CX teams, without having to share their personal information.What’s more, over 60% of consumers expect that companies send personalized offers or discounts based on items they’ve purchased.

The customer needs to feel valued and listened to throughout their journey with a business.

Nowadays, customer service teams can communicate with customers in their own digital spaces, through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Companies will likely increase efforts to contact customers through online platforms to provide order updates, offer support, or send promotions.

There are many ways businesses can continue to offer meaningful customer experience in 2021 and beyond. Make sure you know your customers’ communication preferences, and personalize the conversations and outreach you conduct. Personalized emails generate six times higher transaction rates, so stop treating your customers like strangers!

There you have it, five customer experience trends to watch out for in 2021. These trends have been driven by rapid advancements in AI and data collection, the advantages of an omni-channel approach, and the global shift towards remote work. In the future, we’re likely to see continuous developments in these areas which will continue to develop and shape CX.

Don’t get too comfortable, though. We expect that by the end of 2021 these predictions will look completely different! Let’s see what the future of CX holds, shall we?

 

Guest blog post written by John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and customer engagement strategies provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Vault and RTInsights.

How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences

How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences TW

If the events of this year taught those of us in the customer experience world anything, it’s that we can never stop innovating to be more customer-centric. We can’t hope that we will “get by” just a little longer with legacy CRMs and support tickets. We must embrace change and adapt quickly to meet today’s consumer expectations for a smart, omnichannel experience powered by a modern CRM—the key to scaling CX, meeting explosive growth, and adapting to change.

Some argue that 2020 has signaled the decline of ticket-based support systems. Why has the pandemic emerged as the straw that finally broke the legacy CRM camel’s back? The data tells the tale. Recent analysis of e-commerce trends shows a staggering 10 years of growth in just 3 months at the beginning of 2020. And that was just the early stages of lockdown. As chaos and uncertainty took hold, CX teams were inundated with customer calls and support tickets as they struggled to keep up with questions, changing plans, requests for assistance, and the demands of going direct-to-consumer.

How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences Inline

But that’s only where the challenges begin. 2020 also forced organizations to accelerate digital transformation by 6 years to adapt to the “new normal” of stay at home orders, remote workforces, supply chain disruptions, shipping delays, and the economic slowdown. Along with this digital transformation, many CX leaders are realizing they need to follow the lead of the direct-to-consumer disruptor brands that are differentiating themselves, and thriving, by delivering a modern consumer experience.

The DTC Disruptor’s Secret Weapon: Intelligent CX Focused on the Whole Customer

As the pandemic took hold, most direct-to-consumer innovators were many steps ahead and better prepared to deal with the curveballs 2020 delivered. These businesses started with the right culture, philosophy, and customer-centric CRM platform. They built their business to connect with customers at scale. A great example of this is The Farmer’s Dog, a company dedicated to delivering safe and healthy pet food, who totally nailed the customer-first approach. Their customer service agents connect on an emotional level with their buyers using whatever channel the buyer selects to educate and foster authentic relationships. This takes a level of insight tickets can’t provide.

UNTUCKit is another great example of a customer-centric brand. They ensure their stellar shopping experience is supported across every customer touchpoint, especially support. Team members have a virtually seamless process for seeing customer history, gathering the right data points, and resolving customer inquiries.

What Makes a Modern CRM?

If tickets aren’t the ticket, what is the secret to direct-to-consumer success today?

Visibility to Care for the Whole Customer

Now more than ever, customers feel they’ve lost control and trust. Zappos and Amazon have set the bar high with proactive, rapid, data-driven customer experiences. Modern CRMs can help brands rebuild that trust through data-driven conversations informed by a view of the whole customer. Agents must have complete visibility across systems to understand the consumer and their entire situation. But with a plethora of data, and a growing number of channels to monitor, we need AI to unlock these insights. Efficiency is the name of the game in customer service, and AI is a true force multiplier, enabling customer service teams to work more efficiently and focus on the customers who need the most help. Contact centers using ticket-based systems, while relying on siloed customer data, simply cannot deliver the type of experience customers demand today.

Omnichannel Customer Experience

Omnichannel support means a customer can connect with your business anywhere, anytime, and with any method—or even with multiple methods or channels.  If a customer wants to reach out via email and then switch to chat, so be it! It’s the experience a new generation of consumers expect. This requires companies to break down silos and integrate their data for a picture of the whole customer across channels. Consumers must be able to switch channels mid-conversation and leverage the best channel for each conversation’s purpose. Our research shows that nearly 90% of customers are frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. That shouldn’t be a surprise—we all know customers want what they want.

Omnipresent, Guided Self-Service

Just as customers expect more tailored and personal communications, they also demand self-service options for immediate resolution. As our new AI e-book explains, AI is being rapidly adopted in contact centers to act as the first line of defense, amplify performance, and create strong efficiencies. The volume, velocity, and variety of customer data today overwhelm organizations without the technology, processes, and operational capabilities to integrate siloed data and personalize communications. AI is transforming customer experiences, and for good reasons.

Happy Agents, Happy Customers

Research shows companies with excellent CX have employees that are 1.5X more engaged than employees at companies with less satisfactory CX; additionally, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. AI is also vastly improving agent productivity and reducing churn for contact center leaders. AI can have a dramatic impact on the customer experience and satisfaction, which in turn makes the employee experience far more interesting and exciting.

