Infographic: Why Bad Customer Service Bleeds Your Company Dry

“Have it your way,” has been Burger King’s motto on-and-off for the past three decades. No matter what you think about the food (my thoughts: great french fries, and great memories eating their chicken sandwich growing up) the slogan is a classic. It orients Burger King, its 34,000 employees, and its nearly 13,000 franchised restaurants, towards a common goal: treat the customer right.

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It’s also malleable – like when you want to get edgy with ads like this: 
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But I digress. This blog post isn’t a dissertation about fast-food hamburger advertising, but about customer service. Obviously, every company pays lip service to to the idea of making their customers’ experience great. But lots of things get in the way. The need to cut costs, or be efficient with finite resources. 
Tradeoffs are a normal part of business. But the costs of poor customer service have traditionally been underappreciated, because they used to be indirect, hard to measure, and took place over a long time (longer than the typical executive tenure, anyway). 
Today companies better understand the costs and benefits of their customer service strategy, due to things like Net Promoter Scores and concepts like Customer Lifetime Value (the subject of a 200-page Avaya book arriving in July – watch this space). Data increasingly shows that high-effort, tiring experiences drive customers away.
Take this survey released today by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Avaya. 66% of the 2,100 U.S. adults surveyed by Harris said that they will leave companies that make getting customer service “high effort.” 37% say they  are extremely likely to leave. 
That begs the question: what’s high effort? And what are the benefits of reducing customer service friction? I don’t want to give away too much of the interesting findings revealed by the infographic below, but suffice to say that the numbers are clear: treat your customers better and you’ll reap the financial rewards. You can download the hilarious, Dinosaur Office-themed infographic  (created by our intern Asher Powell) by right-clicking and saving on the image, or click here to download a multi-page PDF that you can print on 8.5 x 11 paper.
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Four Reasons Your Social Customer Care Belongs in the Contact Center

I have had the great opportunity for much of the last 4 years to speak with CMOs and social media Managers of companies across the globe about their social customer service needs and strategies. During this time I have also seen how social media has gone through many changes.

  • Facebook added business pages and not just profiles
  • Twitter accounts specifically for customer support
  • Video is embedded everywhere: from YouTube, Vimeo to Vine; and is also aimed at helping customers to answer their questions

While companies have been focused primarily on engaging their followers with creative content, enticing them to consume more of their products and services, many have also learned that servicing customers on social media is desirable, and sometimes mandatory, as well as efficient. In many organizations the resources responsible for creating content are challenged by the quantity and breadth of the customer questions. This post highlights 4 reasons why you should take a closer look at your social customer care strategy and determine whether your contact center is the better place to handle it.

Servicing the customer is the bread and butter of the contact center, so why aren’t more contact centers handling social media?

You likely know well what your contact center excels at today. Very likely the following reasons will look obvious as they represent the advantages a contact center typically offers. It is not always that easy. Almost every session I have held with our customers has the employees (of the same company) introducing themselves to each other since they come from different areas of the business, often having never met and came to the meeting having received a “social media discussion” meeting request. Any social customer service discussion requires representatives from the contact center, IT as well as marketing. Without early partnering the chances of a successful approach is limited. Take the following points into your business to help drive your social customer care conversation.

Scalability

Forecasting social media, the number of incoming tweets, posts or comments, is tricky. This is a popular question I get from seasoned scheduling gurus and the answer is not yet science. Unlike the telephone or email channels, social media sees many more customers (and non-customers) take to Twitter or a company’s Facebook page to comment on something they saw in the news or experienced during the day. This can mean that what a company sees during a ‘typical day’ of 80-300 incoming tweets might change to 4000 the next. (Yes, these are true numbers reported.) Your contact center, its queuing technologies and algorithms were designed just for this. Agent pools are designed to adapt to changing conditions. Just employ what you have and understand how to best care for this challenging arena.

Repeatability

Consistent processes determine the success of any contact center operation. Today, most social media Managers use a collection of tools during any given day. These can be free and simple or premium versions with more capabilities. Their managing of social media engagement is only part of their workload. Their response to customers’ queries is more organic and grows though their own experience. The results are ad-hoc and hard to scale much less improve upon. Contact centers continually analyze and improve their processes. Contact centers have the fundamental tools to take social media into their processes and build consistent customer experiences.

Manageability

There is a saying I learned when I first came into designing contact centers: “if you can’t measure it, don’t build it”. The number of likes, shares or click-thru’ s, while important for brand recognition and marketing program success, doesn’t say much about how easy it is for a customer to do business with you. Contact centers have taken this on as a key set of metrics including NPS (Net Promoter Score), FCR (First Contact Resolution), Customer Effort. They measure not the macro level metadata but every interaction and this allows you to constantly improve your processes as well as your customer’s experiences. Applying the same level of analysis to social customer care as you do to other interaction channels will allow you to improve the overall perception of your company.

