Epic Customer Support Fails

Our world, filled with viral videos, constant facebook and twitter updates, and an unimaginable amount of snapchats being sent out, requires companies to be more responsible for their customers. With the click of a button a company’s reputation can be put to the test with millions of people viewing their services and interactions online. The importance of customer support is on the rise with increased visibility between customers and businesses.

Putting Your Customer Support to the test

Empty Table and Plate with Fork and Knife

United Airlines

David Dao. Have your heard this name recently? Chances are you have at least heard of this incident. CNN- “The United Airlines passenger who was left bloodied and bruised after being forcibly removed from a flight earlier this month was swinging his arms, his hands balled into fists, as officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation tried to pull him out of his seat, according to incident reports from the officers involved. David suffered a broken nose, missing teeth, and a concussion. And all of this was captured on film instantly going viral.” This mistake set United back millions of dollars and a huge hit to their reputation. Fortunately, they have recovered from this blunder by taking quick action and improving the procedures of booking seats and flying other flight crew.

VolksWagen

VolksWagen Clean Diesel TDI

VolksWagen, a leading international car manufacturer was recently in the news for cheating the emissions tests they put their diesel cars through. The emissions cheating scandal that began with Volkswagen in 2015 has now spread to include all the big German automakers. In recent weeks Daimler, VW, Porsche, BMW, and Audi were found to have manipulated nitrogen-oxide emissions from some of their diesel cars and issued mass recalls.”

A German Volkswagen executive pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and fraud charges in Detroit in a scheme to cheat on emission tests of nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles. Shackled at the wrists and ankles and wearing red prison garb, Oliver Schmidt appeared before U.S. District Judge Sean Cox as part of the U.S. government’s case involving the automaker, which has admitted to using software to get around U.S. emission standards.

Schmidt, 48, is a former manager of a VW engineering office in suburban Detroit who was arrested in January while on vacation in Miami. He faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud and violation of the Clean Air Act. A second count of giving a false statement under the Clean Air Act carries a possible sentence of up to two years in prison.”

This debacle setback VolksWagen over $25 billion dollars and immensely hurt their customer trust. After this scandal they changed up the management and promised better standards for their cars and customers.

Chipotle

Food Poisoning

Chipotle, a forerunner in the fast food industry (behind Pancheros of course) has had multiple run ins with food-borne illness problems.

The company’s shares have spiraled nearly 14% in the last week, after news emerged of a norovirus outbreak connected to one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia. Research analysts are now downgrading the company’s stock and cutting sales estimates ahead of its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday. Analysts say the outbreak has renewed customers fears about eating at the burrito chain since the E. coli and norovirus outbreaks in late 2015 that affected restaurants in 14 states. We infer major setbacks to Chipotle’s ongoing recovery efforts at 15 health-related concerns on virus outbreaks at several locations that precipitated a steep and protracted downturn in customer traffic, CFRA analyst Tuna Amobi wrote in a research note Monday. He downgraded Chipotle to “hold” from “buy” and cut his 12-month stock price target by more than a third to $US350 per share.”

Chipotle’s failure to catch these sickening foods and slow steps to fix the problem hurt their business financially and once again their customers trust. (Tip: Go to Pancheros!)

Comcast

Have you ever had a good experience with Comcast? The chances are slim to none, but hey, they are the only option in some cities. I don’t think anyone enjoys talking with their television provider, but time and time again I hear stories of how bad Comcast’s customer support is. Here are a few examples of the lucky customers who interact with Comcast customer support.

The story: I was trying to get some information from the local cable company, Comcast, about my bill. I couldn’t understand the different groupings of channels which had no explanation just names like Extended Package. She couldn’t explain it and kept getting the same channels in different groupings. I said, very politely, “I don’t understand your explanation, is there someone else who can explain it to me so I will understand it.” She replied: “You’re stupid.” Then she hung up. -Submitted by: Elaine””

When Lisa Brown called to cancel the cable TV portion of her service, she was, of course, transferred to a retention specialist specifically trained to talk her out of it. She didn’t back down, though. Much to her surprise and agitation, the next service bill she received was addressed not to her husband, Ricardo Brown, but to “Asshole Brown.”

“I was never rude,” Brown told consumer advocate Chris Elliott. “It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer. Just days after Brown’s story went viral, three more Comcast customers came forwardreporting their names had been changed to derogatory words.”

Keep Sending Those Videos!

When customers have a bad customer service experience, they don’t just get mad; most of the time they try to get even. A recent survey by ClickFox took a close look at what the repercussions are of poor customer service experience. While 52 percent of disgruntled customers spout off to family and friends, an even more astounding 32 percent altogether will stop doing business with the company that provided a lousy customer experience. And when customers take to social media to air their ire, more than 60 percent of consumers are influenced by these detrimental comments.

There’s a whole new school of loyalty that companies need to enroll in and fast. It’s no longer good enough to sit around and wait for a bad customer experience to happen, and then react. Companies need to catch support disasters way before they happen.”

Looking for ways to improve your customer service? Check out Why is Customer Service Even Important, Hack: Lazy Customer Service Tips to get the Most Loyal Customers, 5 Trialed and Tested Customer Service Strategies That Work, or 7 Core Customer Service Skills Your Customer Support Team Needs to Have.

Good Service is Good Business – Combine High Tech with High Touch

Guest post by Catherine DeVrye

‘We better pay attention to the future because that’s where we’ll spend the rest of our lives’ – Arthur C Clarke

Much has changed in the field of customer service since I first wrote a best-selling book titled ‘Good Service is Good Business’. But one thing has not changed. The customer still pays all our salaries.

Am I the only person who gets frustrated with the gap between ‘customer care’ centres and technology? Have you ever wondered if you’ll spend the rest of your life caught in an inescapable voicemail loop? Have you become increasingly frustrated that sometimes it seems near impossible to speak to a living breathing human being on the other end of the phone? So you talk to yourself instead, muttering away while on interminable hold? Do you feel a victim of a ‘death by voicemail’ conspiracy and wonder if the folks designing such systems ever considered the human element?

angry woman phone customer service

Now, don’t get me wrong and label me as some troglodyte. As a former IBM executive, I’m a big believer in using technology to improve customer service and there’s no doubt that it has in countless instances! But there is also little doubt that many systems are designed purely in the interest of high tech – completely ignoring the element of high touch, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that most people can actually survive without a particular organisation but no organisation can survive without people.

