Tuesday May 19, 2015

Oracle Takeaways from Forrester Webcast: Customer Service Trends for 2015 by Christine Randle

It is hard to believe that it has been a decade since social disrupted standard operating procedures for companies. Brands had enjoyed a healthy measure of control before social media-enabled customers around the globe were able to connect and share information. Before, companies controlled not only the information that customers and prospects received, but how and when they received it—effectively spoon-feeding corporate messages to the world.

The advent of social changed this dynamic forever and ushered in The Age of the Customer.

Today, customers control the conversations they have with businesses, and brands have scrambled to adapt. Companies must become customer-obsessed and deliver experiences that meet customer expectations to succeed.

Why? Because loyal customers are less likely to churn, and they are also more likely to recommend your brand and spend more money with your company. When customers spend more money, it directly impacts and increases revenue. For this reason, it is essential to keep your customers satisfied and loyal to your brand. Besides, customer service should be a core element of your CX strategy.

Still, this is hard stuff. So it helps to get some perspective. A May 2015 webinar hosted by Forrester and featuring Forrester Research’s Kate Leggett, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, helps to make sense of customer service in 2015. Take a look at the below takeaways that we pulled from the webcast, and let us know what trends you see in your organization.

Customers increasingly rely on self-service. According to the April 2015 Forrester Research report, “Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die,” more customers (76%) used web self-service than the phone (73%) for customer service. Why? Because it is an easy way to get answers. Today, the phone is increasingly used for escalation, or when a customer cannot find the answer to a question. Generally, these are the most difficult inquiries and have longer handle times. But, this offers a great opportunity for companies to use the phone channel to support and deepen customer relationships. It is important to note that channel usage changes year-over-year. As such, you should survey your customers to find out what channels they prefer for customer service interactions and deploy those channels accordingly.

Adopt a mobile-first mindset.
Think about your own mobile device usage and you’ll see why customers increasingly look to contact brands via this channel. But, more than that, customers want to be able to start a conversation on mobile and then switch over to a laptop or desktop seamlessly—without needing to rehash the issue with an agent. In 2015, customers will continue to demand effortless interactions of this type over both web and mobile channels.

Explore proactive engagement.
We are all customers, right? And, as customers, we know what we want, when, where, and how we want it. To effectively leverage this fact, businesses will begin to experiment with proactive engagement. This refers to proactive chat, promotions, or content served up to customers at the appropriate time to help answer questions, easing the transition from the research phase to purchase.

Leverage connected devices for preemptive service.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken off in a big way, and with it comes the prospect of preemptive service. From Wi-Fi connected self-learning thermostats to smart, self-propelled vacuum cleaners IoT has the potential to reshape customer service. IoT offers businesses the opportunity to deliver preemptive service that our parents could never have imagined: Proactive communication of product information back to the company to diagnose preemptively and fix issues without customer intervention!

Analytics will power offers, decisions, and connections.
There is no “one size fits all” service. Instead, use analytics to deliver deeply personalized customer service by understanding and leveraging data from past interactions, services, and purchases. Additionally, interactions must be tailored to the channel of choice. For example, the tone of an email interaction will likely vary from that of a social or chat interaction. These nuances are important in order to optimize service quality, predict next steps, ensure satisfaction, and produce loyalty, which correlates to increased revenue.

Journey analytics will improve end-to-end service.
What does your typical customer journey look like? It is likely to cross multiple communication channels: social, web, email, and phone. Often, these touch points are managed by different functional organizations within a company. It is tricky, but ultimately customers do not care about your internal org structure. What they care about is the ability to cross channels seamlessly to get support without needing to repeat themselves at each point in the journey (we all know how frustrating that can be). But, organizational silos make it difficult to deliver consistent service experiences. Not only that, but few companies have a measure in place that encompasses all channels. Forrester expects that organizations will move to broader, more comprehensive customer service measurement programs, which span all communication channels, to help businesses understand the costs and pain points in the customer journey.

Focus on improving the agent experience.
It is staggering the amount of applications that contact center agents use on a daily basis to answer customer questions. Organizations will look to push proactive information to agents, to minimize effort, and to help streamline service delivery. If companies can improve the agent experience, by helping to guide them through resolution paths, then agents will have more confidence to help customers and to deliver truly personalized experiences.

