Category Archives: Customer Experience Management
On a trip to Orlando two years ago, I arrived quite late to a Hilton hotel and visited the restaurant a few minutes before closing. The server took my order, disappeared, and didn’t come back for a few minutes. It was just a touch too long, and I was beginning to wonder if my order was forgotten.
Then the server came back, apologized for the delay and gave me a free drink on the spot. I still remember that experience because it wasn’t expected. I had not complained and the delay really wasn’t a big deal. So far as I know, I didn’t send any signals via my body language that I was unhappy.
It impressed me that my server was empathetic enough to realize that their service was not quite up to par, without a complaint. And furthermore, he didn’t have to go ask permission to give me the drink.
That’s a simple but powerful example of an empowered employee. My server obviously had some latitude to make a decision on the spot in the interest of creating a memorable experience. The fact that I’ve told this story many times in speeches the past two years, and now write about it here, speaks volumes for the real impact of that simple gesture. Read more and comment…
Part II: CRM in 2013
We’re a few weeks into 2013, and companies are facing a powerful confluence of overwhelming and diverse customer data, tools that provide a greater degree of insight into that data, and a customer base that demands a more personalized, real-time experience. We believe that companies ended 2012 poised to use this convergence to supercharge their customer service operations, as noted in the first installment from our esteemed panelists that posted last week.
Is 2013 the year the perfect storm is averted? Our experts weigh in with some bold predictions for CRM.
Esteban Kolsky, consultant and analyst at thinkJar, formerly with Gartner:
“From the very beginning, CRM experts have been predicting the advent of CRM 360 – being able to see everything about the client, from all angles, for all stakeholders in the organization. We have been unable to achieve those things until now – mostly due to the lackluster performance of Analytical CRM. Read and comment…
Part I: Looking Back at 2012
It’s nice to have good friends in high places, especially friends who spend their time talking to smart people from great businesses about their strategies, execution and plans, specifically related to customer experience. To begin the New Year, we spoke with a couple of our esteemed friends about the current state of CRM—in its full meaning, not just the system, but spelled out: Customer Relationship Management. In this first installment we look at the question, “What was the biggest development in the CRM space in 2012?” Here are a few standout assessments:
Paul Greenberg, president at The 56 Group, and well known as the Father of Social CRM:
There were a few developments this year that were notable but two really stood out – and surprise, surprise, they had to ultimately deal with how customers are treated. The two were the re-emergence of customer experience, now called CXM, as a core approach in dealing with customers and the rise of Big Data (and solutions for it). Read and comment…
Last month we were honored to receive the CODiE Award for Best Relationship Management Solution by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). DreamSimplicity, a virtual community for business applications and industry professionals, was onsite at the awards ceremony in San Francisco and recorded a brief interview with our own Michael Gagnon, Regional Sales Manager for CA. Watch the video and comment…
Customer Experience management is all the buzz now a days. The good news is that companies seem to be more and more genuine about paying attention to their clients’ needs. But are they taking the right approach of measuring their experiences through surveys?
In the late 90’s, the internet started to change the way people serviced their customers via self service portals and websites. Companies began to realize that their customers want to service themselves – on their time – they didn’t want to wait in phone queues to talk to people who sometimes didn’t have the answer. While online self-service sites gave clients the ability to service themselves quickly and on their schedule, the one thing that went missing was the feedback mechanism.
When people were talking to you on the phone you could very quickly tell whether they were happy or not. With online customer self-service, companies have less of a personal relationship with their customers. Thus the dawn of the whole market for customer surveys. Yes surveys have been around a long time, but their importance was certainly heightened by the internet revolution.
Customer surveys haven’t really changed much in the past dozen or so years. They might have improved in the psychology of how questions are asked and answered, but the 1-5 scale, 1-9 scale, top box, high, low, medium and so on, are all still there. Today, companies have now expanded the use of the survey to try and capture more and more information about that customer who is interacting with them from various channels and likely has an opinion about their experience.
My big question is, are surveys still the right way to collect information about a client’s interactions with your company? My concern is that surveys might no longer be objective – in fact I think if we study them closely they are worded and structured to favor a positive outcome for the vendor (that’s why they get compensated on these results). When I ran a global support organization we used a 7 point scale – 4 & 5 were neutral because we only measured top box scores which was 6 & 7. I imagine there are thousands of these survey’s out there structured the same way doing the same thing: 6 & 7 are good, 1 & 2 are bad.
