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Customer Service Automation: Definition, Features, and Best Practices

Automation is everywhere and we cannot escape it. This is because we have been able to use automation tools to make our lives easier and improve accuracy and efficiency. It’s no wonder that companies have been using automation technology to streamline their business processes and improve productivity. And that includes customer service as well.

Here’s an in-depth guide about customer service automation tools, features, and best practices to help you boost your customer support teams and increase customer satisfaction.

What is Customer Service Automation?

Customer service automation uses technology and automation to streamline customer service processes, reduce human involvement, and speed up resolutions. Jugal Anchalia, CEO of Breakout, defines it as the process of “automating the interaction between customers and the company for support-related queries with minimum or no human involvement.”

By automating customer support, you can make it easy for customers to get help and assistance without overburdening your employees.

With automation, you can cut down on time spent on mundane, repetitive, and simple tasks. This way, your employees and agents can focus on more significant, more complex tasks requiring their undivided attention.

Customer service expectations have changed since 2020, with customers expecting quick resolutions along with personalized and unparalleled care. And if your business is behind on meeting these expectations, you may miss out on valuable customers. Customer service automation can help you offer this kind of personalized and quick service without adding additional tasks and processes.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2021

Benefits of Customer Service Automation

Oliver Andrews, the owner of OA Design Services, argues that “[w]ith automation, companies have access to many more opportunities than they ever had before. Improved efficiencies allow organizations to quickly ramp up their customer service, giving them new and improved opportunities to impress every customer. New automated tools give organizations the support to excel in customer service, making every customer experience a great one that buyers can only praise.”

So, why should your business consider automating customer service? And what benefits can you hope to achieve? Here are some advantages of automating your customer service:

1. Reduces customer service costs — According to a McKinsey report, companies using automation and other technology to improve customer service have saved up to 40% on costs.

2. Allows your business to offer 24/7 customer support — Use chatbots, live chat, and smart routing technology to adopt a Follow the Sun customer service model and be available to your customers 24/7.

3. Frees up employees for more complex issues and customer needs — Give employees the time they need to deal with high-profile and complicated cases to provide optimum customer service.

4. Encourages collaboration within teams — Make file-, document-, and information-sharing easy, therefore, helping teams work with each other effectively.

5. Helps collect customer feedback — Collect customer feedback through surveys triggered at different stages and touchpoints.

6. Increases speed and efficiency — Reduce time spent on mundane tasks and processes and increase efficiency.

7. Reduces human error — Make less room for mistakes by creating pre-determined templates and rules.

8. Helps centralize business communication — Connect all stakeholders through one platform where they can share and exchange information, documents, and more.

9. Supports users of all types — Make your business accessible to users who prefer to communicate via phone, email, chatbots, IVR systems, and so on.

Cons of Automating Customer Service

While businesses are increasingly adopting customer service automation solutions, some are still holding back. But why? Here are some reasons why people may be skeptical of automating services:

1. Reduces human intervention — Some fear that lack of or reduced human involvement may deter customers away or fail in de-escalating customer frustrations.

2. Resolves simple issues only — Automation can only support the resolution of simple issues and not complex issues.

3. Relies on modern technology and technical resources — To automate services means to rely even more on technology and more systems, and not every business is equipped financially to deal with these changes.

Popular Customer Service Automation Tools & Features

Here are some popular tools and features that small businesses and large enterprises use to automate customer service.

Smart and Advanced Call Routing

Smart or intelligent call routing lets you route or forward calls with automation and predetermined rules. This way, when calls come in, callers are automatically routed to the correct destination, department, or employee without the need of a receptionist or operator. Some call routing strategies include:

  • Time-based routing
  • Location-based routing
  • Skill-based routing
  • Geo routing
  • All-the-way-round or Round-robin routing
  • Least-occupied-agent routing
  • Simultaneous ringing (ringing on multiple phones with one number)
  • Sequential forwarding

The primary purpose of intelligent call routing is to route calls effectively, reduce missed calls, and improve the caller experience.

IVR Systems

Using cloud IVR as an automation tool has become increasingly popular with businesses of all sizes. An IVR system is an automated voice response system that answers the call, identifies the caller’s purpose, and assists the caller. The IVR system may assist the caller by transferring them to the correct department or by helping with pre-recorded messages. Advanced IVR systems can even help callers complete actions such as activating an account, providing balance information, making appointments, etc.

Traditional and cloud-based phone service providers offer IVR along with other virtual communication tools. Global Call Forwarding’s IVR service is highly customizable, and you can quickly change or update the system through our online control panel.

Email Automation

Automated email workflows play an essential role in inbound marketing and customer service. Email responses can be triggered automatically when a customer interacts with your business. These responses offer support, troubleshooting help, or confirmation. And they can help provide comfort to your customers. Popular email automation tools and software include:

  • HubSpot Email Marketing
  • Mailchimp
  • Sender
  • Sendinblue
  • Omnisend
  • Moosend
  • EmailOctopus
  • Benchmark Email
  • ActiveCampaign, and more

Chatbots & Conversational Marketing Automation

More and more businesses are using live chat and chatbots to provide 24/7 customer support. Conversational marketing automation uses targeted messaging and intelligent bots to engage with web visitors in language they understand and relate to. Using chatbots with conversational marketing makes chatbot interactions less robotic and more human. Popular chatbot automation tools and software include:

  • Intercom
  • Drift
  • Birdeye
  • Freshchat
  • Podium

You can also build a chatbot for your business using chatbot platform tools such as:

Self-Service Options

Another way to implement automation for customer service is to create self-service options and tools that customers and web visitors can use to resolve their queries on their own. For example, Willie Greer, founder of The Product Analyst, uses an FAQ sheet to help users search and find answers to their questions. Others may develop a support center with all necessary guides or simply create how-to content on their blogs. Common self-service options include:

  • Building FAQ pages or adding FAQs at the end of product pages to answer common customer questions.
  • Creating a Support Center or Knowledge Base where customers can go to find more information, features overviews, and troubleshooting guides to resolve their queries.
  • Providing customers with resources such as whitepapers, ebooks, how-to guides, etc., to help them help themselves.
  • Embedding these resources within chat, email, the account dashboard, and other communication channels.

Customer Feedback Tools

Why collect customer feedback? Customer feedback lets you know how your business performs and whether customers are satisfied with your products and services. Without customer feedback, you won’t know where your business needs to improve to gain new customers and retain existing ones. Different types of feedback and survey tools include the following:

Voice of the customer tools
– Qualaroo
– Qualtrics
– Wootric
Online survey tools
– Typeform
– SurveyMonkey
– Survey Anyplace
– Crowdsignal
– Nicereply
Customer review tools
– Google
– Trustpilot
G2
– Yelp
– TripAdvisor
– KiyOh
Visual feedback tools
– Usersnap
– Helio
– BugHerd
NPS tools
– SurveySparrow
– ProProfs NPS
– CustomerSure
– Podium
Social feedback tools
– Sprinklr
– HubSpot
– Brand24
– Hootsuite
– Sprout Social
customer retention
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8 Best Practices to Automate Customer Service

There are many ways to automate customer service. Here we will look at some best practices to follow.

1. Add Live Chat Along with an Automated Chatbot

Many web visitors expect live chat as a customer service channel when they visit a website and have queries. Live chat is used for a variety of purposes: customer service, lead qualification, submitting tickets, and more. Use live chat to understand what your customers need from you.

And by adding a chatbot, you can provide support even during off-hours. This way, customers and prospects can get assistance whenever they need and you can learn more about what your web visitors look for when they arrive at your website.

Before diving into using chatbots, study how customers and employees interact on live chat. This will help you develop appropriate and useful chatbot scripts.

2. Work on Templated Scripts and Responses

Whether it is via the chatbot, automated email, or the IVR system, you want to spend time creating good scripts and responses. People can be apprehensive about dealing with robots instead of a human person. And so, using conversational scripts can reduce friction and make users more comfortable.

3. Offer 24/7 Customer Service

Customer service automation options like smart call routing, international call forwarding, ticketing software, automated email, live chat and chatbots, and IVR systems provide 24/7, round-the-clock customer support. Make your business more accessible by learning where your customers are and what tools they prefer using to reach your business.

4. Offer Self-Service Options

Next, prepare self-service tools that customers can use to resolve their issues on their own. Work with your sales and marketing teams to identify common customer questions and issues regarding your products and services. Then, create a Support Center or Knowledge Base that incorporates how-to guides, glossary and definitions, troubleshooting help, and FAQs. You may even consider adding information about the current market or industry trends that may interest your customers.

