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November Newsletter – Social Media: Real Gold or Fools Gold, The LAKE Effect and more

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Volume 9, Issue 9 November 2012 ISSN 1718-8938
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Social Media for Customer Service: Gold or Fool’s Gold?

By: J.D. Fairweather
JD-FairweatherThere’s gold in them thar hills, or so you would be led to believe by the social media pushers who drive companies to open up their service and support departments to the social stream. While the popularity of this format cannot be denied, I would like to take a minute’s pause from the hype to review what I see are the cons of this medium. As you might not have the time to conduct thorough research, I managed to quickly list three watch-outs for your consideration:
More channels, more problems. Contact channels provide access convenience for customers and service redundancy and volume management for customer service groups. But adding a new channel comes at a cost of both human and intellectual capital. With every new contact channel added, your resource requirements begin to multiply exponentially – new software requires new engineers, new engineers require new hardware, etc. And once you add social media to the mix, its built-in requirements include 24/7 access and lower response times.
For some channels the added resources are worth it. Chat channels are cheaper in comparison to voice, and ticketing/email channels live up to low-response-time expectations. But for social media, there are no such benefits. Social app providers and tech media may talk about enhanced customer experience and about how their channel represents the future of all interaction, but nothing is proven. Actually, recent data shows the opposite: only a small number of people use social media, and an even fewer number of those who use social media use it to reach a customer service group. And even fewer still are those who care about its availability as the chart below from a study done by American Express on “consumers’ preferred service channel” illustrates. Read More

Contact Center Consultancy Announces ‘CX Snapshot’
Gaining insight into your connection with your customer.

November 27, 2012 – TORONTO- Colin Taylor the CEO of The Taylor Reach
Group, Inc. (TRG) and Bruce Lebowitz, Founder of Contextual Strategy Group
announce today the launch of Customer Experience Snapshot(CX
Snapshot) a customer experience and engagement service that measures contact
center interactions from the customers’ perspective.
CX Snapshot assesses the centers ability to connect with customers on an
Emotional and Rational level while also assessing the effort a Customer has to
expend to accomplish their task. “Existing measures such as internal quality
fail to view the interaction from the customers’ point of view. Top box CSAT
surveys and NPS lack the granularity to provide actionable direction to improve
the customer experience,” said Mr. Taylor. “CX Snapshot will change the ways
brands view their Customer Experience. CX Snapshot provides specific guidance
on where and how to improve your customer interactions. CX Snapshot when used
alone, or in combination with existing measures such as CSAT or NPS provides a
more comprehensive view of the customer experience.”
CX Snapshot can be deployed in less than ten days and provides an
actionable Customer Experience scorecard. Measuring 30 variables across three
dimensions, the CX Snapshot provides both quick-hit improvements and the
information to plot a long-term strategy. CX Snapshot can be used to:

a. Measure specific interactions across the customer lifecycle
b. Measure specific call center performance
c. Benchmark against competitive call centers

To find out more about CX Snapshot please contact Colin or Bruce
About The Taylor Reach Group, Inc.
The Toronto based Call and Contact Center consultancy was established in
2001 and today has offices in Toronto, New York, Atlanta and Sydney, Australia.
Taylor Reach has served numerous Fortune 1000 companies and today boasts more
than 14,000 agent positions globally and has received more than 30 awards for
operational excellence. Visit Taylor Reach on the web at www.thetaylorreachgroup.com

The LAKE approach to Measure Customer Experience

By: Colin Taylor
On Friday when our associate Bruce Lebowitz spoke on BlogTalk Radio on Branding Dialogues and one of the points he addressed was the LAKE approach to measuring the customer experience in the call center. LAKE stands for:
– Language, the language and vocabulary the agent employs,
– Attitude, the attitude demonstrated by the agent during the interaction,
– Knowledge, the knowledge employed and demonstrated by the agent during the interaction,
– Effort, the effort required by the customer to get to complete the interaction.
Employing the LAKE approach it is possible to assess the agents’ ability to connect with the caller and demonstrate the company’s commitment to serving the customer.
This approach ties into and links to the desired customer experience and should echo or mirror the brand expectations created by Marketing. The LAKE approach is well aligned with the Taylor Reach Customer Experience Snapshot (CX Snapshot) audit process. The CX Snapshot measures the emotional and rational connections between the agent and the caller and the effort the customer is required to expend in the process.
For more information on the LAKE approach or CX Snapshot please email Colin or give me a call at 416-979-8692 ext 200.

Upcoming Events
Colin Taylor is chairing the 4th Reinventing Customer Service Conference to be held February 4, 5 and 6, 2013 in Toronto, as in previous years this event is expected to be another great conference. Watch this space for more details.

