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Customer Service: Do it Right the First Time!

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

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 Marci Peters

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.

 

 

 

Top employee desires

What Rewards Do Employees Want Most?

The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted in recent years, especially in tech-related fields. As a human resources professional or manager, you’re probably all-too familiar with the job-hopping ways of highly skilled employees who feel they can pick and choose the job they want. And that’s reflected in the fact that more than half of all business owners feel that competition for talent is stronger than it’s ever been. But there are a number of ways to attract and keep top talent, and to keep them happy and engaged while they’re with you. Offering an employee recognition and rewards program has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain highly skilled workers and to build your company’s financial strength at the same time. Here’s a look at why a rewards and recognition system is important, and how to choose the kinds of rewards that your workers really want.

Employee happiness is essential

Even if your business is centered on sophisticated equipment or software, human beings are still the essential engine that makes everything run – and a sense of emotional well-being is the primary fuel that keeps those human beings working at their peak performance level. Research shows that workers who are recognized and rewarded for their efforts feel happier in general, have better relationships with co-workers and are more open to constructive feedback. Financially, you’ll see measurable returns as well: According to an Aberdeen Group study, companies with some type of formal employee engagement program see a 25-percent increase in year-over-year revenue, along with nearly triple the sales team success. And the difference in annual customer service cost was equally eye-popping: companies with formal methods for employee appreciation saw a 12.7-percent savings in customer service expenditures, whereas companies that don’t have any employee recognition system in place spent 1.2 percent more for their customer service.

Why employee incentives have become more important

It’s always been true that recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions results in better performance and less employee churn, but now that millennials are flooding the workplace thee levers have become more important than ever. Younger workers are often the ones with the most desirable skill-set, but in return for their services they expect employers to be appreciative of their efforts. Investopedia lays out the basic facts for managers: One-third of every U.S. worker belongs to this generation, along with half of all new immigrants who come here. The article goes on to advise, “This drastic shift in the workforce requires companies to change how they manage and reward talent. The policies and incentives that worked for past generations are no longer effective, and companies that fail to adapt may find themselves facing a shortage of talented and motivated workers.”

What kind of rewards should you offer?

Once you’ve made the decision to establish a formal system for recognizing and rewarding your workers, the next step is to figure out what kind of rewards will most effectively motivate and delight your employees. Here’s a quick review of the benefits and perks that are recommended by employee recognition best practices:

Social recognition

Especially for the growing population of millennial employees, a social recognition platform should be your first focus. This popular type of HR technology is perfectly suited for workers who have come of age in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. They’re accustomed to immediate feedback, “likes,” status updates and more, and if they’re praised, they want to be able to share the event with friends. You’ll build loyalty among this group of workers with shareable social acknowledgements because these rewards are magnified when posted on personal and professional networks.

Career coaching and professional development

Your employees work for many reasons besides merely earning a paycheck, and the best way to nurture their non-monetary motivations is to offer them a chance to advance in their careers. By providing the opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new challenges, you are fueling each worker’s passion for their job and helping them feel more engaged in your organization’s overall business success.

Additional flexibility

Everyone who works for you is also balancing a wide array of outside commitments and obligations. A study of employee wants found that 35 percent of workers say they would benefit from more flexible work schedules, and 46 percent say that having more control over their time is one of the most important factors when they’re looking for a new job. Rewarding your top performers with greater control over when and where they work is a cost-effective method of increasing employee happiness and building loyalty.

Gift cards and trendy items

Although pay and compensation must be competitive in order to ensure a sense of well-being among your workforce, employees today often expect more than just their baseline pay to feel truly appreciated. That’s why being able to offer a wide array of rewards in the form of gift cards, travel and leisure, and other hot items like tablet computers or VR goggles is complimentary to any fully-fledged social recognition program. The unique benefit of offering gift cards and a full selection of items from a catalog is that each employee can choose his or her own uniquely meaningful reward, and which will make them feel more satisfied than if they just received an insignia coffee mug, plaque, or some standardized gift that you purchased for them.

Your company’s financial strength depends on making sure that your employees stay engaged. Understanding some basics in human motivation can help you to be creative in finding ways to recognize your workers. New developments in HR tech also offer holistic systems for boosting worker happiness, increasing engagement and improving overall performance.

We all want to make our employees happy, so why not start by giving them what they want: an unbeatable rewards and recognition program in place. Learn how to kick off the right rewards and recognition program for your business by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Recognition.

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Customer Service Insight

Why Insight is the Best Customer Service

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

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 Sarah Clayton

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.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement in the Retail Industry

3 Ways Disengaged Employees Impact the Retail Industry

When it comes to driving repeat purchases in retail, customer experience is just as important as price, if not more so. With your employees at the forefront, bringing positive or not-so-positive experiences to your customers, it’s important for retail leaders to work with a highly engaged team. Get the fast facts and learn how disengaged employees affect consumers and what you can do to improve engagement levels.

FACT 1: Disengaged employees fire customers.
The retail industry saw 28% of global consumers switch due to poor customer service in 2013, compared to 22% in 2012.

Ouch! As if the economy and changing consumer tastes weren’t enough, retailers and brands are now losing loyal customers due to poor service. And that’s not all. Of all industries, retail has had the highest percentage of consumers who switch due to poor customer experiences. How can you engage your employees and empower them to deliver exceptional service?

  1. Be transparent: Help employees understand how consumer interactions affect the bottom line.
  2. Timely recognition: Give your employees kudos on-the-spot when they provide excellent service.
  3. Utilize feedback: Allow your customers to give feedback and share it with your employees.

FACT 2: Disengaged employees call in “sick.”

A decrease of only 10% in employee absence could produce a 1-2% savings in payroll costs.

Absenteeism isn’t just a nightmare for logistical reasons, it’s also a symptom of unengaged employees. Employees who aren’t motivated to come to work are probably not delivering exceptional service when they’re in attendance. Here are several ways to beat absenteeism:

  1. Improve the culture: Create a positive environment where employees feel excited to come to work.
  2. Create alignment: Get employees in sync with the organization’s objectives so they understand how they contribute to the business.
  3. Use peer-to-peer recognition: It’s great to get feedback from the top down, but peer to peer recognition is a powerful tool as well.

FACT 3: Disengaged employees will leave your company.  

More than 50% of disengaged retail employees are planning to switch jobs in the next year, versus 10% of engaged employees.

High retention rates are indicative of engaged employees. Engaged employees are putting your customers first and ultimately driving the bottom line. Consider practices that your business could adopt to help boost retention rates and keep business booming.

  1. Engage employees: Practice recognition when employees meet a business objective.
  2. Develop a recognition rhythm: Get all of your employees in the habit of recognizing each other on a regular basis.
  3. Evolve your engagement strategy: Ditch antiquated ways of rewarding employees and use positive and timely feedback.

Learn more about how your business can improve the customer experience by engaging employees. Download our whitepaper, The Cost of Disengagement for the Retail Industry.