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Covid-19: How to adapt your Customer Service in these strange times

The outbreak of Covid-19 has necessitated companies to work with exceptional pace in order to provide brilliant service to customers all the while taking care of employees in a humane way. Customer and employee sentiment only intensifies this challenge. The amalgamation of panic, unpredictability, and exasperation poses companies with newer risks and yet, a window of opportunity. Delivering a humane service will surely cause a humongous boost to your brand positivity and make customers choose your company again even after the crisis has passed over. On the same scale, inconsiderate and inefficient responses will push away your customers extracting a completely opposite and detrimental reaction from them.

At the times of calamities, your call center and customer support become critical to provide quick resolutions to complicated issues of customers. Companies aren’t often well prepared to act in a situation where there is a monumental shift in incoming requests. In the backdrop of Covid-19, that shift in incoming requests is paired with the abrupt necessity of asking everyone to work from home all the while operating in an environment with more risks than you can imagine. It was an unthinkable scenario, which is a stark reality now and requires instant measures to survive.

This has made companies reassess how call centers and customer support team can be strengthened, how the employees can deliver excellent customer service while working remotely and the way digital mediums can be leveraged to help with a greater influx in call center work.

The types of questions that arise are:

  1. How do you decrease customer-waiting period and handle angry customers?
  2. How do you assign incoming requests to customer service representatives in order to reduce the wait times?
  3. Which processes can be automated?
  4. How do you make full use of the digital mediums?
  5. How to handle the workforce if you have to change your strategy from physical workplaces to work-from-home policies?
  6. How will you offer consistency in customer service and maintain the same level of workforce productivity when all the employees are working from their homes?
  7. How will I provide access to the required technological tools and secured in-house networks to remote agents?
  8. How will you keep faith in your workers and the consumers?

To effectively respond to the constantly evolving circumstances due to the outbreak, we recommend businesses take following actions swiftly to support their call centers and customer support team while ensuring that they don’t lose customers and their trust:

  • Examine the current scenario; figure out your technological limitations and strengths. Try to plan how a remote call center would be operational with the processes and security procedures you use in the organization.
  • Analyze how you can use existing call center technological capabilities to support newer work needs. Ask your technological platform providers to tweak their form of licensing and be adaptable in its usage to fulfill current needs.
  • Bring in methods for digital channel adaptability and turn to hiring virtual assistants to reduce the workload on your agents.
  • Analyze how you will remodel the workforce in different locations to help effectuate consumer and business’ growth.
  • Keep on the learning curve and develop your call center strategy. Push to upgrade your abilities and usage of different mediums. Figure out which methods should be used in these times and the best ways to improve daily operations all the while adapting to any unexpected event. 

Use Data to Predict Customer Needs

The call centers must analyze data and come up with new findings to map new processes across the organization and reinforce roles of employees, all done to balance the scale of supply and demand.

As Coronavirus wreaks havoc over daily life, it’s the right time to maximally use data to predict the evolving needs of consumers and employees. In addition, an adaptable approach to manage work and employees will allow call centers to meet customer expectations in a changing market.

The usual call center volume predictions should be reinforced with data analysis captured from other unpredictable times. The types of data which can be included are- customer demographics and locations, effect on consumers from corporate activities, communication timeline, behavioral changes in areas where the impact of Coronavirus is most visible, data from different sources such as employees on the ground and from different authorities. Using forecasting tools on the basis of gathered data will help the management team to align their workforce with the increase in work volumes. For most corporations out there, predicting demand will require every team to come together on a single platform and collaborate effectively.

It should keep into purview the unexpected scenarios, which can rise up and prepare for the worst. This should be discussed and reviewed on a daily basis. 

Assess Your Workforce Requirements

When employees work from home, several factors can affect their availability including but not limited to family, household responsibilities, power and electricity disruptions. Add to it the rate at which the virus is spreading and affecting people, you will be able to analyze and predict the variance in workforce supply.

To balance supply and demand with an adaptable approach to serve customers, it is suggested that call centers set up virtual command bases. It should comprise of data crunchers and other business personnel from departments like marketing, customer support, human resources, operations, data analytics, and IT teams. These departments should come together to partner up to identify information resources they have to share their insights on how business action will impact customers and customer contact trends on daily basis. Every component of the company should analyze and come up with solutions to hold the company against any unexpected situation; to brace for impact on customers, method of contacting and industry changes, and customer sentiments. For instance, social media is good tool to gauge customer sentiments amongst many others. Based on the forecasts about contact center workforce requirement to manage best or worst case scenarios, organization can reassign roles and process handovers within the organization in order to balance demand and supply requirements. This should be reviewed and revised on daily basis.

Enable Employees to Work from home

In order to effectively bring about a work-from-home policy; companies need to understand and figure out ways to tackle technological, procedural, and employee issues.

We realize that this shift will be hard and can put your methods of working at risk; we have come up with a step-by-step process to shift your work model from physical to remote locations:

  1. First off, establish an all-round setup by bringing in connectivity, laptops, and software access to pave the pathway for a work-from-home culture.
  2. Improve management network by delving into call center routing settings, applying ancillary systems to new environment and providing end-to-end security.
  3. Take care of your employees by analyzing training requirements, crafting ways for collaboration and checking frequently for newer methods of working and motivating the workforce.
  4. Change procedures to apply clear rules, updating internal work-schedules, procedures, and KPIs and make sure that such changes do reflect in information provided to customers.

To effectively bring about the work-from-home culture, providing secured technological tools is the first step. To maintain the same level of consistency, corporations must recreate the same contact center technology environment, as home those employees have been accustomed to using in office.

Queries and requests on the networking tool will be more than before. Corporations should be ready to immediately sort out any failures or trouble in the network, which can lead to a breakdown in services.

Taking it a bit further, corporations must be ready to resolve any people or procedure-related problems. It will require you to rapidly provide virtual training sessions and teach workers on how to use newer technologies, procedures, policies, rules, and toolsets to manage in these unprecedented times. Innovate methods to collaborate efficiently and effectively need to be coined in order to ensure the same level of productivity and quality, despite the workforce being dispersed across locations.

Manage Customer Responses

Here are some of the ways you can best serve the customer demands during this period of crisis with the limited resources you have:

  1. Start off by addressing the most loyal customers first and assign the callback assist option to other lesser urgent customers. Use data analytics to strategize for adaptable work styles, develop Interactive Voice Response mechanisms and message systems, and make way for prioritizing and distributing requests on the mediums you possess.
  2. Bring in auxiliary support mediums. Figure out which customer queries can be diverted to other channels, given the current situation. You can use prepared messages to resolve usual queries and educate customers about the other channels to seek help and encourage use of self-help channels such as FAQs. Queue messaging can be used to directly shift customer requests to other mediums such as online chats and virtual employees.
  3. Utilize the workers in an efficient way. Improvise the operational workflow model to support the right mix of proactive and reactive customer support needs. Your call center support agents need to be adaptable in dealing with incoming and outgoing calls. You need to push your workforce to keep an ear on the ground to figure out any shift in customer demands due to the outbreak.
  4. Change the way you work by incorporating use of advanced collaboration technological tools, providing field service virtually with the help of images, messages, and video calls, creating more guided help and adopting a proactive approach in communicating with your customers as your business landscape alters.

Automate: AI and Virtual Agents

“That government is best which governs the least”; that holds true for customer service in this time of pandemic too. Before the virus struck, the customers looked for self-serving tools first before calling up a company. It was how time and cost incurred were taken care of.  However, the need for AI in customer service has undeniably increased multifold as a result of this pandemic.

Currently, incoming customer requests are more than ever. Companies are witnessing new customer trends as the pandemic widens its reach. It isn’t only because of the virus; disruption in daily life has led to a major spike in queries related to payment issues, ticket cancellations, disbursing unemployment benefits, and inventory inquiries; all count towards the increase in incoming requests, with varying levels of urgency.

The silver lining is that the nature of a lot of customer queries that constitute this volume would be same which implies that you can use automation or virtual agents to resolve a lot of these queries. While AI cannot be a replacement for human agents, it can significantly relieve the pressure on contact volumes by taking care of those customer support queries that do not need human intervention, which is imperative in time like these. It is important that employees are present to resolve complicated and important customer requirements.

While a lot of AI tools are available in the market, the challenge is to implement it right. Remember, the robot is as good as the information that is fed in it. Ideally you should rope in an expert to do this for you. Ask the call center outsourcing company you work with if they can do this for you, as they are already familiar with your customer support processes and that can save your lot of precious time in this tumultuous period. At LiveSalesman, we have helped lot of our clients handle massive number of customer queries though automation.

Turning to Outsourcing: Asking For Help

Call center outsourcing companies have proved to be a boon for corporations around the world. Lot of businesses have engaged customer service outsourcing companies during this covid-19 lockdown to help them with their call center and customer support. Most of the countries that are home to these call center companies are in lockdown as well, however, these customer service outsourcing companies have been very agile and swift in migrating their employees to work from home. They have majorly succeeded in providing same quality service to their clients without much disruption, even in these testing times. Lot of call center outsourcing companies have the prebuilt infrastructure and business continuity procedures in place to be able to deliver uninterrupted critical business functions to their clients even during such unforeseen disasters such as this. At LiveSalesman, we offer Multilingual Disaster Backup Call Center and Customer Support Services that can be rapidly deployed with minimal effort in less than a week. This effectively brings down the pressure on our clients and enables them to focus their efforts on recovery, resumption and future course of action while we take care of their customer support and other back-office tasks in the face of Coronoavirus crisis. Customer service outsourcing companies make for a great viable option to partner with as they help the load off your employees and your customers won’t be bogged down with extended waiting times and poor service at the end of it. Companies around the world are trying their best to assuage panic in customers and deal with them in an empathetic way all the while taking care of the needs of employees. If you are unable to do that with the workforce you have, going for an outsourcing company is the right way to go.

Focus on employees

You should have the same level of focus on employees as on the business. Do remember that the pandemic has affected your workers’ mentality too. You might be required to take measures to motivate your employees and minimize the impact of the virus on their mental state; in effect, to maintain the same level of service standards than before. This includes providing the latest updates to the customers, establish regular communication of any changes that might impact the customer, and appreciating the work done by employees.

The most crucial point to remember at this point in time is this, care for your employees as much as you care about the organization. One must realize that the mental state of employees at this point of time is necessary to be taken care of, even if done to maintain the level of customer service they provide. Provide regular updates to the workers; enable instant conveying of changes, which can impact the customer, and revel with the workers after a good day.

Heads of the companies must understand that this is a new situation for everybody and concerns must be taken care of such as a focus on the health of the family, children, and all-round wellness. They must walk the fine line of reassigning representatives while maintaining a huge influx of workload.

nice organizations have these capabilities in place, they should next focus on the following longer-term actions:

  • Scale at pace. None of the capabilities described here are built perfectly overnight. In fact, in all cases where Accenture has implemented contact center analytics or virtual assistant capabilities, MVP solutions were put in place initially and were evolved or extended over time, based on lessons learned. Getting started is critical. Evolving is to be expected. Continuous learning is the name of the game.
  • Reimagine the future. The current environment is accelerating future trends. Post-crisis, companies will need to continue to build on capabilities they have stood up in crisis mode as a sustainable and evolving part of their business. Prioritize choices that align with long-term business strategy (in addition to urgent needs) and innovate solutions that can sustain for the long-term.

The way to respond to the current crisis is a prelude to the future trends in a call center and customer support. Given the precariousness for how long this crisis will last and our vulnerability to future pandemics, businesses shouldn’t just focus on short-term solutions but prepare to develop long term operational revamp with innovative solutions that can mitigate the impact of any such future disaster on businesses.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/covid-19-how-to-adapt-your-customer-service-in-these-strange-times/

Publish Date: May 5, 2020 5:00 AM


Decoding Customer Service: Valuable lessons I have learnt first hand

It was the first day. I had got a job in customer service right after graduating. I always loved a good conversation but customer service turned out to be a whole other story. In the first few calls I picked up, I wasn’t expecting the anger and irritation, which was directed towards me. I was confused and afraid; the kind you are when stuck in an uncomfortable situation. I looked towards my colleague, let’s call her Monica who picked up the receiver and handled customers with a panache that would leave me in a trance. Here was someone who I could truly call a professional, talking to customers with an ease I could only dream of acquiring.

She was brilliant in her conversational style- whenever she would put the phone on speaker and talk to a customer, I would listen in with every piece of me paying attention to the conversation. I sensed the customers pleased talking to someone who was more into the conversation than most people. I would look at Monica’s face and see the expressions changing like she was talking to the customer in-person.

I tried to copy her style and take on the same approach. Sadly, I failed; time and time again I would start in the same style as her but the customer would still be venting out his frustration. This made me a bit hopeless, but then the sun shined on me again. The valuable lessons I learned along the way are what I am here to share today.

Be Yourself

Many experts say that the customer support representative shouldn’t always read from a script. That holds true for reading from any script, be it yours or your colleagues. Customers want to talk to real people, not to a person reading lines from a script monotonously. Even if you are taking points from a script, do that in your own style.

In the book The Fountainhead, there is an interesting line, which goes, “never ask people, not about your work”. I had to be myself and do work in my own style, rather than trying to become Monica.

But, that philosophy is a hard path to follow; being you in a time when companies focus on a unified message, a particular tone, and a certain way of addressing the customers is as hard as it can get. If you work in the industry of customer service outsourcing, there are more factors, which complicate the situation.

This made me realize another important aspect of the job- the skill of adapting to situations. For this to work in any way, you need to first introspect and self-analyze your personality. I started trying out new methods and observing people around me. I was able to pick up bits and pieces from my seniors and integrated those into my approach.

Personalization Is The Right Choice

While we live in a capitalist culture of delivering the same level of quality or product to customers with a standard service; people want more than that, they want brands to know them for what they are.

If you have delved deep into your personality, try to figure out your customer’s persona. Customers get into a personal conversation with customer service representatives all the time, giving representatives bits and pieces about themselves and their personal life. It isn’t like that always though; sometimes the onus is on you to pick up hints from their tone or observe their behavior in certain situations.

The devil is in the detail, that’s why a good support representative must keep his/her head straight while getting onto it; that is why it taught so seriously in call center outsourcing companies. Use that sharp mind of yours, try to rise above the professional way, and become the customer’s friend. That will help you gain trust and start off a beautiful relationship between the company and the customer. Give them exactly what they need- an active listener and a friendly problem-solver.

Once, a lady told me that I sounded more intelligent than the customers and it makes me look like an arrogant snob. I despised her statement, but she was correct. In effect, she told me that if I wanted to make them feel comfortable, I would have to talk to them as equals; that is the one way to make them feel welcome.

