General

Is your IVR driving people away?

Have you ever taken 5 minutes out of your busy day to ring your own company and navigate through your IVR from the point of view of your customers?  Have you got any idea of how your calls are being handled by your phone system and agents?  If you answered ‘no’ to either or both of those questions then it’s time you put yourself in the position of one of your callers…

Make a coffee, sit down and go through your system to see how efficient (or not) it is.

We all know how quickly things can change within a company with staff turnover, different departments, different services, different contacts…but what about the IVR?

For many business owners, once the IVR is in place it gets taken for granted – sits there doing its job quite happily, but starts to feel a little stale and unloved after a while.  To give your valued customers the service they deserve, your IVR needs to be all-encompassing but not exhaustive, informative but not monotonous. 

And that’s exactly what we can help you with.

IVR Menus should be kept to a minimum of options, ideally no more than 4 or 5 per level; nobody likes sitting on the end of a phone listening to a list of menu options for 2-minutes or more– they glaze over and just press # or 0 to speak to a human.

Speak to your agents and ask them about the demeanour of callers once they’re speaking to them.  If your call handlers are regularly faced with disgruntled, fed up callers, is there something your IVR menu can do to improve their journey through your customer service?

Self-service options are brilliant – but are yours efficient, and, more importantly, accurate?  There’s nothing more frustrating than surviving an automated Spanish Inquisition to then hear, ‘I’m sorry, there has been a problem processing your information at this time, please call back’.  They most certainly will not want to call back…so don’t even go there!

Look at your call data and act on it – it will give you vital information about caller abandonment rates, such as at what stage in the system they hung up and how long they waited before they did so.  This will help to produce a tailor-made IVR system and stop mistakes being made either from the callers’ behalf, or from your end – nobody likes to admit it, but we all make mistakes occasionally.

Would you like a second opinion?

Request your Free IVR Review…

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Not got an IVR system in place, no worries we can help you design the perfect caller experience call us on 0161 850 3033.

A little empathy goes a long way...

‘Your call is very important to us…’

‘Is it?  Really? I’m pretty sure if it was that important to you, you’d answer it now’, she sighs and mutters under her breath whilst listening to yet another impersonal, mildly patronising on hold message for the zillionth time this week.

So what is it that irritates us so much about being on hold or sometimes seemingly lost in the depths of an IVR system?  These messages sublimate – and quite often infuriate – us, and all because they are missing one vital trick: empathy.

Empathy is not the same as sympathy – nobody ‘holding the line’ or waiting to hear what feels like an endless list of options needs sympathy.  But a little empathy goes a long way.

Empathy, in dictionary definition terms, ‘is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’; the requirement for this from either a system of messages, or from a call handler, is self-explanatory really; know who you’re talking to, and gauge the messages or conversation accordingly.

Pre-recorded messages can only go so far to creating an empathetic tone; because of their nature they are not tailored to each individual caller, they have to ‘cover all bases’.  But if you’re operating a call centre, having empathetic call handlers could just be your key to success.  Your call handlers are talking to your customers in real-time, and if they have received comprehensive training, should be able to tailor the art of their conversation to correctly match the nature of the call.

If you really want your callers to believe their call is important to you, all you need is some investment in training and understanding how to convey empathy; often the opening few seconds after a call is answered are the most vital – get the callers’ back up, and you’ve lost them.

Empathy Statements

Take, for example, the following three statements:

  • ‘A member of our team will look into this for you’

  • ‘I will ask a member of the team to look into this for you as soon as possible’

  • ‘I will look into this for you today and let you know the outcome’

Adding that personal touch makes a huge difference; the first statement is completely anonymous, conveying the message that someone somewhere might get around to looking into the problem at some point – it doesn’t give a huge amount of faith to your customer that the issue will ever be resolved.

The second statement adds a little bit of a personal touch with ‘I’, however there is no immediacy in what’s being said – the ball is just getting passed into someone else’s court.

However the third statement has a personal guarantee that your call handler will be addressing the issue themselves, whether this be immediately whilst the caller is on the line, or as soon as the call has ended, and they will re-contact the caller with their findings.

The caller will feel at ease that their issue (however trivial it may seem to your company) is resolved by the actual human being they are speaking to, and will be resolved as soon as possible.

