Turn Tickets into opportunities

by Going that extra mile to please your customers

According to a recent survey customers tend to become more loyal and polite when their complaints are handled immediately and effectively. Not only this customers want you to treat their complaints as yours. I am sure you yourself  don’t like following up for daysto get an issue sorted out. When we raise an with the service desk we want them to pay attention and answer our queries as quickly as possible.

cs

 

Customer service is the most crucial aspect of sales. No product can sell itself without friendly- efficient communication. Customers want their problems fixed fast, and they want to know that you truly care and would be available when needed. That is why building loyalty means delivering excellent customer service. So, how do you make the extra effort to stand out from the competition with so many systems available in the market now a days.

According to Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-185461-5. “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” Many organizations have implemented feedback loops that allow them to capture feedback  as a part of Customer Support at the point of experience. For example, National Express has invited passengers to send text messages whilst riding the bus.

In the Internet era, the challenge has been to maintain and enhance the personal experience while making use of the efficiencies of online commerce. According to Micah Solomon‘s Seven Keys to Building Customer Loyalty-and Company Profits ” “Online customers are literally invisible to you (and you to them), so it’s easy to shortchange them emotionally. But this lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection in the online arena.” On the one hand ,the  cloud is everywhere making our lives simpler. But the distance between the online consumer and the company is what has to be bridged. You need to put in that extra effort to make that impression from anywhere.

Good customer service keeps customers coming back for more. Bad customer service keeps customers away. When customers are unsatisfied withthe product or service a company offered, they will not recommend the company to others. This will ultimately affect sales. It costs less to retain current customers than it does to attract new ones.

So ensure that you are using a simple, effective system that allows you to keep track of customer issues and handle them efficiently. Ensure that you always delight your customers with the quality of your customer interactions.

The Booming Android Apps Market

Today Android is the World’s most popular mobile operating system. It empowers millions of mobile users around the world. It has one of the largest installed base of any mobile platform and is growing everyday.Millions of users download apps in various categories such as entertainment, education, technology etc on daily basis.

untitled

Android is continuously pushing the boundaries of both hardware and software to bring in the new capabilities and functionalities to users and developers.
One of the app thats most downloaded is whatsApp. This app is Free (for the first year).This instant messaging app is an essential Android install. The concept is simple – it takes over text messaging on your mobile, routing messages through any Wi-Fi connection instead. Which means no more SMS allowances, no size restrictions, plus images sent at a decent resolution.
According to John Corpuz - Android isn’t as controlled and regulated as its iOS competitor. No matter what version of the OS you’re running, it’s basically a tinkerer’s dream. It allows users to tweak and optimize the system’s performance from A to Z. From cache cleaner to junk file hunters, CPU overclocking tools and app disablers, here are eight Android tools that one can use to get more out of the system.
Take a look at this interesting comparison. According to Gartner’s forecasts the iOS and Android app store downloads will account for 90% of global app downloads in 2017. As the research Director Brian Blau states, about 60% of apps on the App Store were free whereas 80% of apps available on Google Play were free. This is because IOs -Apple wanted the app developers to make some money whereas android apps were available mostly for free.
But, all of that could be changing based on the user’s interest and the market trends.
The ways in which users discover apps is almost identical in both stores. According to a recent report the majority of people find new apps through general browsing in the app store. The next most popular method of discovery was recommendations from reviews, friends and family and the most popular was browsing through top-rated or most popular lists of social sites.
Irrespective of whether we are talking about IOS or Android, the app market will continue to grow. According to Gartner’s report, the app market revenue is estimated to hit $77 billion by 2017. That means we can expect more and more apps in the market by then with innovative ideas from startups.

At Impel, we aim to provide 1-click customer service from within these smart, innovative apps to their consumers.

In how many ways…

For most people, the term “customer service” brings to mind images of crowded call-centers, sounds of yelling customers and feelings of general misery (both for the customer and the agent!). It’s amazing how that term has become a proxy for its very absence. The thing is, of all the ways that your customers can connect with you, the phone has one of the lowest satisfaction ratings (the blog itself makes interesting reading). Its time you look at the many other ways customers can connect with you. Let’s begin with a list of those ways:

  1. Customer Portal
  2. Phone calls from customers
  3. Website Chat with customers
  4. Chat from customers in your mobile app
  5. SMS to/from customers
  6. Twitter interactions with consumers
  7. Facebook/Google+/Pinterest post by consumers
  8. Emails from customers
  9. Email-to-Ticket from customers
  10. Snail Mail (yep, it still exists!).

I’ve listed the ten mechanisms in the order that people generally expect responses in. For example, while people expect your Portal to answer their questions immediately, they’re OK to wait a few seconds on your phone line. They’re willing to wait a bit longer for an agent to to respond to a chat request. And so on – of course, they’ll wait a few days for snail-mail responses! Also, I’ve grouped Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest together only because they share similarities in consumer expectations: people post things, expect them to be shared, will be happy if they get a response soon. On Twitter, when someone says something, they expect to be heard – and fairly quickly!

One of the terms you’ll hear a lot about in this space is this thing called the “omnichannel” model. What’s that, you ask? Consider that you use a number of different services to manage customer interaction: you have a phone system to handle phone calls; you have an online service to manage your corporate Twitter account; you use Facebook for Business to manage your company’s Facebook page. And so on. This is what is generally called a “multi-channel” model, where you interact with customers on multiple “channels” (phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Now consider, instead, that you signed up for this one God-given app that does all these things in an integrated manner. Imagine:  when an irritated customer posts as much to your company’s Twitter ID, the tweet appears in someone’s “inbox” in the call center, to make a phone call to the customer and offer a resolution. Now, THAT’s omnichannel, where all the channels that you offer support by are integrated and managed seamlessly.