Adopt SaaS for agility.
A March 2015 Forrester Research report, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, found that 32% of companies have already replaced or plan to replace, most or all on-premise solutions with SaaS alternatives within 2 years. Why? Because moving applications to the Cloud pushes the burden of software and hardware maintenance back onto the vendor. This allows companies to be agile and focus on innovating with new features, ultimately creating differentiated, rewarding customer experiences.

Read how Sony uses its online digital experience to proactively engage customers.

Thursday Apr 03, 2014

Part 2 of 6: The Art Of Easy: What Happens When Easy Goes Wrong? by David Fulton

Easy doesn't begin with Customer Service.  It begins with customer expectation. They expected easy, but it is not! They haven’t given up though because they bought your promise of easy. And now is your chance to redeem yourself by making it easy again.

Your business is relying on you. That’s a lot of pressure! So, where to start? Well, a good place to start is to recognize the relationship between what is considered ‘easy’ and the time each party is willing to invest in getting to resolution.

Valuing your customer’s time can be more valuable (to your business) than your own time, in terms of relationships, reputation, performance, acquisition and profits. Forrester Research has recognized – that valuing a customer’s time is the single most important contribution you can make to delivering a great customer experience.1

That rule applies across all touch points of course, not just Customer Self-Service

So how do we value customer’s time by making it easy with a Customer Self Service approach? One of the most common and simple approaches is to throw up a bunch of FAQs on a web page. This may be easy for your business, but in today’s complex world, it can be far from easy for your customers, particularly if those FAQs are difficult to find, awkward to read, and void of any personal relevance that makes them actionable.

What started off as a way to reduce costs by enabling your customers to self-serve answers can quickly end up costing you more. Why? Because a frustrated customer is harder to serve, solve, and soothe. When it goes wrong, it’s your job to make it easy again and get it right.

The Art of Easy is making a complex resolution process both simple for a consumer to navigate and easy for you to deliver. However, location, device, need, communication skills, online profile, preferred channels, customer value, etc., all make a 'one size fits all' approach pretty difficult to pull off. 

Satisfying both sides of the Art is Easy coin, i.e. scaling your business objectives efficiently and effectively while serving your customer’s needs, is the modern Web Self-Service Dilemma, and most businesses today are failing in the execution.  

We believe that there are five key tenets to The Art of Easy within Customer Self-Service in order to be a Modern Customer Service business:

  1. Make connecting simple – Provide choice of channel
  2. Tailor the experience - Build for device of choice
  3. Segment appropriately – Know who you are serving
  4. Understand early – Know if the customer CAN self-serve to resolve
  5. Be proactive – Engage at the right time to avoid frustration

Square peg, round channel: To address those tenets, you need a solution that provides multiple choices for customers to help themselves and get the assistance they need along the way. Having only one-way is the fast path to the exit for many, as one size doesn't fit all.

Available in any color, as long as it is black: When you can’t connect on the device of choice, you make it hard to connect. If you want to avoid frustrating costs and higher abandonment rates, you must have a solution that can be tailored to the experience of your customer’s device. You may find forgiveness if you at least look like you made an effort to provide some mobile device support, for example!

A Segment of One: While a customer may be able get around having only one device and one channel supported, only supporting one “customer” type (not anonymous) is an unmovable roadblock to the experience they need. Chances are that your business (Marketing) already has an effective simple segmentation model that isn't being leveraged in Customer Service. Once you find it, you can use a solution that builds explorative pathways to the fastest resolution based on your different customer types.

Let’s Start Again from the Top: At the height of frustration from any Customer Service Interaction is the need to repeat information, and then to have what you repeated, ignored! And don't expect the customer to tell you what you never took the time to ask in the first place. Avoid frustration by having solutions that guide customers to help you understand how best to help them and that are capable of course-correcting to the right channel.

Don’t make me angry!: Either you are bugging your customer with constant pop-up invitations to chat, or you are sitting in a back room, waiting for them to have a total melt down before you assist. Where is the balance? Every good Customer Service rep knows when to wait, when to watch and when to engage at the right time. Your online customer service technology needs to have this same well-honed arsenal of proactive intuition. Change the “CHAT NOW” to “Are you trying to xxx? I can help you with that!”

What happens when EASY goes wrong? What should happen is that you make it easy again, restoring the faith of your customers and re-establishing trust in your promise. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web Customer Service initiatives and become a Modern Customer Service organization.

