Plum Voice - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 5
We are excited to introduce Plum Insight, a contact center VoC platform designed to improve the customer experience in the contact center, making it easy to set up omni-channel voice of the customer mobile, web and IVR surveys for a complete view of the customer’s journey.
We have been working diligently; taking comments and feedback from our survey customers to better addresses the challenges of extending customer experience management programs into the contact center, linking customer feedback to specific agent interactions for targeted, actionable reporting.
Deploying VoC programs in a contact center environment is often challenging due to of the complexity of telephony systems compounded by enterprises that often depend on multiple contact centers using dissimilar technology. Plum Insight simplifies the set up of a VoC program that can be deployed across the entirety of a company’s customer service operations.
Plum Insight features include:
- Role-based management
- Granular sharing controls
- Omni-channel surveys
- Database integration
- Multilingual options
- And more
Contact us today for more information. Or start a free trial and see for yourself how Plum Insight can deliver an unprecedented view of your organization’s customer service and VoC programs.
Publish Date: July 28, 2015 5:00 AM
To truly become customer-centric, and service-oriented, takes more than just talk. This should come as no surprise. There is no shortage of good advice available about what to map, measure, consider and do to create better customer experiences. But how can you change company culture to be more customer-centric in a way that’s more meaningful than just talk? And how can you drive the desired results not only from internal teams, but from outsourced teams as well?
Say. Do. Reward.
These three little words might not be ground breaking, they are remarkably similar to the more common saying of “actions speak louder than words” but this concept resonated with me after reading an article on Fast Company about what makes people to trust you. Perhaps this idea spoke to me because adding in “reward” helps you take that extra step from thinking just about your individual actions to a broader view of a group or organization.
This article also underscores the importance of aligning rewards and incentives to the principals companies express about customer service. Are you rewarding representatives for speed instead of customer satisfaction or accuracy? Are you reinforcing the behaviors you want not only by what you say, but also in what you do and in what you reward?
Rewarding BPOs In A Multi-Sourcing Strategy
The concept of aligning rewards with positive customer experience should go beyond employees and internal teams to apply to any business that interacts with customers on your behalf. This is one of the driving forces behind our endorsement of a multi-sourced call center strategy. By taking control of intelligent call routing decisions, companies can use KPIs and real-time performance data from various providers to reward the call center that is doing the best job with a larger proportion of your total call volume.
Here again is the challenge of making sure that you select the right mix of metrics to make sure that you are rewarding what mostly closely matches your vision of a positive customer experience. But, if you have two call centers fielding customer care calls, and one is consistently delivering better customer satisfaction ratings which is what you care about as an organization, then it makes sense to send more customers to that call center. Thus rewarding the vendor for their superior service.
So, by investing in the programing and logic to intelligently route calls across a selection of providers, businesses have the opportunity to leverage real-time data and better drive the results that matter most.
Publish Date: March 30, 2015 5:00 AM
Whither the Cure-All
Nowadays there is a trend towards the consolidation of products and services. In more and more places you see examples of offerings that are trying to do everything.
Sometimes consolidating a range of features into a single bundled package makes things better, but that’s only true if you’re going to use all of those features. I believe that doing more and having more features isn’t always best.
For example, I am an avid reader and I love my e-reader, but I don’t personally see the appeal of using a tablet in lieu of a dedicated e-reader. Sure, tablets have a lot more features and can be extremely useful, but the backlit screen just isn’t as good for reading books, which is precisely what I want an e-reader for.
Can you still read books on a tablet? Yes, of course you can. But a more cut-and-dry e-ink display elicits far less eye fatigue and performs better in a wide range of lighting situations. Tablets, on the other hand, shift the focus away from reading and more towards providing dynamic features and content.
Something similar to the tablet phenomenon happens in many call centers. There are a lot of companies that offer IVR services in addition to live-agent services. But their core competency almost always lies with the agent services.
Does that mean that they cannot provide you with an IVR system? No, clearly they can, but if their focus is directed towards the agent service, one has to question whether that IVR system will be as well managed and optimized as it could be? In other words, focusing on one aspect of customer service could throw other aspects out of balance.
A Tool for Every Task
There are times consolidation can be beneficial, don’t get me wrong. For example, it is really nice to be able to use your phone to take photos and listen to music without having to carry around three separate devices. After all, the majority of the pictures you take you probably don’t need the added controls an SLR camera would provide.
