Thursday, January 11, 2018

Amazing Service Begins with Engaged Leaders

Editors note: This article was originally posted on eTouchPoint.

Providing service to customers is not as hard as some make it seem. It does take diligence and effort to do it exceptionally well. In its simplest form, it is about treating customers with courtesy and respect. Unfortunately, in the business world we often lose sight of that truth.
When doing business leads to unsatisfied customers, it is time to reevaluate how business is done. Companies are competing for the same customer, and if all things are equal, customer service is usually a deciding factor for the consumer.

How can you as a contact center leader help your agents to be successful in providing “amazing” service above and beyond?

Review Processes

Exceptional service allows agents to offer immediate solutions without getting bogged down in processes or policy. This leads to happy, loyal customers. In turn, your contact center will see an improvement with CSAT.
Removing barriers that prevent exceptional customer service will lead to a more engaged service center. I make it practice of regularly reviewing processes, policies and procedures impacting our customers and agents. As business needs change, policies should be reviewed and updated if necessary.

Listen to Agent Feedback

I’ve never met an agent who enjoys denying customer requests. On the contrary, they have a desire to satisfy them. Agents will often offer up ideas—or come up with creative suggestions to make customers happier if you ask them for feedback.
For example, my team members requested that they be allowed to offer a good will credit to customers. This request was due to their willingness go beyond good service to amazing service. They knew that random acts of kindness made customers happy.
What I learned is that listening to their feedback and ideas empowered agents and made them feel a part of the decision-making process. Upon implementation, we were able to see how this directly impacted customer and agent satisfaction.

Secure Manager Buy-in

I’ve always treated my team as customers. In my opinion, showing them what great service looks like is more impactful than telling them. When they see it alive in you, they will emulate it among one another and customers. Leadership must be committed to improving and should regularly attend training, seminars and conferences.
Frontline supervisors, leads, and managers are a great source for ideas. Allowing them freedom to develop CX initiatives will ensure they remain customer-focused and invested in organizational goals.
I also recommend that all leadership review customer feedback and CSAT performance as a team. Some of the benefits in doing so is keeping everyone is aware of department/team performance, so that problems can be identified and new ideas can be presented to the group.
Below are four simple and immediate steps you as a leader can implement on your journey to customer service excellence.
  • Empower agents: accept feedback and include them in decision-making process
  • Be transparent: use honest and effective communication internally & externally
  • Be accessible: provide support in multiple channels, expand support hours
  • Be attentive: your own active listening allows agents to better assist customer and anticipate future needs
As you can see, these suggestions can be easily implemented, are quick wins, and address core areas of customer experience. With consistency, effort, and diligence, I’m convinced these steps will set you on the right path and improve your service department.

Author: Sean B. Hawkins

Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service at Framework Homeownership, Sean B. Hawkins has over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.
He has led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries and environments including sales, BPO, and SaaS to name a few. Additionally, he has implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

#CustServ #QOTD

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Follow the Leader", Featuring Jeannie Walters

How does the SaaS customer experience differ from traditional business models?

Any customer experience has some of the same steps in the journey. At some point, a prospect begins to narrow down selecting a purchase, for example, and at some point they buy. The SaaS customer journey leans heavily on the customer to understand the product before buying, and that's why trial periods are so popular.

Customers "kick the tires" of SaaS products in more customized ways. They want to see if they will really understand HOW the product will solve their specific, personalized challenges. They need to hear that others have gone through a similar journey and had good results. Because of this need to understand, supporting these customers in the sales process AND early on in their relationships is critical to a great experience. If onboarding is neglected, customers may simply feel they aren't understanding the product well and cancel. It's best when a SaaS journey is understood by the organization to the point of proactively initiating support at key moments in the experience. 

That said, all journeys require a thorough understanding of where each customer might require that proactive support.  The only way to do that is to look at your customers and their real lives. Pay attention to feedback before it becomes a huge amount of data. Listen and learn from your customers each and every day!

Jeannie Walters is a customer experience and patient experience speaker, a writer, and a consultant with more than 15 years experience in assisting all types of companies, including Fortune 500. Specialties include in-depth experience evaluations, customer journey mapping, user experience analysis, and leading workshops and trainings. 

