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.

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

1. Patience

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

5 Trialed and Tested Customer Service Strategies That Work

Customer service is often thought of as a not so important part of the business. They simply talk to angry customers, right? Today, the importance of customer service is at an all time high. Customers are so easily connected over the internet, and your competitors are a mere click away. Your company must offer superb products, and a staff to back up your brand. Here are a few tips and tricks to boost your customer service!

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

Start with having a Customer Service charter, which outlines the standards of customer service your employees should deliver, and your customers can expect. Don’t worry, I’ll help you get started with a Customer Service Charter Template!

5 Tips to Excellent Customer Service

1.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.”

2. Hire Employees That Are Knowledgeable and Believe in Your Products

Nothing is more frustrating than calling customer service and feeling more apt than the “resourceful” representative. This is why it is so important to have knowledgeable staff who don’t just stick to a script and set of instructions. Your employees should be able to problem solve on their own. In order to do this, one should hire people who show interest in their business and understand its products. However, having knowledge on more than just the product is important. For smaller businesses, getting to know your customers and being able to talk with them more on a personal level can be very important. With Woveon’s technology, this is a walk in the park. Woveon’s recorded conversations not only help with consistency, but it can also help a customer service rep get to know the client more by reviewing past conversations. Although this may not apply to all businesses, small to mid-sized companies can really benefit from having personable customer service reps who are extremely knowledgeable about their product and clients. So before hiring any applicant, make sure he/she is enthusiastic about the product or service the company provides.

3. Recognize Customer Loyalty

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Customer loyalty is a big factor that is often looked over in companies. Existing customers cost 6x’s less than gaining new customers. When a customer is loyal, they will keep buying products, turning into more and more revenue. But how does a company identify and keep these customers happy? At Woveon, identifying important customers and helping with their every need is easy! Woveon has created AI (Artificial Intelligence) programs that identify businesses-valued customers in multiple ways. Say someone has shopped at an e-commerce website multiple times and has a great buying history but has now run into some trouble. If they contact the store via multiple channels such as social media or email, a representative from the business can pull up their information and understand they are a valued customer. They can focus on their problems more quickly, and this keeps up customer satisfaction.

4. Keep Staff Happy

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Staff retention is crucial to your company for improving customer service excellence. 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.

Happy Staff = Happy Customers

5. Be Accessible

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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 customer requests and track the history of the conversations they have had. Also the sheer number of channels that you can add to Woveon makes it easy for larger companies to communicate over social media or other more basic channels. Woveon, having simplified the way companies keep track of multi-channel communication, makes it easy for companies to set up lots of communication channels.

Companies that view service through a single lens, that of customer complaints, are missing the larger, longer-term picture. Service isn’t just a game plan to satisfy unhappy customers. it’s an ongoing strategy that makes every interaction between every employee and every customer at every contact point a positive one. Customer service is also ongoing and always changing. Keep up with the times and the needs of your customers and stay a step ahead of the competition.

Get started with knowing what customer service means for your company, and how you will use it to your advantage. Try this Customer Service Goals Template!

Want Your Customer Service To Be Sustainable? Be Dynamic

Guest blog by Jemma Martin

Customer service is subjective. It’s no longer about responding in the ‘right’ way. There is no such thing.

It’s about having the ability to be agile enough to facilitate the right answer in the right moment. Because every customer will want something different, depending on the product, the medium, the day, their mood… it’s all up for negotiation. And without this kind of flexibility, you’re losing out.

The right way is dynamic. The right way is the fastest, easiest way possible; no matter where your customer is.

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Here’s an example. Last week on social media I saw an advertisement for fashion prescription glasses. I have been wanting to freshen up my physical appearance and I was due for some new glasses on my health plan, so I clicked on the link. I recognised some trendy brands and the website suggested I try them on in store. I left the page and forgot all about it.

The next day I was meeting a friend in town. She was running late so I walked through the mall and saw a sign with glasses of the brand I saw online. I walked into the optometrist, tried on a bunch of options and was given great customer service by the staff. I was still in store when my friend met me, and she ended up trying on some glasses too.