These self-service tools not only help resolve common customer issues but also present your business as a reliable service.

5. Integrate Within Your CRM and Phone System

Integrate automation tools within your business systems to centralize business processes and keep everything in one place. Check with service providers how you might integrate these tools within your existing CRM and business phone system. By doing this, you can track all customers and interactions via one platform and trigger actions based on these interactions.

For example, Adam Garcia, founder of The Stock Dork, uses Agile CRM for sales enablement, marketing automation, and customer service. Using a service like this helps them set “standards for support teams and customers.” Tanner Arnold, CEO of Revelation Machinery, says that they use Zendesk to help teams track problem tickets and customer interactions, collect customer reviews, and more.

6. Update and Send Out Important Announcements

You can also use these tools to send out company and product updates and announcements to your customers and leads. Some ways to use automation for announcements:

  • Announce or introduce new products
  • Inform customers about defects or product issues
  • Share company news and milestones, and so on

Customers will appreciate knowing that you’re working on resolving an issue when they call for support. And they may also appreciate knowing what else your company is working on that may benefit them. Automating announcements like this can increase engagement and retention.

7. Collect Customer Feedback at Various Touchpoints

You can also collect customer feedback through automated surveys. Have these surveys trigger at various touchpoints or stages of use. And you can learn how customers are using your service and what areas can be improved.

You might even be able to use customer feedback to understand what customer service automation tools your business needs. Abby Ha, Head of Marketing & Business Development at WellPCB suggests talking to customers to identify ways to improve customer service via automation solutions.

8. Prepare Your Agents

Customer service automation solutions help take care of mundane and repetitive processes and issues. This means that agents are freed up to handle difficult and complex cases. However, if they haven’t been prepared or trained well for these cases, there may be a gap in customer service quality.

Will Cannon, CEO of Signaturely, suggests preparing agents to take on these complex tasks with the right resources. He says that “[It] can make agents’ jobs more difficult if they aren’t given the right resources and experience. Be sure your agents are involved in both the preparation and implementation of new automation programs so that you can be more aware of the unexpected obstacles that the process transition can bring.”

Think Your Business is Ready for Customer Service Automation?

Global Call Forwarding offers various customer service automation features such as intelligent call routing, international call forwarding, and IVR systems. Speak with our representatives today to learn more about our services and how we can help you provide better customer support. Call us at +1 (561) 908-6171 or chat with us online!

11 Key Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager in a SaaS Company

Customer success is a crucial pillar for SaaS companies. This is because the time customer success managers (CSM) spend on improving customer engagement and reducing churn rate directly impacts the success of that company.

And with SaaS companies, customers who have negative experiences grow frustrated and discouraged. A good customer success manager works hard on making customer experience pleasant and success-driven. Thereby, reducing frustrations and increasing retention.

So, what does a customer success manager do? And what are the key CSM responsibilities?

What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

A customer success manager is responsible for implementing customer success strategies and providing proactive support and care. But what is customer success and why do businesses need to invest in it?

Customer success is the process of pre-emptively or proactively reaching out to customers and offering support and onboarding. In other words, it is the act of transforming customer engagement and experience from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive.’ And, in SaaS companies, this is a crucial and rapidly expanding role.

Customer success managers and teams work closely with customers to help them achieve their goals and complete their tasks. And through this, your business can build strong and meaningful relationships with your customers, increasing customer loyalty and retention.

CSM responsibilities, therefore, range from providing support to helping customers onboard to collecting customer feedback. They keep up with current customer success trends to ensure they are up-to-date with customer expectations. We will go into these responsibilities in more detail below.

What Does it Take to Become a Successful Customer Success Manager?

In order to accomplish CSM responsibilities effectively, customer success managers need to have a specific skill set, especially soft skills. And they need to be able to understand and work with the business’ customers. So, what skills do customer success managers need to successfully do their jobs?

  • Leadership skills — to lead customer success teams.
  • Proactive approach — a central skill needed for customer success.
  • Strong organization and presentation skills — to organize projects and lead teams.
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence — to work well with others.
  • Industry knowledge — to make good decisions and execute effective strategies.
  • Relationship-building skills — core skills needed to build meaningful and healthy customer relations.
  • Project management abilities — to handle projects and achieve goals.
  • Analytical and critical thinking — to evaluate and study customer needs and team progress.

Key responsibilities of a customer success manager.

11 Key Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager

Merely having these skills does not make you a successful CSM. How you apply these skills in solving customer issues and improving satisfaction will determine your success. And in some cases, that means going above and beyond your basic job duties.

Here are 11 key responsibilities every CSM in a SaaS company should get involved in to improve customer engagement and experience.

1. Bridge Between Sales and Customer Support

So, where does a customer success manager come in? Customer success managers fall between sales and customer support teams. And yet they differ from account managers who work hard to win accounts or maintain existing accounts.

They usually come in after the sales team has made a sale and help new customers familiarize themselves with the product or service. Without the right team or user-friendly product in place, customers may have trouble using the product and achieving initial success. This can lead to churn, which no business wants.

The main goal of a customer success manager is to get customers started quickly and monitor their satisfaction. They expand customer accounts, improve retention, resolve issues, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce churn.

2. Customer Onboarding

New customer onboarding is the most important responsibility for any customer success manager. Customer onboarding involves educating new customers on how to use your product to complete tasks and achieve goals. When onboarding customers, you need to teach them key features that can help them do what they hired or bought your product to do.

CSMs need to develop a balance between teaching customers necessary features and overwhelming them with loads of information and instructions. The goal should be to get them up to speed as soon as possible. Long and complicated onboarding times will add friction and ruin customer experience and reduce engagement.

A common mistake most CSMs make is trying to teach customers all of the features in the beginning. And the reality is that you only need to teach them how to use features that can help them achieve initial value. Take time to understand what each customer needs and help customers take the shortest route possible. This way, they see ROI immediately and realize the value of your product.

3. Proactive Problem Solving and Handling Account Escalations

Another core responsibility is to manage account escalations with proactive problem-solving. This includes quickly responding to red flags, alerts, critical customer queries, overdue support tickets, and so on. The key is to jump on these issues when they are small and manageable to avoid them turning into bigger problems. And it presents your business and customer success teams as reliable and responsive.

4. Long-Term Customer Relationship Management

Customer success managers must build trust and transparency with clients. Relationship-building is key to retaining high-value customers and converting them into advocates for your products and services.

According to the IDC, 53% of software revenue will come through subscriptions. This means that your business needs to develop strong and healthy relationships with customers so they continue to subscribe to your service. And it means that you need to keep them continuously happy and satisfied. It’s no longer a ‘one and done’ deal. Focus on customer relationship goals and strategize ways your customer success teams can connect better with customers.

5. Customer Research: Understanding Needs and Value

In order to build and maintain long-term, meaningful relationships with your customers, you need to first understand them. This means conducting customer research to understand and evaluate their needs, goals, and customer value. Then, using this information to personalize customer experiences so that your customers find value in your product or service.

Focus on providing value to your customers instead of running down the list of everything your business can do. In your demos, show them how your product or service can cater to their requirements and needs. Customers aren’t interested in how great your company is unless it provides them value and solutions.

Related: Using Phone Surveys to Understand Customer Pain Points

6. Customer Advocacy and Customer Loyalty

Given that these managers are also known as relationship managers, one of the core CSM responsibilities is customer advocacy. They mediate between customer requests and the business by representing customer preferences. By acting as a customer advocate, CSMs ensure that customer complaints and feedback are recorded, heard, and acted upon. And when customers feel heard and validated, it builds loyalty towards the business.

7. Periodic Health Checks

While CSMs work on improving the experience and engagement of unhappy customers, they also need to conduct routine health checks of their most happy and loyal customers. Take time to calculate periodic health of key accounts, if not all. You may even consider investing in a customer success platform to help you monitor account health in real-time. Studying the account health of your happy and satisfied customers can also help you create better experiences for dissatisfied customers.

8. Subscription and Service Renewals

In SaaS companies, specifically, customer renewals (monthly or quarterly) maintain recurring revenue. This is because most of the revenue a SaaS company gets is through its existing customers, making it even more important to take care of those customers. Remind customers of upcoming renewals, inform them of any changes beforehand, and follow up on these renewals so that there are no surprises. You want your customers to be happy when a renewal is around. The larger the value or duration of a contract renewal, the more effort you should put in.

