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Know Your Customer, Like You Know Your Friends

Guest Post by Parker Hathaway

customer service friend

I was in a conversation with friend this week. He’s an avid murder mystery and investigative reporting fan. He loves shows like Making of a Murderer60 Minutes20/20, and True Detective. I asked him if he was a podcast fan. He said he wasn’t. With a grin, I leaned in and said, “I’m about to change your month. Have you heard of Serial?”

We need to know our customers like we know our friends.

Serial revolutionized podcasting, coming in with over 40 million downloads in its first season as it followed a murder mystery story week by week. My buddy devoured all 12 episodes and spent countless hours reading on the web about possible theories.

And I had no doubt he would.

We need to know our customers like we know our friends. The question is, how?

Peter McCarthy, founder of The Logical Marketing Agency, has laid the groundwork for us. He describes three buckets that help you identify your customer: (1) Demographics, (2) Psychographics, and (3) Behaviors. You can read more of his work here. For the exercise, take your customer and create the below three buckets and then start asking questions. Here’s a start:

Demographics:

Where do your customers live? What’s their age? occupation? income? political affiliation? urban or rural? gender? ethnicity? These are general questions that you might find on a census. However, you must dig deep. It’s laborious, but it will serve you in the long run. At the end of this exercise you should be able to picture your customer when he/she walks through the door, and that’s huge.

Psychographics:

How do your customers think? What do they believe in? What are their attitudes towards this or that? What are their preferences? What do they love? hate? crave? What are their emotions towards a given topic? What do they value? What gets them excited?! Make a list of emotions and attach a description of your customer to each. Use what you learn to write better copy or apply it to the design of your website or, better yet, your product! When we say “we feel,” we attribute a cognitive value. Learn what your customer feels.

Behaviors:

This is where things get exciting, especially if you have access to a large data depository. What does your customer do? What do they purchase? read? use? crave? search? How do they engage with social media? Instagram more than Facebook? Twitter more than Snapchat? What are patterns that you find with your customers? Why do they drop out at point of purchase? Use A/B testing as a tool to discover behaviors.

Next time: Identifying your customer can be laborious, but it’s crucial for risk mitigation and customer growth. I’m going to introduce you to tools that will help you to identify your customer in 30 minutes. These tools are free and fun to use!

Customer Service: Its Importance and Value

Customer service is often overlooked by many companies because it’s hard to measure the direct value of providing great customer experience.

In today’s highly competitive market, businesses have to make tough calls on what to focus on next to survive, and unfortunately, providing customer satisfaction is usually on the lower end of the list.

Without being able to properly quantify the direct value of great service, many businesses can’t justify spending time and resources on providing it. Other businesses just see customer service more as a pain, and choose to be reactive, rather than proactive to customer expectations. However, the truth is, great customer service is absolutely crucial to the long-term survival of the business.

customer-service-happy

The Importance of Customer Service

You can argue that price is the main reason your customers choose you, so you focus your energy and resources on being the most affordable. I’m telling you, there will come a day when a competitor comes in with a better product for a cheaper price.

In the the same way, you can also argue that you focus on innovative developments and that’s why your customers buy from you. Again, there will come a day a competitor swoops in and take your customers from you because they made better innovative progress. Do you know what you can invest in that your competitors can’t take away from you? Loyalty. Good old customer loyalty.

The best way to gain customers’ loyalty? You charm them with your service.

By continuously engaging with them through customer service and marketing efforts, you are fostering a relationship with them. It’s hard for people to walk away from someone or something they have formed an attachment to.

A study conducted by Forrester Research found that strong emotional connections with a brand is a stronger driver than other factors like ‘ease’ and ‘effectiveness’ across 17 different industries.

So now you know why it’s important, what’s the value of providing great customer experience and service to create highly engaged customers?

The Value of Customer Service

1. Retaining customers is much less expensive than acquiring new ones

It’s true. Acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from 5-25 times more expensive than keeping a current one. You don’t have to spend so much time and resources finding a new customer and converting them. Instead, you just have to make sure they’re satisfied and will repurchase from you.

