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March 29, 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

Customer Service Needs a Romper Room Magic Mirror or Transparency is Innovation

By michaelpace on April 23, 2012

Romper Room Transparency Customer Service

Magic Mirror, tell me today

Did companies do as they say,

I see Costco, Ritz Carlton, and Starbucks …

Ah nostalgia.  If you grew up in the late 70’s and the 80’s, you probably remember Miss Molly and the show that was Romper Room.  At the end of every episode, you waited with baited breath as Miss Molly would grab the magic mirror and peer through your television.  Would today be the day she see you?

Recently, I was researching a company called Zmags, which creates beautiful rich media catalogs for retailers and others.  On their support page, there is a simple and effective graphic showing customers when the slowest and busiest periods for support based on time zone.

Zmags Support pageIt’s open and honest approach to helping customers determine when the best time to call for non-urgent issues.  Ah transparency.  Having a graphic, like the one above, puts out a shingle and sets a level of expectation for customers.  It shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor execution, and can be used for setting internal bars to overcome.  This simple graphic started the hamster in my tiny brain running, and what else can be accomplished if other customer service metrics were made available and accessible to the public or your customer base.

Incident, Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scoring:

One of my greatest pet peeves of most companies today is the action of asking me for survey feedback and not providing any response in return.  Imagine if you could go to a link on a company’s website, and see near real time Incident, Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.  Was your feedback inline with other customers?   Was your experience an outlier?  Was your verbatim feedback part of a larger trend?  I believe this level of transparency would improve the customer experience.  It shows your customers that your organization is open to feedback, taking action on your feedback, and is concerned about your feedback beyond just numerical scores.  It also can be a place for proactive messaging.  If your company has received feedback that a certain product or service has a defect, you could insert messaging to your customers as to how you are tackling this particular problem.  And probably the most impactful result of opening up the customer service score kimono, executives and leaders would know that their scores are out there for the world to see.  If your NPS or C-Sat score was below benchmark level, you can bet your last budget dollar that C-level leaders would be eager to invest more to bring those scores up.

Service Level Agreements: (Service Level, FCR, Compliance Scores)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, service level metrics should not be the primary metric used to determine the quality of your service.  Unless your speed of answer is beyond acceptable (you know what acceptable is), how fast someone answers a phone, email, tweet or chat is a very small part of a customer experience.   However, it is an important metric that shows both a part of the customer experience and how effectively staffed your organization is to help customers.  Similar to the chart provided by Zmags, giving your customers an understanding of how often you answer their calls within an expected period, provides insight to how you often you keep your word (Walk matches Talk).  The same thought process can be applied to FCR (First Contact Resolution) and any Compliance scores that are important to your customers.  Again, by publicly providing how well you are serving your customers, you create even more accountability.

Employee Morale, Satisfaction and Engagement Scores:

You say your company is a great place to work, well prove it.  Every customer loves to work and deal with a happy, pleasant associate.  Everyone also knows when an employee doesn’t care about their job or their customers.  By posting your employee morale, satisfaction and engagement scores, customers gain insight to how well companies treat their employees.  Similar to companies doing social good, customers would rather transact with companies which take care of their associates.  I wouldn’t recommend conducting an associate survey more than once a quarter, and make sure you are surveying in combination with broader company surveys.

By pulling back the curtain to your metrics and satisfaction scores, you can create higher levels of trust between your organization and your current and future customer base.  Yes, this level of openness has some potential risks.  Customers may not understand the scores, what is excellent versus poor.  But if you provide excellent service, why not show it off.  The more you can open up your company to the public, the more they can build trust.  (more on measuring trust)  Innovation comes in many forms, you can make transparency your next.

Do you think you are open enough to show off your scores?

What would stop you from doing it?

If your scores were available to the public, how would you change your actions?

Do you remember Romper Stompers?  They rocked!

Image Credit: yttm.tv

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Just Build Your Strategy on a Shaky Foundation?

