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Tag Archive for customer service

The Human Side of the Customer Experience

customer experience

In today’s digital world, people are spending more time online as screens become larger, web connections faster, and more people own smartphones. With so many online businesses vying for a customer’s attention, brands need to focus more than ever on making meaningful connections to stand out. Companies that singularly focus on digital tools but do not invest in the customer experience can expect to fall behind.
Forrester Research studies around the Customer Experience Interest shows that making customers feel valued and respected is the number one factor leading to customer loyalty. In the digital realm, that means you remember their names, preferences, and purchase history, and you go the extra mile to offer them something that is relevant and of value. Consumers want to spend their money with companies that demonstrate that they understand and attend to each customer’s individual needs and truly value who they are. We like to call this “humanizing” the customer experience.
Humanizing the Digital Customer Experience
The key to “humanizing the customer experience” is authenticity, and creating a true people-focused core in which all interactions are individual. Adding the human element means focusing on long-term relationships and on true partnerships with customers. Companies need to shift their thinking, and replace the immediate sales goals of the past with proactive interactions that align with the goals that customers have for themselves.

Here are 4 ways you can help your company humanize the customer experience.

1. Listen to your Customers: 
Do all of your customers have the same wants and needs? Do they have the same income, product affinities and communication preferences? Definitely not. According to the customer experience survey, 63% of consumers who would otherwise not want to share personal information are willing to share these details —if they’re dealing with a brand that has given them a good experience. Retailers have to listen with intention, gather feedback and data, analyze it and then incorporate it into a customer experience strategy.
Slack, a popular collaboration and project management tool, retains 6 million-plus daily users. “Our focus is on making Slack a great experience for individuals — our internal advocates, our ambassadors — since they are the ones who often start using the product, then share it with their teams,” says Ali Rayl, Slack VP of Customer Experience. “We respect our users’ opinions; we listen to their feedback and in turn they help shape the product.” Rayl says that incorporating feedback helped propel Slack’s growth. As the company began working with larger organizations, listening to these customers helped Slack leaders realize they needed to offer a custom product, and they were able to build that into their experience, cementing loyalty.
A company that listens to its customers will aim relevant and tailored messages to the individual customer.

2. Get the Basics: Right
Retail basics can prove to be monumental. The fundamentals of a positive retail experience — speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness — are challenging to get right. Touting a shiny new piece of technology or virtual reality dressing rooms is meaningless if a company isn’t getting the basics like delivery, payment and sourcing right.

Nearly 1/4 of early digital adopters — who represent 20% of consumers today — expect same-day delivery of goods. This same group also expects to pay via mobile payment in stores. Analysts estimate that mobile payment will surge more than 16-fold between 2012 and 2020 as consumers adapt to this prevalent technology. Apps that offer mobile payment can boost loyalty and customer spending.

 

3. Become AI-Driven
:Incorporating AI into your customer experience process allows you to have a deeper knowledge of each individual customer that continues to get smarter over time. Feedback from every customer interaction should be fed back into the customer profile. You need a closed-feedback loop to continuously learn from every interaction, which allows you to become smarter about your customers, their needs and their behavior.
Example: You register for a marathon using your credit card. Your bank may provide you with offers from an athletic clothing partner based on knowledge from that registration transaction. Although you’ve never purchased sports clothes from this brand, an AI-driven brand will have some very specific, targeted recommendations for the best apparel you need for the marathon. Offers are made based on your own credit card transaction history but can also take into account what other customers like you have purchased. Your response to the company’s offer will be fed back to optimize the future customer experience.

4. Real-Time Action
: A clear advantage to enhancing customer experience is to act on AI knowledge and feedback in real-time. Every interaction – whether next best offer, alerts etc. – needs to be delivered in a timely manner to ensure impact and results. Customers expect a personalized relationship with your brand and becoming AI-driven not only makes you continuously smarter, it uses the individual customer context to automate many processes. This is important because it means you are instantly ready to respond to and anticipate a customer’s next step.
Let’s revisit the financial industry example: You just called your credit card company’s customer service department due to an unusual charge, and the agent tells you the issue would be resolved within the hour. Ideally, if you were to check the credit card app on your phone, you would be alerted that the issue was resolved. You shouldn’t have to call back the customer service agent for an update. This proves that every customer interaction with the credit card company is tracked in real-time, and the conversation continues with relevancy no matter which touchpoint you engage.
Conclusion
Humanizing the customer experience means connecting with your customer on their multi-device, multi-channel journey, in the digital and physical world and providing a seamless and continuous experience. It’s having an individual-level understanding of every customer, and putting those insights into action. Finding the “sweet spot”, where technology complements the human element of customer experience without creating new frustrations, is how retailers will win loyalty.

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How Customer Service Affects Your Brand

Poor Service

 

High-quality customer service is essential to growing your brand and setting your company apart from the competition. When a customer has a bad experience, you can be sure their friends, families and colleagues will know about it faster than ever thanks to the internet. Customer service is the human face, or voice, of your brand so make the first interaction a positive one.

Customer service is dangerous to undervalue, because bad experiences can ruin brands, sometimes in irrecoverable ways. So before you cut costs by cutting through the customer service budget, think about these ways that the quality of customer service affects the value of your brand.
1. It’s how you’re remembered.
Customers tend to remember their poor customer service experiences more than their positive ones, meaning a bad image is harder to shift. Ruby Newell-Legner, author of Understanding Customers, asserts that 12 positive experiences are necessary to make up for just one unresolved negative one. So aim to get it right the first time.

