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Nicola Brookes - Blog Page 2

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The multibillion dollar cost of poor customer service in Australia [INFOGRAPHIC]

Today’s customer is changing the world of customer service. They’re using more channels of communication, will switch businesses following an inadequate experience, and even take their revenge online.

Check out this infographic to discover the real impact of poor customer service in Australia, taken from independent research NewVoiceMedia carried out recently.


Publish Date: June 27, 2014 1:39 PM

What’s in a telephone number?

By Martin-Hill Wilson for NewVoiceMedia

Change is coming in the way organisations fund their voice-based customer service operations. Both the EU and Ofcom have designs on the number range and pricing of such services. I’ve just spent more than a few bleary eyed hours mugging up to discover this is both a key consumer issue and one that in some areas remains as clear as mud.

As far as the EU’s contribution, their Directive on Consumer Rights comes into force 13th June 2014. This is Europe wide legislation that aims to give people stronger rights when they shop online. Its intent covers situations as broad as horoscopes that appear free but aren’t, to unwanted travel insurance inadvertently purchased through pre-populated online tick boxes. As part of this standardisation of digital consumer rights, there is one aspect that directly concerns contact centres:

“Traders who operate telephone hotlines allowing the consumer to contact them in relation to the contract will not be able charge more than the basic telephone rate for the telephone calls”.

That means if a customer needs to return a faulty item as defined in a refund policy, you can no longer add a service charge on a 0844 number. This signals the end for many 0844, 0845 and 0871 customer service numbers. And certainly kicks all the Premium Rate Service ranges such as 0871, 0872, 0873 and 09 into touch in this context.

The UK legislation for the Directive requires affected businesses to switch to lower cost “basic rate” prefixes for enquiries from customers. Permitted basic rate numbers include those which start with the digits 01, 02 and 03, mobile numbers and those which are free-to-call from fixed and mobile telephones.

This means service organisations with 08x, 087x and 084x numbers might be motivated to exchange the second digit, 8, for a 3, with the rest of the number remaining the same as a solution. Other examples include 0800 and 0808 numbers which are due to be made free when ringing from a mobile by July 2015. This is where the Ofcom part of the legislation kicks in which I’ll get onto in a moment.

To be clear, this is what government guidelines on regulation 41 say.

“Where a telephone helpline is provided, the basic rate requirement means not charging more than a geographic or mobile rate. Consumers should generally expect to pay no more to phone a trader about something they have bought than to call a friend or relative, that is to say the simple cost of connection. This telephone number provided should not provide the trader with a contribution to their costs”.

Charges above the basic rate will still be allowed for services that don’t form part of the contract, such as technical support. Businesses are also still free to use such numbers for sales lines if they so wish. But a complaint line on the other hand does fall into regulation 41 territory.

This is all due to happen by 13th June 2014. The government intends to review the implementation after Ofcom has launched its associated legislation next year.

However, here is one of the ‘clear as mud’ moments I talked about earlier. Although this is all designed to help make this easier for us as consumers, it is not going to be a universally applied rule. Some sectors are exempt: the big one being Financial Services.

This is where it becomes interesting. From the perspective of customer experience and all the customer centric thinking that goes with it, what is now best? This sector has a choice to make. Maybe the FCA will influence their thinking. Maybe the service charge transparency of next year’s Ofcom legislation will help encourage uptake. We shall see.

However there are still ways to escape this for service organisations in other sectors. Peer deeper into the government’s advice and you will spot that it does not mandate you have to provide a telephone service. So you could just cut out that cost through channel migration. However even big proponents on channel shift such as central Government’s digital by default programme show just how difficult this is to achieve if certain customer groups are to have guaranteed access to basic services.

The underlying issue here is simplification. As every customer service operation knows, consumers don’t have enormous appetite when things get complicated.

For instance, let’s just dial back for a moment to that guidance on mobiles. Yes you can use mobiles to deliver a basic rate service and thus comply. However this assumes your number is prefixed 07 and not with 070 and 076 sub-prefixes. Why? Because that number range is devilishly expensive and sometimes used for scamming. This was news to me, maybe not to you. But it proves my point that it ain’t simple.

Thus one of the key benefits that service organisations can achieve in both the EU and Ofcom changes is to shine in terms of their education and ongoing transparency over what it really costs to receive service. That is if it fits into a broader agenda around trust and customer engagement.

This post was first published on the NewVoiceMedia Blog

Publish Date: May 31, 2014 12:15 PM

‘Spellbound’ at Salesforce1 Tour London

We were really excited to be a gold sponsor and exhibitor at Salesforce1 World Tour London last Thursday. Bringing together more than 10,000 leading Salesforce partners, customers, prospects, technology innovators and thought leaders, to share ideas, discuss industry trends and network, it really is the UK’s cloud event of the year.

