Tag Archives: content creation

When VOC Calls – Listen

I don’t know about your newspaper, but mine seems full of bad news today. Housing prices are sinking, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the economy is near stall speed, and Reddy Ice Holdings is in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

Real downer, dudes and dudettes. But do not let these types of goings on rattle your cage, especially if you are about to cast an eye at slashing customer support. You have a gold mine there in case you don’t know it.

Your customers are feeling the pinch, just like you. Ask yourself, do I feel like making any cash outlays right now? Or would I like to know my vendor has my back until things stabilize but making sure what I already have keeps working right and that I learn about any great deals quickly?

These are the same feelings your customers have. And you should be able to tell from the feedback you get whenever one of them contacts your organization. If you are doing it right, customer service and customer support are putting some valuable information into the customer service management system.

By finding out how often and why people are calling, you can target incentives, sales collateral, and good karma toward your existing customers. These are the ones you want to stay around until things are more flush. It’s fun to get new customers, sure, but expensive. The ones you already have deserve your undivided attention for remaining loyal.

Get your system to tell you the trends in parts replacements, problems, requested features or products, and where all this is coming from. Make sure you are alerted as early as possible about customer dissatisfaction so you can catch them and fix it before they go to a competitor. Work with them so they know you understand their situation so that, even if they leave, when they feel more able to afford it, they will come back.

You can’t find all these things out if you don’t listen. The Voice of the Customer shouldn’t just blow in the wind. Even now your have information that you can use and you can find out more by adding some feedback management to your customer service and support.

Just like you can’t fix what you don’t measure, you can’t improve if you don’t learn precisely what is needed from the very people you need to keep your company afloat.

The Third Element of Great Customer Service: The Right Technology

Pellerin Portfolio

Here is the last element in our brief series on taking your customer service to greatness. The first two, people and a quality product, are equal legs on this stool and so it having the right technology so your customer service agents can spend their time with customers, not tabbing between applications, looking up answers in several different databases, or taking second and third calls from customers whose problem wasn’t fixed with the first call. Nor do they want to spend time with calls that could have been avoided if the customer had access to information or processes that don’t need another human involved.

First, the easy stuff. Make it possible for your customers to find their own answers if they prefer. Give them access through a customer portal for self service where they can access a knowledgebase, connect with other users, and submit problems or get right in contact with an agent if they can’t fix it themselves.

Give your customers the ability to engage with you on the channel they prefer. If they would rather interact through chat, set up a chat channel. If they start on that channel and it would be better to switch to another, like the phone, make that possible. Many still prefer the phone. Don’t load them down with an endless phone menu, get them to a person as quickly as possible if that is what they need.

And fix it so they don’t have to repeat information. To anybody. They should be able to enter or provide it once and be done. Nothing is more annoying than telling your problem over and over. (Note to customers: do give the agents time to read through lengthy content if your ticket is complex).

When agents must get involved, make sure they only have to deal with one system for customer information, ticketing, documentation, and knowledge management. Every time a new application must be opened or switched takes time that would be better spent engaging the customer and solving their problem. This single system helps the rest of the organization too. No dropped tickets between applications or departments, alerts for everything, and time tracking to keep up with staffing. A way to see aging and open tickets and schedule time to take care of them. Get fast answers from knowledge infused support processes and technology.

In short, make it as easy as possible for both customers and customer service agents to fix problems without putting technological obstacles under their feet. Will it cost up front? Sure. But in the long run, that new system will pay for itself, possibly inside of six months.

There are systems out there that do all of this. Of course, we think PhaseWare is the best and most affordable. But, really, there is no excuse these days to still be tracking a spreadsheet or using multiple software applications to do what one customer service and support solution can do.

So there you have it. The three elements of great customer support:

  1. People
  2. Quality
  3. Technology

Read all three posts:

The First Element of Great Customer Service: Your People

The Second Element of Great Customer Service: Quality of Information

The Third Element of Great Customer Service: The Right Technology

Laying a Foundation for the 3 Basic Elements of Customer Service

Jody Pellerin, Writer

Foundation

In keeping with this week’s theme of three essential elements of customer service I wanted to talk about the C-suite’s role.

In our top-down, hierarchical paradigm that has persisted over many decades, we tend to think of the C-suite as the top of the pyramid, the apex of the business. Over time this can cause a disconnect between the executive officers and the rest of the business. Decisions are made without really feeling the consequences because all the layers between executive and the rank and file dull any pain through spinning any bad news to sound not so bad.

The truth is, the C-suite is the foundation for the business. This is where company culture is set and where any change must start in order to successfully steer the business in a new direction. As the executives think, so goes the company.

In The First Element of Great Customer Service: Your People I wrote about the most essential part of great customer service. Like a three legged stool, customer service will fail if any one of the elements is missing, but I believe if the first element, people, are missing, it doesn’t just allow the stool to fall, the other two legs will cease to exist. People are necessary for the existence and success of quality and technology.

You, as the CXO, have the greatest impact on the people of your company. Your opinions, decisions, and actions inform the environment in which people work. You lay the foundation upon which the elements, especially the people, rest. I know it is easier to look at a spreadsheet and play with the numbers, but those numbers were affected by every person in your organization, and nobody has more impact than your customer facing employees.

It is incumbent upon you to make the right decisions and set the right tone for their success.Communicate, communicate, communicate.

  • Make it known that you will be patient with the hiring process if quality employees are being found.
  • Make management understand you consider money spent on training to be an investment, not an expense.
  • Make sure the proper tools are available to make it as easy as possible to answer customer concerns and desires.
  • Make your expectations crystal clear.

And if you must slash personnel do it as soon as possible with those who simply aren’t measuring up. Do yourself, your staff, and that employee the biggest favor you can by moving quickly before resentment, bad habits, and lost customers become a problem. Not everyone is cut out for customer service and the hiring process may not catch all of those who should be guided into other roles. It serves no one to let this slide because it is easier than facing someone to tell them they aren’t right for the job after all.

Your people are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.

Your chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

These cliches exist because there is truth in them. Do your best to lay a solid foundation on which to rest this element and support it so the business can stand strong.

Cross posted to The Successful CXO: Committed to Customer Service

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