By michaelpace on March 7, 2012

Umass Library

Let me tell you story.

In 1974, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst completed building the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.  It’s a glorious 26 story, red bricked honor to education of the 25,000+ students of the university.  I believe it is still the tallest library in the United States.  Besides for all the knowledge that resides in the building, it also has some of the best views of the Pioneer Valley, especially during the fall. The library is a beacon to the center of campus, and a unforgettable image I will always carry with me.  Umm … there is one small problem, the library is sinking.

While it might be urban legend, every UMass attendee has heard the story of the library being built, but the architect and engineers forgot to calculate the weight of the books and equipment.  The foundation is not strong enough to support.  It is said to be sinking anywhere from ¼ – ½ inch a year.  Consequently, occasionally a brick or brick parts fall to the ground at a speed of 9.8 meters per second squared.

While I have deep love for my alma mater and the library, the story is a great analogy for many, especially those just wrapping up your 2012 strategies.  Your strategies can be bold and beautiful, and if you build them on shaky ground, you may rain bricks down on your customers.  What do you need for an incredibly sturdy foundation?  Below are my thoughts by priority:

  1. Culture – the single, most important foundational step
  2. Best Talent – all the best plans and culture need to executed by incredible people
  3. Technology – work smarter and more efficiently
  4. Process – if you have Culture, Talent and Technology, they always need alignment and governance
  5. Data – allows the other 4 foundational areas operate with confidence

Strategy Building

Culture: Every company has a culture. The problem is most company culture’s are weakly internalized by associates, non productive, overly complex, and bullcrap.  If you culture is not clearly articulated, visible and available, you will fall into the category of companies stated previously.  Culture is too important to be considered tacit knowledge.  Culture is how people work and behave.  A strong, articulated, and internalized culture helps individuals exercise responsible freedom. It allows them to make the right decisions for your company, autonomously.  It breeds trust and openness.  It is a knowledge and understanding that is part of everything from communication to teamwork to respect of your customer.  Make sure your culture is articulated, and better yet written and visible to all.  Make sure it is discussed frequently.  Build it into your performance management systems and processes.  Make sure it is internalized and engrained in everyone. Attitude is not driven by policies, it’s driven by culture.

Best Talent: Popularized by the best seller Good to Great, make sure you get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Poor, mediocre and even ‘ok” talent is a waste of time; it destroys value.  Be honest with yourself, do you have the best possible people at each critical position within your organization.  By having the best talent at your critical positions within your organization, your business as usual will go smoothly, all of your reports will develop quicker, and innovation will flow.  The best talent knows how to delegate effectively, removing them from the trees and allows them to see the forest.

Technology: Just like any good tool, technology gives you leverage.  The right technology allows you to work smarter and more efficiently.  This doesn’t mean you need the most bleeding edge technology throughout your organization.  Technology can also have high initial or maintenance expenses.  So make sure you have the technology that solves for business needs, and addresses key or critical customer touchpoints.  This technology can anything from a solid workforce management system, IVR, community platforms, or even an iPhone.  Just remember technology is a tool, it should never be an objective.

Process: Oh, I loves me some process.  I don’t love process for process sake; but process that provides direction for others to empower themselves to do great things.  Stop thinking as process as red tape, but instead, think of process as a foundational step that sets your workforce loose to do amazing things.  Process and governance allows others to act within their guardrails and not need micro-management supervision.  Set your process foundation early; establish clear roles and responsibilities, clarify what is critical to quality, outline steps, and develop your control systems to determine your effectiveness.  Process aligns the organization, and mitigates good intentions without vision.

Data: If I hear one more person say “Big Data is going to be important in year 20XX, I’m gonna puke.  Big Data was important 25 years ago, is important today, and will be important 25 years from now.  (Ok rant over) Data enables you to move forward with foundational and strategy steps.  Data provides objective views on what has happened, is happening, and provides confidence in future initiatives.  Decisions not based on data are gut, and therefore often personal.  Personal decisions are much harder for others to get behind, and make influencing others outside of your organization more difficult.  There is plenty of data out there, and much more to be found.  Make sure you understand what is critical to the quality of your customer and what drives those metrics.  All the other data is nice to have, meaning unless you have extra analytical resources or time, focus on what is most important and dive deep.

