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Customer Service: Do it Right the First Time!

We have all experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of customer service. Often, customer service tends to fall into the bad and ugly categories. We have all gritted our teeth before calling a company for service or walking into a store to return an item, fearful of a confrontation because of a rigid policy, or simply because of the bad attitude (usually attributable to ineffective training!) of the person serving us. But whatever the cause, poor customer service can have a lasting effect on both the business offering it and the person on the receiving end.

In my 20+ years as a customer service professional, I have learned a lot about how to accentuate the good and minimize the bad and ugly. Whether I am checking out at the grocery store or out to dinner with friends, I find myself observing the level of service being provided. The one constant I find missing, is a lack of personalized service being provided. Many service representatives don’t make eye contact, let alone smile or engage in small talk. Instead, they focus more on the task at hand rather than the customer – the person – in front of them. This is because many service representatives and call center employees are trained for efficiency and are expected to check several boxes, such as validating callers first, rather than acknowledging the customer and their concern. This impersonal approach does little to demonstrate to the customer that they are a priority and that their issue is of importance to the customer service team.

With all that in mind, here are a few helpful hints to help ensure your customers are receiving The Good: Unparalleled, personalized customer service:

Do:

  1. Develop a personalized customer service philosophy and ensure your employee training clearly conveys this philosophy. What kind of experience do you envision for your customers every time they interact with your company?
  2. Make your main measure of success Customer Satisfaction instead of Average Handle Time. If your customers are happy, they will tell you. And if they are not, they will tell their friends and family, or even worse Yelp or Glassdoor.
  3. This one never gets old: hire people who are passionate about helping people. Many skills can be learned, but helpfulness tends to be part of the fundamental nature of a person.
  4. Treat your employees well; they are your most valuable resource. If your employees are happy (measure their happiness frequently), your customers will be happy as well.
  5. Empower and support your employees to deliver brilliant customer experiences. Employees who feel supported, recognized and empowered will be engaged. Employees should also be trusted to override certain policies to make customers happy (be it a slight alteration to a return policy, or applying goodwill credits or perhaps extending a recently expired promotion to a loyal customer).
  6. Have FUN at work!

Don’t:

  1. Utilize Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – Don’t do it! Live answer is the way to go. IVR’s are frustrating for your customers and are a barrier to providing personal, effective customer service. I was recently shopping for new call center software and one vendor kept pushing their self-service IVR functionality. They couldn’t understand why we weren’t interested. By avoiding the use of IVRs, it is far more likely that your customers will be satisfied by the personalized, specific assistance they received.
  2. Outsource – Unless you have full control over hiring, training and firing, then I strongly recommend against outsourcing. Sure, it might save you money, however it could cost you customers. Outsourced employees are usually underpaid and lack loyalty, resulting in a lack of commitment to your customers and your brand. When I managed the quality program for a large Canadian telecommunications company, my team would often recommend the removal of outsourced employees from our campaign and what would the outsourcer do? Turn around and put that employee on another company’s campaign.

Here at Achievers, our in-house Member Experience Team delivers a superior and personalized customer experience to more than 1 million eligible users in over 150 countries. We are committed to the highest level of quality and excellence, derived from our in-house staff and we recognize our Member Experience employees for providing the kind of personalized interactions that make for good experiences. Customer Satisfaction is our most important metric because we know if our members are delighted then it will drive the overall success of the program. Our mantra is simple:

Our Vision: To deliver a World-Class Customer Experience

Our Mission: To create Raving Fans by delighting members with our commitment to Service Excellence.

Dare to be different, and do what is right for your customer!

Check out another blog by Marci Peters on 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

About the Author

Marci Peters

Marci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

 

 

Customer Service Insight

Why Insight is the Best Customer Service

Did you know 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience? Don’t let your business suffer due to weak customer service. With product and service information so easily accessible online, customer service can be can be a key differentiator for your business if delivered in a strategic way to add unbeatable value. Discussing what something is or how it works is the bare minimum of what a customer expects from a customer service interaction. If you want to really stand out from your competition as a premium provider, you need to provide the ‘why’ behind your product. You need to share how your offering will strengthen their business and help them solve a bigger problem. Below are two easy ways to accomplish just that:

Align with industry trends

Industry trends define the market and can help guide a business towards success. If you take the time to understand industry trends you will be able to position your product or service more effectively to your customer. Not only does this facilitate more relevant discussions, it creates a more personalized experience for the customer.

For example, if your customer is in the retail industry and your product is in the e-commerce space, consider taking some trending statistics that can motivate them to align with the current demands of the market (and ultimately your product’s offering). Share powerful stats, such as how current sales value of e-commerce retailers is $294 billion and in 2015, 200 million digital shoppers were expected to spend an average of $1,700/person. Having numbers and trends like this at your fingertips make customers feel heard and shows that your company knows their business and truly cares about their success.

Here at Achievers, one of our customers’ primary concerns is with employee engagement. The higher a business’s level of employee engagement is, the higher their workers’ productivity and retention level will be. Currently, only 31.5% of U.S. employees are engaged at work. This lack of employee engagement is a problematic trend that continues to bedevil all players in the HR space. And chances are, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. According to the Deloitte 2016 Millennial Survey, only 24% of millennials are satisfied with learning and development opportunities at their current job. Considering the aforementioned offerings are key contributors to millennial job satisfaction and loyalty, it’s clear that employers have a problem.

Luckily, this problem can be addressed with an increased focus on employee engagement, and the key drivers that have been identified as contributing to increased engagement. So instead of focusing on this situation as a barrier, I see it as an opportunity to demonstrate Achievers’ capacity to address the issue. Discussing with prospects and clients how our platform can be used to support learning and development opportunities shows that our business gets it. Try the same and start aligning your product or service to industry trends as a straightforward way to use customer service to deliver value.

Leverage stories to get buy-in

Stories bring things to life: they make situations tangible and meaningful in a way that mere facts cannot. Getting buy-in for a product or service requires defining a distinct benefit to the consumer, and stories are an excellent way to convey this. But in order for a story to be effective in a business context, it needs to be relevant and concise. Being able to relate how existing customers have used your product or service helps a client or prospect envision how they can attain similar results. For example, Ericsson’s case study surrounding its employee recognition program highlights immediate success and ROI from Achievers’ platform. Sharing success stories can help reaffirm that your solution really works – especially if your story involves a client with similarities in business model, industry or end goals.

I recommend actively collecting and developing customer stories so they are easily accessible to share with relevant parties. From getting buy-in for a certain premium feature, to proving that your recommended approach is the right choice, an effective story can help seal the deal. It’s one thing to discuss how a sales tool can be easily implemented; it’s another to relate that a similar client who implemented the same tool saw a $17,100 increase in profits from a $2,100 investment.

Beyond this, start focusing on how to improve your overall customer service approach. Usually, it starts with your employees. According to frequent Forbes contributor Blake Morgan (and many others), happy employees equal happy customers. One of the best ways to ensure that you have happy, engaged employees is by implementing a robust recognition and rewards program. And it’s not just me who’s saying this, a report in the Harvard Business Review recently ranked Rewards & Recognition as the number one driver of employee engagement!

To learn more about how recognition and rewards can help improve engagement levels and boost employee happiness, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement Report.

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About the Author

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.