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February 22, 2017

The Art and Science of Customer Service Recovery

By michaelpace on November 5, 2013

“Customers do not expect you to be perfect.  They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong” – Doug Porter while SVP at British Airways

Remember that time a company did not meet your expectations, or something broke, or you received sub-par customer service, or you were just having a bad day, and then something happened …

Something that moved you from “company challenger” to its biggest “champion”.  You go from dislike to love, like a rocketship to the mailbox.  Cupid’s company arrow struck you right through your wallet.  We all have one; what was your most memorable service recovery kiss?

To quote two greats, Chip Bell & Ron Zemke, “Service recovery is the art of fixing what went wrong for the customer and mending the damage that error, mistake, or misstep did to your relationship with the customer.  Service recovery is about restoring trust when your customer is most vulnerable to doubt.”

Service recovery is truly both an art and a science.  It’s about both how you handle a customer who was impacted, and how do you spot them in a sea of customers.  It’s about short term fixes, and long term proactive changes. It requires a special kind of associate, one who is empowered to do the right thing for the customer, while keeping the businesses best interests in mind, and can be consistent with process. 

Below find a presentation on the Art and Science of Customer Service Recovery.  Also be on the lookout for a full step by step article in this month’s Contact Center Pipeline.

 

Resources:

Knock Your Socks Off Service Recovery by Ron Zemke & Chip Bell

Image: Verint Blog

Everyone can be a Community Manager & Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day

CMAD High FiveBy michaelpace on January 28, 2013

If you are a “registered” or “titled” Community Manager, have a great Community Manager Appreciation Day – whether others folks in your company know it, we all love and appreciate your work.  Throughout the day, I have seen amazing content being produced and curated by a number of social rockstars and community managers.  But…

I am seeing so many different definitions and roles of community managers; some I wholly agree with, some I can see the connection, and some I just don’t get.  I wish I could ask a number of these incredibly smart people to get there take on a bunch of questions.

•    If you work in social marketing, are you a Community Manager?
•    If you work in social customer service, are you a Community Manager?
•    I’m assuming if you work with an actual community platform on a daily basis, you are a Community Manager?
•    Do Community Managers only work with social online channels?
•    Do Community Managers manage top of the funnel metrics? Support and advocacy metrics? Across the whole value chain?
•    Do you have to be a designated Community Manager to do community management work?

Here are my thoughts:

Community Management is a discipline.

Discipline (def): activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training

Other disciplines in business – Project Management, Process Management, People Management, Financial Management, Organizational Management, etc…

Every day, I employ business solutions that include a mix of many of the disciplines, and others not mentioned.  It is about HOW I work.

To put Community Management in context to other terms:

Community context

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone can be skilled and proficient in Community Management; from Call Center Associates to CEO’s.  Anyone can use the methodologies and tools to achieve a broader outcome.  Everyone can be involved in Community Management.  It also means not everyone should be involved.  “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

If you start thinking about Community Management as a discipline, many of the (continuing) lingering questions, concerns, and issues become a bit easier to address.

•    Where do Community Managers fit in an organization?
•    Why do Community Managers feel so stressed?
•    Why is allocation of resources so difficult?
•    What are they responsible for?
•    Why do so many people in the organization not understand what Community Managers do?

Ok, these questions are still difficult to address.  However, it’s difficult because organizations are not all the same.  Each may have a different answer based on the objectives, values, and strategies of the company.  Many different areas within a company can use or need to leverage the discipline, methodologies, and tools of a Community Manager.  At the same time, folks who are “titled” as a Community Manager need many of the same skills as other business areas, such as People Management, Block & Tackle organizational design, influencing competencies (I am not talking about social influence here), results oriented, Process Management, Project Management, how to develop a business case, communication skills, ability to work in “white space”, etc…
It’s not about the social media tools and individual tactics of marketing or platforms.  Community Management is an amazingly effective, efficient, and powerful discipline to get things done (or achieve a goal).  Anyone can be a Community Manager.

