customer service

Do you have a rule to keep your post-call IVR surveys very short?

“Do you have a rule to keep the survey very short?” is a question that was included in the 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys ebook and self-assessment. The ebook and self-assessment contains numerous diagnostic questions to help you to identify many of the common mistakes companies make when implementing post-call IVR survey programs. Twenty years ago when I invented post-call IVR surveying in contact centers, surveys that were too short was not the common problem like it is today. Continue reading

The research proves it…we cannot wait to measure the customer experience

A 2002 Harvard Business Review article stated that after a year, customers who were surveyed regarding satisfaction with a service interaction (with a financial institution) were more than three times as likely to open a NEW account, less than half as likely to defect and were more profitable than consumers who had not been surveyed (Dholakia & Morwitz, 2002).  The only difference between the two groups was that one was surveyed and one was not; neither group received any direct marketing from the company during the year.  The impact of surveying customers was shown to be profound due to the customers’ desire to be acknowledged by the company; the company also remains top-of-mind when product choices are made, simply because the process of asking a consumer’s opinion allows people the opportunity to think about your products and services that otherwise may not occur (Dholakia & Morwitz, 2002). Continue reading

Emotional decisions will cost you thousands without Customer Experience Analytics

It is human nature to make emotional decisions based on nothing more than a reaction to a feeling, even if it is irrational.  In business, emotional decisions made every day without thorough customer experience analysis to support them is costing you tens of thousands of wasted dollars.  How do you know you are making emotional decisions?  If someone had directed you to make a change or has imposed a goal and a customer experience analyst has not verified the accuracy of such, it’s a clue that it’s an emotional decision. Continue reading

Do your customers fall into the ‘expectations gap’?

Does your organization have customers with different expectations than they should?  How does that happen when your company should be setting proper expectations?  But, as you know, there are often gaps between what they think and what we think they should think.  The gaps often yield dissatisfied customers, high customer effort and more customer complaints than you’d like to get.

Recently I had the experience of being in one of these “gaps” when I needed some pest prevention work done to my home.  I jumped through several hoops, both financially (large upfront sum) and physically (items in my yard had to be removed prior to the work starting).  I had prepared myself for the money and the preparation to my yard and reasonably expected the work to start promptly.  I did not expect there to be further complications once the work got underway.  After all, my expectations were formed by the contract we signed.

I knew I was deep into an aforementioned gap when I was met with harassing phone calls from the billing department asking for payment – yes, the payment that had been made upfront.  Then, my property was damaged (they knocked the fence down completely) and the necessary repairs were to be paid by me.  How is that fair?  I did research, partnered with a reputable company, and specifically outlined the payment and the work order upfront only to be met with continued frustration and costs. Continue reading

Are customers using crowdsourcing to find your products?

are customers finding your products and services through crowdsourcing?It’s time to get a new TV so I went to my local electronics store see the choices.  I wanted to compare the options and then select which model, brand and type would best suit my needs.  I found a store salesperson that walked me through the choices and we focused on several models that would be ‘perfect’ for me.  We talked for about 15 minutes and I was left to make my decision.  It was only a minute before another customer came up to me and told me the exact opposite of what the salesperson had said.  The customer told me the model the salesperson recommended was about to be discontinued because of a quick bulb burnout, surmising that the salesperson ‘was probably just trying to move excess product’.

Delaying my purchase so I could do more research, I located a whole slew of communities and customer comments talking about the bulb problems with warnings to future customers that ‘they’d be disappointed’.  I also found suggestions of like brands and models that had better bulb life.  I was able to post my own question and get several rapid responses. Continue reading

You vs. your competition, head-to-head, how’d you do?

A few weeks ago I had a mishap with an electronic billpay that brought together – and then set apart -three financial institutions.  Admittedly, I made a mistake in creating the electronic payment request.  My local bank generated a physical check rather than transferring the funds via ACH (Automated Clearing House), and sent it on to institution #2 to process for financial institution #3 located in the United Kingdom.  This error took hours of my time over a number of weeks to resolve.  When it was finally over, I wanted to blast one financial institution on every social media platform I could find, wrote a thank-you letter to another and felt as indifferent about the third institution as they felt about me. 