The staff then contacted my healthcare provider and gave me a follow-up call the next day. I wrote to the company via their social media page, and they responded to me within a few hours. The next day I went back in store to finalise my purchase of two new pairs of prescription glasses. After the weekend, I received an SMS advising me that my new frames were ready for collection and to follow the URL link in the message to book in a time to have them fitted. The web link directed me to my local store’s online booking system. I had a question about this appointment, so I called the store and they booked in my timeslot for the next day.

It was all very smooth, easy and convenient. And I told A LOT of family and friends about this shopping experience. I now think that I’ll buy some prescription sunglasses from the same company because it was so easy to deal with them.

So, who is responsible for my loyalty? The initial marketer? The in-store salesperson? The follow-up caller? The social media assistant? Or the individual who decided that the process should be seamless?

Or was it all artificial intelligence? Some data and algorithms that resulted in a positive customer service experience?

Honestly, I don’t care. I can tell you that before this experience, I’ve spent many hours shopping for new glasses and had gotten part way through the buying process and not completed the purchase due to frustration.

Why is that? What made this company different? It’s simple; they anticipated that my needs are dynamic, and created customer centric solutions before I, the every-day consumer, realised I needed them.

Over the course of a week, I used multiple mediums to communicate with this retailer; including face to face, text messaging, their website (through the SMS link), social media and phone calls.

I communicated with them when I was in my kitchen, my home office, in their city store, in a store at another location, through my mobile device and through my laptop. Sometimes I was alone, sometimes I was with my husband or a friend. It just worked.

This retailer recognised that I was living my life and that it looks different every day. They made everything easy. Their customer service process was dynamic, just like me.

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This is now a non-negotiable for companies. Do you want to be sustainable? Yes. Well, how much? At the cost of upskilling your staff? At the cost of creating new processes and implementing in new systems? Can you anticipate your customers’ needs before they do?

The right way to provide customer service, is to do so dynamically. Because your customers themselves are now agents of change.

Expecting customers to follow old breadcrumbs all the way to the checkout isn’t smart business. It’s those very breadcrumbs that will keep you from attracting the customers you need to keep that checkout open.

Are you agile enough, to facilitate the right answers for your customers today?

 

jemma-martin-customer-service-customer-experience-expertJemma is Sales Team Manager at the RAA Group and is studying her MBA at Torrens University. She loves to inspire people to think differently, create innovative solutions and take action. With a strong history in frontline sales, in both face to face and contact centre environments, Jemma believes that questioning the status quo is integral to sustainable success.

 

Why is Customer Service Even Important?

In a world that is so well connected and competition only a click away, customer service is an ever increasingly important aspect to your business. Robert Adams, a serial entrepreneur describes the importance of customer service as, “Anyone who is serious about making considerable headway in business needs to understand why customer service is so important. It’s not just for all the obvious fiscal reasons. It goes far beyond that. It delves into the very existence of who we are and why we do the things that we do. The way we treat our customers is indicative of the way we look at things in life. Are we short-sighted, merely searching for the next pay day, or does our vision give us a deeper understanding of the long-term implications of our actions? Clearly, if you want to make strides today, you really do have to place the customer on a pedestal.

Request a FREE Conversational Software demo and learn effective customer service.

And while there are ample reasons why any person should start a business in the first place, everyone needs to pay homage to the customer so that they can stay in business. The less short-sighted the approach is from any enterprise, the more likely it will be to achieve long term success.”

Here’s a Customer Service template to help you get started with Customer Service Success! Start by identifying where your points of contact with your customers are, how you will manage them, and the standards of service customers can expect from your company and its employees.

5 Important Components of Customer Service

1. Customer Retention is Far Less Expensive Than Customer Acquisition

“On average, it costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer to your business than it costs to retain an existing customer. That logic on its own should highlight the importance of providing excellent customer service. Why risk losing a customer? It’s costly enough to locate new customers in the first place, and every business should do whatever it takes to ensure they stay happy and continue doing business with them.”

2. It will build brand awareness

“If you don’t already know this, then it is time to learn. Word of mouth is the most powerful ally you have on your side. What your customers say to others could make or break your business. When you provide the best in customer service, guess what happens? People will talk about you. They will remember your brand. If they hear someone else talking that they need a specific kind of company, they are much more likely to say, “Oh, go to this place. They are great!”