For all of those who consider yourselves Community Managers, I applaud you.  Not everyone gets what you do, sees the value of your efforts, and can empathize with your struggles.  Much of our knowledge is still tacit, and it is difficult to articulate.  Remember that we work (and live) in a social bubble that not everyone has entered yet or will, their understanding is still nascent.   But try not exclude, try to include more.  Help others understand the discipline of Community Management, and how they can contribute to broader objectives.  Also, let them help you with your broader competency, discipline, and skill development.  I think it will help everyone appreciate what you do a little bit more.

This was definitely a “soapbox” post, just needed to let a rant out.

High five image credit: http://www.wilterdink.com/Internet_High_Five.jpg

Swinging a Hammer Does Not Make You a Carpenter; It Just Makes You Dangerous Or Smart Use of Social Media for your Contact Center

By michaelpace on November 15, 2012

When I am speaking or consulting regarding Social Media Customer Support or Social Business, a few of my favorite questions that I almost always receive are:

  • Who should own social media in a company?
  • Should we be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and every network?
  • There are so many risks of allowing social media in our contact centers, how do we support it and protect ourselves?

Here are my typical answers:

Social media is a tool, plain and simple.

  • Nobody should “own” the tool.  The phone system is a tool, you don’t see Marketing asking the Customer Service team for permission to use the phone. – Understanding how to use the tools is more important, as it is a discipline or competency.
  • I have lots of tools in my toolbox, including hammers, saws, screwdrivers (manual and electric) wrenches, and so on.  It doesn’t mean one tool is better than another, it is just serves a different purpose. – Use the tools that your customers are most active on, and prioritize.
  • Your company’s use of email, chat, and phone can be as viral as a tweet or a video now-a-days.  Your organization needs to understand social business, the benefits and risk avoidance are just too great.

So where do you start, and how do you use social media in a smart way?

In my presentation, 5 Steps to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team, the first step is to “Get Yourself Involved”.  The reason to get yourself involved is simple, education and understanding is power – power to effectively deliver amazing internal and external results, and to mitigate the risks of such a ubiquitous tool.  So let’s get started getting you started. (I will begin with the assumption that you have already influenced others in your organization for the need of social media education.  If you need more info, feel free to contact me or here are two articles that may help – Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Media Wave & The Next Innovation in Social will Come from (wait for it) … HR .

Step 1: It’s Not a Lonely Job

Use of social tools in a vacuum is about as dangerous as the young child in the blog post image. Gather the potential impacted stakeholders – Marketing, PR, Human Resources, Legal, Product, etc…, and explain your goals and obtain their points of view.  Here are a couple things to think about:

  • Do you already have a company communication policy in place?  If so, social media tools usually fall under the same categories as phone calls, emails, IM, and other channels.  If your organization has strong, articulated values, they should also be your guiding force.
  • What is your company’s voice?  For example two great service companies – Tiffany & Co and Zappos – with incredibly different engagement voices.
  • Ask how your significant workforce can help them achieve their goals? Recruiting, promotion, brand recognition, SEO, thought leadership, employee morale, etc…

Step 2: Start with the Big 3

There are so many social media tools to become educated about, but my advice is to stick with the Big 3: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn: Unless you or your associates are planning on staying with the company for the rest of their lives or there is no possible risk of layoffs or downsizing, LinkedIn is the most important professional network out there.  With almost 200 million professionals on LinkedIn, it is an incredibly powerful networking tool.

  • Help your associates build a strong LinkedIn profile, and don’t be afraid they will suddenly leave because they have a profile out there.  If they leave, it is because of something you are or are not doing internally.
  • Help them get connected.  Suggest individuals in the company for them to connect with, for that matter, have them connect to most everyone in your company.  You never know when a new relationship will be made.
  • Help them find Groups to join.  Groups are an incredible way to meet people in similar industries or like interests.  Great work related questions are asked every day on LinkedIn, and people love the different perspectives people can provide.

