Consider this inspirational business vision: I want to master the art of amazing my customers. It sounds exciting, and customer service expert and bestselling author, Shep Hyken, brings this vision into clear focus in a recent Series Pass webcast with Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist, Vala Afshar (watch it here).
In this fireside chat, Vala and Shep discuss the power of building customer service strategies that infuse a culture of service throughout organizations, and utilize technology to create a personalized relationship with customers. Here’s a look at five major customer service questions from this webcast that only an expert like Shep Hyken could answer. Then, we look at some apps that help execute on Hyken’s ideas.
How do you frame the dialogue of customer service and support? Many of us see customer service as a department, but according to Shep Hyken, it should be seen as a culture. Hyken sees customer service as a philosophy that has to be embraced by every person in the company.
Shep Hyken: Define what your culture looks like. What is your service vision? Ritz-Carlton has a nine-word credo: "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." Now, that's something that every employee understands. It’s not only great for the employees to understand it, but if their customers hear it, they know what it means as well. It's a brand promise. It’s one sentence long. I've sat in boardrooms and asked executives to share their customer service mission statement. If it’s two pages long, it’s not easily definable, memorable, or easy to understand. That's where it all starts.
We see the transformational impact of technology across all businesses, including companies of all sizes. Whether it’s the mobile revolution, the social revolution, data science, the connected device, or the Internet of Things, there’s significant focus on the energy around technology. This is where the potential for the human element can be lost. However, it has to have the same degree of focus in order to delight your customers.
Shep Hyken: I'm excited about technology. If technology is used properly, technology makes the service experience better. Think about what has happened with airlines. Do you remember how we used to make a reservation many years ago? We picked up a telephone and made a phone call. And many times, we were put on hold. And then, we talked to reservationists about all of the options. Then we decided which one to book. Today, we do this all online. Airlines have created a technology. It’s about making a better experience for the customer. If there's a problem or issue, ensure there is human back up. 7’s CEO, PV Kannan, shared in an interview that there is a group of people that will likely never use technology. If you want to keep them as your customers, instill human support.
Bonus app to do the job: Automating your accounting and financial processes will allow your team to focus on customer relationships, and do so with accurate, real-time data. Check out FinancialForce Accounting to streamline your opportunity to cash process, manage revenue, and generate real time financial analysis and compliance reports.
Forrester recently published findings noting that for the second year in a row, web or mobile self-service was preferred over speaking with a customer service agent over the phone. Technology-savvy companies know about these trends; however, customers ultimately build relationships with people.
Shep Hyken: So think about this: People do business with people. Who built that app? A person. A person built it in order for a person to use it. It’s people doing business with people, or people using technology that people developed. It's important to understand that everybody has a customer. Jan Carlzon, president of Scandinavian Airlines back in the early 1980s, said in his book, Moments of Truth, that if you are not actually supporting the customer, you're probably supporting somebody that does. Everybody has a customer, and everybody has to embrace the concept that customer service is not a department, it's a philosophy.
Bonus app to do the job: Find and connect with contacts faster using apps such as Velocify Pulse. With automatic triggers to ensure that the right email or phone call goes out at the right time, you’ll take the optimal action for every contact. You can even access contact data in real time to gain insights and drill down into individual metrics.
In Shep Hyken’s book, Amazement Revolution and The Cult of The Customer, there's a common theme. Excellent customer service organizations are proactive, and have a sense of urgency around leveraging predictive analytics to anticipate the needs of their customers.
Shep Hyken: One of the most important aspects of service — whether it be hold times or fast answers — is speed. Information will give you speed. And wouldn't it be cool to have information that the customer needs before they even ask for it? Hence, predictive analytics. We can determine what they're going to need, so we can get it to them faster, quicker, almost proactively, as if we're almost reading their minds.
Bonus app to do the job: Speed should be infused throughout the organization, especially in sales. Accelerate your contract process with SpringCM. SpringCM streamlines the contract process to shorten the sales cycle, drive productivity and accelerate revenue. With contract tracking features, users gain deeper insight into the status of any sales document or contract via Salesforce1.
Anticipating your customers’ needs is important, but speed — or as Afshar says, “execution velocity” — is crucial as well. After all, customers are looking for fast resolution. To amaze your customers, you have to be fast and complete, because you don't want to have a repeat call on the same issue. So accuracy and quality of service is key. However, speed must also play a role.
Shep Hyken: The best definition of customer success is setting the customer up for success, so they don't have to make these calls. After the issue is resolved, a great support rep would say, “Let me tell you about a few things that you might encounter as you start getting into this deeper.” Now, we're giving the customer the opportunity to be more successful with more information.