3 Quick Tips to Delivering Customer Service to their Preferred Channels

Multi-channel Customer service has become more like a norm in contact centers, than a favorable extension for customer support. Organizations are required to adopt multi-channel customer relationships to keep up with the exponential increase in consumer demand. With proliferation of new channels and technologies, consumers expect to communicate with businesses via new channels.

This approach makes a lot of sense; allow customers to engage on their preferred mode of communication and make them as comfortable and easy as possible to do business with your organization. But this approach, may sound attractive and appealing but will account for additional exertion on employees and technical resources.

Customers expect to be served with unprecedented quality at all times, irrespective of their communication channel. But providing consistent quality across all channels is a bummer. It is close to impossible in maintaining the consistency.

It is of paramount importance in sustaining and improving the relationship between your customer across their lifecycle. Here are 3 quick tips that will ease the process:

1. Be where the customer is. Not the most controversial statement in todays customer focussed environment, but being present where your customer prefers to be goes a long way. It gives the customer the power on how to engage with you, that suits his comfort.

2. Let the Customer decide the Level of Engagement. Agent-less or widely referred as Self-service is truly the most cost-efficient mode of communication, but might not be the ideal mode. Leave it the customers to opt for the level of engagement, There would be customer who prefer human interactions over self-service while undergoing a business transactions. Your objective is to make the customer as comfortable as possible.

3. Resolve Problems ASAP. Customers expect to their problems and issues to be resolved as quickly as possible. Despite the channels they choose, the customer support should aim at delivering quick responses to customers. With each transfer, phone call, email, text, customers lose their patience, which will question the quality of service you deliver and will compromise the goodwill of your business. Empower your front-line agents to resolve customer problems, which will favor in retaining and growing your customer base.

20 Eye-Opening Customer Service Quotes

Customer experience excellence has and always will be the epitome of any business. That’s a no-brainer. But delivering consistent customer service is a herculean task. Here are few inspirational customer quotes that will drive you to push harder for the cause.

“Ser­vice, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of liv­ing that you need to bring to every­thing you do, if you are to bring it to your cus­tomer inter­ac­tions.” – Betsy Sanders

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing i know: the ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” - Albert Schweitzer

Give trust and you’ll get it double in return.”  – Kees Kamies

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”- Walt Disney

“Customer service is just a day in, day out ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate, type of activity.” - Leon Gorman

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“There is place in the world for any business that takes care of its customers – after the sale.”– Harvey Mackay

“Customers will want to talk to you if they believe you can solve their problems.”- Jeffrey Gitomer

“Make a customer, not a sale.” – Katherine Barchetti

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.” - Sam Walton

“You are serving a customer, not a life sentence. Learn how to enjoy your work.” – Laurie Mcintosh

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates

“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” -Ross Perot

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”- Jerry Gregoire

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Damon Richards

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” -Donald Porter

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve jobs

“One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”– Jim Rohn

“Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.”– Seth Godin

“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.- Anonymous

 

Rebranding 101: Lessons to Learn from Clear Channel’s New Name

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The year is 1997. I am 16, and behind the wheel of my first automobile: a 1988 Toyota Camry in baby blue, courtesy of my grandmother. With a Pavarotti concerto inextricably tangled in the teeth of the ancient tape deck, I am firmly and completely at the mercy of Clear Channel. Clear Channel, that media conglomerate that still dominates a huge proportion of the United States’ many radio stations, purveyors of pop, pop-punk, pop-rock… you get the idea. They were the bane of my newly mobile teenage existence.

This month, Clear Channel made an unusual announcement: a total rebrand. From now on, the kings of the airwaves would be known as IHeartMedia, named after their very successful online streaming venture, IHeartRadio.

IHeartMedia execs say that the change is intended to belatedly reorient the country for the 21st century and bring its brand identity more in line with the major aspects of its business: online streaming. Indeed, this is where the future seems to be. IHeartRadio has more than 50 million subscribers.

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But there was more than that. As my teenage self would tell you, to say that Clear Channel suffered from an image problem would be somewhat of an understatement. They were resented for the dominance they exerted over radio and their role in determining what amounted to a “national playlist,” a group of approved songs and artists that dominated Top 40 Radio.

In many ways, Clear Channel defined Top 40 Radio: they existed within it, and it within them. With Clear Channel in your passenger seat, you could ride from sea to shining sea, stewarded past the amber waves of grain by this or that top radio hits, the playlist as unchanging as the landscape of America’s vast, cornrowed interior.

It appears that Clear Channel/IHeartMedia executives had two goals when rebranding themselves. First, they wanted to shed those last vestiges of their uptight, corporate, un-fun past. Teenagers everywhere would be appeased, or at least fooled. They also wanted to reveal their true identity as a closeted tech company, an honorary graduate of Silicon Valley U, a fresh, young, and interesting tech company specializing in online streaming.

According to some, the brand’s reputation was so bad that it was actively damaging their ability to conduct business, specifically B2B. CEO Robert Pittman referenced the shift in tone they experienced after the change.

