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Helping Customers Before They Know They Need You

binocularsAlthough most of us WANT to be more proactive in our service, as many as 40% of companies still remain mostly reactive.  The biggest challenge? It’s hard to identify and screen meaningful opportunities for proactive contact.

It’s relatively easy for companies to identify “critical” issues and proactively alert customers on these issues (think flight cancellation alerts), but most organizations are less sure about meaningful opportunities for proactive “value-added” contact (think forward resolving next likely issues or educating customers on product usage). The risk here is this: contacting customers on irrelevant or unimportant issues can annoy them, instead of reducing customer effort and pre-empting calls.

In this two-part blog series, we’ll talk about strategies you can use to identify value-added opportunities (part 1) and how you can screen these opportunities to make sure they’re relevant to customers AND viable for the business (part 2).

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Making the most of knowledge management

Posted on  20 February 13  by 


Imagine you are a frontline rep.  You’ve just solved a complex customer issue that you’re sure not many others would know how to solve.  But—what are your incentives to share this knowledge with others through Business Woman Climbing a Pile of Filesthe company knowledge base?

Let’s see…

  • It’ll take up more of your personal time to log in the information.
  • You won’t be recognized for your efforts and someone else might take credit for your great idea.
  • You’ve never really gotten any personal benefit from great wisdom left by other people.
  • No one is checking to see if you’re contributing so you won’t get in trouble if you don’t.

…wait a minute…something is wrong here.

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Hitting Delete (Again) on Email, Part II

Posted on  19 February 13  by 

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stop signIn my last blog post I proposed eliminating, or at least reducing the availability of email as a service channel.  The rationale is basically this:

1)      84% of customers prefer fast and easy resolution over channel of choice;

2)      That same 84% is willing to be guided to the best channel for resolution;

3)      Email has the 3rd lowest consumer confidence level of the “Big 4” (phone, web, web chat, and email);

4)      Email is the most expensive channel to resolve an issue.

So, if email isn’t a great channel—for both cost & experience reasons—how do you get rid of it?

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Customer Service in the News | Week of February 18th

newsIf there was a snag with the flowers you ordered this Valentine’s Day, Twitter was the best channel through which to voice your complaints [Forbes]

Why your organization should think of customer service as integrated into everything you do instead of treating it as the role of a separate department [Daily Nation]

See how Barclaycard tapped their cardholders to create  a community-designed credit card [Huffington Post]

Five service pitfalls to avoid [Forbes]

In an age of automation, a human touch can have a meaningful impact on service [TIME]

The Paradox of Outsourced Quality

Posted on  15 February 13  by 


Copy (2) of IT money puzzle pieceToday, we’re seeing more and more service organizations adopt strategies to adapt to the “Era of Quality 2.0.”  Many members have described it to me as choosing “depth over breadth.”  But as we’ve seen this shift now to “better for the customer”, this raises the question – “What’s better for me (customer service leadership)?”  Traditionally, cost effectiveness has been the biggest strategic consideration for service leaders, particularly around the implementation of outsourcing.  So taking outsourcing as our example, how can service leaders reconcile both “better for the customer” and “better for the company”?  Is it possible to have both?  Or must service leaders have to choose one over the other?

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What Your Customers Are Doing Online

Posted on  13 February 13  by 


online customer service habitsCCC recently asked a customer panel to tell us, based on the reason for contacting customer service, which areas of a website they visited in the course of seeking issue resolution.  And while a single blog post is not enough space to present all of the findings, I would like to spend some time telling you what your customers are trying to do via your FAQ page in particular.  I choose this one because it is an area of the web site that you can readily influence without a lot of effort—and, after all, everyone loves an easy win!

So, without further ado…who goes to your FAQ page?

  • 68% of those resolving an issue with a product or service
  • 65% of customers filing a complaint
  • 57% who were checking or changing the status of an account
  • 66% of those who wanted to obtain account information
  • 68% of those trying to return a product or service
  • 59% of customers making a purchase
  • 64% of customers with general inquiries Read More »

3 Customer Service Stories to Learn From

Posted on  12 February 13  by 

Comment (1)

Feb 12When my friends want to share with me their customer service experiences, they usually tend to be frustrating ones—but that’s not to say good service isn’t out there. Recently I came across an interesting article that featured 11 successful customer service stories.

I would like to briefly share with you some of those stories here:

Story 1: A 89-year-old man got snowed in and didn’t have much food in his house. His daughter called several markets in the area to see if any of them had grocery delivery services, but the only one that said they would deliver was Trader Joe’s. Trade Joe’s actually does not provide delivery services, but they decided to make an exception to help the old man – for free. Read More »

The Importance of Emailing Your Customers

Posted on  11 February 13  by 


Email customersI was out of the office yesterday and returned to a slew of 65 emails that have flooded my inbox since. Sixty-five. But no surprise there. With how easy and quick email is, it’s little wonder that it has become a vital part of how we communicate. Scheduling meetings, reading the news, shopping for Groupons: email is a powerful way to exchange and push information.

Though this realization is not lost on service organizations, some are still hesitant to ask customers for their email contact information. Viewing it as an unnecessary time-spend, they opt out of gathering this form of contact. But our research shows outbound email hosts a range of benefits that don’t exist in other channels. For these reasons below, it is certainly worthwhile for organizations to take that couple of moments and collect email addresses from customers.

  • Email allows organizations to proactively alert customers of service issues. Email is one of the quickest ways to contact customers, so use this channel to push information that’s relevant for customers. Is there a new regulation that impacts the customers will be served? Are there company activities that will likely disrupt service for a period of time? Getting in front of your customers, before these issues arise, can help avoid spikes in inbound customer contacts down the line. Visit our section on smartly using proactive alerts to devise a good strategy for using email.

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Customer Service in the News | Week of February 11th

Customer Service News


Humanizing the Customer Service Experience

Posted on  5 February 13  by 


Thumanzing the customer experienceyping the title for this blog, I was struck by how odd it feels.  I mean, ‘humanizing’ the service experience?  For live experiences at least, service interactions are one person (typically our frontline) interacting with another person (the customer).  I mean, how much more human can you get?

But in reality, many of these interactions are far from the type of ‘human’ experiences our customers have come to expect. 

Although most service leaders have call center scripts a long time ago, customers tell us that reps still sound robotic – like they are just going through the motions without really listening to customers.  And after reflection, most service leaders tell us that their reps – after a few months of tenure – start to have their own internal ‘scripts’ running in their heads.  Basically, they hear a customer say ‘issue x’ and immediately go into auto-pilot based on how they’ve resolved issue x time and time before.

Today’s customers, though, demand more tailored, personalized service.  They wanted to be treated like an individual, not ‘the’ customer.  We first explored this with our Quality 2.0 era of service, and have seen it crop up in the real world recently – most notably with Discover Card’s latest ads for its new it card.

So how do most companies attempt to create these tailored interactions? Read More »