Far too often, we spend weeks developing and designing strategy without ensuring it can be supported by a strong foundation, like the library at UMass.  The strategy can be beautifully constructed, innovative, and inspirational, but you don’t want to try executing it while proverbial bricks rain down.  Before you go much further, make sure your foundation steps (Culture, Best Talent, Technology, Process and Data) are in a place to carry the weight.

Have you ever tried executing a strategy with a faulty foundation? Were you able to correct in time?

When did you know your foundation was shaky?

Have you ever had a strategy executed near flawlessly because of your foundation?
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Is it time to flip Customer Service on its side? – along with Marketing, Sales, Product, etc…

Inception: Flipping Customer Service on it's sideBy michaelpace on february 15, 2012

I am not sure who originally designed how organizations should be aligned. Maybe it was the armies of the past, the mafia or some random Joe who gets no credit for how 99% of businesses are structured today. There is a Marketing Department, Sales, Customer Service, Product, IT, Human Resources, Accounting and each have their own little silos of metrics and goals. Great companies typically have a global vision, and each of the departments work together to develop an integrated strategy to deliver the vision and, more specifically, yearly goals. Each department outlines initiatives that have positive and negative impacts to budgets. They eventually get approval and proceed to execute. But what are the goals they are executing against? The goals that relate only to each department. The hope is, magically, the sum of the parts will add up to corporate goals. So Marketing starts executing on their acquisition and loyalty strategies. Sales works on their acquisition goals. Product may lead the pack or follow Marketing and Sales lead. And Customer Service takes all the flow down and tries to deliver something that more often than not, looks like adequate to good customer service.

This methodology has been in place for more than 100 years, so it obviously works well. And I am just some poor customer service blogging schmuck from Massachusetts. But why do we align this way? Why do we accept it? Skill set? Competencies? Scalability? Mentorship? Obviously, it is not to deliver a common goal. Maybe it is time to realign (yes, before the apocalypse of 2012). What if we flipped everything on its side, and aligned by organizational goals? (horizontal mambo baby!)

R & R Department (Retention and Referral)

This department is purely focused on keeping customers and making it easy for them to recommend your product, service or brand. If in some parallel universe someone asked you to deliver on goals, as stated above, would you really align by historical standards? Probably not, you might organize as follows:

Marketing:

  • Focused on maintaining communication and relationships with current customers
  • Developing loyalty programs
  • Incentives to deliver referrals
  • Communications to improve Average Revenue Per Unit or Customer
  • Communicating and partnering with other R & R areas to act as 1 unit

Product:

  • Delivering solutions to know bugs, enhancements and issues
  • End recipient of Voice of the Customer (VoC) program
  • Communicating and partnering with other R & R areas to act as 1 unit

Customer Service:

  • Act as the primary point of contact for customers to interact with the organization
  • Execute on retention, loyalty and referral strategies
  • Serve the customer
  • Cross sell value
  • Community Management
  • Be the primary internal resource to additions to the Voice of the Customer program

Sales:

  • Accountable for established relationship management, specifically in B2B sales

Acquisition Department

The Acquisition Department is purely focused on the acquisition of new customers. This department doesn’t look too much different than today, since acquisition for some odd reason typically has priority over Retention and Average Revenue Per Customer – even though 5 billion studies prove it cost considerably less to retain a customer than to acquire.

Actually, I don’t need to go over the following areas again. Just take what they do today, and remove the stated above responsibilities.

Broader infrastructure departments (IT, HR, G&A, etc…) would continue with Business As Usual, however they may want to align their resources to specific departments (R&R, Acquisition & General)

Aftermath

Now because you have “dis”organized, you will need to fill the potential gaps in skill set and competency development, leveraging scale and competing resources. Circle of Excellence teams can provide the forums for both the skill development and communication. In my own humble opinion, I would rather matrix these responsibilities than to matrix goals.