We kicked off the day by offering our guests complimentary fresh coffee and the chance to enter our draw to win a fitbit flex, an innovative fitness tracker and firm favourite of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, which makes it easy for the wearer to sync stats, see trends and reach goals. We then joined the keynote, which was opened by gymnastic troupe Britain’s Got Talent winners Spellbound, who performed a dazzling routine to warm up the audience.

The big announcement of the day was the company reaffirming its commitment to Europe. George Hu, Salesforce’s COO revealed that Salesforce’s first UK data centre is expected to open this August in Slough, run entirely from renewable energy. Two more data centres in France and Germany are also planned for 2015. Another major development is the official renaming of its iconic London office, from Heron Tower to Salesforce Tower, as the company takes on more office space for its UK headquarters.

Salesforce also announced the launch of its new Salesforce1 mobile app. Available in the Summer roll-out, the app will contain more than 30 new features, including easier access to reports and dashboards, an ecosystem of more than 65 partner apps and the ability to deploy custom business apps.

For NewVoiceMedia, the event marked the unveiling our new Salesforce1 Mobile integration. Working seamlessly with the Salesforce1 Mobile App, all our ContactWorld solutions now enable field sales and service agents to connect with customers and prospects worldwide from any location, transforming the experience for both the customer and agent. We held demos at our stand throughout the day and group sessions at Aloft.

Throughout the day we heard stories from businesses such as the Financial Conduct Authority, who are using Salesforce to manage over 40,000 consumer credit firms, and Now:Pensions, who talked about enhancing its customer experience with NewVoiceMedia’s ContactWorld solution with Salesforce integration. The true cloud technology enables the business to provide excellent service while on the go, make and record calls via the platform, and ultimately increase agent productivity and revenue growth. It’s no wonder Hu described ‘cloud-first’ as ‘the new mantra in today’s world’.

The entertainment continued after the event with a BBQ, DJ and open bar at Aloft with NewVoiceMedia and Tquila, and then we headed to the coolest party in town, to ‘Rock ‘til Dawn’ at Café de Paris, which we hosted with makepositive – featuring special guests David Julien, The Voice finalist, and vintage swing group The Pocket Belles.

Needless to say, we had a great day. Head over to our Facebook page for a selection of photos.

Publish Date: May 30, 2014 6:12 PM

How to exceed your customers’ expectations

It can be tough to meet customer expectations, let alone exceed them, but if your customers know you will do what it takes to make them happy and successful, they will reciprocate in the form of more business. NewVoiceMedia recommends five ways you can deliver world-class customer experiences all year round.

1. Personalise every experience

Personalise each interaction, treating customers as individuals, understanding their buying patterns, likes and dislikes, and the overall experience they have with your business. Personalisation stimulates customer behaviour, encouraging them to buy more, stay longer and evangelise the experience to others.

2. Get callers to the right advisor first time

Instead of answering your callers and then finding out what they need, use the information you already hold on your customer to present them with personalised options that get them to someone that can help them. By reducing transfers you also free up advisors to deal with new callers.

3. Send a gift

For a truly exceptional service which will leave a lasting impression, go the extra mile and do something your customers won’t expect. Include a personal note in a delivery; send a thank you card, a box of Valentine’s chocolates… Even a coupon for their next shopping experience with you will help them feel rewarded.

4. Build rapport with your customer

Be a human not a robot! Try to use guiding prompts rather than entire scripts which make it very difficult to sound knowledgeable, confident and engaging, potentially turning off customers or prospects. Personalising each call and building some rapport with the customer can significantly improve the experience and make them feel more important.

5. Offer self-service for simple queries

If you want to confirm that a package has been shipped or check a balance on an account, it can be useful to self-serve and avoid the need to speak to an advisor. Customers get the information they’re looking for, and their experience is a more efficient and personalised one. What’s more, agents are freed up and can spend more time focusing on more complex enquiries or handling new business.

Think about your customers and what they need, as well as how you can exceed their expectations. The ripple effects of outstanding customer service extend beyond satisfaction and retention. It distinguishes your brand, builds repeat business and improves employee morale.

Publish Date: May 30, 2014 6:08 PM

The multibillion dollar cost of poor customer service [INFOGRAPHIC]

New research carried out by NewVoiceMedia, offers a compelling view of the consequences of poor customer service in the US. The results reveal that an estimated $41 billion is lost by US companies each year following a bad customer experience.