For rebranding to be successful, it needs to be representative of a cultural shift that has already occurred or is at least under way. If it’s only intended as a way to disguise and obscure a company’s true identity, it will ultimately be unsuccessful. The change needs to be genuine and, crucially, already under way, otherwise the public will perceive the deception and ignore it.

The Clear Channel/IHeartMedia executives have argued that the change is necessary to signify a shift they say has already offered. They argue that Clear Channel has grown since the launch of IHeartRadio, and the entire nature of the company has changed so much that it no longer made sense to use the old name.

Rebranding is a risky strategy that can potentially pay off. But it can also be seen as the death rattle of a doomed brand, the Hail Mary play that fails to even the score. It’s too early to say what will happen to IHeartMedia, but as the online streaming game heats up, they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them.

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Russel Cooke is a business writer and consultant who recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2. You can find more of his work here.

Greatest source of customer insights- Complaints

Conflicting thoughts are an inevitable part of corporate life. It is necessary to bring them to the surface, because they could be a significant contributor to the organizational effectiveness. Once the organization is aware about the conflicts at hand, they could strategize their next plan of action to curb these conflicts from blowing up. However, due to certain apprehensions, these thoughts are seldom brought to the management’s notice. Corporate should ensure that such apprehensions are removed and complainants are protected. Protection of the complainant is equally critical, because certain complaints could have an unexpected aftermath for the complainant. Corporate should ensure the anonymity of the complainant is well protected and never be disclosed under any circumstances; this will also motivate customers in registering their accusation.

Even the Government of India has acknowledged the necessity of it and has suggested guidelines in Whistle Blower’s Protection Act, 2011 which received President’s assent in May 2014. On the same lines, corporate shall also create a mechanism to address all complaints. Software providers should act fast in recognizing the need of corporate to come up with a prudent cost effective solution for addressing anonymous grievances. They should proactively analyze the business scenarios thoroughly and come up with a solution.

The complainants are often apprehensive about the repurcussions of registering a grievance. However, if their identity is kept secret and are allowed to register their grievance as anonymous, this apprehension could largely be addressed. An automated voice process could further strengthen the complainant’s confidence by reducing the human involvement.

When a complainant calls, s/he should be greeted by a welcome message and be redirected to menu. In the menu options, s/he chooses the relevant option. After selecting the relevant option, s/he will be asked to record the grievances through voicemail. The voicemail will be recorded and will be played for customer’s confirmation. Once the customer confirms the voicemail, a voicemail ID will be generated for customer’s reference. An email notification, confirming the complaint registration, will be sent to complain registering authority. The call will be closed by playing “Thank You” message.

Ameyo Distress Call Solution is such a technology that implements a dedicated automated process for managing anonymous grievances. Developed by the leading provider of Enterprise and Contact Center technology, Drishti-soft Solutions, received positive acclaims on the a solution.

Social Media Monitoring-Basics

A common social media issue for companies around the world is: if one of my customer posts something that requires immediate corporate response on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network, will the message even be heard, or will it be buried in the overwhelming amount of posts online? Many companies face this issue and the lack of real-time visibility in social media interactions is a blind-spot in customer experience.

As the immense amount of social posts increase daily, contact centers need a social monitoring and analytical tool to listen, respond and report the social interactions of their customers. Lack of proper social media monitoring will result in unresponsive customer service, increasing rate in customer churn and the spread of negative word of mouth. And there is no other media like social media that can reach a mass population at such a pace.

Recent surveys report:

  • 71% of online complaints are due to traditional service delivery failures

  • 82% of customers are more likely to cease spending money for a company that they have had negative experience with

If you fail to pay attention to customers on social media, you are delivering an incomplete customer experience. This will result in frustrating your customers, and frustrated customers will not wait for a second try, they would take their business elsewhere. As a result, your customers will go to your competitors if you are not meeting them at this critical digital channel. But with so many customers to look after, and the immense amount of their social posts makes it difficult for companies to filter out the non-relevant interactions from mission-critical posts that requires immediate action. For this purpose, most companies use leverage on social media monitoring tools to listen and respond, but many companies use manual tools that makes it a tedious and inaccurate task since they lack sophisticated analytical capabilities that are required.  Due to this, 86% of customer feedback or posts are missed.

Latest social monitoring tools are equipped with advanced analytical functionalities that are capable of understanding the intent of customers. Understanding customer intent is critical in gaining customer insights that will facilitate in responding to the customer, identifying the core issue and optimizing social channels.

 

Demystifying Digital Channels

Todays digital channels, especially social media and mobile technologies have dramatically changed the way consumers communicate, interact share and spread information. Proliferation of smartphones has a huge role to play for this transformation. But, while the public adores the emergence of new consumer technology, it can give customer experience executives a heartburn.

Social medias have been able to transform communication pathways in such a way, providing customers a power that they were quite unaware a decade ago. This power is been leveraged  for better customer service and better quality. A small fraction of anger or frustration can turn into a harsh 140-character rant with a global reach. Bad reviews posted socially can have a drastic impact on the brand and reputation of companies, it may even risk their survival.

