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Amazon.com started 20 years ago selling books online out of Jeff Bezos’ garage. It is now valued at $250 billion, with its stock soaring 70% in the final nine months of 2015. While these facts are undeniably fascinating and enviable, the biggest attribute to their success is their incomparable customer service. According to USA Today, Amazon was the #1 company for customer service last year. So what are some lessons that every company can learn from this leading e-commerce conglomerate?
1. Alway Strive to be Better
The header on the Amazon job board website is a quote from Bezos: “It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Amazon clearly does this by catering to each aspect of the customer experience, from an easy to use website to achieving an 87% customer satisfaction rating. With more than 304 million active customer accounts worldwide, Amazon knows that they need to cater to their customers by creating services that are user-friendly and by addressing complaints quickly, compassionately and in favor of the customer.
2. Be Customer-Centric
“Early on, Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings and informed his top executives that they should consider that seat occupied by their customer, ‘the most important person in the room,’” explains Kevin Balducci of Salesforce. “Throughout these meetings, a different weight was held on all decisions as the invisible but clear presence of the customer was always accounted for.”
3. The Most Important Skill is Listening
So many times, company leadership gets caught up in numbers, trends, or even just staying afloat that they fail to hear the most important information that comes from their customers.
“As part of a training session each year, Jeff Bezos asks thousands of Amazon managers, including himself, to attend two days of call-center training,” states Balducci. “The incentive here is for managers to immediately be placed in the mindset that Amazon’s philosophy is about listening, and most importantly, understanding the customer. It’s easy to listen to customers. However the first step of every employee must be to understand them and their needs in order to successfully better the organization.”
4. Have an Unwavering Mission
Many companies lose focus. Not Amazon. In their 2008 SEC filing, Amazon described the vision of their business as to “relentlessly focus on customer experience…” Nearly a decade later, their vision remains largely the same – “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
While Amazon evolves, expands and innovates, the bottom line is the same: a happy customer is a returning customer. While it may cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars as they test new strategies and products (like when they had to eat some of the cost for Amazon Prime free shipping), they learn from their mistakes without penalizing the customer for their choices.
5. Be Transparent
Turn on the 6 o’clock news and you’re bound to hear about some political or corporate cover-up. However, back in 2009, Amazon made a huge blunder pertaining to unauthorized copies of classic books that they had sold. Without permission, they deleted these copies off users’ Kindles and provided refunds to the buyer. But, who knew Amazon had access to delete consumer property without permission!?! What could have been a fiasco is now a distant memory because of Bezos’ honesty. In a public posting he wrote, “This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.”
Bezos’ openness about the fiasco helped him regain the trust of the masses, and the rest is history.
Not sure where to start to apply these thoughts to your business? Here’s a final tip from Bezos: “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
Publish Date: August 19, 2016 5:00 AM
There are some jobs that are just harder than others and call center agents have a difficult role to fill. On a daily basis, they have the challenge of calming frustrated and angry customers, often while lacking the tools and respect found in other job opportunities.
In yesterday’s blog post, we gave tips #1-5 for helping your call center agents to succeed. Here are five more to ensure they get the motivation and help that they deserve.
1. Set Agents Up For Success
Few things aggravate a customer more than dealing with an agent who doesn’t have the answers. With caller ID and contact history, your agents have access to the information they need before they even say, “How may I help you?” This eliminates uncomfortable calls and sets the agent (and customer) up for success (which also coincides with tips #1 and #8). It also gives the agent the power to handle the situation.
2. Take Time to Listen
“The foundation of strong employee morale is communication — that means collaboration, feedback and recognition,” explains Morgan Norman, founder and CEO of WorkSimple, a social performance management platform. The call center agent is the one closest to the customer and who best understands the ins and outs of a product. Allowing agents to be heard validates the important role they fill for the business.
“I listened to everyone’s opinions, and, without fail, they’d bring up things I hadn’t thought of. More important, my team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered,” states Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour. “Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued.”
3. Reduce Customer Frustration
We’ve all had those call center experiences when we’ve waited on the line for more than 20 minutes only to snap at the operator when they are finally available to take our call. Sometimes being on hold is inevitable, but advanced call center software features such as voicemail or queue callback can make that time more bearable for customers. When an agent is able to call the customer back, the customer is less likely to be upset at the wasted time being on hold; less angry customers equals less frazzled call center agents! Your agents will be more motivated to come to work when they know that they will have fewer difficult callers to deal with.
4. Provide Opportunities for Advancement
Many times call center job opportunities are for those just entering the job market. “There is a much higher turnover rate in routine, order-taking positions or in outbound telemarketing where burnout is high,” found QATC, a quality assurance organization. “Turnover is lower in more specialized, higher level jobs and also lower in union environments.”
Even small levels of advancement such as addressing VIP calls or managing team quality control can allow agents to feel valued and recognized for their work and potential.
5. Promote Teamwork
One of the most discouraging things in any workplace is when one employee isn’t doing their share. Custom call center agent statuses can bring much-needed visibility for agents by allowing them to share their availabilities with fellow teammates. This transparency fosters teamwork and a better work environment overall.
Many times, employees spend more time in the workplace than even at home, so it only makes sense to create the best work experience possible. Being heard, respected and equipped for success will benefit your agents, allowing them to be well-prepared with the willingness and ability to address every customer need.
Missed tips #1-5? Check out part one of this two-part series for more ways to motivate your call center agents.