AI makes jobs more meaningful and less frustrating by deflecting much of the grunt work and alleviating manual and repetitive tasks agents hate. Agents don’t need to waste time transferring and redirecting customers. Rather, conversations can be automatically classified and routed to the appropriate agent for a speedy and personalized resolution. Not only will this reduce wait and handle times, but it will also maximize team capacity by directing real-time conversation traffic to the right person at the right time.

Realizing the Intelligent Customer Experience

You need a modern CRM to help you execute your digitally advanced, customer-first approach. Leading contact centers have indicated that integrated platforms and data analytics are important in gathering insights into the customer journey. Enter the Intelligent Customer Experience, a culmination of all of the improvements we just discussed.

Intelligent CX means leveraging a modern customer-centric approach and advanced AI to create a smarter, faster, and more enjoyable customer experience. It’s about delivering results fast using the power of AI and data from all channels, whether that be via a call, chat, email, tweet, or all of the above. Your customer service agents will feel more informed since you’ll be empowering them to provide real value, not just closing a ticket or processing a transaction. AI uses context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help, while allowing agents to provide more personalized service at scale.

We’ve seen dramatic changes since March of this year that have accelerated every aspect of digital transformation. We recently launched Kustomer IQ for omnichannel deflection, sentiment analysis, and intelligent routing. Check out more details here.

Customer Care Delivered in a Remote Environment

The pandemic has certainly upended the notion of the traditional 9-5 office. Companies are racing to adapt to a distributed work model, and technology is the biggest driver in adjusting to operating remotely. The next generation of customer service CRM does more than just manage support conversations. It enables the delivery of the customer experience from anywhere, through remote work orchestration and oversight. Taming the CX frankenstack is another step toward easing the remote transition. Modern CRMs must allow organizations to streamline integration of platforms, data sources, and channels to make remote work.

Collaboration is key to delivering an exceptional experience, so the modern CRM should provide a platform for customer service representatives to work together, to deliver service and support more efficiently and effectively. Collaboration between agents enhances the quality of answers provided to the customer by leveraging subject matter experts. At Kustomer, we believe the collective knowledge of experts makes your customer service organization stronger overall. In fact, we’ve embraced the use of Collaborators, users from other teams outside of support that can view conversations, customer history, and searches. By setting up Collaborators, other team members or departments can help you solve customer questions with internal notes and @mentions, see customer feedback, and more.

The Demise of the Dreaded Ticket

2020 will be the beginning of the end for legacy CRMs and transactional ticketing systems that were built to manage cases, not customers. Personalized support has been a key tenet of the business-and-buyer relationship from day  one. Every customer wants to feel like they are known, respected, appreciated, and well-served. They certainly don’t want to be insulted by an interrogation. Traditional ticketing systems will be left behind, as customers expect more and the world continues to converge quickly.

Intelligent, modern CRMs enable true connections to be made with customers in their greatest times of need, by making it easy for agents to come from a place of understanding and context, consistently. This requires unlocking the value of data shared between different teams (such as marketing and customer service), creating new roles to act on the data, and leveraging new and modern technology.

Download the AI for CX e-book to learn more, and take a look at how Kustomer can provide the tools you need for exceptional DTC customer service.

 

4 Key Takeaways From #MakeTheSwitch Week

4 Key Takeaways From #MakeTheSwitch Week TW

In case you missed it, last week Kustomer hosted a series of events all around switching from traditional ticketing systems to a modern CRM for customer service. The week was action-packed, filled to the brim with insights from Kustomer executives and customer-centric brands like Lulus and Ritual.

It’s not too late to gather insights from the week. Below you can find four key takeaways from #MakeTheSwitch week, and what they mean for your brand.

1. Treat Customers Like Humans, Not Tickets

Many companies are still relying on the old model of customer service, where they treat each new interaction as a separate event handled by different people across a variety of siloed platforms. To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and helps them deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service.

Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com, thinks that the humanity of customer service is often lost in call center environments. “I think that one of the downfalls to old school ticketing systems is that it’s no longer about people. It almost becomes like data entry for those agents that are working on the same thing. It’s how many tickets there are,” said Coleman during a Thursday afternoon webinar. “We were never thinking in terms of the human beings that are on the receiving end. And I think that’s what Kustomer has really done for us, it’s allowed us to spend the time with the human beings that are on the other line and spend more time developing our team.”

Eric Choi, Community Support Manager at Zwift, said during a Friday afternoon LinkedIn Live that he made the switch to Kustomer because his team was looking for a platform that was more human, and allowed them to interact with their members in a more organic way. “The old ticketing system made me feel… like a deli counter. You pull a ticket, you get answered, you throw the ticket away and then you move on.”

When all customer information is available at the click of a button, agents are able to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

2. Unlock the Power of Data Through a Customer Service CRM

As Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum said in his Tuesday afternoon LinkedIn Live, an effective CRM should allow you to fully understand the relationship that your business has with each and every customer, and leverage data in order to do that. Legacy CRMs were built to manage cases, not customers. And you shouldn’t have to pay more for operational solutions AND modern communication tools in order to provide effective support.

Coleman agrees that e-commerce companies “absolutely have to be able to access data around what your customers are contacting you” about. Before making the switch to Kustomer, Lulus didn’t have any data because their platforms weren’t talking to each other, and that was a big issue. A modern customer service CRM should be designed to connect seamlessly with your other data sources and business intelligence tools, while taking the place of your support platform, contact center routing software, and process management solution.

3. Cut Down on Tickets With an Omnichannel Approach

In a multichannel support environment, each channel lives in its own silo with its own dedicated team of agents, with limited communication or sharing of information between channels. As a result of this fragmented experience, customers will have to take the time to repeat to the second agent what they told the first agent. In addition, multichannel support leads companies to focus on resolving tickets, rather than building stronger customer relationships, because agents lack a holistic view of each customer.