My local bank, First National Bank of Omaha took an electronic request for the transfer of funds and executed it via paper and then sent it via pony express (kidding, it was US mail), losing the tracking capabilities possible with an ACH.  But the moment I called their customer service department, I had their attention and their commitment of assistance.  My agent, Tania, conferenced me into First National Bank’s billpay department, inquired about next steps and stayed on the phone with me for over two hours as we made our way through the phone-tree-from-hell and more transfers than I could count at GIANT BANK (not their real name).  My local financial institution received a thank-you letter, along with my business for as long as I remain a resident in their coverage area.  Continue reading

Managing the ever-demanding customer expectations

customer expectations voice of the customerAs a mother, wife, business owner, board member and the wearer of many other hats, I am constantly managing expectations.  If I do not set the proper expectations with all of the different people in my life, I will certainly disappoint someone somewhere.  Once I set expectations, I also must manage them. There are millions of people out there like me that must set and manage what is expected of them.  So with all of these people out there setting and managing expectations, why are so many companies struggling to meet their customers’ expectations?

Better yet, I think the real question is, “When did the customer expectation line get moved so far back?” Continue reading

SmartGrid Warning: Impending Rolling Blackouts for Utility Service

A loss of power is looming over the utility industry and the problem will be far larger than anyone expected.  Remember the days when your utility company sent you a barely-comprehensible bill and you just sighed and paid it? Well, thanks to SmartGrid technology those days may soon be nothing more than a distant memory.  SmartGrids promise more reliable service, delivered on a more secure grid that has the ability to self-report, self-correct and remotely initiate, terminate and halt service.  One utility provider that we work with installed a fiber optic communication network in their coverage area and offering telephone, television and internet services to their customers.  While this approach allowed the organization to fund their SmartGrid, it added even greater complexity to their service interactions customers. Continue reading

3 Call center mistakes that could kill your business

There are actually a lot more than three call center metrics that can kill your business. I often get opportunities to help clients identify problems they were innocently unaware of that lead to solving problems they were aware of. Working with metrics often results in situation like this. It is fun to help clients identify problems they didn’t even know they had. If your organization doesn’t have a data czar, analytic rock-star or business intelligence guru, you need one. What you don’t know may be a ticking time bomb!  Below are three real world examples of how analytics and applied business intelligence stopped the ticking of the time bomb and saved the organizations money and headaches.

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Give thanks to your customers

As we begin Thanksgiving week, we are all thinking about the things for which we are grateful.  For many, the list of thanks is comprised of family, friends, loved ones, freedom, security, employment, and health.  Let’s not forget to include customers on the list of gratitude for they are the ones who keep the lights on in your organization and food on your family’s plates.  This Thanksgiving, be sure to thank your customers for their business and their willingness to allow you to serve them.  Customers are always willing to “Thank You” and here are just a few of our favorites:

“These are very nice appliances added to the kitchen.  My wife picked the stainless steel out.  Everything matches.  She’s very happy with them.  The only thing is I wish she knew how to use them, because she can’t cook a lick.  I’m glad she bought them.  Thank you.”

 

“You were very, very thorough and quick.  I really enjoyed that.  You were very, very nice.  I actually just had my car stolen.  And I went to get a job and the boss exposed himself to me.  My brother is the one that referred me to this guy.  So, I haven’t had a good month and you’ve really made my day.  Thank you so much.”

 

“I was satisfied with the customer service today, but on a different subject, I think the farmers need help, and if the farmers don’t get help then the big cities will move in and corporate farming will take over, so the farmers need some more education to help them learn how to become rich.  Thank you.”

 

Happy Monday and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Customers say the darnest things….but why? “The Affectionate Customer” Part 3 of a 4-Part Series


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Yesterday we posted some funny customer comments  which gave us a good laugh.  These customer comments also gave us yet another good reason to focus on “the why” vs. “the what.”  Even though we all love Happy Customers (as opposed to Angry Customers), some folks can take their affection a little too far.

When we engage with people on the phone whom we have never met, we often paint a picture of how they look based on their voice, tone, or manner.  We do it when we speak to customers, prospects, receptionists, and call center agents. 

These mental pictures are drawn from our own personal experiences.  Perhaps the way an agent sounds is reminiscent of someone from our past.  This person may sound like a high school sweetheart so naturally we paint this person as attractive or with the same hair coloring or body type as we remember.  We then alter the interaction with our perception of this person.  Perhaps this leads us to be extra nice or even flirtatious.  An agent might also sound condescending in their tone of voice which changes the mental picture to be one more negative.  Perhaps this situation reminds us of a former boss or supervisor.  Then to conversation is very different as the reaction is as if we were speaking with that individual rather than the call center agent. 

When dealing with customer service via the telephone, consumers have very little to frame the expectation beyond the perception of the company and naturally rely on the tone of voice and how an agent “sounds”.  This is why many agents are trained to “talk with a smile in their voice” and coaches focus on the greeting and delivery to underscore and maybe uplift the company reputation. 

In our final part of this 4-Part Series, we’ll take a look at the customer who doesn’t appear to have a true reason for saying what they say.  Or do they?

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