Publish Date: August 17, 2016 5:00 AM
Every job has its ups and downs, and call center agents are no exception. In fact, Russell Huebsch reports in the Houston Chronicle that, “Across the entire industry, call centers replace 26 percent of their front-line agents annually… Actual turnover rates vary by sector within the industry and the classification of an employee may affect his expected attrition rate. For example, turnover for part-time employees hovers around 33 percent annually.”
There are many reasons why employers should motivate call center agents to stay: it can be expensive acquiring new staff, there’s the lag time involved to train just-hired employees, and there’s the possible result of flailing company morale. Keeping your agents feeling valued can greatly benefit your business, while also ensuring customers can always reach a well-equipped, happy agent to help with their needs.
Here are some ways to keep your call center agents motivated:
1. Equip Them with the Right Tools
Leveraging easy-to-use tools that seamlessly fit into an agent’s job allows them to focus on providing the best customer support possible. Instead of fumbling with various platforms to access pieces of information or using faulty software, your agents can work efficiently and successfully when they have the best tools at their fingertips. Beyond call center software, be sure to also provide your agents with the best headsets, computers and Internet connections.
2. Automate Data Entry
The best call center software automates many of the manual tasks agents must perform for every call. Similarly, syncing data with other customer service tools via call center integrations is another way to reduce redundancy for agents. These features help streamline agent workloads, allowing them be more efficient and better at their jobs.
3. Harness Agents’ Strengths
Rather than having your agents deal with every issue that enters your call center, training agents to become an expert on a certain topic allows them to focus their energy and time on what they are individually best at. Advanced call routing then ensures calls are routed to the agent best equipped to handle each inquiry. If, for example, you have one employee who handles upset customers really well and another that crumbles under the criticism, the latter could focus instead on receiving orders while the former handles tier one requests.
4. Integrate Positive Acknowledgement
Everyone likes to be acknowledged when they are doing a good job. Using call center reporting, you can quickly and easily assess the performance of each agent. You can view how much time your agents are spending on calls and reward those who stand out for their performance and have positive customer reviews.
5. Lead By Example
A Gallup poll showed that “89% of employers believe that workers leave their company for more money” while in fact “75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself.”
This brings to mind the popular saying “people quit bosses, not jobs.” How do the leaders in your corporation manage their teams and what is the culture of your company? The answers to those questions could be found in your employee turnover rate.
Happier call center agents create better customer experiences. Better yet, they create a workplace environment that everyone enjoys being a part of.
Need more inspiration? Be sure to check back for the next blog post in this series to learn tips #6-10 for motivating your call center agents.
Publish Date: August 16, 2016 5:00 AM
Creating company loyalty is obviously a top priority for any business. However, there are also those customers who rise to the top of the list for either how much they invest into your products and services or for their ability to influence and attract potential customers. These top clients deserve to be pampered and catered to for the immeasurable value they bring. Thanks to the advancement of call center technology, there are several ways that businesses can improve customer service and cater to VIP customers.
Creating a VIP List
First things first, how do you identify who is on your VIP list? While every customer is appreciated and respected, not everyone possesses the same potential for growth. Doug Fleener, an advisor on creating client-centered corporations, suggests, “One set of VIPs are customers who buy the most over a given time period. I like to measure spending over an 18-24 month period. This makes it easier to spot customers who are falling down or coming up the list. The number of VIP buyers you track depends on how big your business is.”
What about those who aren’t big spenders but have the power of influence? “These are either loyal advocates who bring in a large number of new customers, or someone in the community we benefit from being associated with,” explains Fleener. “Examples include someone famous, a political mover and shaker, and well-known business people. Call this group your Community VIPs.”
Routing your VIP Customers
Now that we have basic groundwork set, here’s how you can cater to your top customers:
1. Create a VIP Phone Number
Creating a separate phone number for your VIPs to use when they need to reach your business fosters a white-glove, premium service environment. This number can connect to your most experienced or knowledgeable agents giving your best clients premium service for their more specific or complicated needs.
2. Use an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
If you would like your important customers to call into your main line, but still receive VIP service, an automatic call distributor can route specific phone numbers to specific agents or departments. This enables VIP customers to skip the regular waiting queue so they can be routed immediately to the most appropriate agent.
Building a Relationship
Monika Jansen of Groupon sites that, “20% of customers visit your business 10 times or more, representing nearly three fourths of all visits… Loyal customers are responsible for 80% of your total revenue, and over their lifetime, they spend 10 times more.”
Pristine customer service is one of the building blocks to establishing a lasting relationship with your VIPs. To ensure agents are prepared for every VIP interaction, call center software can display each caller’s name and contact history as soon as the call comes in. Advanced call center software with CRM or helpdesk integrations can help agents further personalize calls by allowing them to use screen pops to view the caller’s complete contact history. They will be able to get up-to-date on a caller’s previous calls, support requests, emails, chats, purchases and notes before even picking up the call. Who wouldn’t love to hear, “Hi Mr./Ms. ___. I see that your product arrived three days ago. Are you happy with your order? How can I help you?”
Mega entrepreneur and Shark Tank resident Mark Cuban advises, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” This is especially true for your VIP customers. When they need to contact you, they will probably do it through your call center. What will they hear right after the phone rings?
Amy is an Account Manager at Talkdesk. When she's not busy at work, she enjoys cooking, browsing bookstores and going on hikes around the Bay Area.