Have you ever had that experience, where you call up customer care when you are unable to resolve a complicated issue? That customer care executive just babbles out technical jargon, which you are unable to understand. Maybe they are technically correct, but too complex an issue requires that simple a method to resolve it. That is a hard task, and you need to speak the customer’s language if you are targeting successful resolution and clear communication.

We have all been through this — you go to a bank, you ask for something and there they come those seemingly infinite minutes of waiting; the eternal sound of the keys being typed away on the keyboard; the mysterious looks the cashier gives the computer screen from time to time. By the time it ends, in my mind, I’m going to be told I either have no money on my account or that I owe the bank a lot of money.

Pass On The Knowledge

We have all suffered a case of terrible customer service once in our lives- you call up your bank customer support to understand why you have been imposed with those hefty interest charges you see on your statement. Instead of offering any explanation, the customer support agent asks to put you on hold. Those minutes of waiting, listening to the monotonous hold music seem infinite when you are guessing whether the agent would come back to tell you that there indeed was a mistake and it would be taken off or would come to justify those charges quoting hidden terms and conditions one never reads.

Procedures and processes are essential to customer support; they are cogs in the machine, which facilitates a customer’s satisfaction. Which piece of knowledge should be stored? Where will it be sent? Queries, issues, escalations; all this is a vital part of a service representative’s life. When you have gone through the process a lot of times, it sort of becomes ingrained in your system and you don’t give a second thought to it before taking any action.  While you are going through it all, the customer feels left out of the loop because they don’t have any idea how the issue is getting resolved.

In all the experience I have mustered in customer service- one aspect is as much ignored as it is important, keeping your customers in the loop. Resolving an issue may require involving different departments and executives to come up with a solution. Your customer doesn’t know that and will appreciate any piece of information you can pass on rather than going the ‘we are looking into it’ way. Tell them how the process works so they know what to expect from you and when to expect it. If they keep on asking questions, clarify each point. Remember, adaptation is necessary for survival.

There might be more to it than you can think; answering the questions of customers regarding your process will help you look at the process from an outsider’s view and help come up with alternative solutions to improve the process altogether.

Here For You, Always

Businesses tend to avoid using the term ‘problem’ when customers approach them with one. They would rather describe it as a ‘situation’ a ‘hiccup’, a ‘complication’, or an ‘issue’. No matter what your choice of words is, there is no way to negate the fact that customers email, call, or chat with you because they are facing a problem and they are looking for a solution and are looking for an assurance that they will get one.

This is the reason transparency in the process is of paramount importance.  Talking to customers like they are people you meet every day, crafting your approach along the same lines, and explaining the whole process to them will make them feel special and trust you at the same time.

This is my whole experience explained in a nutshell. My mantra is to search your soul, know who you are, and then build from there. Secondly, know who your customers are, how they think, and customize your approach based on that. Lastly, keep them in the loop by explaining every bit of the process. Share the information you have, that is the first step of giving people to the people.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/decoding-customer-service-valuable-lessons-i-have-learnt-first-hand/

Publish Date: April 24, 2020 5:00 AM


Why Do Customers Make their Terrible Customer Service Experiences Public?

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up”-

That isn’t just a movie quote, but a philosophy of life. It holds true for corporations who have been named-and-shamed online, and bounced back to come up with a solution to reclaim their standing. In our era of digitalization, customers have a lot more power than they used to before.

Imagine you are a customer and a faulty product is delivered to you by an ecommerce company. You go ahead and complain to their customer service hotline. They come up with an excuse that the time limit for replacing an order is passed and they can’t help you with it. In previous times, you were powerless to hold them accountable and show their style of working to the world. But now, it has all changed. You have social media accounts and review websites, which allow you to post about the customer, experience. This goes on to gain traction and the company is forced to resolve your issue for fear of the harm to their reputation. All you have to do is go online and write a few sentences; that is enough to put pressure on any firm, which hopes to gain new customers.

The Value OF Negativity

Negativity is harmful for everyone and are meant to avoid for a reason- negativity leaves you irritated, frustrated, angry, and is enough to ruin a good day. When customers get negative, it is contentious and you need great skills to handle situations like that. Moreover, it is a telling sign of your ability to provide great customer service in tough times.

It seems customers do not get negative without a reason. That reason might be you not meeting the customer halfway in delivering a great service, delays in communication, or providing a good or service, which isn’t fulfilling the need, it was supposed to. Some of the examples can be:

  • Placing an order is taking too much of their time or the refund amount hasn’t been received for days
  • You delivered a faulty product to them or it reached them late.
  • They are in a tight spot and need your services to be quick, which you can’t provide because of bottleneck processes.

Even these are not enough to sow the seeds of hatred against your company in the customers’ hearts. To figure out why a customer decides to take their anger online, we need to delve into the many reasons, which could have sparked their frustration. Why will a customer use every resource at hand to defame a company? Let’s have a deeper look:

1. Lost Opportunities

The prime reason a customer goes on an online rampage against the company is that they exercised every option available to them for getting help. There are two factors coupled together which could have resulted in that; the company failed to admit their fault and didn’t resolve the issue when the customer requested them.

Why is it relevant?

· A missed chance to right a wrong doesn’t equate to disaster- like you didn’t try to convert a satisfactory customer experience into a wonderful one. However, the distinction between a “wasn’t great” and “I am never going back to them” customer experience is just as small. That distinction will only be evident when you are on the pathway to become a customer-obsessed company.

· Customers will exhaust every option at hand before talking to you. This means that companies which welcome customer experimentation, a/b testing, data analysis, and focus on customer reviews will know exactly what the customer expects from them. That helps in cutting down any likelihood of a gap in expectations from one another.

2. Communication Barriers

Customer frustration can’t be attributed to a single reason. Their anger might have been sparked due to multiple reasons. It can be blamed on extensive policies and procedures, which have left the customer bewildered, or the customer might have had an argument with a service representative. The reasons might differ, but push a customer too much and they will use every resource at hand to target your company.

How Is It Important?

· As always, communication is the key to solving all problems. Every company nowadays uses multiple channels for communication with their customers. That includes calling, chat, text messages, emails, and social media handles. You have to be present on every channel or sometimes resort to limiting the number of channels you are using to for a more focused approach.

· Even after that, companies don’t follow a rigorous method of recording previous customer interactions and transactions. When a customer pings a company on the chat box and starts talking about his/her order directly, representatives don’t have the required information to serve them well or come up with an appropriate response. That is enough to push the customer off the edge.

3. False Hopes

Companies tend to use exaggerated claims while promoting a product or service; using just the right words to make the customer think the company delivers a far better standard than they actually do. Once the cat is out of the bag, people tend to stop using the services of the company and look for better options. For some of the customers, it is unbearably infuriating that they were lied to by the company, so much so that they tend to take their vengeance on companies on public platforms.

Is it Relevant?

· False promises might be the topmost reason customer gets angry at the company. It is much better to set lower expectations and deliver a much higher standard of service than overpromising and under delivering. More than half the customers say that companies are unable to fulfill the claims they make at the start. The situation is so bad that customers have come to expect this kind of behavior from companies.

· We are not usually able to see it, but companies use signals to target the subconscious mind and make promises more times than we can imagine. Realistically, only few are able to live up to the promises made- others fail even after trying. Moreover, if the promises are in alignment with the company’s brand imagery, customers will remember it for a long time to come.

4. Breaking The Trust You Have Built

Brands manipulate the customers and get them to repose their trust in them, however, most fail to live up to their words and promises, leading to feeling of betrayal in customers’ minds. This is a slippery slope to put your customers on, and it is doubtful that you will ever get them to trust you once you lose their trust. Customers feel that they have no option but to go online and share their terrible experiences with the world.

How does it matter?

· Every person who has ever put in a complaint to a company has expected prompt responses; more so because we live in a time where companies thrive on customer service standards. If we talk about social media, people expect responses within 2-24 hours. If we talk about email, people can wait upto two days for a response. Take longer time than usual, and you become the reason customer comes back angry at the company. If you don’t have the manpower to deal on all fronts, go for one of those call center outsourcing companies to help you out with handling customers.

· The winds of change are always swaying customer expectations. Once the customers were happy with mediocre services taking it as being the norm out there. Now, customers have much higher expectations than before. Recent reports suggest that almost half the people won’t be a company’s client if they have to keep on repeating their story. That means they don’t want to keep on recounting the experience to different people from the same company. Be sure to keep that in mind or you will be losing customers faster than you can imagine.

5. Moral Duties

When a customer has faced the brunt of a company’s terrible service or product; they are likely to believe that putting up a fight with the company is a matter of ethics. By bringing the truth out, the customers think that they aren’t only saving future buyers from a terrible company, but also going in the right direction of doing public service. In effect, this makes them go an extra mile to smear the company’s name.

Why Is It A Concern?

Frustrated customers are one thing, but pushing them to an extreme will bury all hopes of ever retaining them or starting from scratch. These customers don’t think that the company deserves a second chance after providing such an awful experience. Almost 60% of customers refuse to engage with the company after a terrible experience- and almost half of these customers remain angry at the company for years to come.
One bad customer experience is more than enough to set you on pathway at the end of which, the customers will have a clash with you. Customers who face issues on matters crucial to their experience will likely look for alternatives. Almost half the customers who have faced a terrible customer experience will choose a competitor over you, only because the experiences was personally momentous.

6. When You Stoke The Fire

Some people say that hate can be the ultimate motivator, which can be used to leave a deep impact. When you irritate a customer so much that he/she comes to hate you, the customer can use any method he/she thinks will harm you the most- the uncertainty here is what makes it so terrifying.

How will it affect me?

· If you are lucky, an angry customer will only stop using your services and won’t try to harm your company. Stats prove that angry customers are likely to share their bad experiences with almost 15 people; that is more than enough to harm your word-of-mouth marketing strategy. 35% of people will go ahead and post negative reviews about the company on social media or review websites.

· 73% of customers say that valuing their time is the first thing a company can do to improve their standard of services. 33% get the angriest when they are put on hold. If you don’t want the customers to get hell-bent on destroying your company, then value their time.

Where do we go from here?

Delivering excellent customer service consistently is what corporations are all about nowadays. It doesn’t matter how good you are, some cases tend to go out of hand even when you are doing your best. That might be because of unreasonable customer expectations or customers only looking to vent it out. If you are unable to handle huge volumes of customers and provide the service you want, look towards customer service outsourcing as an option.

There will always remain the fear of a customer putting negative reviews about you online. It would be foolish to assume that you can control everything happening around you, a much better strategy would be to get to the root of problem.

After the split, you have no option but to let the situation be for a while. After that, you can move to contact the customer and convey every reason you couldn’t deliver the solution. You can hear their side of the story and ask sincerely if there is anything you can do help them out. It might make them change their mind and remove the comments they put up online.

At the very least, it will make you understand the experience from customer’s perspective. After all, learning is growing; this might even make you regain their trust. It will enable you to set your company on the right path by targeting the right customers, identifying strategies, and rise up to deliver excellent customer service.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/why-do-customers-make-their-terrible-customer-service-experiences-public/

Publish Date: April 8, 2020 5:00 AM


7 Unforeseen Customer Instances and Ways To Handle Those

People perceive customer service as a monotonous job routine; a customer comes in with a query, gets a response from the team, and goes his/her way after that. It is like that unless it isn’t.

Anybody who has worked in customer service wishes it would be as simple as that, but it isn’t. On most days, customer service representatives get stuck in challenging scenarios and unprecedented situations.

To minimize the confusion and delay in resolving customer issues, supervisors provide call center executives with scripts. It does help in going-by-the-book when resolving customer issues and can maintain a certain index of customer satisfaction, but it cannot resolve every type of issue and comes with its own limitations.

Personalization is what a customer craves; if agents start sounding monotonous in conversations, it takes the joy out of the equation for customers. Scripts also suppress the critical faculties that the representatives need to use in challenging situations. It means that going off the book might very well work in favor of the support representative.

Going off-the-script shouldn’t mean using methods that put more pressure on workers or a process that the customer finds confusing. Let’s try to understand how representatives can deal with unprecedented situations. Tried and tested successfully by our customer service outsourcing agents, we believe you will find them useful.

1. Crisis situations

In emergency situations, we ask customer service representatives to spearhead customer satisfaction initiatives and hold them accountable to keep the customers happy. But, we don’t always equip them with the tools or allow them to use their creativity in order to resolve atypical issues.

The problems might range from technical faults to security lapses leaving the customer service representatives to think on their feet. They are required to help alleviate the frustration of agitated customers and retain their trust without losing their own composure in emergency situations.

To start off, what should the representative do in case of a crisis?

  • Give a heartfelt apology- When a situation turns for worse, the first matter, of course, would be to apologize empathetically. Frustrated customers must know that you accept your fault and have an honest intent to resolve the whole issue. If you try to provide solace to the customer by going straight to the resolution without apologizing, it will look bad on your company’s professional standards.
  • Be clear about time limits- If customers are stuck in a case and are panicking, you have no option but to be as transparent as you can. You have to tell them the path you are taking to resolve the problem and the time it will take. This will help calm down the customer by providing them clarity into the process.
  • Putting in contingency plans- Placing an emergency resolution procedure into the company system will work wonders for the customer satisfaction index. When agents are empowered with a process that lets them deal with the unprecedented, they are likely to be headstrong while resolving issues. To enable representatives in handling emergency situations, ask every team to collaborate and build a program, which allows for faster resolutions.

What should a customer service representative convey to the customer in an emergency? Something to the effect of “We sincerely apologize for the trouble from our end- the technical team integrated an update into the software which seems to have crashed important features of it. Our team is working right at this moment on resolving the issue. Our estimate is that it will be resolved within three hours. Please bear with us for the while. I will contact you as soon as it is done by any medium you prefer.”

2. Tricky situations where the answer is unknown

It so happens that a customer service representative doesn’t know the answer to a technical question. While it may reflect badly on the customer service standards on the company or on the agent him/herself, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to handle the case smoothly. It comes as a shock to customers when representatives go, “I am unaware of the resolution to this problem” or “I don’t know how to help you here”. It puts forward the impression that your company doesn’t focus on customer happiness and doesn’t care about it at all.

Customer support representatives can find themselves in these situations a few times, so how do you go about it? Instead of taking recourse to excuses like ‘I have not been trained on this’ or ‘I am new at this’, which further puts the company in a bad light, it is best that the rep just goes ahead and apologize for what they are lacking. If he/she doesn’t know the resolution to the problem, they should explain to the customers how and when they can get them the resolution. It means you can tell the customer who you are going to approach for the issue and the time it will take to resolve the whole matter.

It will better if the representative says something on the lines of, “I am afraid that I am not the right person to answer that. I will connect you with my manager and come up with a resolution by [suitable timeline]”. If a customer catches you on back foot with little resources to help the customer, your extra efforts in providing help to the customers will make them feel valued.