Colin is also presenting “Does your Contact center Need a Strategy” Webinar, in conjunction with the Contact Center Association on February 19th
Session Description:
All businesses have a strategy, it is defined and documented. Building a business strategy involves making choices and setting priorities. Your business almost certainly has a strategy, you probably know what that strategy is, but does you contact center? Does you contact center require a strategy? The contact center is likely the most common and pervasive touch point that your customers will interact with.
Within the contact center creating a strategy can be challenging, you must support the broader business strategy while at the same time distilling its essence so that it can be tangible for the agents and for the customers. This is not small feat. Competing interests, objectives and motivations are common regardless of whether your strategy places customers or the employees at the center of the process.
In this session you will hear the 7 critical steps to you must take before you create your contact center strategy. You will also hear about the 3 most common mistakes that contact centers make in developing and deploying their contact center strategy.

Customer Experience is the New Marketing: Servicing Customers and Building Brand
In case you missed it Colin presented a webinar on November 15th titled- Customer Experience is the New Marketing: Servicing Customers and Building Brand. This was a well attended webinar.
In this webinar we covered:
CSR’s Delivering Branding and Service
How Contact Centers Should Work with
Marketing…and Vice Versa
New Techniques: Customer Mirrors
6 Tools for Branded Customer Experience
Insights from 3 F500 Examples

You can read more about the session or to view it

Queue Position or Estimated Time to Answer – Which is Better?

By: Colin Taylor
We recently asked this question and thought that it was worth sharing. Let me know whether you agree with the response and how you would handle this issue in your contact center.
Here is the question: “ What is your position on announcing what # ‘in line’ a customer is through the IVR? Or announcing current hold time?”
As background to your question -Customers want what we want and they want to be answered quickly. Now customer cannot tell the difference between 20 and 30 seconds on an ASA, but they can tell between 20 seconds and 5 minutes.
No the answer to the question is unfortunately it depends. It really does depend primarily on two variables,:

• Your SLA performance
• You AHT

If your Service level performance is consistent and callers receive approximately the same service performance regardless of the hour of the day or day of the week that they call then the announcement of place in queue (#) or estimated time to answer would both be quickly accepted by customers. This acceptance is driven by the relatively narrow variance in the queue position or time to answer due to the consistency of SLA achievement or performance. It would likely be perceived positively as it provides more information and keeps the customers informed.

If you have consistent SLA performance and short calls (AHT) than a time to answer is preferable as 4 minutes will sound shorter than “you are 5th in queue”. At the same time if the calls are longer, like tech support calls with an 8 -10 AHT then the position in queue (5th call) sounds shorter than 22 minutes.

If the SLA performance is not consistent and/or has radical swings then you may want to avoid either option altogether. Customers know they are calling a call center and while they do not expect an instant answer, they do have a perception in their mind as to how long they should have to wait. This perception is tied to the brand, brand persona, their history with the organization, the value and cost of the product or service, the effort (customer effort) that they need to expend to reach a live agent and their own mood.

If you have both options available to you, you may also have ‘hold in queue’ which is a feature that allows customers to be given the option of leaving a call back number and being called on that number when it is ‘their turn’. This service generally gets great reviews from customers because there is seldom specific urgency ( I have to call now an not in ten minutes) for a customer call, but once they have invested time into the process they get frustrated by the delay. By offering them the option to hang up and go about their business, without losing their place in queue in their minds eliminates that ‘hold’ or queue time altogether.
Let us know how you would answer this question.
Read more about call center operations

Does Offshore = Negative Customer Experience?

By Colin Taylor
Following the “Customer Experience is the New Marketing” webinar I did last week I received an interesting question…“Have you found that international 3rd party call centers automatically put you into a negative customer experience for US based customers?”
How would you have answered this question? We know that research has shown that off-shore call centers have lower quality scores, lower CSAT, NPS and lower FCR scores than domestic centers. Of course there better performers and worse ones, but on average the overall customer experience will be somewhat degraded or diluted if we accept the research findings cited. There are many causes for the erosion in the KPI’s, but one of the key ones is cultural alignment, regardless of the linguistic skills of the agent if they are unable to connect on the emotional and rational level with the customers, the overall experience will be compromised. Now if we throw in issues around language skills, accents, biases the customer may posses on top of a lack of cultural understanding and alignment and we can see where this erosion could occur.

All of that being said companies continue to outsource, both domestically, near-shore and off-shore. Many do this for economic reasons. Of course the ‘face value’ of the savings are often overstated. If, for example you FCR rate is 10% lower in your new off-shore location, you can expect to receive 10% more calls than were likely budgeted for. The relationship with the vendor doesn’t manage itself, you will need to devote staff to manage that relationship, travel to visit the center(s), train and plan for new initiatives etc. This vendor management cost is often overlooked or understated by companies looking to outsource. At some point the economic savings will intersect with the loss of value, customers and/or revenue. When that occurs many companies will quick look like they are ‘penny-wise’ and ‘pound-foolish’.

Let me know your thoughts on this question and how you would have answered it.

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