Thursday, December 14, 2017

Technology and Digital Media Driving Consumer Experience- ‘What was’ Versus ‘What is’ of Customer Service

By Rinku Basu

Over the past few years, customer services have been taken to astonishingly new heights. ‘Meeting expectation’ is no good anymore, surpassing expectation is the only modus operandi for existence. To our advantage, with the advent of digital technologies and social media, reaching out to the consumer market and creating a positive brand experience has become less strenuous. Gone are the days when customer service was about greetings and saying nice words. It is a passé and redundant. Companies are exploiting digital technologies to re-imagine how can they deliver consistent value every time to their customers. Uber, Amazon and likes have raised the standards to a level which is making the industry think hard and get deeper into understanding how to enhance consumer experience with the use of technology.

Brand experience is delivered through multiple hands- The production unit, employees, the store, Sales staff, Customer service team etc. Your reputation is always in the hands of these ‘so many people’ at all levels spread out geographically. That makes it an arduous task to maintain and deliver consistent quality and experience. Use of technology has the promise to achieve the consistency that the customers crave for. Consumers get what they want. The push is on companies to ensure that the process of delivering customer experience is not left to employees but is supported in the back-end with lot more technology, lot more thought, and a lot more processes.

Some companies have taken it seriously and exploited the medium- it is helping them scale and deliver standardized services. Yet several more are left somewhere in between. Over the next two to five years we will see this stabilizing significantly. Best practices will evolve consuming unprecedented budgets to build systems, workflows and staff trainings. An even bigger investment is going to be in the process of making your staff unlearn.

Let us take a closer look at it with an example to understand this better. If a car owner need spare parts- the provider will be differentiated by the speed at which it can deliver the same, how quickly can it be replenished. Here we realize the strength of integrated supply chain. If the manufacturer can ensure that the parts are available as soon as it is asked for- it will enhance the experience tremendously. That’s the code that online retailers have been able to crack and addressing the age-old pain areas.

Look at ‘what was’ and ‘what is’. When the buying choice was dependent on advertisements and word of mouth, we did not have comparatives or access to customer reviews. Now that all of this is available, it opens up a whole new plethora of choices with real-time consumer feedback. Review forums are shifting the brand focus from being everywhere to focus on delivering brand experience through the consumer group consistently. All of this is pushing companies towards a changed mindset, different workflows, strengthened back-end processes enabling a lot of data/ reviews for consumers and deliver an experience that stays. Companies need to be on the ground to understand what is needed, put that back in the system, exploit the power of technology and achieve the desired consistency in it’s services.

Rinku Basu - Management professional, art enthusiast, blogger, thinker, dreamer, non- conformist, social misfit, forever joyful.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Follow the Leader" Featuring Beverly Mahone

What should leadership do to attract and retain millennials? 

That's a great question!  First, let me say I believe some employers have a misconception
about millennials, their work ethic, and their habits.  Depending on what survey you read, you may be led to believe GenY is the job-hopping generation and they don't like following the rules and regulations.  I beg to differ! So, what should leadership do to attract and maintain millennials?

Provide great benefits 
This includes having an excellent company match for contributions into a 401K plan, along with education on the value of having such a plan, and what it means for their future. 

Offering a health plan, with free fitness club membership, shows your employees that you care about their health and wellness, As an added bonus, offer incentives for completing specific health-oriented goals (i.e. quit smoking).

Provide paid maternity leave up to 12 weeks.  According to PL + US (Paid Leave for the United States), 1 in 4 mothers are forced to return to work within 10 days of giving birth due to a lack of income coming in.  Add on top of that childcare expenses, and you will have unhappy employees who will be looking to quit or find another job.

A Student Loan repayment program is an excellent way to help millennials who are burdened with student loan debt.  According to a survey conducted by American Student Assistance, 76 percent of respondents said if a prospective employer offered a student loan repayment benefit, it would be a contributing or deciding factor in accepted a job offer.  By including such a benefit, you not only add value to your company's portfolio, but you may also find it won't be as hard to recruit and maintain millennials as employees.  It can be a win-win for everybody.

And of course, o
ffer vacation and sick time!

Flexible schedule
Offer a flexible schedule and work at home opportunities if applicable.  Not everyone believes in the traditional 9-5 anymore, so if you have employees who have proven they can get the job done no matter what time they start, make it an option.

Be transparent. 
Leaders who are transparent, more often than not, establish better relationships with their employees.  Keeping your staff in the loop, helps develop and build trust.

Be engaging and cut out the hierarchy.  Employee engagement can be difficult for some managers due to age difference, but taking some time to get to know your millennial employees will open the lines of communication to a greater degree.

Also, the best ideas given should always win out.  Just because someone has been with the company 20 years doesn't mean they an edge on those who started a year ago.  Leaders should always be looking for new, creative, and fresh ideas that will continue to move their company's bottom line.

Beverly Mahone is a veteran journalist, author, coach, and professional speaker. After more than 30 years in radio and TV news, Beverly created BAM Enterprises. Among her clients are Baby-Boomers and Seniors who are re-entering the job market. She also works with employers to help them understand how to recruit and train Millennials. Beverly has appeared on numerous radio and TV talk programs including MSNBC. She has been featured in the New York Times and has written five books including the Amazon Best Sellers How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder and The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide: Making it Work at WORK.
She has written for or been covered by the Huffington Post, Forbes, and Newsweek magazine.

Connect with Beverly: LinkedIn | Website | Twitter

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