3. When you know you messed up

If you or your company has made a mistake, admit it, period! While it is not easy, sincere apologies and empathetic resolutions are your only alternative if you wish to retain and regain customers’ loyalty and trust. Glossing over your mistakes would only expose you more as a dishonest company. At moments when a customer is angry and the service delivered is of poor standards, the right thing to do is apologize for the experience at once.

Some representatives blame it on other people or cumbersome processes, which does more harm than good and reflects poorly on the whole company.

The question arises is this, how to respond in a situation like this?

“(Customer’s name), I am sincerely sorry for the experience this time. We made a mistake without taking into account the issue it might cause. We are already working on the problem and will resolve the issue by (time). Meanwhile, please let us know if we can of assistance any other way.”

If the agent begins with an “I”, it not only shows ownership that bodes well for the company but it also assures customers that the agent is taking personal responsibility to resolve their issue. Focus on providing closure to the customers, which is essential to them trusting you again.

4. Tiptoeing Around A Customer’s Fault

It isn’t for certain that the problem is on your side; chances are that a customer is stuck with an issue because of his/her own fault. These situations require careful treading in order to not offend a customer and show them their fault clearly. Moreover, it’s a brilliant chance to hone your customer-servicing skills.

How do you show the customer that they are in the wrong?

Quite simply, never go on the ‘it’s your fault’ rant or try to hold a higher moral authority by blaming them for the issue. Don’t show them their mistake, but attribute it to an aspect, which caused the confusion. Initially, your customer service representatives could have been more thorough with providing information about the product. The issue might have also arisen because of the less-than-friendly product design and features.

Remember, your motive here is to make the customer aware of the product specifications and teach them to use it on their own.  Here is an example of what to say in a situation like this:

“We see that the situation is arising because of the (a mistake they are making). Actually, it should be (the right way to do it). I apologize for the confusion caused by us; it is a common issue that can be resolved quickly. We are working on uprooting this problem and fixing it for good. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance. Thank You.”

5. Angry-To-My-Bones Customer 

Every customer service professional understands the patience it takes to deal with an angry customer. It is a tough experience for any professional to handle a deeply frustrated customer. They might be angry because of your service standards or just because of the bad day they are having. What will you do if you have just started with a warm “hello” and the customer starts shouting at you?

No matter the level of anger, your aim is to maintain emotional composure and bring them down to meet your emotional stability rather than rise up to theirs. Any customer service professional will tell you how important it is to let an angry customer vent it out for a while. Meanwhile, you can plan to resolve their issue accordingly.

What will you say if the customer is frustrated? 

Something along the lines of, “I realize that we have caused you to be angry. I sincerely apologize for the issue you are facing. We are working right this moment to resolve this issue completely.”

Emotional quotient is of paramount importance here; be empathetic and keep your tone as calm as possible. Soon, the customer will calm down and start talking in a less-angry voice. First off, apologies are necessary in these situations. Give them your listening ear and offer any assistance you can. The moment you placate them, you can start working on resolving the issue quickly.

What to do if the customer crosses all limits? 

Call center outsourcing companies understand the level of abuse their workers have to face from customers of another company; they take it as part of the job and do everything in their power to help resolve a customer issue. But, sometimes a customer goes too far the limits and abuses the customer service representatives just because he/she can. If the agent feels uncomfortable at such times, they have the right to refuse further engagement with the customer.

A simple message like, “We exist to serve. I am more than willing to help resolve the issue and listen to your problems. But, if you keep on using abusive language, I am warning you that I will have to end the call.”

If the customer is still using the same language, ask them to call once they are ready to converse respectfully and terminate the call for now.

6. Unreasonable Demand Or Expectations

Some customers don’t know the limits of services you provide. They might ask for a product replacement after many days which the company’s policy states against, they might ask for a feature that you don’t add without charges, or they simply ask for discount that you just can’t provide. These customer requests land you in a tricky situation where you just don’t know how to refuse. Your refusal might become their disappointment, which can make them feel like you only care about making money and not about the customers.

How to tell a customer what they are asking for can’t be provided? 

The answer to this lies in your communication skills and the way you are able refuse without making them turn away. You have to make it sound positive, even when it is really not. If you don’t do that, the customer will feel disappointed in your services.

What do you say when you can’t meet unreasonable expectations? 

Depending on the situation, you can say something on the lines of, “Our technical team hasn’t yet added that feature into the product, it will be released within three months. Meanwhile, you can use this technique to have the same effect as the feature you asked for.”

“I am sorry but we don’t have the product in our stock at this moment. I see that it is going to arrive in 45 days. Shall I contact you when it is available?”

“We are really sorry but we can’t generate the refund for this order. Being a startup, we have very skeletal margins. To give you some relief, I can provide a discount coupon for the next time you place an order.”

The bottom-line is- don’t just put out an unbent “No”, give them a reason behind your refusal and provide them alternatives to achieve the same level of effect. It should be a compromise rather than a case of I-asked-and-you-refused; you make it sound like a compromise and the customer will come to you again.

7. Customers Who Don’t Want To Use Your Services Anymore 

Much like angry customers, clients who don’t want to use your services anymore are part-and-parcel of the business model. Most companies try to convince the customers to stay when they call up to cancel their subscription.

What will you do if a customer calls up to cancel their subscription? 

Don’t go the I-will-save-this-order at any cost mode by doing exactly what they want but try to meet the customer halfway if you must. You can provide discounts and persuade them to stay a little while longer but think of this; they don’t want your services now, how likely are they to stay when the discounts have ended?

It is better to end the matter once and for all. In cases like this, it can be harmful if the representative keeps pushing the customer; they will simply get irritated and ask for the manager Instead, if you provide them a questionnaire or ask insightful questions; that will help you improve upon your services and retain customers in the coming times.

What will you say if a customer calls up with such a demand? 

“It is saddening that our product just wasn’t the right one for you. Please do provide us with your feedback regarding our services and what we can do to improve the standards. It will help us in furnishing a much better product for our customers.”

Be gracious in your response and thank the customers for their time. Be sure to leave a great impression on the customer, which goes above the professional standards and convinces them of your excellence in customer service.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/7-unforeseen-customer-instances-and-ways-to-handle-those/

Publish Date: April 1, 2020 5:00 AM


How to Overcome Common Roadblocks to Provide Efficient Multilingual Customer Support

The Internet has enabled countries to expand internationally at a rapid pace. They are able to reach out to customers in multiple countries simultaneously. Given that businesses are able to localize their offering and customer experience to suit their target market, customers have become more open to using international products and services.

Designing a product and making it available in different languages is not the difficult part, the hard part is furnishing support in those many languages. Localization is a one-time exercise. Using advanced technology, you can easily translate all the pages, screens, and experiences to make sure it fulfills the purpose. Support on the other hand, is an ongoing process and requires you to be constantly geared up to deal with new unexpected issues each time within a timeline the customer demands of you. Providing the right kind of multilingual customer support can be sometimes as tricky as finding a needle in the hay.

The question it brings us to is this: Why does providing support in different languages constitute such an important task for the operations personnel of a company?

In a recent survey by Execs in The Know, respondents were asked about the biggest challenges they face when it comes to providing multilingual call center and customer support; almost half the respondents said recruiting agents and retaining them is the main problem. Scaling the company’s operations came in the second biggest concern while cost-efficiency seemed to be the third-largest hurdle. Lastly, respondents reported quality assurance and regulatory compliance were also huge hurdles and constituted the fourth-largest problem when it came to providing customer support in multiple languages.

One method of grasping the structural problems and gaps in multilingual support is to look through the lens of a utopian. Let us imagine a world where language barriers do not exist. How will it affect the operations? Here are how the respondents answered:

  • Almost one-third of the respondents believed that if they didn’t have to focus on language support, they would be able to concentrate on cost efficiency and talent sourcing.
  • Less than one-sixth of the people confirmed they would be able to make support more flexible if there weren’t language barriers.
  • Less than one-seventh of people said they could move on to consolidating their support operations if they didn’t have to focus on providing support in multiple languages

What are The Common Barriers

There are six prominent barriers stopping companies from building operational adaptability and cost efficiency:

  1. Shifting demands

Handling peaks and turfs in the inbound inquiries become even more challenging when it comes to multilingual customer support. Even planned seasonal surge in volumes are stressful as scaling across the languages fast enough poses a big hurdle. When an unexpected issue hits, an increasing number of inbound calls can make the situation oscillate from bad to worse for the skills required to provide fast resolutions and it is further complicated if the support is delivered in multiple languages.

  1. Not enough volume in languages

In a report by ICMI, 82.73% of company respondents confirmed that the low number of requests for multilingual support caused them to not focus on. This begs the question: what to do when the number of incoming requests isn’t as much to warrant the hiring of full-time native speakers? 

  1. Catering to multiple countries with different time zones

In this era of digitization, companies are under more pressure than ever to provide quick resolutions and support across different time zones. To provide support at all times entails hiring agents around the world or running night shifts inhouse which can be very expensive depending on where you are located. Easier said than done, companies bear a tremendous weight on the operations team while trying to achieve this goal.

  1. Hiring and training the right talent 

Hiring and retaining agents is the hardest part of providing constant multilingual call center support. If you look at the market today, you will know that technical expertise is as important as being adept in a language. Every company providing multilingual customer support is always on the lookout to hire people who have the requisite combination of both the skills mentioned above. Indeed, it has made finding and hiring people with the right skillset a hard task and retaining them a harder one. Corporations keep their focus on providing support in popular languages to cover most of their customers; all this while letting their customer base who speak lesser-known languages go underserved for a lack of resources.

Moreover, agents who tick all the right boxes and have both the skills are always on the lookout; they are ready to move to another country in the hope of better opportunities and short contractual jobs which pay well. Attrition can severely impact the level and quality of support a company can provide, a problem that cannot be solved just by multiplying recruitment efforts.

  1. Cost of providing multilingual customer support

Since the advent of the internet, companies have been able to successfully minimize the costs for providing customer support. Thanks to the idea of outsourcing, companies hired customer service personnel in Southeast Asia who could speak and cater to their largely English-speaking customers. It doesn’t matter where the customer support is outsourced; scaling for multilingual customer service operations constantly to deliver support for your international customers is the next big challenge. If a multinational company fails to deliver multilingual support, chances are that it will fail at the big stage.

  1. Empathy is the key 

In this era of digitization, all you need is copy words of a document written in another language and feed it into a software to listen to the words translated in your native language. There are a few such services and software which serve the purpose, but they are not yet advanced enough to be the voice of your brand or give a personalized touch to resolutions. Customers crave empathy from support representatives. AI can never replace the personal touch of a customer support representative, they lack the emotional quotient to be empathetic which is key to awesome customer experiences everywhere.

How to Scale Your Multilingual Support 

The vital question here is this: how to make sure you stand tall on each requisite?

Boxes To Tick: Going Through The Checklist

For which languages should you hire service representatives? Is hiring a native for each language feasible?

There is no way you can hire a native speaker of each language, nor would it be financially or logistically feasible. One way of going about it would be to hire speakers of popular languages and focus on the lesser-spoken ones later. Or maybe you want to support all the languages. Planning in this regard can be quite tricky. After all, there is a higher chance of customer retention if queries or issues are resolved through a native speaker; it will also help an organization build trust and reliability. On the other hand, it can sink your boat with the financial implications of setting up centers and hiring individuals to provide support at the right time.

Should you provide support in every language? Can you hire natives for catering to speakers of different languages? Will you be able to localize your services for specific markets?

We will have to understand a few points here before thinking of making these decisions.

Figure out what languages your customers speak

It isn’t as obvious as you think it might be. To understand your customer’s language preferences, you need to follow a few steps. Scrounge through the date to analyze user behaviors, pointing their locations, and emails. Do people from the USA spend more time on your website than people from Saudi Arabia? Which country brings you the most traffic?

Combining auxiliary languages for support

In many countries, there are two languages, which are prominent and spoken in different regions of the country. In Spain, you can find many people speaking different languages but Spanish and Catalan are most common. Much like that, English is spoken far and wide making it an alternative language in several countries. If a country has two common languages, it can greatly reduce the problem of tending to them in a language they understand.

Make sure your product is right

Let us say a company starts receiving a whole lot of complaints in a certain language about a product that is much more than what the support staff for that language can handle. There might be a bigger problem at play here; one you are ignoring which pertains to localizing the product or perhaps cultural misappropriation. In this scenario, you should worry about creating the right product than hiring customer support representatives to resolve issues.

Analyzing Language Usage Data

Interestingly, only one-fifth of the content available online is in English. That implies that contrary to popular belief, there are many more languages you need to focus on if you wish to successfully penetrate international markets and be a global force. You need to analyze which languages you should be prepared for. Going by the global trends, there are 16 languages including Spanish

, German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese that are gaining prominence and if you cover just these languages along with English, you are likely to have covered 90% of the revenue that online market has to offer.

Paying attention to questions which arise

  • Which languages does your customers speak?
  • After covering popular languages and large customer bases, which languages constitute smaller percentages of your customer base?
  • Do you find a difference in the language used by support professionals and your frequent customers?
  • Are there any alternative languages spoken in the countries we cover?
  • In the future, which languages should you focus on?

Give customers tools to serve themselves

Most users have already checked for answers online and are calling up support because they don’t have a solution to their problem. Even if you have provided most resolutions online, chances are that the customer might have a unique problem. There is also a chance that your Frequently Asked Questions section isn’t as comprehensive as you think it is. If a customer is unable to find the resolution to his/her problem online and has called up the helpline only to be irritated with the voice machine and the endless wait, chances are that he/she will stop using your services altogether for a substandard class of work.

For starters, make your FAQ section comprehensive and online help tools as self-sufficient as you can; conduct a frequent check and update the section every three or six months. Do remember to translate it in the languages your customer speaks. Also, dive into the processes, which can be automated which don’t require a human touch.

Answering the questions that arise:

  • Have you translated and published all the customer support related information?
  • Are customer feedback and reports fed into building the Frequently Asked Questions?
  • Is there a process you can automate?

Adapt your services to suit local cultural expectations

Cultural attributes affect how people connect with each other; that affects the expectations from customer service as well. For example, people from South America like to chat longer with the support staff, which means you need to plan for more staff than what your stats reveal. In the Middle East, it is considered rude to call women when their husbands are not home. Companies need to hire and train your support staff in accordance on the cultural nuances and cultural distinctiveness. They need to lay emphasis on delivering support in tandem with the cultural attributes of that country; the right kind of reply is much better than the fast kind of reply and hence, most multilingual call center outsourcing companies now hire natives to deliver multilingual customer support.

Points to take care of:

  • What do the locals expect from your service?
  • Does culture play a big part in specific areas on the style of communication?
  • What are the local’s cultural values? What would be a no-no while talking to them?