For more information, please visit our website.

1Understand Communication Channel Needs To Craft Your Customer Service Strategy, Kate Leggett, Forrester Research Inc, March 11, 2013


Tuesday Nov 05, 2013

7 Reasons for Abandonment in eCommerce and the need for Contextual Support by David Fulton

Shopper confidence, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the bane of the online retailer. There are a number of questions that influence whether a shopper completes a transaction, and all of those attributes revolve around knowledge. What products are available? What products are on offer? What would be the cost of the transaction? What are my options for delivery? In general, most online businesses do a good job of answering basic questions around the products as the shopper engages in the online journey, navigating the product catalog and working through the checkout process. The needs that are harder to address for the shopper are those that are less concerned with product specifics and more concerned with deciding whether the transaction met their needs and delivered value.

A recent study by the Baymard Institute [1] finds that more than 60% of ecommerce site visitors will abandon their shopping cart. The study also identifies seven reasons for abandonment out of the commerce process [2]. Most of those reasons come down to poor usability within the commerce experience.

  1. Distractions. External distractions within the shopper’s external environment (TV, Children, Pets, etc.) or distractions on the eCommerce page can drive shopper abandonment. Ideally, the selection and check-out process should be straightforward. One common distraction is to drive the shopper away from the task at hand through pop-ups or re-directs. The shopper engaging with support information in the checkout process should not be directed away from the page to consume support. Though confidence may improve, the distraction also means abandonment may increase.
  2. Poor Usability. When the experience gets more complicated, buyer’s remorse can set in. While knowledge drives confidence, a lack of understanding erodes it. Therefore it is important that the commerce process is streamlined. In some cases, the number of clicks to complete a purchase is lengthy and unavoidable. In these situations, it is vital to ensure that the complexity of your experience can be explained with contextual support to avoid abandonment. If you can illustrate the solution to a complex action while the user is engaged in that action and address customer frustrations with your checkout process before they arise, you can decrease abandonment.
  3. Fraud. The perception of potential fraud can be enough to deter a buyer. Does your site look credible? Can shoppers trust your brand? Providing answers on the security of your experience and the levels of protection applied to profile information may play as big a role in ensuring the sale, as does the support you provide on the product offerings and purchasing process.
  4. Does it fit? If it is a clothing item or oversized furniture item, another common form of abandonment is for the shopper to question whether the item can be worn by the intended user. Providing information on the sizing applied to clothing, physical dimensions, and limitations on delivery/returns of oversized items will also assist the sale. A photo alone of the item will help, as it answers some of those questions, but won’t assuage all customer concerns about sizing and fit.
  5. Sometimes the customer doesn’t want to buy. Prospective buyers might be browsing through your catalog to kill time, or just might not have the money to purchase the item! You are unlikely to provide any information in contextual support to increase the likelihood to buy if the shopper already has no intentions of doing so. The customer will still likely abandon. Ensuring that any questions are proactively answered as they browse through your site can only increase their likelihood to return and buy at a future date.
  6. Can’t Buy. Errors or complexity at checkout can be another major cause of abandonment. Good contextual support is unlikely to help with severe errors caused by technical issues on your site, but it will have a big impact on customers struggling with complexity in the checkout process and needing a question answered prior to completing the sale. Embedded support within the checkout process to patiently explain how to complete a task will help increase conversion rates.
  7. Additional Costs. Tax, shipping and other costs or duties can dramatically increase the cost of the purchase and when unexpected, can increase abandonment, particularly if they can’t be adequately explained. Again, a lack of knowledge erodes confidence in the purchase, and cost concerns in particular, erode the perception of your brand’s trustworthiness. Again, providing information on what costs are additive and why they are being levied can decrease the likelihood that the customer will abandon out of the experience.

Knowledge drives confidence and confidence drives conversion. If you’d like to understand best practices in providing contextual customer support in eCommerce to provide your shoppers with confidence, download the Oracle Cloud Service and Oracle Commerce - Contextual Support in Commerce White Paper. This white paper discusses the process of adding customer support, including a suggested process for finding where knowledge has the most influence on your shoppers and practical step-by-step illustrations on how contextual self-service can be added to your online commerce experience.

