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  • 04:29:06 am on May 20, 2010 | 0 | # |
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    Questions for all customer Service Managers to think about:

    What if your every agent, could be your best agent?

    What if your agents didn’t need to ALT_TAB through 15 applications on the desktop?

    What if your agents didn’t have to “copy and paste” between applications?

    What if any agent could handle any call?

    What if your agents did no need to search for answers?

    What if quality and compliance was a natural part of agents work and not an afterthought?

    What if your agents could follow the right process, just as you had envisioned it?

    What if you could translate your ideas, adapt to change, in a short period of time?

    What if you could measure and achieve your Cost, Satisfaction and Revenue goals?

    What if you didn’t have to spend months and months on agent training?

    After every answer, ask:

    Why Not?

  • 04:06:53 am on March 4, 2010 | 0 | # |
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    Call Center Agents Need a Voice Navigation System!

    Today’s voice navigation systems help you get to where you need to be and let you focus your attention on what’s important: driving.

    Think back to life in the old days, before GPS. You’re lost with a map open on your lap, looking for the right street to turn into and driving more slowly than rest of the traffic. Angry are drivers honking loudly behind you!

    This can’t be too different than how call center agents feel about their current tools and technology. Their typical desktop applications open up to reveal an ALT-TAB nightmare — 20 tabs with 10 tabs under each of those tabs. It’s not uncommon for an agent to have 15 of these applications open at once. Their desktop search function, if it works, returns a long list of possible solutions. Their knowledge solutions, if available, come in the form of long documents. And, they’re expected to figure how to navigate all this while trying to help a customer on the phone. Pretty grim environment to work in, eh?!

    Now imagine the equivalent of a voice navigation system for call center agents. A  system that presents the agents with an intuitive and interactive experience to lead them to the right resolutions quickly. By delivering the ideal blend of process, screens, and contextual knowledge, a service experience management system can act just like voice navigation system, letting agents focus on what’s important: the customer.

  • 10:32:34 am on January 22, 2010 | 2 | # |
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    IT Is from Mars, Customer Service Is from Venus

    IT and business simply do not speak the same language. Collaboration between the two groups is difficult. Often perceived as ‘lack of alignment’, it results in frustration for both sides. The problem has existed for ages. However, in today’s hyper-competitive world, where agility is one of the most important differentiators, poor collaboration between IT and Business holds huge repercussions.

    So much so, that in the recent 2010 State of the CIO Survey, two of the top three imperatives for CIO were identified as:

    1. Aligning IT initiatives with business goals

    2. Improving IT operations and systems performance

    3. Cultivating a better IT partnership with line of business operations

    (More …)

  • 10:28:17 am on December 23, 2009 | 0 | # |
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    Define: Brand

    When I Google “define: brand,” I get the following result:

    trade name: a name given to a product or service

    Is this definition accurate?

    Traditional marketers would agree with Google’s definition. These individuals spend lots time and money developing a surface image of their brands. They create recognizable logos, catchy taglines, memorable ad campaigns and more to build awareness of their businesses and products. While this design, messaging and advertising might be necessary to promote a brand, they are not the key ingredients that dictate how a brand is established and perceived.

    To me, the Google definition seems incomplete at best, superficial at worst. It’s unfair and unwise to presume that good looking logos, clever taglines or high-profile ad campaigns are enough to win customer loyalty.

    Rather, brand should be defined as the sum of experiences customers have with a company. In this way, the brand is established and reinforced through every service experience and it embodies customers’ expectation for companies’ products and service experiences.

    Wal-Mart is a good example of a powerful brand. When I walk into Wal-Mart, I expect cheap prices and reasonable service. And, that’s what I get. FedEx consistently delivers on what its brand promises: timely delivery. Similarly, Starbucks fulfills customer expectations by offering good coffee and pleasant ambiance. Every Starbucks I’ve visited has the same menu, service and décor. With its hallmark blue box and white glove service, Tiffany’s signifies good taste and high quality. My wife has never been disappointed when she finds a Tiffany’s box under the tree; nor have I when I arrive at the jewelers in need of some helpful suggestions about what she might like.

    Brands like these have become powerful because customers get what they expect. Brand value has been established because these companies align their brand promises, or their surface images, with the products and services they’re offering. When they deliver on these promises, consistently over time and through every service experience, they’re able to reinforce and hone customer expectations. In this way, brand is formed through a set of ongoing experiences.