Therefore, call centres and help desks need to be sure they are staffed with people who recognise this immutable law. They need to be sure that they give those people the proper tools to be able to truly help customers, rather than simply rattle off some standard script. Management needs to ensure that help desks and call centres don’t become ‘hell desks’ and ‘cuss centres’ where staff check their brains at the door before they put on the head sets.

It may be obvious that I’ve recently had a bad experience with a ‘help’ desk. Over an hour on the phone, I was transferred from one person to another, forced to repeat the same story and in the meantime listening to a recorded message about what a ‘valued customer’ I was. When I finally gave up and asked for the name and address of someone I could write to, I was told that it was impossible as they couldn’t provide postal or email contacts! Needless to say I am no longer a ‘valued customer.’

poor customer experience statistic american express

Now, let me share two examples of more effective uses of technology.

Some time ago, in New Zealand, one of the airlines had industrial problems. Although I was booked on another airline that was not affected, I called to confirm my flight. Not surprisingly, I got a recorded message but what did surprise, and impress, me was the fact that it was up to date, something along the lines of…

‘Thank you for calling Air New Zealand. We’re sorry that due to industrial problems with a competitor (gotcha!) we’re a little busier than normal and apologise for this unusually long wait. Please feel free to call back later or if you would prefer to stay on the line, the waiting time will be six minutes.’ I decided to wait and set my stopwatch to see if they met their promise of six minutes. Sure enough, I was pleasantly surprised that within 4 minutes, my call was answered. Even though they were under extra pressure, due to passengers changing flights, they took a few seconds to update their message and set customer expectations at a realistic level. They were still using the technology but to add value, not grey hairs, to the customer on the end of the phone.

When I was speaking at a technology in customer service conference in the US, a pharmaceutical executive presented a case study about how the introduction of voice recognition had resulted in huge reductions in staffing costs. Attendees frantically took notes on how this cost saving technology could be applied to their own organisation. But, they stopped writing in their tracks as the presenter then went on to say why his company abandoned the expensive system…

’When people phone about our pharmaceutical products, they are often sick and want someone on the end of the line who will give them confidence with their medication and offer empathy. So, we replaced the voice recognition with retired nurses to access the information in our database. Although initial staffing costs soared, over a period of 18 months, so did our customer satisfaction levels and profits.’

The executive went on to say that he had an MBA in Information Technology and added to a stunned audience: ‘Never would I have thought that the biggest innovation we’ve had in the last 10 years has been going from machines back to people!’

I have a mug that states: ‘Thanks for calling our customer service department. If you have a complaint, press 1. If you would like an apology press 2. If you would like an excuse press 3. And, if you would like to send a mild electric shock to whoever designed this system, press 4!

I don’t mean to shock or alienate any providers of voice technology or the thousands of dedicated people in call centres and on chat lines who do an excellent job under enormous pressure. I truly believe these functions can be useful. But, don’t be a mug and rush into any technology without first making sure that you understand your customer and plan accordingly to ensure that death by voicemail doesn’t become the death of your organisation.

Develop customer friendly technologies, remembering another quote from Arthur C Clarke, written long before the internet and burgeoning of call centres:

‘Any sufficiently sophisticated technology is indistinguishable from magic.’

 

 

catherine-devrye-customer-service-expert-customer-experience-technology-woveon2016 Financial Review Top 100 Australian Women of Influence | Australian Keynote Speaker of the Year | Australian Executive Women of the Year | Best Selling Author of “Good Service is Good Business”, “Paperclips don’t Grow on Trees”, “Hope Happens”, “Hot Lemon & Honey”

 

Customer Service Software: The New Foundation of Marketing Strategies

More than 75% of customer-company interactions now occur online. Customers are continuously reaching out to companies over social media. Marketing teams that originally focused just on marketing over social media are now responsible for the customer service interactions. Customers constantly interact with these companies and expect quick meaningful responses.

Here are some great examples of customers contacting companies via social media. Shane from Canada contacted Samsung and explained to company representatives how he is a loyal customer. He told them all the products he owned and then kindly asked if they would send him a new phone for free. In return he offered this picture…

customer-service-samsung-canada

Samsung took this opportunity to show off its excellent customer service and market it to thousands of people. They sent him a new phone, and even customized it by putting his drawing on the back! Social media is a great way to get in contact with your customers, but remember, it’s okay to have some fun once in awhile. Samsung and other companies around the world often showcase their excellent customer service over social media because their marketing channels are so well established.

Woveon, an intelligent customer service startup, is paving the way in this online industry. Woveon is an easy-to-use online application providing businesses a centralized location to manage their customer channels, such as social media and phone calls. Using machine learning, social listening, a wide breadth of data, and a clean user interface, Woveon helps prioritize inquiries, identify valuable customers, and suggest personalized content. It levels the playing field for small businesses to compete with larger social media teams and helps enterprises visualize customer journeys. It simplifies online customer relations and makes businesses more efficient in managing the touch points they have with customers.

Learn How Woveon Can Improve Your Marketing Strategy

I recently read on Forrester, “I believe consumer behavior will continue to push eBusinesses to re-evaluate their approach to social media and move to more strategic interactions between marketing, branding, and customer service. Consumer adoption of both direct social support and peer-to-peer support has exploded in the last few years. Further, the majority of consumers expect a reply to their Facebook and Twitter posts.”

Companies should be working their best to get their customers to interact with their brand online. This can include Facebook, Twitter, email, YouTube and Google Ads. Millions of consumers are already online, and it is easy to reach larger audiences. But once you have reached these larger audiences, how do you manage the questions?

Single Platform Integration

Most companies have multiple channels of communication with their customers. Woveon has created a platform that combines all of your customer channels onto a single page. The simplicity allows your marketing and customer service teams to never miss a conversation.

