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Stop Shoveling Sand with a Pitchfork – Or Why Your Customer Experience Efforts Aren’t Impressing Customers

3 Habits Hold the Key

You probably have heard the numbers, but forgotten the specifics. It is worth repeating. Research by Fred Reichheld, Bain and Company showed that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

One of the best ways to improve customer retention is to re-think your internal processes from the customer’s point of view, often called a Customer Journey map or a Customer Experience effort.

Let’s look at it just from the perspective of Customer Support/Customer Success. On the surface, it’s not clear what to do. After all, your corporate website may already have a decent customer satisfaction rating (85%). Your Self-Service portal gets a pretty good rating (85%). And finally, after some intense effort, and your Call Center’s Customer Satisfaction rating has gone from zero to (relative) hero with scores consistently hovering around 90%.

Why is it then that customers still rate their experience as being terrible? There is a simple reason. While each individual interaction may be good, the cumulative experience across the journey isn’t particularly good.

This experience is even worse when you think across the entire customer journey. For a really powerful way to get people to think about (and measure) this, check out Klever’s Law: Time to Customer Value.

So what can you do?

Align your business and your employees around the needs of the customer.

Our new flagship software Klever Insight can help you achieve this. It is now open for any beta customer today. Be part of the development process and help shape the product based on the needs of your organization. Contact us if you are interested in participating.

 

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Torture, Band Aids and the Power of Thinking Small

opposite-of-a-death-by-a-thousand-cuts-aggregation-of-marginal-gains

Early in my career, I thrived on solving complex problems — often with equally complex solutions.

While I still enjoy solving complex problems, with experience I’ve (thankfully) found easier ways to address them. With far better results for a lot less effort. One of my favorite techniques to get huge gains is to think small. Really small.

I call it ‘living with a thousand band aids’ — the opposite of a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ aka the ancient torture called ‘lingchi’ or slow slicing’.

How does it work? Make small improvements across a number of areas, and pretty soon you’ll notice a difference.

Do this across processes (prime opportunities include customer-impacting processes that slice through your company) and watch the gains add up.

Couple this with a powerful cross-functional measure like Time to Smile, and prepare to be wowed.  We have seen this improve productivity by up to 300%, and reduce expected costs by 350%, all while improving customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. (A case study where we used some of these techniques can be found here.)

During the recent Rio Olympics, I was intrigued to hear that this was the same approach used by Sir David Brailsford the former Performance Director for British Cycling, who used what he calls “Aggregation of Marginal Gains”.

“Team GB used to be also-rans in world cycling. Indeed, one pundit described the operation as “a laughing stock”. But in the last two Olympics, Team GB has captured 16 gold medals and British riders have won the Tour De France three times in the last four years. This is the power of a questioning mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

No matter what you call it – ‘Aggregation of Marginal Gains’, ‘Surviving with a Thousand Band Aids’ or ‘Kaizen’, discover the power of thinking small and link it with the right measures.

References:

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CEOS: Why your ‘Good’ Customer Service is probably just ‘Bare Minimum’

When Good Customer Service is actually crappy

A recent NY Times article titled ‘Why Tech Support is (Purposely) Unbearable’ says:

 “And you are not alone. Getting caught in a tech support loop — waiting on hold, interacting with automated systems, talking to people reading from unhelpful scripts and then finding yourself on hold yet again — is a peculiar kind of aggravation that mental health experts say can provoke rage in even the most mild-­mannered person.

Worse, just as you suspected, companies are aware of the torture they are putting you through.”

Bad as this situation is for customers and tech support employees alike, what this should do is to provide a wake up call to leaders who *think* they provide good customer service.

After all, good customer service is more than simply just taking care of customers after they have a question or a problem with your product or service. That’s the absolute bare minimum.

How do you know if you or your leadership team is guilty of providing ‘bare minimum’ service? If your primary barometer for how things are going with your customers is a lack of customer escalations to the C-Suite and a near-exclusive reliance on ‘one number’ like a Net Promoter Score or your Customer Satisfaction score, you are guilty of ‘bare minimum’ service.

What’s the single best way to make sure your company gives good customer service?

Listen to your customers, employees and the business, and apply what you learn — as part of your company’s DNA.