3. It’s A Great Marketing Angle

customer service marketing channel

“From a purely business standpoint, good customer service is a great marketing angle. It’s something you can tout in your advertisements which is sure to bring you in more customers. People like to hear you have top notch customer service, pure and simple. Anything that can help you with effective marketing is worth the extra effort. This angle works best when other real-life customers are talking about how great your customer service is, so feel free to ask for reviews and testimonials.”

4. It Elongates the Life of Any Business

“Today, only four out of every 100 businesses last through until the 10-year mark. That’s a massive 96 percent failure rate. When you ignore the needs of your customers, and you don’t focus on going out of your way for them, you’re cutting short the potential for longevity in business. With so many obligations and responsibilities, if you’re serious about your business, you have to focus on the core — your customers. Because, without them, you have no business at all.”

5. Great Customer Service Opens Doors for New Partnerships and Other Opportunities

Business Partnerships-importance of customer service-customer service strategy-customer service skills-conversation mangement

“Treating your customers like gold is infectious. It opens the doors for new partnerships, especially when other businesses see just how well you take care of your existing customers. It says a lot about a company and what they value when they care deeply about their customers. It’s something that you rarely find in business these days, but it most certainly paves the way for powerful partnerships, collaborations and other opportunities.”

As you can see, customer service benefits your company in many more ways than simply helping your customers. It creates customer loyalty which saves you money in the long run, can be used as a form of advertisement, elongates your businesses life, and opens doors through partnerships with happy customers. Businesses should constantly be asking themselves how they can improve their customer service, such as embracing new technology like Innovative Uses for VR in Business, or giving out customer and employee surveys to make improvements where pain points exist.  Get started, because it will definitely pay off!

Let Your Humans Be Human

Guest blog by Colin Priest

There’s an industrial revolution under way in businesses across the world, and it is all about automation. Businesses are embracing machine learning and artificial intelligence to make better decisions automatically. And the reason for this revolution is the comparative strengths of humans and computers.

Computers are strongest at repetitive tasks, mathematics, data manipulation and parallel processing. So long as a task can be defined as a procedure, a computer can do that task over and over again, without getting tired, giving the same results each time. Computers can manipulate numbers and data in volume much faster than any human.

digital-transformation-how-to

Several years ago I went back to university to do a masters degree, and after a 25 year break from university I was out of practice at mathematics. Imagine my excitement and relief when I discovered that now there is software that will do algebra and calculus for me! And computers can do more than one thing at a time. Have you ever tried to rub your belly and tap your head at the same time? I can’t do both actions simultaneously. But modern computer networks are powerful, able to routinely do dozens of different processes at once.

This does not mean that humans are obsolete. What humans are much more skilled than machines at are communication and engagement, context and general knowledge, creativity and empathy. When I have a frustrating problem, I want to talk to a human. Someone who will understand my exasperation, listen to my experience and make me feel valued as a customer, whilst also solving my problem for me. Humans are much better at common sense than computers, instantly recognizing when a decision doesn’t make sense. And humans can be creative. I recently heard music composed by a computer, and I’m sure that song won’t make it into the Top 40!

Customer Service communication -cmo-marketing-customer service skills-conversation management

Customer Service

Recently I had a conversation with the manager of a call centre that dealt with hundreds of customer service issues each day. In order to ensure the quality of the service and advice, the call centre operators were given scripts and were commanded to follow those scripts without changing a word. The problem was that both staff and customers became frustrated. Staff felt bored and unchallenged, and customers with non-standard problems felt like they weren’t being heard. Staff turnover increased, and customer satisfaction levels dropped.

Customer Satisfaction

The manager then tested using chatbots to answer simpler questions from customers, freeing up the human operators to deal with non-standard enquiries. This was a situation where computers had a comparative advantage over humans. The call center processes were fully defined, operating at scale, and the scripted answers were correct. The results spoke for themselves. Computers were much better at helping with the repetitive enquiries, and humans were better at dealing with the unusual enquiries. Staff engagement increased, as did customer satisfaction.