Conversation History

Conversation history is another important feature when dealing with customer service and marketing. It helps to look at past interactions so that if a similar problem arises, you can quickly solve the problem with the steps in front of you. This feature also allows you to know the customer you are dealing with better.

Conversation Prioritization

Woveon’s advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities can prioritize customers. The program looks into the customer’s social media or purchase history and identify more valuable customers. This can include people with large followings on social media. Your customer service team can quickly respond and market how well your brand takes care of its customers.

Customer Service, The Foundation of Online Marketing

Every company’s priority is its customers. So why not focus on your valuable customers and solve the problems that arise? Woveon has the ability to simplify and better market your customer service. With so many different social media platforms, it can be hard for companies; however, integrating all channels onto a single page makes it extremely easy to keep track of all customers conversations. Conversation history allows representatives to look back on past interactions to learn more about your customer before interacting with them. It takes a software platform like Woveon to provide superior customer service. Learn more on how Woveon can help you by reading, 4 Ways Woveon Can Be Used To Spice Up Your Online Marketing or Woveon: Easy Peasy Solution To Providing World Class Customer Service.

CTA marketing strategy template

Customer Experience, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Thoughts from Oovvuu, Canva & The Minerva Collective

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is all the buzz right now, and rightfully so with the significant contributions it has made to redefining many aspects of business. However, many people are still skeptical about the application of AI and ML to enhancing customer experience.

Some would argue that machines cannot possibly take over customer service, something that has a heavy focus on human interaction. Machines lack the empathy and emotional intelligence core to providing a great customer experience. On the other hand, many also see the benefit of applying AI and ML to automate repetitive tasks, allowing humans to dedicate more time to, well, being human.

We reached out to some experts from Oovvuu, Canva and The Minerva Collective to pick their brains about the issue.

customer-experience-automation

What is the current state of customer experience, and how do you see it evolve with AI & ML technology?

Present customer experience is “all over the place, with wildly varying results. Two customers using the same service can have completely different impressions of their experience, and in many cases the service is clunky and poorly structured” says Anthony Tockar, Data Scientist and Co-founder of The Minerva Collective. The unfortunate reality is that 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor service experience. In fact, companies only hear from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. With so much choice available to consumers, it’s much easier to find another company with similar offerings than spending time complaining or calling about a problem. Which is why there is a very real need to focus on customer experience, a factor that is becoming increasingly important to retain the modern customer.

Paul Tune, Machine Learning Engineer at Canva, believes “there are two trends in improving customer experience:

  • A trend towards tailoring for the individual, as more data is gathered about each customer at a large scale, and;
  • A trend towards providing a smooth experience for customers across multiple touchpoints by anticipating their needs. “

To demonstrate how customer experience has evolved, Paul continues with an example. “Early recommendation systems, such as the recommendation engines developed at Amazon and NetFlix in the early 2000s, provided recommendations at a much coarser level, chiefly for specific groups of customers. The granularity of recommendations in the near future is going to be much finer. For instance, an engineer from NetFlix I spoke to recently, mentioned that a subscriber’s favourite character for a TV series would appear in the menu when the TV series is selected. This means having to learn more about each customer and predicting their habits. We also see this in the form of smart personal assistants, such as Alexa and Siri” he says.

Ricky Sutton, Founder and CEO of Oovvuu, adds on that whilst AI and ML “certainly has an element to play [in customer experience], it also lacks a key element…empathy. So my thought is that it will evolve. The more AI is used, the more it learns and the better it gets, but human-level empathy remains a pipe dream for now.”

human machine touch

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from applying smart technology to customer experience?

For Anthony, the lesson has been the need for people using smart technology to properly understand it – “My experience is that people often don’t trust what they don’t understand. The latest technologies have been great for grabbing headlines, but only the most forward-thinking businesses are serious about applying them to derive value. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – domain knowledge is essential for good data science, and blindly relying on new approaches has many inherent risks. There is a lot that has been learned about customer experience over time and there is a need to explain smart technology to business people using the right language to allow them to fully realise its value.”

To Paul, what matters most, is the customer’s end-to-end experience. Meaning that all the touchpoints with the customer should be seamless. For him, “the challenge with integrating smart technology to improve user experience is similar to managing any other complex system: with more moving parts, there is a higher chance of failure in the system. Naively applying machine learning to improve customer experience is misguided. Machine learning works best if it is complementary to the customer experience, serving to enhance the experience of a great product.”

“At Canva, our goal is simple: we want to give the customer the best experience in empowering them to create and design. To that end, there are two aspects that we focus on. Firstly, how do we make the content that they need for their designs easily accessible. Secondly, how do we anticipate what resources might be helpful for them in the future. We achieve these goals by improving our search and recommendation services to enhance customer experience.”

The biggest lesson for Ricky is that “AI turns humans into super-humans, but only for certain tasks.” – “When we started Oovvuu, we hired editors to read articles and find relevant videos, and they were able to read one publication each and find 40 relevant videos per day. That same person using the AI tools that we created, can now read 100,000 publishers, and 300,000 stories a day, covering 26 million topics and find relevant videos from more than 40 global broadcasters. AI is mind-blowingly powerful for automating manual human tasks, but humans remain better at all the things that, well, make us human.”

ai-ml-customer-experience

What are some challenges for businesses who try to integrate AI & ML technology and customer experience?

Anthony, Paul and Ricky all agreed that a huge challenge for businesses is not having a solid data infrastructure, or a deep understanding of what exactly should be measured to achieve business goals and customer satisfaction.

“Many companies approach us seeking to use AI as a ready-made silver bullet for a business problem. Others come to ask to play with AI, so they can find a business opportunity. Neither really works.” Ricky said. “For us, the solution was to know what business problem we were trying to solve: namely, to put a relevant video into every article being published worldwide. We then used AI to solve it, but what we started with was very basic and not up to the job. We have had a team nurturing the teaching for almost 1,000 days to get it where it is.”

Anthony went on to add that “there is no silver bullet – good data scientists are required to translate these algorithms into business value. Having a solid data science strategy is essential, and through good leadership, increased data literacy and an understanding of how to build a high-performance data science team, businesses can harness these technologies to forge a competitive advantage.”