Strategize for different time zones

In today’s competitive environment, speedy communication and resolution are as important as a factor for the customer as any. We have become used to receiving fast service on the Internet. If a customer complains to a service, they expect fast responses. An email in reply could be sent back within one 1-24 hours depending upon the company’s policies. A 2019 survey pointed out that a speedy response constitutes the biggest factor in making customer satisfaction. This brings us to the big question: how to you manage that if you operate in a different time zone?  Let us say, you operate in a 9 am - 9 pm timeline then what is ‘outside’ work hours for you is indeed normal workday for your customers situated in the other part for the world. It will mean an over 14 hours of horrific wait time for your customers, which you know goes against the customer-centric image you are trying to create. The only solution businesses rightfully come up with is establishing round-the-clock customer support centers or hire a Multilingual call center outsourcing company to cover this part of the job.

Important questions to ask yourself: 

  • What is the reach of your business? Do you need to take into account different time zones?
  • What is the best-case or worst-case scenario with your current workforce? Do you think the response times are in alignment with your vision of customer support?

Estimating the language long tail

The long tail is a popular term used in marketing and retail where it depicts a few goods constituting the highest number of sales; all this while, a larger number of products make up for a smaller percentage of sales. Let us take a few examples:

Books: Amazon, an eCommerce retailer sells 57% of its books through long-tail targeting. Their marketing is based on the philosophy that what you can’t find offline is easily available on the Internet. That philosophy helped Amazon target niche products and sell them in huge numbers.

Apps Store: An analysis a few years back showed that 25 of the major developers on Apps store account for 50% of revenue while hundreds of thousands of developers are not able to hit their target. It showed us that the major developers have engulfed the market with their strategy targeting short tail as well as long-tail products.

In a similar scenario, call centers or customer service departments can hire native speakers to provide support in popular languages, but they must decide if providing support in long-tail languages would be profitable.

Questions to ponder over:

  • What are the long-tail languages for your company? Is it time to switch from in-house teams to specialized multilingual call centers for need-based support?
  • Is it economically viable to provide support in all languages?
  • Which long-tail languages constitute the highest demand? Is the demand for support in a specific language on the rise?

Eventually, it is all about keeping your international customer base intact. It is likely you may not support all the languages but these tips will enable you to deconstruct the complicate multilingual customer support task into little simple steps that you can follow and make the process hassle-free and efficient.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/how-to-overcome-common-roadblocks-to-provide-efficient-multilingual-customer-support/

Publish Date: March 27, 2020 5:00 AM


Coronavirus: How to make sure you don’t lose your customers in this crisis

As of today, Coronavirus has taken the lives of 10,447 people among the 254,697 cases reported worldwide. COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 virus as it is being called now, has taken the world aback with its increasingly dangerous effects and communicability. The immediate priority is health and safety of people; still, businesses need to continue even in dire times for that is vital to surviving in this era. Leaders are still figuring out how this catastrophe will affect their customer base.

The first rule of providing a great experience to customers is figuring out what the customer wants and putting in all efforts to provide it to them. That is necessary to satisfy the customers and ensure their loyalty to the brand. For leaders worldwide, a lot of time and resources are spent on retaining the customers and crafting new strategies to ensure that customers remain loyal to the brand. One who can hold a grasp on that is able to grow in this era of cutthroat capitalism. But customer expectations can change in dire situations like this, all because of the change in priorities at an uncertain time.

At a moment like this, the priority might be on maintaining the supply chain of your company. You might ignore the idea that customer behaviors and choices can change at a time like this. It is natural to worry about smooth running of operations in the face of an unexpected event but planning also means adapting to evolved customer attitudes and needs in times of an epidemic.

One perspective is that all brands are hanging by the same thread when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty in such times. It means that no amount of efforts will simply retain the customer when there are unprecedented events happening around the world. In a time period of two months, newspaper headlines have changed around the world with most of them being about the virus and the events occurring because of it. Businesses, governments, institutions, and the people; everyone is going through a phase of evolving priorities, needs, and knowledge.

As time passes, the way companies adapt their strategies to the events around the virus will be telling of their preparedness in serving the customer at a crucial juncture. The epidemic has pushed brands around the world on their back foot. ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’, the term has never been truer. Customers around the world will witness the companies they remained loyal to over the years, put in additional efforts to provide the same level of service and quality even in uncertain situations. Those who stand this test of time will go on to grow and achieve new heights. Remember! The chance to succeed or fail is at the highest in situations where emotions are unpredictable, and priorities are evolving; not when the operations are running as per norms.

The events that are transpiring today are unprecedented and has made people around the world finding unique ways to go ahead with their lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean companies can’t prepare contingency plans for different situations and be the customer-friendly entity they always claim to be. Here are a few fail-safe methods, best practices, and guidance for a company to consider:

  1. Changing Scenarios and Its Effects

As a matter of fact, customer needs and preferences change with time amid new trends in the market. That is a slow and gradual process with multiple factors involved in it.  Though, that changes completely when unprecedented events have occurred around the world. Customers have an overload of information now and are soaking in newer details every day; this will build up a reactionary strategy in them and their needs will evolve much like their wants. Moreover, the rules that governments are changing will also be an integral factor in their decision.

The crucial quality of leaders is that they can lead the charge in uncertain situations and be proactive in planning, going the way of ‘act, rather than react’. Leaders can analyze the data insights into customer preferences and choices in these times. To start with, a leader must collaborate with other departments to understand the implications of COVID-19 on customer behavior. Put up to-the-point questions such as: how are the customers coping with all the changes at their respective locations? Are the company’s supply chains at risk of disruption? Don’t envisage your strategy based on only what is known; be ready for any situation and hold an attitude of adaptability. Also, consider how different customer personalities will react in a catastrophic situation like this.

Identify the changes in customer behavior and priorities at such a point of time, you must understand that first, to be ready to adapt. Analyzing the current data at-hand and building a strategy based on changing customer needs is a customer-friendly way to ready yourself for an evolving environment and hold an edge over your competitors.

  1. Instant Actions Before Knee-Jerk Reactions

If your customers must push the company to get information, then you are in a ‘react, not act’ phase of working while it should be completely the other way around. Don’t get caught on your back foot but build an effective communication strategy to keep your customers in the loop. Don’t push a cliché marketing strategy and advertise your services but evolve with time and provide customers with the information they need. For example, a business can communicate to its employees and customers tips on making sure that they remain safe & healthy. The customers will also like to know how a retailer can make sure that the shopping experience is safe in stores.  The type of information a customer might seek can be:

  • Can you provide a secure shopping experience to keep me and my family safe?
  • Do I have to bring any changes in my buying behavior to keep the risk at a low-minimum?
  • How can you be sure that using your products if safe?
  • I hear the virus has disrupted supply chains the world over. Are you able to efficiently operate in this environment?
  • What do you suggest I should do to remain safe in the future?

The way you structure the responses to these questions depends totally on the industry you are operating in. The automobile industry’s approach will differ a lot from the ecommerce industry. You can go either or both ways mentioned here:

  • Act, rather than react

Figure out the importance of providing updated information to your customers through web interfaces, calling, messaging, chatting, or through social media channels. This will enable you to meet the customer halfway and show that you care for them providing an altogether brilliant customer experience. This will help you avoid interruptions in business and reducing the need to be in contact. If you are witnessing an overload of work because of the virus, hire a customer service outsourcing organization to help you take care of the customers.

  • Brace Yourself

Make sure that the contact equipment and personnel are in place; keep an eye on your social media handles and sales teams. If you are to provide the customers with a great experience, everyone must be well-prepared to handle different situations for the welfare of its customer. Partner up with a call center outsourcing company for now if you have provided leaves to the workforce or don’t have the resources available now to be there for the customers.

The final piece of jigsaw is analysing how the changing situation and its impact on your customers will eventually influence your communication strategy. Calculate the next campaign in terms of time and resources. Ask yourself questions like would a satirical or humorous ad for your customers in a communications strategy the right thing to do at such a time?

  1. Putting Plans Into Place

Putting in contingency plans, delivering crucial information, and keeping your ears open to the customer’s needs are great tactics; but as time passes by and the effect of virus is at its peak, the customers attitude will shift towards seeking less information and more about alleviating their fears:

  • How will the company deal with cancelled orders and returns? Will it make a change in policies in the favour of customers at such a crucial juncture?
  • Does your company offer delivery of products and services? How will you do that if government restrictions come into place? Will you be able to serve customers who show symptoms of the disease? Have you asked your employees to be in touch with health officials?
  • Are you able to provide support to people who have been quarantined by themselves or by the government? Can you pull extra efforts and deliver the products directly at the customer’s home?

Solving this conundrum is as difficult a task as any. This isn’t just a single customized solution we are talking about here; it requires cross-departmental collaboration to come up with solutions of such kind. Don’t think that just because your industry hasn’t faced the brunt of losses, the situation might be different for you.

 The answers to questions such as these are not easy since they involve issues of product, logistics, inventory, supply chain, and operations. Don’t be fooled into thinking these questions are only pertinent for brands in the most immediately affected categories, like health products and travel. These questions can and will impact your customers in the coming time.

  1. Prepare for a shift in priorities

Every leader must plan for obtrusion in their on-going projects. Priorities at such a time are bound to shift from the current ones to newly emerging customer needs. The wind can sway in the other direction too, this situation might require the company to complete their current projects at a fast rate. For example, a training programme to better understand customer accents and reply to them in the same one, will be put on hold for now; it will be done because of the increase in customer queries and requests. In a different scenario, a team’s efforts to make FAQs, self-service tools, and manuals available to the customer will be completed at a much faster rate to satisfy customer expectations.

Much like that, the resources of a company will be put in an altogether different direction from resolving gaps in processes and procedures to succinctly adapting to customer requirements. The focus will likely shift on ‘created to serve’ approach where issues will prop up in different departments requiring immediate attention. Usually the leaders emphasize on securing the resources of company but seeing the on-going situation, urgency in resolving issues and prioritizing customer’s needs will be of paramount importance.

The management of your company is already working on contingency plans and figuring out actual implications on the business from COVID-19. Ask yourself if the contingency plans include customer-friendly approaches and if they are based on newly evolving customer expectations? Don’t look at the transactional side of the business. Figure out if the virus can negatively impact your customer’s health and safety. There won’t be a better time to stick to customer-centric notions and lay the foundations for growth. Keep your focus on how the customer needs are changing and be adaptable to that. This epidemic has caused enough panic and hysteria, be there to show the customers that you value their loyalty and trust; show them that you exist to serve, at this time and in the future.

At liveSalesman, we have developed specialized Disaster Backup Call Center Services and Multilingual Customer Service that are designed to help businesses mitigate the impact of labor disruptions in times of crisis like Coronavirus. Our services include services such as 24×7 Emergency Call Center Services and Overflow Call Center, Claims Verification and Employee Benefit Administration, and Multilingual Customer Support Outsourcing. Our services can be rapidly deployed in less than one week. Talk to us to learn more.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/coronavirus-how-to-make-sure-you-dont-lose-your-customers-in-this-crisis/

Publish Date: March 23, 2020 5:00 AM


How to foster creativity in your customer service

Customer service departments have seen a high rate of attrition over the last decade, which has now made the department look like an area of work that doesn’t offer the same level of opportunities as others. That can be blamed on various factors; it is hard to listen to people’s problems all day long and be the vent for their aggression. It is even harder when the company has made a gigantic botch-up of order and you must now listen to the customer’s concerns, which might soon result in the customer crying over the phone. There is only so much negativity a person can take even if the customer care representative is supposed to act professionally and detach themselves from emotions to solve a problem. That is one of the reasons why call center outsourcing industry has seen such an attrition rate over the years.

Another reason is that even with enormous budgets a company spends on its customer service department, they do not offer the training or opportunity required to make the customer service representatives grow as professionals.  Customer service professionals are trained in a rigid system and usually them to deviate from the set procedures. As a result, they seldom have any inputs or are invited to share them for the shrinking space they were allowed to operate in.

For customer service employees to develop professionally, a company needs to put more resources and efforts directed towards the customer service department.  The company needs to allow space for creativity to its customer service personnel. They need to be allowed to make decisions to solve a problem using their creativity and intuition. . The more they apply their mind to solve problems, the more they learn to be creative, imaginative and proactive problem-solvers, which is an absolute necessity in the customer service department. Also, they start feeling an integral part of the company. To breed loyalty, trust, creativity, and proactivity; a company must trust its employees to make the right decision. Here are a few points to pay heed to:

Allow time and room to explore

To transform your customer service employees from play-by-the-book nerds to imaginative problem solvers, you will need to push to be creative and craft their own space to self-learn. To achieve that, first and foremost, you will need to free up some time for your customer service employees from all the routine tasks of dealing with customer queries. Provide them time and encourage them to seek their own interest, take up individual projects unrelated to their jobs and complete those. Time away from routine tasks allows them to use their creative senses and apply their mind to initiate and complete projects taking care of all the problems themselves without worrying about failure. Employees appreciate the level of trust thus entrusted in them and see that their growth is a priority in the company. This would naturally push them to be creative, imaginative, sensible, and decisive in dealing with customers.

Complement learning with varied classes and experiences

For anyone to grow personally or professionally, he/she must seek new experiences. Much like that, a customer service representative needn’t be pushed into various client-facing tasks to grow professionally. Companies can get their customer service employees enrolled in various programs to ensure they grow on all fronts. Cisco offers gym services, football grounds, table tennis equipment, swimming pools, and kindergarten services for use by its employees. Much like that, many companies offer a chance to its customer support employees to don the comic hat for a day and have a go at stand-up comedy on stage. On the same pattern, you will find employers providing even cooking classes to its employees.

A company conducts these activities to make a deep impact on its employees and form a lasting connection. This also makes the company one of the better places to work and attract top talent all this while. If we are talking specifically about customer service department, you can ask them directly about the exercises they would want to be conducted. It might be that they want an activity outside office premises to escape the negativity that comes with handling customer grievances all day. Trust exercises might be a good idea when it comes to the employees as they have proven to be quite effective at building bonds. They might even want e-learning classes as many companies are wont to spend money on that to build a stronger workforce. Lot of customer service outsourcing companies arrange such classes for the development of their employees.

Inculcating Leadership

Recent surveys have shown that most job skills at the present would become redundant by 2020. The vital skill now and in the future would be leadership with every person from baby boomers to Gen Z regarding it as one of the greatest skills to have. To inculcate it, one can’t simply ask the employees to be their own masters at once. Time and time again, we have seen how even introverts changed themselves and took on leadership roles. Winston Churchill being one of the best examples of that. Leadership skills though usually acquired naturally can be inculcated in an individual as well.