Most of the companies have realised the potential impact of social and mobile technologies, but only a few have tend to think about them in the context of customer service and overall experience. Many companies still view these technologies as a platform for marketing and communication responding selectively to vocal customers. Companies should come out of their shell where they merely use mobile technologies in the context of mobile applications for corporate branding and messaging. They should understand that mobile users are immune to such means of communication and they prefer actual customer service as and when they wish, rather than being redirected to customer support.

Social and mobile technologies holds many opportunities to reach out to customers at precise moments of need to serve them better. Social and mobile has their own unique strengths and capabilities; social media has the one-to-many approach, allowing your company’s voice to be heard by millions, whereas mobile has the power to provide personalized attention to customers. Companies should start investing in these technologies to leverage each channels strengths to meet business objectives.

To deliver great customer experience requires personal and consistent approach, and for this purpose, the agents are to be armed with context and customer information to interact and resolve customer queries. Each channel should be tightly integrated and should reflect this purpose. Companies should make sure that agents do not interact with their customers blindly, which may lead to high attrition rates. When customer tweets, the agent should be able to know who tweeted, their previous interactions over the phone, email, chat or mobile, their previous issues and resolutions.

With history and context across all channels and touch-points, agents are empowered to quickly and easily help customers complete their transactions and resolve issues.

 

Personalized Customer Engagement: Getting Started

Personalized customer engagement is not a one-time occurrence, it is a course of improvement and advancement that requires a tenacious workforce and infrastructure. Once you have a persistent workforce and infrastructure lined up, you can begin the journey of personalized customer engagement.

Organizations aim to deliver world-class, second to none service, to meet the increasingly demanding customer base, who are well aware of their alternatives. Technology has now empowered the customers more than ever. It has changed the game, and the customers have changed the rules.Customers are now digitally connected, socially networked, and always game for technology revolution. They have to access to social networks, mobile applications, technology devices where they are able to connect and access information on the move.

Once the commitment has been made to provide personalized customer engagement, start where the biggest impact can be made: Contact Center. Contact center is the face of your organization, so make sure it is presentable to your customers because this is where you interact most with them.

One of the challenge is the unpredictable nature in the mode of communication. Customers will decide when, and how to communicate with you, and they expect to be appropriately responded through the same with no delays. Another challenge is to gain a comprehensive view of the customer when handling queries and resolving complaints. Customers expect to be known, acknowledged, and respected for their queries. Customer dialogue is not a series of discrete, unique experiences, it is a part of an ongoing relationship. Violating this relationship will result in profound consequences.

Arm your agents with the right technology tools and customer information to provide them with a 360 degree view of the customers, thereby allowing them to instantaneously obtain customer information from multiple systems that typically exist in departmental silos.A contact center technology will seamlessly integrate information from multiple silos and creates comprehensive information without exhausting the time of agents toggling between multiple systems.

Developing such a paradigm of exceptional service with personalized customer engagement, might seem as an overwhelming and daunting task, but once the process has been initiated the goals of increased loyalty and long term revenues can be achieved.

Gameplan for Agent Engagement

“The key to any organisation achieving excellent customer satisfaction is having systems in place that engage your staff in delivering unprecedented service and ongoing self-improvement”

It might sound as an overstatement, but Agents are the heart and soul of contact centers, and engaging them in business process, especially, communication based business processes is critical for the quality of service delivered. To improve agent performance, contact center executives should make sure that agents are adequately engaged. Here are four ways to boost agent engagement.

  1. Make Contact Center as a part of the Corporate Culture: Contact center should function as a part of the organization, that functions as per the corporate culture. Call centers are not be treated as an extension but as a crucial part of the system. Normally the culture followed at contact centers and the enterprise are different, discouraging the agents. Perpetuate a culture of agent ownership and autonomy.

  1. Reward: Rewarding your contact center agents for the efforts they put in is essential for motivating the employees for self improvement. Establish reliable performance metrics, and incentivize agents according to their performance. Agents wish to be acknowledged and appreciated for the efforts they have put in satisfying the customers.

  1. Equip the Right Technology: Finally, arm your agents with the right kind of technology that makes their life easier. Analyse the performance metrics, and identify venues that require structured and technological improvement. These opportunities should be viewed as a profit center rather than a cost center. There are technology solutions like call-back that will help your agents in enhancing their productivity by minimising abandon rates, smoothing call spikes, etc.

  1. Focus on metrics that drive positive agent experience: Coveting on straight productivity metrics is one of the quickest ways to destroy employee morale and satisfaction. Contact centers might talk about how employee-focused and customer focused they are, but their real focus is on numbers. AHT and Call handled per hour metrics encourages the agents to focus on numbers rather than what actually matters; Customer satisfaction. Contact centers are to embrace customer-centric metrics like First Call Resolution, Contact Quality, and Customer Satisfaction.

It’s time for terms like “Average Handling Time”, “bottom line” and “ call handled” to move over and make room for “agent engagement”. Obsess over the first set of terms and you’ll  end up with poor results and obsessing over the last term will boost your revenues and agent productivity.