Four Tips to Take Your Customer Service from Good to Great

In the spirit of Customer Service Week, I’ve been reflecting on what goes into stellar service. Based on my professional experience speaking with companies about their customer service goals and challenges, I’ve developed the following four customer service tips that every contact center should make a priority.

Tip #1: Be customer-centric. This seems obvious, but it’s surprisingly rare that companies actually do it. It also has less to do with adopting sophisticated technology than it does with a change in perspective and protocols. Imagine you’re a contact center for a company that just suffered a loss of service, which negatively impacted customers. How about sending your customers an email that takes responsibility for the issue, apologizes for it, and makes it right? And making it right could be a very small reimbursement that, trust me, will be repaid ten-fold in a vastly more loyal customer base.

Tip #2: Personalize it. Customers are fast becoming intolerant of doing repeat business with companies that still seem to have no insight into their buying or service history (think about being sold on a totally irrelevant product or service…ugh). To right this wrong it’s vital that your contact center routing system is integrated with your CRM and other back-end systems that house critical customer data. This enables reps to have a customer’s personal information at their finger-tips so they can more quickly and effectively address issues.

Tip #3: Respond fast. When something impacts a customer, the response must be immediate. Taking action in near real-time – especially in today’s Millennial-driven economy — shows a proactive approach that tells customers they are a priority (see Tip #1). It also eliminates the need for customers to spend more time finding out what, if anything, a company will do about the issue.

Tip #4: Embrace self-service. Sure, you still want to offer easy access to live assistance, but increasingly customers want the anytime/anywhere convenience of self-service. Just be sure when you design these systems you do so with the customer in mind. Survey them and find out what systems they would use and for what purpose. Before going live, test them with a beta group to ensure these systems contribute to a positive customer experience.

The above tips take some investment in the right technology, and often require a change in service culture and policy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that much can be done from little if a company is intentional about its customer engagement strategy.

“We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know”: Uncovering Ways to Increase Utility Customer Engagement

“We don’t know what we don’t know, so how do we know?”

I had the pleasure of spending a day with a customer service manager and others at a gas/electric utility a couple of weeks ago. My favorite thing was hearing someone say that sentence.

It’s a phrase that could set your head spinning. But it was refreshing to hear how curious they were to understand and learn what their customers want from a utility in customer service. The excitement on my part was hard to contain. We all know it can be daunting to change, but the world is […]

How to gain and keep Gen Y loyalty

Gen Y’s constant connectivity through various channels allows them to direct the way brands should manage their customer service. So what does Generation Y want in terms of customer service? Retailers that are one step ahead.

Unique Personalization Loyalty programs and personalized perks are just two of the expectations from Gen Y. Retailers must think about the “something extra” for Gen Y. For example, Beachbody offers “Beach Body Club” in which consumers get discounts on workout items, along with free support and advice from health coaches. The customer gets personalized coaching while the retailer guides them on what to purchase […]

Life on a Seven-Second Delay

One infamous wardrobe malfunction in the 2004 Super Bowl made the seven-second broadcast delay a household term. A seemingly negligible amount of time, seven seconds gave television executives the feeling of security, the knowledge that they could cut the video feed or bleep the audio before it went out to millions of viewers.

But imagine what life would be like if our vision or hearing was limited by that seven-second delay. Forget about catching your smartphone before it hits the floor; according to Isaac Newton, that screen’s already been cracked for six seconds and change. Walking around? Take one step, […]

Simulation modeling and Madden: Understanding “What if” analyses through football

Many years ago, I got my first promotion for drawing a simple graph.

I had been asked a question: Given changes we were expecting at our airline, what should be our servicing strategy?

That question is the sort of question that you would ask a $500/hour consultant, and I certainly wasn’t one of those. But my boss knew that I had built a discrete-event simulation model of the contact center network, and he felt it was time to take the model out for a spin.

Many of you haven’t heard of discrete-event simulation modeling, but if your home is like […]

How One Company Used their Best Asset – Their People

You can help drive a culture of inclusion and collaboration or you can let your team descend into constant reactive mode. If you ignore what your people are saying, this can create a siloed environment which can directly impact your customer service.

An inspiring moment for me was listening to what our customer Ambit Energy, a top electricity and gas provider, has accomplished by listening to its employees and turning those insights into action.

Ambit reached out to its employees for ways to improve, and then followed through, making changes to its processes. CRM system improvements decreased an average call […]

Collection Analytics: How to save money with counterintuitive data

One of my more interesting jobs was as a manager of a credit card collections analytics group. We were tasked to produce all sorts of cool analytics, from when to schedule collectors to how to segment the delinquent customers to how to manage the collections dialer. It was fun.

Being someone who hadn’t grown up in collections, I was able to ask all sorts of stupid questions — to challenge the “traditional” way of operating. And we found some cool “traditions” that should be re-evaluated. One of the more nuanced piece of analyses we performed was to determine the priority […]

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With today’s technology, feeding customers’ multi-channel expectations isn’t about enabling many channels of communication; the struggle lies in managing the people, processes, and technology that deliver the experience to your customers.

If you boil it down to its simplest terms, the customer sees and experiences you as one entity. They do not think of your marketing team or your customer service department; they think Disney, Apple, Google, Comcast, and Verizon. Every interaction with every employee, product, or service combines to create that customer’s “experience.”

Whether you define the experience you will deliver or not, customers will have expectations. If you […]

Lessons from Lego: Confessions of an enterprise collaboration addict and toddler mom

As first-time parents, my husband and I try to be wise in our toy purchases. (Experienced parents: please stop laughing.) But it’s become clear that most toys aren’t designed with both parents and toddlers in mind; most seem to fall into one of several categories. As I began to define the different categories of toys in my head after cleaning up a particularly rowdy play session, I realized they looked surprisingly similar to the enterprise collaboration and communication marketplace (but more on that soon):

Best of Breed – This toy does one thing well, but that’s it. You can’t expand […]

Why Contact Centers Need a Workforce Management Team

Every contact center needs a Workforce Management (WFM) team. Seriously, you do! I spend a lot of time evangelizing why WFM planning is so important when creating a consistently performing operation. Because I have seen this play out many times in my job as a consultant, I’m highly confident that WFM practices can help any business improve. After all, isn’t it better to be prepared than surprised?

One of the best predictors of future behavior is past behavior. WFM software allows us to gather data from the past so we’re able to prepare for the future. Learning from the past […]