Let us say you have a team of customer service representatives and you have no idea how to spot the leader in them. Ask them about the problems they face daily and their experiences. See if some have a greater level of enthusiasm than others. Ask them to build a knowledge management system to resolve any issues that arise daily and quickly pass on information to others. Push them to proactively engage with other departments when it comes to problem resolution and smooth out processes. Surveys have shown that leaders are courageous, imaginative, and thrive in ambiguity. If you lead by example, your employees will take the cue and work on building up their leadership skills.

Extracting Expertise

Well, this can be quite tricky. A team of customer service representatives might have been given the same procedural manual and the same kind of orientation to begin with. They would be working in a rigid space where for any escalation they would have to talk to upper-level management. For detailed information, they would have to connect with the product and delivery team in case of issues or with the sales team for detailed information. If you want a team of experts, you will have to trust them and spend your resources training them. Not only that, you will have to identify the core skills of each employee and focus on developing them to make for the full package.

There are three steps to developing expertise:

  • Firstly, you will have to identify the parts of a skill
  • Secondly, spend on training to develop those skills
  • Thirdly, ask employees to focus on weak links and help overcome those

You need to get employees to work on the areas they thrive in. Expertise in a single skill is much better than being mediocre and having an average skill set. Get to do that and you will have an excellent team in your hands.

Nurturing Creativity

Why do customer care executives leave? Simply because they are not made to be feel valued in the company. A customer care executive must listen to complaints, grievances, abuses, and even people crying over the phone. After all this, the employee needs encouragement from the company, as monetary motivation can’t lift your spirits up in such cases. Rigidity in processes, by-the-book procedures, hard-to-follow routines, all make up for the loss in motivation levels of employees.

Companies that spend time and resources on employees do this to make the employee feel valued and put additional efforts in return. If the employee’s inputs are valued and his/her decisions given importance, it will inculcate a level of creativity and imaginative problem solving making them invaluable employees.

If that happens, a company will be able to attract the best talent in the industry as word-of-mouth travels faster than you can imagine.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/how-to-foster-creativity-in-your-customer-service/

Publish Date: March 16, 2020 5:00 AM


The mountain of support QA and ways to scale its peak

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger! Lifting dumb bells improves your physique, eating a balanced diet keeps you healthy, holding back on splurges saves money, and support QA enhances customer service standards. There is one point common to all of the above-mentioned examples; each one of these are hard to make habitual and needs serious determination to embrace into your routine.

When it comes to support quality assurance, many companies find it difficult to incorporate a well-functioning quality assurance cycle. Experts and veterans of the industry emphasize on the importance of support QA, but still companies fail to implement the process or don’t do it at all.

The failure to implement support QA can’t be attributed to a lax attitude in improving their service; mostly, the reason is that companies find it a tremendous task to add the process in their cycle.

It is difficult to implement, but not impossible.

Here are the usual challenges a company faces while bringing in support QA, and ways to tackle them:

1.  A Sea Of Data

 Every customer service department resolves tickets raised by customers. Though, the number of tickets resolved per day depends on the industry a company is operating in or on the type of product and services it provides. It might also depend on the season if it is usually associated with larger customer interactions. Call center outsourcing companies take around 2000-2500 calls every month and resolve more than a hundred tickets per week. Companies set different targets when it comes to resolving tickets; some set a target of 30-35 tickets per day while some take care of 20 tickets each day.

This poses a challenge to companies who want to bring in support QA; it isn’t possible to review every ticket, one can’t know for sure which tickets to choose, and it isn’t easy to have an unbiased analysis of tickets.

It is advised that you go the random way: select varying samples for reviewing. If one can’t go through every conversation, selecting random ones for sampling would be the best way to go about it. But be sure to check they refer to different types such as refunds, lost passwords, technical issues, and product tracking.

2. Time is Of The Essence

 Establishing a program for quality assurance means asking managers to be constantly connected with quality check. It is a continuous process and any gap in between might affect the quality a company provides. Not only that, one must be wary of oncoming challenges and get on to improving the process frequently. Managers fail to focus on support QA because of the efforts required; they tend to think that managing quality along with other processes would amount to exceeding their capabilities.

The bigger problem here is that managers still cling on to old methodologies, not to the one that is required in this day and age: ‘work smart before working hard’. If the manager feels that he/she can’t take be a daily participant in support QA, he/she can offload some of the mundane routine tasks to team members. There are two ways he/she can choose to go here:

  • Offloading support QA tasks- the manager can ask his/her team members to provide random samples of tickets, review conversations, and evaluate each based on the rubric you have sent them.
  • Offloading daily tasks- This will pertain to you giving every responsibility of the job to your team members and focusing on the QA tasks yourself.

3. Cynics Against QA

 Nobody likes being watched, none more so than people who are working. If a company decides to bring in quality assurance process in their work cycle, the first word, which comes to the employee’s mind, would be ‘scrutiny’. No employee wants to entertain the idea that every piece of work he/she is doing all day would be carefully looked at. Some companies bring in the system as a reactive strategy when there are a lot of customer complaints; employees of these companies are the most cynical of the whole idea. The announcement alone is enough to make the customer service department nervous and might demoralize many teams across the company.

The only path a company might go on to alleviate fears would be to maintain transparency throughout the whole process. The head of departments must come out and explain why the process is needed and how it will benefit everyone. The heads can tell the teams how it would be easier to evaluate performers and pave way for growth opportunities; the skills it will enhance throughout different departments and help the company become crème de la crème. Most customer service outsourcing companies have a dedicated QA department that is responsible to evaluate customer interactions regularly and share the feedback constructively with the team.

4. Linking Tools Across Departments

Be it corporations or startups, most QA processes start with spreadsheets in the initial phase. This is done for the purpose of documenting QA tasks of every team across departments. Going down this way is time-consuming and requires careful handling in order to make sure there is no mix-up of data or any harm to its integrity. The time wasted here can be better utilized in training personnel. The types of QA tasks might range from collecting conversations across communication channels, evaluating conversations with the help of tools, and inputting the data into spreadsheets by customer service personnel.

As time passes by, the level of efforts put in to keep the data updated seem futile looking at the strategic goals of the organization. Spreadsheets can’t tell you if there are problems in real-time, all a manager can do is tell you after analyzing the whole data. This might make many problems go unnoticed meanwhile your customers will be left frustrated.

What is the answer to this conundrum?

There a lot of QA software available in the market which can help out with such issues but having well-placed QA software is only one part of the solution. Companies ask their software technology departments to come up with tailored software targeted at support QA. The employees are fully aware of the problems support representatives face and can come up with a solution targeted at the specific needs of the company.

Some companies buy expensive QA software to take care of issues but that might mean spending a lot of man-hours into training the employees. Also, some features might be redundant in the software because it wasn’t tailor-made for the company’s problems. The best way here would be to first design a process yourself and then buy a  software that is inclusive of the features you want in it.

5. Going Up And Beyond

Support QA activities aren’t as hard as made out to be. If you just want to know how to go about the whole process, here are the first baby-steps you can take:

  • Select a conversation
  • Go through the whole of it. See where the customer service representative was lacking and the way he/she could have dealt with it better
  • Record the data, it will be useful when you lay the foundations of support QA process

Source: https://livesalesman.com/the-mountain-of-support-qa-and-ways-to-scale-its-peak/

Publish Date: March 12, 2020 5:00 AM


7 Things great call center managers do every day

Talking of extremes, there wouldn’t be a more apt example than call center work stress. Going by-the-book isn’t enough to be successful in your call center venture. It isn’t for the faint-hearted; only a few call center heads possess the determination, skills, and temperament to manage an increasing number of issues on a day-to-day basis all the while keeping their focus on growing as a company. Those who have these requisites can keep their workforce and customer base happy with truly remarkable experiences; doing it all within a budget is exceptional, at the very least. Let us look at the activities required to do all that and ways to execute it in a way that benefits all:

How does an exceptional call center head go about it?

A call center head does his/her duty without expecting any praises. Moreover, a multilingual call center has support representatives speaking different languages and come from different backgrounds; a manager must know how to keep the whole workforce motivated and satisfied. They must also take care that daily operations run smoothly and efficiently. The third important task is to constantly find new ways to improve the operations and focus on growth in the future.

Corporates are always looking for customer service outsourcing companies. If they have made a deal with the call center owner, they want the company to provide truly differentiable customer service. For that, the head must design the operational processes, implementing technological tools and mixing it seamlessly with the processes, achieving the financial targets of the company, sourcing, hiring, and training employees to be the best at what they do. Not only that, they must be in touch with call center industry news and newer technologies to have an edge over other companies. Piecing it all together is what makes a call center head the chosen one to achieve success.

Here are seven tasks a call center manager must undertake to go from good to legendary:

1. Gaining the insight of your customer support representatives

It is the representatives who customers talk to while raising an issue or putting through a query. They are the eyes and ears of your company and know the reality of the ground; being the first point of contact for customers, they know the issues of your product or service and can tell you exactly what the customer is hoping and paying for. They can tell you exactly what is working with the customers and which process is a bottleneck. If you look at it, they are best market research tool you have and can provide hundreds of ideas on how to better serve the customers. Listening to them will keep the whole workforce motivated for they will feel that they are an integral part of the company.

Connecting with representatives step-by-step

There exist a number of call center managers who ask their employees to

give feedback about their workings and customer interactions. There are

many who do not want to get into it because of the efforts required to fill out

data. Another problem might be that they are afraid of putting in negative comments about departments or processes for they might offend someone. The crème de la crème knows how to interact with the support representatives, gain their trust, and ask them to be an important building block in the massive growth you have hoped for the company.

2. Be a Leader, not A Manager

A call center supervisor is basically the head of all teams. In times of difficulties, they look up to the leader for advice and guidance. It simply means that you must be there for your team, always. Listen to their problems, try to solve them with a systematic approach, motivate them if the morale is low, and be a shining light for them. A pep talk at the start of the week might do wonders in keeping the morale high all week.

You exist to serve
If we are talking about customer service, the term ‘we exist to serve’ is commonly used to placate customers and pushed forward as a philosophy the company revolves around. Expecting your employees to care as much for the company as you do is simply foolish. Without any hope of rewards or motivation; your employees won’t give the same level of efforts as you do. The same philosophy of ‘we exist to serve’ should be applied on the manager towards his/her employees. Care for them, help them, guide them, and put them before yourself; that is the only way to extract the same level of efforts from your employees as you put in.

A legend in every way
If you are the head of a call center, you must be an authority on every matter of the business and its evolving branches. Head of the center must be aware of all the internal matters of the company such as technological tools, processes, customer feedback, legal resources, and hiring methodologies.
What differentiates great managers from good managers is that the great ones know exactly how the whole mechanism is taking the company towards targeted growth and making changes to achieve that all along the way.

If you wish to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment, you must be aware of trends in the market and competitor’s moves. Not only that, you must be in regular contact with team leaders and ensure that the company is moving as per the strategy.

Don’t sit back, lead by example

There is a tendency for owners of a company to sit back and make decisions based on the data employees put in or collected through analytical tools. While the founders of a company do like to churn out data and strategize according to that, it can be fatal in the long run. It will help you analyse where the process is lacking but won’t let you get an insight into it. The usual method is calling up underperforming agents in a meeting and then ask for an explanation. While you might think that a support representative’s lax attitude is the reason for a department’s downturn, you aren’t looking at it deeply enough to root out the problem. The approach might also seem like the usual micromanagement which managers tend to do when they don’t see any other option to increase the productivity.
The best of the best talk to their employees and know their strengths; they know their passions and ambitions, their method of working, and how best to make their skills work for the team. Getting to know your employees personally will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses. If an employee is lagging behind even after putting in great efforts, you can talk to him/her regarding it and come up with a plan to improve the performance, using feedback on each pain point , and communicating how the plan will help push up their performance.

3. Making call centers great again

Employee happiness is as vital as a great strategy to achieve the projected targets. As a leader, you must make sure that your employees are satisfied with the job. A customer support representative who is happy will put in more efforts towards the work and take better care of the customers. Not only that, their buzz will keep other employees engaged as well leading to all-round productivity and a better workplace environment. ‘Happiness is contentious’; the fact that happy employees tend to put in more efforts and not want to leave the job is reason alone that it should be a manager’s priority. Be wary of any demotivating factors and value your employee’s inputs at all cost. A happy environment translates to success in the long run.

Right rewards for honest work

Time and again we have seen that money is a great motivator, used exclusively to push up productivity and extract the maximum efforts from your workforce. Companies use different tactics such as providing shopping gift cards, variable incentive, and promotions to make the workforce happy and extract the best work from them. Stats show that employees tend to put in more efforts if their inputs are seen as valuable to the company. An example of this would be; an employee is buzzing with happiness and talks to a customer who has called up, the happiness will reflect in his/her voice and the customer would feel delighted to talk to such a person. That is how simple it is.

Growth plans and opportunities

One area where most companies lag behind is focussing on the career development of its employees. The workforce in customer support mostly constitutes of young people who want to grow as a professional and earn a higher package in the future. Lack of opportunities is a major reason employee leave companies in hope of better ones. The head of call centers can change all this with a properly planned system. While hiring the employees, they can go into details about the opportunities available, career plans, and the milestones which need to be achieved to fulfil the plan. If the support representative feels his/her professional life is going exactly as planned, they aren’t likely to leave the company.

3. Call center technology: Be in the know

Technology is ever evolving; one after another, technological tools come into the foray and make a deep impact over how businesses and institutions function. In these times, every company needs to be tech-savvy if they want to have an edge over other companies. Call center heads need to be aware of technological developments and understand how their competitors are using technology in their processes.

Don’t fixate, adapt

Go to any call center and you will find the almost the same kind of technology being used everywhere. Owners know which technology is being used in the market and go for the fail-safe way. While this is easy, it can also become a burden for the company. The company might not know its processes is built with rusted wheels. To truly stand apart, the heads must invest in technology and processes of their own to have a unique point of differentiation and set an example of innovation.

Established companies find it difficult to bring a massive change in the workings of their organization, for the costs and training required to do so; while on the other hand, startups are much better at adapting new technology and using that to unsettle the older competitors. While you are at the earlier stages of establishing your company processes and way of working, it is easier to improvise on the way and eliminate any technological tool or process which seems to be a bottleneck.

Do not hold back with trying out new methods and tools. Even if you fail on a front, you will gain a valuable lesson into how to do it better and improve the functions of your company. It is equally important to figure out bad-for-the-business plans as finding out the processes would work well in the long run.

An active voice in the industry

One sure-shot way to keep yourself aware of the developments in customer service industry is to be an active participant in conferences and events. Interacting with leaders across the industry will give you an insight no market research or news can provide. It will give you a chance to engage with talent across the industry, connect with them, and network to have a deeper reach into the industry.

