How to Do Customer Service The Right Way

Customer service is an extremely important part of a business. Your product is what catches your customers attention, and your service is what keeps them loyal. A strong company will already have great customer relationships. But a smart company will always be asking “What is good customer service?” If you are not constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve your customer service, then your relationships will stagnate. Here are a few customer service tips for identifying ways to better serve customers.

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Customer Service Done Right

1. Get Personal

Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not bots and FAQs. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp) and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.

2. Be Available

contact us customer service

Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example if your business is primarily online, meet in person occasionally with local customers and offer video calls (such as Skype) for those farther away. Work early and late when needed, especially if your customers are in different time zones. Even providing customers with your physical address helps build their trust and reminds them that your company exists off the internet as well.

3. Cater to Your Customers

Make sure you are fully meeting your customers needs. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like? Set up focus groups, interview customers, or run a survey to get ideas.

4. Create Communities

Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much, if not more, from them.

5. Specials Services / VIP

Are there special discounts or services you can offer that your competitors don’t? Can you offer something special for existing customers only? Could your services be considered luxury? Offering special treatment to your customers will help them to feel taken care of, and it’s also something they might be willing to pay more for. There are so many “bait and switch” offers and promotions for new customers only– reward the customers that have been with you the longest.

6. Offer Knowledge

Building strong relationships with our customers is great, but we also get to offer and trade knowledge with them. In our trade, a customer can compare several competing copies of a book online, but they won’t get a conversation about the title’s complicated printing history. When we’re speaking with customers, we spend the majority of time talking about the merchandise itself, trends in the market, and the customer’s own collecting habits. Afterward, we negotiate a deal. A customer can even know more than you do on a particular topic! Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.

7. Let Customers Get to Know You

customer thumbs up

If you’re running your business from an unknown (or internet-only) location, it makes you more anonymous. This is common nowadays, but adding a face or an address to your business could help assure customers that you won’t disappear overnight. You don’t have to rent office space if you don’t really need it; just be upfront about where you operate from and consider ways of contacting customers aside from email. A little personal information can go a long way, and could minimize concerns of accessibility, trust, or safety.

Customer service is an extremely important aspect of your business that is often overlooked. Following these simple steps can boost your customer’s loyalty to your company and also increase sales! I suggest you start by creating some customer service goals for your support team. Be sure to align these goals to your business goals so you’re on track! This Customer Service Goal Template will help you get started!

How Do You Know If The Customer Service Representative You’re Hiring Will Boost Customer Loyalty?

Customer service, the faces behind the business. When hiring customer service representatives, it is important to look for people that will represent your company well. They are one of a few direct contacts that your customers will get. Because of this, it is extremely important to leave a good impression. Having friendly and helpful service agents at the front line is important to the longevity of any business.

Tabatha Naylor writes, “Customers don’t buy from businesses they don’t trust, end of story. Luckily, building trust in a customer/business relationship doesn’t have to be difficult. While it does take effort, the steps to get there are easy if you are willing to be open, honest, and efficient when communicating with customers.” Finding people to hire for your customer service team is extremely important and these are some of the traits you should be looking for:

The Art Behind Hiring The Best Customer Service Representatives

1. Self control

You are sure to come across customers who will be difficult to deal with. For this reason, you must have self control. You must be able to handle both the easy and hard times that comes with serving the public.

2. Superior communication skills

If you aren’t a good communicator, then customer service may not be the field for you. Customer service jobs require that you deal heavily with the public. Do you know how to handle the many problems that come with customers? Communication skills are essential to get a good customer service job.

Communicating to tough customers can be hard, but they don’t have to be! Here’s 5 email templates to get you out of a sticky situation with an angry customer.

3. They are Loyal

Author Alexander Kjerulf says, “Happy employees make the customers happy”. It might sound rather straightforward, but happiness and satisfaction within a company will inevitably lead to loyalty.

When interviewing a candidate, pay attention to what they say about the previous companies they’ve worked for. There might be some underlying unhappiness, but a potential employee that speaks highly of their previous company despite having left is one that is both respectful and loyal. A loyal customer care representative will put the company’s interest first when dealing with difficult customers. They are likely try their best to protect the company’s image even in the presence of the most difficult customers.

4. Natural Problem Solvers

Companies that excel at customer service don’t wait for a problem to arise before addressing it. One of the great customer service skills is the ability to take a preemptive approach in managing possible risks and being prepared when a problem does arise.

Similarly, customer service employees must be able to provide a solution even before the customer poses the question (within reason, of course). In combination with a problem-solving nature, the candidate should also be a great listener in order to gather “clues” and read between the lines during communication.

In customer service, nothing is perfect and things will go wrong. This is not a failure. The best businesses show how they fix their mistakes.

5. Willing to go the extra mile to please customers

Hotel-CX-Customer service skills-customer success-communication-marketing-cmo-woveon

The customer always comes first and is ALWAYS right. You must be willing to go the extra mile to please each and every customer. Sometime, this can be at the expense of your pride. You must be willing to swallow your pride and move on.

6. They are highly conscientious

Look for candidates who are highly conscientious. The candidate that arrives late for the interview, looking completely flustered and confused is probably not the ideal choice.

