The Truth About Your Customer Service

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All successful businesses have one thing in common. They ‘get’ their customers. Not only do they make sure the product/service is meeting their needs, they make sure that their relationship with them is unshakeable by providing the best possible customer service. So, what does that look like?

Well, here’s what it’s not. It’s not keeping your customers waiting for information, it’s not being passed around multiple people, it’s not missing deadlines and only explaining after the event, it’s not when the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, it’s not blaming other departments when things go wrong, it’s not incentivising new customers and taking the existing customers for granted, It’s not providing information only when it suits you.

Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Yet UK firms that aren’t getting customer service right are losing £234 billion a year.  So what gives? Why is it proving so hard?

First of all, the service you think your customers are experiencing and the reality can be two different things and it won’t be because you’re not trying. One of the first things we do with our own clients is look at their existing processes. Yes, we’re IT driven but every piece of software and every application have the potential to enable or disable your team’s best intentions.  So we ask questions like:

  • How do your processes look?
  • Are teams able to communicate effectively with one another?
  • How easy is it to access and share information between departments?
  • How quickly and effectively can a client’s query be answered?
  • How easily can you spot a pattern in complaints or in product issues before they happen?
  • How do your customers want to interact with you?
  • What are your customer satisfaction rates?
  • What areas do your customers need you to work on?
  • Every process you have should be removing the barriers that prevent all of these happening.

How would you answer all of these? At the end of this month, we’re holding a webinar to look into exactly how Dynamics365 removes the barriers to gold standard customer service.  Not that long ago, CRM was a means to collect and store data, identify your best customers and prospects, send customer communications and to look at buying patterns.  Dynamics 365 has responded to the new age of customer expectations and has changed the customer service rules significantly.

Find out more information by watching on our Dynamics 365 for Customer Services webinar.

Why CIO-CMO Alignment Is The Key To Contented Customers

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Discover how breaking down Marketing and IT silos can lead to high levels of customer satisfaction and improved data-driven Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Today’s marketing is data-driven. Marketing and IT therefore need to remove any departmental silos that exist between them and put aside any arguments about who owns what. Their joint endeavour now has to be about delivering on the data-driven marketing, IT and business goals of their organisations.

Data-driven marketing campaigns become more successful when CIOs, CMOs and their associated departments collaboratively work well together. Data is the fuel of any organisation – large and small – as it can inform a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and its users about customer preferences. The insight gained from it enables Sales and Customer Service Representatives to up-sell, cross sell or simply to help customers to solve their queries.

In other words if you put fuel into a car you can drive forward. Both engine and fuel need to work together in order to go anywhere. This principle applies whenever a company wants to use data to increase customer satisfaction levels, or if it wants to sell more products and services to either existing or new customers. Conversely if CMOs and CIOs (the engine) aren’t present the business (the car) just won’t move forward.

Nicole Laskowski, Senior News Writer for Techtarget’s Search CIO writes in her article, ‘Strong CIO/CMO alliance paves the way for [a] data-driven marketing strategy’: “IT and Marketing executives illuminate the need for building a strong CIO/CMO alliance…” Her article supports the view that CIOs and CMOs need to connect more than they have done in the past, and it offers some suggestions about how collaboration can work effectively.

In essence, collaboration is about winning in today’s digital and increasingly mobile age. It has changed the role of the CIO, for example. The role of CIOs today has become more strategic, and they can help organisations to increase their sales by developing new mobile applications, for example, that deliver a new opportunity to capture and analyse customers’ buying and browsing habits. Mobile applications can be designed by CIOs team with the help of captured marketing data in order to develop new revenue streams and to improve customer experience.

The bridge between the CIO and CMO divide then has to kick in because mobile applications, for example, won’t always sell themselves. Marketing has to promote them to raise customer awareness of the issues they can solve or about the new services they offer. By doing so it will drive customers down the right sales funnel. Marketing and IT are still integral to the completion of this customer journey because CMOs need to work with CIOs to either develop new products and services, or to develop improvements to existing ones by using customer insight from their organisation’s CRM system’s data.

In summary effective data-driven marketing and CRM is about mapping the customer journey through the sales funnel, and CMOs need to work with their CIOs counterparts to ensure that the CRM system and other related solutions are designed in such a way that encourages the breaking down of departmental silos, while allowing each other to share data and customer or even technical insights. As a result of achieving this goal your organisation will improve its customer satisfaction levels leading to an increased ROI per customer and sales volumes.

Remember now is time for collaboration not disconnection.