2. It’s a statement about your business.
Your customer service reflects on your entire business. People assume that if your customer service is good or bad then your product or service is too. As a business owner, you should adopt the same attitude, devoting time and money to your support team just as you would your product or sales. Lowe’s home improvement store makes sure employees are everywhere and eager to help. More than just pointing customers in the right direction, Lowe’s employees are knowledgeable in all aspects of home improvement and can provide personalized tips for customers. The company has repeatedly won awards for its top customer service and satisfaction.

3. Make it easy on the customer.
If you reduce the effort it takes for customers to get in touch with you, you’re simultaneously making it easier for them to purchase from you. Add contact forms on your site and customer service tools in your app. Provide an FAQ page. Don’t make your phone number impossible to find. Place interaction opportunity directly into their hands and you’ll ultimately guide them from interaction to purchase.

4. It’s a profitable marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. When your customers speak favorably and widely about your business, they are doing more for your brand than any advertising can do. Promote your company’s customer satisfaction standards by using customer testimonials and happiness ratings to show just how much you do for your client base. If you can get customers to sing your praises of their free will, you’ve hit the jackpot.

5. Your competitors are always watching.
Undervaluing customer service is a risky strategy because there’s always a competitor who’s doing the opposite. An American Express survey found that a staggering 78% of consumers have backed out of a transaction or failed to make an intended purchase because of sub-par customer service. If you don’t have the tools in place to make doing business with your business easy, customers will quickly find an alternative.

6. It directly affects retention.
Keeping hold of current customers costs considerably less than attracting new ones. Retention matters—big time. On average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase, but that worth won’t pan out unless you prioritize customer success. An experienced client who sticks with you means reduced efforts for you in the long run.

For these reasons, you should consider customer service an important part of your training and budget. It’s a vital part of your branding efforts. Your customer service representatives are the face of your brand that buyers interact with, so they need to be the best!

 

Customer Service

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Service with a Smile

customer service

Customer service training is one of the smartest investments a company can make…

Ever talked to a phone representative who was anything but helpful? Or asked a retail employee for help only to feel like you are inconveniencing them? As the old saying goes, good help is hard to find.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper training, companies can make sure their employees provide service with a smile—and make customers smile in return.

 

Customer Service as a Key Value

Consider customer service as an ongoing process, not just a one-time training, similar to the approach used by Quicken Loans. “Quicken Loans’ culture is built on core values that every team member is encouraged to conduct themselves by every day. One key value is serving ‘every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses,’” says the Quicken Loans Training team. “Our Assurance team, which more than doubled in size in 2012, ensures team members have the skills needed to uphold this by providing ongoing coaching and positive enforcement when team members are speaking with clients. The key to training top bankers is reinforcing their skills and letting them know we care by not only highlighting the things they do RIGHT, but providing constructive criticism when they fall short on delivering excellent client service.”

The company also uses client feedback to provide insight into areas where they can improve. “Any time we receive feedback from one of our clients, we analyze the type of comments we receive for trends that then can be solved,” the Training team notes.

 

How to Measure Successful Service

To gain a client-based perspective, U.S. Security Associates, Inc. utilizes detailed customer feedback surveys that specifically address levels of customer service satisfaction. “To increase our overall performance, we must be able to identify the improvement opportunities available, as well as the successes we have achieved,” says Jonathan Jones, manager of organizational development. “Measurement is foundational to our goal setting and organizational accomplishment. The primary metrics the company correlates with customer service training include client retention, additional service requests by current clients, and client referrals.

“We also conduct client meetings on a weekly basis,” says Jones. “The client meetings and evaluation process are designed to measure how well our customer service and performance is meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs.”

 

service with a smile

Committing to Superior Customer Service

Treating customer service as an essential commitment is another way to increase the satisfaction of your customers. At Vi, an operator of continuing care retirement communities and home health care, all new employees receive a service commitment handbook and training is reinforced during the orientation period through classroom learning, online courses, and custom videos. In addition, Vi provides annual customer service training to all employees and offers service refresher training on professional telephone skills, managing difficult conversations, maximizing resident engagement, and resolving resident issues and concerns.

James Edwartoski, executive director, Vi at Aventura, points to the company’s customer service recognition program, which he says was a direct outcome from Vi’s 2010 employee satisfaction survey. “Employees have received this program with enthusiasm, and they feel they have a much more direct impact on how employees are recognized for customer service,” he notes.

 

Multifaceted Customer Service Solutions

The Rollins Corporation provides its subsidiary, Orkin, with training curricula in which customer service training is not just a stand-alone topic, but is part of the fabric of almost all field training programs. “One of the most successful customer service training programs in 2012 was the Orkin Promise, which was required training for all service employees,” says Training Director Craig Goodwin. “The Orkin Promise was a blended solution consisting of a 20-minute video-on-demand, featuring Orkin’s president and a fully scripted manager-led lesson, allowing the location manager to provide the corporate message while localizing content to meet specific service protocols.”

The Orkin Promise focuses on four areas of customer service that customers said have the greatest impact on their satisfaction and loyalty:

  1. Showing respect
  2. Accepting responsibility
  3. Delivering effective service
  4. Communicating effectively

Jiffy Lube International uses a similarly multifaceted approach to train employees in the art of customer service. “We incorporate customer service into every training course. We try to emphasize the customer, not the vehicle. Changing the focus has helped us change the culture at JL,” says Manager of Training and Development Kenneth Barber. “Jiffy Lube conducts thousands of mystery shops and customer phone surveys every month. The data is collected and tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.

 

How to Start

If you want a stronger focus on customer service, start with these tips:

  • Measure your employees’ level of customer service via customer feedback on surveys, through email or with forms.
  • Use the expertise of successful customer service-oriented employees, encouraging them to mentor co-workers.
  • Make customer service a key part of your new hire training, asking all employees to make a commitment to providing a high level of service. Consider creating a form they have to read and sign stating their promise to exceed customer expectations as part of their employment requirements.
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