After switching to Kustomer, Coleman truly realized how many omnichannel conversations were taking place within Lulus’ customer base. With a truly omnichannel customer service CRM, Lulus “ended up merging or cutting [their] tickets down significantly.” Agent collision never occurs when communication channels are integrated, because agents can view the conversation and maintain context even as customers engage through multiple channels.

Michelle McCombs, Vice President of Safety and Support at HopSkipDrive, has now structured her team so they are all omnichannel. With Kustomer’s timeline view, and intelligent queues and routing, her team doesn’t have to go and find what they need to do next. All of her agents “live right there in their one space and… and get to work.”

4. Make the Agent Experience Effortless and Fulfilling

Ultimately, agent happiness directly translates to customer happiness. The more information that agents have at their fingertips, and the more they are able to focus on quality instead of quantity, the happier they will be, and the happier they will make your customer base.

Andrew Rickards, Director of Customer Experience at Ritual, has experienced this first hand. “It goes without saying customer service can be a thankless job and even … the best spirited individual can find those tougher days. So for me, it’s looking at the agent’s experience and understanding what the points of friction are and removing them, so what is already a tough job doesn’t have to be any tougher,” said Rickards. “When I talk about agent happiness, if you look at the internal surveys we do, to see just how people are on a quarterly basis, a lot of the questions that would indicate day-to-day stressors…we improved on those results post-Kustomer switch.”

Coleman agrees, and sees how making the switch to a more effortless platform can impact agent development. “I do feel that we’ve had less turnover due to the fact that the platform is easier, to the point where we’ve been able to actually focus our leadership on actual leading instead of micro managing,” says Coleman. “And what I feel is the most honorable and noble career, which is the service of helping other people, it gets lost in the abyss of really complicated workflows. And so Kustomer has given us, has given me as a leader, so much value, because I’m actually able to lead people for who they are based on their individual strengths and opportunities.”

Click here to learn more about how making the switch could be a gamechanger for your team.

 

Believe It or Not, Now Is the Time to Prep for the Holidays. Here’s How.

Believe It or Not, Now Is the Time to Prep for the Holidays. Here’s How. Stat

Many of us look forward to the holidays. We get excited about the prospect of parties, family gatherings, holiday cheer and presents galore. But the holiday season also brings a big lump of coal: an increase in needy customers reaching out to your team in need of immediate support.

According to Kustomer data, inbound customer service inquiries increased by almost 120% during the holiday season in 2019, with particularly dramatic spike in activity on Instagram, e-mail, voice and chat.

Many businesses struggle to maintain a high level of support during spikes in activity. They may need to hire a flurry of seasonal employees who have a short training period. Last year, $284 billion dollars were spent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone, so the stakes are high. The question becomes, how do you handle the seasonal rush without breaking the bank or disappointing customers? Read on to learn what customers expect, and how to deliver with smart strategies and smarter technology.

Customer Expectations During the Holiday Season

Spending isn’t the only thing skyrocketing during the holiday season — so too are customer expectations. Here is what consumers expect from brands during the upcoming holiday season.

Immediate Service

During the holiday season, the turn of phrase “too much to do, too little time” hits a lot closer to home. Between normal day-to-day life, holiday celebrations, traveling and gift buying, consumers don’t want more of their time taken up by customer service.

According to recent Kustomer research, 77% of customers expect their problem to be solved immediately upon contacting customer service. Customers demand that you respect their time, especially during the busy holiday rush, and if you don’t, they are willing to leave for another retailer. In fact, 70% of consumers would not shop with a retailer again if they had to leave a chat before being helped, and 71% would do the same if they waited so long on hold that they hung up.

Available on Any Platform

Especially during the peak shopping season – Thanksgiving to Christmas — consumers are on the go. They may be traveling to spend time with family, taking a much needed vacation, or multitasking during the work day. What does this all mean? Customers are more willing and able to reach out on new platforms that are most convenient for them.

While 88% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer, availability on multiple platforms isn’t enough. Eighty-six percent of customers said they get frustrated when they have to repeat information to customer service agents. This means that if customers switch channels or need to be transferred, they don’t want the context of their previous interactions lost.

Most of the time, when a customer contacts a company, the team manning that channel will create a ticket. If the customer then contacts the company through a different channel about the same issue, a second ticket will be created with each team working their respective tickets. This results in a fragmented experience and the unfortunate need to repeat information.

How to Wow Your Customers During the Holiday Season (Without Breaking the Bank)

The typical strategies businesses use to please customers have one thing in common: they cost money, and aren’t scalable. What are some strategies and technology tools that you can put in place to wow your customers WITHOUT breaking the bank?

Prepare Early

There’s something to be said about beating your competition to the punch. According to research by Digital Commerce 360, 56% of customers chose where to shop during last year’s holiday season based on past experiences. In addition to common seasonal marketing strategies, delivering a stellar experience NOW can help you drive business in the future.

The companies that are practically synonymous with brand love, and have customers that are loyal to the death, have one thing in common: they have prioritized customer experience since their inception. In fact, customer experience is becoming more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty. Ensure that during busy seasons, when your inquiries and orders quadruple, you can continue to make customers feel just as valued as on the slowest day of the year. By preparing early, you can put the right tools, staff and strategies in place to not only deliver the perfect holiday gift, but also the perfect holiday customer experience.