Paul concludes with another common challenge many businesses face when adopting AI & ML into their processes – the volume of data. “Present machine learning techniques rely on a relatively large amount of data to provide good predictions” he says. “While there is fundamental research being carried out presently to (hopefully) reduce the amount of data required to train these machine learning models, the current main technological limitation of requiring a huge amount of data is here to stay for the foreseeable future.” But “fortunately, this effect can be mitigated if the data collected is of sufficiently high quality.”

Are you implementing AI and ML technology in your business? Share your story with us in the comments below!

Customer Connection Web Diagram

About the Contributors

Anthony Tockar The Minerva Collective, AI, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Woveon-476307-edited

Anthony Tockar

Anthony is a leader in the data science space, and has worked on problems across insurance, loyalty, technology, telecommunications, the social sector and even neuroscience. A formally-trained actuary, Anthony completed an MS in Analytics at the prestigious Northwestern University. After hitting the headlines with his posts on data privacy at Neustar, he returned to Sydney to practice as a data scientist while co-founding the Minerva Collective and the Data Science Breakfast Meetup. He also helps organise several other meetups and programs for data scientists, in line with his mission to extend the reach and impact of data to help people.

Paul Tune, Canva, AI, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Woveon

Paul Tune

Paul Tune is a Machine Learning Engineer at Canva, responsible for developing solutions for tailoring and personalising content for Canva’s customers. He has several publications in prestigious computer science conferences and journals, including the ACM SIGCOMM conference in 2015. His interests include deep learning, statistics and information theory.

 

Ricky Sutton, Oovvuu, AI, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Woveon

Ricky Sutton

Ricky is founder and CEO of Oovvuu, an IBM and Amazon-backed start up that uses artificial intelligence to match videos from global broadcasters with publishers worldwide. It’s mission is to use AI to insert a relevant short form and long form video in every article. In doing so, it aims to tell the news in a new and more compelling way, end fake news, and in doing so, repatriate billions from Facebook and Google back to the journalists and broadcasters who make the content.

 

customer service charter template download cta woveon

10 Customer Service Strategies that Create Loyal Customers

In a world where the competition is only a stone’s throw away, customer service really is the new marketing. Today, customers have access to an endless amount of information about your business, and research shows that they’re ready and willing to switch to your competitors at any moment if you don’t have fantastic customer serviceSo, how do you do customer service the right way, in order for your customers become or remain loyal? It all starts with a customer service strategy with the following steps incorporated:

10 Easy Steps to Improve Customer Loyalty Through Customer Service

1. Communicate With Customers

communicate-customers-loyalty

Customers want to be communicated with. If a customer has interacted with you in the past, ask for his/her feedback. You can reach out to customers even if they have not communicated with you directly. Send them coupons, alert them about new products, and see what they think of your company in general. When people think they are being listened too, they are much more likely to return and become loyal customers.

2. Make Customer Service Easily Accessible

Of the customer service strategies, this is probably the easiest, but often forgotten. A big turn-off to customers is bad customer service. Make sure that there’s a clear and accessible way for customers to communicate with you, whether it’s in person, by phone, or by email, and that you have someone assigned to customer service on an ongoing basis. Using Woveon, it is quick and easy to look up conversation history and past problems as well as assign a team member to a specific conversation. Remember to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude toward your customers; the reputation of your business is at stake.

3. Keep Your Employees Happy

happy employees--cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

Staff retention is crucial to your company for improving customer service excellence. You might think this is odd considering this is meant to be around customers, but research shows clearly that staff stay when they are happy and respect the company in which they work. Their happiness translates into excellent work when dealing with important customers. 

We’ve come up with a Customer Service Goal template to help you translate your business goals into customer service goals. This should help you realign your team’s focus so they understand why customer service is important and how customer service should be delivered.

4. Be Knowledgeablecustomer education-cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

In the realm of customer service, the importance of product knowledge cannot be understated. Unless there is a complete and all-around understanding of the products and/or services offered, it will be unlikely that you will be able to veer your customer’s decision towards buying or even considering your offerings. Product knowledge will make your customer service team sound confident, competent and efficient. Their conviction in the company’s offering will be reflected when they interact with the customer, leading to higher possibility of a sale and customer satisfaction.

Becoming your customer’s trusted advisor will build customer loyalty and reduce customer churn. If you were an IT Company, you should aspire to be the technology guru. Then your responsibilities will transcend the bare minimum your contract entails. If a customer wants advice on the most suitable mobile phone, you better be ready to assist that customer in choosing a device.

5. Be Flexible With Customers

flexible customer service--cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

Remember that each customer is an individual with unique circumstances and needs. Do everything within reason to solve customer problems or complaints. Don’t assume you understand the situation before you have heard the customer out and made an effort to see things from their perspective. If you demonstrate that you’re listening, you have a better chance of retaining their business, even if you can’t fully solve the problem. Responses such as “That’s our policy” will ensure customers never come back.

6. Don’t Just Sell, Educate

According to serial entrepreneur David Skok, sales is often more effective when you have an existing relationship with a customer, and when you’ve already provided value. This matches up with research from TARP Worldwide, which shows customers do enjoy receiving helpful recommendations on new information and products that will help them achieve better results.

Companies such as Coca-Cola and Lockheed Martin have spent thousands of dollars giving their customers VR experiences. These education programs inspire and educate their customers on much more than just the products they sell. Companies that care about their customers should be willing to spend on more than just the products they offer.

7. Implement Anticipatory Service

actionpl-cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

Anticipatory service is a proactive approach to customer service. Instead of waiting for problems to occur, a company that implements anticipatory service can eliminate problems before they happen. This can include an email notice about a payment before it is due, or an airline sending an alert that the plane is likely going to be delayed a few hours before. If people know about the problems they might run into, they will not be as surprised and will instead be more understanding. In your customer service strategy, consider having a customer service charter. It will let customers know what level of service your customers they can expect whilst also making clear the level of service employees should be providing.

