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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.

 

 

 

Cox Automotive Spark Week

Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration

Employees are a core determinant of company success, but with a staggering 68% rate of employee disengagement, it’s clear that effectively leveraging their full potential can be a precarious task. Factors that drive employee engagement vary across employees, but a crucial factor is how connected they feel to their company’s culture and values. In fact, 82% of employees believe culture is a competitive advantage, yet only 28% believe that they understand their culture well. Creating a great company culture is not an easy ‘drag and drop’ nor can it be quickly implemented to garner immediate results; it requires a thought-out strategy and the right tools to help execute. One crucial piece of the great culture puzzle is recognition, and one company that is demonstrating a powerful use case of leveraging recognition and to drive engagement is Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive is an Atlanta, GA-based subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and the parent company of such well-known brands as Kelley Blue Book, Xtime, Autotrader and Manheim. Because it consists of geographically dispersed corporate and subsidiary units, Cox Automotive’s employee population is as diverse as they come. They’re a unique mix of offline and online, front line and back office. All this diversity can make it tricky for Cox Automotive to unify the entire company around a single culture.  Implementing Spark, Cox’s internal rewards and recognition platform powered by Achievers, was a significant step towards strengthening company culture and employee engagement – but the Spark Team wanted more. They wanted to do something unique to create buzz around Spark and drive members to actively participate in the program. After days of brainstorming, Spark Week was born.

Since its inception, Spark Week (its name inspired by the popular cable special Shark Week, but with considerably less blood and gore) has become a highly anticipated event every August for the Cox Automotive community. Designed to increase interest in their rewards and recognition program, Spark Week boasts a fun and unique roster of activities that drive awareness and participation.

Spark Week kicks off with a company-wide email highlighting the Spark Week calendar of activities. This sets the tone for the eventful week by communicating the upcoming activities with a fun, themed approach. Each day pairs a different element of the Spark program, such as group recognition or redemptions, with a creative component, such as a meme contest or digital treasure hunt. An uptick in recognition activity during Spark Week makes it a strategic time to launch new features in their employee engagement platform; for instance, the new feature Service Awards made its debut on the platform this year.

“Love Spark Week! So glad employees get the opportunity to recognize others who have been outstanding and be recognized for their hard work. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team!” – Kristin Hoopes, Sr. Accounting Specialist, Cox Automotive

The huge success of Spark Week is evident from the extensive data gathered from Cox Automotive’s employee engagement platform, including:

  • A staggering 25,522 “Thank You” recognition cards sent across the platform.
  • A daily recognition average of 3,4563.2 times more than their usual daily recognition average.
  • A 114% increase in recognitions sent compared to the entire month of July.
  • A whopping 626 redemptions made.
  • A total of $1,725 worth of Spark points donated to St. Jude.

Spark Week’s success was also demonstrated by the high levels of participation of different business units who willingly submitted content throughout the week. One auction house created and shared a video where different employees reflected on their favorite redemption and encouraged other members to redeem their points. Another auction house decided to join in on the action by making an entertaining video – complete with their own shark mascot. Self-generated contributions indicate a strong sense of ownership and belief in the value of employee recognition programs. Spark Week is now an embodiment of the culture at Cox Automotive and one of the biggest internal events of the year.

The more successful an event, the more daunting it can seem for others to replicate. However, the most important element of Spark Week can be distilled down to a simple, accessible concept: make it about your employees. Reflect on what motivates them to deliver excellence and extra effort, and think about the elements in your program that could have the same motivating effect. Pair the aforementioned with fun and engaging external activities, like team breakfasts or photo contests that align with your company values to create your own version of Spark Week.

Focusing on what makes your employees happy is key to a successful business. Just remember: Every time you have a 1% increase in employee engagement, you gain an additional .0.6% growth in sales for your company. There is no better time than now to follow in the footsteps of Cox Automotive and start building your very own Spark Week-like initiative to increase employee recognition and engagement.

Check out Cox Automotive’s fun infographic highlighting Spark Week’s success!

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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.