Publish Date: August 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Let’s face it: no one likes to hear negative feedback. It immediately makes you want to shut down the conversation, exit the environment you’re in and drown your sorrows in an extra large iced mocha with a gargantuan chocolate chip cookie on the side. Unfortunately, life isn’t that easy. Negative feedback from customers isn’t always what you want to hear, but sometimes it’s what you need to progress in the industry, revise your product and improve your customer service. Here are four ways to learn from negative comments.
1. Feedback is a Good Thing
We would all like to think that our products are on point or our services never hit a glitch, but that is rarely the case. If something isn’t working right in your company, you need to know. In fact, Help Scout sites that a typical business hears from only 4% of its dissatisfied customers. This means that 96% say nothing. Furthermore, 91% of customers who weren’t satisfied with their service don’t return. It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to maintain a current one, so listening to those 4% who are less than satisfied will save you countless dollars.
2. Make the Change
One of the biggest marketing faux pas in history is when Coke felt threatened by Pepsi in the 1980’s and introduced New Coke. En masse, faithful Coke fans poured the “improved” beverage down the drain and protests made headlines throughout the country. What could have irreparably harmed the company became a huge benefit. They admitted they were wrong, apologized to their fans, and became bigger than ever. Listening and showing their willingness to change saved the company.
“Every day, companies solicit feedback from customers, yet only a few translate that feedback into meaning. An even smaller fraction of companies actually take action or close the loop with the customer, to let them know their voice was heard,” says business consultant Whitney Wood. “If you handle it right, the dialog between you and your customers can become the lifeline of your business. To establish and maintain a healthy flow, customer feedback must result in change your customers can see. Change is the most powerful currency to reward vocal and consultative customers.”
3. Data Tracking
If one person complains about something they didn’t like about your product, so be it. If you are getting multiple complaints, then that should be a red flag for your company. Tracking complaints is an important indicator of current trends, future marketing strategies, and direction for product development. (Just look at McDonald’s and their new push for healthier food options such as cage free eggs and apple slices in Happy Meals.)
Your call center agents are on the front lines interacting with customers daily and are therefore in the best position to share the voice of the customer. Providing them with tools to automatically log calls and their outcomes can be useful for gleaning insights into your company’s performance. Call center software that provides powerful reporting and integrates with CRM and helpdesk applications can make this process surprisingly simple.
4. Listen to Your Employees
At the end of every episode of the TV show Undercover Boss, the CEO always meets with his or her fellow executives to share what he or she has learned. Inevitably, they always gain an immense amount of insight that they otherwise would not have from just working alongside their employees. The same goes for customer complaints; employees who are answering those negative calls have heard it all and additionally have a good sense of the company’s image and PR. More than likely, they have some great ideas on how to solve a variety of the problems presented. Who knows what you might learn?
If you put in the effort, negative customer feedback is an opportunity to listen and grow. Not learning from those comments could be detrimental. As customer service pro Kristin Smaby explains, “When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service and business better.”
Publish Date: August 10, 2016 5:00 AM
Self-service customer support has been a major part of the recent transformation of the company-customer relationship. The modern customer expects a personalized experience when they reach out to businesses. This not only means that they want companies to know their account details, it also means that they want companies to be available on the channel that is most convenient to them at any given time.
For this reason, many forward-thinking businesses are investing in omnichannel customer service strategies. The beauty of omnichannel is that companies can choose which channels they think will best meet their customers’ needs. Self-service is a common support channel found in omnichannel strategies for a variety of reasons.
The go-to self-service channel is the company website. Self-service can take many forms. For B2C companies, FAQ sections may suffice. Other businesses may invest in developing a Knowledge Base. Another route that might be more appropriate for B2B companies would be a self-service portal.
In this post we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of self-service customer support from both the company and customer perspective.
The Company Perspective
For any service channel to be effective, it must have buy-in from the business end. Here are a few of the considerations companies may have before investing in self-service:
1. Reduces costs of maintaining a contact center
There are very few instances in which self-service acts as a standalone customer support offering. In general, it is used in conjunction with other customer support channels. Implementing self-service eases the ticket burden of other channels because it enables customers to resolve their issues on their own.
The beauty of self-service portals is that they do not require a team of trained agents. Once they are established, they simply need to be maintained. This means that companies need fewer agents to provide the same quality of service. That can represent significant savings.
2. Enables customer service representatives to specialize
Self-service customer support is excellent at handling simple problems. This means that customers who have more complex problems reach out via different channels. Customer support agents can therefore invest more time and energy in helping the customers who have more advanced needs.
1. Requires regular updates
The purpose of self-service is to provide quick and easy answers. Those who seek out these answers are likely to be annoyed if there is missing or incorrect information in the database. This means that self-service interfaces must be regularly updated. Companies must invest in hiring a team to do these updates.
2. Lacks a personal touch
For many consumers, customer support is their main interaction with companies after the sale is made. For this reason, customer service has become a loyalty battleground, with each company trying to outserve the others. When customers leverage self-service, it is not as easy to “wow” them. The best strategy is effortlessness and that may not lead to the same positive word-of-mouth that delight does.
The Customer Perspective
For any channel strategy to work, it must be supported and used by customers. Self-service has its share of upsides and downside that companies should weigh before implementing it.
Self-service is inherently user-friendly because it eliminates the middleman. It allows customers to find and consume information at their own pace. It can be great for explanations that require huge amounts of text or extensive images.
2. Always available
Since self-service offerings don’t require staff (other than for maintenance, as mentioned above), they are accessible at any time. This gives customers the ability to engage with support at any time that suits them.