Think about the language used by your call handling team, and by the pre-recorded messages you have installed on your phone system…you may well find there is a more empathetic way to operate your company’s phone system.

For any advice, why not give us a call on 0161 850 3033 and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Battle of the Bots

When it comes to man vs robot we’re a little torn. On the one hand, there is a slight ‘threat’ to some jobs potentially, such as the self-service checkout replacing cashier or the ATM machine replacing bank tellers. However, there are plenty of reasons we’re on board with the idea of automation and technology making everyone’s lives that little bit easier.

Consumer spending has slowed to around 1.6% this year and is due to drop further in 2018, this is partly due to uncertainty relating to the UK’s departure from the EU, however, the UK economy is expected to grow around 2% after we have left.

It’s estimated that around 30% of existing UK jobs could be at risk of automation by 2030, industries that could potentially be affected range from wholesale and retail to manufacturing and transport and storage. Whilst these sectors have already introduced certain features that use machines in place of employees, this could see humans replaced by robots and sophisticated technology.

What changes have we seen in recent years?

  • Self service checkouts

  • ATM Machines

  • Amazon drones

  • Self service or order points at coffee shops and fast food restaurants

  • Telephone systems using IVR to direct calls rather than a receptionist

A recent report from the PWC has noted that the Government needs to respond to the changes, by addressing them in education and training to ensure that employees can adapt to these technological advancements.

New technology shouldn’t be seen as a threat, one way to look at it would be to see how productivity can be improved, there are already plenty of tools that businesses use to increase productivity and technology has provided many of them.

Next time you hear someone claim that “machines steal jobs” it’s worth pointing out how they could actually have improved someone’s work prospects. Take a receptionist’s role, for example, handling telephone calls for several departments, completing office admin tasks, taking the minutes at meetings, the list of duties goes on.

How could technology help in the workplace?

As you’re aware, we know a thing or two about phones. Introduce a simple IVR menu to greet your customers when they call and then present them with all the different departments that the receptionist would previously had to transfer the caller to. This means the customer can choose the specific department or service that they need and get through without being transferred, saving time for both customer and employee. You wouldn’t want your website to confuse or deter your customers so your phone system shouldn’t either!

AEI supports the introduction of new technology in the workplace, highlighting the benefits “We see a whole number of occupations where you might think that technology is going to destroy jobs because it’s taking over tasks; and the reverse happens.”

Telephone systems have improved drastically in the last few years as well, meaning not only can you improve your customer’s experience by providing them with a quick and simple way to navigate but you can ensure employee productivity is at its peak too with VoIP providers offering plenty of functions to help. 

“How machines can complement what humans do and create increased demand should not be overlooked when evaluating the rise of the robots.”

To find out how you could join the winning side in the battle of the bots give us a call today!

Personalisation is the key to an exceptional customer experience

We all know that happy customers are an important ingredient in the recipe for a successful business. Enviable customer service has been proven to lead to improved customer retention, loyalty and of course revenue. There’s something to be said for the standout employee who is always receiving high praise, but consistency is key and should be reflected across the board no matter who handles your call.

So how do you ensure that all your customers leave a call feeling like they’ve just spoken to your best employee?

The ‘Six Pillars’ of customer experience excellence, discussed in a recent report are;

  • Personalisation

  • Integrity

  • Time and effort

  • Expectations

  • Resolution

  • Empathy

All of these factors combined create one unique ‘story’ for a specific customer relating to their experiences with your company. The key is personalisation, it might seem like a small factor but wishing a customer a Happy Birthday if they call around that time and you have that information or providing your own recommendations about a product or service that your company offers makes a customer feel you’ve gone the extra mile.

There’s nothing worse than having to repeatedly call a company for the same reason only to find that none of the previous conversations you’ve had with other agents are recorded in any way. Is there a way that your agents can record and access this information?

  • Know your customer

  • What did they purchase or what are they interested in based on past interaction?

  • Know why this customer may be contacting you

  • Know what the customer may want based on previous interactions

All of this information can be used by your agent to better interpret or assist with the customer’s needs, create a better B2C relationship, help shape future interactions with the customer for other agents, increase the likelihood that your customer will leave the call feeling positive about the level of personalisation and thus be more likely to recommend you.