Takeaways

  • Identify CMOs as chief experience officers (CXOs).
  • Accept IT as a strategic partner with Marketing, not just as a platform provider.
  • Agree on key business levers for Marketing and IT alignment, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security.
  • Change the skills mix to ensure that both functions are more marketing and tech-savvy.
  • Develop trust through collaboration.

Find out how you can take advantage of the benefits of improved CIO and CMO collaboration to drive your data-driven marketing campaigns and sales: Download our eGuide ‘The Ultimate Guide to: Creating customer centricity with CRM’

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Why Customer Satisfaction Should Be Your New Metric

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Discover how an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can enable your business to measure customer satisfaction in order to boost sales and increase customer loyalty.

Customer satisfaction has become an increasingly important metric. Happy customers are more loyal and therefore more likely to invest more in your products or services. Whereas dissatisfied customers can cause brand damage, customer churn and lose you opportunities to earn more revenue. Furthermore, Gallup Organization has long recognised the correlation between happy employees and contented customers. Whatever your Sales staff do, or how your Customer Service Agents and other customer-facing staff react whenever they are dealing with customer queries or engaging with prospects will have an impact on your business.

That’s why it’s important to put in place the right organisational culture, people, processes, and metrics; as well as the most appropriate means of analysing customer data with the help of an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Customer Satisfaction’ by Gregori Ciotti, adds that customer satisfaction can also help organisations to improve how they support their customers as well as informing their product and service development.

“A satisfied customer is one who will continue to buy from you, seldom shop around, refer other customers and in general be a superstar advocate for your business”, Ciotti states. The problem is that it’s hard to measure customer satisfaction. He rightly asks: “What should be measuring?” Indeed, what are the key performance indicators that can help you to define whether one customer is satisfied while another one needs more support?

 

Fundamental measurements

Ciotti recommends author Prof. Scott Smith’s methodology, which considers the fundamental measurements of:

  • Perceived quality: This looks at whether customers felt that product or service fulfilled their needs, wants and desires in a way that met their expectations.
  • Customer loyalty: Customer loyalty can be measured using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Net Promoter Value (NPV). An unsatisfied customer is unlikely to make referrals, and so it’s reasonably accurate (but, for example, customer loyalty can’t simply be based on how long a customer has remained with a particular bank. Sometimes customers just prefer the devil they know, and so more qualitative research is often required to support quantitative metrics such as NPS, NPV, the number of years a customer has been ‘loyal’, ROI, etc.).
  • Attributional satisfaction: What feature did the customer like about a product or service? Conversely customers can be asked what they didn’t like, and about what could be improved to increase their levels of satisfaction. Satisfaction can lead to attitudinal loyalty, but while customers may be positive about your products and features, they may not necessarily translate to future sales. Effective use of CRM will take develop their attitudinal loyalty to behavioral loyalty, leading customers to a desired action, thus increasing your sales.
  • A customer’s intention to make new and ongoing purchases: A happy customer will in most cases tend to return to buy products from you time and time again, and yet there are exceptions to this rule. Customers will, to a certain extent, forgive organisations for a few minor misdemeanours and so they may continue to purchase from them. While some may not have an option to buy the same kind of product or service from elsewhere. Yet in both cases your goal should be to fulfil their needs and meet their expectations.

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can train their customer-facing staff to ask short and simple questions each time they interact with customers and then record and collate this kind of data in their CRM system. CMOs can then use data insight tools to form a single view of each customer. This analysis can then be used to inform Customer Service Agents and Sales about what interests each customer, their purchase history, any issues that have arisen and so on.

The CRM system’s data analysis would most probably also use some or all of the above metrics to form a complete picture of the value of each customer to the organisation. It enables CMOs to segment each customer according to buying habits, needs, demographics, value to the business, and other insightful variables in order to improve customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability. To achieve this, use CRM to know your customer.

Learn more about using CRM systems to make customer satisfaction the soul of your business by downloading our free eGuide: ‘The Ultimate Guide to: Creating customer centricity with CRM’

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Creating-customer-centricity-with-CRM

The Top 5 Best Complaints from a Sales Team

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Nobody likes hearing sales complaints but handled well, they’re a great indicator of how your team’s performing – and how you could improve it.

Let’s face it, sales people don’t have the easiest of jobs. How many times have you had to deal with sales complaints about cold leads and phone numbers that don’t provide any results?

This blog lists some of the big sales complaints from salespeople. While some complaints may seem insignificant, there is a serious side: happy salespeople are productive salespeople. Remember: complaints are your friend. A complaint from your sales team is a trouble ticket that shows you where your process needs tweaking.