You might have heard the term, ‘It is lonely at the top’. That pertains to all the CEOs and founders of a company who feel like they are running out of people to talk to regarding their problems. What’s better than a platform where they can do exactly that?

The best of the best goes a step further, they become a voice of reason in the community.

4. Talk logic, talk data

If we talk about market research and collecting data; call centers will be one of the best institutions to collect data on customers. That is the reason they have become integral to customer service functions; they know exactly what the customer wants actually and the issues which come up frequently. They are also able to collect different types of data such as number of incoming calls, frequent issues, time required for resolution, pain points, feedbacks, and gaps in the processes. An intelligent manager collects all this data and uses it to improve or develop processes.

Tracking performances

A call center can collect all sorts of data when it comes to customers. They only choose which one to gather based on their plans and if they want to improve a process or bring in a new one.

Here are a few key performance indicators which call centers usually focus on:

· Time required for the customer to connect with a support representative

· Time taken to talk with the customer and provide a timeline for resolution

· First call resolution i.e. the number of times a customer could get his/her issue resolved after dialling in the one time

· Customer satisfaction rate and how likely are they to recommend your product

· Number of cases resolved per day based on the average issues that are raised every day

There are several other KPIs a call center could target based on need of the hour. Analysing KPIs will help the call center heads make all the right decisions in terms of planning or strategizing.

Setting the scales right

Ensuring that the employee strength is enough to take care of incoming demand is an essential part of the job. That means balancing both the ends to make sure there is no wastage of money or frustration for customers.

For this, you need to make sure that you have an eye on daily demand-and-supply of the company. It is a tough task for one doesn’t know the when the demand might rise. With experience and analysis of data, it is easy to figure out when to hire people and when to hold the ship with the people you have.

6. Working on the ground

Get on the floor

A question I need to ask call center heads is this: when was the last time you sat along with support representatives and took a call from the customer?

If you haven’t done that, I can say for sure that you have been out of the game for too long. Picking up the phone and calling along with your employees will make them feel motivated. They look up to you and will listen in how you approach the customer and resolve his/her issues. It can make for a training session if not anything else.

Stay in the game
A manager who acts like a king rather than an administrator will likely take the whole department down with him/her. I understand that it is easy to let others work hard and bask in the glory that comes after; but in the long run, it will spell doom for the productivity of the company. It is important to be an active participant in regular activities like sourcing and recruiting of employees, analysing data to align projected growth with actual one, taking care of legal aspects, and motivating the whole workforce. While these are ‘boring’ tasks, they are necessary to focus on for stability and consistency is required before leaping towards growth.

7. Getting the best and holding on to them

Employee retention in the call center industry is among the lowest worldwide; it can be attributed to the stressful work environment and working hours which result in the retention rate being so low.

A recent survey by Gallup proved that almost three-fourth of call center workers are disengaged from the work environment and this leads to frustration and eventually them leaving the company.

Picking out gems: Hiring the best

In a world where employees are always on the lookout for better opportunities and companies with a fast-revolving door, it can be quite difficult to get brilliant employees much less retain them. A company looks for great communication skills, problem-solving, technical skills, and proactivity while dealing with customers. This combination of skillsets is hard to find and can be compared with finding a needle in hay. Support representatives of such calibre are hard to find, but it should be the first mandate of any recruitment process.

Orientation and training

Call center outsourcing companies, which usually conduct interviews every day and hire people frequently aren’t that big on orientation and induction. What if it was your first day in a company? What would you say if nobody even looked at you the whole day?

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’; you might have heard this term, it doesn’t apply anywhere else that well than on call center employees. This kind of approach from the company will frustrate the employees and disengage them from processes. Eventually, they would want to work somewhere else.

Constant motivation and happy work environment are necessary to make the employee feel connected to it all rather than being stern and turning them away.

Bringing in the emotional reward

There can be plenty of reasons a support representative would leave the company. The most prominent of them being lack of growth and unhealthy work environment.

To tackle this, the supervisors must reward their employees for any effort that has bore fruit. It doesn’t mean that you provide them with a gift voucher or a monetary incentive each time. It can mean showering praises on them whenever a customer is satisfied with the company and promising a return business; it can mean talking about the best customer feedback every day simply to make the employee feel that he/she is putting in efforts which are very valuable to the company.

An employer must provide training sessions and career development plans to its employee. It isn’t easy for call center employees to maintain the same level of energy the whole day; if they are down and out of energy by the end of the day, the customer would feel that while talking on the phone and it might make them think the employee isn’t all that interested in listening to them.

To make the employees feel motivated, delegate authority and provide them tools to deliver what you expect them to. If you were there for them, they will be there for you.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/7-things-great-call-center-managers-do-every-day/

Publish Date: March 9, 2020 5:00 AM


How eCommerce businesses should deal with post holiday returns

From the Black Friday sale to January holidays, it marks the busiest season for eCommerce companies. A report in 2017 states that almost two-thirds of consumers return at least one item back to the retailer. Data analysis in 2019 showed that retail sales grew by 3.4% in the USA making it the biggest year for e-commerce sales. The analysis also provided an interesting aspect of eCommerce sales, almost eight out of ten people are likely to return an item. In 2019, eCommerce sales amount to more than 3.5 trillion dollars which are expected to double by 2020. A huge portion of these sales happening right after the holidays.

For eCommerce platforms, handling these returns is a daunting nightmare. In 2018, Amazon reported its best year of sales on holidays. But by the end of January 2019, the National Retail Federation estimated that almost 13 percent of these sales were made redundant with product returns.

With billions being lost due to inept return handling, it is high time that eCommerce platforms understand how to handle returns in order to avoid losses and maintain their customer base. Much like that, customer support representatives must understand how to deal with customers who are asking for a product to be shipped back and the money returned to their accounts. Here are a few examples of how eCommerce platforms and employees can better handle post-holiday returns:

Be Honest About It

Let us say you are looking for a pair of shoes online and come across a beautiful pair. You place an order for the product and when it arrives, you see the color isn’t the same as it looked in the photo and moreover it has a defect in its sole. Seeing no other option, you decide to return it only to find that the return policy isn’t available on discounted products. Left enraged, you decide to complain about it to senior management of the company. Your request falls on deaf ears. The last option is to move for consumer forums and go to the company’s social media handle to write about your experience. Things wouldn’t have come to this point if you had gone into the finer print of that company’s return policy. That is one bad experience among countless others. For anyone who has shopped online, people understand how to read the return policy in detail before making a purchase. It didn’t just happen overnight; this phenomenon came about with millions of bad experiences. A recent survey showed that almost 65% of buyers are first likely to read about the return policies of a company. If you want to grow as an eCommerce retailer, you will have to be transparent with your refund policy. If not, your customer support executives would be overburdened with handling refund requests and frustrated customers all the time.

Have Easy-to-Understand Return Policies

If you have laid out every detail of the return policies, it is a great first step you have taken. It doesn’t just end with this step. Take a deep look and try to see if the return policies are perfectly clear. Will a customer be able to perfectly understand it? Don’t use jargon and difficult-to-understand terms. Make the writing intelligible to the common people; if they are not able to understand it clearly, they will likely be suspicious of it. There are a few things to keep in mind while writing and displaying your return policies.

  • Check how easily can the customer view the refund policies section on your website. Make it accessible every time a user checks a product and at the time, he/she moves to buy
  • Every eCommerce retailer has a frequently asked question (FAQs) section. A user is likely to visit that section first if he/she has any queries for this section’s aim is to be all-encompassing of issue resolutions. Keep in mind to update this section frequently and with questions that target user queries; it will help unburden your customer support team’s tasks and free up their time to be more productive
  • One of the most irritating things you experience when you return a product is the packaging policy of the product. Sometimes, the company’s representative would refuse taking the product back for the packaging doesn’t meet the standards. Some would have to take on the extra pain, get the product repackaged, go to a parcel service, and post it to the mentioned address using your own money. If the customer is unable to return the package with ease, chances are he/she will not buy from you the next time. If you lose on one point, your competitors win on another

Pacing Up The Refund Process

The refund process has been completely revolutionized since the advent of e-commerce platforms. Gone are the days when people would have to wait a month for their refund to be generated. People can now receive payments as quickly as within 3-5 days. The Internet has truly brought the world together on a single platform. Many companies based in one country and catering to customers worldwide would be using a Paypal-like service which guarantees the money will be reflected in the bank account after three days. But, that is not what the problem is when it comes to bog down refund processes. A customer service representative would receive a refund request which would be forwarded to the person in charge of looking after it; after that, the request will be sent to the accounts team to release the refund. The process which has to be followed is unnecessarily elongated. If you wish to have a loyal customer base, the refund process must be quickened and smoothed out. It has also been proven in recent studies that almost half the people will make an additional purchase from an eCommerce retailer while requesting a refund for another product.

Change Your Refund Policy

Every customer expects a smooth return of products and a refund of money from an eCommerce retailer. But, handling returns and refunds can be quite a messy affair. One must receive the returned product, check it for any damage, repackage it, place it with a tag, and then release a request to another team for a refund. Inefficient handling costs the eCommerce industry billions of dollars every year. There is another way to make the refunds easier for the company and Amazon has proved that over time. An eCommerce company can have its own virtual currency, which can directly credit to a customer’s account in case a refund is applied. Another way would be to assure discounts to the customer in their next order if they take the virtual currency in place of getting the money wired back. Ecommerce platforms also offer cashback in their own virtual currency to make the users be loyal to the retailer. Look at Amazon and see how many of its customers have they been able to convince to use their own virtual currency. If a retailer can do that, they will minimize the refund costs, make the refunds easier, and assure themselves of a loyal customer base.

Keeping An Eye On The Return Route

Almost every eCommerce platform now offers its customers a bird-eye view of their package route. Any customer can check-in and see where their product has reached. They can check if it has been packaged, shipped, or an executive is out to deliver the product. While that holds true for ordering and receiving the product, the story is quite the opposite when we talk about product returns. Less than 10% of eCommerce retailers employ the same technology when it comes to returning the product. Every customer has a worry- about the package being lost. If an eCommerce retailer ties up with a parcel service and gets their return labels packed with their products. It will make the whole process easier for everybody. The customer would be able to keep track of their package and the company would have a happier customer base. What’s more? Partnering up with one parcel service would help the company cut down on its return costs of shipping.

Give Out Support On All Fronts

We understand that holiday seasons are one of the busiest for eCommerce platforms and honestly, for their customer support representatives as well. After this season, a lot of these representatives might understandably go away on a holiday as well. At that moment, FAQs alone cannot help customers with returning a product. You need to provide support through phone, email, and chat. Every technological tool at hand must be employed to help the customers and deal with their requests.

Be Vigilant About Fraudulent Returns

According to a report by APPRISS, almost 9 percent of post-holiday returns are fraudulent ones meant to dupe the company into receiving a duplicate or damaged good and returning the original amount. In a recent incident, a person was charged with duping the company of thousands of dollars; he ordered an iPhone from the company and send back duplicate phones claiming they were faulty. He sold those phones in the black market and received the amount for refunds. It is not possible for customer support representatives to maintain that level of vigilance at the ground level to be able to catch someone trying to make fraudulent returns. Still, they can be trained to be on the lookout and help the company make responsible decisions.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/how-ecommerce-businesses-should-deal-with-post-holiday-returns/

Publish Date: March 4, 2020 5:00 AM


Spanish and Portuguese: Same Same but very Different!

One of the most widely held misconceptions about languages is that Spanish and Portuguese are almost the same. In fact, even after coming from the same descent of Latin they are very much different. The words you use in Spain are guaranteed to get you funny looks if you try using those in Portugal. If Cristiano Ronaldo understood Portuguese by the time he grew up, why is talking in English to Lionel Messi who knows Spanish perfectly? You can very well accrue that to the confusion that might be created if they both start speaking in their own language to each other.

Both languages vary with geographical locations. European Portuguese is much different than Brazilian Portuguese, which in turn varies in the Portuguese spoken in Mozambique and Angola. Much like that, Spanish is spoken differently in Castilian, Andalusian, Murcian, Galician, Mexican, Columbian, Peruvian, Bolivian, and Caribbean among many others. Though Portuguese and Spanish have a lot of common words and terminologies, it is used in different ways and isn’t easy for one native speaker to understand the other one without being aware of it.

“You speak Spanish, please talk to this guy from Portugal.”

That is a request that one of our Spanish call center agents received from a client visiting our multilingual call center facility, which did push the agent into an awkward situation.

It isn’t as simple as it is made out to be.

Spanish and Portuguese are Romance languages having their roots in ancient Latin. It cannot be properly stated when the languages developed and parted ways from each other. Though they both originated in the Iberian Peninsula and the same classical language of Latin, they both differ from each other to an extreme now.

The prominent difference between both these languages isn’t in the written form of usage but in the way it is pronounced. Even with stark differences, the vocabulary is almost 90% like each other. Mind you, even with the words being the same; you cannot be sure that they mean the same too in each language. Even the pronouns differ and so does the grammar.

Quick Facts About Both The Languages

  • While Spanish is the second-most common native language spoken worldwide, Portuguese comes at seventh in that list. Also, Spanish is spoken across different continents and in varying dialects. Much like that, Portuguese is spoken across different continents and with different dialects
  • Both languages are the official ones in more than ten countries, at least.
  •  Both languages became spread out with European colonialism reaching the world over.
  • Spain and Portugal were both once a part of the Roman empire whose spoken language was Latin. It is here that they both share the origin of their language history.
  • Spanish has the same vowel sounds as in English i.e. ‘a,e, I,o,u’ while Portuguese has 9 vowel sounds.
  • Portuguese has 19 consonants while Spanish has 22 consonants.
  • Portuñol or Portunhol is a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, which originated along the border with constant connection and trade.

Spanish And Portuguese: Mirror Images Or Poles Apart?

Much like languages branching out from the same classical language, Spanish and Portuguese have widely different dialects and phonetics. If you want to learn both, you will have to spend time learning each of them individually as learning one doesn’t mean learning the other. A Spanish speaker who goes to Portugal won’t be able to make the population understand what he/she is trying to say half the time. Try calling up a Portuguese call center and asking for what you want in Spanish; you are both likely to pull your hair out trying to understand each other. Though still, experts argue that a Portuguese speaker can understand more than half of what a native Spaniard is speaking; but basic words are pronounced and written differently in both languages making it a classic case of lost in translation.

Another problem is that both languages have their own set of idioms and cussing words, as every language should have their own unique set. That might be one of the reasons both the languages are highly intelligible to both the speakers, for they seem polished when written down. But everyday language is bound to get harder if you start speaking in your own Spanish dialect to someone whose native language is European Portuguese.