Resources:

[1] http://baymard.com/checkout-usability

[2] http://baymard.com/blog/cart-abandonment

Tuesday Feb 05, 2013

Reach Out and Touch Your Customers With Proactive Service

You’ve heard the term ‘Proactive Service.’ You know it means reaching out to customers to give them a better experience. But you’re wondering, What’s the best way to do that? Because you want to reach out with service that is personal and relevant—so you can drive more sales and lower support costs. Customer Loyalty

Brands that stand out are those that get ahead of customer needs and use every interaction to grow their business. By engaging with consumers before they have issues, companies can increase customer satisfaction and operational efficiency, resulting in sustainable growth and profits.

Here are the top three ways to proactively reach out to customers:

  1. Invite customers to chat on your website
  2. Update customers with service alerts
  3. Send targeted campaigns and personalized emails

First, business rules enable you to automatically offer chat based on criteria like how many answers a customer has viewed on your website, or whether she is about to abandon her shopping cart. By engaging at the point of need, you can resolve customer issues quickly and boost sales.

Drugstore.com, a Walgreens Company, uses Oracle RightNow Cloud Service to proactively offer chat. By using chat to guide online shoppers, Drugstore’s beauty.com has achieved a 30% online conversion rate and increased shopping basket size by 20%.

Second, you can send customers relevant information—like service alerts, knowledge updates, or product enhancements—based on their profile preferences. This proactive outreach helps build loyalty while saving money on call deflection.

ResortCom International, a vacation industry leader, uses Oracle RightNow Cloud Service to proactively deliver relevant service and offers to customers through their preferred channels and times of day. Proactive communications have decreased its inbound calls by 20%, resulting in $200,000 savings. ResortCom also increased its business 10X with no increase in support headcount.

Third, you can use profile preferences to send customers targeted campaigns and personalized emails. Putting relevant content in front of consumers helps keep your brand top-of-mind, increasing sales opportunities and customer retention.

Shaklee, the number one natural nutrition company in the U.S., uses Oracle RightNow Cloud Service to create personalized campaigns and automatically send welcome letters and birthday emails to members. Personalized outreach has increased Shaklee’s campaign click-through rates and saved money on marketing headcount.

In summary, proactive service helps you drive more sales opportunities and lower support costs at the same time.

Learn more about Oracle RightNow Cloud Customer Service Solutions at www.oracle.com/rightnow

Wednesday Jan 30, 2013

Best Practices for Incorporating Live Chat into your Contact Center by Carol Volk and Tuula Fai

If you’re in Customer Service, chances are you’re heard the buzz about chat. Chat is the most popular service channel, chat usage has doubled in the past few years, and chat makes agents more productive because they can handle multiple chats at once versus one phone call. Sounds great but you think, If I start offering chat, won’t I be inundated with requests? My agents can barely keep up with our support inquiries as it is!

Put aside those fears by adopting chat best practices. Carol Volk, Oracle Senior Principal Product Manager, shows you how with four easy steps in her Next Generation Chat Webcast, which she co-presented with International Customer Management Institute.

The four steps are:

  • Choose Your Metrics—Choose metrics that align with your business goals for Operational Efficiency, Customer Retention, and Customer Acquisition. Keep your goals balanced as an Efficiency goal like reducing Average Handle Time (AHT) may work against a Retention goal like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).
  • Plan Placement—Place Proactive Chat and Click-to-Chat on pages that align with your business goals. For example, you can place chat on your support homepage for Operational Efficiency, on your page headers and footers for Customer Retention, and on your product pages for Customer Acquisition.
  • Customize the Solution—Create a Chat interface that appeals to the customer, reinforces trust in your brand, and feels like a natural extension of your website. Within your contact center, integrate customer history onto a simplified agent desktop so your support team has just the information it needs to resolve issues through chat. 
  • Control Volume—Manage your chat volume by controlling the number of Proactive Chats you offer based on pre-defined business rules, and the number of Click-to-Chat links you provide on your website. You also can manage volume by building in throttles based on agent availability and queue wait time thresholds. Some companies simply start by offering chat for only a few hours a day and then slowly ramp up as their agents become more comfortable.

For more Chat best practices, please listen to the full Webcast or visit Oracle’s Chat Cloud Service Webpage. 

For further information, you can contact us at 1.866.630.7669, or come to an Oracle CloudWorld event near you. Registration is free.

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