8. Be Speedy But With High Quality

knowledge-cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

When it comes to highly-rated customer service, data show that quality and completeness matter more than speed. According to research from the Gallup Group, customers were nine times more likely to be engaged with a brand when they evaluated the service as “courteous, willing, and helpful,” versus the “speedy” evaluation, which only made customers six times more likely to be satisfied. It’s important to note this in your customer service strategy. Many companies stick to metrics like ‘first response time’ or ‘problem resolution time’, when the satisfaction of the customer should also be a factor to be considered.

9. Be Personal

customer-service -cmo-marketing-customer service strategy-customer success-woveon

This is a super simple part of a customer service strategy, but is so often looked over. Make sure that you and your employees get to know the names of regular customers. This kind of treatment makes people feel important and respected and is one of the reasons they’ll return to your business. Once again, with Woveon’s conversation history, it is easy to look up past conversations to understand past problems and other information they may have shared with you.

10. Never Take Loyalty for Granted

A successful marketing strategy will bring customers through the door, but only a successful customer loyalty and retention plan will keep them coming back for more. Never take customer loyalty for granted. Remember keeping customers is 6times cheaper than gaining new ones, so keep your existing customers happy!

It’s tempting to concentrate on making new sales or pursuing bigger accounts. But attention to your existing customers, no matter how small they are, is essential to keeping your business thriving. Focusing on customer service to improve your customer loyalty is a great place to start!

Which of these are in your customer service strategy? Share with us below!

10 Inspiring Companies that Demonstrated World-Class Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, a few companies tend to stand out in accessibility, speed, and knowledge of the representatives. I will be taking you through the highest-ranking companies from various industries and uncovering what they do to keep their customers so satisfied and loyal to their brands. So stick around and let’s unveil the secrets of customer service together.

10 Companies that Show Excellence in Customer Service

Southwest Airlines

Customer Service Rating: 9/10

Southwest-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

Against the industry norms, Southwest Airlines has had some good publicity lately because of its excellence in customer service. Its simple business model to fly people from A to B as cheap and efficient as possible makes customers happy. It not only makes flying affordable, but it entertains passengers with its enthusiastic flight crews. Most flights begin with the same old boring safety talk; at Southwest, they like to mix things up. From raps to comedy, Southwest makes flying fun. Southwest’s service reaches outside the employees. Unlike most airlines, you can take your first two bags for free on every flight. It’s that simple: show up, check in your bags at no cost, find a seat, and enjoy your flight. Southwest’s customer service rating is at 6/10 stars, which is more than 2 above the industry norm in the United States. Southwest’s simplicity and outgoing attitudes make the company shine bright in a negatively associated industry, showing that customer service still goes a long way.

Google

Customer Service Rating: 9/10

google homepage-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation managementWhen it comes to Google, it’s hard to think of anything negative. It’s changed the world multiple times through its search engine, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Analytics, and more. But with this mass of products and users, keeping on top of customer service can be a challenge. Not surprisingly, Google excels at this too. In 2014, Google’s customer service was a mere 45%. A year later, it reached 90%, one of the highest in the tech industry.Google increased its customer service ratings by 100%! It did this by listening to its customers and having new innovative ways to get in contact. One of the new features it added was a live video chat with a customer service rep. It also doubled their staff, so wait times average as little as 30 seconds. Ever since 2015, Google has remained one of the highest-ranking companies when it comes to customer service. It has devoted lots of resources to making customer service and customer experience their highest priority.

REI (Recreational Equipment Inc)

Customer Service Rating: 8/10

REI-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

REI, or Recreational Equipment Inc., is the standard when it comes to buying or learning about recreational equipment. Every time you go to its store, someone will actually have experience or be knowledgeable in each department. Employees are always willing to help, and returns are quick and easy. Any purchase at REI or REI outlets can be returned to any store within a year for a full refund, excluding normal wear and tear. Its generosity and knowledge on its products truly sets it apart when it comes to great customer service.

Lowe’s

Customer Service Rating: 8/10

lowes-cmo-marketing-customer service skill

When it comes to home improvement or gardening, Lowe’s is a step ahead of its competitors. Lowe’s is the highest ranking in customer service and satisfaction with appliance retailers in both 2015 and 2016. Its customer service is ranked so high because of its employee knowledge and willingness to help. Walking into the store, there is always a plethora of red shirts willing to help. Lowe’s, despite being a store that sells DIY projects, takes a hands-on approach to helping its customers out.

Amazon

Customer Service Rating: 9/10

amazon-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, has a mighty customer service team to back up their massive customer base. Amazon’s customer service comes down to their speed and massive product options. Amazon has the capability to offer 2-day shipping to any of its customers around the globe. They do this with consistency and for low rates. Amazon’s high customer service rating is due partly because of the successes it has as a business but also because of the ease to contact a representative. You can open a case, track your package down, and even talk with a real person whenever you want! Amazon takes its customer service as serious as its promise to ship a package anywhere within 2 days. They have mastered customer satisfaction through speed and consistency.

Apple

Customer Service Rating: 8/10

apple store -cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

There are few companies that are truly invested in everything. Apple has products that a large percentage of the world uses every day. Look in your pockets, on your wrist, on your desk, or in your hands. Chances are you interact with multiple Apple products every day. A company that is so universal has to have an unbelievable customer service group. Apple lives up to this expectation and exceeds. In stores around the world, representatives help people online and at the Genius Bar. As a user of Apple products, I have personally interacted with Apple customer service. Representatives are very organized, fast, kind, and knowledgeable. If you call, chat, or email Apple, you will have a case number assigned to you, and a representative will follow up with you every step of the way. The Genius Bar is another fantastic resource Apple provides to fix your problems. These are in-store specialists that can fix phones, hardware issues, and software issues, and each of these people goes through extensive training so he/she is able to fix almost any problem that a customer brings to them. Apple’s superb customer service really sets it apart from other businesses in the same industry.

Subway

Customer Service Rating: 8/10

subway-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

Even with the loss of the $5 footlong and replacement with the $6 footlong, Subway’s customer service and satisfaction has remained top notch. In fact, Subway has been awarded the Customer Satisfaction Award from 2013-2016. Part of Subway’s success rests in the way they listen to their customers. In recent years, they followed the food industry trend and added breakfast as a result of the increased demand. Another example is taking out the chemical, Azodicarbonamideout, of their fresh bread, using some GMO-free ingredients, and using animals that have not been tortured or given antibiotics. This was a result of the current health obsession and the public’s negative connotations toward GMOs. Subway listens to its customers, constantly adapting to their needs. Its exemplary customer service also continues to each individual store. Employees kindly great each person and cater to customers’ every need. Subway truly does provide world-class customer service.

