Tesla Announces Exciting New Customer Service Initiative

Imagine a customer buys a product and is truly unsatisfied with it — enough to pick up the phone and sound off to a customer service representative about the issue.

In most companies today, that’s about as far as the customer would get.

Customer service, in other words, typically ends in the contact center. A customer may, if he or she is lucky, get an opportunity to speak with a contact center manager or possibly a director when their attention is needed. But in a large enterprise, it’s pretty rare that a customer will get to communicate with a company executive directly with a concern or even a suggestion.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s typically done for a reason, which is to protect company executives from getting too caught in the weeds with daily customer service issues. There are simply too many other things to worry about while running a company. It’s a matter of time management and efficiency.

At Tesla, though, this traditional approach to customer service is changing. And it could have far-reaching customer service implications.

In a groundbreaking announcement, Tesla has revealed plans to allow customers to escalate issues all the way up to company executives. It won’t require much effort, either. Customers will simply have to log into their online accounts and click a button to complete the task.

If the decision is successful, it could help to reduce public-facing complaints. Tesla is banking on the fact that customers will first attempt to resolve their issues internally, rather than air out their complaints online.

That’s a big “if” though, as there are bound to be some challenges that pop up along the way. For instance, the company could run into a bandwidth issue as it is now in the process of trying to scale. To date, Tesla has shipped 250,000 vehicles and hopes to scale to 400,000 shipments over the next year. So it will be interesting to see whether Tesla will be able to keep up with this strategy as more cars are released and more issues arise. The hope is that customers will not abuse the system, but rather will treat it responsibly.

Regardless of how the decision pans out, Tesla should be applauded for this bold customer service initiative. The decision shows that Tesla is making customer service a top priority.  And it’s hard to imagine any customer complaining about the ability to take their ideas and suggestions to high-ranking company officials. It’s a decision that could be a powerful deal-breaker for certain customers who prefer high-touch treatment.

Business leaders should take this as an opportunity to assess their overall customer service strategies, and look for similar ways of using it to differentiate their services.

Every Industry Needs Great Customer Service

Every year, I eagerly anticipate the release of PJ Media and the Temkin Group’s annual report ranking customer service levels across twenty different industries. It’s certainly nice to celebrate the winners, but, as a problem solver, I’m more interested in looking at the other side of the coin to see what may be missing from their equations.

The three industries with that dubious honor this year were: TV/Internet ISPs, health plans and airlines. In each case, it helps to come back to a simple question: what do modern consumers expect when it comes to customer service? They want personalization, hasty resolution, the opportunity for a personalized experience and an opportunity to resolve their own inquiries autonomously.

TV and Internet providers have a unique opportunity to provide more seamless customer service, as viewers could potentially use their device as a touch point to get better customer support. Placing extra emphasis on this touch point can allow for a faster and more convenient experience for customers.

Take it from our nation’s leaders: figuring out healthcare is hard. So it should come as no surprise that consumers are dissatisfied with their health insurers too. Of course, it doesn’t help either that it’s usually bad news if you have to get your insurance company on the phone. To change their reputation, insurers might want to consider a more proactive, preemptive approach. Outbound messaging could help remind these individuals to take care of themselves to avoid injuries later, while telling them that they’re valued customers even when they aren’t in need of dire help.

If airlines aren’t going to add more leg room, they ought to start thinking of other ways improve their customer service levels. The key is identifying the greatest pain points for customers. The example that comes to mind is a cancelled flight that sends hundreds of individuals scrambling to speak with customer service representatives. Airlines need to have efficient contact centers in place to efficiently handle large volumes of incoming callers.

What to Do if Your Contact Center Has a Turnover Problem

Consistency is key when providing great customer service. Your customers need to know that no matter which agent they talk to, they’re going to get the same answer, and the right answer, on first contact. Without it, your representatives can fall into sloppy habits, your most loyal employees will be unduly saddled with extra responsibility, and you’ll see morale go right out the window. This can, in turn, further escalate the risk of turnover, perpetuating a cycle that can be quite difficult to overcome.

If your contact center has a turnover problem, you’re not alone. But what separates successful contact centers are leaders who can recognize the problem and course correct.

Here are several steps that you can take to get back on the right path.

