Tag Archives: customer experience

Just how “effortless” is CX when served on a silver platter?

One would think that the more you’re in contact with a customer, the deeper your relationship will grow. The opposite is true.

If a customer comes into contact with you directly, the likelihood of you retaining their business decreases fourfold, according to research by the Corporate Executive Board and presented by Matt Dixon, the best-selling author of “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty.”

This is because a whopping 84 percent of customers value ease of use and low effort over channel choice. Dixon’s research has left him with the overwhelming conclusion that excellent service is not delightful. In fact, it’s a key driver behind disloyalty.

Reducing the customer’s effort increases loyalty and reduces attrition. Low-effort means that they shouldn’t be hearing scripted agents or having to repeat themselves. They shouldn’t have to jump channels or endure countless transfers.

The CEB conducted a series of surveys that found that 88 percent of low-effort customers increased their spending and 94 percent who had  low-effort experiences were more likely to repurchase later on, Dixon says. So, how do you reduce customer effort?

The Three Pillars of Effortless Experience

1.) Channel Stickiness. Self-service is where it’s at. Customers don’t really want to talk. Agents are aware of this fact that holds true across ages and  demographics. But because customers are still picking up the phone, senior executives are reluctant to acknowledge this shift in channel preference.

It’s true that telephony wields the lion’s share of first contacts, but this is unfortunately due to the lack of other viable options. Most callers (58 percent) first attempted resolution through self-service options and another 25 percent were online while also on the phone with the agent in an effort to learn how to resolve the issue themselves in the future. The customers want fast resolutions without having to jump channels.

2. Next Issue Avoidance. The worst question you can ask a customer is also one of the most common closers, “Have I fully resolved your issue today?” Dixon says this question sends two bad messages to the customer – that they are being rushed off the phone, or that the agent may be missing the deeper issue at hand.

Think of it this way – if you were measured by first-contact resolutions wouldn’t you avoid asking other issues exist? When asked in the study whether a first-contact resolution had been achieved, 77 percent of companies believed that it had. Their customers didn’t agree — only 40 percent felt their issue was entirely resolved.

Callbacks for repeated issues are a byproduct of both explicit and implicit issue failures. Fifty-four percent of explicit failures are because the agent failed to resolve the issue in the first place. Implicit failures arise because the agents failed to see the adjacent issues at hand, or the problem behind the problem. Ask your tenured customer service professionals to help identify the chain of “problem events,” so that you can think ahead of the customer, not alongside of them.

3. Mismatched perception of effort. Consider the behavioral economics of your organization. If the agents are advocating on behalf of the customers, then they are also empathetic to their upsets. One hotel chain told its front-desk workers to move out from behind the service counter to physically stand next to the upset client. This nonverbal communication led to a decrease of 77 percent in customer effort for the hotel. 

The same goes for the spoken word. We’re all aware that words hold weight, Dixon says, but are you aware of what you’re saying? Delivering bad news in a positive way is at the cornerstone of customer effort perception. This is where Disney is exemplary. For example, when a park visitor asks a Disney employee when the park closes, they respond, “We’re open until 9 p.m.,” instead of “It closes at 9 p.m.” This simple shift to positive language led to a decrease in customer effort by 73 percent.

Tips to avoid the #Millennial meltdown

Oh, Millennials, what are we going to do with you? Everyone wants to #reach you, to #engage you and to get you to spend your #money. Why, oh why, won’t you just tell us what we can do for you? Oh, what’s that you say? You mean you have been telling us this whole time? Huh ….

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Open your ears, the Millennials are talking, says Melvin Greer, Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin and author of “21st Century Leadership.” A majority of Millennials — 59 percent — turn to their trusted network of friends and family as the primary influencers when making a purchase.

Millennials don’t just use products and services; they are the products and services they use. The generation associates a part of themselves with thCCW Millennials THUMBNAILeir preferred brands and is hyperaware of how a brand not only meets their service needs, but also their personal needs. Because they have such
high expectations for hyper-personalization, they therefore require mass-customized experiences.

Millennials are digital natives accustomed to having any kind of information available to them at any time. Instead of worrying about meeting these high expectations, consider using their knowledge and ideas: ask them what they want and they’ll give you the exact products and service ideas they want to buy
from you. It could be as easy as that.

If you’re wondering why you should jump through hoops for the youngest purchasing generation it’s because once you’ve got ‘em, they’ll be yours
forever.

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Trust in brands and institutions are waning across the generation. They are well-trained in sniffing out inauthenticity and need to believe that a company has integrity to follow through with what they say. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important to be aware that Millennials are at the top of this reciprocal ecosystem. They will represent almost half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. They will also represent about $1.4 trillion in spend – about one third of all retail sales projected for that year.

