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Customer Service News & Analysis

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. 

SaaS Support Best Practices: The Transparent Model

2014-27-October-Boost.jpgAs technology vendors respond to a changing marketplace by creating Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, their relationship to their customers must change. Satisfying customers by creating a great product that garners positive reviews, and soliciting customer feedback for future upgrades simply isn’t enough.

When a company hands over control of its mission-critical software environment to a SaaS provider, the SaaS customer support organization essentially functions as an extension of the customer’s IT department. To take this step, a customer must trust that they will receive the constant, professional and hands-on support they need. Generating this trust requires that the Customer Support team be transparent and always available.

Is Your CRM System Failing You? 4 Ways to Tell

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Would you invest in something that has a failure rate of 46 percent? If you've recently acquired a customer relationship management (CRM) system, then whether or not you realize it, that is what you have done.

That 46 percent is the high end of the failure rate range for these systems. At the low-end, there is an "optimistic" 16 percent chance of failure, according to a white paper by C5 Insight, which analyzed the various studies on CRM failure.

C5 Insight itself believes the failure rate is 38 percent.

The Customer Intent Wake Up Call

2014-21-October-Alarm-Clock.jpgAs companies evaluate their growth strategies for the New Year, the conversation ultimately comes down to which set of dials to turn. Does the company invest in more sales people, product features or marketing programs?

Companies aspiring to be customer-aligned add a few more dials to the conversation -- what should the chief customer officer be measured on, beef up the customer success team, invest in employee engagement / culture initiatives, innovate their customer engagement strategy, and/or shift from a product-feature-pushing sales model to a services-selling-path?

What all of these dials have in common is that they focus on the customer. Except each dial reflects an organizational silo that is focused on a slice of the customer experience -- none focus on the whole customer. Revenue growth depends on the organization’s ability to understand how to detect, decipher and act on the customers’ perspective of their intent.

SaaS Support Best Practices: The Seamless Approach

2014-20-October-Free-Advice.jpgAs more and more companies look to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a way to increase agility and control costs, many technology vendors are evolving their solution sets to include a SaaS offering. When vendors do this, they must recognize that their customer support organizations will become critical to customer satisfaction and retention. As the primary point of contact in an ongoing customer relationship, support must develop and maintain stronger and deeper relationships with customers. Failure to do so will inevitably result in higher churn.

Jeffrey Bowman on Demographics, Diversity and Reaching Customers

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You don't have to look far to realize the US has changed — and we're not talking about social and mobile. We're talking something far more basic … specifically, the people behind all those emerging technology trends.

There's more diversity than ever before, US Census data confirms. In fact, during the next five years, 80 percent of the country’s growth will come from multicultural and under-served audiences. 

So how can marketers and advertisers reach this changing population? 

Ask Jeffrey L. Bowman. Bowman is a senior partner and managing director at Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing and public relations agency based in Manhattan. He's also the founder and chairman of the Cross Cultural Marketing & Communications Association (The CCMCA).

Gabie Boko: Be Bold, Courageous and Creative

Connecting with Bill Sobel

Gabrielle "Gabie" Boko defines leadership as being passionate about an idea that you can change hearts and minds. She thinks almost everyone is an expert in one way or another, and encourages people — especially women — to embrace their inner confidence. 

Boko is the executive vice president of marketing at Irvine, California-based Sage North America, which provides software to small and medium-sized businesses. Before her appointment in July 2013, she held senior marketing roles in a number of major software companies including SAP and Cognos. 

She also has marketing experience in smaller, entrepreneurial start-up businesses in areas such as performance management and business process management.  

Measuring Community Success: More Than Just ROI

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Social leaders ready to take the next step in their community journey now have access to a new assessment tool to help them evaluate their community’s strengths and weaknesses, and make better decisions to build more successful online sharing spaces for their employees, customers and partners.

The Community Performance Benchmark (CPB), developed by The Community Roundtable and released today, helps leaders understand how effectively their community management efforts are performing against organizational objectives. 

“Community management has evolved to the point where organizations understand the impact of communities and the best have created roadmaps and ways to measure value,” Rachel Happe, co-founder and principal of The Community Roundtable and CMSWire contributing author, noted in a press release. 

“However, goals simply tell you where you want to be, not how to get there. The Community Performance Benchmark gives you an understanding of where you are, your management gaps and your opportunities.”

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