The 2016 Klever Knowledge Benchmark asked the question “If people in your workplace were sharing knowledge as well as they possibly could, it would improve productivity by:

Nearly 50% of respondents believe that their organization could be at least 30% more productive if they shared knowledge better. Tweet this.

 

Do you know of any other initiative that your own team believes will improve your organizational productivity 30% or more? Go ahead, I’ll wait. No, I didn’t think so.

Want to know which part of sales is making promises that can’t be kept? Whom in Professional Services is building elegant custom solutions that no one else can understand or support? What tweak in manufacturing could make warranty returns drop by 5% or more? What marketing efforts are costing more to support than they bring in? Talk to Tech Support.

Good customer service isn’t just about customers that don’t complain. It is extraordinarily good for your bottom line. Tweet this.

What to do next?

As a leader, the single biggest influence you can have is to fix your customer support metrics. Almost certainly, what your customer support leaders are measuring isn’t good enough. Unfortunately, that is about where most of us are. Fortunately, a number of us got together and are doing something about it.

A group of leaders and the leading associations in the Customer Support world jointly developed the first-ever open standard for Customer Support Metrics – the Open Customer Metrics Framework (OCMF). Stop what you are doing now, and check it out. It is completely free, and is powered by Klever.

If you want to know how well you are listening to your customers, employees and the business and applying what you learn, Klever has developed a highly-rated tool, the Enterprise Customer Support Capability Assessment. 14 questions, takes your support team 5 minutes to answer. You get deep and actionable insights.

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Are you measuring your performance across silos?

Klever-blog-Are you measuring your performance across silos

One of the promises of the work in areas like DevOps is to make the flow of knowledge between areas like development, operations, and support easier and quicker. As I said in my blog, Mind the Gap, “Devops is not only the application of agile approaches to operations that have been hugely successful in development organizations. It is also the attempt to bring these organizations together so the agile practices make the gap between them easier to overcome.”

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3 ways you know your KM program is in trouble

3 ways you know your KM program is in trouble

As a support executive, you are probably painfully aware of how important it is for your team to share what they know. You’ve spent thousands (and for larger organizations, tens and hundreds of thousands) on knowledge management. But you’re not seeing the progress. Not getting the results you saw when you launched your knowledge program.

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The top 5 measures every support executive should care about

The top 5 measures every support executive should care about-blog

When you look at the top trends in technology for 2016, everyone still comes back to big data (Gartner calls it the “information of everything”). This is one of the areas where support organizations have been way ahead of the curve. We measure everything. And, most support executives see nearly all of those measures. But just like the Gartner headline suggests, how do we get from seeing everything to getting usable information on everything? As executives, one of our biggest challenge is to get our teams to focus on what really matters because of the ready availability of everything.

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Everything’s (starting to) coming up roses – Lessons for service and support executives about Knowledge Sharing in 2016

Klever-blog-knowlege sharing drives success in business outcomes

Most benchmarking reports use analogies drawn from medicine or war to highlight the relative state of their specific topic. I struggled with finding a hook that didn’t come from Sun Tzu or Dr. Spock (or even Dr. Phil), so I settled on gardening. Yeah, I know, exciting, right? But in a lot of ways, knowledge-sharing practices are like really tender vegetation. They require care and feeding over time to bloom (I mean, produce results).

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Klever’s Law: Time to Customer Value

Time to Customer Value-5

Want to know perhaps the simplest, most powerful measure that aligns every customer-facing department with the customer? Time to Customer Value.

Here is how to calculate it.

Time to Customer Value = Time to Value (before sale) + Time to Value (after sale) + Time to Smile (after interruption).

Measured in days. If your Time to Customer Value is zero or even negative (days), you are doing really well.

Let’s break this down.

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Time to Smile: the new killer internal customer experience metric?

Time to Smile

While support executives have made great strides in making sure our teams think about the customer first, this way of thinking runs smack into reality when we reach across internal departments to get an issue solved for a customer. The further away you get from people who interact with customers on a daily basis, the more likely you are to go from a personal, emotional connection with a customer and their issue to an ‘escalation’ (read: interruption from my ‘real’ job) that has to be dealt with.