This has implications for human resources and process innovation. Processes that require humans to do repetitive, well defined tasks can be replaced by artificial intelligence. This frees up staff to do what humans are best at:

  • asking the right questions,
  • applying common sense,
  • creating new solutions,
  • evangelising new ideas, and
  • generating sales and profit.

Let your humans be human. Free them from repetitive tasks. Change job descriptions to focus on human strengths, and hire people who best embody the comparative advantages of humans. Look for human processes that are well defined and repetitive, and enhance the process by introducing artificial intelligence. Some ways company have started to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their processes include:

There are even some companies out there that have started automating the automation, like DataRobot. Instead of hiring and training up a data scientists, the arcane process of building predictive models, once the sole domain of data scientists, can all be automated. The system automatically builds predictive models based on your data, freeing up your humans to be human.

Based in Singapore, Colin is the Director, Customer Success and Lead Data Scientist, APAC for DataRobot, where he advises businesses on how to build business cases and successfully manage data science projects. Over his career, Colin has held a number of CEO and general management roles, where he has championed data science initiatives in financial services, healthcare, security, oil and gas, government and marketing. He frequently speaks at various global conferences. Colin is a firm believer in data-based decision making and applying AI. He is passionate about the science of healthcare and does pro-bono work to support cancer research.

Navigating Your Way Past The “Trough Of Disillusionment” For Artificial Intelligence In Customer Experience

Guest blog by Steve Nuttall

The hype around Artificial Intelligence technologies is at its peak. According to the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle, emerging technologies such as deep learning, machine learning and virtual assistants are at the “peak of inflated expectation”. Cognitive expert advisors have passed this peak and are now descending towards the “trough of disillusionment”. This occurs when interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver.

emerging technology hype cycle gartner 2017

The benefits of AI for customer experience management are potentially game changing. AI has the capability to analyse vast amounts of data in real time from various sources, including human behaviours and emotions. Expectations are high because this capability can then be used to create seamless and personalised customer experiences that are optimised to the device and channel of choice.

Pragmatists and battle hardened cynics will recall that when automation was first introduced into customer service channels, the results were often spectacularly underwhelming. So, is the application of AI to customer experiences destined to fall into the trough of disillusionment before climbing the slope of enlightenment? Or is there a path to follow to avoid the pitfalls of unmet expectations?

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Intelligently using Artificial Intelligence for Customer Experience

In order to find out whether the application of AI to your business’ customer experience will take a downturn, it is necessary to first ask yourself: What is driving your organisation’s AI strategy? Is it because:

  • AI is all the rage in your industry and your organisation is fearful of being left behind?
  • If you take the lead in implementing AI, it will make you look smarter/cooler than your colleagues?
  • It sounds like a cool and fun toy to experiment with?
  • Your organisation needs to catch up with your competitors who have been early adopters of AI?
  • AI is a great opportunity to reduce the cost to serve our customers?

If the answer to any of the above is Yes, then the trough of disillusionment beckons.

Alternatively, if you are deploying or considering AI because…

AI can enable your people and optimise your processes to operate more intelligently and efficiently, in order to provide individualised and predictive experiences for your customers at scale

…..then a brighter future awaits.

For these technologies to have any chance of success you should have a clear sense of purpose of how to you intend to deploy AI to drive CX in your business. Here are three ways you can use AI in a purposeful way to create meaningful customer experiences.

1. Use AI to Enhance your Knowledge of the Customer

Customer Connection Web Diagram

An example would be using data analytics to anticipate the needs of individual customers at each moment of truth and key stage of their journey. Some specific examples oh how businesses are using AI to enhance customer knowledge:

2. Use AI to create stronger emotional connections with your customers

Using AI to recognise a customer’s emotional state helps agents better respond to the customer during an interaction, thereby creating stronger emotional connections.

3. Use AI to empower your service agents

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Not only can AI empower agents with emotional intelligence to reply appropriately to customers, it can be used as a tool to connect service agents with the right information in the organisation’s knowledge base in real time. Examples of why this can be powerful to a business: 

A recent study Fifth Quadrant CX undertook for Oracle showed that CX leaders acknowledge the potential of AI and are more advanced in trialling and implementing these emerging technologies to enable better customer experiences. AI is being used to combine data from multiple sources to create individual profiles for each customer, enabling agents to take immediate action on what customers want. Consequently, CX Leaders are outperforming their counterparts by creating emotional connections with their customers through more predictive and personalised customer experiences.

