Make Continuous Improvement Your Ultimate Goal

We all know turning customers away is fatal for business but we can also agree that there is always room for improvement when it comes to customer care.

Top notch customer service skills are a given if you want to provide an unforgettable customer experience. Unfortunately, not many enterprises will admit that their inner processes or quality of provided services are the leading cause of steadily declining customer satisfaction.

Real-time customer support is essential

Gaining new customers is harder than getting new business from an established customer base, but established and loyal customers provide great opportunities in the digital age, such as customer referrals and word-to-mouth.

The most overlooked part of customer experience is one-on-one customer support sessions – it often gets substituted with almost rage inducing automated technology.

The rise of the multi-channel era made B2C communications easier: blogs, websites and social media. However, for most of your customers, social media and websites might be not personal enough. Nothing can substitute the satisfaction which comes from solving a problem though more personal communication channels. Make sure to focus your customer support effort on these three solutions:

  • The “old-school” phone call, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon
  • Live web-chat, it’s the “go-to” choice for the Y generation
  • Follow-up emails or other communication methods, to reassure the customer

It all comes down to embracing and nurturing real-time interaction channels. Once you do, you’ll quickly notice renewal rates rise up and you’ll gain a few more loyal customers at the same time.

Scout ahead

In order to successfully up-sell or cross-sell you need to scout ahead, going in blind, without gathering data regarding customer purchase habits is a recipe for failure.

Understand the needs and desires of the customer base; differentiate customer types (new, loyal, etc.). Customers will notice if you don’t do your homework which will result in lost opportunities.

Gathering intelligence and providing the customer with suitable options doesn’t always guarantee a sale, but it will leave a positive impression which in the future can result in a positive referral or a new sale.

Be flexible

Every company has a set of guidelines in place, especially for marketing or servicing customers – what most contact centre managers forget is that these are just guidelines, not set in stone rules.

Make these procedures more flexible for established customers as return business is good business – make it easier for them to give you just that.

Be flexible when it comes to pitching products or services – that’s it!

Broken promises

The biggest and most common mistake is over-selling your brand. Never do that as it just leads to broken promises and lost sales – oh, and bad press.

Learn to under-sell and exceed expectations; customer satisfaction does wonders.

Unfortunately sometimes, due to poor judgement, communication problems or “insert random excuse here” promises do get broken, and you fail to deliver. This is the time to atone for the sins and repair your relationship with the customer.

Common recovery tactics include these steps:

  • Admitting your mistake
  • Offering a genuine solution to the problem caused by the broken promise
  • Offering a refund to the customer
  • Offering free or discounted serviced or products, even if the customer took a refund

Leave personal problems at home

It’s hard, but personal problems should never interfere with customer interaction. Despite all the hardships you might be facing, contact centre agents need to remain polite, professional and most importantly reliable.

We at Opstalent think exceptional customer service is the backbone of a successful business, it’s time make it your priority as well!

New Technology: Yay or Nay?

New tech changes how we perceive the world, it connects us in ways never imagined, however, is it a bane or a boon?

In order for new technology to be embraced by all user groups, it needs to meet these three essential criteria – secure, accessible & reliable.

 

Don’t get obsessed with efficiency

This is basically “New Technology 101”, do not impose the latest technology on customers. It’s the most rookie mistake companies of all shapes and sizes make.

Remember, service and customer experience come first. Implementing new solutions, that will fix efficiency problems within your organisation is a great idea, but at the same time take customer service into consideration. If it will complicate the process for the customer or make them “jump through hoops” it’s a “NO GO”.

Staff and customers alike will cherish technology that speeds up the process and makes it almost unnoticeable.

 

Provide security

Security is crucial, how many media outlets have reported security breaches, within the last year only? Especially when it comes down to the public sector.

Remember, if new technology is to be embraced it needs to be trusted by the customer and staff. Be aware of the fact, the more valuable and complex transaction or process is, the bigger the need for fast and successful resolution.

Fully automated systems can fail, just like humans.

 

Don’t expect a dramatic shift in customer preferences

Plan for the future, implement new technology in order to “catch the wave”, don’t expect an immediate change in customer behaviour patterns. Keep the customers notified of any updates and changes concerning your communication channels.

Simply let them know in a non-intrusive way that they do have additional options, but leave the choice to them – do not impose methods.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that some newer solutions have higher hardware and tech know-how requirements – keep that in mind, when considering abandoning some of the “outdated” systems.