There are a lot of ways we work that exist only because that is how it’s been done for 100 years or 10 years (don’t get me started today on Net Promoter Scoring), but that doesn’t mean we need to continue or not try different ways to get things done. Even something as predictable as how an organization is aligned should be subject to questioning and asking the question of why do we do this?

Is anyone actually organized this way?

What are the other possibilities with this scenario?

Am I a little crazy?

Image credit: Warner Bros.

How to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team

By michaelpace on January 25, 2012

Again this week I am attending and speaking at a Customer Service / Contact Center conference, and I am seeing lots of talk of companies interested in social media, but very few acting on it.  I can understand the trepidation to jump in, and I am concerned for my horizontal (customer service).  The value of a social organization is so incredibly powerful, and by not participating you are missing more than just a new channel.  Over the last year and a half, I have presented the following presentation to help get folks started using social for Customer Service.

 

The Five Steps to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team

Now you don’t get the benefit of my performance, but I will try to provide a high level summary.

Starting with WHY:

  • Its how people are talking and sharing
  • Peer sharing is overwhelming more trusted than traditional marketing
  • Don’t believe me, go watch your kids

5 Steps to Success

  1. Get Yourself Involved
  • Get to know LinkedIn, Facebook (for business), Twitter, Blogs & other resources
  • Its like learning to ride a bike, you cannot do it by reading a book or watching

2.  Know Your Business

  • Overall strategy and objectives (social media is not an objective, its a tool)
  • Know your customers – what’s important, where are they, industry best practices
  • Get others involved

3.  Listen to your customers

  • Monitoring
  • Understand their language

4.  The Customer Conversation

  • Service Level Agreements for great social support
  • Know the voice of your brand
  • A conversation is two way, build a relationship rather than complete a transaction

5.  Capture Info and Catalog

  • Keep it simple at first
  • Don’t worry about operational metrics yet

Objectives and Metrics

  • Depending on your social maturity, balance business metrics and your learning agenda
  • Engagement = Customer Acquisition x Retention x Average Revenue x Profitability
  • Positive and negative sentiment impact customer acquisition and retention
  • Educate your customers – the more they trust and understand, the more they will spend
  • Social costs per channel can be 1/6 of other channels (phone)

Hiring and People

  • You need a different type of agent to handle social media conversations
  • Basic qualifications and responsibilities

If you have questions or would like to talk more about the presentation, comment or send me a note on LinkedIn, Twitter or email.

Presented at:

IQPC‘s Call Center Summit (Orlando) – January 2011

ICMI‘s ACCE(New Orleans) – June 2011

Contact Center Association Fall Event (Phoenix) – October 2011

ICMI‘s Call Center Demo (Dallas) – October 2011

TSIA’s Technology Services World (Las Vegas) – October 2011 *voted Top 10 presentations by attendees*

How to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team - The Customer Conversation

 

Social Star Wars Saga Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

By michaelpace on November 10, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all of you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I love what I do.  I [attempt to] thrill customers who choose “alternative” channels to receive their customer service or voice their opinions.  By alternative, I mean non-typical call center service; I lead Knowledge Management, Social and Community Support, and Process Management/Service Recovery teams.  I also have the good fortune to serve on the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, and occasionally speak at conferences.   For the past 22 months, I have straddled the space between the Customer Service/Experience and the Social Business/Media worlds, and have had the opportunity to meet incredible people from both sides, but rarely do they meet in the middle.  Social “Media” is hot in the Call Center/Customer Service arena right now, but for the audience of this post (see above) I have some strong words for you:

Stop trying to operationalize Social Customer Service (for now)

Stop asking these questions:

–          What kind of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) do we need?

–          How many people should we staff this with?

–          How can we calculate workforce management requirements?