    It’s time to stop thinking of branding as a marketing event. Establishing a brand is a journey. And, it starts with aligning brand promise with the service experience a company provides.

  • 12:23:33 pm on December 2, 2009 | 0 | # |
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    What Are Your Customers Worth?

    I’m a frequent business traveler who’s likely to rack up $30,000 in airline, car rental and hotel expenses each year. And, I take vacation with my family twice per year, which offers a potential value of $15,000 annually. That means over the next three years my value as a customer is approximately $150,000. I’d say I’m pretty valuable.

    So, while I’m navigating a travel vendor’s site (one that I use frequently) – looking at available fares and the cost of car rentals and hotels in the area – does that vendor know my value as a customer? It does not seem so. Do they offer me a service experience that’s tailored to my needs, based on my preferences or previous buying patterns? Nope. My experience is likely similar to all other customers, irrespective of my potential value.

    I’d love for this vendor to offer me SMS updates informing me of flight delays. When my flights are delayed, it’d be great if one of the vendor’s reps called me before I called them and offered to book an alternate route. These simple examples of a personalized service experience amount to what I refer to as delivering “WOW” through customer service. Consistently delivering this WOW-worthy service would certainly earn my loyalty as longtime customer.

    Speaking of loyalty – and by inference, the travel vendor’s marketing programs – I receive an email once a week offering me a deal for a trip that, without fail, I have no interest in taking. In fact, I have never clicked on any of their offers. My unresponsive behavior should serve as a clue. It offers ample evidence that cookie cutter offers are not working on me.

    The travel vendor should use this type of evidence, or predictive analytics, to make me a more relevant offer. For example, say I have been travelling to a particular city every three weeks for the last three months. It’s natural to assume that I’m going to continue this travel pattern in the future. So, why not use the evidence to offer me a package deal for that city?

    Few businesses truly understand just how much a particular customer is worth! And even if they are able to recognize different customer values, they fail to tailor the experience to suit the diverse needs of these customers. When it comes to courting customers, this one-size-fits-all just strategy doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time we being asking the right questions, gathering customer data and applying the evidence intelligently. In doing this, we’ll be able to better quantify the value of our customers, offer personalized service experiences and launch more informed, effective marketing campaigns.

  • 09:51:54 am on November 10, 2009 | 0 | # |
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    Hype or Hyper-Measurement?

    Recently, Seth Godin posted on how we are moving into an era of “hyper-measurement.” As he explains, a journalist being fired because his or her web content isn’t drawing a lot of traffic is not going to be a newsroom novelty for much longer. In a world where, more and more, success can be measured in quantifiable metrics, why wouldn’t a publisher base business decisions on newly available evidence? It just makes sense.

    The customer service industry is no different. As my fellow blogger, Kate Leggett, points out, to truly maximize the value of their contact centers, customer service mangers must take an experimental approach towards service processes.

    For every end-to-end service process they design and deploy, managers must define a testing period during which they play around with different aspects of it and measure results against business objectives. These metrics can then be used to determine the relative effectiveness of the process – what worked and what didn’t – and update the service process, or eliminate it entirely. To ensuring ongoing optimization, no process should ever be viewed as final. Rather, managers must consider each and every service process as a prototype and resign themselves to always retesting and tweaking them.

    Delivering “evidence-based service” in this manner will help consumer-facing companies break bad habits, discover new tricks and cope with the constant shifts going on in their marketplace.

    For instance, a business introduces a new tool that captures and analyzes customer interactions in various community forums – essentially, pooling the collective input of the crowd at given time. The customer service manager applies that insight in real time to change, reprioritize and improve information presented to a customer on the self-help portion of a website or educate agents on a shift in incoming questions (depending on the level of service the company provides). Over time, they begin to see patterns in terms of what information is just chatter and what type of information is important to meeting their business objectives and their customers’ brand expectations. And, the way they use the tool – and incorporate the customer voice – becomes a highly sophisticated and beneficial to their service processes.

    The “hyper-measurement” trend, as Mr. Godin puts it, shouldn’t be ignored. It should be embraced. It offers a way for service departments, as well as publishers, to be more precise and pragmatic with their decision-making – to remain in control and one step ahead of the customer.<