Then there are times when the extra expertise and attention that specialization provides is necessary and makes a difference. The majority of people aren’t going to rely on camera phones to photograph their wedding, they hire a wedding photographer instead. Your wedding is a time when specialization matters. You aren’t going to ask the DJ or the caterer to take pictures too, because although they are physically capable of doing so, they lack the skills, equipment, and expertise of a professional photographer.
Choose Tools that Benefit Your Customers
Your call center is one of the areas where you should strive to provide great customer service and a great customer experience. These concepts are closely related and there are available options that help to maximize both.
Customer experience is more than just a buzzword. To provide exceptional customer experience companies need to acknowledge that every touch point and interaction with a customer matters and is a piece of a larger puzzle. So no matter the nature of an interaction you want all of them to be contribute to a consistent and positive experience.
The ubiquity of the telephone makes an IVR the first point of contact for a huge number of customer interactions. Therefore, the more efficient you can make the IVR, whether it’s designed to answer a customer’s query or transfer them on to a live agent, the better the experience is for each caller.
Now, it may be easier to write a check to a single company and have them handle everything, but is that going to be what is best for your customers?
Making self-service options more efficient saves your customers time, which, in turn, makes them happy. Delighting your customers with great service is worth a little extra up-front effort, even if that means opting for an unbundled solution.
Customers are the lifeblood of your organization and your call center should be all about helping them. Every part of their experience matters, which makes it critical to deliver a great experience across the board. Paying attention to every avenue of interaction and maintaining balance between efficient self-service and high-touch agent care is a roadmap to success.
Publish Date: February 18, 2015 5:00 AM
Plum Voice has been providing cloud IVR for over a decade. Over that span of time, this cloud concept—taking care of infrastructure and carriers so our customers don’t have to—has been called many different things. Regardless of whether it you call it cloud IVR, hosted IVR, or outsourced IVR, the simple reality is that somewhere, somehow, there is a real IVR that is answering your real phone calls.
Those real IVRs live in datacenters. And when you entrust your crucial IVR functions to a cloud IVR provider, you should expect them to have more than one datacenter. And, in fact, you should expect those datacenters to be separated by at least a few hundred miles for improved fault-tolerance and disaster recovery.
A couple years ago, hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast. At the time, it was uncertain where it was going to make landfall but we knew if it struck close enough to Boston so as to disrupt our infrastructure there, we could move our customers’ traffic to our other datacenters—including our site in Philadelphia. Conversely, if it struck far enough south to cause problems at our Philly datacenter, we knew our Boston datacenter would be just fine. As it turned out, it landed at nearly the midpoint between Philadelphia and Boston and both datacenters easily weathered the hurricane. Unfortunately it caused horrible damage to New York City and did, in fact, knock out many of the datacenters clustered around the New York metropolitan area.
This brings up capacity, however. We have designed our infrastructure such that no single failure will reduce our capacity to the point where our customers would experience a degradation in service—even if our customers were currently experiencing a burst in traffic. This design requirement is described as N+1 redundancy (i.e. if you have one datacenter worth of traffic, then N+1 redundancy would require that you build two datacenters). This means the true redundant capacity that you need to offer is still the amount of traffic that one datacenter can handle even though you’re paying for two. Let’s say, though, that you have three datacenters. Now you have two datacenters worth of redundant capacity and you still only need to pay for one extra. This is precisely the reason why we have three datacenters in the US: Boston, Philadelphia, and Dallas.
We’re not done yet because Plum actually has 4 datacenters. We have servers in London too. The primary purpose for this point-of-presence in England is to provide the same highest-quality TDM circuits for European customers as we do for our North American customers. There’s also an additional benefit with putting in a datacenter overseas: it’s not in the United States. Every day, we compress, encrypt, and deliver a backup of all of our databases—including our precious source code repository—to one of our servers in England. Just in case.
Here at Plum we love our weather-proof, call-spike-proof, disaster-proof cloud IVR infrastructure. It was great fun to build, exciting to grow, and a pleasure to manage. And we think that makes us the best cloud IVR provider in the business: after all, why would you entrust your communications applications to a cloud company that isn’t obsessed with infrastructure?