You may see them as one small fish, but collectively, they are all sharks in a large network that wields the power to create or kill your company, Greer says.

Millennials are a viral group that can lead to large-scale changes in the future of consumer behavior. You’ll be taking the reigns alongside them if you find the sweet spot at the center of mass customization, authenticity and technology.

Retail’s much-needed secret weapon …

In a crowded, competitive market, predictive analytics is emerging as a secret weapon to gain insight from data.

If you’re looking to become an indispensable partner in driving profit through world-class insights and analytics, you must harness the data to identify and understand market trends. Only then can the strategy to monitor the risk landscape be defined. That’s when you’ll be able to reduce losses and remain competitive.

The yellow brickPredictive Analytics The Secret Weapon Infographic road to the Gold Standard.

Data within retail is still not being fully leveraged as a determination of real behavior. Instead, it’s stuck in the days of providing summations of customer preferences. You can find new ways to engage your customers by bringing insights and analytics in-house.

This is a case study of the route taken by ConAgra, as presented by Chris Ciccarello, Senior Director of Customer Analytics at the previous Shopping Experience Transformation event.

Start with building data capabilities.

ConAgra put its minds to identifying the analytical possibilities by:

  • Identifying affinities for cross-promotion and shelving
  • Evaluating store layout and assortment
  • Reviewing store and customer segmentation
  • Predicting shopping behavior
  • Collecting shopper dynamics for testing
  • Segmenting and targeting shopper offers

Gather the community.

Hire the people with existing expertise. They should ideally possess:

  • A mix of IT and business knowledge
  • Business analyst experience
  • Experience with transaction-level data
  • Ability to create data visualizations
  • Are an enthusiast of data and technology

Key questions for IT:

  • Does IT have a strategy to handle Big Data?
  • Are they a partner or a profit center?
  • Are they flexible with different approaches?

Key questions to answer for IT:

  • How big are the datasets?
  • How long do they need to be stored?
  • What are the query speed requirements?
  • What tools are needed to analyze the data?
  • What security is required?

Cluster stores for layouts/assortments.

Geography should not play a role in store clustering because store proximity doesn’t necessarily equate to the similar shopper behavior. Tips:

  1. Group stores together that have similar shopper buying patterns
  2. Create assortments, space and flow to match the products that are most important to the store’s shoppers
  3. Allows the stores to have a common feel but also be tailored to the community
  4. Reduce Out of Stocks and excess inventory
  5. Customize Signage and messaging to capture the shopper’s needs

Press the launch, then sit back and watch the analytical platforms.

Finding the pot of gold.

  • Returned distribution after delist
  • Kept private brand business despite lower comp bids
  • Won new private brand category bid
  • Saved items from getting downsized
  • New insights on trade promotion behavior
  • Understanding coupon redemption

New big data sets + the right people and systems + analytical execution = retailers’ boosted volume and profit + more satisfied shoppers.

The CX Edge: Customers are King

Nearly 90 percent of CMOs report that building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus of their departments’ strategic and competitive vision for 2016, according to a recent Forbes study.

Building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus for many strategic and competitive visions this year. This is why the latest data and analytics technologies was at the top of almost every discussion at the CX Impact event in New Orleans, as attendees learned the tools to build credibility and long-term relationships with customers. This CXImpact Report, that summarizes what it takes to make your CX strategy next level, shows you how.

Cigna on customer-centricity & experience

Have we reached the end of the call center? Not according to Mindy Lamb at Cigna. That being said, personalization is key to keeping clients and it doesn’t happen overnight. In this interview, I sit down with Mindy Lamb at Cigna to chat about how personalization, customer-centricity and experience can lead to customer retention, thereby leading to long and fruitful relationships.

Mindy Lamb is Head of Operating Effectiveness – Customer Experiences at Cigna.
Mindy Lamb is Head of Operating Effectiveness – Customer Experiences at Cigna.

Most of us are well aware that retaining customers is more fruitful than forging new relationships. Will you tell us about the customer lifetime value at Cigna? How has developing long-term relationships provided better value for customer and company alike?

Customer lifetime value is an ongoing concept that Cigna and many other companies are starting to use. It’s not the only metric we use, but it’s developing and ongoing as we figure out how to leverage it better. If you think about customer lifetime value only, it really is a predictor of an individual customer’s profitability over time. So when you combine the power of that information with personal segmentation of your customers around what they need and what they value and then you understand those customers that have higher profitability projection for your company over the course of their lifetime it allows you to prioritize bringing those capabilities, products and services that individual segments of customers value the most. You’ll see higher retention where you prioritize and spend your money and investment dollars to drive that retention. Of course we benefit because their with us and they benefit because the longer they’re with us the deeper our insights grow into what they need and value so we can continue to deliver on it.