–          How do I monitor quality?

–          How can tools (SCRM) answer the previous questions?

–          ETC…

If you are in the industry that provides these answers, stop answering the questions.

You cannot operationalize something you do not understand.  You may know how to swing a hammer, but that doesn’t make you a carpenter; it only makes you dangerous.   You need to understand the why and how of social business/media/tools before you get to the what.  Social business is very different than traditional linear business practices, there are multiple layers (called relationships).

Start asking these types of questions:

–          How can my team and I get involved in social business/media?

–          What communities or other conversation areas should we listen to and participate in?

–          Where are my customers talking now?  Where will they be?

–          What are some great resources for my team to find more information about this subject?

–          How do I conduct low-risk experiments?

–          How do I involve others departments in these initiatives?

–          ETC…

Once you understand the art of social business, you can start understanding the science (or start operationalizing your social presence).  Spend a couple months understanding the answers to the second set of questions.  You will know when you are ready, trust me, my “aha” moment hit me over the head like the hammer I was discussing earlier.  There are plenty of resources out there for help, build relationships with them, and you are always more than welcome to ping me.

So, what kind of questions do you find yourself asking (and answering) – Operational or Involvement related?

P.S. I do know operationalizing is not really a word, but you know what I mean.

P.S.S.  Great video for all leaders and readers on starting with Why from TED.

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Revenge of the Sith - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By michaelpace on November 7, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

As I mentioned in my last video post, one of the most popular questions asked of me by customer service leaders and people interested in social business is “What’s the ROI (Return on Investment) you are seeing with social media for customer service?” I love that question.  Folks seem to need to know that answer to move from social paralysis to engagement.

When asked here’s my first reply, ”Have you figured out the ROI of your bathroom?” (not sure where I got that from, but would love to give credit one day).  I reply with that rhetorical response for two reasons

1.) it breaks their conditioning and makes them stop

2.) the answer to that question is the same as the previous

I will usually ask them if they know the ROI of their broader Customer Service Department; which again usually provides the same answer.  It is really no different than if your customers were calling you and you didn’t pick up the phone, except they are also telling everyone who follows their messages.  It is becoming a business necessity.  The primary goal of customer service is customer retention, avoiding their contacts will not serve your retention goals.  As for actionable advice I give to customer service leaders, I provide two thoughts.

Focus on ROO (Return on Objectives) not ROI

Social business practices are still in their infancy, focus should be balanced between broader business goals, your learning agenda and metrics.  I like the way Jason Falls explains it in his new book No Bullshit Social Media.  Look at how social media helps your broader business goals:

  • Enhance branding and awareness
  • Protect brand reputation
  • Enhance public relations
  • Build community
  • Enhance customer service (VOC and general service)
  • Facilitate research and development
  • Drive leads and sales

Your learning agenda should include:

  • How to scale this operation
  • Cross department interactions
  • What kind of people are right for this role
  • What is needed from a content management standpoint
  • What infrastructure is needed to support

If social media is about Engagement, measure Customer Lifetime Value

I am sure there are lots of ways to measure CLV, here’s how I do:

Acquisition: What was the cost of acquisition? Is this customer referring others?

Retention: You need to have them as a customer gain value (duh)

Average Spend/Time period: How much and often do they spend money with your business

Profitability: Is this customer costing you too much to keep or are they efficient for your business (uses self service and community platforms for service)

I understand many business leaders want to understand how much allocating resources to social customer service will cost them and what will they get in return.  If you need to create a business case, I would use all of the above information (both soft and hard numbers) to make your case.  But the best way you can make the case is find out what your customers are saying to and about you and tell the story of why you need to play here.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Phantom Menace - Social Star Wars

 

How do you value the Customer Experience Executive role?

captain of shipBy Larry Streeter on October 19, 2011

A week or so ago, I was having a conversation with the SVP of Customer Service for a well known SaaS software company when the conversation turned to determining what value a Customer Experience Officer role would bring to their organization.  This was a company that clearly gets the importance of the total customer experience, but had not quite reached a size where they felt a full time role was justified.