Publish Date: January 13, 2015 5:00 AM
In the past we’ve written about the security of different payment methods more from the perspective of a customer concerned about keeping their personal information safe. Businesses, on the other hand, need to be concerned not only with keeping their customers’ information safe, but also with preventing fraudulent transactions.
While identity theft is certainly no walk in the park, consumers are lucky that they are at least not responsible for any fraudulent charges. It’s the businesses who end up footing those bills. So identifying and preventing those bad transactions has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.
To help businesses identify some of the problem areas and some things they can do to protect themselves, we’ve compiled the following factsheet that takes a closer look at the break down of credit card transactions and payment methods; comparing card-present and card-not-present transactions.
Publish Date: November 18, 2014 5:00 AM
Businesses that move their automated voice applications to the cloud gain a strategic advantage by allowing them to devote time and resources to improving their voice-based customer service instead of spending time and money maintaining complex legacy systems. This frees them to build better caller experiences, personalize automated applications and improve contact center ROI by increasing automation rates and reducing customer frustration.
The benefits of migrating to a cloud IVR system are appealing to any company that uses automated voice services, such as being freed from maintaining infrastructure, updates and security, while gaining access to better technology that’s always up-to-date. Still, companies considering migration often worry that their existing infrastructure and assets won’t transfer to a new system. Fortunately, today’s technology makes integration with any existing computer-telephony integration (CTI), database, or telecom system possible while maintaining data security.
Integrating with existing systems requires a detailed technical review of the systems that the IVR will connect to. This means outlining how the system stores data and establishing what security protocols the system needs for integration and transferring data. The process of integrating legacy and cloud systems takes time and careful planning. Creating a detailed migration plan that addresses all the concerns, requirements, and necessary steps ensures a smooth transition that mitigates the risks involved in the move.
Once a plan is in place for the getting the systems and infrastructure going, the remaining piece of the puzzle is the code itself, which needs to be re-written into VoiceXML. Granted, reworking the code is an investment, but it’s a worthwhile one. VoiceXML is an open-standard, which means that the new code will be portable and any investment made in re-writing it for the cloud migration will not be tied to one vendor. Because VoiceXML is similar to HTML, companies with the resources to develop dynamic web applications can easily leverage those same skills in building their IVR applications.
Transitioning from a legacy system to the cloud may also be the perfect time to review entire call flows and make improvements to the system. You can rewrite the code to take advantage of new features and improve customer experience.
Migrating to the cloud can be a daunting task, but an experienced IVR vendor like Plum Voice, which has assisted hundreds of companies through this process, can address any concerns that you have, offer ongoing support and services, and help your business maximize its ROI.
Publish Date: November 10, 2014 5:00 AM
High call volumes, call spikes, repeat calls, and the security needed to handle payment transactions over the phone all combine to make call automation particularly complex for companies in the prepaid card industry. Complex and mission-critical.
Getting automation right means putting the customer first so that prepaid companies can maintain brand loyalty by creating a high-quality customer experience.
The Voice of the Company
An IVR is often the first and only point of contact for customers in the prepaid industry. In fact, voice applications handle more customer interactions than call center reps, social media and other communication technologies combined. So making an efficient application that provides an excellent customer experience is crucial.
High Call Volume Handling
High call volumes are a fact of life for prepaid card companies and there is a direct line that runs from IVR performance, through customer satisfaction and call center costs, to a company’s bottom line.
If customers become frustrated by an automated system, they will transfer out of the application to a call center agent. Every time this happens, costs rise because live agents are far more expensive per call than IVRs.
High call volumes compound this problem. More customers calling in, means more callers get transferred to agents. Add fluctuating call volumes and call spikes to the mix and the importance of solid infrastructure to handle these issues becomes clear. The infrastructure needs to automatically scale to avoid overloading the system, dropping calls, or over-taxing agents when call volumes are high.
Call Containment Is King
Fortunately, the majority of calls coming into prepaid call centers are simple in nature. Callers typically are calling to either register their card, or check its balance. For these types of calls, customers want to get in, get out, and get on with their lives as quickly as possible. These straightforward tasks are ideal for automation, keeping the need for agents to a minimum.
However, automating calls isn’t as simple as flipping a switch, and the customer experience plays a huge role in call containment. If callers have a good experience and can easily get the information they want from within the IVR application, then why would they need to transfer out to a live agent? Providing that good caller experience requires forethought, planning, and monitoring to remove friction points and continuously improve voice applications.