Poorly implemented self-service customer support can be tremendously irritating. If not done well, self-service portals may be difficult to navigate or even provide the wrong answers. They may be full of confusing language or dead ends. Worst of all, frustration from customers may mount if they feel they do not have other options for handling their problems.
The choice to implement a self-service policy is significant in the life of your business. If done correctly, it can be a great step towards embracing omnichannel service and meeting the demands of the always-connected consumer.
Publish Date: August 9, 2016 5:00 AM
Every good business leader knows that poor customer service is to be avoided. It is in the best interest of every company to treat their customers well. After all, it’s the customers who ultimately have power in the relationship. Customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer retention are the underpinnings of success.
Many companies think about customer service from the business perspective. They analyze customer service metrics and try to extrapolate learnings. They work with their customer service representatives on effective customer interaction techniques, holding training and coaching sessions. These examinations are important, but they only tell half the story.
The other half of customer service is the customer. What do they think when they interact with your company? How do they feel about your brand? Most importantly, what do they communicate about your business and to whom?
What is the result of poor customer service?
From a business perspective, poor customer service often leads to churn and loss of revenue. It may also lead to negative brand portrayals. In some cases, poor customer service can lead to the failure of a business as a whole.
What is the customer perspective on poor service?
Customers have varying reactions to poor customer service interactions. The prevailing emotion tends to be frustration. A poor interaction generally means that the customer’s inquiry was not answered. The customer’s needs weren’t met, so it is natural for them to feel disappointed and angry.
What is absolutely imperative to remember is that:
In the minds of your customers, your service = your brand.
When a customer has a poor customer service experience, they don’t just think, “This company’s customer service is bad.” They extrapolate and think, “This company is bad.” Your service offering is one and the same with your entire brand.
Unhappy customers spread negative word of mouth
Customers who feel they have been wronged by your company tend to convey that information to others. This can lead to a very serious problem:
One bad customer service experience leads to…
An overall negative view of the brand, which turns customers into…
Brand detractors who…
Discourage new customers.
One bad experience can spiral into the loss of more than just one customer. This is especially true in the age of social media. A customer that has reason to be upset can broadcast that information to millions of people with the click of a button.
Three statistics on the cost of poor customer service
Here are the hard numbers of what poor customer service can cost your brand:
- 59% of Americans would try a new brand for a better service experience.
- For every customer who complains about your service, 26 others remain silent.
- Information about a bad customer service interaction reaches twice as many people as praise for a good experience.
Check out more stats in Help Scout’s Ebook on customer service facts.
The bottom line is that poor customer service can have a ripple effect on your brand because it directly impacts your customers’ view of your company as a whole. No matter how great your product is, if your support doesn’t cut it, you will lose customers.
Invest in building a thoughtful customer service strategy. It all starts with business tools. Have you evaluated your contact center solution lately?
Publish Date: August 8, 2016 5:00 AM
Much has been said recently about the impact of bots on modern life. What was once science fiction is quickly becoming a reality in our day-to-day lives. As a proud Palo Alto resident, I am personally impacted by Google’s self-driving cars almost every day. (“Stop taunting me with your perfect driving! I see you smiling and hands-free in the driver’s seat.”)
One of the places bots are likely to make a big splash is customer service. For better or worse, the bot has made its debut but what effect will bots have on call center jobs?
To answer this question, we need to take a few steps back and examine the history of innovations in customer service.
Stone Age Service
Until recently, the relationship between companies and their customers has been unidirectional, with businesses claiming almost all of the power. There were a limited number of ways to get in contact with companies, and if the response was not what the customer wanted, there was little recourse. Customers either did not have or were not aware of other choices.
The Customer Service Revolution
A number of factors have contributed to a complete rethinking of the customer-company relationship.
1. The rise of channels
What used to be strictly in-person and by phone service now takes place across channels including SMS, chat, email, video and social.
2. The world wide web
The Internet has empowered consumers to seek information on companies and their competitors. Consumers are no longer trapped with certain brands and those brands can no longer control the information consumers receive.
3. Social media
Social media is everyone’s microphone. Modern customers have the ability to share their opinions with millions of strangers with the click of a button.
The new customer-company relationship is a complete 180 from what it had been. It’s a bidirectional and multichannel relationship with customers holding most of the power. Customer expectations are rising, and companies are scrambling to keep up.
Call Center Outsourcing
Sprinkled throughout all of these changes has been a move to outsource customer service labor. Many call center jobs have been moved to other countries, particularly India and the Philippines. Although call center outsourcing has by no means touched every company or every industry, it has certainly caused a seismic shift in the location and nature of call center jobs.
Until bots came along, call center outsourcing was one of the major cost-saving measures companies were taking. Outsourcing has also been controversial because some see it as a way for call center jobs to be “lost” to other countries. On the consumer end, there has been some backlash in cases where call center agents are not able to adequately understand their inquiries due to cultural or linguistic misunderstandings.
An Omnichannel Approach
As the customer-company relationship has changed, businesses have had to adapt (and in many cases develop) customer service strategies. One of the newest innovations in this arena is the omnichannel approach.
Omnichannel customer service strategies attempt to meet customers on their level by delivering service to customers on their preferred channel, whether that’s phone, in-person, email, SMS, video, self-service, live chat or anything else. At Talkdesk, we think about omnichannel service on the emotion-urgency axis. Every individual customer service inquiry requires a specific response based upon the emotion and urgency of the situation.