Get a Little Help From Your Robot Friends

When resources are thin, technology can make a huge impact on your team’s efficiency. Oftentimes the most tedious tasks on an agent’s plate are manual and repetitive, and may not require human intervention. Luckily AI can handle simple tasks like tagging and routing conversations to the most appropriate agent. And consider the power of chatbots during peak shopping periods. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers. In fact, 67% of consumers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative.

Chatbots can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like changing a booking or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, 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.

Be Available Wherever Your Customers Are

Omnichannel support shifts perspective from ticket resolution to customer relationship building, which is incredibly valuable during the holiday season, when companies have the opportunity to attract an entirely new cohort of customers. Individuals have the freedom to move between channels throughout their engagement, and are guaranteed consistency, so each conversation starts where the last ended. Agent collision never occurs when communication channels are integrated, because agents can view the conversation and maintain context even as customers engage through multiple channels. If executed properly, omnichannel support provides a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after acquisition.

Ensure you have the right technology in place to integrate your combination of communication channels in order to capture the free flow of conversations across platforms and display the data in a single screen. A best-in-class solution should create a unified home for all your customer data, regardless of the source, not only the data generated from customer conversations.

Download our full holiday prep guide for additional strategies and customer insights that are sure to prepare you for the upcoming holiday season.

 

How Automation Can Help You Scale Your Business

How Automation Can Help You Scale Your Business TW

The digital landscape that we live in today has made it simple and seamless to access the information we need, instantly, from the palms of our hands. This means consumers are more comfortable and in-tune with their ability to reach out to your customer service team.

Making it as easy as possible on them, however, should be one of your top priorities. As your business grows and you must tackle more customer service inquiries, you need a strategy that allows you to scale your business. That’s where customer service automation comes in.

Automating low-level service allows your business to meet customer needs without compromising quality and bringing in too many customer service agents. Let’s take a closer look at scalability and how automation can ensure an effective transition.

What Does it Mean to Scale Your Service?

While growing your business is equally important to scaling it, these two concepts are not one and the same. Scaling your business is what comes after you gain that initial growth.

As explained by HubSpot, scaling your business means that you have the funds, resources and overall organizational ability to take on an increase in sales, and therefore, and an uptick in work across the board.

Scaling a business is very similar to scaling a photo on the computer. The idea is to enlarge the picture without taking away from its quality. Scalability in business is all about utilizing the tools you have to maintain business growth without compromising value.

Automation and Scalability

Scalability sounds great in theory, but it often takes a robust strategy to turn the idea into reality. Automation makes scalability highly achievable by essentially providing more service to the customer without increasing the need for human resources. In the context of customer service, automation can mean actions such as automatically routing consumers to the right agent, and gathering information before the conversation even begins. Involving chatbots allows customer service agents to get a head start by knowing the information chatbots have already gathered and diving directly into more complex work. With more opportunity to take care of all queries that come up, scalability becomes second nature.

How Kustomer Can Help you Scale Your Business

Scaling your business can be a fairly simple concept when you choose a provider with a robust solution. Kustomer provides a platform that powers personalized and efficient omnichannel customer service by using powerful AI capabilities that make scaling your business almost effortless.

With automation, your company can better meet customers’ needs by contextualizing conversations, which also allows you to reduce the number of manual tasks that have fallen on customer service agents in the past. Even more, all of this can be achieved without compromising the overall quality of service, allowing your business to deliver on customers’ expectations and uphold a positive reputation.

Automated processes may be the next step in the journey to improve your business. Learn more about how Kustomer can help you scale your business with our Definitive Guide to Scaling Customer Service.

From cross-channel conversations to automated business processes, the Kustomer platform can help your business improve overall efficiencies by automating routine actions and eliminating manual tasks altogether.
 

Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center

Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center TW

Until now, the omnichannel, cloud-based, 360-degree customer view-enabled contact center was mostly a pipe dream, touted by technology vendors and thought leaders, with a majority of businesses falling short of this gold standard. Most customers still expect to fight their way through a dead-end IVR, endure multiple transfers, and repeat their information to agents who have zero context on who they are or why they’re calling.

As technology grows more robust, however, more and more businesses are starting to overcome these bottlenecks, more of which are related to a lack of data transparency. Businesses are using AI and machine learning-enabled platforms to unify their data across the organization, route customers based not only on queues but context, and design self-service platforms that facilitate end-to-end support.

Treat Every Customer Touchpoint as a Potential Data Source

For many businesses, their website is the seat of personalization. By collecting data on customer’s viewing history and purchasing habits, they can provide personalized recommendations and proactive support based on context, such as offering help through web chat to a customer who’s having trouble completing an online purchase. But a truly omnichannel experience is one where personalization follows the customer, whether they’re on the phone with an agent, shopping online or visiting in-store.

This means that data you collect from your website must be reconciled with the customer’s activity in all other channels to build a complete 360-degree view of each individual customer. When an agent interacts with a customer, regardless of channel, they should be able to see the customer’s buying history, sentiment and previous interactions (across every channel), status of their orders and customer’s preferred channel.

Says Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum, “Imagine having a conversation with a friend but not being able to remember anything about that friend, or any interactions you’ve had with them previously. It would be difficult to have a truly personal or meaningful conversation. That’s how traditional retailers have historically interacted with their customers, with a large blind spot around customer preferences and history.”

Optimize Human to AI Interactions

“Agents for complex issues, AI for simple ones” is an oft-repeated principle for successful human-AI interactions in the contact center. However, customers still find themselves calling when a chatbot does not function as anticipated. For this reason and others, the contact center is often still considered a cost center rather than a revenue driver. Once businesses learn how to optimize their self-service channels, while giving customers recourse to contact a live agent if needed, agents will automatically become the go-to touchpoint for complex issues and expert recommendations, and thereby come to be perceived as subject matter experts.