Facebook:  Just about everyone and their grandmother have a Facebook account, almost a billion people have one, and that is why it is important for your associates to understand how to use it for business purposes.  Here are a few of my tips on Facebook for business:

  • Don’t be friends with people you work with.  I know that sounds so contrary to the LinkedIn advice, but perception is reality, especially without context.  Facebook does not typically provide much context on why you may have a crayon sticking out of your nose.
  • Like a brand (maybe say … Yours) – Ask them to Like a few brands to see how companies are using Facebook to connect with their fans.  Ask them to Like your brand.  Have them compare engagement.  They may even find out about what your Marketing department is saying to the customers who are 5 minutes away from calling you upset over a wording choice.
  • Have them create a business page on Facebook.  It’s simple to have them walk in the shoes of the company, by creating a business page for a real or pretend small business “that they own”.  It will provide a different perspective to Facebook.

Twitter:  Maybe the most misunderstood social media tool out there.  Yes, some use it to tell you they had a peanut butter sandwich today, but many more use it for personal growth and business purposes.  I would even say that Twitter has had more impact on my own personal development than any other tool (social or not) in the last 5 years.  Twitter allows you to connect to the smartest people in virtually any industry or interest you have.  Here are a few ways you can get up to speed on Twitter.

  • I think my former employer Constant Contact did a phenomenal job outlining the basics of Twitter (and many other tools) in their Social Media Quickstarter.  It provides a great step by step on how to set up and use Twitter.
  • Have them do a Twitter search on your company.  Let them see if your customers are using Twitter for customer service and talking about your company or competitors.
  • Have them find like tweeters.  You can use Twitter’s search capabilities or site’s like Listorious to find others who are interested in what they are interested in.  Most of the smartest people on the planet create content, and most of them use Twitter to let their audience know new information is available.

Step 3: Focus on Continuous Learning (as opposed to Training)

Follow up with your associates on what they have done on social media and if they are continuing to use any of the sites they learned about.  If you have seen a place where you can provide affirmative or constructive feedback, give some timely feedback.  As their knowledge grows, the benefits and reduction of risk grows exponentially.  Another step may be to expand their knowledge, such as:

  • Interaction with blogs and blog aggregators (like Google Reader or Flipboard)
  • Check out Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, or whatever is hot that week.  Have them teach others what the tools do.
  • See if other departments (like Marketing) would like to have a blog written by a support associate to provide the backend perspective.

Education how to use social media tools, makes your organization less dangerous and potentially can allow themselves to be empowered to grow.  The benefits and risk mitigation are great, by just including your associates in learning how to use the tools.  Otherwise, you may have a bunch of screaming, hammer wielding non-carpenters with some dangerous weapons.

Are you educating your associates about social media tools?

What is working and what is not?

Article originally appeared on Knowlagent’s ProductivityPlus blog

Image credit

I discovered my Social Media ROI? Or How much is your personal development worth?

By michaelpace on March 30, 2012

Einstein quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not that big of a fan of the term “Social Business”. I love the broader concept of using social tools and networks to more effectively and efficiently achieve business goals. For a more complete understanding of social business, I recommend two sources: SideraWorks from Amber Naslund and Matt Ridings and The Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management Report from Rachel Happe and Jim Storer. However, I worry that the term “Social Business” leaves the act of working this way to the current few in a company “who do Social Media”. I prefer the term “Social Organization”, as I wrote about a couple months back. The “Social Organization” implies that is more about the people in the organization, all the people, using relationships, process and tools to accomplish broad business goals.

If your company’s broad business goals include the personal development of your associates, becoming a social organization should be one of your key strategic imperatives. One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Power of Pull by John Hagel, he said, “There are a lot more smarter people outside of your company, than in it”. This quote has nothing to do with the intelligence of the people in your company; it’s just that there are so many subject matter experts, students, and geniuses in any field you can imagine. Social networks are fantastic way to listen, connect and build relationships with the smartest people in the world. Encouraging your associates to seek knowledge about their passions (both professional and non) and use social tools to aide in their personal development can be a powerful way for them to improve. If you don’t mind, I will use myself as a case study in this matter.