The conversation hounded me for days.  And as I thought about how a company justifies the creation of a full time customer experience executive position, these are the questions I imagine are often asked.

Q.  “We already measure Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter, isn’t that enough?”

Satisfying customers will always be important.  Think about it!  No customer becomes loyal without first being satisfied.   But Customer Satisfaction metrics only represent a customer’s opinion of you at that moment in time instead of looking at your entire body of work.  These metrics can often times be discrete measures of specific touch points, such as “how satisfied are you with our product” or “rate your satisfaction with our Knowledge Base”.  A customer may rate each of these isolated interactions high, but what if the experience of going from the product to the KB is kludge?

Remember, satisfied customers will always come back to see what you have to offer but also are just as likely to check out your competitor!  Building a complete customer experience that creates loyalty will keep them from shopping elsewhere!

Q.  “We already have someone responsible for User Experience.  Aren’t they one in the same?”

A User is just that: someone using your product or service.  A Customer is someone continuously evaluating you based on the total experience.

Not long ago I gave a presentation where I describe the overall Customer Experience as similar to being engaged.  Both represent:

  • a commitment to a long-term relationship,
  • being proactively involved in the relationship, and
  • having an emotionally, psychologically, and physically connection.

Someone using your product or service may like what’s right in front of them but not necessarily be committed to the long term.  Almost like “Yeah, he/she is fun to hang out with, but I wouldn’t bring them home to meet my parents”.  Someone in your organization needs to be looking at the total lifecycle of touch points your customers have with you, not just how to go seamlessly from screen to screen in your product.

Q.  “We’re already a customer-focused company from the top down.  What can an executive responsible for the Customer Experience offer?”

It’s hard to believe anyone would dispute the long-term value of a superior customer experience.  Many studies have been done quantifying increases in retention and revenue from companies that exhibit world-class effort on achieving an awe-inspiring customer experience.  But the ROI doesn’t have to take years to realize.  Making the leap to dedicate someone full time can bring immediate, short-term benefits companies often overlook.

Companies may have top-down commitment on being customer focused but is their alignment amongst the executives and senior managers on exactly what that means?  People may be working hard to build a great customer experience within their own silos but the glue that holds them all together is a well-defined customer experience roadmap.  With the input from others, a customer experience executive can bring exceptional focus to defining and shaping that roadmap and clarity and organization to achieving success.

Sustainability of customer experience improvement efforts is always a challenge.  Kick off meetings and initial efforts to begin making improvements can soon lose their momentum as people go begin slowly gravitating back to their day jobs.  Unfettered by anything else, the customer experience executive’s “day job” is just that: making sure the organization’s commitment to the roadmap remains top of mind.

And finally, there’s always the bottom line!  Accountability for defining and measuring results is often overlooked on cross-functional efforts to improve the total customer experience.  And while the customer experience executive can provide that single “ring-able neck” for the definition and reporting of customer experience improvements, it does not necessarily make them solely accountable for the results achieved.  In a company that defines themselves as “already focused on the customer experience from the top down”, everyone from the executives on down are responsible for the actual results!

Companies at the top of the lists for revenue growth and customer satisfaction already recognize the long-term value associated with a dedicated executive at the helm of the customer experience.  But they didn’t wait to achieve these results before bringing them aboard!  Can your company afford not to have someone with their “hands on the wheel” today?

 

Guest Writer: Larry Streeter

Larry Streeter is a contact center / customer experience executive with 20+ years experience building award-winning customer support organizations that drive customer long-term value through the contact center. 

His passion for delivering an extraordinary customer experience, building scalable infrastructure while increasing shareholder value, and developing top performing teams as well as future leaders has helped world-class companies achieve significant growth and customer satisfaction.

You can find Larry on Twitter @lstreeter01 & blogs at http://serviceexcellencedefined.blogspot.com/

Does Bon Jovi know Customer Service & Social Business?