Call analytics enable companies to see every menu choice callers make and where callers transfer out. Being able to see the most frequently selected options allows you to optimize your menus, shortening call times and better serving your customers. Along the same lines, if callers are frequently abandoning the IVR at the same point, you can re-evaluate that section to fix the problem callers are running into to help keep them in the application for their entire transaction.
Advanced call analytics give you insight into the customer experience providing actionable data you can use to test changes and update the call flow to improve the caller experience.
Prepaid card companies, and other financial institutions, handle sensitive financial data for their customers, and security breaches undermine customer confidence and loyalty. A vendor that provides the tools needed to handle large call volumes and manage call containment rates, needs to focus on security as well.
To ensure data that secure companies need a vendor that is PCI-compliant with redundant, geographically dispersed datacenters. You want a vendor who can not only share expertise on the design and implementation of voice applications, but on network setup, data security and disaster recovery.
Publish Date: October 13, 2014 5:00 AM
Cloud services offer infrastructure without administration, predictable costs and lower capital risk. But getting to that promised land from your island of in-sourced headaches involves overcoming three hurdles: moving live data from inside your infrastructure up into the cloud, convincing everyone with security concerns that everything’s going to be alright, and coming up with a smooth transition plan that minimizes downtime.
Your previously internal data will have to be migrated into a cloud service. The effort to do this varies depending on the service that you’re migrating. For instance, are you moving all of your sales data out of an old database? Get ready for a long ride. You’ll have to map your legacy database to the new service’s schema, you’ll have to figure out how to port the data automatically–especially if you have a lot of records, and you’ll still have to manually review the imported data after the fact. When remapping fields from an old database to a new one, you would usually try to make changes to the old database first to make it look more like the new database rather than trying migrate and remap at the same time. You may also consider allotting some extra time to do data cleanup before the migration. It’s sort of like moving to a new house–when you’re packing up the old one, you should take the time to cull out the stuff you don’t need before you seal it all in a box and ship it to your new house.
Now that you’re planning to put all of your precious business data into a basket outside your business walls, you’ll need an answer to the question: will your data in the cloud be more or less secure than it was in your infrastructure? If it’s more secure, then selling the plan to the worriers within your company will be fairly straightforward. On the other hand, sometimes (though not often) it’s less secure. Yet all is still not lost. Sometimes the benefits of cloud services are so pronounced that having a known security exposure is worth it especially if the impact of a security breach can be quantified and doesn’t result in permanently pissed off customers. Direct this pitch at your CFO — he or she can best quantify the upsides and the risks in order to make a measured judgment. Your network security team would gladly lock everyone’s laptop in a vault and have employees pass handwritten memos instead, which might be more secure, but would also have a dramatic impact on productivity.
Finally, coming up with a plan do the move. More specifically, you should come up with a worst-case scenario plan: what are you going to do if the migration doesn’t work as expected? If you and your team can answer that question, everything else will seem easy in comparison. This worst-case scenario plan should not only include standalone replacement services that you can fire up temporarily, but also a plan for the customers you will need to communicate the situation to and how you’re going to explain it to them. Obviously you will often not know exactly what might cause a migration problem, but it’s good to at least have the skeleton of an email ready to shoot out in the middle of night (because you’re definitely not doing a migration like this in the middle of the day, are you?).
Here at Plum, we ran our own email servers almost 10 years ago. The headaches started piling up: we’d run out of disk space, the email server was extremely slow for large inboxes, there was a torrent of spam that we couldn’t block fast enough. Moving all of our email accounts to a cloud provider took a month to plan and a few weeks to execute. We thankfully didn’t run into any show-stopping disasters but in hindsight, that is probably because our migration plan took three weeks to execute. We went very, very slowly, but we haven’t had to think about our email servers since. Those two months of effort has bought us years of peace.
Publish Date: September 24, 2014 5:00 AM
As we have discussed before, the vendor is just as important as the technology they’re providing. Here are some of the advantages a more experienced vendor can provide, which largely apply to technology vendor both in and outside of the contact center environment.