Follow the leader: LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

#CustServ #QOTD

Monday, January 8, 2018

Don't Automate Dumbness

By Michele Crocker

First, let me say, automation and new cloud based technology can take your customer support and contact center to the next level. It can do things for your support experience that we "pink squishy humans" can't do. Automation allows you to provide a greater degree of customer responsiveness than a fully human process can do. The benefits of automation in your customer support operation include:
  1. Ensuring the right human is alerted of issues, to proactively prevent service failure.
  2. Improving sales conversion and customer retention, preemptively addressing customer concerns and problems, thus deflecting calls.
  3. Customer can self serve allowing them to get their issues resolved a quickly as possible
  4. Reduce the load on human resources by shifting the mundane, routine, transactional calls to self service allowing time to redirect your people to those valuable relationship and sales calls.
On the other hand, we must ensure we don't just throw technology and automate dumbness, which simply passes ignorance around. Sorry here's the unsexy stuff.....the right automation and new technology can absolutely leverage your customer experience and operational efficiency, get it wrong and the costs are high.

Our focus should always be on providing the best service and customer support experience possible. We should NOT use technology to avoid interacting with our customers but rather enhance our interactions so the modern customer can reach us on the device, channel and time of day of their choice!

However, when new technology is implemented in isolation of alignment with people and processes, the outcome for customers and internal operational efficiencies can be a disaster. I have seen technology thrown at problems without getting the people and operational processes/metrics right, this leads to frustration within your support team and potentially a dramatic decrease in the customer experience.

So please, before automating your customer support, take a step back and invest the time to think about how you can align your people and processes with the new technology to provide effortless and frictionless customer experiences. Today, top notch customer support is one of the strongest competitive edges for any company. TakE customers from loyalty to advocacy!

Editors note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn

Michele Crocker has the proven expertise to improve the customer experience and significantly reduce costs at the same time. She helps organizations to generate an effortless, rewarding customer experience, dramatically lower the cost per call, improve retention, grow sales and attract higher talent. Michele has over twenty years of "hands on" and strategic leadership roles within multiple Fortune 500 companies.

Connect with Michele on LinkedIn.

#CustServ #QOTD

Friday, January 5, 2018

Make Sure Your Learning and Knowledge Management Systems Really Work

By Cyndi Chadwik

Learning no longer requires participants, including an instructor, to be cloistered in one room at the same location. The development of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and associated Knowledge Management System (KMS) provide employers an opportunity to present information to staff that is consistent, easily digestible, and convenient.

However, the LMS/KMS is only as good as its accessibility, how searchable it is, and whether or not it returns accurate and useful information. “The things that happen in a learning management system are less than ten percent of the activities that real people pursue when they want to learn something,” says Tim Martin, a co-founder of Rustici Software. “If you want to learn something, you don’t go to an LMS, whether you have access to it or not—you usually go to Google or a co-worker.”
Developing and maintaining systems that deliver useful materials to employees when they actually need it is imperative. Everyone must be actively engaged in ensuring the correct information is available at all times.

Organizational change is easier to track, than departmental. One small shift in procedure may seemingly only affect immediate members of a group, but if a KMS article outlining the procedure is linked to others in a way that does not enable trickle-down updates, the user is ultimately presented with conflicting and confusing information. Their confidence in the information wanes, and the potential for them to bypass the KB/LMS altogether for the alternative (Google or a co-worker) increases.

The key is remaining on top of change management, and making sure the content in your LMS/KMS always reflects current and useful information.

  1. Provide LMS/KMS that encourages and provides easy feedback mechanisms
  2. Engage those who can quickly validate content accuracy and identify related material for incorporation
  3. Ensure the content is easily editable and available for immediate publication
Ultimately, a knowledge management system is built in an environment which encourages individual ownership, provides immediate communication and successfully provides consistent and accurate tools to its workforce.

Cyndi Chadwik is creative and analytical. She has a proven track record of resourcefully meeting challenges to reach the best solutions.

A natural leader, Cyndi is unafraid to assume the role of to being the go-to person, yet knows the value of being a great team player to develop effective cross-functional processes.

Connect with Cyndi on LinkedIn.