9. Brand and Product Promotion

Since a CSM’s job starts once a sale is made, it is only natural that part of a customer success manager’s responsibilities includes brand and product promotion. This means generating buzz and excitement around new products or new features rolling out. You may create new demos and training to go along with these feature rollouts. This also gives room for upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

10. Upsell and Cross-Sell Campaigns

A good customer success manager also encourages customers to upgrade their products. This may mean switching to a bigger or next-tier product or considering complementary products and features. Customer success managers work closely with customers and therefore have a good idea of their needs and goals. This can inform the suggestions they offer existing customers. Remember, don’t upsell for the sake of upselling. Provide suggestions and advice that can actually help your customers do their jobs or solve their issues better. And when you offer helpful and considerate advice, you increase customer lifetime value.

11. Referrals and Feedback

Finally, when you do your job well, you create valuable, lasting relationships with customers who now advocate for you and your business. This leads to referrals, testimonials, feedback, and reviews. Encourage your happy customers to spread the word, write reviews, and refer your business to others who may find it useful. And don’t forget about customer feedback. Collecting and studying feedback is crucial to understanding how your customers view and use your product. It is also essential for finding areas of improvement.

Ready to Revolutionize Customer Success?

If you’re behind in the game, it’s not too late to get started. There are many resources available to help you do your job well. Common CSM resources include:

  • Blogs: The ClientSuccess CSM From the Trenches, CSM Practice, Practical CSM
  • The Human Duct Tape Show Podcast (hosted by CX-guru Jeanne Bliss)
  • The Customer Success Community (an online forum)
  • The Customer Success Association
  • Slack teams such as Support Driven and CS in Focus.

Take your business’ customer success efforts to the next level and lead your customer success teams effectively. There’s no better time to start than today!

Related: What Is a Chief Customer Officer and What Do They Do?

Using Phone Surveys to Understand Customer Pain Points

Are phone surveys dead?

The short answer: no. However, with access to the internet and other channels of communication, phone surveys are often replaced with an email or post-chat survey. And yet, customer phone surveys remain a reliable method of collecting customer feedback and data.

Here’s a detailed guide on using phone surveys to gain insights into customer behavior, conduct market research, identify customer pain points, and improve CX.

Why Your Business Needs to Conduct Phone Surveys

A phone survey is a survey conducted via telephone calls and, in some cases, conducted over video calls. Phone surveys are conducted by various people for different purposes. But the primary goal of phone surveys is to collect data and information. Here, we will focus on phone surveys conducted by businesses to understand their customers and their pain points.

Phone surveys can help your business learn more about your target customer and market. You can use them to study market demographics, identify common issues, understand customer preferences and behaviors, and more. You can then use this information to provide customers with better experiences and products, and improve customer satisfaction.

Why is it Important to Understand Customer Pain Points?

So, what do we mean by customer pain points and why does your business need to pay attention to this? Customer pain points refer to specific problems or issues faced by your customers or prospects. These are issues that they may experience when trying to complete their jobs or live their daily lives. Or, these may be issues they face along their customer journey.

Some common customer pain points include:

  1. Convenience and Productivity — Wasting too much time on a current provider, service, or product. Lack of convenience and comfort.
  2. Financial — Spending too much money on their current provider, service, or product. Low life expectancy of the product or service. Subscription plans, membership fees, set-up fees, and so on.
  3. Process — Awkward or broken internal processes. Complicated workflows.
  4. Shopping journey — Online research. Website navigation. Checkout friction. Lack of support or information for queries. Tracking and delivery issues.
  5. Support — Not receiving the support they need at important points within the customer journey.

It is important to take time to understand and learn about your customers’ and prospects’ pain points so you can tailor their experience and offer them better solutions.

Types of Research You Can Conduct on the Phone

There are different types of customer research, data, and information you can collect through customer phone surveys. These include:

  • Market Research Surveys
  • Customer/Employee/Patient Experience Surveys
  • Assessment Surveys
  • Satisfaction Surveys
  • Risk Analysis
  • Validation/Verification

What research you want to conduct depends on the goals of your research or survey project. Do you want to survey the market? Or, learn more about your existing customers? Or, do you want to learn how your customers found out about your business? And so on.

china virtual-phone systems
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Types of Phone Survey Questions to Ask

There are two types of survey questions to ask customers when conducting phone surveys: short phone surveys and long-form surveys.

The type of phone survey you choose to conduct depends on your end goal. Do you need detailed answers or quick responses to simple questions? Check out our customer feedback sample questionnaire below for examples of questions you can ask customers when collecting feedback and market research.

Let’s look at the different types of phone survey questions you may consider:

Short Phone Surveys

Short customer phone surveys can be conducted during or after customer service and sales calls. These surveys are short and aim to get quick responses from customers without wasting too much of their time. Common types of short customer phone surveys include: yes/no questions and scale questions.

Yes/No questions are pretty straightforward. You ask a question and the customer responds with a Yes/No answer.

Scale questions, on the other hand, offer customers a scale asking them to measure their interaction. These types of questions can take a numerical (1 to 10) or qualitative (satisfied to dissatisfied) approach. These types of questions also give the customer a neutral option to choose from, as opposed to the Yes/No type of questions.

You can measure on a scale of 1 (extremely unsatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied) or 1 (unsatisfied) to 5 (satisfied). With qualitative questions, you give customers a short list of varied responses such as ‘Satisfied-Dissatisfied,’ ‘Excellent-Poor,’ and ‘Agree-Disagree.’ Before asking customers to rate, inform them of the rating scale options. For instance, 1 being extremely satisfied and 10 being extremely dissatisfied.

These surveys also help with measuring and calculating your Net Promoter Score (NPS) which determines customer satisfaction and loyalty. To calculate NPS, you ask customers to answer the questions on a scale of 1-10 and divide the responses into three categories: Promoters (rating of 9-10), Passives (7-8), and Detractors (0-6).

Long-Form Surveys

These surveys ask open-ended questions and may even ask follow-up questions to get the most out of their customers. As such, these surveys may last longer than short phone surveys. Here, you are not asking a simple Yes/No or scale question but you are leaving the question open-ended so the customer is not limited in their responses.

You can ask detailed questions about the customer’s journey, pain points, preferences, behavior, product usage, demographics, and psychographics.

An example of a long-form, open-ended question is “Which alternatives did you consider before purchasing the product?” This gives you more insight into this particular customer’s journey. Even though these surveys may seem time-consuming, they can help you get additional insights and perspectives that simple Yes/No questions may miss out on.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Conducting Surveys Over the Phone

So, are customer phone surveys useful when it comes to studying your customers, their needs, and pain points? Is the time worth the work that goes into conducting such surveys? Let’s look at the pros and cons of phone surveys so you can make an informed decision.

Advantages:

  • Phone calls are more personal and can help the business and customers build relationships.
  • Phone surveys are relatively easy to conduct and require minimum equipment and technology. Talk to interviewees and enter data directly into a computer in real-time, and obtain results quickly.
  • Phone interviews are a great medium to get responses to open-ended questions and follow-up questions.
  • Research and data can be collected quickly since phone surveys are quick and immediate.
  • Most people have access to phones (landlines or cell phones).
  • Phone surveys are more effective than web or email surveys.
  • Phone surveys have a relatively higher response rate than web or email surveys.
  • Trained and professional interviewers can easily secure responses and participation from customers.
  • Data and research collected can be quickly used to develop better customer experiences (CX), products, and services.

Disadvantages:

  • Some customer phone surveys (especially if the customer does not know or use your service) may come across as telemarketing. This can influence the response rate.
  • Customers are less likely to answer calls if they do not recognize your business’ phone number (especially an international or out-of-state number). This can be easily rectified with an outbound call service (more on that below).
  • Phone interviews may not be as personal as face-to-face interviews.
  • Phone surveys are bound by time constraints; phone surveys should stay under 15 minutes.
  • Research is needed to determine the best time to make business calls. Calling during odd or off-hours can lead to lower response rates.

How to Measure Customer Experience (CX)?

There are various ways to accurately measure CX and customer satisfaction. You will need to decide what metric and methodology you will use. Then, you conduct the surveys and note down customer responses. Some metrics and methodologies to consider include:

  • Yes/no questions — Were you satisfied with the service you received? (Yes / No)
  • Numerical — How satisfied were you on a scale of 1-5, 1-10, etc.
  • Qualitative — Very satisfied, neutral, very unsatisfied, etc.
  • Open-ended questions — Why did you decide to use our service?