Customer support contributes a large portion to the retention and satisfaction of customers. Many companies put a lot of time and resources in their sales and marketing teams, when just as much emphasis should be put in support or success teams. When done right, they can have a bigger impact on your bottomline than new acquisition activities.

2. Repeat customers generally spend more than new ones

A study by McKinsey found that eCommerce spending for new customers on average is $24.50, compared to $54.50 for repeat customers. Even better, highly-engaged customers buy 90 percent more often and spend 60 percent more per transaction.Making a customer happy shouldn’t be a one time thing at the beginning of the relationship. Most relationships are more valuable the longer they are. Businesses should be putting more emphasis on their customer service, success and support teams because the financial growth potential is much larger than in newly acquired customers. Plus, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.

2. Great service reduces the severity of overall problems.

We’ve all had problems with companies before. In the moment, you might be upset, angry, annoyed or all of the above. If you had to talk to a rude customer service rep on top of all that…I’d imagine you wouldn’t be too happy. What originally may have been a small problem would go from 0 – 100.

In the same way bad service can escalate problems, good customer service can reduce them. When delivered well, customer service can diffuse negative emotions from the customer and the situation. Excellent customer service can turn the situation around into a positive. Small things like apologizing, empathizing and being genuine can go a long way to reduce a customer’s negative emotions and the severity of the overall problem.

82% of satisfied customers will “likely” or “very likely” keep shopping with a company and give it another chance if something goes wrong.

3. Builds brand awareness with minimal effort.

Customers are being more and more vocal about how a company treats them and how a company makes them feel. Considering your customer service team are likely to be the only people in contact with a customer, they play a crucial role in shaping their customer experience, and by extension, whether they have good or bad things to say about the company.

It is therefore important that every interaction with a customer should make them feel valued, listened to and supported. Extra points for going beyond expectations like Paul from Zappos. It was a simple response to a customer whose shoes were falling apart, but he made it so much more. This ended up being shared on Reddit, Hubspot and Helpscout and championed as customer service at its best.

Zappos Customer Service

Source: Reddit

4. People remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.

Think back to a purchase you made a couple of years back. Heck, think back a couple of months even. I can’t even remember the price of something I bought in the last few months!

What I do remember though, is the service, the delivery and the effort I had to put in to make the purchase. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And in this case, the price you paid is the destination, and all that leading up to the purchase, is the journey. People will talk. If they liked the journey, they will recommend it to others.

5. It’s a competitive advantage no one can take away

With rapid innovation reducing differentiation between one product and another, and competitors just a click away, customer service is one of the last frontiers of sustainable competitive advantage for businesses.

Many businesses will pay lip service to the value of customer service, all the while cutting costs and resources to provide it. This will only ensure they provide the bare minimum to support customers, it doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near good enough to be a advantage. When normal customer service standard means going above and beyond for a customer, that is when customers will choose your business over someone else’s.

Customer Service Takeaway: Customer service is becoming more important than ever as competitors increase and are closer than ever. A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service related than price or product related. No one wants to do business with someone they don’t like. The product or service doesn’t matter anymore. They can easily substitute with other products or services that function similarly. Customers would rather deal with the slight inconvenience that the competitor’s product or service doesn’t function the same way, than to deal with the huge inconvenience of not being supported by your business.

Customer service, when delivered to the satisfaction of customers, not only creates a powerful marketing opportunity for the business, but also helps with the bottomline. Not only are return customers easier to sell to, they will spend more per transaction and would pay extra to guarantee better service.

customer service charter template download cta woveon

8 Signs You Might Want to Switch Up Your Online B2B Campaigns

One of the worst things from a marketing perspective with B2B campaigns is when you look at big companies that have great products or services, but are unable to capitalize due to poor marketing campaigns. The name of your brand and your reputation, will only get your business so far. If you want to strike while the iron is still hot, then you need to focus on switching up your online B2B campaign.

