Tag Archives: Contact Center

Think you have your head around social media? Think again!

My thoughts on “The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social”

Perhaps thinking I knew the answer in advance, I recently posed the question “What keeps you up at night?” to a contact center executive before one of our meetings.  To my surprise he answered “easy…social media!”

Knowing a bit about my client already, I’d expected something more traditional like gaining more control over agent scheduling or perhaps having a better grip on budgeting for the many peaks and valleys this center encounters in call volume.  But nope…social media was the answer I received.

As it turns out I had just gone to a contact center conference in Indianapolis “Interactions 2014.” One of the keynote speakers was Jay Baer who is noted for his company “Convince & Convert.”

The NOW Revolution Pic (cropped)At the conference I watched Jay deliver some laughs, but I was also floored by some of the amazingly useful information he shared about social media for business.  Here are a few gems I garnered from his talk.

  • “every employee in a potential spokesperson and brand ambassador”
  • “listening in on social media is like answering phone calls, just in a new medium”
  • “Social media can be the canary in the coal mine, your early warning detection system.  With it, you can actually see and hear real issues as they happen and tap into the very platform your customers are using to solve them.”

He shows us that as our business and social worlds become more intertwined, we need to react quickly to our customers via social media.

I came right home and bought his book “The Now Revolution”, and I was hooked. With a healthy dose of humor, he shows us the changing relationship between business and customer. Think you know your social media? You’re probably wrong.

Take this case Jay shared and try to wrap your head around it.  A major hotel chain recently adopted a new way of addressing social media responsiveness by not only answering feedback on their own “brand” but they also began proactively answering people’s travel questions about restaurant, sightseeing and leisure activities in cities they serve and some they don’t.  Here’s the weird part.  They made these recommendations without any expectation that the end user ever make a reservation in one of their properties.  That’s right.,  No sales pitch at all.  Their goal is to be seen as helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and trusted.  What’s your bet that you’d remember that the next time you book travel?

Well you might imagine that after completing the book I was looking for a way to get this to you, my friends in the contact center space. This information is too good to keep to myself.

I’d like to send you a copy of Jay’s book, FREE of charge.

Tweet the link for this post using the hashtag #ServiceMatters and I’ll get you a copy right away!

From one customer service geek to another, I simply want to share with you the useful information I gained from this book.

I look forward to discussing the book with you, and hearing about any of your experiences working with social media or the contact center in the comments below.

 

** Edit: Giveaway has now ended. Thanks to all that participated!

 

Fast Service Preferred Over Good Service – Really?

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I encourage you to check out this new study hosted by Interactive Intelligence and performed by Actionable Intelligence that sheds new light on the rapid changes we are experiencing in the world of customer service.  My favorite finding so far – customers prefer fast service over good service! Really?

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Follow-up Is as Important as First Call Resolve

2013-10-10 Webinar Photo Edited

I was the recent recipient of some amazing customer service from one of the larger US banks as I negotiated the rapids of a refinance. I had low expectations from the outset but was pleasantly surprised with an amazing service experience.

As I think back on the entire process it occurs to me that the most memorable part of it was the follow-up.  It was almost mechanized. I got periodic callbacks from my primary contact as well as from the underwriter.  I could not believe that they were calling me to give me status updates. It sounded like a much more relaxed transaction from both sides of the table.

All these months later this is my strongest memory. The trust built in this process has encouraged me to reach out to this very same bank first in order to address another of my financial needs.

So how do we ensure that excellent customer service goals that we set for our service centers are actually carried out in reality?  This becomes especially difficult when the service process moves beyond our own walls and involves external organizations who are likely not even part of your company (title companies, etc.).

Of course my first thought was that there must be some ubiquitous CRM solution like Salesforce.com or a huge back-office system like SAP involved behind the magic curtain.  Perhaps that is the case for this large bank but what about the rest of us?  Is there help out there to help us automate our workflow in order to maintain continuity and prevent tasks from falling through the cracks?

I’ve done some digging and found some guidance for those of us who care about the customer experience that might help us avoid the huge expense of a complete back-office overhaul.

Craig Robinson with BBW (a London based consultancy in the telephony and contact center arena) points out is a recent white paper “Optimizing Content Centric Processes to Improve the Customer Experience” that the potential gains go far beyond just time savings but impact both customer satisfaction and agent retention.  So by making is easier on the customer we also enhance the life of the service rep as well.

Diane Halliwell with Align, LLC in “The Exceptional Customer Experience: It’s All About the Process” points out that as important as technology is in this process that at the end of the day process is about people.  She says “Making existing resources more effective at what they do improves processes and the customer experience. ” 

So there is hope out there and it looks like it’s a mix of people and technology that will be required but that it doesn’t look like we need to turn our world’s upside down to gain the benefit.

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Sometimes Old School Techniques are Required – Square Finds Out the Hard Way

Square in Action
Square in Action

The news is starting to trickle out about one of the hottest technology plays out there.  It’s our friends at Square. You’ve probably seen them if you’ve paid for anything at a small business lately or at your local farmers market.  Lots of these folks are using the little card readers to allow you to swipe your credit/debit card to pay for your purchases.  You definitely know them if you are a small merchant who wants to start accepting electronic payment instead of cash or checks. Square is a real plus and the transaction fees are a fraction of the going rate through your local bank.

What’s challenging though has been the customer service needed when the occasional electronic transaction goes sour.  Square’s current plan is to offer you an e-mail response within 24 hours or you can kick-off a chat session to resolve your case.  Sounds like it might work but I can assure you that if you are one of the unlucky merchants caught with a bad payment or a frustrated customer, there is no time like right now to get things resolved.

At the end of the day, I have to give Square some credit.  I’m guessing they adopted the service model they thought their customers would find most friendly.  After all, the transactions are taking place on smartphones.  A recent Dimension Data report highlights the growing acceptance of texting, chat, and email on these devices, but also shows the persistent reliance on traditional voice technologies. In addition, I think Square failed to realize that when it comes to resolving issues surrounding money you need to stick pretty close to the tried and true service models we see in the banking world.  It doesn’t need to be fancy but your customers do have certain expectations. 

There is talk that Square is considering opening up a contact center in order to quell the noise about their challenging customer service.  I could not agree more.  I’ll bet customers would be happy to tolerate a little wait time.  I’d even goes as far as saying they’d be open to entering an account number so you could pop their account record and last set of transactions.  I’d go further to suggest they wouldn’t mind a bit of hold time if they knew live assistance was on it’s way.  They’d be happy campers once they got connected.

So kudos to Square for considering a contact center approach.  Just make sure that whatever solution you choose acts the same way with mobile devices as it does with traditional phone lines.  Nothing worse than offering a new service method that doesn’t quite take care of business.   

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