#1: “But my phone day’s Tuesday!”

Having a weekly plan of activity can be a good thing: leads prospecting on Monday, phoning on Tuesday, appointments on Wednesday and so on. But what if your prospects don’t follow the same schedule? What if they’re always in on Monday but Tuesday is used for travel?

If your team members work in patterns, is there any way you could work with their preferences? For a large enough database, yes. Many CRM applications can slice analytical data.

Suppose you discovered that the engineering sector tends to answer its phones on Fridays, while IT workers prefer Wednesdays? Armed with such insight, assigning leads becomes an exercise in increasing productivity and satisfying both staff and customers.

#2: “I’ve already made my targets this month.”

Studies show a marked slowdown in activity, per head, once targets are hit. If a big sale on the 15th takes Fred over his goals, he’ll tend to slacken off for the rest of the month.

Very often, this is tied to commission structures. Some sales departments limit the total commission pot, or reduce the percentage above a certain sales volume. Neither of these are exactly an incentive for your salesperson working the phones, although it limits your risk on paper.

There’s the clue: on paper. What else looks good on paper? A good CRM consultant can set up your purchase funnels and conversion probabilities to show you where increasing commission rates might be a good idea. For example, a 3% commission for the first £50,000 in sales each month might be worth upping to 5% after that level is reached, if it’d deliver an extra £35,000 in turnover.

#3: “But I’ve already sent him an email!”

As time goes on, you’ve probably heard sales complaints about how Generation Y (let alone Z) is harder to reach by phone. (In the mobile world, usage of voice minutes is actually going down.) Many salespeople think an email is just as good.

Today’s sales are made via a variety of contact touchpoints, building trust in bits and pieces over time. Here’s the thing: Customer Relationship Management applications that connect different channels (like phone, email and SMS) can show you which sequences work best.

So take your salespeople aside and show them the sequence of contacts that tends to produce results most often. Perhaps the first touch is indeed an email, but in 70% of successful sales, they received a phone call within 24 hours. Your salespeople may even have kept a cold lead warm by sending them a text message every two weeks.

#4: “That list’s been done to death.”

When your list has been contacted over and over again, it becomes a common sales complaint that there’s no life left in it. But studies demonstrate that an “old” but well-targeted list pulls far better than a fresh but untested one.

If a lead has stalled, it may be your customer journey that’s missing a few stages. Your CRM dashboard may be able to show you where the pinch-points are – and what actions (perhaps a new script, a side offer) can get the funnel moving again. Getting together with your marketing team may generate some ideas.

#5: “If I make those calls, I’ll have to put them on CRM.”

Last comes the real buzzkill – and it’s valid. If your CRM system makes it hard to add names or contact reports, wouldn’t you be tempted to “store up” notes to add later instead of keeping records updated in real-time?

This one plays hell with your weekly reports. So look at how people really use CRM, and redesign your dashboard and processes to make it easier for them. (Difficulty of use is a prime reason many CRM implementations fail.)

So for an antidote to all the complaints, remember: CRM serves your people, not the other way around.

Takeaways:

Counteract your sales team’s complaints with these important points:

  • If your salespeople have patterns, see if there’s advantage in working with them.
  • Offer incentive schemes to make things better for everyone.
  • Show your salespeople the sequence that leads to a sale, not just the script.
  • Sales people respond to hard data. To change behaviour, always back up with evidence.
  • Updating CRM should be seen as a core part of sales success.

Discover how to keep your sales team happy by increasing the potential for profits. Download The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

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5 High-ROI Marketing Tools That Rescue the Customer Journey

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Only 2% of customers buy on their first visit – these marketing tools will get them to complete the customer journey.

Let’s be honest. It’s very rare that you visit a website and want to buy something straight away. A customer journey just doesn’t happen that quickly.

Most of us simply want to browse. Only 2% of people who visit an online shop make a purchase on their first visit. That’s even lower for considered, high value purchases or B2B services.

The problem that we face as marketers is losing these visitors, and having dead customer journeys. Our challenge is to get details from our website visitors, so that we can retarget them, nurture them and make those sales. Thankfully there are a few tools that we can use to bridge that gap so we can reach our targets.

1. Email collection pop-up

Business and internet marketing blogger Matthew Woodward found that his conversion rate of collecting emails increased 44% with these types of pop-ups. Padiact is a particularly useful tool as it feeds into all the major ESPs. It means you can capture details to target potential customers with a nurture campaign and your newsletters, encouraging their customer journey to last longer.

