Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Use customer data for efficacy (‘experience’ not required)

Data will be the biggest driver for retailers in 2019, as stores become more astute at knowing who their consumers really are. The Future Forecast 2019 Report goes on to talk about how smart retailers who use data to provide thought-provoking cultural experiences will prosper in this future. (Read more)

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Customer service done well is a lot of little things

Anyone else NOT want to call customer service? It’s a battle that goes on inside me… I cannot solve the problem by myself, but I know that if I do call I’m going to have to go through a series of selecting numbers from a menu and then be put on hold multiple times whilst they transfer me around the organisation in search of that special person who can solve the problem. I have had so many awful experiences with one service provider (not mentioning any names Telstra) that I now go to the re-seller and get them to do it, rather than having to go direct. It’s a buffer, the ‘one step removed’ position allows me to commiserate with the person in JB Hi-Fi whilst I shop for headphones, movies or music. I find it more tolerable. When I got locked out of my bank account on Saturday morning it meant I would have to call customer service. There are too many stories of fraudulent experiences online for me to put this one off. I did all my number selecting only to get to the recorded voice that told me there was ‘unexpectedly high number of calls,’ thankfully, rather than making me wait (and build the frustration level) there was a callback option. I took it. About 10 mins later I got the callback. I waited for the customer service person to arrive on the line. Alexis (no idea if that’s her real name) introduced herself and I had to STOP myself from commenting on the fact that: (a) the line was A.MAZING; it was like I was talking to someone over a phone line in Australia, and (b) I had no trouble understanding her (i.e. lack of obsequious formalities) as she spoke in plain English (no jargon). She understood the problem and said she would unlock the account. Did I remember my code? Yes, I did and I didn’t understand how I came to be locked out. She explained that if someone else with a similar member code had inadvertently used my code they could unintentionally lock me out of my account. She waited on the line whilst I checked my account login and confirmed that all was OK and then wished me a good day. The whole thing took less than 4 minutes! I was, I admit, in a bit of shock! Where was the usual frustration that I had steeled myself for? That was easy, pleasant and explained why I had experienced the problem to start with. WOAH!! So, what did they do well? I think it helps that my expectations are incredibly low. For this, you can say thank you to Australian banks, government agencies, telcos and insurance providers who, over the years, have conditioned me to expect nothing less than the horrific waste of my time trying to navigate their internal workings to get what I need. Reflecting on the experience, I can see these things that made the whole thing smooth and painless from the customer perspective: They didn’t make me wait online (frustration builds while people wait for you to attend to them) and they gave me a call when it was my turn. That way I could get on with watching my kid’s hockey game until they were ready. The communication fundamentals worked, a clear phone line (not VOIP offshore) meant that there were no “Pardon, can you repeat that?” moments. Reducing the friction of communication is essential both inside and outside organisations. She spoke like one human to another - no jargon, no ma’ams, just the essentials to sort out the issue. it was an easy conversation with a grown up! She checked that I could now log into my account and was happy to wait the additional 45 seconds on the line whilst I confirmed that the problem was solved. There’s a lot of back-office work that goes into making frictionless customer service work, we've talked about it a lot, and it's not easy but I think from this experience we can all agree that the basics are achievable. The same things done well here can also apply to all business interactions (maybe even project meetings!).

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Insurance Dis-trust makes customers feel like criminals

Everyone cheats a little bit, says behavioural economist Dan Ariely. Insurance companies know this too, so they have processes in place to assess the validity of claims. From a business perspective, I get this, it’s a very sensible move and one that hopefully weeds out fraudulent claims. My recent experience on the customer side of lodging an insurance claim has left me wanting to take a broom to insurance processes and really clean the place out! (Read more)

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Returns Pain Reduction 3 Retail Basics to apply

Two recent experiences have highlighted that there are retailers who are still struggling with the returns process. It’s worth revisiting this subject to consider how to get ahead of the returns pain. We can start by reducing the number of returns. As with many things in life, returns pain may need ongoing experimental treatment before it completely recedes. 1.     Give the most possible information that you can about your product 37% of returns pain comes from the product not fitting or the customer not liking it (ref, KPMG Omnichannel survey 2016).  We can try to close this gap by providing greater detail about the product. The more detailed your product information the more confident a customer can feel about the original purchase. So, details like dimensions, materials, weight, how to install it/ use it/ the obvious benefits/ the unexpected benefits of the product. Product images are incredibly important, most retailers understand that customers want to see the product from multiple angles, take it another step. Customers also want the capacity to get close-up and personal and look at the fine detail of stitching or get an idea of context so, for fashion and footwear on body or maybe a virtual dressing room, for appliances installed, for homewares in a room. Consider what additional information customers might want to know, how to care for the product, what it goes well with, what doesn't work with it. Consider too, what will it be like after 'x' period of time? A good time to highlight trade-in offers or after sales care and service too. Social proof also really helps support customers making good decisions online. Others that have bought the product describing their experience, seeing products used and in use in a variety of different ways gives greater confidence in the choice. Encouraging those who have already bought to leave ratings and reviews on products builds out the depth of information on your product, some retailers offer a $/% off for a referral or for customers to earn points by sharing their experiences. 2.     Fix returns pain by fixing returns reporting Whether there is an online store or not in your business there is no reason to be reporting returns against the returning store rather than the originating store. If store A has aggressive selling techniques and pushes customers to buy or over-buy then that store is likely to have a higher rate of return. It is also likely that customers will not want to go back to a store that has this kind of practice and so returns will go back to other stores in the network. If you are not reporting returns against the original sale store, it hides the problem.  What’s the point of reporting anything if you don’t get some useful insight or actionable correction from it? In the same way when we refund we go back to the original transaction and use that payment type, we must go back to the originating store and allocate the return against that stores sales. 3.     Encourage customers to go back to store If the customer bought online and can go into store then it’s a better potential outcome for both customer and retailer. For the retailer because it reduces the cost of return freight, although many retailers are reconsidering free returns policies after customer abuse. A face to face interaction has a greater chance of being able to solve the customer’s problem, if something is not working as expected or doesn’t quite look like it did online hopefully store teams can resolve and keep the sale.  If not, and the process in store is ‘easy’ then the customer will likely keep that retailer on their long-term shopping list. If the customer has deliberately over ordered or it is your policy to encourage customers to buy two and return one then make it easy for the customer by putting the returns label into the parcel with the delivery. 95% of customers do not purchase again after a BAD returns experience. If you are struggling to make the returns process work, get in touch, we would love to work with you to make this a key selling point in your business. Image Credit Mike Petrucci

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Rowing Retail: Planning helps keep captive customers

There we are, a group of loyal, crazy parents who stand on the riverbank cheering our girls (who claim to be unable to hear us from the boats). Rowing is a tough sport, it’s a team sport like no other and I’m not going to wax on about it because only rowers are interested, but the summary is, that it takes a certain kind of determination to stick at rowing and just get the boat over the line. (Read more)

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Why Simple Customer Service is Never Simple

Understanding the motivation for a customer is not simple. This was made personal for me, in a conversation with my son this week. We have started using an ‘order online, deliver planned meals to your doorstep’ type service, and he was asking me if he could have some control over selection of meals. Nope. That’s not how it goes, the whole point is that someone else makes that decision for you. “Why do you think I like that idea?” and he had a bunch of great answers about why I might like that idea, from time saving, money saving, faster cooking the whole gamut. But he missed the pain point for me.  It’s possibly too much, to expect that an organisation, and those who work there, are going to understand my reason for choosing their service, but what they can focus on is giving me the choice in that service. That’s the simple bit. (Read more)

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