When I started becoming interested in social media in 2009, I had a Facebook account to keep track of folks from high school (mostly who I didn’t like back then either) and a LinkedIn account (mostly to help in a job search I had just completed). My professional development, at that time, centered around three areas: Understanding Social Media for Customer Service, Community Management, and public speaking. Historically, I read a lot of books to gain access to information of bright minds. I still do, but as a compliment to other forms of media. I quickly began to understand the power of an RSS feeder. Twitter was next. I fell in love with Twitter, and still love it today as a professional development tool. Twitter, if used for no other purpose, is an amazing way to pull the world’s smartest people content into a simple and digestible form. Over time, I began to build amazing relationships, some digital and some in person, and conversations from these relationships have added incredibly towards my personal development along all three areas. Today, I speak regularly at Customer Service, Social Media and Community Management conferences about how to build scalable social media customer service teams, revitalizing fading communities, inspiring cultural evolutions in your organization, new ways to measure customer retention, and how to leverage the power of the social organization. You can see some of the presentations here.

So what is the ROI of social media to me or what is the value of my personal development?

The answer is simple, priceless.

The Next Innovation in Social will come from (wait for it) . . . HR

By michaelpace on October 3, 2011Herd Cats button

No, not some hybrid formation of technology from Hashable and Radian6 or something of the like, good ol’ Human Resources.  Yes, Human Resources.

Of course, new technology will continue to flood our lives in alpha, beta and full rollout versions, but they are mostly all incremental changes or consolidation of features.  Marketing departments and agencies will stretch our imaginations with fantastic ways of looking at products and services.  However, the most powerful innovation of the next generation should/will come from Human Resources.

The tools are only as valuable as the people using them (a hammer swung does not make a carpenter).  Human Resources focuses on the organization’s most critical asset: people. They are one of few departments with horizontal reach across organizations, goals and culture.  They also can be the catalyst to possibly the most important innovation of this era – THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.

The Social Organization is a company/business whose majority of people use social business competencies, social tools (media), and social processes to achieve higher quality internal and external results more efficiently.  The power of the Social Organization is in the exponential leverage of diversified relationships and the speed in which information can be transferred.  A non-social organization uses more one to one conversation, limiting the accuracy and relationship distance information can be communicated.  Think of the telephone game as a child; one to one conversation, often inaccurate and limited in distance (or viral ability) by how many people are willing to wait or listen.  A social organization provides information to multiple people simultaneously, provides easy methods to share internally or externally or both, and allows for iteration in a shared space.  It is like the difference between trying to catch something with a 50 ft. rope or a 50 ft. by 50 ft. net.

3 examples of the difference in power of the Traditional Organization versus the Social Organization:

Brand Advocacy: Theoretically, the strongest brand advocates should live inside the company or organization.  A highly social organization will be able to reach more people, reach more people who are influenced by the sender, and deliver all with much greater efficiency.

social organization

The Social Organization reaches 87%+ more people with only 10% of the original population.  The same number of associates would equal a 18.75X difference (1,125,000 in reach).  Do you know of any one move that can change metrics by almost 20X?

Recruiting: Traditional recruiting primarily uses websites to pull in attractive potential hires, and often scoops up high amounts of unqualified wastes of time.  A pull model, it’s like a the Death Star’s tractor beam sucking up everything from Millennium Falcons to space junk.  Social recruiting leverages the relationships of your associates to find potential hires matching your cultural fit.  And by having large numbers of separate people from separate departments, you also reach a more diversified candidate pool.

Research & Development:  The most known example of a Social Organization leveraging social competencies and process to improve R&D efforts is Dell, and their IdeaStorm Community.  This community leverages the resources and thoughts of their enormous customer base to help identify future enhancement and product ideas.  Dell is able to iterate with the end customers on what those same customers would want.  I like to reference a quote from John Hagel’s Power of Pull “There are a lot more smarter people OUTSIDE your organization than IN it,”

The Social Organization is more of a cultural shift than a project.  It requires massive amounts of change management (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) to be effective.  Just getting everyone to have a Twitter account or LinkedIn account will not transform your organization.  All that will end up happening is a bunch of silly looking Twitter eggs passing your company’s latest press release to each other.  Associates need to become socially competent, both individually and for social business.  Human Resources is in a unique position to help transform a culture, and they have the greatest opportunity to make the greatest impact on business in general.