Like it or not we’re all suckers for a compliment, make your customers feel special, respected, that their time is like gold dust and you are a heaven-sent customer service angel ready to wow them with your professional, yet approachable nature. It’s human nature to feel just a little self-obsessed from time to time so why shouldn’t we indulge ourselves with a bit of flattery every now and again?

KMPG Nunwood found in their report that personalisation had “the most significant impact on advocacy and loyalty.”

The report looks at how as business you will likely have looked at metrics and targeted customers based on their individual behaviour yet when we put ourselves into the customer’s shoes this changes your whole strategy, your focus should be on how your agents and company respond to your customer’s needs as this is a crucial element in developing and improving their experience.

How can you include personalisation in your customer service?

  • Friendly and warm greetings

  • Use of the customer’s name

  • Know your customer’s history

  • Patience and empathy with the customer

  • Personalising and recommending products and services

  • Listen to your customer and ask questions

If you’re ready to start making customers feel that their relationship with your company is one worth maintaining, then you need to ensure that there’s consistency, this means putting in the time and effort! If you’re not quite sure where to start why not speak to us about how we can help improve your customer experience, we know our stuff!

How Is Your Customer Experience?

At the weekend, I visited a local shop. There was a counter assistant I’d not seen before and in the two minutes that she served me she made so many mistakes, none of them were to do with the till or scanning the products but they were all relating to customer service.

Here’s what didn’t happen:

  • She didn’t say hello

  • She didn’t tell me how much I owed

  • She didn’t offer me a bag

  • She didn’t tell me how much change I was due

  • She didn’t say thank you or goodbye, which in turn made me not say thank you or goodbye

Instead, once I left I told three people how rude I thought she was and how I was surprised that she’d been offered a job there. They were very small things but it was the amount of small things that were not done that frustrated me, those aspects in isolation could be forgiven if forgotten, however all contribute to an experience overall.

How you make a customer feel is one of, if not the most important factor for a customer when they choose to buy from a brand.

A recently study by JitBit has identified just how much poor customer service and experience is damaging your profits.

Angry customers – like me – are ‘silent assassins’ with a reported 95% of us sharing a story about a bad experience with a company, with 48% of us telling ten or more people about it. Now, had the lady in the shop realised what she’d not done I’m sure she would have done everything to put it right but as Business Training Works CEO Kate Zabriskie says:

“the customer’s perception is your reality”.

What else did the report discover about how detrimental bad customer service is? Get ready for some hard-hitting stats that will make you want to call an emergency review of your customer service pronto.

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one. I need to visit that shop a further 12 times and have positive experiences each time to make up for two minutes of poor customer service. You can see how difficult it’d be to retain a customer if this happened repeatedly.

86% of people will not purchase from a business which has negative reviews.

Why are your customers going elsewhere?

There’s a few reasons but a lot are to do with staff incompetency, demeanour or waiting times.

  • 42% switched to a competitor because staff were rude

  • 29% switched because of poorly trained staff

  • 25% were kept on hold for too long – we can help with Call Queuing Messages

These next few show just how little time you have, to impress a customer or put a bad experience right.

  • 51% of customers will only try to reach support once

  • 78% will bail on a transaction because of a poor experience, whether that be a website issue or poorly handled sales call.

We hate to break it to you but the customer is always right, as a business, you probably think the service you provide is top notch. 80% of companies believe that they deliver superior customer service, however in the customer’s eyes they are way off, with a meagre 8% of customers believing that companies DO deliver superior customer service and only 1% of customers believing that this is consistent.

What do you need to do?

Well you’ve got just over three years (according to the study) until customer experience “overtakes price and product as the key brand differentiator” and retaining your existing customers is a good place to begin, since it’s nearly 7 times more expensive to replace a customer than it is to keep a current one.

Why not get in touch with us to see if there’s anything we can do to advise on your customer service?

Want to rival the kings of customer service?

This weekend you might have been fooled by Nick Jablonka’s festive ‘spoof’ of the beloved John Lewis Christmas advert, which already has everyone talking. Jablonka’s advert was actually part of his A-Level Media coursework. By Sunday the video had been viewed more than 375,000 times. If a student can rival the John Lewis Christmas advert, then you can do your best to rival them as one of the top companies in the UK for customer service.

There’s no excuse when it comes to good customer service, it’s something we can all learn, we just need to know where to make the improvements.