Once you decide what types of questions to ask and how to collect customer data, you can start conducting phone surveys.

Grab our sample questionnaire for a list of questions to ask customers when conducting phone surveys to measure customer satisfaction.

Customer Phone Surveys: Best Practices to Keep in Mind

How effective your research will be is based on how well these phone surveys and interviews go. For this, your survey teams need to be prepared and trained well. Here are some tips to consider when conducting phone surveys and training your survey team:

  1. Have a goal and purpose in mind.
  2. Use a reasonable sample size.
  3. Keep the interview short.
  4. Start by explaining the process of the interview.
  5. Establish time expectations.
  6. Keep the questions and answers simple.
  7. Make it measurable (limit open-ended questions, if appropriate).
  8. Consider sending out other surveys as well such as email, web, and chat surveys.
  9. Emphasize being personable and professional during the interviews.
  10. Make survey results available, when appropriate.
scripts
Download Your Free Phone Survey Sample Here
Questions to ask customers when collecting feedback and research.

Survey Questionnaire download

How to Conduct a Phone Survey to Collect Customer Data

Now that you know the benefits of conducting customer phone surveys to understand customers and their pain points, let’s go through the different steps involved in conducting a phone survey.

1. Decide on Survey Goals

First, have a thorough discussion on the goals and purpose of the survey. Don’t just conduct a survey for the sake of it. Take time to discuss what you want to achieve through this survey and how you will go about gathering this information. Make sure your research team and those conducting the surveys are on the same page.

2. Choose Target Audience

Next, choose the audience or market you want to research. This depends on the goals you have for each survey. Go through your email and subscription contacts and customer lists to create a shortlist of the target audience for each survey. You may even use existing market research to identify good participants for the survey. Then, share this list with the survey team.

3. Prepare the Questionnaire(s)

Based on the results you want and the types of customers you will be researching, prepare and share a phone survey questionnaire that agents and employees can use when conducting phone surveys. Run through these questions with them beforehand and show them how to input responses into your content or project management system where the research team can access the collected data.

4. Get Local Phone Numbers

Depending on your business coverage and expansion plans, you may even consider getting toll free and local phone numbers to conduct research and collect data. These numbers are more recognizable than international or out-of-state phone numbers. And will increase the chances of customers and prospects actually answering your calls. An outbound calling service enables your team to make outbound calls with a custom caller ID to improve response rates. Want to learn more? Speak with our experts today!

5. Make Calls and Collect Data

Finally, start making calls, conducting interviews, and gathering data. Remember, the work does not end here. What are you going to do with the data you have collected? How can you use this information to improve CX and retain more customers? Don’t let this data go to waste. Create action plans to make your customers more comfortable in their customer journeys by reducing their pain points when interacting with your business.

Want to Learn More About Business Phone Solutions?

Global Call Forwarding has various business phone service options that can help your business conduct market research and collect customer feedback. Browse through our blog posts or speak with our team to learn more!

9 Voice of the Customer Best Practices and Common Mistakes

Customer feedback is crucial in understanding the value your business offers its customers and how customers are using your products and services. Customers who don’t find value or growth will find a new service. But taking time to listen to their concerns or struggles and taking action will increase customer loyalty and retention. As you prepare your voice of the customer VoC research program, here are 9 best practices and 9 common mistakes to keep in mind.

Building an Effective Voice of the Customer Program

To create a voice of the customer (VoC) research program, there are a few key things to take into consideration:

  • What is the research for
  • Who will you interview
  • What customer segments and audiences to cover
  • How will this feedback be collected and stored
  • Who will be involved in this process
  • How will the data be analyzed
  • What next steps will your business take

By answering these questions, you can start building a focused research program with a clear idea of what you want to find and how you will handle data.

How to do VoC Research

There are a few different ways your research teams can go about collecting customer feedback. However, your goals and resources available will help you decide how to conduct customer research.

For instance, if your business interacts with customers primarily via phone conversations, then you would choose phone interviews for the research. On the other hand, if you want to collect feedback about a new service feature or product update, then you can insert a micro survey in the dashboard or send it in emails or push notifications.

Check out our detailed guide to voice of the customer methodologies to find the right methods for your VoC program.

VoC Research: 9 Best Practices

What practices should a research and feedback collection team implement when conducting voice of the customer research? Here we list 9 VoC best practices so you can get the most out of your research efforts.

1. Outline How the Program Will Run

First, design an effective voice of the customer research program. Determine what type of feedback and research you want to collect. How will you (or your research team) collect this research (methodologies)? What tools and resources will you use? Where will all the data be stored and analyzed? What do you hope to do with this information and feedback? What are the end goals?

Answering these questions will help prepare your teams. And when the time comes, your teams will be equipped to communicate with customers, understand their needs and pain points, collect and study data, and find ways to improve the customer experience.

2. Collect Feedback & Insights Across All Communication Channels

If your business communicates with customers on different channels, then you will want to collect feedback from all those channels. This means not only doing phone and email surveys but also chat and social media, if applicable.

Basically, any platform or channel you engage with customers and prospects on is a valuable platform for collecting voice of the customer research. You can decide the form and length of your survey or questionnaire based on the channel. Create short surveys and embed them in the email or chat window or attach links to longer surveys that may need more time.

You can increase the number of responses you receive by collecting feedback from all communication channels and also get varied responses and perspectives.

3. Collaborate with Other Teams & Share Reports

Depending on the purpose and goal of a research project, all relevant departments should have a say in how feedback should be collected and studied. Identify key leaders and players from each department. Get their support via perspectives and suggestions. Invest in the right communication tools to collaborate effectively with these teams. Once research is collected, share insights and reports with these leaders and departments.

4. Personalize VoC Requests

Think of every interaction with your customer as a way of delivering value. Therefore, when conducting VoC research and collecting feedback, treat your customer as a partner. Demonstrate that the purpose of this survey or phone interview is to understand how you can serve them better. Ask relevant questions; customers will not answer questions that have nothing to do with them or how they use your product.

5. Seek Feedback at the Right Touchpoints

This practice depends on how you stage your interviews and surveys and what data you want to gather. For example, do you want to know how your product is doing overall? Or, do you want to understand how specific processes are working? Hopefully, you want both.

But timing your requests for feedback is crucial. Doing so gives customers the opportunity to let you know about their frustrations or struggles and also let you know how a new feature or service is working out. Good moments for feedback can include:

  • After the customer has onboarded
  • As a follow-up to new product features or add-on services
  • After the customer has completed a big task or achieved a goal
  • As a response to customer behavior such as low levels of activity
  • After the customer reaches out for customer or tech support.

6. Respond to Customer Feedback

Don’t ignore feedback once you’ve collected it. Respond to the feedback by offering solutions or changing processes. Let your customers know that your business is aware of their concerns and working on a solution. Don’t leave them hanging.

7. Study Data & Act on Feedback

Don’t stop at collecting data and sharing it with other departments. Study and analyze the data. Then, together, work on creating action plans based on the feedback provided to make processes simpler and improve customer experience. This is the whole purpose of conducting voice of the customer research.

8. Consider the Voice of the Employee

Don’t forget about your employees. They are a big part of customer interactions and can provide valuable insights and perspectives. They may notice trends in customer queries, struggles, achievements, or pain points. And they can help you identify areas of improvement within internal policy and processes. In other words, they can direct your attention to areas that impede their ability to deliver good customer experience and service.

9. Track & Measure ROI

Finally, look at the results. All this work will be for nothing if you don’t get results that match your business goals. If your main goal is improving customer experience, you will also improve business ROI. This is because both work hand-in-hand: the better the customer experience, the longer the customer stays with your business and continues to purchase your products and services. Track your efforts and measure ROI to ensure your efforts and goals are aligned.

Voice of the customer best practices
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VoC Research: 9 Common Mistakes

Poorly designed VoC programs can greatly harm your research efforts and may even negatively affect your relationship with these customers. Here are 9 common mistakes to avoid when conducting voice of the customer research.

1. Being Unprepared

Not knowing what you need to do or how to do it is the biggest hurdle your research team can face. Do the research and talk to your leaders. Come up with realistic goals (more on that below) and a game plan that everyone approves of. Prepare a list of questions for inclusion in the survey or phone interview. And research the customer and their business to ensure your questions are relevant to their experience. In other words, don’t talk to them without knowing what you are looking for or what the end goal is.