Without the burden of responding to repetitive inquiries, agents can focus on building a relationship with the customer. As Birnbaum says, “It will become the customer service agent’s job to reflect the company’s mission and values, and act as a trusted partner. The changing expectations of consumers means that customers want to do business with companies they believe in, feeling as though they are a part of the brand. Customer service agents can help do just that, through both proactive and reactive support.

To learn more about common blockers contact centers must overcome to power the future of customer service, download the CCW Special Report on the Customer Contact Vision for 2025.

Download CCW Report


To Deliver Personalized Customer Service, You Must First Become Truly Omnichannel

Finger on iPhone

Although many companies bill themselves as purveyors of exceptional, personalized customer service, the reality is markedly different. In fact, for most, a typical customer service experience can devolve to tropes often reserved for speed dating. Too frequently, customers find themselves having to reshare their name, history, and problem ad nauseum when communicating with a brand’s customer service team. And so, what should be a straightforward and personalized experience often becomes a fragmented, impersonal one.

The numbers paint a bleak landscape. According to the CCW Digital Market Study, 49% of organizations felt their biggest concern was a lack of 360-degree view of their customers—as a result, they couldn’t provide a unified experience across all channels. What’s more, insufficient data and disconnected systems make it a challenge for businesses to know enough about their customers to personalize the customer service experience.

Think about it: can you truly deliver on the promise of personalized customer service when that personalization happens inconsistently—or incompletely even? It stands to reason then that customer service cannot be truly personalized without also being truly omnichannel as well.

Let’s take a look at what defines personalized customer service, the benefits of personalization, how you can provide a more personalized customer service experience and the role omnichannel plays.

What is Personalized Customer Service?

Conversations connect people—they always have. And customer service agents must be encouraged and enabled to establish genuine connections with their customers. To do so effectively, they must also have adequate background information and context—on any client, on any platform, in any market, and at any moment. Silos will only inhibit them from delivering on customer expectations and forming a loyalty-building bond. They should understand who they’re servicing and how—and they should have that knowledge at a moment’s notice.

Artificial Intelligence magazine defines personalized customer service as the service provided by an agent that caters precisely to what the customer is looking for. This enables the consumer to gain a connection to your company and feel confident that you have a tailor-made solution that leaves them feeling satisfied after the interaction.

The Omnichannel Approach

In today’s hyper-connected world, you can’t simply think like the customer, you must communicate like them too, and be channel agnostic.
People today connect asynchronously. They have no allegiance to any platform or any one service. And their channel proliferation is happening at breakneck speed. One moment they can be @mentioning your brand on Twitter, while another they’ll be shooting over a screenshot of said @mention over text.

They communicate with friends and family in this manner, perhaps even with co-workers and superiors as well, and expect the same sort of nimble, contextualized, and convenient communication in other facets of their lives. And while they may have a channel of choice, companies must understand that said channel can change over time. Or, over the course of a week.

To put things further into perspective, today’s average consumer uses 10 separate channels to connect with companies. You heard that right—10. By giving customers an omnichannel approach, you increase the chances of reaching them and making it easier for them to reach you.

Benefits of Providing Personalized Customer Service

Delivering top-notch customer service is of the utmost importance. Doing so in a personalized manner, via the combination of human interaction and automation, can bring success to your business in more ways than one. Some of the benefits of providing personalized customer support include:

  • Repeat business
  • Enhanced customer loyalty
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • More meaningful conversations that help you improve your strategy

Learn more about how personalizing the customer experience can enhance your business in our personalization how-to guide.

How to Personalize the Customer Experience

Quality customer service is an ambitious tactic. In fact, according to research from Dimension Data, 81% of organizations believe that customer service is a major competitive differentiator. By personalizing the customer experience, more companies can enhance the quality of service they are providing and get a leg up on the competition.

Achieving personalized customer service can be achieved in three important steps:

1. Get to Know Your Customer.
If your business utilizes a platform that has access to all customer information in a single view during the interaction, customer service agents have the context they need to provide personalized experiences This cohesion allows agents to deliver quality, personalized service, and the ability to solve a customer’s problem in a timely manner.

2. Always Meet Customers Where They Are.
When it comes to increasing customer satisfaction and solving issues simultaneously, companies need to incorporate an omnichannel approach. When customer service agents can meet customers wherever they are, whenever they need assistance and not lose context as customers switch channels, they’ll be able to solve issues quickly, efficiently and personally.

3. Use Artificial Intelligence to Your Advantage.
Companies that are ready and willing to thrive in the digital age understand the value that comes with automation. Using resources like chatbots allows technology to take care of the analytical and manual work, giving agents more time and flexibility to handle complex tasks and issues presented by customers. Not only does this free up human resources, but it also enables your customer service team to build stronger connections with customers, building strong customer loyalty.

How Kustomer Enables Omnichannel Customer Service

For too many brands, the need to keep up with the growing number of channels has meant adding solutions at the expense of the customer experience. This multichannel approach has created silos of customer service agents and information. Each channel is staffed with its own team and creates its own record of customer information that isn’t broadly shared among the rest of the customer service organization. For example, if a customer had interacted with an agent earlier on chat and now via email, the chat team and email team would have no record of each other’s conversations or the solutions they each offered, leading to potential agent collision.

