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have higher hardware and tech know-how requirements – keep that in mind, when considering abandoning some of the “outdated” systems.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.

The Importance of Training Reinforcement

It’s a known fact that a well-trained employee makes a difference it the customer careindustry.

How your consultants resolve customer issues, deal with potentially volatile situations, and up-sell or cross-sell your products and services, makes or breaks your business.

It shouldn’t come as a mystery that when you invest in employee training programs, your agents come out motivated and equipped with a more versatile toolkit to use on customers.

However, as with all things, the enthusiasm starts to fade and the recently acquired skills deteriorate, which leaves you with mostly the same issues you dealt with prior to training.

Follow the steps below to amp-up your training sessions and make them stick.

 

How to make it stick?

The first step is up to you, don’t get frustrated with your employees “training amnesia,” instead evaluate your training service’s reinforcement methodology.

Do you incorporate follow-up programs?

It’s been proven that over the course of six months, trainees will lose up to 75%  of knowledge gained through training if there are no reinforcement and follow-up solutions introduced. Similarly, less than a 50% of skills gained during training sessions will carry over to the job if there’s no failsafe in the form of training reinforcement implemented.

Customer care training is essential; empower your employees by providing them with the proper “tools of the trade” as well as incorporating a well functioning follow-up methodology.

 

Summarizing & handouts

Don’t count on your employees having a photographic memory, quite a lot of important information will slip by them over the course of training sessions.

Compile handouts (or create a handy PDF document) that will highlight key points raised during customer service training, use diagrams and images but keep it short – make sure that the handout is short as possible (no more than 2 pages) and lists only relevant critical information.

Encourage consultants to use these handouts as a miniature knowledge base.

 

The art of coaching

Good training sessions are a mix of theory, spliced with examples of a real-life application of our newly acquired skills and a dash of role-playing. Theory will most likely stick with your employees, it’s the real-life application part you need to reinforce:

  • observe
  • correct
  • demonstrate
  • reevaluate

Coaching sessions solidify newly acquired knowledge, especially if conducted right after customer service training. Demonstrating the correct approach is essential, reinforce their efforts through praise and feedback.

 

Debriefing

Tie-in reinforcement session during staff meetings, it’s a wonderful opportunity to review key concepts and training in general. Discuss how are they incorporating their new skill-set into their daily routine, how are they helping them and most importantly ask which skills seem to be the most problematic when applying to practical situations.  Periodical debriefing is a powerful reinforcement tool it allows your employees to work through any potential issues they might be having as they start “getting their hands dirty”.

 

Take it from the top

Leading by example has to be one of the best ways to reinforce training lessons, if you really think your employees don’t mimic your behaviour, think again. Monitor yourself, consistently apply training session knowledge in customer and coworker relations – bring those training lessons to life, prove that you “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”

 

It doesn’t end in the classroom

Customer service training doesn’t have to end the moment your employees get back to their workspace. Follow our tips and get the most out of your training investment, maximise gains by reinforcing and coaching your customer service agents.

You’re the deciding factor on what they retain from training sessions.

 

How to Deliver Great Customer Care with Live Chat

Live chat became the norm for customer care delivery but no matter the support channel of choice, customer experience must be positive. 

One of the benefits for the client is the ability to multitask during the session which allows those with busy schedules to continue with their daily tasks and routines.

Though the quality of the service itself can be less than favourable since at times the agent will overuse scripted lines, fail to personalise comments and ask irrelevant questions.

When moving agents from the traditional channels of communication to live chat you should consider training them in proper etiquette.

Be Proactive

Smart companies know the benefits of live chat. Tough you need to keep in mind which method of delivering the service you should pick. You have two options; either include a button on your site that opens up a session or set a timer that will automatically open up a session after a prolonged browsing period. The second option can be a little annoying for the customer. Remember that instigating communication is a proven method of increasing revenue.

Customize Messages

Most life chat sessions begin with a scripted welcoming message. Those are a time saver but frequent overuse can lead to negative interaction with the customer simply because they might make him will unimportant. Be understanding, show the empathy you have for your customers’ needs and be sincere about the desire to help. This is the first step in building brand loyalty.

Don’t Over-Personalize

The information most systems let you gather on your customers should never ever be revealed to them, use the data only to add real value to the conversation. If the client gets the feeling of his privacy being invaded he will consider going to your competitors.

Communicate Clearly

The style of communication matters, this might be the customer’s first glance at the company. Pay attention to grammar, be precise and don’t ever use emoticons. Keep in mind that when hiring for a web chat position the agent has to be able to express empathy through writing. The safe approach would be monitoring your employees for the dozen or so first sessions.

Be Positive

The two key elements are positive attitude and service knowledge when these two are combined they form the perfect customer service experience. Be responsive and reassure the customer that you’re here to help him.

Use those five tips and you’ll quickly notice:

  • Happier customers.
  • Reduced cost of operations.
  • Improved profits.

These simple, yet effective guidelines provide a steady framework for your customer care team; a base which can be adapted and modified according to your personal observations and for the best outcome. Now go out there and deliver exceptional customer care!

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.

 

 

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!

How To Handle Customer Service Peaks

Brace yourselves, Summer is in full swing and with it arrive spikes in call volumes as well as problems with agent availability.

We at Opstalent, have prepared a guide to help you manage customer service peaks:

Seize the initiative

The best way to actually avoid “clogs” caused by demand spikes is to seize the initiative and reach out to the customers yourself. The multichannel approach is quite handy in this case.

Try to reach as many future “callers” through multiple channels, social media, email and even SMS. Each customer reached through other communication  methods is one less person held back in queue during peak time.

Prioritise

It’s a known fact that some queries are more important than others. Distinguishing which call is an emergency and which isn’t is a challenging, yet important task.

In order to pre-screen incoming calls you need to setup a solid IVR system. This solution will identify calls based of pre-set rules and will route the incoming traffic accordingly.

Highlighting and relegating calls will help your contact centre tremendously, especially during those “demand spikes” periods.

Outsource

When facing a sudden spike in demand, you should outsource. Just don’t pick the easy route that most companies choose – expensive term agency staff on a short-term basis.

Try to predict, when such spikes in demand will happen and choose a flexible outsourcing partner that will handle the spike traffic. This solution will leave your in-house staff focused on the core parts of projects.

In the long term, this will reduce training and staffing costs, just make sure that your outsourcing partner provides a scalable solution.

…and if all else fails, increase resources

In a case of extreme emergency, that “mother lode” of all demand spikes don’t be scared to relocate some of the admin staff to temporary contact centre duty.

The software is easy to use and highly customisable, it can simply be installed on all desktop computers around the office, this will enable an “on the fly” swap into contact centre agent mode if the situation is dire.

Just remember to take extreme caution, don’t train employees for tasks they might never need to perform, also it is highly counterproductive to force staff into roles they have no familiarity with.

However if done properly, such methods will make your staff and business as a whole even more customer centric.

The long term impact of such activities is highly valuable.