By michaelpace on July 28, 2011Bon Jovi Boston                                          Bon Jovi pontificating after a blown speaker fuse during their Boston show in March – image via @chickswguitars

If you are like me, you probably do some of your best thinking in the shower or on your commute to work.  The other day, while doing a little commute dancing and jamming to Bad Medicine, the greatest 80’s song of all time, I had an epiphany for my Social Support team.  That specific idea needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but I also came to the realization that both in the shower and on my commute I am usually rocking out to some tunes.  Maybe I was smarter in the 80’s, or hair band music releases brain motivating endorphins, or maybe, even it’s the slightest possible chance, Bon Jovi’s music has subliminal hidden meaning for Customer Service and Social Business rockstars?   Ok, probably not, but if I am to be a true scientist of how to deliver superior Customer and Social Service, I will need to investigate this possibility.

 

Bad Medicine

On The Surface: This is uber quintessential cheesy 80’s hair band song, presumably about a woman’s love being like a drug.

Questionable Quote: Bon Jovi concert

I ain’t got a fever got a permanent disease
And it’ll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy
And I got lots of money but it isn’t what I need
Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison outta me
And I got all the symptoms, count ’em 1, 2, 3

Possible Deeper Meaning: All the money in the world sometimes cannot get a customer to the right person to handle their problem or poison.  So why not enable every representative of your organization the ability to help a customer?  Organizations that focus and exercise strong knowledge management practices/processes provide the tools for assistance regardless of where the call ends up.

I’ll Be There For You

On The Surface: Man treats incredible woman poorly, and is really regretful of his decisions.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi stage

I guess this time you’re really leaving
I heard your suitcase say goodbye
And as my broken heart lies bleeding
You say true love in suicide

You say you’re cried a thousand rivers
And now you’re swimming for the shore
You left me drowning in my tears
And you won’t save me anymore

Now I’m praying to God
You’ll give me one more chance, girl

I’ll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I’ll be there for you

Possible Deeper Meaning: I think Jon may be talking about retention here, and isn’t that the primary goal of all Customer Service operations?  In particular, I believe he is talking about your service’s availability and its role in customer retention.  Do you have a good understanding when your customers are using your product or service?  Do you need 24/7/365 human support?  Should you outsource (domestically, near shore or offshore) to create flexibility and availability?  Do you have resources that your customers can access on demand, such as knowledge centers or FAQ’s, tutorials, videos, taped webinars, or branded / unbranded communities?  Are you there for your customers and are those 6 words you’ll swear you’ll do?

Just Older (a personal favorite)

On The Surface: About a man who is getting older, but still doesn’t consider himself old and useless.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi closeup

I like the bed I’m sleeping in 
It’s just like me, it’s broken in 
It’s not old – just older 
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans 
This skin I’m in it’s alright with me 
It’s not old – just older 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Jon and crew could relate to phone support.  Yes, it is our industry’s most familiar technology for customers to reach out to companies with issues, comments or questions.  While older, it is still the best way to create a bond between customers and companies.  Companies that monitor beyond compliance quality, and allow their phone representatives go “off script” or even (wait for it) let them be humans have the potential to really connect and build relationships with their customers.  Great conversations lead to relationships, and relationships lead to retention.  Yes, there are a lot of new and shiny ways to connect with your customers, but you phone support is still your relationship foundation.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

On The Surface: Rock band wants to live life to its fullest

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi concert start

Until I’m six feet under 
I don’t need a bed 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 
Till they roll me over 
And lay my bones to rest 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi must also be his band’s Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager, because we all know these roles in organizations have minimum sleep qualifications.  In an informal poll (really informal), the average Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager sleeps 6.4 hours per week.  They are usually recognizable by their iPhone with Hootsuite running constantly, and tucked under their pillow.  Communities and social networks operate 24/7/365, and can operate in a self service manner, but all the best ones require consistent management.  And by consistent management, I do not meaning just monitoring.  Community and social business require content creation, curation and connection.  It is no wonder Jon just figures he’ll sleep when he is dead.