Truly omnichannel platforms like Kustomer enable agents and customers to have a single-threaded discussion about a topic that spans all of the channels their customers may use. Agents and customers can seamlessly switch from one channel to the next as needed during a conversation while seamlessly progressing the discussion. And customers never have to repeat information because agents always have the context of every conversation through a comprehensive timeline of previous interactions, purchases, and customer data all in a single view, on a single platform. As a result, you can deliver truly personalized, omnichannel customer service even as the constellation of channels continues to grow.

To learn more about Kustomer’s omnichannel approach, get the Guide to Delivering True Omnichannel Support.

How Customer Service Conversations Can Resolve Tricky Situations

Man with water, coffee, in a office

Today, customers know more than ever before. They have access to continual customer reviews via social media, use self-service resources to educate themselves on products and services, and are well-versed in the digital space to find the information they need. With 4.33 billion active internet users across the globe, there’s no doubt that your customers are browsing your website, social media platforms and review sites to get to know your brand.

While we’d all like to think that visits to our websites all hold positive intentions, some customers may come to complain or discuss their negative experience with a product or service you’ve provided. These tricky situations may require having a customer service conversation, one in which your agents can turn what started as a discussion with a dissatisfied customer into a positive situation. With the right skills and resources, you can train your customer service agents to engage in highly effective conversations that leave your brand with a positive reputation.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what defines positive customer service conversations, some of the benefits that come with having an optimal customer service team and how Kustomer can help your agents better support your customers.

What Makes Customer Service Conversations Effective?

In an episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, hosted by Kustomer’s VP of Growth Gabe Larsen, titled “How Customer Service Has Transformed Over the Last 20 Years,” Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum joined Larsen to discuss how the customer experience has drastically evolved thanks to the adoption of online support. Today, many customers are using live chat to connect with brands for support, and will only continue to do so in the future.

When a customer service conversation occurs, agents are expected to support each person in a way that will drive loyalty and retention. On the podcast, Birnbaum shared his thoughts on the topic and how customer service staff can step up their game to ensure an effective conversion:

“I would say make sure you’re supporting your customers in the way that they want to be supported. Right? … The bar is going up and up every single day, right? … When you have a bad experience, you’re taking it to Twitter, you’re telling all your friends about it, right? So over-index on those amazing support experiences and the ways to do that would be through the higher caliber of agents here that are very well trained and then a tool that’s going to enable those agents to be successful. And certainly, our product can help you do that. But I would focus on that. I think that’s one of those amazing support experiences that will drive customer loyalty and retention.”

To have an effective conversation goes beyond setting the bar high, however. Customer service agents should be well equipped with not only the skills and knowledge needed to provide positive interactions — they can also benefit from valuable resources to streamline their response. Overcoming tricky situations may be intimidating and difficult to navigate, but the right response tools can ease the process. Here are a few ways to have a more effective customer service conversation:

Have the right skills.

According to Indeed, some of the top customer service skills include: communication, empathy, patience, active listening and quick thinking. A customer service representative should be equipped with these skills to handle tricky situations as they arise.

Remember: Not all customers are created equal.

In another episode of “Customer Service Secrets,” Peter Fader, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, joined Larsen to discuss why focusing on the right customer gives companies a major advantage. He said that customer treatment simply isn’t “one-size-fits-all,” and focusing on the customers that can bring more value to the company are the ones that can really help the business grow.

Take in customer feedback.

Allow customers to rate the conversation or provide feedback to help agents improve the customer experience based on past interactions.

Top Five Benefits of Effective Customer Service Conversations

Customer service conversations can go a long way; when customers feel empathy and receive a personal response from the company, both the customer and the business win. Here are some of the many benefits:

1. Positive Brand Reputation

When customers feel more comfortable sharing their questions and concerns with your company, it could impact the outlook they have on your business entirely. An Accenture Strategy Research Report found that 42% of consumers will stop giving a brand business if they’re frustrated with the company. Additionally, 21% of those consumers admit that they’ll never go back after walking away. An effective customer service conversation can solve issues before they turn into lost business.

2. Customer Loyalty and Retention

When customer service conversations go well, consumers are more likely to continue purchasing a brand’s products or services regularly. According to a 2017 Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report, 95% of customers surveyed across the globe consider effective customer service to be one of the most important factors in determining their loyalty to a brand.

3. Repeat Business

Customer loyalty goes a long way; it generally means that repeat business is inevitable. In fact, according to the Accenture report, nearly half of consumers spend more money with companies that they’re loyal to. An effective customer service conversation can help consumers feel more comfortable and confident in your business — enough to come back for more products or services — especially if a problem is solved or a relationship is built during the conversation.

4. Competitive Advantage

Companies within the same industry are constantly searching for strong differentiators, but customer service has become a competitive priority. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 89% of companies compete on the quality of their customer service on its own. An effective customer service conversation, via live chat, social, emails or customer care line, can be what sets your business apart from industry competitors and keeps customers choosing your business over their other options.

5. Friendly and Helpful Customer Service Staff Members

Effective customer service conversations don’t only have an impact on your consumers and the bottom line of your business; they also largely affect your customer service support team. The Microsoft service report found that 30% of customers say that speaking with an agent who is both knowledgeable and friendly are the two most important factors during a customer service interaction. Staff members can feel a sense of satisfaction by having effective customer service conversations, motivating them to be even more helpful and friendly for future interactions.

How Kustomer Can Help You Support Your Customers

Kustomer’s business model is built around helping companies better connect with their customers to meet their expectations. With many people spending more of their free time at home, customers have ample opportunity to reach your team and are expecting their wants and needs to be met with a real-time response. With Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform, you can achieve continuous omnichannel conversations by using artificial intelligence as a supplemental tool to aid agents and deflect low level support.

