This Fine Tuning session is about weaving great customer service into your overall brand, including:
- The importance of effort reduction
- Meeting your customers where they are
- Measuring loyalty
Vicky Truong is on Zendesk's Customer Success Consultant team in Singapore. Her favorite part of her role is helping businesses establish and execute a brand aligned customer service experience.
See all the Fine Tuning series discussions.
Part 1, 8 am: The importance of effort reduction
In this era of customer relationships, businesses need to be agile in creating better ways to connect with their customers. It’s not about killing them with kindness or delighting them until they come back. CEB’s acclaimed bestseller The Effortless Experience dives into the best way to create customer loyalty and reveals what makes customers disloyal.
In one of their many studies, they surveyed more than 97,000 customers about their recent support experiences and the results showed that “there is virtually no difference at all between the loyalty of those customers whose expectations are exceeded and those whose expectations are simply met.” This data goes against what many organizations have historically believed. In actuality, the key to mitigating disloyalty is to focus on “returning the customer back to the state of neutrality -- back to where they started before the problem occurred in the first place.”
What exactly does an effortless experience look like in real life? Let me give you an example from a personal experience. I recently left my phone in a Lyft ride, and had to report the case to their support team. From the moment I reported the loss to the time my phone was returned, we had only a handful of email exchanges. Though it was only my second time using Lyft, what won me over was how little effort it took on my part to get the problem resolved. I didn’t have to stay on the phone for hours or call back for status updates. The Lyft agents provided clear instructions, including estimated timelines and what to expect next. The support was efficient, consistent and required no extra work on my part.
Creating effortless experiences with Zendesk
Ensuring that your customers have positive experiences is likely a main goal of your organization. There are many ways to work towards this goal, and it can get overwhelming trying to figure out which tactics or features to prioritize. Here are some pro tips from our customer advocacy team at Zendesk, who shared their favorite features for starting support conversations on the right foot.
Zendesk integration with Salesforce: The first step to providing a positive support experience is knowing who your customers are. I don’t mean this in a generalized, high level sense. When your support team addresses your customers, you want them to start the conversation with as much information as possible.
The Salesforce app for Zendesk surfaces customer data from your CRM, providing valuable context about about the requester directly within the ticket. With immediate access to things like account information, plan types, SLA timelines, and more, your agents have up-front insight that will save time by eliminating back-and-forth between systems, and more importantly, prevent agents from asking the customer for more information. Check out my colleague Ian’s Fine Tuning on how to implement this integration in your agent interface.
Tagging users: You’re probably aware that tickets can be tagged for reporting purposes as well as easy routing via business rules. But did you know that you can tag users as well? Your customers probably fall into distinct categories, and by tagging them you can guarantee that they’re routed to the correct agents from the moment they submit a ticket.
Adding identifying tags to these users provides your agent with this data immediately, and your Zendesk can automatically take action on that data at different stages of the workflow. Maybe you have a group of VIP customers, and you want to make sure they get a response within two hours of submitting a ticket. Tagging these users will allow you to set up triggers and specialized agent views so that these high priority tickets don’t slip through the cracks.
Pathfinder: This app shows which Help Center articles customers have viewed before and after submitting a ticket. Your agents can avoid providing customers with repeat information, which drives shorter resolution times and higher customer satisfaction. What’s more, you can use this information to improve your self-service content by identifying any gaps in the information you currently provide. To learn more about using Pathfinder, check out this overview in our Help Center.
*Note: Pathfinder is available as an add-on for Professional accounts and for all Enterprise accounts.
Five Most Recent: The Five Most Recent app gives agents more context around past support requests made by a customer. Directly within a ticket, the app provides quick access to previous tickets from the same requester.
An obvious benefit is that agents can quickly identify the customer’s current temperature and create a more personalized communication strategy. For example, if this is the third or fourth billing issue a customer has experienced in the past month, this is something an agent will need to carefully navigate with soft skills and expedient routing to the correct internal stakeholders.
What are your favorite Zendesk features for creating a more effortless support experience? This is meant to be a discussion, so please be sure to add your questions and ideas in the comments section below.
Part 2, 11 am: Meeting your customers where they are
We are surrounded by smartphones and Internet access everywhere we go. This opens up many potential avenues for customers to seek help, including the phone, email, live chat, social media, and self-service options such as knowledge base articles and online communities or forums. It’s no surprise customers would want and expect to have the ability to contact businesses in more than one way. Beyond that, they want the experience—including the quality of service and the information they receive—to be consistent no matter which method they use to reach you.
To stay competitive, enable your customer to acquire support using the technology they prefer. Making your agents more easily accessible, and meeting customers where they are, plays a big role in strengthening brand loyalty. Don’t believe me? In 2012, the Aberdeen Group did a study comparing year-over-year CSAT improvements between companies with a single support channel and companies with a multi-channel strategy in place. The multi-channel companies improved at a rate that was nearly double that of the first group.
Customer support is not a “set it and forget it” operation. Your team needs to be agile, adapting to the unique needs of each customer. Zendesk is a powerful solution to this multichannel conundrum. By connecting all of your support channels to a single customer service platform, agents can efficiently manage tickets submitted on your Facebook page, for example, while simultaneously responding to questions via chat. The unified agent interface allows seamless consistency across all of your channels, because all agents will have tools like macros and auto-replies at their fingertips.