  • Outsource: It’s not ideal to bring a new representative into a chaotic contact center. In order to provide your team with a little bit of relief while you right the ship, outsourcing a portion of your load to a highly-trained third party should be one of the first considerations you make.
  • Turn downtime into uptime: Though it might sound counterintuitive, the most satisfied representatives are the ones being engaged and challenged. High turnover is a sign that your team isn’t being challenged enough. Review your operational processes to find downtime that can be put to better use honing new skills that will show your team that they have a vested future at the company.
  • Review the limitations of your infrastructure: Ask your team members what they want and many of them will tell you the same thing: freedom. Today’s contact center solutions allow for greater mobility and flexibility — when used correctly. If you can alter your infrastructure in such a way as to give your team autonomy, flexibility and freedom, your team will be that much more interested in sticking around.

 

Three Signs You Need to Scale

 We’ve all been there. You’re getting ready for a night out, standing in front of the mirror getting dressed, and all of a sudden you realize you’ve outgrown your favorite pair of pants. Of course, it’s not a big deal. It happens to everyone. But it might become a problem if you don’t put them back on the hanger all bring them to the tailor.

The same can be said for your contact center. It can be difficult to realize the need to scale, as it can often be a gradual change caused by a variety of factors.  Yet all of a sudden you’re in the midst of a call volume spike and are shocked to find you don’t have the bandwidth to provide adequate service.

If you see these three signs in your contact center, it’s probably time for you to consider scaling your operations:

  1. Your company is launching a new product or initiative.

Change isn’t the easiest part of life, so when it comes to your customers, you need to do everything you can to ease their anxiety. If your company is rolling out a new initiative —whether it’s a product, service or fundraising campaign — you have to expect a spike. If your organization’s efforts are successful, you’ll have lots of customers calling in. But if they run into challenges, you know they’ll be reaching out too. Either way, larger corporate initiatives often precede the need to scale contact center operations.

  1. Your reps are more than tired — they’re exhausted.

Sometimes a worn out employee simply needs a vacation. Other times, it doesn’t matter how many days off you have. If you’re always buried in more work than you can handle, you’ll never feel reenergized. Recognizing the difference can be difficult, but a few indicators can help you make a determination. Are response times slower across the contact center? Have you been getting a greater number of call transfers or dissatisfied customers? Studying your business analytics will help tell a more complete story.

  1. ‘Tis the Season

Speaking of studying business analytics, you should be tracking call volumes throughout the calendar year. The month of December, for instance, has historically been one of the busiest for the customer service industry. Take a look back at these figures and you’ll see trends begin to emerge. After all, those that don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Without knowing where to look it can be difficult to see the warning signs that you need to scale your contact center operations. With the right partner, however, it can be easy to get your contact center running at peak performance to meet your customers’ needs with a superior level of care.

 

 

 

How to Make Your Donor Outreach Program Soar

The economy has soared to new heights in 2017, and charitable contributions have followed suit. According to Giving USA’s annual philanthropy report, individual donations are poised to climb 4 percent to a staggering $390 billion this year.

But just because Americans are feeling generous this year, contact center leaders are in no position to rest on their laurels when it comes to engaging through donor outreach programs. You must work tirelessly and continuously to ensure that you can keep acquiring new donors, grow your network and offer an experience that will keep your organization front-of-mind all year long.

So what steps should your organization take to make your donor outreach program take flight? Adhere to the following three best practices and you’ll be well on your way:

What you do between campaigns is equally important:

Successful fundraising campaigns don’t just fall into place on the day of the event. It isn’t even about the weeks or months that you put into the planning of the event. Rather, think of your donor outreach program as an ongoing process that requires constant maintenance. If the only time your donors hear from you is when you need something, they’ll be less inclined to give. Instead, your program must consider the entire lifecycle of the relationship you have with your donors. The more engaged throughout the year, the more ingratiated they will be to your cause.

 Identify pain points through data analytics:

 Every outreach and every relationship tells a story with data. The more data you have, the more you’ll understand your donors. And the more you understand your donors, the easier time you’ll have identifying ways to encourage donations for your cause in the future. Don’t begin planning a new fundraiser or event until you’ve taken the time to analyze data from previous campaigns, so you can figure out how to avoid duplicating costly mistakes.

 Balancing inbound and outbound strategies:

 For many organizations, it can be difficult to handle a spike of inbound call volume and then pivot seamlessly to outbound calling. Leveraging a high-efficiency call blending system, or supplementing your representatives with outsourced assistance, can optimize your workforce to run a more comprehensive, consistent and cost-effective campaign.

 

 

Is Poor VoIP Ruining Your Customer Service?

 

Cost control, reduced maintenance and business mobility are among the main factors driving adoption of cloud-based contact center solutions today. In fact, the market is anticipated to triple in value from 2016 and 2021, according to a recent MarketsAndMarkets report.