State Farm

Customer Service Rating: 9/10

state farm-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

“Hello. Who is this!?”

“This is Jake from State Farm”

State Farm’s memorable commercials drive customers to their company; however, commercials can only get a company so far. Luckily, State Farm has a superb array of products and a fantastic customer service team to lean on. It has 24-hour roadside assistance, an easy-to-use app, and you can always just contact your representative directly. Its multiple channel assistance makes it easier for customers to contact them, resulting in such a high rating. Yes, State Farm tends to be more expensive than other insurance companies, but they make up for it with their premium products and customer service.

Chick-fil-A

Customer Service Rating: 8/10

chickfila-cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

Chick-fil-A sells 3 times more chicken than KFC, and they do this with great food and world-class customer service. Chick-fil-A has multiple channels of customer service. Upon entering, you are suddenly greeted with a “Hello!” or “How are you doing today?” Next, at the counter, the workers are always prepared with a smile and the best manners. It seems like they only employ people with the happiest of personalities, and that is what makes this experience so great. Not only are you reminded of their great customer service by their attitudes, but also in their efficient cooking. Chick-fil-A is so quick sometimes that by the time you are finished paying, they already have your food ready! If you are more of a drive-through person, don’t worry, Chick-fil-A has you covered! When times get really busy, it sends out an individual to take orders to speed up the process. It truly cares about the efficiency and manners of its employees, making it a wonderful place to frequently visit.

And seriously, who can resist a chicken sandwich meal with a medium Dr. Pepper and extra Chick-fil-A sauce?

Chick-fil-A has cracked the code when it comes to customer service, and its success shows in its revenue compared to other competitors.

When it comes to customer service, these companies go the extra mile to make sure that customers are satisfied. They understand that customers are the heart of their business, and ensure they are served well. They excel in accessibility, efficiency and training support representatives well. These in turn make for high customer retention and successful businesses. To summarise, read 5 Secrets to Excellent Customer Service.

Inspired by these companies? Start by creating a Customer Service Charter to communicate your customer service standards to both employees and customers alike. Then, set up customer service goals to align your business goals to the goals of your customer-facing employees. Don’t worry, we have free templates to help you with both! Just click on the links in this paragraph!

customer service charter template download cta woveon

9 Superb Ways to Delight Customers Without Putting in Too Much Time

As the saying goes, it is 5 times more expensive to sign up new customers than to keep existing customers. This simple economic idea should encourage businesses to focus most of their energy on keeping their existing customers extremely happy. But what are some simple and cost-effective ways to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction? There is no single step to instant gratification, but follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way.  

Want some structure to providing excellent customer service? Start with this free Customer Service Charter template. Not only will this help you clarify customer service standards to your employees, but also communicate them to your customers! Incoporate the following steps in your customer service strategy!

Customer Satisfaction in 9 Simple Steps

1. Send Personalized Messages

Bonjoro-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

Sending welcome messages, greeting cards, postcards and more are a great way to get in contact with your customers. When you personalize a card, it makes the customer feel appreciated and valued by your company.

Bonjoro, a Sydney startup, specializes in personalized welcome messages. You send short welcome videos to people who have recently signed up for your company and show them what their addition means to you. Thousands of BJ’s, as they like to call them, have been sent around the world, and each time you receive one, you instantly feel valued and happy.

2. Provide Superior Customer Service

Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company. Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry. This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.

Set your goals for customer service and how you’re going to achieve them with this Customer Service Goals Guide.

Woveon, a software customer service startup, provides a one-of-a-kind customer service software platform that implements AI and Ml programs, customer conversation history, and a single platform to manage all customer channels. Simplifying the customer service a company handles is crucial to providing quick and meaningful feedback.

3. Start with a Lagniappe–a “Little Gift”

gift-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

Come on, who doesn’t love receiving gifts?

“It’s amazing what a little gift can do to bring a smile. It doesn’t have to be much. This can even be a small coupon or freebie with a value of $10 or less, which they can use on any of your products or services. It is an easy, cost-effective way of inviting the customer to get to know you better. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s desirable, entertaining, and tasteful.”

4. Keep Your Promises

“I will deliver on time.” A due date that has been agreed upon is a promise that must be kept. “Close” doesn’t count. Monday means Monday. The first week in July means the first week in July, even though it contains a national holiday. Your clients are waiting to hear you say, “I deliver on time.” The supplier who consistently does so is a rarity and will be remembered.

“It’ll be just what you ordered.” It will not be “similar to,” and it will not be “better than” what was ordered. It will be exactly what was ordered. Even if you believe a substitute would be in the client’s best interests, that’s a topic for discussion, not something you decide on your own. Your customer may not know (or be at liberty to explain) all the ramifications of the purchase.

5. Interact With Your Customers

first-client-meeting-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

Interacting with your customers via multiple channels is a great way to keep them interested in your products, listen to their feedback, and shows that you are valued.

“We follow many of our clients as they come in the door, and then every once in awhile, we retweet their tweets. They get a notification that we’ve done this, and it shows we are paying attention to them and that we’re on the same page. It establishes a bond that goes beyond client service. It shows that we respect what they are saying.” –Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

6. Provide More Than A Product

bmw experience day-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

As I said in 5 Innovative Ways Companies Have Used VR for Marketing, many companies are now focusing on customer experience. These experiences can include, virtual reality sleigh ride tours like what Coca-Cola did, driver experience days at BMW, and even Lockheed Martin’s field trip to Mars campaign to educate today’s youth on the future of space travel.

These top companies are giving their customers and even future customers opportunities to enjoy more than just their products. They prove their brand’s loyalty and excellence through the experiences they provide. And who isn’t smiling when they are racing through the adrenaline-filled course at BMW’s Track Day with over 500 ponies pushing you over 150 mph!