Conscientious individuals are reliable, disciplined, methodical, organized, and goal driven. The Journal of Applied Social Psychology noted that individuals who are identified through tests as highly conscientious are more likely to be aware of how good interpersonal interactions positively affect customer service and are more likely to behave this way.

To a degree, conscientious individuals are pleasers in the sense that they are aware of what works for certain people and what doesn’t. They have a strong intuition about what is morally right and wrong as well as how to treat others.

When customers call a company they’re actively seeking help in resolving a problem. A conscientious customer service agent will be better equipped to pick up the clues interlaced in the customer’s words, which will allow them to resolve pain points.

7. Customer appreciation

A good job in customer service will require that you have a general appreciation to customers. After all, they are the ones who will be providing you with a job. Without them, your job would not be necessary.

8. They are Persuasive

A great customer service employee will also have some amazing marketing and sales skills. It’s not always about being a manipulator, but being able to steer the customer into a direction that is beneficial for both the company and the client.

If you want to know if your candidates have this trait, ask a simple question in the interview such as, “Why should we hire you?.” This way they have to sell themselves in a persuasive manner while listing qualities, traits and reasons–a perfect, practical test of their customer service skills.

Get Out and Hire!

When interviewing candidates to become your next customer service hero, look for for these qualities, traits and skills. Look for someone who is communicative, persuasive, is polite, patient, conscientious, and loyal. Remember these are the people who will be serving your customers directly and you want a positive impact so your customers return again and again!

customer service charter template download cta woveon

Ensure Your Clients Always Succeed!

The one key area that you need to look at when you want to run a successful business is ensuring that you can keep your clients happy. When your clients are happy they will look at your lead generation, customer service and marketing efforts as a source of validation that all the hard work your team is doing is paying off! Businesses who understand this, then end up having many repeat customers, because people like surrounding themselves and working with successful businesses. This is why customer success is paramount. How can you manage this effectively?

The Customer Success Factor

So, why is success for clients so important? It is because every major business needs to realize the value of helping their partners achieve success as well. The fundamentals of business haven’t changed over time, but the only thing that has changed is that now businesses must ensure that their clients are successful. This can be tricky sometimes because you must do business with a company that wants to work with yours to ensure complete success in their industry.

SEE also: Intelligent Customer Conversation Responses

This means that every business strategy that you come up with, must also include how it affects the success of the client. This is done to ensure that all aspects are covered, and there are no disappointments after business is concluded. There are multiple strategies that you can employ with the right vision and commitment at the forefront to ensure that your business partners and clients are happy and satisfied. It is important to take the success factor into account, because you need to create love between your business and your customers.

The Customer is Always King

the customer is always right

Any business that places the interests of its customers above their own is going to be a successful business, because they are going to go out of their way to make sure that the customer is happy. Most businesses that fail, do so because they stop caring about their customers. This fact alone that 60% of consumers stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service should ring alarm bells for a few . Depending on the reports, this number can jump to over 82% of consumers. It is important that you always treat the customer properly, and remember that they are always the king.

If your business is failing to win over more customers, you should probably look at what kind of customer experience you are offering to your clients. There is enough data around that points to the importance of great customer experience in helping businesses retain and attract new clients.

  • It also states that 90% of businesses will go to a direct competitor if they are given poor customer experience.
  • Nearly 60% of clients are willing to pay more to receive better customer experience.

Businesses that fail to value their clients, and don’t care about their success are likely to lose out, and not get ahead in their industry. Therefore, it is imperative that you find out creative ways to ensure that you give priority to customer success. We want you to succeed, which is why we are going to provide you with 3 creative ways you can ensure that your clients always succeed.

1. Genuine Interaction – Treat them right

Make sure that you have genuine interactions with your customers, because it is the only way that you are going to help them feel at home. There is no secret about the fact that happy clients are much more willing to work with you and provide you with better word of mouth regarding your business. By treating your customers properly, you will ensure that you build a genuine interaction with them, and they will feel better in doing business with you.

2. Don’t come across as too strong

You need to always respect your clients if you want to keep them happy and satisfied with your services. That is the main reason why you should always treat your clients with respect, because if they are upset with you, then your business is the one that is going to suffer. Disgruntled customers are not good for business, and that is where you need to be patient, have empathy and listen to the customer.

You should do everything in your power to get your client in a better mood and try to resolve their issues. There aren’t going to be many clients lining up to work for your business if you don’t work with your clients in a respectful manner.

3. Hear their problems

classic telephone

Listen, listen, listen. You should always be listening to your customer’s problems so that you can help them in times of trouble. There are not many businesses that would work with a company that doesn’t take their feedback on board. You should have good communication with your client and always take everything they say into account, because that is the only way you are going to improve your situation and guarantee customer success.

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.

Request for a Conversational Technology demo today and Learn how to manage customer conversation well.

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.

For a better customer service, use conversational technology to easily manage customer conversations. Request a demo now!

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. 

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

What are the Top 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 service

Learn how to identify valuable customers in one view. Request a demo on Conversation Technology.

So, 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:

Here are the Easy Steps to Improve Customer Loyalty Through Customer Service

1. Communicate with Customers

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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

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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

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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 to drive sales

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

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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

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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 HighQuality

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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 marketing

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.

Download Must-Have Marketing Strategy Template.

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

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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

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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

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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.  

Learn the importance of customer conversation management. Get a FREE Conversational Technology demo today!

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”

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.