Is your company a highly Social Organization?

How has Human Resources played a role in social competency development? Use of tools and processes? Social cultural shifts?

Photo Credit Blogging4Jobs

Straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth

By michaelpace on July 11, 2011

Unicorn's mouth

“How do you guys do Social Media Customer Service and do it well?”

I might be paraphrasing, but that is probably the most common question that has been asked of me during the past 2 years at Customer Service and Call Center conferences.  In this post, I thought I would have my team at Constant Contact give their top tips to executing Social Media Customer Service and how to manage these team members.  So straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth*

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Jarrad:

  1. Response Time – Customers on Social Networks are looking for answers fast, especially on Twitter. Minimize any delay in a response. We try to respond to any @ or general Constant Contact comment within 2-5 minutes.
  2. Keep the Customer Informed – If you are experiencing downtime or a problem, address it immediately. Be proactive and honest. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.
  3. Content – It is not all about reacting to customer issues.  You can help them before they even contact you.  Try to provide content that your customers want and are interested in reading or watching.  If you see an article that relates to your client base send it out to them
  4. Support – Not all answers can be solved by a simple tweet. There may be some back and forth, but try to solve the problem online rather than having them call in.
  5. Call The Customer – If an issue cannot be resolved online, don’t pass it off to your phone support. Make the call yourself and do as much as possible to resolve the incident at that moment.
  6. Research – If a customer has a blanket statement like, “I hate your company” see if you can find out what has prompted this tweet. Check their website or email address and see if you can locate the customer’s account. Find out the “Why” before responding.
  7. Ask for Feedback – If someone is considering canceling their account or stopping business with you, rather than leaving it alone, ask them for feedback. Not only does this show you value their opinion; it can also help retain customers.
  8. Personality – Try not to sound too robotic or stale when answering customers. Be social. Talk to them casually and personally and at the same time, keep it professional.
  9. Experiment – Social Media is still new and trying new ways to interact with your customers is important.  You never know what will work and what will not until you try it.
  10. Visibility – Be aware that everything you say on a Social Network has the potential of being seen by millions of people. Don’t respond to trolls and don’t post anything your company would be embarrassed by.
  11. Empathize – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. (How would you like your favorite company or brand to address your concerns?)

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Marissa

Acknowledge as soon as possible

  • You don’t need to have an answer readily available, but at least if you acknowledge you saw the tweet or post and you’re looking into it, people can be very appreciative.

Be empathetic

  • Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re reaching out to. You may not agree with what they are saying or have ever been in the situation, but at least try to understand.

Don’t argue

  • If someone says something horrible about your company, don’t start a fight and tell them that they’re wrong. Something as simple as “Was there something I could help with?” can go a long way.  I even had a Blog Post written about it!

Curate content you know about

  • Don’t just tweet articles you haven’t read, make sure you can answer questions on them if need be.

Know your audience and your brand

  • Make sure the content you’re curating for them will provide value.  Don’t waste their precious time with useless noise.  Find information they can use, find entertaining or can learn from.
  • Different customer service brands have different voices, you need to know yours.  For instance, Zappos and Tiffany & Co. provide great service, but have very different voices.

Thank your followers

  • Whether someone re-tweets what you say or if someone gives you great content, tell them thanks.

Don’t be afraid to have conversations

  • Don’t just answer questions.  Start a conversation with those that ask questions.  You’ll be surprised what you may find out.  I was helping someone the other day and even though they weren’t local, they told me about a local restaurant to check out!