False cognates

Let us now have a look at false cognates and how everyday words can be misinterpreted in another language:

  •  Barata- What means ‘cockroach’ in Portuguese translates to ‘cheap’ in Spanish. Don’t try to find cheap places to stay in Portugal if your native language is Spanish.
  • Ligar- In Portuguese, it means ‘join’ or ‘call’ but in Spanish, the word translates to ‘flirt’. It can get pretty awkward soon enough for a Portuguese in Spain
  •  Botequim and Botiquin- Though, both words spell differently; they do sound the same. The first one means ‘bar’ in Portuguese and the second one means ‘first aid box’ in Spanish. How about a Spanish call center agent receiving a request from a Portuguese tourist asking them to locate a bar for him?
  •  Esquisito and Exquisito- The first one means ‘strange’ and ‘odd’ in Portuguese while the other means ‘excellent’ and ‘delicious’ in Spanish. Imagine a Spaniard trying to give compliments to a restaurant owner in Portugal.
  •  Apelido and Apellido- What means ‘nickname’ in Portuguese translates to ‘surname’ in Spanish. What should be ‘Garcia’ could easily be ‘amorcito’.
  • Borrar- While it means ‘stain’ or ‘soil’ in Portuguese depending upon the dialect and usage. The same word means ‘remove’ in Spanish. For someone whose native language is English, this is irony at a linguistic level.
  •  Mala- While it means ‘suitcase’ in Portuguese, the word has an extremely different meaning in Spanish i.e. ‘bad’. If you thought learning one language will make you understand the other completely, think again.

Final Word

You should be wary of the confusion, which might arise with using similar-sounding words. Especially when you are learning languages originating from the same classical one.

There are lots of similarities between the two languages and learning one will surely prepare you for the other one. Still, don’t try to delve into another while still learning the first one; it will only lead to confusion for you. Remember each language is spoken in a varying dialect across different countries; figure out which one you would want to learn first.

At LiveSalesman, our Spanish Call Center and Portuguese call center services are delivered by natives who understand this difference and have an intimate knowledge of the dialects spoken in different parts of the world. Our objective is not to only provide support in the local language but to provide it with local cultural flavor. Talk to us today to learn more.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/spanish-and-portuguese-same-same-but-very-different/

Publish Date: March 2, 2020 5:00 AM


Why knowledge management should be your top priority in customer support and how you can implement it

What happens if your colleagues aren’t present and a customer comes up with a query? For a new customer support agent, it is a tighter spot than you can imagine. With a lack of knowledge management system, it can wreak havoc on a company’s credibility in the eyes of the customer. Let us delve into how a well-established knowledge management system is of paramount importance in the 21st-century call centers, especially call center outsourcing companies as they are working remotely.

Customer service agents have faced the brunt of it; a customer pings the chatbox of a company online and is unable to get his/her query solved. It isn’t because the customer support agent is lax in his/her attitude that the problem isn’t getting taken care of, the blame lies on the knowledge management system of the company or its non-existence. The worst-case scenario can make the customer turn away from the company and stop using its services altogether.

Why do you need it?

It brings every customer service agent in your company on the same page, whether they are in-house or are in one of your customer service outsourcing companies. If a customer comes in with a hard-to-solve problem or if there is a misunderstanding about how processes are to be conducted, a knowledge management system would come in as a boon and bring clarity to everyone. On your first day in a new company, there are two types of information you receive as a worker. The first kind refers to the formal orientation you receive about the company’s procedures and rules. That is the holy grail to be followed if you wish to work in the company and work well. That can be a whole lot of information to soak in. If the company is growing at a speedy rate, a large part of this information will be drowned out of your brain cells with most of your time being spent in sorting out unexpected issues. If the team is growing in tandem with the growth of the company, newer employees will keep on coming and you will need one up-to-date and authentic source of information for all problems which the employees should be able to refer to all the time.

Each type of information should be recorded to build an extensive knowledge management system, a customer service agent might have a tip about how to deal with a particular customer and an insight into what he/she usually seeks. This can help customer support agents who never dealt with that customer but now have a bit of information into how to go about it.

It is a necessity for companies to record dealings with a customer, the queries, which arose after that, the number of escalations, and the steps taken to resolve those. A customer service agent’s absence for a day shouldn’t spell chaos for the others.

If the company is growing at a fast pace, it will likely keep on hiring new recruits to meet the work requirements. The company needs a vast repository, which serves as the holy grail for new customer support agents. Likely one, which they can cling to and search through for answers.

When the Informal should be Formal

Let us say you are a manager pulling a shift a day after Christmas. A loyal customer ping you with a problem and you have no idea how to solve it because the customer support outsourcing agent dealing with him isn’t available that day. You know that the problem cannot be resolved without having access to all the information about the issue, the only solution would be to get time till the next day. Gathering all information in one place would help your customer service representatives put their efforts in the right direction. They wouldn’t have to waste time over each case. The formal procedures lay intact, but what you really need is a sense of informal tips, how-tos, and know-how to help with issues. Employees can make you more aware of the right way to work with their informal talks than any procedural manual. For them, it is the ‘common sense’ they have gained with working in a position for a long time. This type of information can easily be lost among cracks. If one employee has left the company or is away for a while, that piece of vital information is lost as well. To avoid that, one must turn informal information into a structured repository by putting in all the best practices and ‘know-how’ in one place in as easy a language as possible. It can also be made easy to understand if you use pictorial depictions.

Guides, Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) forum, procedural techniques, and informal know-hows are equally important when it comes to building a knowledge management system. Time and time again, experts have put forward theories on how crucial informal information is when it comes to taking care of the customer base.

Bringing Out The Gaps

The first step to build an all-encompassing vast repository of knowledge is to identify the gaps in the existing one. You need to invite every employee to put in their perspective from their experiences and help the company improve the processes. Make sure that your knowledge s well structured and easy to access and use. If a company does that, they would be able to put more in the book than any expert could. It will eventually put a spotlight on all the issues a customer’s faces and maintain a strict procedural technique minimizing the back-and-forth between different departments.

Making this a regular exercise would make the knowledge base as strong as ever with a constant flow of information, news, updates, changes between the employees and the management. An employee wouldn’t need to ask a colleague or go to the management for resolving customer issues, it will make every piece of relevant information readily available to him/her and help go for the right decision.

It Helps Out Everyone

Knowledge about a customer isn’t only for the customer support agents; though, it will help them the most for they deal with customers all the time. It will help improve processes and help establish new ones if every perspective is put into words and recorded.

Upper-level management always talks to the customer support agents to get an insight into customer behavior. They also talk to the product services, and operations team to understand how they resolved an issue or the procedures they followed. Imagine if an executive decision-maker knows about every problem from the lowest level to the highest, this will give an insight and a golden chance to him/her into crafting procedures that help employees understand an issue better and deal with it.

In such scenarios, any escalation can be dealt with in a better way minimizing time and efforts for the customer service agents and improving processes all around.

There are times for a customer support agent does not have anybody they can seek help. In such cases, well-defined processes refined with a knowledge management system would reduce the number of escalations, in turn, reducing the work pressure and eventually giving a chance to work on other areas of improvement.

How To Implement It?

The first step would be compiling every piece of information that you can find about the customers, products, services, escalations, common queries, usual issues, questions, and topics related to the company. For that, you would need every employee to pitch in and give insight. You can hire experts to come in, go through processes and come up with findings.

The second step would be to categorize it accordingly; every customer support agent should know which links to click on and find the necessary information to resolve an issue. They should know about the FAQs and usual issues, which arise with a product or service. If it is categorized properly, no matter on which software it has been done on, it will eventually lead to the betterment of processes.

There are a few points you need to pay heed to:

  • Is the information provided doing more harm than good? – If there are different types of information regarding one issue or product, it will lead to confusion for the employee and might cause an issue to spiral into escalation and eventually turning away a loyal customer. The employee must have the resource to the right type of information about products or the procedures to deal with a specific escalation.
  • What is the most common issue when it comes to products or services? Which technical problem does the customer mostly complain about? – There are always issues that a customer services team would readily explain in the FAQ section. That needs to be constantly updated if you find an issue arising again and again. If customers frequently complain about a website bug, you need to resolve it and cannot write about it in the FAQ section. The employee must have the right resources to understand how to go about dealing with the issue and the procedure pertaining to it.
  • Is the information consistent when it comes to methodologies and procedures? – You might find detailed instructions when it comes to a problem or a product, but there is a high chance you won’t find as many details if you look through another product. It is because time and effort were put in for one process but not for the other. That needs to be changed, as extensive information would be required by an employee to resolve arising issues.

Remember, the motive should be to develop the repository in such a way that every piece of information is categorized and placed accordingly. The information could pertain to how-to-use articles, FAQs, troubleshooting, and improvement in quality.

There is no singular method to go about it; every company offers a different product and service. You can use the thousands of software available in the market or go for the classic spreadsheet to make the repository; it should fulfill the purpose it was created for.

Always look to improve

 You can never be static with your procedures and methods; you need to always keep evolving in a market, which is stiflingly competitive. Companies should encourage their employees to participate in keeping the knowledge management system robust.

Quite frankly, it is a never-ending task and would require persistent efforts from all the employees to maintain and develop it accordingly. There are always new issues, unprecedented problems, and escalations, which need newer ways to be dealt with. That should be put in the knowledge management system to make it worth the employee’s use. An outdated system will set the company years back when it comes to dealing with issues. Being on the lookout is the only way forward.

Multitudes in place of the individual

 As previously mentioned in the article, you must be in constant communication with your customer service representatives to understand the problems your customers are facing. Even if a single person is assigned to take care of the whole knowledge management system, every employee should be encouraged to give regular updates and feedback to the person in charge.

He/she can’t do it all alone and every input is welcome when it comes to building the repository. If the employees are given credit for bringing in small pieces of information, they would realize the level of impact they can have on improving the procedures of the company. It will make them feel an integral part of the company and they will start doing it more often.

Knowledge management systems don’t only exist to reach higher levels of excellence in customer support. It is a golden chance to push your teams to an upper level of performance, build integral inter-departmental ties, and giving a stage to each employee. For a new employee, it is sometimes the only support they can cling to and the only stairway to better performance.

Source: https://livesalesman.com/why-knowledge-management-should-be-your-top-priority-in-customer-support-and-how-you-can-implement-it/

Publish Date: February 24, 2020 5:00 AM


Best practices followed by Fortune 500 Companies to manage their call centers

Fortune 500 companies are the most celebrated and valued and every company worth its salt wants to emulate them. Success of fortune 500 companies cannot be attributed to one single factor. However, their customer centric approach and customer-focused strategies certainly contribute immensely to their success. Most successful businesses are known for their exceptional customer service delivered by highly professional and committed customer service team who is at customer’s disposal 24×7.

Focus on availability and response speed

 Fortune 500 companies don’t perceive customer support as 9-5 department. They strongly believe in being available for the customers whenever they need them, wherever they need them. Hence, their customer support service is omni-channel. They can be contacted through any channel- phone, e-mail, live chat, messenger or even social media channels. Irrespective of the medium customer chooses to contact, they get uniform quality response, which is fast and professional.

This is a virtue worth emulating but it may not be viable to do this in-house. You may want to consider outsourcing some of your customer service-related functions to a professional 24×7 call center outsourcing company. Moreover, you should also use multiple social media channels to create various touch points for your customers, so that they can contact you 24×7 through their preferred medium.

Such measures create loyalty among customers that in turn affects companies’ bottom-line. A robust customer service strategy is essential as it takes time to build a successful brand but just one bad customer experience has potential to make a huge dent in a company’s reputation.

How Apple achieved it

 Apple’s achievement in customer support is path breaking. Apple enjoys a huge cult-like fan base and that’s because they make their customers feel like celebrities. Customers feel they are looked after in a best possible manner and are even prepared to wait for days to lay their hands on these beautiful products.

Apple’s employees, right from their top management, to sales to their customer support team display a strong passion for their products. Apple is very selective about who their hire in their customer service department. They recruit high quality customer service agents who understand their products well to ensure that their customers always get an exceptional service experience delivered by the product experts. Talking to their customer support doesn’t feel like you are talking to an average customer support agent. Customers feel they are talking to genuine tech enthusiasts who put their whole heart and soul in troubleshooting their problem and sharing their product knowledge with customers.

Apple also maintains a dedicated customer service page on its website where customers get variety of information related to their products and services. Additionally, customers can also schedule repairs, check warranty status and look up repair status.

Apple summarizes it’s philosophy in five sentences:

A - Approach customers with a warm welcome

P - Probe politely to understand customer’s needs

P - Present a solution for the customer

L - Listen attentively to resolve customers’ issues.

E - End with a warm farewell with an invitation to return

Apple’s stores have these ‘Genius Bars’, which are essentially an innovative way to offer customer service in stores.  This is a platform that enables customers to interact with ‘geniuses’ who have extensive knowledge about Apple products and get assistance with their technical problems.

Apple enables its users to get in touch with them through various channels like telephone, e-mails, or live chat. This makes customers feel empowered and in control as they get to choose how and when to contact. Irrespective of how customers contact, Apple makes sure that they handle all such queries with utmost sincerity and warmth.

The popularity of Apple can be gauged by the fact that when Apple launched its twitter account for customer and technical support, within a period of 24 hours more than 100,000 accounts followed it.

Apple customer support team does not only answer the questions that come their way but also offers useful tips and encourages customers to raise queries.

Apple believes in absolute transparency and ask their users to send a direct message. The idea behind using a public platform is to educate other Apple users about how to sort out similar issues.

The user-friendly attitude of company is exhibited in the way they treat their twitter handle. This medium is used for Apple customers who put their queries as despite having 615,000 followers, Apple never posted a tweet.

 What Microsoft did

Microsoft, the most iconic IT company has a pervasive presence on the social media that includes Twitter, with an account assigned for every conceivable topic such as security, development, updates, events, opportunities, and last but not the least customer service too.

This approach gives a huge edge to Microsoft as customers can engage and interact with every aspect of the brand and get their questions answered by the relevant team on a convenient platform.

Microsoft’s each Twitter channel has a unique purpose. Though, Microsoft’s Twitter channels are primarily focused towards news and related articles, the official channel ensures that brand continuously engages with customers in an organic and informal manner taking queries, and proactively offering help.

Another important feature in Microsoft’s customer service is chat bots that complement live agents by engaging productively with the customers waiting in queues. Bots are AI tools that makes them much faster than human agents in scanning huge data and retrieving relevant information. This hugely impacts their customer service in tackling customers’ complaints and offering solutions fast.

 Leveraging Social Media

Fortune 500 companies have very effectively used social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram not only to increase their brand visibility but also to bridge the gap between the brand and the customers and win over their trust. It is evident by the fact that the number of Fortune 500 companies with active Twitter accounts went up from 62% in 2011 to 86% in 2011. At least 84% of Fortune 500 companies have active Facebook accounts.