Publish Date: September 4, 2014 5:00 AM
When thinking about customer service, it’s important consider how the means justify the end. Sure, it’s great to wow a customer, delight them even. But if all of that glitz and glitter doesn’t help them achieve their primary goal—getting information in a timely manner—then it’s more of a hindrance than anything else. They called because they want answer, not because they love talking to customer service reps.
Get Answers Quickly and Correctly
According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 59% of customers said the most important thing to them when talking with a customer service representative is to “get answers quickly and correctly.” This response outpaced all others by a wide margin.
In the survey, conducted for analytics firm NICE, the next closest answer, chosen by 23% of respondents, was an agent who “doesn’t read from a script but has a real conversation.” For additional context, not being put on hold (6%) and not being transferred (3%), followed by a cryptic “other” at 2% rounded out the list.
An Inaccurate Answer Isn’t an Answer
Darts that miss the dartboard don’t count. The survey respondents said they wanted answers quickly and correctly. There’s an old saying in business that you can have something quick, cheap, or high quality: pick two. It’s clear that speed is of utmost important when talking to customer service, but quality is in the conversation too. After all, would anyone consider inaccurate information to be quality information?
Providing a customer with inaccurate information does nothing except postpone a resolution, and more likely frustrate the caller. Think about it. What’s their post-call thought process? They hang up the phone and return to their regularly scheduled programming. Once they realize that the information provided was not, in fact, what they needed, that person needs to call back. Chances are they won’t be happy about it either. The clock keeps ticking on an interaction until the customer gets what they need.
Customer service reps work the front lines of customer support and as a result patrons expect them to have accurate answers. Accuracy is the de facto expectation here. Based on the Harris Poll results it would seem that the other selection from the business adage triumvirate is speed.
Fortunately, with automation, companies can actually have all three – speed, quality, and cost. Utilizing Plum’s platforms for automation allows companies to integrate their voice system with CRM and other databases, thus providing fast, accurate, real-time information to callers. An automated solution is also much less expensive than relying on live agents when handling routine inquiries.
When it comes to great customer service experience, Plum helps to usher in a new paradigm where quality, speed, and cost are all possible.
Publish Date: August 28, 2014 5:00 AM
It’s about time. Customers, like everyone else, have a different notion of time than they used to. The internet and mobile devices have done that—we can access the whole world of knowledge with our fingertips, instantly.
This also applies to customer complaints. More quickly than ever, customers can lodge complaints against our companies—so fast, in fact, that they can now do it in real time. We have to respond in real time, too.
While Still on the Bus
I have a friend who just took a commercial passenger bus from Jacksonville, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. He described the trip as “very terrible” and took to social media to complain…while he was still on the bus.
The trip started off on the wrong foot when my friend sat in the two seats right behind the bus driver. According to my friend, the driver told him passengers weren’t allowed to sit in those seats. My friend asked why. The driver told him “it’s for ‘security reasons’ and threatened to pull over and call state troopers” unless he moved.
The trip got worse when my friend, after having moved to another seat, reported to the driver that the roof was leaking water and getting his clothes and bags wet. He said the driver told him he would kick him off the bus if he complained anymore. The trip got even worse when the driving started speeding.
Rather than sit idly, my friend used his time to report to the company on how his trip was going.
First, he called the company’s customer service line and asked whether there was a rule stating passengers couldn’t sit in the seats directly behind the bus driver. According to my friend, “they said there is no such policy.” (He suspected the driver wanted the seats for his own bags.)
Next, he took a video of the leak (image above).
Next, he took screenshots of the GPS that showed the bus speeding at several points:
Finally, he posted a frame shot of the leak and the screenshots of the bus speeding onto the company’s Facebook page, along with an explanation of what was happening and how it was making him feel.
He did this in real time.
Fast, Like Our Customers
The internet, social media and mobile devices are changing customer expectations—they now expect things to happen immediately because that’s how the digital world works.
If customers can lodge complaints in real time through social media, even using video, audio and pictures to document their experiences, it means we have to respond in real time.
In the case of this bus ride, it means the company should have monitored its social media, written back to my friend while he was still on the bus and even called the driver with instructions on how to repair the situation.
If the company had done that, my friend would have put that up on Facebook too. (I guarantee it—he’s a fair guy.) And the company would have come out looking a whole lot better than it did.
The point is, customers can complain in real time—to keep up, we need to respond in real time too.