 

But as organizations move to run customer support operations through VoIP infrastructure, there is potential to disrupt customer service if both installation and maintenance are not handled correctly. A failure to do so may result in latency, poor voice quality and a number of other challenges that can agitate your customers.

 

In the interest of making sure your transition from legacy network infrastructure is seamless, consider the following tips when it comes to installing and maintaining your VoIP network.

 

  • Assessing your bandwidth needs: In moving to a VoIP-based system, you’ll need to assess your bandwidth needs for several reasons. The amount of bandwidth taken up by your contact center may impede upon other departments within your organization if you don’t have enough, leading to poor call quality. You’ll also need to consider peak seasons when thinking about your bandwidth needs. You may have enough now, but what happens when inquiries rise by 20 percent during the holidays?
  • Establishing a failover preparedness plan: Using VoIP infrastructure, you’ll have a high degree of reliability with Ethernet. But if you do suffer an outage, what steps have you taken to ensure continuity? When installing and maintaining your new system, be sure to allocate enough resources to keep both your primary and secondary connections taken care of and your customers will never know if or when your system falters.
  • Integrating your CRM Platform: Even if you’re building your VoIP network from the ground up, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements within your existing infrastructure that won’t be irrelevant. Your current CRM, for instance, is a library of customer knowledge and is familiar to your personnel. The more you can integrate your CRM with your new system, the easier time you’ll have picking up where you left off with existing customers, and the easier time your reps will have adapting.

 

VoIP adoption is one of many ways that businesses are getting ahead with superior customer service today. If you want to learn more about how to get your contact center running at full efficiency to provide your customers with the highest level of support, click here.

Apple Announces Plan to Let Agents Respond to Store Reviews

 

For years, Apple’s app store has been a one-way street when it comes to customer service. Users can rate apps, or choose to leave detailed feedback—both of which can encourage or dissuade new users from downloading, taking away an element of control from app makers themselves.

 

But unlike competitors such as Google, developers have never been able to actually address that feedback and reach out to customers to help drive a more satisfactory experience.

 

Earlier this year, however, Apple announced a new plan in which it will let customer service agents respond to app store reviews. With platform updates released in March, developers can now offer support, ask follow-up questions, respond to inquiries, or simply say thank you for connecting.

 

With this announcement, businesses should be eager to take advantage of this new opportunity. This new customer service option enables representatives to offer users a more hands-on approach for users genuinely interested in improving their experience. And for users who simply wish to smear your product and leave terrible and unjustified feedback, you’ll finally be able to provide reasonable counterpoints to them in a professional and public setting.

 

Of course, responding to such shifts in the customer service industry demands that you have the flexibility to scale appropriately and expediently. To learn more about how you can ensure that your customer service representatives are always ready to offer support, click here.

Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

 

Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

Is Your Contact Center Baby Boomer Friendly?

In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of marketing to millennials in your contact center. As we explained, millennials will eventually bypass Baby Boomers in terms of overall spending power and so it’s crucial to offer services they find appealing and easy to use.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can neglect the changing needs of your aging Baby Boomer customers. Baby Boomers, after all, still make up a tremendous portion of the American population — and possibly your customer or donor bases. Data from the most recent U.S. Census shows that there are at about 76.4 million Baby Boomers.

The good news is that Baby Boomers aren’t all that far behind millennials in their demand for cutting edge technologies that save time and increase convenience. For example, 59 percent of seniors have made a digital purchase in the last three months. Over 28 million seniors now have a Facebook account. And 45 percent of people over the age of 45 choose live chat because they believe it’s convenient.

Here are some other interesting statistics about Baby Boomers:

  • 83 percent of younger Boomers (51 to 59) use the Internet. 76 percent of older Boomers (60 to 69) do so as well. Conversely, 97 percent of millennials use the Internet.
  • 91 percent of younger Boomers own a cell phone as do 87 percent of older Boomers.
  • 66 percent of younger Boomers have broadband at home, while just 60 percent of older Boomers do.

At the same time, there are definitely older Baby Boomers out there who do not want to use new technologies like live chat and social media and much prefer the old fashioned method of picking up the phone and speaking to a live agent.

Every customer is different and so we can only generalize up to a certain extent. The most important thing you can do is to offer a variety of technologies and support services, to ensure that all customers — regardless of their age or needs — can resolve issues quickly and in a way that they find to be easy.

For this reason, it’s important to use big data to your advantage. Drill down into the core needs of your target market, and build your customer service department around them.

One of the best ways to ensure that your customer service department is flexible and responsive to customer needs is to outsource operations to a third party solutions provider. InfoCision, for instance, drills down into customer data and uses the information to build short and long term marketing and customer support strategies.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.