1 – Knowledge & Experience
You may never have worked in customer service before but you could have spent the last ten years in a role which has given you the skills and prepared you to excel in that position. Companies need to look at the people they have in place and realise that development of current staff is crucial not only for morale but also to highlight the talent they already employ, rather than choosing to outsource. Consider putting together a skills matrix, a graph or spreadsheet of the main tasks your business completes and who within the company;

  • Requires full training
  • Requires some training
  • Could complete the tasks assisted
  • Could complete the tasks unaided but with review
  • Is fully Trained
  • You might find that certain areas need some work or that you’ve misjudged your staff’s capabilities.

 

2 – Stop treating the contact centre as a separate entity to your business.
Departments that work together stay together. If your contact centre is performing well, communicating effectively and helping customers, all other departments need to be performing at the same level, so as not to drag other sections of the business down. Contact centres are a hub of communication, there’s no excuse for this being ineffective. Interdepartmental communication can be a challenge, with various managers, team relationships and probably a particular approach.

In order to appreciate why interdepartmental strategising is so important, look at what the contact centre is responsible for and how this relates to other aspects of the business. Talking to customers, your staff will learn about their common queries, how they prefer to get in touch, what they like and dislike about the company. All of this knowledge will affect how you as a company decide on your marketing, your services, your FAQs and how these are presented to the customer.

Vice Versa this is just as important, what use is great customer service if your contact centre staff don’t currently know what is being marketed or offered or can’t tell your customers where to go on your website to find what they’re looking for? Integrate the contact centre into your whole business.

3 – Using a Net Promoter Score

This index ranges from -100 to 100, it looks at your customer’s behaviour and measures how willing they are to recommend or criticise your business to others. It works by measuring your customer’s experience and is based on their answers to common survey questions like; “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

The customer’s response then fits them into one of three groups;

-          Promoters – A score of 9-10 – Loyal customers who are most likely to continue to buy or engage with your company whilst also recommending you to others, encouraging growth of the business.

-          Passives – A score of 7-8 – These people are happy with your service but are not overly enthusiastic and are more likely to seek other competitive brands.

-          Detractors - A score of 0-6 – Customers who provide this score are dissatisfied, they can impede company growth and damage the brand through negative feedback.

If you have this information about your customers, then that’s a good start, but what will really set you apart from the rest is what you choose to do with it. If you’re continually getting poor reviews or feedback on one product or service then act upon this and make improvements. It’s also a great way to highlight what your customers love about your company. Don’t make the mistake that many do by collecting this information and letting it gather dust, act on your NPS.

4 – Spoiled for choice.

When you visit a major retailer now and click contact us, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to getting in touch. There’s emails, phone, post, live chat, call back service, social media, text service – which gives your customer choice and convenience. Your agents need to be trained across the board of communication, transitioning from one channel to another should be as smooth as transferring a call.  

What if your contact centre’s customer service over the phone was impeccable but when it came to emails, they were littered with poor grammar and the queries your customers were getting in touch about, were frequently ignored or not fully resolved? 

You’d realise that your multichannels need to be integrated, meaning all channels of communication must adhere to the same quality and standard as your main method of customer service. Firstly, you and the customer must identify what each channel is best suited to dealing with. For example, social media queries are usually a place where customers will vent their frustration or praise, whereas it’d be a poor choice of platform for making sales. Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each method of communication, and then you can look at where best to direct a customer to assist them.

5 – Think you’re ready to rival the top dogs now?

Even the top 50 adopt a culture of continuous improvement, they don’t become lackadaisical once The Telegraph pops them on the ‘Best companies for customer service’ list, because they know that there are always ways to improve customer service or avoid a bad review and unhappy customers.

Avoid the failure demand, whereby a customer is getting in touch because the company has failed to do something or failed to do it right, it’s within your control to turn things around. Failure demand is the scenario where the customer is in touch for the second or even third time because something they requested hasn’t yet been done or solved.

Are your agents limited in what they can do to assist a customer? Is the customer’s issue passed on to another department? Then it’s time to read over point three again and see if there’s something that can be done to unify your departments and improve their communication.

Who knows, maybe after tackling these points we’ll be seeing you here next year?

How average is your customer service?

“People won’t remember what you said or did... they will remember how you made them feel”

Can you think of a time you received exceptional customer service?