Make the transition easy for the customer.

 

Gather feedback

During the planning process, take notes of what customers and staff want and expect from the CRM technology. Don’t just rely on the IT Department or managers, they might think they do know what’s needed, but in reality, they often don’t.

Equip agents with appropriate “tools of the trade” and create the ultimate customer experience.

Don’t implement new technologies just to reduce costs, you won’t notice a real gain in customer service. Make improvements an integral part of your CRM strategy, the long term goal is building a lasting relationship with customers.

Get to Know Your Customers

Mastering and gaining insights is essential in establishing a loyalty culture.

Customer loyalty is driven by multiple factors but mainly by the dissonance between how your company is internally structured, and what does the customer experience when communicating with your brand.

 

Internal factors can influence external outcome

It’s quite common for companies to ignore internal factors, and just focus on external ones when reviewing their customer loyalty options.  The following situation dissolves into a series of ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to customer satisfaction and loyalty scores, not focusing on fixing the root cause of the problem. Temporary ‘band-aids’ hurt customer loyalty and are reactionary in nature, it’s not what the costumers want.

 

Re-examine your inner-workings to fully understand what drives customer loyalty

Let’s get one thing out in the open, focusing on external fixes simply doesn’t work. If your management team’s fixes include one or more of the following ideas we’ve got bad news for you:

  • “We need to create a customer loyalty program to reward those customers that purchase more”
  • “We need to launch a brand new advertising campaign (yet another one) that highlights how great our product is”
  • “We clearly need a sale, let’s slash the prices that a sure way to increase our customer loyalty”

These so-called solutions are reactionary in nature, short-sighted, and don’t even scratch the surface of the real problem – why are you unable to gain customer loyalty.

Dismiss the concept ‘knee-jerk’ changes, your goal is to understand your customers, shift your paradigm of how you understand customer loyalty.

 

Create programs that fit your customers’ preferences

First and foremost, stop assuming that your customers understand what differentiates your products from the competition. Next, customer service and product development need to form as a result of knowing who your customers are, what do they expect from a top-tier product, and what will impact their decision-making process.

 

How to gain insights into your customers’  behaviour

You’re probably scratching your head and thinking “How do I understand my customers?” – well, it’s pretty easy, you simply talk to you customers. Conduct surveys, focus groups, engage them through social media, the possibilities are endless.

Find out:

  • how they perceive your brand
  • how they perceive products similar to yours
  • how do they rate your customer service
  • what matters to them

 

The fun part

Having collected required data, the time has come to analyse, and implement solutions that will satisfy your customers’ needs. You may find out that yet another customer loyalty program is not what they need nor want, maybe you need to ‘amp-up’ your customer service, or maybe it’s your website that needs to be more intuitive.

 

The journey will be an enlightening and fulfilling

Your findings will re-calibrate your focus and open a plethora of possibilities to gain loyal customers.

Gaining perspective is a life and business lesson that you can’t ‘put a price tag’ on.

How to Align Employee Training with Customer Expectations

Email is the most popular communication method for customer care delivery and with more contact centres embracing the multi-channel approach, proper monitoring is essential in achieving high productivity.

Bellow, you’ll find tips on how to get the most out of email communication channel and deliver exceptional customer experience.

 

Conduct grammar and spelling checks

Emails to customers have to be professional, just being readable won’t cut it. Your contact centre agents can easily undermine your companies image with poor spelling and bad grammar. This step while being fairly easy to conduct will pay off tremendously in the long run and will save precious time while avoiding confusion.

 

Pick the right tone

When monitoring emails, set a central set of rules and guidelines, or even a template. Just don’t be too restrictive, let the agents choose the appropriate tone – one that suits the specific customer query.

An overly formal email might be too hard to understand for most customers, a chatty one, on the other hand, has the potential to alienate the customer.  Also, you wouldn’t address a senior in the same manner as you would a typical college “bro”, now would you?

Simply, let the agents adjust the tone to suit different situations.

 

Coach and review independently across all platforms

When conducting quality checks, use a larger sample pool than just a couple of interactions. This applies to single agent evaluation and team evaluation process as well.

If agents work on multiple communications channels score each one independently and coach accordingly. Good coaching will improve performance, but sometimes agents aren’t meant for some particular channel.

Pay attention to their skill sets, and assign them to projects that will utilise those to their full potential. This will drive productivity even higher.