Customer centricity has been redefined in today’s new digital paradigm from a B2B and B2C perspective. Are you now more enabled to use metrics to determine the value of your relationship with your customers?

It’s been around for a long time. For a long time we’ve heard web to call, what’s the call rate, etc., and that’s real. If they’re going to the web to try to achieve their services and they can’t and they have to call, then we’re aware that their satisfaction scores go down. That’s one way you can look at it. But beyond that in this digital age of social media and multitudes of apps; we at Cigna try to meet the customers where they are in order to determine if they have a particular need or a interest. From there we can personalize that information within the digital space and watch to see if they react to that digital channel. We can measure what they find interesting, what they don’t and how to reach them in the way they want to be reached.

There will always be a need for a contact center, but more and more in the Internet age, people like the advantage of going to digital technology to find solutions to what they’re looking for.

How have you aimed to ‘retrain the brains’ of agents to find new means of customer acquisition?

It starts first with technology. Once you understand your individual customer segments, what they value and what they need, then you start to understand the additional acquisition opportunities in the product that you have for that customer to find value in. The technology enables the agent to then take a client in an inbound channel and then segue into a conversation that centers around them. They can say, “I know this about you, and based on that we also have X, Y or Z, would you be interested in hearing more?” It’s really about placing the information in the agent’s hands so they know what to pass along to the customer to continue the conversations.

Not all businesses have robust budgets. How can these agents create a customer experience that is five-star without all the trimmings?

Particularly as it relates to the agents and what they can deliver – if you don’t have the budget and technology is a challenge for all of us – it’s important to remember that at the root of it is people serving people. The best thing you can do in that regard is focus on your hiring and retention of your employees and hire for the right capabilities. You can train individuals to be computer saavy, but what you can’t train so much, and what you’re really born with, is what I call the “servant’s heart.” You either have it or you don’t. You can hone people’s skills around being personal or empathetic, but that person’s never going to be successful at really getting to the heart of customer-centricity and helping customers if they don’t have that baseline nature.

The best thing to focus on when you don’t have the five-star budget and all the wizardry that comes with it is to first start with the right people and then make sure that you incent and reward them right. Give them the power to satisfy the customer within the constraints of whatever the product or service is that you’re delivering. What you may consider as a small ability to make things right or give something back to the customer is in reality the opportunity to create both a great branding image and empowerment for our employees to know that they’re making differences every day. So hire right for the personal touch, for empathy, for people who can proactively think of creative solutions for customers and then empower them to do so.

Call Centers: Keep Your Eyes Facing Front

Jeremy Booth feels like a broken record. He’s said time and again
that the future success of call centers hinges on taking proactive
performance measurements. Call centers need to stop looking at
historical data that only depicts what’s already happened and instead
they should focus on what is going to happen.

I sit down with Jeremy Booth, Associate Vice President of Cambridge Investments.
I sit down with Jeremy Booth, Associate Vice President of Cambridge Investments.

He is Associate Vice President of Cambridge Investment Research, which is an independent broker-dealer with 2,600 advisors around the country who are his clients. His call center has 40 agents, who field about 150,000 calls per year and they’re tracking to make $600 million in revenue this year. In this interview, he explains why call centers need to stop looking over their shoulders and start looking ahead.

Jeremy believes call centers keep looking over their shoulders. Traditionally, they focus on lagging measures – agent availability, average speed to answer, call length – and other metrics that track service when considering agent and call center performance.

While historical measures are great because trending analysis can be gleaned from them, it’s time now to focus on predictable, influence-able outcomes. The time is now to look into the top most important performance metrics looking forward to 2015.

The easiest and most impactful way to do this is by ensuring training is effective, hiring practices are in line with business need and other indicators that will have a direct impact on those lagging measures, Jeremy says.

“We’re of the mindset that if you focus on and are proactive on your upfront service — whether it’s operations or the service that’s built out (for example) … and don’t give our advisors a reason to call us for anything that’s not informational – if we cut out the issues, that our satisfaction scores will follow right along with that,” Jeremy says.

The future of call center performance, therefore, depends on the strength of its proactive measures. Centers need to be able to focus on predictable, influenceable outcomes. He likes to use the example of weight loss since it is a simple concept most people can relate to.