2. Live chat (excellent in high value sales)

The thing with high-value, complex sales is that customers often have several pain-points and lots of questions. If you offer a chance for people to ask questions, and get them answered almost instantly, you can win their loyalty and details. Live chat is perfect for picking up customers directly from your site, who may have disappeared forever because that page didn’t answer their questions. Live chat solutions can help you to retain your customers and help them along their customer journey.

3. Cut downtime and slow-loading websites

Slow-loading websites cost online retailers £1.73 billion per year. 38% of UK shoppers said that they abandon websites or apps that take more than 10 seconds to load. That’s even higher on mobile devices where 74% of customers said they abandon sites that take more than five seconds to load.

To stop needlessly losing customers, it’s important to ensure your website is always spic, span and speedy! MonitorHub notifies admins if the site becomes slow. This means that your technicians can fix any slow-hosting problems and cut website abandonment. You can also change your website’s design to speed up loading.

4. Exit-intent offers

Many customers abandon purchases before leaving a site. If you can capture their details, and make them a special offer before they leave – then you have a better chance of them becoming a customer. That’s the aim of Picreel, a tool that monitors mouse movements to look for signs that a visitor is about to close a window. Then when a customer is about to leave, they suddenly have the option to leave their email address and get a discount. This is perfect for e-commerce sites.

5. Remarketing

Some find it creepy, some find it powerful, But there’s no denying that retargeted ads are effective. Retargeting boosts ad response rates by 400% and improved conversion rates for Kimberly-Clark by over 50%.

For e-commerce companies, Adroll is one of the leaders in the space. For B2B businesses, Resonance lets you retarget customers with a content funnel.
You’re always going to lose some website visitors along the way. But if you can use these tools to engage them and extend their customer journey, you can reap the rewards.

Now you’ve got customers, you need to  make the most of those relationships! Download your free eGuide: The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling to maximise your returns.

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How technology can improve customer service

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Using various digital technologies in your business is a great way to build relationships with customers.

Of course, the internet is perhaps the most popular form of technological engagement. It’s quick, globally accessible and can convey information in an instant. But customers may soon become tired of the same techniques and using the same methods as other competitors isn’t really an effective way of attracting a new customer base.

It’s important to incorporate new methods to enhance customer service, so that you appeal to a wider audience while still retaining your existing customers and brand loyalty.

Investing in other technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or contact centre system software, can deliver a hassle-free experience across a multitude of channels directly to your customer.

Customer service and CRM

CRM is a strategy employed by businesses to manage all interactions made with existing and prospective customers. This includes being able to keep a record of important factors such as: pending invoices, the customer’s transaction history, the status of their orders, all of their previous transactions with you, and even the opportunity to see their social media interactions with and about you.

According to Bob Thompson, chief executive at Customer Think: “Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price – but as a differentiator.

“If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage.

“But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier, sustainable relationship over the long haul.”

The benefits of CRM for customer service

Investing in CRM strategies not only helps to build an established relationship between business and customer, but it can bring a great number of benefits to your business directly. For instance, CRM:

  • Improves products and services.
  • Increases revenue and referrals from current customers.
  • Enables you to secure more deals.
  • Optimises your overall performance.

Using CRM will lead to happier customers, which in turn will encourage them to spend more on products and services. By maintaining a solid relationship with customers, they will be more inclined to revisit. In a satisfaction survey conducted by Customer Thermometer, it was found that repeat customers spend 33 per cent more than new ones.

Other ways of improving customer service

Although CRM is one of the most useful technological advances for customer service, there are other factors that should be considered in order to improve this further.

One way of doing so is by responding to customers quickly. As well as making your contact details clearly visible on each page of your website, using a company social media account – such as Facebook and Twitter – could also be efficient. Customers contacting you on the go may turn to social media as a main form of contact rather than searching through numerous pages online to find your contact details.

Not only do social media accounts enable quicker responses, but they enhance the online presence of a business, meaning customers will be able to access a service through a number of different mediums.

Of course, customers are the main priority for most companies, but it is important to not lose sight of the significance of employees. Make sure they have been given the essential training and basic knowledge about how to handle customer queries effectively.

If you’re planning to invest in CRM, the conditions need to be right for it to succeed. Read our white paper to learn how to optimise your system.
Customer engagement white paper

Customer service ‘really counts in banking sector’

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Banks that provide current accounts have been urged to ensure customers get the standard of service they demand and expect.

According to research by MoneySavingExpert.com, First Direct is once again the best performing company in the sector when it comes to offering top quality customer service.

Indeed, the survey found that 92 per cent of people who have accounts with the institution believe it offers “great” service, which means it retains its position at the top of the list for another year.