Businesses no longer have the luxury of being oblivious to the latest strategies and tactics for B2B campaigns, because there is no shortage of accessible information online. However, there are many businesses that have marketing professionals who refuse to conform to the latest trends, and prefer to do things the old-fashioned way.

This is a foolish position to take because the strategies that initially brought them success are outdated, and the target audience has also changed and matured. By failing to adopt cutting edge digital strategies they are refusing to adapt and improve their online B2B campaigns. When put under the spotlight for lack of results, the common excuse used is poor execution by the teams.

However, if any business wants to remain competitive, they need to adopt new marketing strategies. All businesses need to adapt to their environment, and that can only be done when you decide to switch up your online B2B campaigns.

8 Signs that show your B2B Marketing Strategy is Outdated

You can’t seem to engage clients

If you’re failing to engage your clients, you’re failing to reach your potential as a business, which is why it is important that you offer them with a comprehensive contact page. This is important for capturing leads and customer satisfaction.

51% of people will not do business with a company that doesn’t provide them with thorough contact information.

You will lose more business if you’re not providing your clients with contact information, which is why it might be time to redesign your website and switch up your online B2B campaign.

You’re not capturing leads

You may not have any problems in attracting traffic on to your website, but you also need to convert that traffic into sales. Lead capturing is important for a business, otherwise they won’t make any money, and to do that you need to include landing pages, forms, and call-to-action buttons on your website. You won’t be able to convert leads without them.

Your website is cluttered

Having lots of content on your B2B website is a good strategy, but you can easily overdo it as well. A cluttered website is going to be an eyesore, and visitors to your website will run away, which is why it is important to balance things out. You should know about the value of whitespace, since it helps visitors focus on the important things on your website. It helps to improve readability, and also helps lead capturing as well.

Your website design doesn’t match your brand

Businesses must focus on their brand positioning as well, which means clearly outlining what the brand and the B2B website represent. The design scheme of your website needs to be in sync with your industry, and should include strong brand messaging. You should be clear about your goals as a business with your clients and customers, which will only help serve your B2B campaign.

Your website hasn’t been updated

When the digital revolution came about, and computers became mainstream, basic website designs were the norm. However, technology has grown rapidly over time, and that has also influenced website designs. If you want your B2B campaign to be successful, you need to update the website design as well. If you’re not sold on that, these statistics might change your perception:

66% of web users want websites with visually appealing designs

38% of web visitors won’t engage with a website with poor content or layout

79% of web users prefer going to websites that are mobile friendly

If you want your B2B campaign to be a success you will need to work on upgrading your website design.

You don’t upload fresh content

You need to frequently upload fresh content on your B2B blog, which is important for SEO, more visitors, driving organic traffic, and converting leads. If you don’t have any new content on your website, your website traffic will fall off a cliff. If you don’t have a blog on your website, you can add a ‘news section’, which will help provide visitors with helpful, informative, and relevant information.

The website is unresponsive and slow

One of the main reasons to switch up your online B2B campaign is if you have a website that is slow and unresponsive.

71% of mobile users stop going to websites that take too long to load or crash frequently.

The average web user only waits about 5 seconds for a website to load. If your website is slower than that, you are going to lose traffic and customers. So, make sure that your website is as fast and responsive as possible on desktop and mobile to keep visitors happy and conversion rates soaring.

You can’t update anything

Websites that are inaccessible or haven’t been updated in a long time will not attract visitors, which is why it is important to freshen things up. You can either upgrade your web design or design a brand new one from scratch to ensure that your website manages to attract more traffic.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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!

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About the Contributors

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

Anthony Tockar

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

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

Paul Tune

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

 

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

Ricky Sutton

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

 

customer service charter template download cta woveon

10 Inspiring Companies that Demonstrated World-Class Customer Service

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

10 Companies that Show Excellence in Customer Service

Southwest Airlines

Customer Service Rating: 9/10

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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

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

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

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

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

customer service charter template download cta woveon

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

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

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

Customer Satisfaction in 9 Simple Steps

1. Send Personalized Messages

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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.