2. Not Researching Customers Before Connecting with Them

If you prepare generic questions which may or may not be relevant to each customer, you run the risk of not getting accurate or helpful responses. This is because customers who don’t find your questions relevant to their experience will not know how to answer them. And if there is nothing for them to gain, they will not want to waste time.

Create questions that are customer-focused and not business-focused. Conduct market research to uncover their problems and potential pain points. What can your business do to solve a particular issue?

3. Setting Vague or Unrealistic Goals

This mistake may have pricey results. If the goals set are not clear enough or achievable, your team may end up wasting time and resources in this voice of the customer program. Additionally, in certain situations, goals may need to be adjusted or re-evaluated. Take time to do this and make a case for it based on insights gathered.

4. Asking the Wrong Questions

Not asking the right or relevant questions will cause a lot of wasted time. For one, customers may not provide valuable insights. And two, you may miss out on getting to the main point. Keep your VoC research goal in mind and draft questions accordingly. When you conduct interviews, you may come across other angles and perspectives to include in future questions; make a note of these. Ask follow-up questions and focus on “how” and “why” questions. These will help you dig deeper into their goals and how they use your product to achieve those goals.

5. Failure to Secure Support

Research is not easy; it takes time and demands resources. This means stakeholders need to buy in to your program and goals. The whole point of VoC research is to identify ways to make your company and its products more customer-friendly. The more satisfied customers are, the more your business will grow.

As such, VoC research can highlight changes that may affect the company culture and values. Therefore, if your VoC program does not have adequate support, the results may not be taken seriously. And these insights may get buried in other more urgent projects. Ensure your team and leaders understand the value of the research you will undertake before you begin.

6. Not Collaborating with Other Teams

Work closely with other teams before, during, and after the research project. Their perspective can help you devise better questions and valuable results. This means taking the time to sit down and talk to your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. You may even meet with product managers and development teams to get their take on the product and its purpose, and what future developments are possible.

Without working and collaborating with other members, you may miss out on key perspectives that can drive your research. For instance, if you do not speak with your sales or customer service teams, you may not learn of common customer problems that your research can help solve.

7. Not Using Automation When Available

Research is not easy; it takes time and needs resources. However, without the right resources and support, it can prove to be more expensive and less effective. Think: customer automation tools, lead qualification tools, data analytics tools, and so on.

Streamline your processes. Create separate workflows for different types of audiences and segments. Use efficient tools and resources that make it easy for your team to identify customers and leads and to collect and study the data.

Related: 6 Ways to Automate Customer Service in 2021

8. Not Sharing Insights & Feedback

While there is a tendency to ignore similar and low-level feedback, make it a point to keep sharing insights and feedback with your teams and leaders. Even a low-level issue can become a larger issue if it occurs consistently. Something that may seem like a small issue might be the root cause of a larger issue. The point is, sharing your insights with others may help you see things differently. And will also help leaders and managers learn more about their customers.

9. Failure to Act on Feedback

Finally, not acting on feedback defeats the whole purpose of conducting voice of the customer research. Whatever the feedback, work on ways to make the customer experience better. Customers should know that your business cares and is working on making their lives and jobs easier.

Why Voice of the Customer is Important

VoC research helps your business pay attention to the customer’s voice and feedback. At the end of the day, if your product or service does not cater to customer needs, they have no loyalty to your brand. Considering how competitive the market is, customers will find new services. Don’t lose out on valuable customers. You may even be able to use these insights in creating and updating customer journey maps that will, in turn, show you ways to bring more customers on board.

Your business will see huge returns from working with customers and learning from their feedback. And gradually, your customers will become brand advocates and help your business grow.

6 Customer Success Trends to Delight Your Customers in 2021

2020 was hard. Let’s face it: many businesses lost valuable customers and many customers lost their favorite businesses. However, there is still hope for those who need it. Reconnect with past customers and ignite the flame with new customers through customer success trends for 2021.

2021 Customer Success Trends

What is customer success and why is it going to be important in 2021? Customer success is the process of proactively reaching out to customers and clients and working on improving their experience with your business. While customer service is reactive (after a customer reaches out to a business), customer success is proactive and takes the first step.

The 2020 global pandemic caused much uncertainty and dramatically changed business practices. As such, customers need more care in the new year than ever before. This is where customer success comes in. Make your customers happy, develop strong customer relations, and increase sales with these 6 customer success trends for 2021.

1. Virtual and Multichannel Communication, Especially Video

COVID-19 led to many businesses coming up with creative ways of staying in contact with their customers and making themselves reachable. This led to a rise in multichannel communication and customer support with businesses offering voice calls, text messages, live chat, emails, and video calling.

Video streaming and video conferencing are important customer success trends for 2021. In 2020, many businesses had to switch to video conferences for sales and customer support services. With video streaming and conferencing, these businesses were able to engage in detailed and personalized meetings with valuable customers. In a time of uncertainty, this helped bring many customers on board. As such, customers will expect some degree of video and virtual support in the following years.

Related: 5 Ways to Win Back Your Post-Pandemic Customers

2. More AI and Automation Technology

AI and automation in business continue to be a growing trend. Businesses across the board are finding ways to streamline and automate simple, repetitive processes so that their employees are free to focus on more complex and important tasks. Customer success teams can also benefit from automated processes. Some common customer success automation tools include:

  • Welcome emails and follow-up messages
  • AI chatbots
  • Automated IVR systems and auto-attendants
  • Personalization with regards to deals and offers
  • Ability to segment and prioritize customers

One example of an efficient customer success automation tool is the automated IVR system. An IVR system answers incoming calls, identifies the caller and their needs, and proceeds to assist. The IVR system can be programmed to simply transfer callers to the right department or employee. However, more advanced IVR systems can even assist callers in completing tasks without the need of an agent. These tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Collecting feedback and surveys
  • Providing troubleshooting help
  • Providing information about the company (hours, location, services offered, etc.)

Phone system automation can help streamline services, increase efficiency, and help your teams work like a well-oiled machine. Plus, you are guaranteed more accuracy when you use AI to conduct basic tasks.

3. Proactive and Customer-First Strategies

Customer success focuses on being proactive, as opposed to customer service which is reactive. In other words, customer success occurs before the customer reaches out to you. More specifically, in customer success, your business reaches out to customers to make their experience better.

Here is a great opportunity to put those customer-first strategies to use. These strategies focus on:

  • Understanding the customer’s needs and expectations.
  • Working closely with the customer to provide useful and relevant solutions.
  • Collecting feedback from current customers.
  • Conducting market research to develop strong buyer personas for your target audience.
  • Creating better experiences and interactions for your customers.
customer service trends in 2020
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4. Personalized Experience and Service

Over the years, businesses have noticed that customers respond better to personalized service. Providing personalized service for your customers can include:

  • Personalized or customized sales and customer service — researching or studying your customer and their needs before pitching them or providing assistance.
  • Including personalization features in your phone system that identify callers and help them with their account or query, keeping their history in mind.
  • Personalized email marketing with customized and relevant products and services.

By offering custom solutions and personalized service, your customer understands that their business is important to you. Additionally, you make it easier for them to see how your products and services can directly relieve their problems and make their lives or businesses function better.

Furthermore, by executing such an approach, you can increase your customer lifetime value. This is a great way to increase your value as a business when marketing to target customers.

5. Focus on Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping is one of the most important customer success trends for 2021. Customer success as a service involves working closely with customers and clients and helping them achieve their goals. As such, your customer success teams will need to measure and map their journey.

For most businesses, the customer’s journey starts at the moment they show interest in your product or service. It ends when they make a purchase. However, for companies focusing on customer success, the actual journey begins at the customer’s purchase. How can you continue to serve this customer and ensure they will come back for more?

So, what is customer journey mapping and why is it significant? Customer journey mapping involves creating a journey map for your customer. In other words, developing a map that details the visual story of your customer’s interactions with your company. By doing so, your customer success teams gain insight into each customer’s behavior, needs, and perspective. And by understanding these factors, your business can provide better services to valuable customers. With customer journey mapping, you can:

  • Understand customer preferences via feedback
  • Create better alignment between teams
  • Measure and enhance customer experience
  • Define milestones and work towards them
  • Execute better customer success strategies that are more likely to be successful

6. Collecting and Reviewing Customer Success Metrics

Lastly, as with any significant business process or strategy: Collect, Measure, and Optimize. Collect data and feedback regarding customer experiences. Measure important customer success metrics such as customer health scores, CLV, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), etc. And based on your findings, improve and optimize customer experiences and interactions.