Top Tips for managing Jarrad and Marissa by Ros

  • Transitions between team members is critical. If you have multiple team members tweeting or managing social support, the customers shouldn’t be impacted by a shift change.
  • “Social Influence” is an indicator but not the goal. From the help side, your number of followers and retweets are not the primary metrics. Your Klout or influence is AN indicator not THE indicator. Socializing this with your internal team and executives is important.
  • Trust is key. As a manager, you must trust that your team’s intentions are good and support their risk taking.  Social Media is changing everyday and some mistakes will be made.  It is important for your team to know that you support them even if they stumble.
  • Hiring curious people is key. Social Media is fast moving and having people eager to learn is more important than having people who have all the answers.

 

*Unicorns are prettier than horses

Exercising Responsible Freedom

By michaelpace on May 15, 2011

Exercising Responsible Freedom

In 2008, I fell in love.  No silly rabbit, not with the man playing the piano or even another woman, but with the phrase “Exercising Responsible Freedom”.  I began to pattern my entire managerial style after this powerful phrase, and believe it is more relevant than ever in today’s Customer Service and Social Business world.

So what is it?

I discovered the phrase in a book by Chip R. Bell & Ron Zemke called Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service.  It’s a great book for the Customer Service Leader who looking for direction that spans both strategic and tactical, combined with real life stories.  (I am not a “Raving Fan” of uber theoretical books like Raving Fans)  Exercising Responsible Freedom is simply knowing the right thing to do, understanding the risk, recognizing your proverbial guardrails, having solid rationale, and most importantly doing something.   Sounds a lot like empowerment, but I rarely choose to use that word anymore.  Here’s why:

Somehow the word empowerment turned into something that you can give to another person, like a magical gift.  Empowerment is like energy, I cannot physically give you mine; it is already resides in you.  If you believe you can actually pass it along, you may be essentially passing over nothing.  However, if we believe empowerment is something that I (your manager) can help unlock within you (associate), we can take the appropriate steps unleash it.  So instead of talking about empowerment, I talk with my reports about how I can help them exercise their responsible freedom, and how they can help their reports exercise theirs.

How do you do it?

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sock it to me): Have the respect for your associates to treat them like adults.  Far too often, I encounter people leaders who act more like parents than business leaders.  Your associates typically have mortgages, rents, insurance, bills, children, and a whole host of other responsibilities, they can handle more than you think.  If they can’t, you probably need to reassess their future and the time you invest in them.
  2. Paint the Vision: You cannot expect people to know and do the right thing if they do not know what direction you are going.  Describe to your associates what the realistic future looks like, and have conversations (two way) about what it means to them.
  3. Provide the Flexible Guardrails: Talk about what would be going too far, and talk about what is too safe.  Use examples of what is in scope and what should remain out of scope.  In regulated industries, providing this detailed information is critical for wary associates.
  4. Discuss Possible Outcomes: Have a discussion about if something did go wrong.  Develop operating agreements that provide a safe zone for both you and the associate to review lessons learned.  I find myself often saying to people, if you had a good rationale for actions, you will never been in trouble.  But if I asked “why”, and their answer is “I don’t know” or “I just did it”, we will need to talk more.  And don’t forget to talk about the incredible things that can happen if they take the appropriate leap.
  5. Let them know you TRUST them: Just overtly saying to associates, “I trust you to ….”  is amazingly powerful confidence builder.  It reaches them on both a professional and personal level.  See prior post on Trust for more info.

Why it is so important in today’s Customer Service and Social Business world?

It is evident that service and relationship building are key differentiators between similar businesses.  Customer’s expectations are pacing with the speed of technology and process innovation.  If you provide scripted and/or automated responses to customers, they will repay you with the equal amount of passion.  If your social support team is tweeting right out of the traditional public relations handbook, you will most likely anger or disenfranchise your customers.  Same goes for customer service representatives who must use the caller’s full name 3 times in a call.

We need to hire, develop and foster our associates (and our associates’ associates) to think critically, do what they believe is the right thing for the customer, and not feel they have done something wrong by erring on the side of the customer.  When they exercise their responsible freedom, they engage customers on a human level, they build strong relationships, and they have the true opportunity to “WOW” a customer.

Do you help your associates Exercise Responsible Freedom?  Are you with me in jumping off the empowerment bandwagon?  Are you given Responsible Freedom?

 

Image credit: Mike Caine