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Customer Service News & Analysis

The 3 C's of Personalized Customer Service

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Customer service is a key differentiator for many companies. But as the number of communication channels and devices increases, so do the challenges of delivering personalized service across those channels.

A unified view of the customer is needed for omnichannel customer service -- something that can't be achieved with siloed systems and disconnected information. Channels can't merely coexist, but must inform one another to provide the needed context that makes each customer experience better and more personal. To succeed at customer engagement you must meet three fundamental requirements: being consistent, complete and contextual.

The Year Emotional Intelligence Meets Customer Experience

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Despite the fact that we are in an age where everything seems to be computerized and automated, this is the year that businesses will start to feel more human. Customers will feel more and more like businesses are listening to their individual wants and needs.

 

A Look Back: Still Searching for Optimal Customer Experience

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You couldn't escape talk about awesome, amazing, remarkable customer experience (CX) in 2014 — or, for that matter, related terms like customer satisfaction, customer focus, customer service or customer-centricity. It is, after all, the Age of the Customer — a reality that has caused businesses everywhere to embrace CX as a business goal.

But like the mythical 10 pounds we collectively vow to lose on New Year's Day, the customer centricity of most companies, as evidenced by their delivery of memorable customer experience, rarely evolved from a concept to a practice this year.

And no matter how hard companies tried — with new technologies, new programs and even new names ("customer success," anyone?), the dream of seamless, engaging, excellent cross-channel customer experiences often remained an illusion.

  • Why is it cheaper if I order online for in-store pick-up than if I just buy it off the shelf at the store?
  • Why do so many companies make me wait more than 30 minutes to speak to someone who might have the authority to resolve my problem?
  • Why are call center representatives unable or unwilling to understand when you plead "I cannot hear you – please adjust your headset?"
  • Why can't anyone listen to what I am saying?
  • Why are so many of my interactions with companies simply frustraneous?

Why, indeed?

Shep Hyken: A Guy Who Embraced Customers Before It Was Popular

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Anyone who knows anything about customer experience (CX) knows Shep Hyken.

Hyken is a go-to source for anything related to CX. He's also a professional speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build lasting relationships with their customers and employees.

In addition to writing in hundreds of publications, he is the bestselling author of "Moments of Magic," "The Loyal Customer," "The Cult of the Customer," "The Amazement Revolution" and, most recently, "Amaze Every Customer Every Time." He is also the creator of The Customer Focus program, which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

Did we mention he's the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations — a company he founded in 1983?

The Psychology of Personalization

2014-26-November-Personality.jpgLet's get right to the punchline, and then back it up with some facts. Automated personalization and the human touch are complementary, but systems will improve and automated personalization will handle more and more of the personalized interactions with customers. It’s not only because automated personalization is more efficient. Sometimes the results are better when human-to-human psychological baggage is subtracted from the equation.

Personality Matters in Customer Service

Mike Ashe has a philosophy about CRM: “If we’re right more often than we’re wrong then we’re going to beat random.”

By that, he’s referring to the analytics behind his company Mattersight's Predictive Behavioral Routing which “predicts which (customer service) agent is best-suited to handle the next call based on individual customer behavioral data and agent performance data.”

Organizational Ego and The Trust Crisis

You get the website you deserve. Your website instantly tells your customer about your brand and culture.

Customer Service Isn't Personal if it Isn't Based on Trust

2014-21-November-Trust.jpgOnline business is fast paced and at times chaotic. Before making purchasing decisions, consumers draw from extensive touch points, such as previous experiences, recommendations from peers, personal research and brand marketing. While brands work hard to win customers over with complex marketing strategies and last-minute deals, the customer experience itself can often fade into the background. But businesses that take the time to personalize customer engagement and respond individually to support inquiries can encourage a customer’s trust throughout his or her relationship with the company, which establishes an invaluable connection between brand and consumer.

3 Messages to Personalize, 3 to Automate

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Customers not only expect outstanding support, they deserve it. In this digital age, client inquiries should receive a response within 24 hours. If you fail to do so, chances are your customer is moving onto another company that can.

To provide the quickest, most efficient and most helpful support, a combination of personalized and automated messages promises the best results. The challenge lies in deciding when to take the time, energy and effort to customize a personal response and when to provide a quicker, more efficient automated response.

What the French Taught Me About Customer Service

2014-10-November-Bread-Shopping.jpgBefore moving to Paris, I heard horror stories about how rude the French were and readied my family for the difficulties we would experience. But during my four years there, I came to see the French as the purveyors of the best and worst customer service I ever experienced.

France is a country where customer service is an economic imperative as they claim title to being the most visited country in the world with more than 85 million annual visitors and with tourism representing 10 percent of GDP. The French government has tried several campaigns to promote great customer service to increase tourism.

That's only half the battle. Being the right customer and adjusting expectations is what transformed my customer experience in France, and created new levels of loyalty for me with companies large and small alike.

Technology Can Help Humans Sound Human

2014-07-November-Free-Hugs.jpgIs it too much to ask a customer service rep to sound human and, more importantly, to treat the person on the other end of the line as a fellow human?

It may sound like a simple request, but too often the forces in the customer service universe can easily undermine an organization’s efforts to deliver an exceptional, personalized experience.

Getting Personal with Big Machines

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When we think of personalization of service through analytics, the first thought that likely comes to mind is retail applications or consumer goods.

But what about industrial equipment, especially heavy equipment? The way we service big machines is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to the same technology we use to enhance the consumer experience.

SaaS Support Best Practices: Passive, Proactive and Predictive

2014-03-November-Help.jpgAn essential part of creating a truly integrated and comprehensive SaaS customer support program is developing the capability to provide customers with the type of support experience they need, when they need it. Because of the nature of the SaaS service -- customers constantly interacting with the SaaS provider’s software solution to accomplish often mission-critical and time-sensitive tasks -- the SaaS vendor should be able to provide three types of support: passive, proactive and predictive.

Personalized Customer Service From an Unexpected Source

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Everybody likes to beat up on the airlines for customer service. Bad food was replaced with no food and reclining your seat may get you arrested. And yet it is airlines that have made some of the greatest advancements in customer service. They’ve done so across multiple channels by reducing the friction along the way.

Customer Satisfaction Is Not a Good Indicator of Customer Behavior

People are very bad at telling you what they do or why they do it. 

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