What if the new style of customer survey was a text box with an explanation to tell us about their overall experience? Maybe they liked part of the experience but not another part. With this information captured, and using text analytics tools, we could understand the theme of the customer comments as well as the sentiment and take that even a step further and correlated it with certain product releases customer locations, and more.
For example, a survey from your favorite rental car company consists of 20 questions:
1) On a 1-5 scale rank the following:
a. How was your reservation experience?
b. Was the agent professional?
c. Were you greeted by an agent?
d. Was your car clean?
e. Etc, Etc
2) Or, you could say in a text box:
a. When I arrived last night at 12:30am because my flight was delayed your agent had everything ready for me when I came to the counter, thanks
b. When I arrived last night at 12:30am because my flight was delayed, I had to bang on the counter to get an agent to come to the front, I was tired and it took another 10 minutes to get my car.
As you can see, I can very well predict what the answers would be to the 20 questions from the two statements in section 2.
Your customers have so many touch points with your company today – so how do you decide which ones to survey? Giving every customer who interacts with your company the opportunity to leave their comments about their experience will give you a very rounded view of your business. And with that information captured, you can really drive your business forward.
Something to think about perhaps?
As those with significant others can attest, and those in the customer service business know, relationships are never mastered – they’re constantly changing, growing and evolving over time. This week, we are thrilled to announce a CODiE Award win for Best Relationship Management Solution – our third CODiE in four years – by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The peer-reviewed recognition is very meaningful for Coveo. We’re always thinking about how knowledge and information can be used to improve our client’s customer relationships – identifying customer needs, evaluating areas for improvement and responding in real-time with all of the contextually-relevant information necessary to best meet that customer’s needs at that moment in time.
Want a bit of free relationship advice? Key to many relationships is, first, the ability to listen. Next is to respond to the other party’s needs. The final is to act to improve the relationship. And then the cycle begins, all over again, in a never-ending dance. Translated to our B2B context, this is your customer engagement strategy.
But you can’t even start if you’re not getting a complete picture. How can you listen if you don’t understand the context? Many businesses struggle with trying to gather all the relevant information from various sources, places and data types, whether in their core enterprise systems, via social channels or in the cloud. If this is a challenge with your organization, you’re not alone. In a recent Argyle Forum survey, 42 percent of respondents estimated that their companies have visibility into less than a quarter of information across all interaction channels, including social streams.
So what do you do? The first step is to break down information silos and enable your organization to access knowledge across all relevant customer channels. Invest in technologies that allow you to access information regardless of format by instantly assembling and enriching data to make it consumable.
We’re proud to be named an innovator in relationship management solutions today. But, like anyone, we view relationships as long-term processes. If you’re looking at improving your customer engagement through actionable insight, don’t wait. Your current and future customers depend on it.
Like many busy professionals, I shop online. Recently I’ve noticed those items I’ve looked at on, for example, the Neiman Marcus website follow me around the internet as I surf for information related to my work. This doesn’t work for me. The context is all wrong. I am not shopping for shoes while I am reading a blog about the new category of insight software. The relationship between me and the shoes may be right – Google has correlated my action, though not interpreted it. I actually did not like that pair of shoes and not only is the context wrong, the shoes are no longer relevant to me. They now irritate me, following me around the web for a couple of days. Now I have a not-so-good feeling about Neiman Marcus.
Clearly we all know that the customer experience runs across all channels and all front-line employees; however the website is arguably the most important channel for many organizations—and not just for ecommerce, but for complex, B2B products and services as well.
Your website is your best brand representation and should reflect your knowledge of your customers and adjust quickly to each and every customer (and it goes without saying about your own products and services, as well as how the customer is using them and whether or not he or she is satisfied). After all, as we see with my Neiman Marcus example, consumers – who are often times also B2B buyers—are beginning to experience the correlation of their actions with the information served up to them on the internet. Customers expect the same experience on your website that they may get on the internet at large—only better, because they know you, and you should know them. And yet, both experience and research shows that companies are struggling to provide that personalized, one-to-one experience on their website.
Luckily, Insight technology can “know” much more about your customer than the Neiman Marcus website knows about me. It can understand the customer or prospect’s history, their level of knowledge about your company’s products and services, level of satisfaction (do I like that pair of shoes I looked at?), the customer’s interactions on social media sites and communities, and their interactions with all front-line employees at your company, in customer service, sales, marketing, etc. It can also correlate this information with other similar customers and more, helping customers to learn from each other.
Why is this important? So that the technology can instantly assemble contextually relevant information from all sources, and provide it in a meaningful “conversation” with the customer or prospect via the website. (And by the way, this is the same information, though perhaps abridged, that your sales person or customer service agent will see when interacting with the customer or prospect, providing that consistent, end-to-end brand experience which is so elusive to marketers.)