Check out this infographic to discover the real impact of poor customer service. Then download the free research report for more facts and figures.

Publish Date: January 8, 2014 6:22 PM

Making it personal at Dreamforce

Salesforce knew it had something special when the greatest minds in SaaS and cloud computing got together for the first Dreamforce convention.

Now running for another year, Dreamforce 2013 looks set to blow previous years out of the water with an excellent line-up of world-class key speakers, innovators and seminars. NewVoiceMedia will be there at Moscone West, booth W222, so stop by for some fantastic giveaways and industry-leading cloud technology that’s getting superior service back on the menu for businesses.

Publish Date: October 30, 2013 4:12 PM

The effects of a good and bad customer experience

The modern customer is changing the world of customer service. As well as using more channels for communication, they won't hesitate to switch companies following an inadequate experience at a cost of £12 billion to UK businesses, and are increasingly taking their revenge online.

This infographic reveals the real impact of poor customer service, taken from an independent study which was carried out recently for NewVoiceMedia.

NewVoiceMedia is a leading provider of true cloud contact centre and voice solutions, enabling businesses of all sizes to deliver a personal and unique customer experience, quickly and securely.

Publish Date: September 12, 2013 5:56 PM

Focusing on the solving the customers’ problems

Customer service is going through a rapid evolution. Until recently, many customer service departments were inwardly focused and viewed as an unnecessary cost of doing business, and today the transition is towards delivering an amazing customer experience as a key differentiator that affects the bottom line.

Much of the management, metrics and language of contact centres of the past were around trying to offer ‘customer service’ for the smallest cost possible:

  • Agents: The industry term for people delivering customer service is only one step above ‘cogs’
  • Average handle time: Let’s get these customers off the phone as quickly as possible
  • Call deflection: Let’s see if we can prevent these customers calling us

In this article we’ll focus on ‘call deflection’, a poor term to describe something that can add real value to your customers as well as your bottom line.

Reducing inbound calls

From the traditional internally focused viewpoint, call deflection is aimed at reducing the number of inbound calls to the contact centre.  A reduced number of calls might mean you could spend longer on the phone to each customer, or more likely that you can reduce the number of advisors you need to employ to answer them.

The issue with this internal view is that the phrase ‘call deflection’ quickly de-humanises the interaction and can encourage you to design obstacle course call plans that make it almost impossible to reach a human:

  • Phone numbers are hidden on the Contact Us page
  • While you are waiting, “Did you know our website……”
  • “If you are calling about a recent order, please wait three days before calling….”
  • “We are unable to answer queries without an order number”, followed by a hang-up.

As a customer, these messages can come over as unwelcoming and unfriendly. At the point when I’ve picked up the phone it is because I want to speak to someone!

Improved customer self-serve

A better route to the same result is to focus less on call deflection and more on getting your customers the answer to their question faster, whilst at the same time ensuring that your phone numbers are clearly visible and that the phone experience doesn’t turn people off – “Are you absolutely sure you want us to spend money having someone answer your call?” is what it sounds like to your customers!

Route cause analysis

Your first step is to be absolutely clear why your customers are calling. In some cases customers have to speak with you, but in many cases calls are avoidable. We spoke with one company recently who had a high number of elderly customers who struggled with case sensitivity in their web passwords. By removing case sensitivity their call volume fell significantly. This is the friendly face of call deflection – great for the customer and great for your business.

Empathise with your customer

Now you know the most common reasons that your customers are calling you try and empathise with them and imagine what they are trying to do at the time that they call you.  Are they trying to return an order, or login to their account, or track a delivery?

Go onto your website and social networks and imagine what your customer might be looking for – “Trying to track a delivery? Visit our online tracker!” could be added prominently to your website or social profiles.

Suggest answers on your contact us page

Once your customer has decided they decided they want to speak to someone, you still have an opportunity to support them by anticipating their question. List your most common questions on the page, and solutions.

It is important to remember that self-serve is the secondary purpose of your Contact Us page – not the primary.  Do not fall into the trap of minimising or hiding your phone number. As was reported in a survey earlier last year, customers rated easier access to phone numbers as the number one thing companies could do to improve their customer service.

Make the phone experience amazing

If your customer has not been able to self-serve and does then pick up the phone then make the experience a pleasure.  Do not welcome your caller with reminders about the channels they have probably just been trying to use.


Removing the phrase ‘call deflection’ makes it easier to focus on your customers’ needs instead of your own. You end up with a better result – fewer inbound calls and happier customers who have been able to get the answer they needed at the point when they needed it.

Find out more about NewVoiceMedia.

Publish Date: February 1, 2013 9:14 AM

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