The purpose of an omnichannel approach is to foster customer loyalty by making the customer experience more effortless. Since consumers have taken control of their interactions with companies, businesses are adjusting their approach by trying to be there exactly when customers need them.
Bots are just the most recent in a long line of customer service transformations. Customer service chatbots are now being introduced into contact centers around the world. They can interact with customers on chat and SMS, handle basic inquiries and prep information for agents before they speak to the customer.
So what IS the impact of bots on call center jobs?
Bots are still a relatively new technology, so nothing is for sure. For the sake of speculation, let’s explore some of the possible outcomes of this new technology:
1. Bots replace humans completely
For many, this is the worst case scenario; all human call center jobs are replaced by robot jobs. Of course, this isn’t realistic. At this stage, we do not have AI that can adequately address all customer needs, regardless of channel. Robots simply do not have the capacity to empathize and so many customers reach out simply for empathy.
2. Bots will eliminate a significant amount of call center jobs
This one is a yes and no situation. Call center jobs may be relatively safe from bots. The advantage of phone support is that it’s human. Callers with emotional, urgent requests can reach out and talk to someone! As to contact center jobs, bots may spell doom for many text-based customer service representatives.
3. Bots will force humans into more specialized roles
As bot technology progresses, customer service bots will be able to perform more and more tasks. This will mean that they can take over many jobs, including in the call center. In order to compete, humans will have to learn to do more specialized tasks that cannot be performed by AI. This would be a great improvement for the customer as it would mean that representatives are more knowledgeable, but it would also likely contribute to a loss of call center jobs as a whole.
4. Bots will not have any effect on call center jobs
It’s possible that chatbots will be a fad. Perhaps the public will respond so negatively to the idea that it won’t be sustainable for companies to utilize them and no call center jobs will be lost. This is relatively unlikely to happen simply because of the cost-saving aspect of bots. There are many menial tasks that can be completed cheaper and more efficiently by robots.
The implications of chatbots are far reaching. They have the potential to transform the provision of customer service as we know it. What will be the effect of bots on call center jobs? Only time will tell.
Improve your customer service provision now without having to involve chatbots with a demo of Talkdesk cloud-based call center software.
Publish Date: August 4, 2016 5:00 AM
To be competitive in today’s oversaturated marketplace is to make a commitment to being customer-centric. The companies that invest in creating excellent customer experiences ultimately differentiate themselves from competitors and succeed in the long term.
There are many aspects to effectively executing a customer experience strategy. In this week’s Customer Experience Weekly, we’ll be exploring customer service metrics. How can businesses measure their success and make data-driven decisions for the future? We’ve scoured the web looking for answers.
Here’s what we found:
Choosing the Right Customer Service Metrics Requires Alignment to Your Brand
Kate Leggett || Forrester
Customer service quality cannot be measured by a single metric. It must be determined by an individually selected set of metrics. The choice of these metrics is dependent upon your company’s specific value proposition.
Understanding Customer Service Metrics: The Numbers that Matter Most
Len Markidan || GrooveHQ
This mammoth blog post puts customer satisfaction front and center. It provides a few ways to measure customer satisfaction and then outlines secondary customer service metrics. These include average handle time, replies per ticket and average first reply time.
Do You Know Your Customer Effort Score?
Lara Ponomareff || CEB Blogs
One of the newest ways to measure the value of your customer service is how much effort customers have to exert to get answers to their inquiries. Customer Effort Scores (CES) are derived from direct, one-question surveys asking customers to rate how much effort they put into the interaction.
11 Customer Service Mertics that Really Matter To Your Business via @grexit #smallbusinesstip https://t.co/mMOQ21rlHD
— JolitaSocial (@jolitasocial) July 27, 2016
Introducing Talkdesk Predictive Customer Analytics: Customer Sentiment Score (CSS)
Ernest Wong || Talkdesk
Talkdesk introduced a new call center KPI: Customer Sentiment Score (CSS). CSS uses inputs from customers and agents as well as other call center data such as wait time to calculate a sentiment score. The purpose of this metric is to help promote empathy within the call center.
15 Customer Service Metrics to Measure
Tricia Morris || Parature
There are many types of customer service metrics. In this post, quality, financial and operational metrics are reviewed. It is important to keep in mind the type of metrics your company measures to be sure that you are taking the right approach.
14 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Measure Customer Service
Amanda Stillwagon || Small Business Trends
Enjoy a brief overview of the top 14 customer service metrics. This is a great primer on the subject. KPIs outlined include Net Promoter Score, customer retention and conversion rate.
- 25 Customer Service Metrics You Should Care About
- Top 10 Key Performance Indicators for Customer Service: Part 1
- 5 Customer Experience Metrics Every Successful Company Should Track
We hope this post has given you some insight into customer service metrics. Take some time to review what systems you have in place to measure data and whether your numbers are hitting the correct marks. Customer-centricity is everything in today’s market.
Publish Date: August 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Our latest infographic, “7 Tips to Getting Better Customer Service,” went up today. It’s full of valuable information on when and how to contact phone support to increase the odds that your call is quick, efficient and effective.
In honor of the worthwhile data contained in that infographic, we thought we’d review some of the most bogus “hacks” we’ve heard from our friends and family for receiving great customer support. There’s a chance that these work… But we’d recommend sticking to the advice in the infographic.
1. Curse into the IVR
This is our personal favorite. Once upon a time, someone said that if you started swearing into the interactive voice response system, it would immediately connect you with an agent. This prompted a whole lot of people to start screaming obscenities into the receiver.