These unprecedented times have encouraged us to conduct a special report: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations, which analyzes how businesses are reacting to the global pandemic. Many of the results are very powerful, for example, 79% of customer service organizations have felt a significant impact of the coronavirus, with about 1% reporting no impact at all.

Throughout the report, you can learn more about meeting customers’ needs during the pandemic and further understand other valuable insights that can get your business through these tough times.

For more general information about how we can help your customers feel heard and assist you in providing quality customer service, contact us directly or request a demo today.

 

Top 8 Customer Service Trends You Need to Know

Man in coffee shop with iPhone

Consumer expectations are changing daily, and technology has a lot to do with this. The digital age has made customers expect instant gratification; when technology makes just about any information available at the click of a button, more and more people are turning to their devices for answers. With this technological transformation comes many up-and-coming customer service trends that companies can get behind to transform their business and cater to the expectations of the customer. After all, Gartner research predicted that 85% of consumer interactions will occur without interacting with a human face-to-face.

Does this mean that companies should rely solely on artificial intelligence to run their business? No, but they can certainly benefit from using it as a supplemental tool.

What are Customer Service Trends in 2021?

Customer behaviors have drastically changed since the pandemic hit in 2020. There’s been a shift in what customers find valuable and important. The changes in consumer behavior and digital-first shopping transformed customer service trends have taken on a new identity in 2021. Throwing out the old and bringing in the new, here’s an analysis of some of the critical customer service trends happening right now that every business should be addressing.

It’s all about enhancing the digital customer experience. Let’s take a closer look at the current trends in customer service that can help you run your business and satisfy consumers:

8 Current Trends in Customer Service

Keeping up with what’s new in customer service trends can be difficult when trends emerge so regularly. However, we can help you navigate through the trenches and understand the ones that matter most. We recommend addressing these trends in your CX strategy:

1. Promote a Strong Company Culture

Customer service has always been dedicated to taking care of the customer. But at NRF 2020, Alex Genov, the manager of research and user experience at Zappos shared the importance of shaping the company culture of your business to reflect the customer care you want to provide. More speakers at the event detailed how they refer to their customer service employees as something more encouraging, such as “brand ambassador.” Empowering the customer service agent is one way to get the positivity flowing through the customer journey.

2. Make Your Customer Service Options Mobile-Optimized

Today, everyone you know has a smartphone. And if they don’t, it’s rather shocking.

With so many people using devices that bring convenience right to the palm of their hand, it’s advantageous for your business to make sure its website works on mobile. Specifically, it’s critical that your customer service options are optimized for mobile. According to a Gartner survey of nearly 9,000 customers, the most preferred device for issue resolution was the phone at 44%.

The more channels your customers have to reach you, the better their odds of doing so and feeling satisfied with your ability to communicate.

3. Build Strong Customer Connections

Making the customer feel as though they’re a part of a community when they purchase your products or services is a great indication of strong customer service. This builds brand loyalty and advocacy and strengthens the relationship between the consumer and the business. When customers trust your brand, they’ll feel more comfortable and confident reaching out to your customer service representatives if something does go wrong.

4. Take the Omnichannel Approach

This isn’t exactly one of those new trends in customer service, but it’s still very important to consider in 2021. Often confused with multichannel support — or offering customers more than one option for contacting your customer service representatives — omnichannel support is guaranteed consistency in customer service as they shift from one channel to the next, so conversations are picked up right where they left off. With the right technology, your business can achieve an omnichannel approach with ease.

5. Focus on Self-Service Opportunities That Benefit Your Business

Many customers are confident in their ability to navigate your page and figure out the answer to their problem without feeling the need to contact customer service. While we do encourage having additional options like chatbots and live agents, one way customers can answer some of their own queries is through your Knowledge Bases (KB) or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

As explained by Knowledge Owl, a KB and FAQ page are similar pieces of collateral that are each considered a self-service option that, giving your customer service agents a break from the repetitive questions that tend to flood their inboxes.

Building these pages up on your website can enable effortless self-service. Just make sure customers are directed strategically back to your customer service agent as needed

6. Be Responsive on Social Media

Just like owning a smartphone, most consumers have a social media presence on one or more channels. Not only are they using these platforms to communicate with family and friends, share pictures and laugh at memes, they’re also turning to social media as a way to connect with brands from a customer service standpoint. Patrick Cuttica, Director of Product Marketing at social media management company Sprout Social, told Business News Daily that brands should focus some of their customer service efforts on social media to satisfy their customers.

“Brands need to be thoughtful about which social platforms their customers are using [and] … focus their engagement efforts there,” Cuttica said. “A successful customer service strategy requires that a brand be present and available across the channels their customers prefer.”

7. Use Chatbots to Your Advantage

Contact forms are becoming less attractive to consumers. Why? Because they want fast, convenient service when they have a question or problem that needs to be solved. Chatbots are a great way to get the conversation started with customers without resourcing your agents to stand by every time a customer enters your site. Chatbots can pull information from knowledge bases to serve answers up to customers. Plus, they can be used to answer low-level support questions and provide 24/7 support, saving agents thousands of man hours.

8. Continuing to Utilize Live Support

Remember: While chatbots are highly advantageous, that doesn’t mean that AI should replace your talented human resources. Your business can benefit from bringing both together to increase scalability and drive efficiency across all customer service channels. AI can automate manual tasks and provide initial information about customer problems, giving agents the information they need to solve customer problems without compromising quality. This makes customer service more convenient for customers and can even improve your engagement and satisfaction scores over time.