 

The mystery shopper

Email is no different than a traditional call or even retail when it comes to mystery shoppers. This is a quite simple, yet often overlooked assessment technique that provides valuable data.

Having an external entity grading your staff is a smart move.

 

Answer the question – don’t “copy & paste”

The number times this simple step is overlooked makes us at OpsTalent cringe. Has the contact centre agent actually answered the customer’s query, or did he just send a prescripted response that has nothing to do with the question and provides no resolution what so ever?

Measuring success and first contact resolution will help you identify potential problems, and when these metrics improve it will be a clear sign that you are on a clear path to exceptional customer experience.

Make sure that any potential answers are consistent across all communication channels are consistent and relevant.

Also, personalise the email, it’s a small yet often welcome touch that embraces the vision of brand loyalty.

 

Don’t obsess over response time

Yes, response times do matter, and contact centres, as well as customers, rightfully care about them. Keep in mind tough, that customers understand that email isn’t used as the go-to “real time” channel, that’s what web chat is for or even the conventional phone call, or in some cases remote access.

Just make sure that customers know their request is being processed and that the response will be accurate and delivered in timely fashion.

Set up automated acknowledgements that set realistic response time for each query, this will help in managing customer expectations and your enterprise will avoid possible “clogs” caused by additional mail enquiries – this is especially vital during the festive season or during a new product/campaign launch.

Measuring email quality is easier than you might think,  just make sure that your training and quality expectations are fully aligned – that’s the recipe for exceptional customer service.

Tech Support Training Tips

Most people think customer service and tech support are virtually the same role, well it might seem so at first glance, and with how customer centric the customer care industry has become we might see those two roles merged in the near future.

There are differences, most notably in the type of training and offered services

Soft skills are relevant in both roles, especially active listening, problem-solving, and the ability to de-escalate issues.

Never let your agents approach new roles untrained

If you’re facing staffing issues or your customer care centre is facing high communication volumes and you’re forced to ask your customer service teams to handle tech support issues, make sure that they receive proper training.

Not everyone is tech-savvy

Equip your teams with proper ‘tools of the trade’, they need them in order to help customers with their tech problems.

 

OpsTalent has prepared a list of five crucial tips that will turn your customer service experts into amped-up tech-geeks.

 

The Beginning 

The greeting phase is crucial, as it dictates the conversation’s flow. Your team needs to understand that this initials phase has to be short as well as professional.

Agents should start with providing their first name in order to make the call more personal, then they should immediately establish that the customer has reached tech support. The greeting itself shouldn’t be overly lengthy – short and to-the-point. Lastly, coach your team to sound friendly and happy to help, this might seem as a no-brainer for most managers in the customer care industry but it’s worth to mention.

 

Active listening

Ask what issue is the ‘user’ experiencing. In the active listening phase tech support agents need to carefully listen to the description of the problem while noting down vital information, such as software version used, model of the hardware in question, operating system, and any other technical aspects what will aid in successfully diagnosing and fixing the problem.

After the issue has been explained the agent should paraphrase the problem back. This reassures the customer that we value his input, furthermore by describing the problem back at the customer we confirm that the correct issue is noted.

 

Apologise, empathise, reassure

The customer needs to be reassured that his issue will be handled properly. Be sure to apologise only when it’s your company’s product or service at fault.

Next, comes empathy, use phrases such as “I know it’s frustrating for you, I’m sorry that the issue at hand is taking time out of your day, but we will resolve it ASAP.”

Lastly, reassure the customer that you’re going to personally oversee his case.

 

Problem-solving 101

The 4th step is where the magic happens. Look up the symptoms and take steps to solve the problem.

If more research is necessary then ensure that the customer is periodically reminded that “we’re still on the case” – there’s nothing worse than leaving the customer guessing as it creates more stress in an already volatile situation.

 

Mission Accomplished

The last step is the most crucial one, ensure that the problem was resolved.
Consultants need to ask a question along the lines of “Did we fix the problem you were experiencing?” Is there anything else I can do for you?”.

The agent needs to confirm that the issue was indeed resolved, which is why asking the final question is important. It also enables the customer to confirm he or she feels satisfied with the solution and has no further enquiries.

 

Instil Confidence

Training, coaching and proper guidance will provide your customer service agents with enough ‘know-how’ and confidence to handle tech support.

Proper ‘Tools of the trade’ are essential for your employees to provide exceptional customer care services.