Verdict: Never worked for us, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that it was a little fun.
2. Press the IVR prompt for “Sales”
Customer service call queues can be long. Who’s got that kind of time? Salespeople answer quickly; they’re looking to make a deal! Reach out to sales and they’ll transfer you to customer service in no time.
Verdict: This one can actually work, but it won’t win you any friends in the Sales and Customer Service departments.
3. Use the customer service representative’s name repeatedly
The idea here is to endear the agent to you and therefore get better service. Acknowledge that they are, in fact, a real human being with real feelings.
Verdict: This is a wonderful idea! But don’t go overboard. The more times you say the customer service representative’s name the closer you get to patronizing.
4. When in doubt, hang up and call back in
Getting frustrated with an agent? No problem. Just disconnect and hope you’re connected with someone new. Sure, you’ll have to re-enter the IVR and the call queue, but at least you’ll have a chance of speaking to someone more sympathetic to your cause.
Verdict: Know the size of the company’s customer service department before doing this. The last thing you want is to find yourself on the line with the same person. You should also avoid advanced call centers; they have comprehensive caller histories and features like Intelligent Reconnect.
5. Ask for a manager the moment your call connects
You want answers and you want them now. Why should you have to speak to a call center agent? Go straight to the top by demanding to speak with a manager the moment someone answers the phone.
Verdict: The agent’s job is to AVOID escalating you to management. If this trick is going to work, you’ll need to provide a very solid reason for the request.
6. Start yelling
Make your voice heard by upping the decibels. This one is particularly satisfying if you really are irate with the company. Shout your request to the world and see what comes back.
Verdict: Not very nice… Also not very effective. Who wants to help someone who’s yelling at them?
7. Prepare a speech
Create a script and read it word-for-word. That way, you’ll know that the call center agent is hearing exactly what you’re trying to say.
Verdict: Being prepared is never a bad thing, but the more you read from your script, the less likely the agent is to pay attention. Customer service is a conversation, not a soliloquy.
Sadly, none of these customer service “hacks” will get you the service that you want. Happily, we’ve created an infographic that will!
Check out “7 Tips to Getting Better Customer Service.”
Publish Date: August 2, 2016 5:00 AM
There are a lot of things that make Talkdesk great. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that we’re constantly expanding our offering with innovative new features and enhanced functionality. You might also recall that we offer deep integrations with leading business tools to ensure your call center works in tandem with existing setups. In fact, we currently offer more than 25 integrations, more than any other cloud-based call center software in the industry.
Having all of these integrations means we get to work with a lot of great companies. Today, we’re happy to announce the next step in our relationship with an industry leader…
Introducing: Talkdesk for Salesforce
Since the beginning, Talkdesk has offered a strong integration with Salesforce, providing a CTI Widget, customizable automations and more. Our relationship with Salesforce was further strengthened in October 2015, when Salesforce Ventures led a $21M Series A round for Talkdesk.
The launch of Talkdesk for Salesforce today represents a significant milestone in both the development of our product and our partnership with Salesforce. This new app provides Salesforce users with an even deeper integration that allows them to better support customers and drive more revenue entirely from within the Salesforce platform.
Why We Created Talkdesk for Salesforce
At Talkdesk, we believe in simplifying communication. Whether it’s with prospects or customers, we know that having personalized, real-time conversations is key to building lasting relationships. One of our primary reasons for building the initial Talkdesk Salesforce Integration was to provide Salesforce users with the ability to seamlessly communicate via voice from within Salesforce. This continues to be a driving force behind today’s Talkdesk for Salesforce.
In today’s integrated world, the value of a unified workspace has become increasingly apparent. No one wants to learn another tool or keep yet another tab open in their web browser. In order for businesses to reach their goals with efficiency, the tools they use must provide a cohesive experience. This is true whether you’re an administrator, supervisor or agent.
What makes Talkdesk for Salesforce unique is that it can be configured, maintained and used all from within the Salesforce environment. While our previous Salesforce integration provided native access to a CTI Widget for agents, Talkdesk for Salesforce aims to bring every party involved into the fold. We’ve expanded and built upon existing foundations to create a truly all-encompassing call center application. This means a more seamless experience for admins, supervisors and agents.
The Talkdesk for Salesforce Experience
The first thing anyone will notice when installing Talkdesk for Salesforce is how simple it is. We provide a quick, three-step setup right inside Salesforce where admins can set up Talkdesk for Salesforce, enable/disable Talkdesk automations and add Talkdesk users. We even provide individual permission sets for the three different Talkdesk roles so users can get started instantly.
When designing the call center supervisor experience, we wanted to ensure that supervisors would have easy access to the tools they need for success. This means providing access to Talkdesk Live real-time call monitoring, 15+ historical call reports and more from within Salesforce. We store all of your call data in Salesforce so it’s easy to correlate your call center’s performance with revenue, cases closed and more.
We haven’t forgotten about the agents! With Talkdesk for Salesforce, call center agents can leverage our sleek, newly redesigned CTI Widget inside Salesforce. The intuitive interface makes it a breeze to dial and receive phone calls. Agents can also save time and increase efficiency with an endless array of Talkdesk’s customizable automations. There’s something for everyone in Talkdesk for Salesforce.
How to Get Talkdesk for Salesforce
Beginning today, prospective Talkdesk customers can install Talkdesk for Salesforce from the Salesforce AppExchange. There, you can find screenshots of the app, the product video, package details and a FAQ. We highly recommend reading this FAQ as it covers topics such as technical requirements, fees and more.