Strengthen Customer Relations with Care

Customer success helps you work with customers to better understand and serve them. By doing so, you can strengthen their relationship with your business and convert them into recurring customers or those that recommend your business to others! Give the above customer success trends for 2021 a try and give your business the tools it needs to thrive in the new year. Call us to learn more at 1 (888) 908 6171.

9 Tactics to Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Knowing your customers’ value and how much they bring back to your business is essential in understanding where your business stands and what it can do to increase revenue and sales. In this post, you will learn how to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) and how to improve your business’ CLV by increasing customer retention and loyalty.

What is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a customer success metric that determines how much net profit your business is able to make from one customer over time. The CLV can tell you the dollar worth associated with a long-lasting relationship with any customer. This is a metric used to determine the value of your customers and how much money they bring to your business. This metric is key when it comes to bringing aboard new customers and deciding how much to spend on existing customers.

Why Measure CLV?

Going by this definition, the higher your business’ CLV, the more revenue each customer brings into your business. Therefore, with each customer’s value increasing, your sales and marketing teams can afford to take on new customers. In other words, your business can spend more on attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. And this is simply because each customer is valuable and brings more to your business. CLV is important because:

  1. Acquiring new customers is expensive and difficult, at times
  2. Loyal and recurring clients will be your best promoters
  3. Current customers can help your business growth

So, calculating CLV can give you insights into the quality of your customers and what your business can do to increase revenue and sales.

Calculating CLV

Calculating your customer lifetime value can be tricky. Understanding the core components will prove helpful. We break this down into easy-to-follow steps. Calculate your CLV scores by following the below steps:

Step 1. Calculate Average Purchase Value

Value of each purchase.

Average Purchase Value = Total Revenue / Number of Orders

Step 2. Calculate Average Purchase Frequency

Frequency of each purchase.

Average Purchase Frequency = Number of Purchases / Number of Customers

Step 3: Calculate Average Customer’s Value

Value of a customer.

Average Customer’s Value = Average Purchase Value / Average Purchase Frequency

Step 4. Calculate Average Customer’s Lifetime Span

Number of years that each customer visits or uses your service.

Average Customer’s Lifetime Span = Sum of Customer Lifespans / Number of Customers

Step 5. Calculate Customer’s Lifetime Value (CLV)

Your Business’ CLV score

Customer’s Lifetime Value = Customer Value (step 3) x Average Customer Lifespan (step 4)

How to calculate Customer Lifetime Value.

9 CX Strategies to Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

When thinking of ways to improve customer lifetime value, there are three main factors to consider:

  1. Average Transaction Value
  2. Number of Repeat Sales
  3. Average Customer Retention Rate

By influencing or increasing these factors, your business’ CLV and customer experience (CX) will improve. So, what can you do to better these numbers?

1. Conduct Surveys and Ask Questions

One way to improve your product or service is by increasing the number of repeat customers and subscribers. To do this, you need to identify what keeps customers coming back and any significant deal breakers. The best way to learn more about what your customers like and expect is by asking them. Conduct surveys, ask questions, and collect voice of customer data. Learn more about your customers so you can serve them better and convert more into recurring customers.

2. Enhance Customer Service and Customer Success

According to a study conducted by PwC, 32% of customers will end their relationship with a business after a bad experience. And so, this goes without saying but improving your customer support and customer success services can go a long way in retaining customers and making them advocates for your brand.

Consider investing in omnichannel and multichannel customer support. By increasing the number of channels that customers can use to connect with you, you can appeal to a wider customer base and offer more responsive service.

You may even find it useful to utilize self-service options such as knowledge bases and support centers, automate IVR services, chatbots, trouble tickets, and more. Self-service options give users the ability to solve their problems themselves and on their own time. Read our post about customer service trends to determine where your business is lacking.

3. Design Relevant and Easy-to-Use Products and Services

How relevant your business and products are can greatly impact how prospects view and interact with your services. Stay relevant, discuss current issues, and offer up-to-date information and features. If customers find more relevant usage elsewhere, they will go to a competitor without hesitation.

4. Develop a Customer-First Strategy

To enhance CX for your business, you need to create a customer-first strategy. Such a strategy requires your sales and marketing teams to take time to understand the customer, their needs, pain points, and preferences. And then develop a strategy that supports them and their needs.

5. Consider Usability Testing

Usability testing is a kind of market research. In usability testing, your marketing and services teams observe how users interact with your product, software, or service. You can test specific processes (sign-up, purchasing stage, etc.) or the entire system. Usability testing lets you identify areas that need improvement; specifically what processes and features are not clear or easy-to-use. Then, you can create better products and software that make customers more comfortable and less confused.

6. Cross-Sell and Up-Sell

Most sales teams already know that cross-selling and up-selling can greatly improve customer retention. Offering additional services and add-on features is a good way to reduce cart abandonment and build customer loyalty. Furthermore, offering products and services that are relevant to your customers will make a great difference. Customers appreciate personalization and customized recommendations and see them as an effort to really help improve their lives.

7. Create Valuable and Engaging Content

Keep your customers engaged by creating and sharing valuable and informative content. Utilize your blog page, emails, and social media platforms to educate and inform your customers and also establish your business as a trustworthy and credible one. Show readers that your employees know the industry and are developing first-class products.

8. Consider Loyalty Programs

Invest in customer loyalty programs to keep your customers coming back for more. Discounts, member-only promotions, etc., will help retain valuable customers. Treating them with special care and effort will give them more reasons to stay.

9. Continue to Delight Your Customers

Lastly, don’t stop delighting your customers once you lock them down. Keep them happy. Surprise them with small gestures; these can be holiday greetings, birthday cards, gift cards, etc. These little gestures can go a long way in securing customer loyalty.

After All, It’s All About Customer Relationships

Your customers drive your business’ growth. Without them, your business can easily fall behind and into the shadows. Try these CX strategies to improve the way customers interact with your business and give them a reason to come back for more. Competition is everywhere and so it’s up to you to make your business stand out. How far are you willing to go?

Learn more about how Global Call Forwarding’s communication features can help your business communicate better. Reach out to us today to learn more!

How Empathy Can Improve Customer Service Efforts

Customer service has always been central to the success of any business. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how businesses offer customer support as well as customer service expectations held by consumers. Now, more than ever, each business needs to evaluate how they are engaging their customers and offering care and support. Here is where ensuring your reps and employees practice empathy in customer service becomes crucial.

What is the Role of Empathy in Customer Service?

The first thing we should learn about is the concept of empathy. It is the process of imagining or putting oneself into another’s shoes in an attempt to better understand the other and what they are going through. And so, empathy should be understood as one of the most important traits when interacting with customers. But what does empathy in customer service look like? And as a Chief Customer Officer, how can you train your team and yourself to be more empathetic?

What is Customer Empathy?

Customer empathy is the process of understanding your customers by digging deeper into their pain points, concerns, motivations, and more. This means taking a step forward instead of simply saying “I understand” and proceeding with stock responses.

Empathy in customer service, therefore, means taking the time to understand each customer individually. What are their concerns? What is their situation? How can your product help them specifically? And so on. By paying attention to these questions and each customer individually, your team can provide a more holistic and meaningful customer experience.

Why You Should be More Empathetic When Dealing with Customers

According to research conducted by PwC, about 32% of customers will end their relationship with a brand after having one bad experience. Customer service expectations have increased and customers no longer tolerate bad-to-moderate service. They expect businesses to go above and beyond and, specifically, to be considerate and empathetic.

Being more consciously empathetic in your customer interactions can prevent the loss of potentially valuable customers. If your business does not take steps to improve customer experience by creating products and services that are customer-focused, your customers will not hesitate to go to your competitors.

6 Signs Your Business is Lacking in Empathy

In order to determine whether your customer service team is lacking in empathy and needs to up its game, look closely at how your team is performing. Some key indicators include:

  1. Low customer satisfaction scores
  2. Negative customer feedback
  3. Multiple call transfers among agents
  4. Long wait times
  5. Bad customer reviews
  6. Low customer retention rates

9 Ways to Practice Empathy in Customer Service

Customer service and customer interactions happen in a variety of ways and across different platforms. Among these are:

  • In-person meetings
  • Phone and video conversations
  • Live chat
  • Email interactions
  • Social media platforms

Your customer service must be consistent across these platforms so that each customer leaves your business happier and more satisfied than when they arrived. How can you and your team be more empathetic in customer interactions? Here are some helpful tips:

1. Maintain Eye Contact

This one goes without saying — Always maintain eye contact. It is often considered rude if you are paying attention to anything other than the person you are interacting with. This becomes even more important when you are engaging with customers on video calls. It is easy to get distracted and focus on the slide share or other materials, but take time to look at your customer and listen to them. Make them feel seen and heard.