 

 

Reduce Effort & Supercharge Your Customer Journey

Technology is perceived by many as the ultimate problem solving tool, one which makes life easier and more efficient. However, when consumer expectations are not effectively met it ends up being inconvenient and frustrating.

It should not come as a surprise that brands and manufacturers spend massive amounts of resources on their R&D (research and development). With each passing year products and services become more complex in terms of technology used as well as device interconnectivity. Unfortunately as a result, enterprises lose sight of the big picture and fail to implement a customer-first approach.

If you want mainstream adoption for your tech product or service, you need to make customer effort and usability your number one priority.

Focus on every aspect of the customer journey

Retention, loyalty and advocacy all take a massive hit when brands ignore customer effort

The average user will get discouraged if technology is too complex or confusing to set up and use regularly, which is why you must lavage innovative support strategies and drive meaningful engagement to improve customer experience.

Tech companies should interact with and listen to their consumers at every possible opportunity.

Identify problem areas and minimise customer effort by driving engagement and collecting valuable feedback at every stage of the customer journey.

The three most time consuming stages of the customer journey are: setup, maintenance and troubleshooting. Sadly these seem to be lower priority, than their highly streamlined pre-purchase and purchase counterparts. It should be a major red flag for any technology product as it correlates with retaining customers and building brand loyalty, thus directly impacts the bottom line.

Make it easy for the customers and meet them where they are

You can please everyone, just provide the ability to interact with your brand through multiple communication channels – sounds easy, right?

In reality, it’s far from easy as consumer expectations continue to evolve in response to changes in our increasingly connected digital world. Personalised strategies across multiple channels are no longer an added bonus, they are a necessity if brands want to reduce customer effort while meeting expectations.

Maintain uniform context but tailor interactions to fit each channel specifically

The current consumer generation is actively pushing for more self-service options, ones which let them troubleshoot and solve issues on their own, without professional tech support ever getting involved – provide flexibility by implementing self-service but have live customer support as backup.

But with omnichannel you need to focus on maintaining uniform context for customer interactions across all channels by keeping track of interaction history, whether assisted or unassisted.

This will streamline the process as customers will be able to seamlessly change channels and escalate easily if necessary, thus allowing them to resolve issues faster and with less frustration as nobody likes to repeat the same information over, and over again.

No matter the communication channel (email, social media, VOIP), tech brands need to reduce customer effort and show how much they value their customers time by implementing personalised support options on each channel and at every step of the customer journey.

Leverage data and provide proactive support

Consumers expect proactive support, therefore provide sufficient self-diagnosing tools and suggested fixes which streamline the troubleshooting process even further.

Tech companies are great at gathering and leveraging data, therefore they should have no problem applying the very same approach to custumer journey: gather, analyse and apply user data to tweak your customer care processes and create a lasting, positive customer experience.

By pinpointing the key areas where customers are experiencing problems in brands can direct them to appropriate self-support solutions or assign them to a tech support agent who has access to the right information and is able to resolve the issue quickly and with minimal frustration.

Leveraging user data as well as providing proactive support are both essential during early stages of setting up or implementing new technology solutions, as consumers will be more likely to experience a seamless, positive brand experience.

Long term impact on the bottom line

Technology brands and manufacturers need to take a step back and look at the big picture when developing new products, the entirety of customer journey matters – do not focus on the early stages only.

Nurture your relationship with consumers by implementing flexible self-service options, leveraging user data and providing access through multiple communication channels, thus being there for them in their time of need.

Positive engagement is essential to reducing customer effort, boosting brand loyalty and increasing revenue.

Four Essential Qualities of a Customer Care Centre

The rise of the multi-channel approach shook the customer care landscape to its core and new channels demand a different approach – customer centricity.

Multilingual contact centres need to engage and retain every customer to be successful.

We at OpsTalent believe that these four traits are the keystones to establishing a customer centric contact centre:

Measure quality from both perspectives.

Like many of its customer oriented counterparts around the globe, OpsTalent has invested in quality monitoring tools that record and view customer experiences during each query, also post-contact surveying tools that can determine how the customer felt about each individual interaction.

This way the contact centre gathers essential information about its customer base, feedback that later can be used during coaching sessions or incorporated into each contact centre agents monitoring scores.

But that’s not all, data can be used to improve operation processes work-flows or even actual products and services.

Continuously enhance services, sales and loyalty.