As a result, nearly two thirds of CX leaders say their organisation’s revenue growth outperforms their industry counterparts, compared with only a quarter of CX laggards. The proof is therefore clearly in the pudding: when applied in a purposeful and meaningful way, AI technology can enable organisations to increase agility and overcome competitive threats and leverage this advantage to drive acquisition.

 

Steve Nuttal fifth quadrant customer experience head of researchWritten by Dr Steve Nuttall – Head Of CX Research, Fifth QuadrantSteve has worked in various leadership roles as a market research insights professional for over twenty years in Europe, Asia and Australia. He leads Fifth Quadrant’s program of CX strategy research and is an international speaker and presenter on best practice customer experience. Steve assists organisations to deliver their customer-centric strategies and business performance goals including designing and implementing programs to help optimise the customer experience.

One Company – Multi Customer Channels

When someone mentions a retail store, you’ll most probably imagine a building, amidst a crowd of parked cars. A clear picture of aisles and aisles of different products will cross your mind. And then you would also imagine some of the other shoppers you’re likely to meet there. This might ring true for many people but even if you enjoy experiencing the oddity of everyday life, who has the time for such nonsense? After a busy day at work, the last thing you’d want to do is stand in a queue at the retail store, just to buy a 1L of milk. Retail stores identified the ‘need for speed’ and thus, the multi-channel strategies were formed.

Related: How to Turn Your Company into a Multi-Channel Success

Woolworths – The Fresh Food People

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Woolworths is one such retail store in Australia, who has adopted multi-channel strategies to serve their customers better. They opened their first store in Sydney, in 1924 and soon afterwards, gained the popularity that have made them one of the leading retail stores in Australia. By revenue, they come on the 2nd place, after Wesfarmers.With over 3000 stores across Australia and New Zealand, the team at Woolworths soon realised that the traditional brick-and-mortar store strategy wouldn’t be able to satisfy their customer needs and so in 2011, they took the initiative to become the country’s leading multi-channel retailer. They decided to achieve their goal through a holistic and integrated strategy so as to capitalise on the country’s growing demand for online shopping. Fast forward to 2017 and the business is blooming for the retailer. For their third quarter in 2017, Woolworths revealed that their online sales have increased by 20%. According to a study analysed by Australian Consumer, Retail, and Services (ACRS) Research Unit, just four advertising channels (websites, personalised direct mail, TV ads and catalogues and flyers) are responsible for influencing 92% of a consumer’s purchase decision.

Online Delivery

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The ease of online shopping at Woolworths is certainly unmatched by many other retailers operating in the same industry. With reward offers and personalized shopping experience, customers can easily get their shopping delivered to their home or pick it up from the store, all ready for them.
The ‘Track My Order’ option helps customers know when to expect the delivery and even schedule the time of their delivery.

Shopping App

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Want to save even more time? The Woolworths app is available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. From personalised shopping lists to a store locator, the app offers the ultimate ease for its customers.

Dark Stores

When Woolworths opened its first ‘dark store’ in 2014, it was to reduce the time it took to fulfill online orders faster. The ‘dark store’ looked exactly like the other Woolworths stores, except that it was bigger in size. The aisles were maintained, the products were stocked neatly but it was closed to the general public.
You might wonder why a store wouldn’t allow customers in. That’s because the store isn’t for customers!

In this fast paced world, not many people have the time to waste on grocery shopping. A better alternative is online shopping but there were some issues to ordering online too. Most of the times, deliveries would take too long and Woolworths realised the need for faster deliveries. Hence, the ‘dark store’ was set up. It was Woolworths first dedicated online store and personal shoppers were amazed with the results.

With conventional stores, an ever present flow of customers makes it difficult for the staff to pick up online orders. The only time online orders can be picked is either early morning or at night, when the customer flow is at its lowest. Now, the dark store has solved this problem.

With no slow-moving customers blocking the aisles, the team at Woolworths dark store was able to fulfill orders quickly and at any time of the day. At peak hours, there can be as many as 80 pickers on the floor, at the same time.