7. Get Into Their Culture

customer success-conversation management-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

Don’t just make assumptions about who your customers are and how they respond. Get to know the neighborhood/city/state/region where you are based and express an interest in their culture. Play local music, sponsor local artists, and decorate with local products. Find the common ground that helps you relate as people. The less you make it about commerce, the more people will connect and remain as customers.

8. Reward Loyalty

Loyalty-Rewards-cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Focus on your loyal customers by providing reward programs. These could include an anniversary gifts such as giving them coupons for your product a year after their first purchase. Another option a lot of airlines provide is gaining miles. The United Airlines MileagePlus account offers a wide variety of rewards such as flights, upgraded seats, United Club passes, and points you can redeem for gear. With rewards programs, customers are more loyal and happy to continue business with your company.

9. Listen to Your Customers

happy_clients_globalstock -cmo-customer service strategy-marketing-hack

If your customers take the time to give you feedback about your product or an experience they had with your company, take it as a great learning opportunity. Sometimes you have to listen to the signals, not just the direct comments. 7 Core Customer Service Skills Your Support Team Needs to Have mentions the subtle clues that you should listen to in order to improve customer experience.

“Believe it or not, a customer service rep can learn more from what a customer doesn’t say than what they do say. Being attentive to the customers can help provide the company valuable feedback.”

“For example, if a customer says, ‘I always get confused during the Bluetooth pairing process,’ or ‘I can never seem to find the_____,’ this is a clear indication that your company has room for improvement, and these more subtle feedback methods can really improve your product overall.”

Satisfied?

The goal of marketing is to build a mutually beneficial relationship between brands and customers. This opens the door for special offers that extend far beyond a coupon. Keeping your customers happy is more than continuing to receive their money; it also helps you improve your company to make them even happier, and in turn, they’re happy to spend more money. It’s a win-win.

7 Customer Service Skills Your Customer Support Team Needs to Have

Looking for a job in customer service? Looking to hire new customer service representatives? When it comes to service, there are certain customer service skills every representative must master. They make customer interactions quicker, uplifting, and successful. So stick around and let’s find out what makes these customer service representatives so successful.

The Skills That Matter When it Comes to Providing Excellent Customer Service

1. Patience

sand clock

Patience is important to have when it comes to customer service. Representatives have to handle lots of customers who are usually in a big rush, not willing to work with them, or simply can’t describe the problem very well. Plus, when it comes to customer interactions, great service outweighs speed every time.

2. Self-Control

We get it, dealing with customers can be difficult. But in customer service skills, self-control is a must. No matter how much you want to end the call with your client, it is important to remain cool, calm, and collected. If the customer is angry and impatient, just take your time and solve the problem at hand.

3. Attentiveness

cmo-marketing-customer service skills- conversation management-attentive

Believe it or not, a customer service rep can learn more from what a customer doesn’t say than what they do say. Being attentive to the customers can help provide the company valuable feedback.

For example, if a customer says, “I always get confused during the Bluetooth pairing process,” or “I can never seem to find the_____,” this is a clear indication that your company has room for improvement, and these more subtle feedback methods can really improve your product overall.

On the other hand, it is also very important to listen carefully to what the customer is saying. Chances are they don’t know exactly what is wrong and are just making their best guess. This is where you as a customer service representative have to use the clues they give you to try and fix their problems.

4. Positivity

Positivity is key in customer service skills. When dealing with impatient and unhappy customers, always remain positive to make the process as easy as possible. However, when helping unhappy customers, do not seem overly happy. This may upset them more, but being proactive and optimistic is your best bet for success. Make sure to apologize for the inconvenience and then add a positive statement such as telling them how your products can help them.

5. Empathy

empathy cmo-marketing-customer service skills

An important soft skill to have when working in customer service is empathy. When a customer is in need of help and has a problem with your product, it is important to show them that you understand the situation they are going through. If you find this difficult, just think of yourself as the one experiencing the problem. What questions would you be asking? Would you be patient? Chances are, you and the customer are similar, so be personable. You can try to make small talk but don’t get too off track because he/she is looking for efficiency.

Set customer service goals that align with your business goals with this free template! If your customer support has the greater picture in mind from the outset, it will only make it easier to reach your business goals.

6. Humor

Sounds funny, but among customer service skills, humor is a must have. Another appropriate way you can approach customer service is with humor. Having a sense of humor and being able to judge a situation correctly can turn a stressful customer into a happy customer. Also if a customer cracks a joke, make sure to laugh a little bit to show that you have interest in what they are saying. Just make sure that you are laughing with the customer and not at the customer.

7. Problem Solving

cmo-marketing-customer service skills

Lastly, and most importantly, a customer service representative should be a good problem solver. Being a good problem solver includes having lots of knowledge on the products you offer. Sometimes customers will not be good at explaining the problems they are having with your product, but if you are knowledgeable, you can offer some tips on how to fix common problems they might be trying to communicate to you. Being a problem solver will also help you when it comes to dealing with difficult customers. If you possess this trait, you can work through problems that aren’t ordinary. This speeds up the process and allows the representative to go more off script.

customer service charter template download cta woveon

7 Lies About Customer Experience

Customer experience includes everything the customer goes through when dealing with the company. However, it is still a poorly understood concept for most people, and a number of lies are frequently heard about it.

Some of the Biggest Lies About Customer Experience

1. Customer experience doesn’t matter

There are still many people who think that customer experience doesn’t matter. They think that people are only interested in the product or service they get, and the experience itself holds no importance. They couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not just about getting the product but how easy it is to get it that counts.

2. Pricing beats customer experience

There are many people who say that as long as you have the lowest prices in the market, you do not have to worry about the customer’s experience. However, remember that people will happily pay a bit more if it means getting a much better experience.

For instance, if there was a burger place that sold a burger for 3 dollars, but the employees were rude, and there was another burger place that sold burgers for 4 dollars, but gave you great service, which one would you choose? There are numerous examples of companies that charge a bit higher than others and still succeed due to great customer experience.