Thanks to all the monitoring tools, today’s contact centres gather an overwhelming amount of data on a daily basis – this would imply that the contact centre is “The Ear” of the organisation, and while true this statement is somewhat wrong.

Customer centric contact centres are not just ear, but the brain of the organisation. They gather and process the information, and later on use it to from strategies and plans.

Thus continuously improving and enhancing the customer experience, by the means of CRM tools, dedicated analytics teams, and evaluation of post-contact surveys.

OpsTalent provides fast, personalised, proactive customer service and support.

Metrics focused on the customer, not just on efficiency.

The best customer centric contact centres, focus less on Average Handle Time, Calls per Hour and focus more on metrics such as Contact Quality, First Contact Resolution and Customer Satisfaction.

Productivity based metrics have its place, but most of the time contact centre managers over-emphasise the importance of AHT. Which only leads the agents to develop bad habits, such as rushing the customer through the call, which in the end only leads to increased number of call volumes, and a decrease in customer satisfaction.

When it comes to agent productivity, focus on things like schedule adherence, thus ensuring that agents are ready for and on time for any potential challenge.

Embrace social customer care.

Providing customer support though social media is no longer a nice bonus, it’s a necessity. Facebook and Twitter are the go-to channel for the Y-generation, and the general public also tries social customer support if they need a fast response to their request or comment.

This is why all leading contact centres have developed and implemented a comprehensive social customer care strategy, with trained agents and powerful monitoring tools they are more than ready to provide proactive customer service and engage the customers in brand new ways.

Keep in mind, that in order to be a customer centric contact centre you also need to be employee centric as well, happy staff + happy customers = exceptional customer experience!

Customer Centricity: Gather, Rate, Engage & Measure

What each and every customer-centric business strives to achieve, is to create the perfect customer experience and making it last.

Focus your strategy on making the whole experience as convenient and approachable as you possibly can for the customer – if you manage to create such an environment, other aspects follow suit.

Create a great starting point for your business by following these simple steps:


The power of feedback

To be customer-centric you need to keep customer relationships up to date, engaging in proper conversations and gathering feedback through multiple channels is crucial.

One way to do this is through conducting ongoing customer surveys on a weekly basis, especially to newly acquired customers

Conduct customer surveys on a weekly basis, but don’t limit those to product or service information. Gather opinions on the ease of use your website, web-chat performance, load times etc.

Simply ask your customers what could be improved and what additional features would they like to use.

Separate the data into key groups, gather the most frequent requests from each and implement them over the course of three to six months – don’t forget to notify the customers about new features and interface or usability changes.

Constant feedback, gives you the insight to create a smooth customer experience.


Rate your “stuff”

Rating your own products is in your best interest, it shows you value your customers time and money as well instills confidence in your expertise.

The most commonly used practise when rating products, is to base them according to customer purchase and return history.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for consumables and various merchandise which can change its quality over a period of time. You need to notify the customer, that a particular product is ranked as a four out of five condition.

This gives your customer the option of choosing the best product quality there is, or going with the “Most bang for your buck” approach.

Quality of your products or services matters the most – nurture it with extreme care.


Measure customer engagement

The more data you can gather the better. Create a profile for each and every customer, remember to include their purchase and return history, log what products they were browsing, what is on their wish list etc. – be creative.

Also, take a closer look and see if the particular user is mostly going for high-end products, or goes for the budget option, examine brands – does he favour one?

You can always improve the way information and product rating are displayed, the possibilities of creating an engaging environment for your customers are endless – get to it!

Personalise the experience for each individual, and engage them each time they visit your web-page.


Pay attention to shifts in trends and pricing

The current economic “climate” has effected most industries, but for every negative try to find a small positive.

Selling less high end products is not a bad thing, most customers will shift their focus to brands which deliver similar quality for less cost. If you notice these trends fast enough, you will exceed at selling more budget products than your potential competitors.

This is why measuring online engagement and customer feedback is crucial when creating an adaptable business strategy.

The above steps are all you need in order to create a great and lasting customer experience – get to it!

Five Milestones on The Path to Business Growth

When customers engage your company, they embark on a journey, one which will hopefully turn them into loyal customers and brand advocates.

How can we ensure the customer reaches the desired destination?

Sematrix’s latest infographic does exactly that. It shows us how to improve customer experience at each stage of the customer journey by implementing five milestones on the path to business growth.

 

Customer_Journey_Infographic_