Auditability

Social media is a public conversation. We have all seen the news. A meaningful social media Manager posts the wrong comment at the wrong time. It happens. You might be missing the right systems to prevent the wrong message from going public. Integrating social media with your contact center will not give you 100% protection. It does bring features that allow auditing of the events and may uncover others which don’t make the news, though equally effect your customers’ satisfaction. By bringing social media interactions into the contact center, every interaction can be recorded, monitored and reviewed. This is your insurance policy. This is where most other social media tools fall short. Auditing social media exchanges as you do other interactions provide lessons, insights and puts you in control, allowing your business to participate in the public conversation with confidence.

Taking control of your company’s social customer care efforts will enable you to overtake your competition, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction with a minimal effort. Engaging the different players across your organization early and with the proper preparation will guarantee your success. Take these points into your social engagement conversations and apply what you already know well to make the most of your efforts.

Not sure where to begin? Let Avaya help you bring social media into your business. Leverage our experienced consultants, create and improve your social media engagement strategy. Join our Avaya Get Smart Webinar, Avaya Social Media Solutions – Consumer Behaviors, on Tuesday November 11 at 12noon ET. This webinar will focus on best practices for tracking social media engagements, contact center integration options, and more! Learn about Avaya Social Media Services and product offers.

Why 9-1-1 may NEVER work


After a brief hiatus spanning the past few weeks, I have had some time to reflect on the existing problems with emergency calling, and refocus on the root cause of the problem. Any regular subscriber to my blog or podcast is well aware of the tragic incident that happened on December 1, 2013 where the life of Kari René Hunt ended in a tragic incident in a Marshall Texas hotel room, when her nine-year-old daughter was unable to directly dial 9-1-1 without first dialing an access code of 9.

But getting a call out to 9-1-1 is just the beginning of the problem. Unfortunately, it is very much out of the control of the caller at this point, and the likelihood of the call being successful is at the mercy of an archaic, antiquated public switched telephone network and databases that may or may not be accurate.

From time to time, Hank Hunt (Kari’s father) will call me with a technology question about E9-1-1 as he tries to understand where technology failed and took the life of his daughter away from him. Surprisingly in the last eight months, Hank has become impressively steeped in the technology. As it turns out he was traveling through Marshall Texas this past weekend and happened to drive by the Baymont Inn and Suites at 5301 East End Boulevard South. Here is what happened on Sunday in Hank’s words:

“I stopped by this hotel Sunday, (the one Kari was murdered in) I hadn’t intended to but ‘swung” in there, got out and went in. The clerk asked if he could help and I asked him if I could dial 9-1-1 from this hotel if I rented a room there.

He didn’t know.

I explained who I was and why I was asking and he, to my amazement said, “Would you like to go to a room and find out?”.

Well, can you guess what I said?

I had him call the Marshall Police Departments non-emergency line and explain to them that we were going to test the 9-1-1 phone system and they very politely said OK. He then took me to room 111 where he opened the door for me and I entered the room.

I had to walk by the restroom, couldn’t look in there, and I found the phone. I picked up the receiver, asked him to be there when I dialed and he walked over to me and I dialed 9-1-1. Busy signal. I looked up at him, thought of my grand daughter and what she went through at this very hotel so I dialed 9-1-1 again, and then again, and then one more time.

Just like my grand daughter did.

Busy signal every time.

The only difference?

I wasn’t hearing my mother being murdered in the background.

The clerk took the receiver from me, dialed 9-9-1-1 and after 1 ring a Dispatcher answered, “9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

Precious words my grand daughter never heard but so desperately sought. [He] asked her, “What location information do you see?” and she answered,

“The only information I see is the call is coming from the La Quinta Inn.”

This hotel was La Quinta about 5 years ago. It is Baymont Inn now. So, not only has the very hotel where my daughter was murdered NOT corrected their phone system to directly call 9-1-1 they haven’t even corrected the name of the business.”

Alarm bells started going off in my head. There was still a La Quinta Inn and Suites in Marshall, and a quick search on the Internet revealed that it was just a half a mile down the road at 6015 East End Blvd. South!

PHOTO CREDIT: GOOGLE MAPS

So let’s think about this; Had the 9-1-1 call been successful, and the call taker was not able to confirm the address, or the hotel name, it may have been dispatched according to the ALI record as the La Quinta Inn on SE End Boulevard, and not the Baymont Inn on SE End Boulevard; A very simple, yet easily understandable mistake.

This is a very disturbing thought. Not only has the entire premise of our 9-1-1 routing architecture been invalidated by the fact that telephone numbers (ANI) no longer have to equal fixed locations on the planet, the database that we are cross referencing to (ALI) are grossly out of date, difficult to update and maintain, and just plain wrong as in the case in Marshall Texas.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one that is concerned about the inaccuracy of ALI. On July 28th the Colorado PUC issued Emergency Rules Governing Automatic Location Identification Service. In a statement located on their website they have published the opinion that they had concerns, specifically:

  • The databases used by either CenturyLink or Intrado were NOT accurate and updated.
  • That CenturyLink and Intrado have NOT coordinated and communicated with other service providers to ensure accurate location information in existing databases.
  • That the connections and other functions necessary for ALI services were NOT reliable.
  • That offering separate ALI services to certain areas of the state WOULD endanger the current pricing structure that allows for rural areas of the state to afford 9-1-1 services that might otherwise be too expensive.
  • That CenturyLink or Intrado had NOT communicated adequately with PSAPs and 9-1-1 Authorities in the state concerning the transition.
  • That all systems and connections had NOT been adequately tested and had NOT been proven to be sufficiently reliable.