Amazon’s strategy

 Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon once said “A customer service is the best where a customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk you. It just goes like this.” This summarizes the approach of Amazon, the e-commerce company that revolutionized the online purchase.

Amazon approach that ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘no questions asked’ policy instead of playing the blame game with the customers induces confidence in customers and earns them their lifetime loyalty.

Amazon’s reach is unbelievable as they can deliver their consignments anywhere and everywhere, sometimes in as less as couple of hours. It has a huge presence across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which makes it easier for customers to get in touch with the company.

Amazon pampers their customers who feel valued and are incentivized to make their bond with company stronger. Their customer service agents always use a very friendly and cordial tone with customers that makes the conversation very interactive.

Amazon has also introduced a call back facility on its website where customers can leave their contact numbers thus reducing their wait-time drastically. It is no wonder that Amazon

Consolidated Call Center Operations

With the advent of technology, companies shifted their operations to geographically diverse call center outsourcing locations that enabled them to take advantage of cheaper and skilled labor.

Of late, Fortune 500 companies have shifted back the focus on consolidating their entire call center outsourcing operations into larger call centers instead of spreading themselves too thin globally. These are huge facilities with large number of agents working in tandem to deliver international standard customer service through help desk, technical support, common services and a slew of other customer-centric functions. This helps in enhancing the overall quality of customer service.

Outsourcing

Although many Fortune 500, companies such as Siemens and IBM have their in-house call centers, others prefer to use customer service outsourcing companies. These companies recognize the benefit of letting third party customer service outsourcing companies take charge of their customer support. It gives them an edge over their competitors and help them in customer retention. Now, call center outsourcing has become quintessential feature of Fortune 500 companies as it allows them to focus their resources, energy and time on core functions such as business development on their core business.

Customer service outsourcing is very cost effective option that can significantly reduce expenses per head and hence is preferred by big and small companies alike. At the same time, this strategy provides flexibility to meet the specific requirements of your customers. A customer service outsourcing company can scale up or scale down the number of customer service agents as per your company’s dynamic requirements.

India remains the leading destination for offshore call center outsourcing companies. Besides India, the other popular options are China, Philippines, and Poland. In the last ten years, Romania, Mexico, and Brazil have also drawn attention for customer service outsourcing opportunities.

To get benefit of this huge cost difference, many Fortune 500 companies like British Airways, American Express, GE, HSBC, Citibank and AT&T, execute their back-office operations in India. A call center outsourcing agent in India costs at least 80% less than their counterpart in US or UK. By outsourcing their call center operations to India, GE now saves $275 million every year. American Express also followed the suit and partnered with Infosys, and TCS in India. Philippines and China are other important locations for customer service outsourcing.

Customer support function in a company can no longer be relegated to backseat as shown by these Fortune 500 companies. These companies have set the bar high for customer expectations. Irrespective of your industry and size, customers will invariably compare you with the customer experience provided by these fortune 500 companies who are famous for their customer centricity and there is little you can do to avoid that comparison.

At LiveSalesman, we have handled customer support for many Fortune 500 companies.  We will gladly share with you the best practices that we have observed, developed and implemented for these leading clients over the years. Speak with us today to learn how we can help you offer the same customer experience as they do.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/best-practices-followed-by-fortune-500-companies-to-manage-their-call-centers/

Publish Date: February 19, 2020 5:00 AM


Bots may be useful, but it can never replace Human Contact

In the last few years, since the bots have arrived on the customer service scene, companies are in a constant quandary as what to do- whether to give more space and responsibilities to this Artificial Intelligence device called a bot or to stick with the time-tested approach of human intervention? Brands have been quick to adapt to this new technology but customers crave for human contact. We interviewed some of the customers we serve in our call center outsourcing company to understand why and it revealed some very interesting facts.

Humans prefer talking to humans, not machines

When customers call customer support, they are looking to speak with a live human. They preferred narrating their experience to customer service outsourcing agents who offered them effective and lasting solutions. There were very few customers who after getting in touch with the customer support department, showed their inclination to engage with bots. They were just not interested in having a conversation with a machine. Some of them even got offended when given the option to interact through a bot.

It is evident that relying on bots too much may help you cut corners in short term but admittedly it is a huge turnoff to explain yourself to a machine and will ultimately send your customers running for the hills. There is a general impression among customers that these computer-aided tools can never match the skills of a real agent. Hence, this creates a lack of faith in such systems.

Real issues need real call center agents

Talking of complex and technical issues, you can’t do without human intervention. On average, most of such calls made to the customer support service are unique and need discussion with live call center outsourcing agents who are capable of logically understanding the customer’s problem and accordingly react and adapt to the situation to resolve the issue. Artificial intelligence driven applications and programs are as good as the information that is fed to their databases and while it can regurgitate information from a knowledge base for a standard routine query, it cannot use that information to come up with a solution or troubleshooting to a complex or technical problem. Chatbots are incapable of thinking out of the box, at least for now.

Chatbots cannot empathize

Chatbots cannot soothe the frayed nerves of upset customers. A live call center outsourcing agent, on the other hand, can empathize with an unhappy customer to calm him down and get to the issue much faster. Customers reported that they feel the Chatbots sound pretty insensitive and their lack of empathy makes them uncomfortable in discussing personal or delicate matters with them such as a health issue or a financial trouble they may be going through. It is pretty often that customers discuss such matters with customer service outsourcing agents, which aids in building a rapport with customers. This impacts customer experience and satisfaction.

Security concerns Security risks

In the last few years, there has been a lot of debate regarding consumers’ data security. Hence, the onus lies on companies to assure their customers about how they store and use their data. There is a palpable trust deficit that is hampering the adaptability of artificial intelligence driven tools such as Chatbots. For Chatbots to work efficiently and more sophisticatedly, brands need to store customer data, however, customers apprehend data breaches or getting their information stolen by hackers. Another major concern is that they fear that brands may share their information with third parties without their explicit authorization. This is why majority of the customers don’t even submit personal information. Because of the lack of trust issues, a good number of consumers are afraid to give their personal information to a Chabot.

Customers don’t trust Chatbots while purchasing high-value items

There are specific situations where customers find Chatbots inadequate. Customers would not trust a Chatbot if they are purchasing an expensive item, primarily because they are apprehensive about the Chabot making a mistake. If the query is related to an ordinary sports shoe, a comparatively low-value item, customers may not be averse to talking to a bot but imagine when the customer wants information related to an expensive $20,000 Rolex watch, rest assured the customer wouldn’t buy before a detailed discussion with a live customer service outsourcing agent.

Not usable and accessible for all

Old customers, especially people above 65 years have shown discomfort in using Chatbots. Older generation does feel overwhelmed by new technology and are resistant to depending on it as their foremost source of assistance. They would much rather talk to a live call center outsourcing agent. People with disabilities also feel challenged by latest tech.

You can’t do without a Customer Service Agent

The million-dollar question remains is which medium to adopt and why. Here, the most important thing will be to identify the customer’s actual needs.

At the beginning itself, it needs to be established whether the query is more in the line of Q&A format conversation or a discovery process? A bot can handle simple FAQ kind routine questions, because it involves data and provided it is designed well, this computer-aided device can tackle such operations efficiently. However, if a customer is looking for an informed recommendation, a Chatbot will be futile. What is needed is a detailed discussion with the call center agent who can understand his needs.

For instance, to keep the things in the right perspective, take an example of a customer who wants to know in detail about the cancellation policy of a gold- gym membership as opposed to knowing about the workouts and a fitness plan with their gym- trainer. Seeking information about the gym membership is generic which can be ably handled by a bot but speaking to the trainer to devise a custom made set of exercises, the customer is banking on the trainer’s professional expertise which needs a human touch and a machine can never satisfy the prospective client who may have more than few doubts.

Despite Chatbots becoming advanced and sophisticated tools, the fact remains that it cannot replace a human customer service outsourcing agent. Around 83% of consumers acknowledged in a survey that they anytime prefer human interaction over digital channels when they are looking for solutions to their customer service-related issues.

Chatbots have limited role

It’s not as if chatbots are completely useless. They can still be used but in limited and in specific cases. So, when we have issues related to payment updates, compliance issues, due dates, anything which has numbers – you can pass on such queries to a bot. Here, we are dealing with issues that are either right or wrong and you want to be 100% sure the data is correct for the end-user.

Brands are under a lot of pressure to enhance the customer experience and sometimes they adopt new technology without even giving a serious thought whether the evolving technology will make them more efficient or not. Most of the customer-related queries pertain to some huge deficiencies on the part of the company and would need an animated one-to-one interaction with the customer care agent.

At the same time, there are some routine issues related to payments and FAQs that could be easily tackled through a bot. Therefore, the future of call center outsourcing belongs to the harmonious blend of human intervention together with the Artificial Intelligence device like a bot. In the end, it will be apt to say that your chatbot and customer service team should work in sync to create a seamless customer service experience.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/bots-may-be-useful-but-it-can-never-replace-human-contact/

Publish Date: February 12, 2020 5:00 AM


Why companies like bots but customers still don’t

In the last few years, since the bots have arrived on the customer service scene, companies are in a constant quandary as what to do- whether to give more space and responsibilities to this Artificial Intelligence device called a bot or to stick with the time-tested approach of human intervention? Brands have been quick to adapt to this new technology but customers crave for human contact. We interviewed some of the customers we serve in our call center outsourcing company to understand why and it revealed some very interesting facts.

Humans prefer talking to humans, not machines

When customers call customer support, they are looking to speak with a live human. They preferred narrating their experience to customer service outsourcing agents who offered them effective and lasting solutions. There were very few customers who after getting in touch with the customer support department, showed their inclination to engage with bots. They were just not interested in having a conversation with a machine. Some of them even got offended when given the option to interact through a bot.

It is evident that relying on bots too much may help you cut corners in short term but admittedly it is a huge turnoff to explain yourself to a machine and will ultimately send your customers running for the hills. There is a general impression among customers that these computer-aided tools can never match the skills of a real agent. Hence, this creates a lack of faith in such systems.

Real issues need real call center agents

Talking of complex and technical issues, you can’t do without human intervention. On average, most of such calls made to the customer support service are unique and need discussion with live call center outsourcing agents who are capable of logically understanding the customer’s problem and accordingly react and adapt to the situation to resolve the issue. Artificial intelligence driven applications and programs are as good as the information that is fed to their databases and while it can regurgitate information from a knowledge base for a standard routine query, it cannot use that information to come up with a solution or troubleshooting to a complex or technical problem. Chatbots are incapable of thinking out of the box, at least for now.

Chatbots cannot empathize

Chatbots cannot soothe the frayed nerves of upset customers. A live call center outsourcing agent, on the other hand, can empathize with an unhappy customer to calm him down and get to the issue much faster. Customers reported that they feel the Chatbots sound pretty insensitive and their lack of empathy makes them uncomfortable in discussing personal or delicate matters with them such as a health issue or a financial trouble they may be going through. It is pretty often that customers discuss such matters with customer service outsourcing agents, which aids in building a rapport with customers. This impacts customer experience and satisfaction.

Security concerns Security risks

In the last few years, there has been a lot of debate regarding consumers’ data security. Hence, the onus lies on companies to assure their customers about how they store and use their data. There is a palpable trust deficit that is hampering the adaptability of artificial intelligence driven tools such as Chatbots. For Chatbots to work efficiently and more sophisticatedly, brands need to store customer data, however, customers apprehend data breaches or getting their information stolen by hackers. Another major concern is that they fear that brands may share their information with third parties without their explicit authorization. This is why majority of the customers don’t even submit personal information. Because of the lack of trust issues, a good number of consumers are afraid to give their personal information to a Chabot.

Customers don’t trust Chatbots while purchasing high-value items

There are specific situations where customers find Chatbots inadequate. Customers would not trust a Chatbot if they are purchasing an expensive item, primarily because they are apprehensive about the Chabot making a mistake. If the query is related to an ordinary sports shoe, a comparatively low-value item, customers may not be averse to talking to a bot but imagine when the customer wants information related to an expensive $20,000 Rolex watch, rest assured the customer wouldn’t buy before a detailed discussion with a live customer service outsourcing agent.

Not usable and accessible for all

Old customers, especially people above 65 years have shown discomfort in using Chatbots. Older generation does feel overwhelmed by new technology and are resistant to depending on it as their foremost source of assistance. They would much rather talk to a live call center outsourcing agent. People with disabilities also feel challenged by latest tech.

You can’t do without a Customer Service Agent

The million-dollar question remains is which medium to adopt and why. Here, the most important thing will be to identify the customer’s actual needs.

At the beginning itself, it needs to be established whether the query is more in the line of Q&A format conversation or a discovery process? A bot can handle simple FAQ kind routine questions, because it involves data and provided it is designed well, this computer-aided device can tackle such operations efficiently. However, if a customer is looking for an informed recommendation, a Chatbot will be futile. What is needed is a detailed discussion with the call center agent who can understand his needs.

For instance, to keep the things in the right perspective, take an example of a customer who wants to know in detail about the cancellation policy of a gold- gym membership as opposed to knowing about the workouts and a fitness plan with their gym- trainer. Seeking information about the gym membership is generic which can be ably handled by a bot but speaking to the trainer to devise a custom made set of exercises, the customer is banking on the trainer’s professional expertise which needs a human touch and a machine can never satisfy the prospective client who may have more than few doubts.

Despite Chatbots becoming advanced and sophisticated tools, the fact remains that it cannot replace a human customer service outsourcing agent. Around 83% of consumers acknowledged in a survey that they anytime prefer human interaction over digital channels when they are looking for solutions to their customer service-related issues.

Chatbots have limited role

It’s not as if chatbots are completely useless. They can still be used but in limited and in specific cases. So, when we have issues related to payment updates, compliance issues, due dates, anything which has numbers – you can pass on such queries to a bot. Here, we are dealing with issues that are either right or wrong and you want to be 100% sure the data is correct for the end-user.

Brands are under a lot of pressure to enhance the customer experience and sometimes they adopt new technology without even giving a serious thought whether the evolving technology will make them more efficient or not. Most of the customer-related queries pertain to some huge deficiencies on the part of the company and would need an animated one-to-one interaction with the customer care agent.

At the same time, there are some routine issues related to payments and FAQs that could be easily tackled through a bot. Therefore, the future of call center outsourcing belongs to the harmonious blend of human intervention together with the Artificial Intelligence device like a bot. In the end, it will be apt to say that your chatbot and customer service team should work in sync to create a seamless customer service experience.

 

Source: https://livesalesman.com/bots-may-be-useful-but-it-can-never-replace-human-contact/

Publish Date: February 12, 2020 5:00 AM

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