Publish Date: August 28, 2014 5:00 AM
In an apparent attempt to reduce the number of negative reviews it receives online, a hotel in Hudson, New York, decided to start charging wedding guests $500 for each negative review posted online by anyone in their party.
In an era where customers have a stronger voice than ever through social media sites like Yelp, we need to give customers a voice. Rather than attempting to quash bad reviews, we need to welcome them as constructive criticism that can help us improve our business.
Turn Lemons Into Lemonade
Critiques are an opportunity for improvement. We have to seek out and listen carefully to feedback to understand what kind of customer experience we’re offering. Rather than viewing negative reviews as…well, negative…we should look at them as opportunities to show what we’re made of.
“We all hate to get a negative review, but there’s always an opportunity to respond,” customer service guru Shep Hyken told CRMBuyer. “I encourage companies that get a negative one to respond and address the issue, and hopefully get the customer to follow up with a positive one.”
Often, a bad customer experience followed by an excellent response from the company can mitigate the initial bad experience. Not only that, it can even convert unhappy customers into advocates for our company.
Until very recently, the New York hotel’s contract for wedding parties included this clause, according to CRMBuyer:
If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at…there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of…placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site, you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.
Of 35 reviews on Yelp so far—with an average overall review of 1.5 stars out of a possible 5—many critique the hotel’s policy regarding reviews.
It’s About Our Customers, Not Us
To provide good customer service, we have to think of the customer first. If our policies and practices clearly benefit us at the expense of the customer, our customers will feel like pawns in our profit-margin chess game.
In a follow-up post, Hyken wrote that trying to disenfranchise customers shows a lack of confidence in our customer service. He contrasted this hotel’s policies with another hotel he recently stayed at that had “a sign at the front desk that asks you to leave a review on Yelp.”
We need to think of our customers as people and not numbers. We need to appreciate them if we want to make the kind of connection we should be trying to make—the human one.
Publish Date: August 21, 2014 5:00 AM
Most customers use self-service to get in and get out quickly. It’s no surprise when they don’t want to complete a post-call survey. However, some customers are itching to share their thoughts after a customer service interaction—unhappy customers.
Unhappy customers are almost always in the mood to provide some feedback after a call—if not to you, to their friends, to their spouse or even the world at large via social media. In fact, they need to release that emotion. Even if they’ve already laced into a customer service rep, the urge remains.
They’re Going to Tell Someone, Better You Than the World
It’s going to happen. They will tell someone about their bad customer service experience, have no doubt about it. Who hasn’t hung up the phone with a business and immediately started trashing them to whoever is available? It happens all the time.
Dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their experience, and to more people, than satisfied customers. When we have unhappy customers, it’s far better to take the heat directly than have them pass it on to others. Word of mouth, especially on social media, is more important than ever. This means that immediate post-call surveys are equally important because they can defuse and redirect that raw emotion in addition to providing valuable data.
Back in the pre-internet, pre-social-media days, word didn’t travel as fast as it does today. A company may have lost customers on an individual basis, not on a market-wide basis. If someone told their friends about a bad experience, those friends may have second-guessed the company and told their friends to go elsewhere, and word spread…but gradually.
Today, word spreads instantly. A frustrated customer can hang up the phone and immediately begin typing a negative review on social media—even on your company’s social media.
It’s important to intercept that message right after the call, while emotions are still running high. This is the time to try to recover from a bad customer experience.
While It’s Still Fresh
Surveys conducted immediately after a customer service interaction are more accurate—they provide context for a given situation that aids the search for a solution. Customers are more likely to take a survey immediately after an interaction as well. A wide gap between when the interaction occurs and when the survey is administered allows customers to alter their view of, or even forget that interaction. No one wants that. That’s bad data.
In psychology, there’s Decay Theory— the idea that memories, especially memories we don’t access again, fade over time. There’s also Interference Theory— the concept that suggests old memories can affect how new memories are formed, and new memories can alter older memories. No matter how you look at it memory isn’t static.
“According to scientific research,” writes Dr. Jodie Monger of Customer Relationship Metrics. “Analysis from evaluations that are delayed has several biases (errors) and is, therefore, not reliable unless you include important correction factors.”
That alone is reason enough to justify surveys immediately following customer interactions.