So how do you decide which channels to offer? And how many channels should you make available to your customers? First, you’ll want to start with a resource like our Guide to Multi-Channel Customer Support. I mention this document because we’ve included a breakdown of channel preferences by generation. Take a look at these numbers, and then ask yourself what your user base looks like. Are you a company that caters to Generation Y? If so, adding a social media channel is a no-brainer. However, if your customers are typically in an older age group, this channel is likely less important to them.
Another helpful thing to consider is cost per contact. Which of your channels require the greatest amount of agent attention? What options can you introduce that will deflect requests from your highest maintenance channels? Chances are, you’ll want to start with these…
Contact deflection via self service
Adding self-service options (the Zendesk Help Center knowledge base and community) is one of the first steps you should consider taking as you grow into a multi-channel support organization. Research shows that as many as 91% of customers would willingly use a self-service option if it was made available and met their specific needs, and 67% of respondents said they preferred helping themselves to speaking with an actual agent. With numbers like that, think of how many tickets you can take out of your agents’ inboxes, freeing up time for them to work on the more complex interactions that truly necessitate a human touch.
Learn more about the anatomy of the Help Center and its many benefits here.
Another Zendesk feature that I recommend prioritizing is our web widget. You can embed the web widget directly into your web page(s) and/or your Help Center, so that customers with questions don’t need to leave the website. They’re presented with the content they need at precisely the right moment.
Visit our Help Center for instructional videos, an implementation overview, and more best practices.
If you have a mobile app and a vast majority of your customers are accessing your services from their personal devices, you’ll want to consider implementing the mobile SDK. Why not provide your amazing Help Center content directly in-app? Again, this feature is all about delivering assistance precisely where the customer needs it, preventing them from switching devices or switching channels and potentially becoming frustrated by the support path.
In addition to surfacing knowledge base articles to provide contextual support, the web widget can also be setup to allow ticket forms to be submitted without navigating to another site. And finally, it can even contain the increasingly popular chat channel. Depending on what type of staffing you have, you’ll want to consider the option of offering proactive chat, in which your agents can reach out to customers before they start looking for help. For example, if a customer has been on a checkout page for an extended period of time, an agent could extend an offer to help answer any questions about the purchasing process.
Learn more about the possibilities available through our Zopim chat solution.
What types of channels do you currently make available to your customers? What strategies has your team explored to understand your user base and provide them with the support channels they prefer? This is a discussion, so please post your thoughts, learnings and questions in the comments section below!
Part 3, 2 pm: Measuring loyalty
Now that you’ve focused your efforts on providing support in the right places, how will you know if your research and hard work have paid off? This is where customer engagement metrics come into play. Specifically, let’s talk about CSAT and NPS. We recommend that every organization continually track and measure against these two metrics, which speak to two different things when it comes to your customers.
Customer satisfaction looks at how happy your customers are in the short term, as this rating is based on a single support transaction. The surveys are sent at the conclusion of a transaction (in this case, the solving of a support ticket) and allows your customer to quickly let you know if the experience was good or bad. It’s a great way to wrap up the entire experience, and get a tangible data point around whether or not your support workflow met their expectations.
Note: CSAT Surveys are available for Professional and Enterprise plans only. Learn more!
Net promoter score, on the other hand, are a measure of long-term happiness and loyalty to your brand. This metric can help shrewd admins identify at-risk accounts and proactively work to prevent churn. Rather than a thumbs up or thumbs down, the NPS survey asks a different question: How likely are you to recommend our company to someone you know?” By responding on a scale of 0-10, the customer is providing you with a solid indicator of just how loyal they are.
Wondering how we calculate your overall NPS score? We divide the responses into 3 categories: Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8) and Promoters (9-10). Your Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting your percentage of detractors from your percentage of promoters.
Note: NPS is available as an add-on for Professional or add-on for Enterprise accounts.
Adopting both of these metrics will not only help you quantify the customer support journey and continually improve, but also drive retention and growth.
CSAT best practices
- When a support experience is rated as “bad,” always take this opportunity to follow-up with the customer. Ask them what you can do better, and if they completed the open text part of the survey, take their feedback seriously. I can’t overstate how valuable this information is for not just your team, but your entire organization.
- In Part 1, we talked about specific Zendesk features you can use to provide your agents with more information up-front. Always try to empower agents with as much information as possible, to reduce unnecessary back and forth during the support experience. This leads to faster, more accurate resolutions and higher CSAT from your customers.
- Look at the tickets that have received ratings holistically. Compare metrics on tickets rated “good” to tickets rated “bad.” Dig into your tickets rated “bad” to find out why they may have earned this rating, and group them accordingly (resolution time, or workflow issues for example). Gathering this information will highlight which aspects of your support strategy need to be improved and can surface some quick wins.
My colleague Aaron led a Fine Tuning session with even more great tips on getting the most out of your CSAT data.
NPS best practices
- NPS is about long-term happiness, so we recommend sending these surveys out at a regular interval (perhaps once per quarter, or twice each year). For a higher level of accuracy, be sure the survey is sent to a random sample of your overall customer base.
- Compete with yourself. Measure against this score each month, each quarter, each year. Comparing against yourself with NPS can be more valuable than comparing against others in your industry.
- The customer’s explanation of why they rated the ticket is arguably the most valuable information you’re getting back from the survey. This qualitative data will help you get a better grasp on why your detractors are unhappy, how to turn your passives into promoters, and what you’re doing right to keep the promoters coming back for more.
Check out our three-part series on the benefits of measuring NPS.
Which KPIs are your team using to measure success? How are you using CSAT and/or NPS to bolster your support offerings? Let us know in the comments section below, and share any questions you might have. We’re here to help!
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