Conclusion

Supermarkets are just one niche that Woolworths deal in. With a number of liquor stores, liquor supermarkets, petrol stations and discount department store chains, Woolworths Limited deals in numerous channels.

In order to enhance their digital business capabilities, Woolworths invested in contact center technology-as-a-service and in doing so, experienced a 40% reduction in touch points for email. Woolworths have expanded due to their award winning multi-channel initiatives and with their attention on innovation for increased customer experience, they are changing the face of Australian retail.

Hack: Lazy Customer Service Tips To Get The Most Loyal Customers

One of the keys to maintaining a thriving business is a steady customer base. The Pareto principle states that 80% of business comes from only 20% of customers. This exemplifies the importance of your customer loyalty. Add to this the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is almost 6x’s more expensive and you have a powerful incentive to keep that core group of customers happy.

If your business’s goal is to live long and prosper, then any efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly pay off. Following are 7 tips to increase and maintain greater customer loyalty.

Importance Of Customer Service in Customer Retention

1. Stand For Something

Customers are more likely to ignore you if your company doesn’t stand for anything. Research from the Corporate Executive Board that included 7,000 consumers from across the U.S. found that of those consumers who said they had a strong relationship with a brand, 64 percent cited shared values as the primary reason. If you want loyal customers, you need create real connections with them. What do you stand for?

2. Communicate with Customers

Whether it’s an email newsletter, a monthly flier, a reminder card for a tuneup, or a holiday greeting card, set up a system for reaching out to the customers you already have. Dedicate time to creating and maintaining a database of contact information, including phone, email, and snail mail addresses. If there’s a social media element to your business, invite people to your page or website and keep that online element fresh.

3. Commit to Quality Service

Go above and beyond your customer’s’ expectations. Your product knowledge will engender confidence and trust and enable you to anticipate their questions, focus on their needs and guide you both to an appropriate solution to their situation. It’s almost impossible to ask too many questions of your customers. Once you know what they want, you will be able to deliver the right product at the right time. In simplest terms: Listen to your customers and go that extra mile. Listening to customers also often enables you to make suggestions about your services and products the customer hasn’t thought about and they will appreciate your knowledge and your expertise to help them resolve their needs.

4. Courtesy and Respect

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You know how you like to be treated when you’re the customer. We all like to be accorded courtesy and treated as a sensible adult. You NEVER argue with a customer. Even if you know your customer is wrong, resolve the sales question or service issue quickly and in their favor and you’ve made a friend. Research shows that helping a customer resolve his or her issue results in continued business and likely makes a customer for life. Repeat business, not to mention word-of-mouth referrals, is the lifeblood of bottom lines

5. Be helpful even if your business can’t help them

If you can’t get your customer what they want, offer to help them find it elsewhere. It lets them know that you are willing to help without expecting anything in return. That unselfish gesture will make you stand tall in your customer’s’ eyes and will have them return next time.

6. Train Your Employees Thoroughly

Your employees are the face of your company, and training can empower them to make your company prosper. Training sessions should be a positive experience; boring training sessions are a waste of time and money and foster a negative attitude toward the company.

Encourage your employees to engage in training and explain how it will help them on the job and why it’s good for business. An excellent way to teach is on-the-job training, which facilitates on-the-spot demonstration of best practices.

7. Follow Up With Your Customers

No matter what the product or service you have sold a customer, you can be assured that they will appreciate it if you follow up in a couple of days to see how it’s working out. And it may lead to further business and more customers when your attention to detail and customer service is passed on by a happy customer.

The Art of Customer Retention

Customer service is a never ending task that will continue to build your brand loyalty. Customer Service is a long term commitment to customer satisfaction. It’s time to re-think how you engage and interact with your customers. There are many tactics, but no shortcuts. The tactics above should hopefully give you some fresh ideas for approaching retention, but they’re not a cure-all. Your product and service will do most of the heavy lifting in keeping customers loyal, and there are no shortcuts for that.

While pleasing customers with superior customer service is important, don’t forget to align your customer service goals to your business goals! There’s no point if you’ve got good brand image, if you don’t use it to your advantage! Realign with the Customer Service Goals template.