Embrace Unhappy Customers
Letting customers vent their frustration to you enables them to direct their frustration on the source, not just a friend or family member.
This isn’t about buttering up customers so they provide positive feedback. It’s about getting constructive, actionable feedback that you can use to improve your customer service.
You want their negative reviews. Criticism tells you where you can improve. What good is it for servers in restaurants or customer service reps in call centers to only ask for feedback from customers deemed to have had positive experiences? That will only tell you part of the story.
It’s easy to understand whey they do it. Wait staff or service reps alike want positive reviews. It’s always nice to receive praise. But those positive reviews don’t call out mistakes, identify shortcomings, or highlight areas where you can improve your businesses. In other words, they’re nowhere near as useful as negative reviews.
Not only are customer recollections more accurate immediately following an interaction, they’re a great way to do damage control when a bad customer service experience has occurred.
Customers do a variety of things following a negative interaction. After they’ve set social media alight with their anger they often consider your competitors when they didn’t previously. Waiting to start the triage process may cost you a customer—permanently.
It’s common knowledge that getting new customers is more difficult than keeping current ones. So to keep your current customers embracing a cycle of improvement that quickly identifies and addresses pain points becomes critical.
“Research has proven in several environments that if a customer has a negative service experience or a service failure, if it is resolved quickly by the company and to the customer’s satisfaction, that customer will remain loyal to the company, in spite of the failure,” writes CustomerThink. “In fact, if a satisfactory resolution is accomplished, these customers will have higher loyalty rates to the company than customers that have had no service failure at all.”
Fix It Right Then
Post-call surveys offer a good way to let customers vent their frustrations before turning to the world at large, a more accurate way for you to get feedback, and an efficient way to recover from bad customer experiences.
Even a simple scaled question about service can help. There’s satisfaction for the customer in pressing “1” instead of “5” on a customer satisfaction rating scale. But there’s even more satisfaction for the customer in receiving an immediate callback afterwards and having a customer service rep fix whatever went wrong in the first place.
Publish Date: August 14, 2014 5:00 AM
A well-written survey is a more accurate one. However, writing good surveys isn’t necessarily intuitive. Here’s an infograph with the key elements of a well-written survey:
Publish Date: August 4, 2014 5:00 AM
When thinking of surveys, it’s important to remember what they actually are: data. Surveys yield data that helps us make informed decisions on just about everything these days. Certainly, politicians don’t make a move without them. And companies use them to guide their customer service.
Customer service PR nightmares are cautionary tales for the rest of us. They remind us that, while human intuition will always play a part in customer service, it may not trump data we get from our surveys.
When Common Sense Isn’t Enough
Common sense dictates that when a customer wants something, even if it’s to leave the company, we have to provide that for them. Business suffers if we try to bully a customer, and a PR nightmare hurts a lot more than one lost customer.
But how do you tell what’s common sense in a given situation? It’s up to the customer service rep at that point, which means the decision comes from a place of subjectivity. And common sense, paradoxically or perhaps ironically, seems to vary between people.
If we poll our customers, we’ll know what’s ‘common sense’ for them, or what most of them think is appropriate in a given situation. The numbers will vary, but we’ll have a range to base policy on.
Hard Data Trumps Subjectivity
Hard data forms the basis of customer service efforts. Without knowing what’s in our customers’ minds, how can we possibly know how to serve them? We need to understand them as people.
“Companies need to treat the customer service interaction as something more personal, and customers need to treat it more as a business transaction,” Your Call Is (Not That) Important To Us author Emily Yellin told NPR.
With customer service, our job is to make doing business with us easy and a pleasure, not a chore. Pushback and hard-selling techniques are not the path to great customer service. And if we claim to provide great service, we need to actually provide great service.
“The promise that we make to customers is that we’re going to provide a great experience,” said Zappos call center head Rob Siefker. “If we’re going to market that and say that’s what our brand is, then when somebody calls us, that needs to the be the experience they have.”
PR Nightmares Are (Perhaps Unfortunate) Informal Surveys
In a way, PR nightmares serve as informal surveys for many companies. Not ones they would script themselves, but surveys nonetheless. Things go viral, and the public offers their opinions.
Again, maybe not the surveys companies want. But ones they can use to improve customer service. Which, in the end, is the goal of any customer service survey.
Publish Date: July 25, 2014 5:00 AM