Livin’ on a Prayer

One the Surface: Fictional couple (Tommy & Gina) struggling make ends meet and maintain their relationship

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi screen

There are no questionable quotes in this song, as it is the most fun song of all time (line in sand has been officially drawn).  Try not to sing this:

We gotta hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got
Whoa, we’re half way there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi clearly knows how hard it is to be a Customer Service and Social Business superstar.  This is just pure entertainment.  So if you are Community or Social Support Manager, take a few minutes and get your rock horns ready for some head banging.

In conclusion, apparently it is scientifically impossible to tell if Bon Jovi is subliminally singing about Customer Service and/or Social Business or not.  I suggest more research needs to be done in this area.  I may check to see if this scientific discovery can fit into the National Debt debate going on right now (should only be a few million for me to travel and follow the band).

If you have put up with me this far, thank you for letting me have a little fun and break away from the hardcore Customer Service, Social, Business Process Management & Leadership focus.  While there are things to be learned here, we all need to take a summer vacation from our norms sometimes.  Rock on Soul Brothers!

 

Images by @chickswguitars my partner in crime at Bon Jovi’s Boston 2011 show

For an amazing collection of pictures and videos from the Boston 2011 show created by @chickswguitars

 

 

Stop operationalizing Social Customer Service (for now)

By michaelpace on May 8, 2011

go directly to jail

 

Audience for this post: Customer Service Leaders, Call Center Leaders, Partners/Vendors, SCRM peeps, Social Media Consultants

Not for: People who understand social business, social tools, and practice more than just daily

 

I love what I do.  I [attempt to] thrill customers who choose “alternative” channels to receive their customer service or voice their opinions.  By alternative, I mean non-typical call center service; I lead Knowledge Management, Social and Community Support, and Process Management/Service Recovery teams.  I also have the good fortune to serve on the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, and occasionally speak at conferences.   For the 15 months, I have straddled the space between the Customer Service/Experience and the Social Business/Media worlds, and have had the opportunity to meet incredible people from both sides, but rarely do they meet in the middle.  Social “Media” is hot in the Call Center/Customer Service arena right now, but for the audience of this post (see above) I have some strong words for you:

Stop trying to operationalize Social Customer Service (for now)

Stop asking these questions:

–          What kind of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) do we need?

–          How many people should we staff this with?

–          How can we calculate workforce management requirements?

–          How do I monitor quality?

–          How can tools (SCRM) answer the previous questions?

–          ETC…

If you are in the industry that provides these answers, stop answering the questions.

You cannot operationalize something you do not understand.  You may know how to swing a hammer, but that doesn’t make you a carpenter; it only makes you dangerous.   You need to understand the why and how of social business/media/tools before you get to the what.  Social business is very different than traditional linear business practices, there are multiple layers (called relationships).

Start asking these types of questions:

–          How can my team and I get involved in social business/media?

–          What communities or other conversation areas should we listen to and participate in?

–          Where are my customers talking now?  Where will they be?

–          What are some great resources for my team to find more information about this subject?

–          How do I conduct low-risk experiments?

–          How do I involve others departments in these initiatives?

–          ETC…

Once you understand the art of social business, you can start understanding the science (or start operationalizing your social presence).  Spend a couple months understanding the answers to the second set of questions.  You will know when you are ready, trust me, my “aha” moment hit me over the head like the hammer I was discussing earlier.  There are plenty of resources out there for help, build relationships with them, and you are always more than welcome to ping me.

 

So, what kind of questions do you find yourself asking (and answering) – Operational or Involvement related?

P.S.  For those folks who this post was not intended for, we need to clear and develop the paths for operationalizing social business (NOW).

P.S.S. I do know operationalizing is not really a word, but you know what I mean.

P.S.S.S.  Great video for all leaders and readers on starting with Why from TED.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html