Does Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Deliver?

Customer service technology can help you incorporate these new trends into your current strategy. Kustomer enables you to deliver effortless, personalized customer service, powered by intelligent insights and unified data.

Understanding how to deliver on growing customer expectations can be challenging without the right tools. That’s why we’ve created our Buyer’s Guide to provide the resources you need to evaluate potential partners, measure your success and pick the perfect customer service software solution. Request a demo today to schedule your 15-minute introductory call and learn how Kustomer can help.

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

woman on phone sitting on steps

A common saying states that perception is reality. Regardless of its validity, perception is widely accepted, and it can have significant consequences on either an individual or an organization’s reputation and credibility.

Organizations face this challenge every day: how to deliver the best possible product while also winning trust through superb service. Customer sentiment analysis helps provide valuable insight into the mind of the customer and it empowers agents with data that allows them to go above and beyond, while also providing customers with an experience that promotes not only satisfaction, but also encourages loyalty.

Even a superior product can fall victim to upset customers — according to an Accenture Strategy Research Report, 47% of consumers admit they won’t even engage with a brand after being disappointed. Today’s complex, omnichannel environment makes these stakes even higher, which is why accurate customer sentiment analysis is vital in today’s fast-paced world.

What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?

KM World defines customer sentiment analysis as the processing of information to determine the opinion of a consumer. The time consumers take to ask questions, resolve issues, and share both positive and negative experiences can be used to help an organization evolve.

It’s important to understand that the way this information is gathered has changed drastically in the last two decades. What was once handled by either a letter or phone call to a company has now evolved into a multi-layered approach that can feel dizzying for an organization seeking to keep pace.

To deliver the most empathetic customer service experience, an organization must understand customer sentiment across all channels. Let’s take a closer look at sentiment scoring, what’s considered a positive sentiment, and three solid reasons customer sentiment analysis is a must for your organization.

What is a Sentiment Score?

According to CallMiner, a sentiment score is the number used to gauge customers’ opinions of a company’s service and products. A positive sentiment score indicates exactly what it describes — customers are satisfied with their experience with the company’s offerings and will likely continue to go about business as usual — and as such, a negative score explains the opposite. Both types of sentiment scoring are important, as they can help a company understand where they need to improve and where they can continue following business protocol.

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis gives you an increasingly accurate temperature check on how your customers feel about your brand, your products and the service you provide. For agents to turn this data into insights, however, they must be able to easily access this type of customer information.

Here are three reasons why customer sentiment analysis is ideal for driving customer loyalty:

1. Customer Service Agents Become Advocates

Every time a customer reaches an agent, that agent should, at a minimum, be empowered with all the information needed to provide a seamless experience. From purchase information, shipping information, and return requests, to an accumulation of all internal communications that have occurred, agents should have all the customer details available to them in order to provide the best possible service. But this isn’t always possible without the right technology.

When armed with sentiment analysis, the agent is properly prepared to connect and empathize with the customer on the aspects of either the service or the product that felt frustrating. This type of communication serves to both personalize the experience while also helping to neutralize potentially difficult conversations.

To provide the modern experience customers expect, organizations can’t afford for their agents to have any information gaps. According to Calabrio, 60% of customer service agents feel that they don’t have the tools or technology needed to handle customer issues, and 34% cite a lack of pertinent customer data as their biggest problem. With the right resources in place, companies can properly identify negative and positive sentiment scores and translate the insights into providing an improved customer experience across the board.

2. It Has a Major Influence on the Future of Your Business

When it comes to both acquiring and retaining customers, brands must pursue the new rules of engagement. According to Social Media Today, 70% of consumers have admitted that they turned to the social media accounts of brands for customer service reasons on one occasion or more. Utilizing social media channels is one of the most advantageous moves a brand can make today.

Customer interactions, whether indicating negative or positive sentiment, can be used to benefit the company. This data can be used to get ahead of issues, inform internal product teams of concerns or problems and influence both new customers and loyal ones. Data can reveal how an individual consumer is feeling, and it can also reveal areas in your product or policies that need improvement.

3. Customer Experience Gaps Vanish (With Holistic Measurement)

Unfortunately, many organizations look at sentiment based on the channel: e-mail, phone, chatbot/live chat, social and others, and that means all the data collected is siloed. The result of siloed data needing to be measured and analyzed together is an analyst somewhere banging their heads against a wall trying to fit a square peg through a round hole.

In other words, siloed data can be analyzed together, but it will usually be inconsistent and incomplete, with gaps that don’t cover the holistic customer experience. When attempting to make sense of the entire customer journey from initial awareness through to repeat purchases, organizations must consider a holistic way of collecting the data to be analyzed more accurately. A customer service CRM platform, that unifies all data into a single view, can help businesses garner insights from cross-channel data.

How Kustomer can help

Understanding how your customers feel can be a useful tool for your business. The organization that achieves a comprehensive, holistic and actionable view of their customer, and leverages customer sentiment analysis to understand how consumers are feeling, can create empathetic experiences that boost loyalty, retention and repeat sales.

Kustomer’s Sentiment Engine specifically achieves this. It’s driven by AWS Amazon Comprehend, and through natural language processing APIs, the Kustomer platform can analyze all incoming text from the customer, no matter the channel. You’ll always know how they feel, and be prepared to deliver exceptional service in customers’ greatest times of need.

If you’re ready to transform your organization’s customer service into one that drives loyalty in the modern age, click here for three ways to get started.

 

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