To get back to my list: my intent in this blog is to just identify the various things that you could be doing to help your customers along: it is not to give you a complete blue-print on what to do in each case (we’ll do that in future writings!). To help you along, below is a diagram that shows the various ways and how effective they’re known to be.

As a good manager, you’re probably thinking: “All this is very well, but what will it COST?” Coming right up: one chart that compares the typical processing cost for each of these channels, on a per-transaction basis (note: mostly American-style costs; your own results may vary!).

Typical processing costs
Typical processing costs

You’ll notice right away that customer support via “digital” channels (Web portal, Website Chat, App Chat, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is way cheaper than the phone and other traditional methods. The challenge, of course, may be to GET your customers to use these channels, depending on what part of the world you’re and what you’re selling. That’s a whole another conversation for another day.

Would love to hear if your experiences in your business are n line with what you see here!

Do you know who’s calling? … Part 2

Last week, we spoke of two of the four areas to think about in making your call center work for your customer. Here’s an infographic of the issues, with details below.

Call Center Enablement

Work the phone system

Your phone system can tell you a whole lot things that software can’t. And that data can help you connect with customers in very interesting ways. For example, you may want to automate an email/text message to the caller when s/he hangs up – imagine the impact of the caller’s phone pinging with your thank-you message seconds after hanging up. Or, you may want to compare the time spent on the phone with the time spent writing up notes, by specific agents. You can do that kind of thing by getting what’s called CDR (Call Data Record) from your phone system into your app.

CDR data

CDR data is very detailed information about every call that goes through your phone system, maintained by the PBX. At the end of the call, your PBX can be set up deliver that detail to your app, including an ID that uniquely identifies each specific call. Some phone systems will deliver an initial record when the call comes in and then deliver more detail about the same call as the call progresses and when the call ends; some systems will deliver just one record, after the caller hangs up; some systems will deliver multiple records, one for each “forwarding” that may happen within the phone system In any of those cases, you need a way to tie the CDR to the caller, usually based on the phone number, and roll that into your app for reporting.

Call control on screen

Another thing you should consider very seriously is to put call-control buttons on screen, for your agents. That way, s/he can answer, forward, hold, mute or hang up the call just by clicking buttons within your app. To do this, though, your phone system needs to provide APIs with the relevant functionality. IP-PBX systems have this kind of capability by default; if you’re using a phone-based PBX, you will need additional hardware. As a productivity-enhancer, this is significant, so you may want to check that price very seriously.

Other PBX possibilities

There are a number of other things you can bring into your app, if your PBX cooperates. For example, if a call drops in the midst of a conversation, you may want the caller to be called back at the click of a button. For another, you may want the PBX to submit missed-calls and off-business-hours calls to your app, so that designated callers can call them back during business hours. In a web-based Lead Gen program, you may want the phone system to call a visitor the moment s/he keys in her phone number on your website. The possibilities are endless!

Get Outbound

OK, so you have the inbound model all trucking along great. Now, how about improving call center effectiveness in an outbound – or even  “blended” – mode? In most phone systems, an outbound is actually two calls – one to the number you called, from the PBX and one to the calling agent, again from the PBX. This gives you a variety of options to use.

Click-to-Call

A simple button or icon next to every phone number, so the agent can just click on it to make the call, is a real improvement that agents will appreciate. Yes, s/he could cut-and-paste, but why do that when you can save a few minutes – and mis-dial frustrations – when you can enable a click-to-call? Phone-based PBXs are a but of a challenge (you’ll have to talk to the vendor about an add-on for this), but IP-PBXs routinely give you a simple URL that you can stitch into your app, to make this happen. And it’d really cool if you can show an icon next to every phone number, telling the agent if the number is in the Do-Not-Call registry (we’ve doing that in Impel for Indian numbers for years now).

Progressive Dialer

Having saved people minutes for every call, you can now go further in your outbound contact program, getting the phone system to make the call automatically. So you can load up a long list of numbers into the PBX (into something typically called a “hopper”) and the PBX will just go out and make those calls. The neat thing here is, an agent will be brought into such a call only if it starts ringing, so wrong numbers, phones being off, etc. will never even show up in an agent’s radar. Call centers report improvements of 20% to 35% in terms of the number of people contacted daily, so its definitely something to consider. You’ll need to figure out one big thing, though: when the phone is ringing, will the AGENT wait or will the CUSTOMER? The thing is, when the PBX dials out a number, it could either connect an agent immediately as it starts ringing (so the agent waits for the customer to pick up the call) OR it connects the agent after the customer picks up the call. I guess that decision depends on whether you’re making Sales calls (agent waits, obviously) or Support (customer waits, unfortunately) calls! :)

You will also need to figure out how many calls an agent can handle, how much time you want to give him/her between calls and so on – all good things to think about.

Sync Marketing Program data

To really tie it all together, you should consider getting your app to manage the list of people to be called. You can just push that list down to the PBX periodically, so it goes off on its merry way with just the phone numbers, while your app has all the details about customer demographics, calls made, etc. Done well, this throws up a number of interesting possibilities. For example, let’s say you want someone to make a welcome call to every customer within 24 hours after they sign up and  you want to make a follow-up call every 30 days. You could create lists on the PBX side for each of these steps and just update that list every time someone signs up. So the PBX will dial out every new customer when s/he needs to be called, without agents needing to track the details. And the pop-up would show the agent what kind of call this is, so s/he can say the right things!

So there’s a fairly long list of things to think about, when you’re looking to make agents focus on customers instead of calls. And (here comes the plug): we’ve done most of this already in Impel.

Let us know if there are other issues out there that need to be solved!