What about you? Have you been “stalked” by items you didn’t want, on the internet? How did it impact your perception of that brand? How do you provide a more contextually relevant experience for your B2B customers?
As a rule of thumb in customer service, financial models show that any ticket not resolved quickly – due to lack of insight – will see its cost roughly triple. When you factor in research time to gain insight, contact and context re-establishment time, having to bring other people into the mix to resolve a problem, escalation time, time wasted when an agent is interrupted by another agent looking for advice on yet another ticket, and more, you’ve got quite an inefficient, costly problem on your hands.
Worse – from the customer experience perspective – because of queues introduced in the process, case resolution time can easily increase 10x. For those of you who are familiar with manufacturing and Kanban principles, this is a very similar topology of problem. Every time a ticket is unresolved it introduces WIP and delays, driving the whole cycle-time up significantly.
So when we do the math at a high level, this 20% of more complex calls often consumes more than 60% of the total customer service budget, because these tickets take much longer, require much greater knowledge aggregation and correlation, and can involve more people. Moreover these 20% more complex tickets are the ones driving the average case resolution time metrics up by a factor.
Even worse is these tickets are the source of 80% of customer dissatisfaction and ultimately client defection. Customers don’t leave after a password reset call; but they are more likely to leave after a sequence of calls during which the agent is grasping at straws to solve the issue at hand. Trust is further negatively impacted if the client has more information than the agent, gleaned from social media and communities.
So at a time when companies are faced with reduced budgets and shortages of staff to maintain a reasonable margin, while at the same time challenged to improve the customer experience, targeting where 60% of the budget is spent, combined with where most customer dissatisfaction arises, seems to me like THE critical place to focus. Thus injecting greater insight into the process of solving these complex issues faster allows for increased capacity which results in higher margins—and also drives higher customer satisfaction. Because this can mean big money, it should be viewed as the single most important initiative within a customer service environment.
Knowledge is everywhere… and yes it means also beyond the knowledge base
While knowledge management in its traditional form – often KBs along with the required access – is clearly a means of delivering the insight required to resolve the most common customer issues, companies focused on the greater strategy of delivering real-time Knowledge Insight into the much broader knowledge ecosystem will win by enabling a more comprehensive strategy. The focus is on optimizing the customer experience vs. on knowledge standardization.
This much more strategic focus for customer service organizations encompasses knowledge management, but also looks beyond that and into the broader knowledge ecosystem, including people’s cumulative know-how, and even reaches out to knowledge within customer communities and other social content sources. For customer service executives, this goal is also much simpler to understand for everybody in the organisation: enabling the service infrastructure to efficiently deliver the right knowledge to help customers and agents understand and resolve each and every issue, every time, quickly and accurately.
We like to distinguish between what we call “process-centric tickets” vs. “knowledge-centric tickets” in customer service.
In the first case, insight is gained from a curated knowledge base by an agent or ideally self-service by the customer. In the latter knowledge-centric ticket case, the best practice is to gather insight by distilling relevant information from various silos, by identifying and consulting key experts, and by correlating and analyzing information efficiently and in real-time.
So where is the knowledge needed to gain that kind of insight? Within the KB for sure. But also everywhere else: within documents, engineering records, CRM and help desk systems, telephony, emails and client communications, ticket histories, and even in cloud-based customer communities, blogs and other social content sources. Then what about information known from other agents’ experiences and how do you go about identifying the experts?
Bottom line: the knowledge required to gain insight is everywhere. It is a knowledge ecosystem which needs to be enabled and tapped into, not just another data silo curated by a pocket of people. Tapping into this disparate, siloed ecosystem with the right tools can save millions while enhancing customer service.
What are your strategies for helping agents and customers gain insight?
Today’s consumers, whether B2B or B2C, are much more informed than ever before about the products and services they are buying. This newly found awareness based on product information, industry and peer reviews, and multiple social channels, has given consumers this sense of trust that if others “like me” purchased or bought this product, and they thought it was great, then it must be great for me as well. The impact of this is that it has set the consumer expectation at a very high level.
Most companies have not adapted to the socialization of their products and services with respect to how to conduct the full scope of business. Sales and marketing love it – they can get their name and product out to millions and millions of people, however on the reverse side of the business, the support and services group have to deal with the high expectations of customers, which has been created in part, by its own sales and marketing departments.
Thus the gap has been created.