2. Adopt Active Listening

Don’t just assume that you know what the customer is going through and that it is a common issue. Even if the issue is one of the most common complaints you receive, try to treat it with a new perspective. Your customer may have tried different methods to resolve the issue. This could provide you with more information and insight.

Once they have described their issue, repeat it back to them so they know you were paying attention to every detail. Listen actively so you can provide helpful advice that they haven’t tried before.

3. Have a Positive Attitude

No matter what the situation, try to adopt a positive attitude throughout the interaction. Chances are your customer is really upset about the issue they are facing and their frustration may leak into their interaction with you. Don’t let that color the way you respond to them. Take a moment to understand what they may be going through and focus on solving the problem for them.

4. Be Patient and Respectful

Similar to the above tip, strive to be patient, kind, and respectful in your interaction. Give them time to speak (or vent, if they are really upset), avoid getting frustrated yourself, and focus on the end-goal which is resolving their concern so they can continue to enjoy your product or service.

5. Avoid Biases

As with any interaction, avoid making assumptions and biases based on your own perceptions. This means respecting the person for who they are and what they are trying to achieve. Don’t assume they don’t know anything or that they know everything. Always ask for clarification instead of making an assumption.

6. Be Careful When Cultural and Language Barriers are Involved

This is another area of concern where empathy in customer service is essential. When cultural and language barriers are present, there is room for confusion and misunderstanding. Take time to understand your customer. If you are struggling, ask to put them on hold, and find a supervisor or rep who can help. Make sure to get back to your customer soon, don’t keep them hanging on hold for long. Also, keep international phone etiquette in mind when calling customers in different regions and parts of the world.

7. Ask Follow Up Questions

This is a good way to show your customer that you are interested and invested in this conversation. Ask follow-up questions that are relevant and can help narrow down the issue at hand. This can also help you offer more personalized solutions.

8. Match Your Customer’s Tone

Whether it is through email or phone conversations, try to match the tone and enthusiasm of your customer. Don’t be too formal if your customer appears informal and casual, and vice versa. Personalize your interaction with each customer to connect with them in a better way.

9. Build a Bond, Be Flexible

Look for common interests. For example, the online pet company Chewy’s customer service agents always ask customers about their pets and share stories about their own pets. This is a good way to create a bond with their customers and talk about something both parties love: their dogs or cats!

10 Voice of the Customer Methodologies to Revolutionize Customer Feedback

Everyone is talking about Voice of the Customer (VoC) data as an essential tool to understanding your customers and improving their experience. But what is VoC and how do you collect such data? Here is a detailed guide to what VoC is and what to keep in mind when collecting customer data through these top 10 Voice of the Customer methodologies.

Voice of the Customer: Definition and Methodologies

First, what is Voice of the Customer? VoC is the way your customers talk about your products and their experiences or interactions with these products and services. It is a market research method where a business collects detailed customer feedback about their products and services used.

Why is VoC Important?

So, why should you collect customer feedback and pay attention to the voice of the customers? Customers using your product are in the best position to explain how useful, user-friendly, and worthy your product or service is. When collecting VoC data, look for:

  • Customer pain points
  • Hesitations or objections
  • Desires and needs
  • Requirements and expectations
  • Benefits, usage, results

And so, learning how they use the product and how successful it is in helping them complete tasks will help your business create better products as well as market your current products more effectively.

By collecting VoC feedback, your business can gain:

  1. Comprehensive and detailed insights into what your customers look for and need from your products and services.
  2. Data that can be put towards product development and marketing efforts.

VoC Program Stages

A VoC program — that is, collecting and using Voice of the Customer data — typically involves three stages:

  1. Collection — Collecting feedback and information via interviews, surveys, polls, etc. related to specific products or services.
  2. Evaluation — Analyzing and studying responses to identify customer needs and expectations.
  3. Implementation — Using feedback and analysis to create better experiences and products that boost business performance.

Voice of Customer Program Stages.

In this post, we will specifically focus on the collection phase of VoC data and what methodologies work best.

And when collecting VoC data, it is good to be prepared with the following questions for each data collection project:

  1. What is the purpose of this data collection project?
  2. What is your target audience or group? (Current customers or new prospects?)
  3. How will you collect this data? (In-person interviews, online surveys, social listening, etc.)
  4. What stage is the customer or prospect in? (Unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, most aware)

Once you have these factors in place, you can focus on questions to ask your customers and prospects.

What to Ask Customers?

Before we dive into VoC methodologies, let’s quickly run through how to prepare for customer interviews and surveys. In other words, what questions to ask your customers so you can get the best feedback and insights. Your questions can be focused on how customers perceive your business or how they use your product or service; customize questions accordingly. Here are some questions to consider:

What made them look for your business/product/service?

  • When did you realize you needed something like [product/service]?
  • What brought you to [business/product/service]?
  • How did you find out about [business/product/service]?
  • What problem were you trying to solve with [business/product/service]?
  • How did you go about researching for a solution to your problem?

How or why do they pick a business/product/service?

  • What matters most to you when choosing or signing up with a business or purchasing products or services?
  • What characteristics do you look for in a business, product, or service before purchasing or signing up?
  • Why were you interested in trying our [product/service]?
  • Did you consider any alternatives to our [business/product/service]? What were they?
  • Why did you choose our [product/service] over [competitor]?

About your business/product/service

  • What comes to mind when you think about our [business/product/service]?
  • How are you using our [product/service] at the moment?
  • How would you describe the [business/product/service] to a friend?
  • What do you like the most about [business/product/service]?
  • What is the most useful feature of the [product/service]?
  • What surprised you about [business/product/service]?
  • Would you recommend [business/product/service]? To whom and why?
  • How can [business/product/service] improve your customer experience?
  • How can [business] improve the [product/service]?

Understanding pain points, concerns, and issues

  • What would you like changed or modified regarding the [product/service]?
  • What features do you wish the [product/service] had, that it doesn’t currently have now?
  • What concerns do you have about [product/service]?
  • What competitor would you prefer over our [product/service]? And why?
  • What’s the #1 thing you can do with [product/service] that you couldn’t do before without the [product/service]?
  • What’s the biggest problem that you were able to solve/fix with our [product/service]?
  • What concerns or hesitations did/do you have before deciding to buy or sign up for [product/service]?

Understanding results and outcomes

  • What has changed for you since using [product/service]?
  • What measurable results have you noticed since you started using [product/service]?
  • What results are you hoping to achieve with our [product/service]?
Voice of Customer methodologies.
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#61863947 ID#27446420

Top 10 Voice of the Customer Methodologies

Let’s now look at the 10 different Voice of the Customer methodologies that you use to collect customer data:

1. Detailed Customer Interviews

One of the traditional VoC data collection methods is conducting detailed interviews with consumers. These interviews can help you get insights into the customer’s perspective about your business or specifically about a product or service you offer.

You can conduct in-person, phone, video, or email interviews, depending on your capabilities. However, in-person interviews are considered the most effective for this purpose. You can choose to interview particular customers or target groups, depending on why you are collecting this data and how much information you need.

Be prepared with a list of questions and follow-up questions before conducting the interview. Inform customers how long this interview will last and what the purpose is.

2. Customer Surveys & Feedback Forms

A customer survey is another good (and common) way of collecting customer information and understanding customer expectations, needs, and pain points. There are a few different ways to send out customer surveys:

  • Online surveys through links or emails through survey tools such as SurveyMonkey
  • Phone surveys through customer service teams or automated IVR systems
  • In-app or in-software surveys
  • In-person or suggestion-box surveys
  • Contact forms surveys, etc.

You can send out such surveys and feedback forms when prospecting new leads or to new and long-term customers. As mentioned above, be prepared with questions to include in your survey form. When appropriate, include and offer multiple-choice options, drop-down lists, text-boxes, and so on. This will enable customers to provide more information and give you detailed results.

3. Customer Reviews

Online customer reviews are a great spot for collecting information about how customers are using your products and determining how they feel about them. You can look up Google reviews as well as industry-specific review sites such as G2, TrustPilot, Capterra, etc.