We’re sure current Talkdesk customers using our existing Talkdesk Salesforce Integration have some questions, too, so we’ve prepared an additional FAQ just for you. Head on over there to learn more about migrating to Talkdesk for Salesforce.
The development and launch of Talkdesk for Salesforce has truly been a company-wide effort here at Talkdesk. From Engineering to Customer Success, every team has played a part in getting this app ready for you. We’re confident that you’ll be able to see exactly what makes Talkdesk the world’s leading cloud-based call center software when you install Talkdesk for Salesforce.
Publish Date: August 1, 2016 5:00 AM
Voicemail is an essential call center feature for a variety of reasons. Providing callers with the option to leave a voicemail can reduce call queues, ease call volume stress for agents and direct callers to a solution after the maximum wait time or queue size has been reached.
For these reasons, voicemail is a standard feature in most call center software solutions. But call center voicemail can go beyond simply allowing customers to leave voicemails. The most significant evolution in call center voicemail is transcription.
What is call center voicemail transcription?
Voicemail transcription is a call center feature that creates a speech-to-text file of voicemails.
What is call center voicemail used for?
Speech-to-text translation allows agents and managers to review the details of voicemail messages without having to listen to the recordings.
What voicemails can be transcribed?
Call center software solutions that have this feature enabled will often allow supervisors to create settings for which voicemails are transcribed. For instance, in Talkdesk, the standard setting is for all voicemails to be transcribed.
How can call center employees access voicemail transcriptions?
As with any call data, there are different options available for receiving the information. Permissions can be set to certain levels of employees and ring groups to access the files in a central repository. Some advanced solutions will allow for custom email notifications containing transcripts and relevant call data. They may also enable automatic logging of call transcripts within callers’ comprehensive contact histories, including across business tool systems.
What are the advantages of call center voicemail transcription?
There are many reasons to listen to voicemails. The primary argument for hearing the caller rather than just reading their words is that listening makes it easier to read emotions. That said, there are instances when transcription is a better choice. Here are a few:
1. Messages at a glance
Transcripts can be read much faster than voicemails can be listened to. By allowing agents to briefly glance at transcripts, time can be saved in identifying the most important caller issues to be address. Couple voicemail with the “Find” functionality and agents can search for specific phrases that indicate which callers may be a higher priority.
2. Messages on the go
There are many situations in which it would be useful, but inappropriate, to listen to a voicemail. For example, if a call center supervisor is in a budget meeting, a voicemail transcript will enable them to remain present at the meeting while checking that no important messages have slipped through the cracks.
3. Improved accessibility
Diversity among customer service representatives is to be encouraged. Voicemail transcriptions may help to make messages more accessible for a variety of customer service representatives. In example, voicemail transcripts can enable hearing impaired agents who work principally with SMS communications to assist with voicemail sorting.
4. Access for the follow-up
When voicemail transcripts are added to comprehensive contact information, call center agents have access to the text of the voicemail when they call the customer back. This means that they are able to reference the message and directly address the issues raised by the customer in their voicemail.
5. Voicemail spam filtered
Voicemail transcripts can help supervisors and agents immediately flag voicemail spam. This includes long messages without content or messages that are clearly recorded because their information repeats.
Voicemail transcription is a tremendously useful call center feature, but it is only one of the many advanced functionalities that the latest call center software brings to the table. Explore how features like voicemail transcription help modern businesses drive brand loyalty and customer satisfaction by requesting a demo of Talkdesk.
Publish Date: July 28, 2016 5:00 AM
Even the most well-run, customer-centric contact centers deal with angry callers every day. In some ways, this is just the nature of call centers. Customers who reach out for phone support are invariably looking for immediate assistance with a problem directly related to your company’s product or service. One very natural reaction to having a problem is anger.
Smart call center management recognizes that angry callers are an unavoidable reality. The purpose of providing them a phone number is to give them the opportunity to air their grievances and seek a human resolution!
That said, angry callers should be kept at a minimum. They can lead to churn, loss of brand loyalty and negative word of mouth. Angry callers can even promote agent turnover. Where possible, it’s best to avoid certain situations that may take slightly a slightly peeved caller and turn them into the Incredible Hulk.
Here are six such situations:
1. Irritating IVR
IVRs are a mainstay of modern call centers. They can drastically improve the efficiency of call routing, reliably putting callers in touch with the most appropriate agents. Their use cannot be lauded enough. And yet, many callers dislike interacting with IVRs. A non-optimized IVR may have confusing or too many prompts. It may trap callers in dead ends, resulting in them having to call back in. Worst of all, it may route callers to the wrong ring groups, defeating its entire reason for being.
At the end of an IVR maze, even the most docile caller may become angry. To avoid this situation, invest in an advanced call center solution that allows for customizable multi-level IVR that can be tailored to meet your callers’ individual needs. Once you’ve implemented it, make sure to mystery shop your IVR regularly to ensure that it’s doing its job!
2. Long wait times
One of the most important call center KPIs is average wait time. The idea is very simple: the longer a caller has to wait to get an agent on the phone, the more angry they will become. People reach out to phone support because they want a real-time answer. If they wanted to wait, they’d email you!
Reducing average wait time is an easy fix once the problem is identified. Call center managers should regularly check their software’s comprehensive live and historical reporting dashboard to be sure that wait times are appropriate. If they are not, a variety of steps can be taken, including hiring more staff.