“If I stand on the scale every day, am I going to lose weight? No. It’s going to tell me I’m either going to go up, or I’m going to go down, or I’m going to stay the same. I’m still looking at it every day. It’s something that’s already happened. But if I know that my caloric intake and what I burn in calories are directly related, and those are influence-able things that I have going on in my life. If I can burn more calories that I can take in, I don’t have to check the scale every day. I can do it once a week or once every two weeks, and I will see progress if I stick with the plan,” he says.

Therefore, instead of focusing more on the numbers and the metrics, call centers should take a holistic view and then ask themselves, “Is this strategy aligned with the end business goal seeing?”

Complexity Is the Enemy of Customer service

Save money. Save time. These are the main benefits to implementing a truly streamlined technology suite. Call centers all have the same end goal, but has anyone truly created the formula to successfully align technology with business strategy? What are the ways in which call centers or customer care centers can achieve that balance?

Liz Osborn, Vice President of Product and Solution Marketing at Five9, answers all these questions and more.

I interview Liz Osborn, Vice President of Product and Solution Marketing at Five9, about the new face of multichannel interactions.
I interview Liz Osborn, Vice President of Product and Solution Marketing at Five9, about the new face of multichannel interactions.

Your technology should help you achieve three things: Create a better customer experience, increase revenue and improve cross-sell and upsell capabilities, says Liz Osborn, Vice President of Product and Solution Marketing at Five9, which is one of the leading providers in the cloud contact center space and offers inbound, outbound, blended voice services, contact center infrastructure and multichannel.

The modern customer is self-sufficient and prefers self-help customer care models. It’s ever more important, therefore, that your company’s technology works across all channels to not only aid your customers, but more efficiently support all roles in the contact center. Agents, administrators and management all benefit from the universal view achieved with a unified platform and interface.

Complexity is the enemy when it comes to customer service. Call center agents and management need to think about service from the customer’s point of view. The way to do that is by using a unified interface that maintains simplicity for both the agent and the customer. This leads to the question of what next generation multichannel interactions will look like.

The first thing call centers need to recognize is that customers don’t think about the channels they’re using to interact with your company. They don’t understand that – and are unforgiving if – information about them is lost between their interactions with you. Whether they contact you via social media, by picking up the phone, by using live chat, or by physically going to the store, customers expect the company’s technology to follow their touch points and journey.

Context – the ability to seamlessly move from one channel to another and still have memory of previous interactions – should be the main technology piece call centers should look for in the future.
Further, call centers need to utilize technology to analyze predictive behavior based on buying patterns, Liz says. We need to “be able to take that context and add a number of other external triggers of customer history, skills, a number of other SLAs, and make real-time decisions about how to treat that customer and send them to the best resource available,” she says.

But there are three main inhibitors to maximizing agent productivity; the first is in regards to the customer, the second is in regard to the agents,and the third is the operations around the contact center.

1. With the customer the challenge is servicing them in the channel that they really desire. Five9 conducted a survey of customers,
consumers and contact centers. Customers said over 50% of them would move to a competitor if the competitor offered a channel that the current company didn’t.

More and more people want to be served on social. Customers are asking to be served on social, and yet 60 percent of contact centers surveyed aren’t servicing in social.

2. When it comes to the agents, there are a number of challenges involving the rolling complexity of the different channels. Most
contact centers are still in silos, so they have different applications for chat. If they do operate on social channels, they use a different application for it than for other channels such as voice. Five9’s survey found that around 50 percent of agents use more than four applications to service a customers – and many use up to fifteen. These multiple applications are non-productive for an agent and frustrating for a customer.

3. Operationally, call centers need to take a step back and take a holistic look across channels. This can be very challenging, since
most centers have silo channels and struggle to figure out what the customer journey is and what their best SLAs are across channels.
This is further complicated by the dependence on four or five different applications.

To remedy this issue, Liz and her team developed Five9 Connect, which combines email, chat, social, visual IVR and mobile, which she says is “a secret weapon to allow contact centers to really focus their resources on the highest priority interactions. It includes natural language processing that helps contact centers understand what’s important, relevant and trending in all of the text channels, social, email, chat. It includes business roles to apply your policies, and be able to decide where that interaction should go and what priority it should take. And then finally it includes a number of agent assistant tools to allow the agent to quickly resolve what the issue is, whether it’s a customer service or a sales issue.”

The future of call centers is bright. “I love the words of Peter Drucker. He says that, ‘The whole goal of business is to create and keep customers.’ And I think in the future, as time goes on and companies are understanding that the customer and customer service is a competitive differentiator, that contact

centers have more and more of a strategic role to play … creating and keeping customer service and becoming a profit center and more strategic to the business. So I think it’s exciting times ahead.”