Additionally, since these reviews appear online and are visible to potential customers, you will want to watch these reviews and respond to them as well. Respond to good reviews with “We appreciate your business.” And respond to negative reviews with positive and solution-focused responses. In other words, show new prospects how your business handles negative reviews and customer concerns.

Related: Global Call Forwarding Reviews

4. Call Detail Records

Call detail records can be helpful when putting together insights and data based on history. You can use call records to understand the preferred communication channels and contact times. Additionally, you might even identify common complaints that require the help of your customer support team. This information can be used to create support content that helps customers solve issues through self-service options, when appropriate.

5. Recorded Calls

Next, record and review calls with customers. A call recording service is a great tool for sifting through common customer needs, expectations, and complaints. Here, you can identify patterns, anomalies, and more. These insights can then inform better product development and enhanced customer experience.

6. Email Groups

You can use highly personalized emails to specific segments or send well-written generic emails to all your customers. Make it easy and less work for your customers to answer the survey. You may choose to include the feedback form or poll within the body of the email or include a link for them to click. Let them know the purpose of the survey and how long it will take them to complete it. You may even choose to include a reward for a lengthy survey that will take up a good amount of their time.

7. Social Listening

Social listening refers to paying attention to what your customers and clients are saying on social media platforms. More specifically, what are they saying about businesses, products, and services like yours? You can choose to simply listen or actively participate in the conversation to learn more about customer expectations and interests, directly from customers and in real-time.

8. Live Chat

Live chat (whether monitored or AI-enabled) is a popular customer support channel. Web visitors often use live chat to connect with a company as opposed to calling or emailing them. This makes live chat a good source for collecting VoC feedback. You can collect feedback by asking questions in real-time or scheduling a follow-up survey after assisting the customer.

9. Focus Groups

Focus groups are groups of people who asked to share their thoughts, feelings, and expectations about a product or service. You can use focus groups to test new products or features, gain feedback on existing products and services, learn how to improve user experience, and more. This is another common way of understanding the Voice of the Customer at different touchpoints.

10. Customer-Focused KPIs

There are two customer-focused KPIs or metrics that can help you gain insights into how satisfied your customers are and whether they will advocate for your brand:

1. Net promoter score (NPS) measures the loyalty of a business’s customers. NPS provides quick feedback from customers focused on whether they are likely to recommend your product or service. A common example of this is — “How likely are you to recommend our [business/product/service] to a friend or a colleague?

2. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures the level of customer satisfaction after interacting with a business or using a product or service. Use questions similar to those in NPS measures and customers can answer with ratings such as a scale of 1-10 or range of Very Satisfied-Very Dissatisfied.

Let Voice of the Customer Methodologies Enhance Your Services

It’s not an underestimation how important customer satisfaction is, and companies should aim to ensure they are delivering on this fully. As we have demonstrated, Voice of the Customer data is a key tool for businesses to understand what customers appreciate about your business, and ultimately, where your business can improve. If you are aiming to maximize the experience for your customers, be sure to implement VoC methodologies and learn more about how to please those seeking out your products or services.

What is Customer Journey Mapping? (2021)

(Updated on Feb 2021)

As a society, we have always been fascinated with storytelling. We like to know where we started, who we were, and how far we have come. The essence of such storytelling and journey mapping is simple — we want to know how we got where we are. This process of mapping out a story or journey spills into the business world. Businesses pay close attention to their customers’ journeys and how they arrive at a company. This is called customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping: How Does it Work?

Companies develop entire marketing plans around the movements of their customers. Of course, they have to map these movements to ensure their strategy is working. That’s where customer journey mapping can help.

So, what is customer journey mapping? Mapping customer journeys helps businesses tell the story of how their customers travel across their brands. For example, customers may interact with a specific business through their exhibitions, marketplaces, webinars, website, social media, email, chat, etc. These are the different touchpoints that customers may pass through which a customer connects with your brand. Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual strategy of how your customer travels through your business from their perspective. By doing this exercise, you can identify common pain points and strategize ways to improve customer experience.

Tracking your customer’s journey can be a complicated yet powerful process. Such tracking can help map out precisely where your customers are, where your business is excelling, and where improvements are possible.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what customer journey mapping is and how and why you should use it.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Customer Journeys

The vast majority of organizations don’t struggle to gather data. What they struggle with is understanding the frustrations and personal experiences of their customers. Understanding common customer pain points and their behaviors and expectations is crucial to the success of any business.

Tailoring to Meet Customer Expectations

Small to medium-sized businesses should map out customer journeys to identify ways to improve their service and product. For example, customers currently expect to connect with a company not only by phone calls but through email, live chat, social media, and even text messaging. As such, if your business does not offer omnichannel support, you may be missing out on a huge demographic. Another example is including customization and personalization. Stock emails and scripted messages won’t have the same effect as personalized messages and recommendations based on customer interaction.

Discovering a New Customer Base

Without closely watching customer journeys, you might miss out on key demographics and psychographics. When paying attention to the buyer journey and how certain customers arrive at your business and navigate through to purchase, you might discover a new customer base. Your marketing team can then devise strategies to appeal to this target audience and grow your customer base.

Providing Proactive Customer Service

Lastly, since your team’s priority is to identify and improve customer pain points, your business can take a more proactive approach to solve ongoing and new customer issues. You can also identify key touchpoints where customers welcome additional support and interaction. The bottom line is that you can use customer journey mapping to create customer-centric strategies.

customer journey mapping

How to Map Your Customer’s Journey

Customer journey mapping creates a framework that enables organizations to provide a better customer experience. To do this, you must document the customer experience from start to finish and identify potential improvements.

For example, if you own a coffee shop, you’d want to know what brought the customer in (i.e., Stage 1). Did they see an ad on Facebook? Did a friend tell them about your shop? Next, you’d want to know who helped them, who they had contact with, and how that exchange went. Was it pleasant? Then, you’ll want to know what motivated them to make a purchase. Was it the informative content on your website or in your email campaigns? Also, you’ll want to know what they thought of your product (the coffee) and whether or not they’d come back.

Using real-time information supplied by customer feedback is a step above surface-level data. Information and insights gained in these areas and across these touchpoints can help you visualize customer experience better.

Customer journey mapping does this all with the help of visual aids. Most maps are presented as infographics for easier digestion. Dimensions such as touchpoints, goals, and customer feedback are priceless to create an accurate customer journey map.

Tips for Creating Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey mapping should focus on building valuable insights and putting them in quantifiable maps. Identify your key touchpoints and factors that affect buyer journeys for your whole business or specific products.

Some questions to consider when mapping out the buyer journey include:

  • What is the customer thinking or feeling? Is something guiding their motivation or action?
  • What is the action?
  • What is their touchpoint with the business? (Examples: social media, paid ads, local directories, email, etc.)
  • Are there any changes that can be made to this step to improve customer experience?
  • What steps are needed to make this change?

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

1: Incorporate customer satisfaction measures.

2: Decide on the behavioral stages and develop data based on each stage.

3: Customize the journey map to match your audience (stakeholders might want different information than marketing departments, etc.)

4: Isolate your customers’ goals.

5: Identify key touchpoints (where do customers interact directly with your company?)

6: Get specific. Interact with your customers, survey them, and find out precisely when and how they get in touch with your business.

How to Use Customer Journey to Improve Marketing

The goal for any organization using customer journey mapping is to isolate the customer’s goals and perspectives and then use these insights to create a strategic and successful plan. An excellent customer journey map captures your customer’s experience concerning their needs and expectations. It helps you figure out how you stack up and exposes gaping holes in your strategy.

Essentially, they provide profound insight and create actionable steps for your organization. They show positive and negative interactions and help you replace those negative customer experiences with more positive and helpful ones.

By mapping out customer journeys and experiences, you can attempt to provide convenient and personalized service at every crucial touchpoint. Furthermore, you can create more accurate buyer personas for each step of your sales funnel. In short, mapping out customer journeys can support your inbound marketing efforts.

Related: Toll-Free Numbers for Marketing Campaigns

Using Customer Journey Mapping to Move Forward

Understanding how your customers interact with your products, service, or business helps your team take actionable steps towards an enhanced customer experience. It gives you the knowledge needed to expand and improve upon what you already offer. Clearly defining your audience, gaining greater insight into the customer lifecycle, and combining this knowledge with your team leads to tremendous business success. Use customer journey maps to ensure customers remain with your brand long-term while building strong client relationships.