3. Customer experience is an expense

Many companies skip out on customer experience because they think they cannot afford to spend time and money on it. The reality is that customer experience isn’t an expense; it is an investment. If you make the customer’s experience great, you are making sure that you will get more customers in the future. Investing in customer experience is one of the best ways to make sure that your profits go up.

4. Customer experience eats into your profits

This lie exists because people have a poor understanding of how businesses work. When people have to spend money to make customer experience better, they think that their profits will decrease. What these people do not realize is that great customer experience allows them to increase their prices without losing customers.

If your customer service is fantastic, then people will be happy paying more than the competition. People want to be able to get what they want without feeling frustrated – which is exactly what good customer experience offers.

5. Customer experience doesn’t affect sales

Customer experience results in increased sales – this isn’t just something that we feel, this is something that has been proven through metrics again and again. The reality is that there are customer experience strategies which are known to directly increase sales.

6. People were going to buy from you anyway, so why bother with the experience?

This is the biggest myth about customer experience. People look at stats which show that your customers are now happier than they were before and they ask you the question – If they were buying from you anyway, then why are you worried about the experience?

There are several reasons why you should worry about the experience. One is that happy customers cannot be poached. If you make sure that the customer experience that you deliver is amazing, then your customers will not go to the competitions, even if their prices are lower.

Second is that customer experience can literally drive someone to buy something even if they had no intention of buying it. You just send them through the right sales funnel, give them all the encouraging nods, and you will have generated a sale.

7. Customer experience matters in brick and mortar shops, not online

This one couldn’t be farther from the truth. People think that customer experience matters only when it happens offline. It is easy to see why people think this way; when you go to a shop offline, you have to drive to it, enter their physical store, interact with their employees face to face, and pay them.

When you do it online, you simply click on a few buttons. It is easy to see why people will think that customer experience happens only offline. The reality is that customer experience matters much more online than it does offline.

When you go to a shop and you don’t like it, you don’t have much of a choice. You can look around for similar shops, but that’s about it. On the other hand, when you are online, you can go to another store selling the exact same things in a matter of seconds.

These are just some of the lies you will hear about customer experience. Remember that they are all lies though, and that customer experience is one of the most important things when it comes to sales generation.

5 World Class Customer Support Teams

When it comes to the customer support of a business, it is surprising that not a lot of businesses have it covered. It is possible that after painstakingly building a business over the years, just a few bad customer experiences can lead to the downfall of the product. If you’re in such a scenario, you don’t have to start worrying, just take a page out the books of the industry giants. They’ve been providing their services for years and if there is one thing they know how to do well, it is to provide customer support.

By studying their customer support strategy, you can focus on incorporating these in your business as well. The following are some of the best companies and their world class customer support teams.

Customer Support Teams to Look Up To

Zappos – The Customer Comes First

Zappos – The Customer Comes First

Zappos is a retail and e-commerce site and it stands out due to its amazing customer support. The support team is considered to be the golden standard which has gone out of its way to cater to the needs of the customer. Their team has consistently delivered on their promise and each client is treated as a priority. See more about their culture here https://blog.kissmetrics.com/zappos-art-of-culture/Customers also have happy stories to recount with one of them telling how they got their shoes delivered overnight for a wedding, without having to pay any extra cost, or how one of the Zappos team members went to another store to get shoes for someone once they were sold out. By considering no request as impossible, Zappos has elevated its customer support to heights that are other companies aspire to reach. Read more about the customer service strategies behind Zappos https://sharpencx.com/blog/zappos-customer-service/

Publix – By the People, For the People

Publix company

A market chain, much like Walmart, Publix is a company that provides exceptional customer services due to the fact that it is by the people, for the people. The company focuses on the needs and wants of their employees. This in turn allows it to focus better on the needs and wants of the customers as well.By investing in the wellbeing of their people, the company has managed to consistently deliver a positive shopping experience to the customers. Moreover, it is the largest employee owned store and has a great record of ensuring that their store can cater to the shopping requests of others around them. Learn from their customer service http://www.happyfox.com/blog/how-to-create-killer-customer-service-models-learn-from-publix/

Amazon – the Customer is at the Centre

Amazon.com

Amazon.com is the world’s largest, online platform for sales and ensures that they can provide stellar customer services to their clientele. Apart from their 24/7 availability, Amazon.com also offers full refunds immediately, provides self-service and runs checks on the retailers they feature to ensure they are up to par with their standards.

Even when they are developing new product offerings, Amazon.com makes sure to keep the customer in the middle of it all. All services are tested and tweaked according to the customer in order to enhance the experience before they are launched and they have a proven track record, even winning multiple awards for their customer support.

Apple – Reinventing the Customer Experience

With Apple, innovation is the name of the game. Apple’s customer support is prompt and exceedingly helpful with many of their outlets functioning as customer support centres too. The staff of their customer support is well-versed regarding Apple products and from simple recommendations to helping with troubleshooting equipment, they can easily address a wide range of technical problems.

Moreover, Apple’s staff consists of people who are passionate about the company and the products it creates. Going to the Apple Genius bar is an experience in which many people find out more about the company, the products and walk away with a smile on their face. Apple has also continuously strived to train its staff regarding the products and how to address queries. By investing in its workforce, Apple effectively helps to ensure that there are no unnecessary problems faced by anyone.

Nordstorm – Maintaining a Healthy and Strong Relationship

Nordstrom company

Another retail company that focuses on the wellbeing of their clientele, Nordstorm has worked its way up and during that process; they have done their best to build a working relationship which is healthy, reliable and stable. By adding a personal touch to their services, Nordstorm ensures that they are able to effectively appeal to their clientele.

Their shopping experience revolves around removing the painful checkout lines, helping clients with their purchases as well as offering to find the clothing items that a client needs, even when they are out-of-stock in certain cases. Moreover, the team isn’t shy about interacting personally with the clients as well, even commending their fashion choices and recommending more clothing which goes hand in hand with their tastes.

At the end of the day, building a successful customer support team can rely on a lot of factors but these businesses have narrowed them down to 5. By using their example, you can push your business to newer, better heights. Learn more how they went the extra mile with customer service https://www.shopify.com/retail/119531651-how-nordstrom-made-its-brand-synonymous-with-customer-service-and-how-you-can-too