3. Dropped call
There are a variety of situations in which a call can be dropped such as the caller losing service, a transfer failing or a power outage. When this happens, it is normal for callers to be angry. They do not want to have to repeat their IVR journey or explain their problem to a new agent.
Talkdesk has created Intelligent Reconnect, an industry-first call center feature, that attempts to solve this problem. With Intelligent Reconnect, customers who have been accidentally disconnected are routed directly to the agent who fielded their initial call.
4. Repeat explanations
Callers reach out for a solution. The last thing they want is to be forced to explain their problem in depth to numerous people. Even having to repeat a complicated account number can be a chore. The longer it takes for them to get to a resolution, the more upset customers can become.
Modern call center software enables agents to see background information and contact history about callers from the moment the call comes in. Couple this with seamless integrations with CRMs and other business tools, and by the time the caller gets an agent, it’s like they’re old friends catching up.
Do your best to avoid angry callers in your call center by investing in a sophisticated call center solution. No software can guarantee happy callers every time, but an advanced solution can at least reduce the number of inbound Hulks.
Publish Date: July 28, 2016 5:00 AM
One of the most important elements of working at a call center is completing after call work (ACW). In this post, we’ll explore the concept and provide tips for reducing ACW.
What is after call work?
After call work includes all of the tasks required from customer service agents and sales representatives after a call has ended.
What are common after call tasks?
- Logging a call disposition code
- Writing call notes
- Updating information in a CRM or helpdesk
- Providing feedback on customer sentiment
- Sending an email to the caller
What is the “After Call Work” agent status?
Agent status is a call center feature that allows agents and reps to display their circumstance by picking from a pre-created dropdown menu. “After Call Work” is a standard option in this dropdown menu, along with “Available,” “On a Call,” “Away,” and “Offline.”
Agent statuses are useful for a variety of reasons. The most simple reason is that statuses enable call center IVRs to distribute calls effectively. For example, if an agent is in “After Call Work,” it doesn’t make sense to route a call to them.
Another use for agent statuses is that it provides a record of agent activity to the rest of the team and management. For instance, an agent that is found to spend significantly more time than others in “After Call Work” might be targeted for further training.
How long should after call work take?
There is no standard amount of time that should be allotted for after call work because the circumstances of every call center are different. As a general rule of thumb, after call work should be as short as possible while still allowing for accurate completion of after call tasks.
Tips for reducing after call work time:
There are two major ways to cut down on after call work time. The first is to reduce the number of tasks that need to be completed. The second is to empower agents to be as efficient as possible.
1. Reduce the number of tasks
- Invest in call center software that makes your agents’ lives easier. The more advanced the call center software solution, the more streamlined the ACW process will be. Automated tasks can shave minutes off of the average ACW.
- Integrate with business tools. Instead of having agents spend time updating CRMs or helpdesks, automatically sync applications. Added bonus: information is less likely to be lost or misrecorded.
2. Improve agent efficiency
- Boost agent coaching and training efforts by creating a clear plan for after call work.
- Explore call center gamification by publicly tracking and rewarding agent statuses.
After call work is an essential part of work at a call center. Supervisors and agents alike should be well-versed in the concept and steps that they can take to reduce ACW time.
For more information on call center software with advanced agent statuses and automations, request a free trial of Talkdesk’s innovative solution.
Publish Date: July 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Omnichannel experiences are all the rage these days. From marketing to customer service to sales strategy, omnichannel is the latest, greatest buzzword. In this week’s installment of the customer experience weekly, we’ll be diving deep into omnichannel customer experience. Let’s see what we found:
What’s the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Customer Support?
Maya S. Horowitz || Talkdesk
“Multichannel support” is sometimes used interchangeably with “omnichannel support”. Although both indicate customer support across channels, the former does not include a holistic view of the customer experience. Omnichannel support is about having a continual conversation and relationship across channels, not just being available on multiple communications platforms.
Provide a seamless omnichannel #CX with these 2 tips – https://t.co/JJHKSJJydn pic.twitter.com/8RkOwbyTJa
— SAP (@SAP) July 15, 2016
The New Customer Service is Here, There & Everywhere
Nicole Fallon || Business News Daily
As customer expectations have increased, companies have responded by improving their provision of service. This improvement has caused a corresponding spike in customer expectations. The answer to this cycle is creating an omnichannel experience that meets customers where they are and provides them with the service they want in that moment.
New blog – How Leveraging an Omni-Channel Strategy Can Improve Your #custexp https://t.co/ST8AFZwsu8 @colinsataylor pic.twitter.com/L8iTPxf0HW
— Jonty Pearce (@JontyPearce) June 15, 2016
Omnichannel Customer Experience: Expert Systems, 360 Degree Views And AI
Micah Solomon || Forbes
Customer experience expert Micah Solomon interviews Mazin Gilbert, the Assistant Vice President of Inventive Science at AT&T labs about the corporate giant’s move to an omnichannel customer experience. The two discuss analytics, AI and social media, among other topics.
An omnichannel customer experience gone wrong.
Why You Should Be Providing Omnichannel Customer Service
Maya S. Horowitz || Talkdesk
Customer service has become personal. The needs of today’s customers must be treated appropriately for both content and context. Talkdesk’s emotion-urgency axis attempts to map out the most fitting approaches and channels for customer inquiries.
Do you have a comment about these insights or a suggestion for our next topic? Let us know!
Publish Date: July 26, 2016 5:00 AM