A Consistent Customer Experience Requires Consistency In Managing Voice, Electronic, And Social Interactions

Customers expect the same experience every time they interact with a company — whether it be when researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service — over all the communication channels that a company offers. They also expect companies to have an understanding of their past purchase history and prior interactions. Finally, customers further expect that each interaction with a company adds value to their prior interactions so that, for example, they do not have to repeat themselves to a customer service agent when being transferred or when migrating from one communication channel to another during a multistep interaction.

How many companies can deliver a consistent service experience in this scenario?

Three fundamental elements are needed to deliver a consistent customer experience across all communication channels:

  • A unified communications model. Companies need to queue, route, and work on every interaction over all communication channels in the same manner, following the company business processes that uphold its brand.
  • A unified view of the customer. Each agent needs to have a full view of all interactions that a customer has had over all supported communication channels so that the agent can build on the information and experience that has already been communicated to the customer.
  • Unified knowledge and data. Agents need to have access to the same knowledge and the same data across all communication channels so that they can communicate the same story to their customers.
Read more

Forrester's Best Practice Framework For Customer Service

How do you know how well your customer service offering compares with best practices? How do you know what to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors? To answer this question, I put together a Best Practices Framework that you can use to assess your current capabilities. There’s an associated tool in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows you to evaluate yourself against 150 best practices, organized in eight different categories grouped into the four dimensions of strategy, process, technology, and people. Here’s a quick synopsis of the eight categories:

Strategy

  • Customer service strategy. What is your customer service strategy across all the communication channels you use to interact with your customers and how does that strategy incorporate the voice of the customer (VoC)?
Read more

Maturing Social Media Initiatives

Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
  • Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
  • Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
  • Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
Read more

Choosing The Right Metrics For Your Customer Service Operations

Measuring the success of your customer service by using a single metric is impossible. It’s like flying a plane by just looking at your speed without taking the altitude into account. You need to measure a set of competing metrics to make up a Balanced Scorecard that includes the cost of doing business and customer satisfaction. Service operations that have sales responsibilities should also track revenue generated. And in industries with strict policy requirements, like healthcare, insurance, and financial services, compliance with regulations is yet another set of metrics to track.

Choosing the right set of metrics to measure also depends on the stakeholders that use this information. For example:

  • Service managers need operational data that tracks activities, while executives want strategic KPIs that track outcomes of customer service programs.
  • Service managers need granular, real-time data on their operations, while executives need to see only a small number of KPIs on a periodic basis.  

I always think of it as a two-step process to pinpoint the right metrics for all your stakeholders:

  1. Understand the strategic objectives of your company; choose the high-level KPIs for your contact center that support your company’s objectives. These are the metrics you will report to your executives.
  2. Choose the right operational activity metrics for your contact center that map to these KPIs and which the customer service manager uses on a daily basis to manage operations. Here’s an example of this mapping:
Read more

The Customer’s Bill of Rights: The Right to Choose How to Get Customer Service

The Customer’s Bill of Rights: The Right to Choose

Customers know what good service is and expect it from every interaction they have with a company’s customer service organization, over all the interaction channels that the company supports. More often that not, they are disappointed, and are quick to voice their disappointment. And in this world of social media, this disappointment gets amplified — which leads to brand erosion.

Let’s focus on the way customers want to interact with your customer service organization:

  • Customers expect to interact over all the channels that customer service organizations offer, including the traditional ones like phone, email, and chat, and the new social ones like Faceboook and Twitter.
  • Customers expect the same experience over all the communication channels that they use.
  • Customers expect the same information to be delivered to them over any channel.
  • Customers expect to be able to start a conversation on one channel and move it to another channel without having to start the conversation over.
  • Customers expect you to know who they are, what products they have purchased, and what prior interactions they’ve had with you.
  • Customers expect you to add value every time they interact with you.
  • Customers expect you to offer them only new products and services that make sense to them and fit with their past purchase history.
Read more

NetSuite Announces Aggressive Plans To Move Into The Enterprise

NetSuite was kind enough to invite me to the analyst day at its SuiteWorld 2011 user conference — an event packed with product, strategy, customer, and partner information. The focus was clearly on its platform and ERP solutions. Here are my thoughts and takeaways:

  • NetSuite wants to ride the SaaS wave into the enterprise. NetSuite is the only SaaS-based ERP suite of scale. It reports that its data centers get 2.2 million unique logins and 4 billion customer requests a month. However, NetSuite wants to do better. It wants to take its well-tested and well-adopted solution in the midmarket and extend into the enterprise. The timing is right, as Forrester reports that enterprises are ready to consider SaaS-based ERP solutions. In fact, NetSuite reports that sales to enterprise customers increased 37% between 2009 and 2010.
  • NetSuite has a solution package targeted at the enterprise. NetSuite announced a new “Unlimited” package for about $1 million, which includes all modules, unlimited storage, applications, SuiteCloud customizations, subsidiaries, and unlimited users. The exact pricing is based on functionality and number of users (which starts at 500), and scales up from there. It is a package targeted to compete with traditional on-premise ERP vendors as well as SAP’s on-demand solution, Business ByDesign.
Read more

Categories:

Poor User Experiences WILL Kill Your Customer Service App

There’s a  huge graveyard of failed customer service software implementations, and still others are on life support due to the basic fact that they are not usable.  Think of the world we live in, with products and services from Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and the like:

  • Intuitive user interfaces that don’t require training to be able to use them
  • Touchscreens
  • One-click processes
  • Predictive type-ahead where suggested topics are displayed in a dropdown menu to help users autocomplete their search terms
  • Aggregation of content from different sources, all linked together so that it adds value to the user
Read more

Forrester’s 6 Categories Of Best Practices For Customer Service Knowledge Management

The right knowledge, delivered to the customer or the customer service agent at the right time in the service resolution process, is critical to a successful interaction. When done correctly, knowledge personalizes an interaction, increases customer satisfaction, reduces call handle time, and leads to operational efficiencies.

Embarking on a knowledge management project is hard. Concerns include:

  • Worries about cultural readiness and adoption. Many executives don’t understand how activities done by a knowledge team translate into real business outcomes and don’t support these programs with the adequate resources for success.
  • Concerns about making content findable. The best content is useless if it can’t be found when needed. “Findability” has to do with search technology, a solid information architecture, and giving users alternate methods to search for retrieving knowledge.
  • Questions about keeping content timely. Knowledge must be kept current, and new knowledge must be published in a timely manner so that it can be used to answer new questions as they arise.
Read more

Salesforce.com And Radian6 - What Does It Mean For Customer Service?

Today, salesforce.com announced the intent to acquire Radian6, a leader in the social media monitoring space. You can find the details of the definitive agreement here. What I want to focus on is what this acquisition means to customer service.

  •  First, the social listening vendor landscape is crowded and ripe for consolidation. Salesforce.com has just picked off the best vendor in this category of vendors, according to a recent Forrester Wave™ report. Radian6 helps salesforce.com extend its core customer service capabilities to the social channels like Facebook and Twitter, which are becoming increasingly important for companies looking to offer a differentiated customer service experience. This is not the first acquisition of this type; however, it is the most significant one, based on salesforce.com's market share and customer base. Expect to see similar acquisitions by CRM and customer service vendors in the future.
     
Read more

Multichannel Customer Service Is Dead. Long Live Agile Service!

Multichannel commerce is dead, says fellow analyst Brian Walker in Forbes . The essence of this article is that customers don’t choose to interact with you on a single communication channel from start to finish. They interact with you over the most suitable channel for them at that point in time — which could be their mobile device, or a chat session, or a phone call, or email, or web self-service from their iPad. Brian calls this agile commerce.

I agree that it is an agile world out there. And yet, agility does not stop at commerce — it extends to everything that we do, from buying to receiving marketing offers to customer service. Think, for example, about the process you follow to fix an issue with one of your electronic devices. You may browse a community forum, browse the company’s Facebook page, then their official website, contact an agent who can't help you, tweet about it, get contacted by a better-skilled agent who figures out that you need to purchase a new driver and transfers you to someone who can process your order, which you receive on your mobile phone.

 

An example of agile customer service

 

The point is that a customer does not make a distinction between a sales transaction or a customer service transaction. All they expect is to be able to receive the same customer experience every time they interact with a company, over any communication channel that they use.

Read more