The plan to let Intrado sell the ALI services direct to PSAPs has now been challenged based on the perceived inaccuracy of ALI databases.

This seemingly innocuous problem is actually a huge fracture in the core logic of our public safety communications network. If we don’t stop and correct this horrible inexactitude more lives could be lost, and people will question “How did this happen?”

Unfortunately, the answer will be “Because we let it happen.”

Know Your Customers: Customer-Centric vs System-Driven

The success of a business is measured by its bottom-line profitability and the number of satisfied customers. Although these two factors seem contradictory at first glance, they are heavily interrelated.

While businesses often think that providing enhanced customer experiences requires a lot of financial resources, industry leaders like Amazon and Zappos have demonstrated that providing quality customer experience is the only long term option for achieving a stable market position in this fiercely competitive world.

This article originally appeared on Jacada and is reprinted with permission.

Why Focus on Customer-Centricity?

In the early 80’s, the belief was “it’s not personal, it’s business,” while today’s business motto is “it’s personal, it’s your business.”  That’s the importance of customer-centricity.

If you look at most industry leaders who have entered a recession-proof zone (for example Coke, Amazon, Starbucks), you will see that they are all customer-centric. There are two reasons for this.

First, customer expectation levels are constantly rising while their attention span and loyalty is fast dwindling. Secondly, consumer groups are splitting as customers grow more and more diverse with specific needs and stronger likes and dislikes.

As a business, you have to constantly train your front line to deliver superior customer experiences to regain loyalty and prevent “customer flight.” Customer flight or customer deflection is no longer limited to individual experiences but leads to user flights in groups because of negative word of mouth.

There can be no valid comparison between system-driven and customer-driven businesses simply because a system-centric approach is not sufficient anymore.

The strength of a brand is now directly reflected in its service value to consumers and vice versa. This explains why more and more businesses are designing customer centric business systems and interaction flows, tailor made to fit their target groups and gain long term brand loyalty.

Features of a Customer-Centric Approach

With the expansion of social media and mobile technology, customers take their business with them and inform themselves “on the fly”.

In simple terms, this means businesses need to be ready to answer their customer — anywhere; anytime. Customers expect to be served everywhere: at the call center, at the store, in social media channels or on their mobile phone. You would think this would suffice; but no.

With today’s technological advancements, your customers expect even more. It’s not just about being there — It’s about doing it right.

Related article: The 4 Things You Should Do (And the 4 You Should Avoid) When Delivering Omni-Channel Customer Support

Organizations should adopt the proper customer service technologies that are tailor made to fit to their business, transforming it into an agile customer-centric enterprise. The popularity of smartphone adoption across the globe is a great example for this.

Mobile Customer Service – Getting Customer-Centricity Right

Over 1 billion people in the world own a smartphone. This opens endless opportunities for organizations to adopt a customer-centric model. Properly designed, smartphones can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience:

1.      Visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

This allows your customers to avoid the dreadful IVR experience, which generally involves multiple questions and endless options designed to confuse the caller. With visual IVR, the customer helps himself by directly interacting with the in-built system. Customers can solve their queries faster, inbound call volumes are reduced and satisfaction levels are increased.

2.      Customer Centric Interactions

Adopt a simplified design mechanism that will enable you to maintain an agile environment. You want to be able to easily develop dynamic interactions that will enable your customer to leverage this self-service channel to its fullest. On the other hand, business dynamics, goals, and strategies quickly change these days, so business agility has become the expectation.

3.      Seamless Connection to the Call Center

Recent mobile technology enables a seamless connection from the phone to the agent at the call center. Customers don’t have to be bothered about repeated information queries such as account details and reasons for calling. They can also schedule call-backs at convenient time slots.

4.      Enhanced Consumer Experience

Allow your customers to leverage smartphone features (camera, GPS, etc.) when engaging with you. This allows users to solve harder questions and appreciate the interaction more.

5.      Real-Time Data

Enable real-time integration to your back-end systems. This means you are providing your customer a real-time experience with up-to-date data. This also means that your customer doesn’t have to wait for an agent to search through his database before accessing the required information.

6.      Channel Duplication

The optimal interactions you designed for your mobile app, should be easily duplicated across other channels such as the web, voice, chat and social media.

This not only saves costs for your organization but also enables your customers to enjoy a consistent customer experience, regardless of the channel they choose to start or finish their interactions in.