This put it well ahead of the likes of Santander, TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC.

Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, observed: “With current accounts, customer service really counts.

“Whether you bank online or in-brand, this is the one financial product you do genuinely have a real day-to-day interaction with.”

Mr Anker noted that some organisations are managing to provide good customer service alongside innovative accounts.

Santander, for instance, was praised for managing to move from the foot of the table two years ago to a higher position this time around.

However, he said many of the traditional giant high street banks performed poorly in the survey, with more than half of account holders with the country’s four biggest institutions saying the service they get is either okay or poor.

“That should be seen as a stark warning that the big banks risk losing customers if they don’t raise their game,” Mr Anker commented.

Investing in customer service and engagement could be critically important for the major institutions because the process of switching accounts is much simpler than it used to be.

In fact, Mr Anker said the process is now “easier than ever”, with all direct debits and standing orders able to be moved within seven working days.

As a result, being complacent about the issue of customer service at a time when the banking sector is becoming increasingly competitive could be counterproductive for institutions that want to be seen in a more positive light.

Click here to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.
Customer engagement white paper

Consumer trust a valuable commodity

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Winning the trust of consumers could be a hugely valuable way for brands to make inroads in their respective industries.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, only 12 per cent of consumers consider service providers their most trusted source of information.

By contrast, nearly two-thirds value the opinions of friends, relatives and fellow consumers, with lots of people reading reviews written by other members of the public, Travolution reports.

"Many consumers turn to independent sources to access information," Mr Turner observed.

"This presents a real risk for businesses as they have less control over the information being circulated and used by consumers to make decisions."

He suggested this may be partly down to the recent financial crisis, as this led to people developing "recessionary behaviours, such as being more selective". Think about it this way: would you not want to make the most of your money if you suddenly had much less to spend?

Mr Turner said this means their expectations of brands have grown, while some have become increasingly sceptical about the ability of firms to deliver on what they promise.

"A gap is emerging between consumer expectations and businesses' ability to meet them," he remarked.

This means firms need to make customer engagement a priority, so they can build a loyal and trusting core consumer base.

If this effort is successful, many of these individuals might be willing to talk up a brand on online forums, review sites and social media platforms.

Otherwise, trusted sources of information might be dominated by positive reviews of rival firms and negative remarks from dissatisfied customers.

"Social media is often used as a tool to make a complaint and demonstrates how strong engagement and good service can lead to positive word of mouth," Mr Turner commented.

He pointed out that more than eight in ten people check ratings and read reviews of brands, while more than a third actively contribute to web-based forums and make comments on people's blogs.

Mr Turner added that around one in ten consumers can be classed as a "genuine content creator", which means they run their own blog or website.
 
Customer engagement white paper

Customer contact ‘can’t just be good some of the time’

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For most business service providers, establishing a strong relationship with customers is their main priority.

But with thousands of companies all striving for the same goal, competing in an 'omni-channel world' is perhaps the largest obstacle to overcome. However, once this is accomplished, it stands as an important measure in enhancing brand loyalty and the retention of customers, the International Quality and Productivity Center reports.

It's true that an overall successful customer experience involves the service provider ensuring the demands of the end user are reached and that they are left feeling satisfied, but there are other contributing factors to consider.

Businesses need to think of ways in which they can exceed customer expectations, all the while making sure they have trained members of staff across every channel who will be able to do so.

Nicholas Turner, research director for the Customer Management Exchange Network, said: "Customer expectations have increased dramatically in a drastically short space of time, leaving many companies struggling to cope with growing consumer demands.

"Rapid advancements in technology and the growing use of social media have also come hurtling into our lives and have changed the way in which consumers access information, making them more powerful than ever before."

Companies with Facebook and Twitter accounts can communicate with customers and attend to their needs and queries much quicker than when composing an email. This could be particularly beneficial when reaching customers who are on the go and perhaps don't have access to their email accounts.

In a whitepaper titled Competing on the Customer Experience in an Omni-Channel World, Brian Cantor, vice chancellor at the University of Bradford, discusses five ways in which a business can achieve successful social media customer service. He advises companies to:

  • Create an online presence across all channels relevant to your target customer.
  • Make customer responses more personalised.
  • Reward loyal customers and brand advocates.
  • Urgently respond to all social inquiries – even if the customer appears unhappy or disgruntled.
  • Direct interactions to private or different channels when necessary.

Businesses need to start pushing customer contact boundaries and make positive improvements in order to achieve an outstanding level of customer service.

Customer engagement white paper