Customer service is a complex process. To do it well, there needs to be a complete synchronization between the systems of record, people, processes, products and partnerships. However, in most corporate environments today, these attributes reside in either IT silos or departmental silos inaccessible by the organization as a whole to deliver that seamless level of service.
A good example of this is the financial services industry. They sell standard banking services, mortgages, credit cards, life insurance and other services, but each one of these products are a distinct business unit with their own systems of record, so it is no wonder that each one of them markets to you as if their product is the only one you might have purchased from them. Each system only knows what is going on in their space – customers are becoming rebellious to this type of corporate attitude.
A second challenge I see today is that there used to be a “time to quality,” meaning if I saw a product and it was a new design or a 1.0 release of software, I had an expectation that there may be some early glitches that would be worked out over time. I was willing to put up with these bugs in order to be an early adopter. Today I don’t believe that to be true. The consumer expectation is that if you are selling something, it better be perfect and it better be fully-supported from the onset, or else “I am going to be unhappy.”
On the flip side of this equation, I also believe that companies have not listened to their customers, and have not adapted their practices to meet some of the changing demands of their customers. Companies have not embraced the fact that their customers are more educated and know more about their products and services. Company and product transparency is a given due to the Internet. Look at the plethora of information available to your customers – blog posts, customer reviews, press reviews, online communities, and much more. Often, customers know more about the products and services they are purchasing than the customer service rep! You cannot hide from it.
Do I blame companies for being in this state where they are not able to adapt to their customers’ changing expectations? No. For the most part, over the past three decades, companies have purchased siloed products that capture everything an organization needs to know about their customers, their preferences, expectations, and more. The problem is, many of these systems don’t talk to each other, and so the proliferation of “systems of record” have clogged the companies’ ability to react and see their customers as a single entity.
If the customer has transparency – and insight – into your company and your products, don’t you think it would be good for you as a company to have the same level of insight into your customers? For example, what products your customers have purchased, how they use them, where they use them, upsell opportunities, and more. Laggard companies use the excuse that their IT organizations can’t keep up with the changing demands. While that is likely true, if companies continue with the traditional way of physically integrating siloed systems, they will continue to fail to gain better customer transparency and insight.
Forward-looking companies realize that customer insight comes from the ability to see your customer from different perspectives in what I call a single version of the truth. This single version of the truth comes from aggregating and consolidating data collected from all these siloed systems into a unified set of data without moving the physical data. Sounds too good to be true, I know, but the combination of Enterprise Search 2.0, knowledge management and customer experience management, can deliver on this view.
When the company and customer have a balanced transparency of each other, tremendous value is generated in the people, products, process and most importantly, the relationships, between them all. Until companies take the initiative to unify their view, and provide insight into their customers and customer service operations, there will always be an imbalance and the debate will go on.
Exclusive Roundtable & Reception with Senior Execs and CRM Magazine Editor Unveils New Technology to Improve Customer Service Operations
As a customer service and support executive, do you struggle to provide a world-class customer experience? Chances are the answer is yes. It’s no wonder with expanding customer interaction channels, rising customer expectations, and an explosion in both the amount and complexity of data B2B customer service organizations face. Customer information has become unmanageable and inaccessible to those who need it most – agents, customer service managers and executives, and customers themselves – causing confusion, dissatisfaction, and the loss of customers to the competition.
If you are in or around New York City on Tuesday, September 27, we invite you to join us, along with industry leaders, practitioners, and the editor of CRM Magazine, for an exclusive roundtable and reception to discuss a new technology for B2B organizations that uses real-time insight from all customer channels to better know, better serve, and sell more to your customers – all in an effort to significantly improve customer service metrics. We’ll be at the new Eventi Hotel, 851 6th Avenue (at 30th Street) from 6-8pm ET. You can register here.
We’re pleased to welcome our speakers including Jim Crowe, senior vice president and CIO, Hudson Insurance Group, along with David Myron, editor, CRM Magazine, and Ed Shepherdson, SVP, Enterprise Solutions, Coveo, who will discuss and demonstrate how combining knowledge management, customer experience management and search can provide real time insight from all customer channels and IT systems.
Our customers have been using this approach and have reported significant benefits to their customer service and support operations including a 50% reduction in case resolution time, an increase in customer self-service satisfaction of 10%, an increase in contact center capacity without adding headcount, and a reduction in agent training time. You can check out more customer case studies here.
If you’re responsible for customer service, customer experience, sales and marketing, CRM, or internal tech support across B2B organizations, we hope you can join us. Once the roundtable discussion is finished, we’ll have cocktails and an opportunity for more networking.
I hope to see you there!