Can you think of a time you received poor customer service?

No one tends to remember the times that their customer experience was just average and at iNarrator we’re not fond of being mediocre.

We provide professional, clear and informative recordings to a wide variety of business types. No matter what sector you’re in it’s important to make a good first impression. Don’t mistake this for being the only important aspect of connecting with your customers. Coming across a helpful and friendly recorded message is only a tiny element of your customer’s overall experience.

Taking the time to prepare scripts and get your new recordings installed is time wasted, if once the phone is answered your caller receives poor customer service. Customer service is a talking point and we Brits love a good grumble, as the old saying goes news travels fast. The power of the internet has allowed us to see the good, the bad and the ugly of customer service go viral.

Poet Mary Angelou once said…

“People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel”

This is the customer service mantra that we want your call handlers to adopt, the chances are that if they upset a customer that they won’t feel great themselves which could then have a further negative impact on their next few calls. Good customer service is underestimated, it doesn’t need to be a huge gesture to make someone feel that they’ve had a good experience with your company.

Your call handlers should strive to reflect the professionalism demonstrated in your IVR and In-Queue Messages. Mirroring and matching what your caller has been greeted with should be your standard. Customer’s expect to be met with a certain tone, manners and a handler who is adequately trained to assist them. Set the bar high and you’ll find callers are more satisfied, they may spend a little longer on the phone but this will help to build a positive relationship with your business and reassure them that they’re not just another number waiting in a long list of queries.

According to Walker Info by 2020 Customer Service and experience will be the leading brand differentiator, making how you treat your customers even more important than your pricing structure and products or services.  We take for granted how far a little empathy can go and the statistics below highlight the key skills that your customer service agents need to have in order to impress.

The research found that:

“71.5% of positive customer service experiences that people share in person or on social media began as negative experiences and in 82% of negative customer service stories employees were perceived as not caring.”

Training is vital in ensuring that your call handlers are able to deal with the kinds of requests and queries that they receive, there’s nothing wrong with going off script to make a call a little less robotic but the way agents handle calls should be monitored to ensure consistency, accuracy and professionalism.

If you don’t consider customer experience as something you need to be monitoring then you might want to read these statistics, consumers decide where their loyalties lie based on customer service so it’s important that you value them otherwise they won’t value you.

  •  88% of people have been influenced by online reviews while making their purchase decisions.  – Source:  Zendesk
  • 79% of high-income people, 51% of B2B clients, and 54% of Gen Xers will avoid your company for two years or more following one bad customer experience.  – Source:  Zendesk

If you've got the right team but you’re lacking the right first impression, that’s where we can help. Plug in and listen to our Case Studies to discover what a good first impression really sounds like.

 

Source of Statistics:
http://customerthink.com/customer-service-statistics-to-guide-you-for-2016/

Find your Moneypenny

Today sees the release of the latest Bond film, as ever it’ll be full of gadgets, action and of course cars. The Aston Martin makes an appearance in 11 Bond films and is one of the most iconic vehicles in cinematic history, yet even James Bond’s car needs a service every now and again particularly after running into an enemy!

From the Aston Martin DB5 featured in Goldfinger, complete with rotating number plates to the V8 that ends up in a wooden hut on an ice rink in The Living Daylights, it’s clear to see each of the cars featured in the films brought something new, whilst maintaining a Bond tradition. Yet most impressive by far must be the DB10 in Spectre. The car was purpose built for filming, with only ten being produced it’s never going to be sold to the public, making it the most exclusive Bond car of all time.

We think that you and your business should be as impressive and unique as the DB10, bringing us to an important question, are you an Aston Martin or a Reliant Robin? Does your company sound as good as it should? The Aston could have all the gadgets in the world but if it didn’t look the part it wouldn’t have the same impact. First impressions are valuable when it comes to your company, don’t settle for being reliable, be impactful.

According to Inbound Telephone Call Centre, 94% of marketing budgets entice a customer to call, yet only 6% of the budget is actually spent on handling inbound calls. Customers deserve to be entertained if they’re prepared to wait on the line to speak to your advisors, welcoming IVR Prompts and Music On Hold Marketing is proven to retain those waiting on hold, compared to those who are faced with silence.

Bond has Moneypenny, your customers could have an IVR menu. Being able to direct your customer’s calls as quickly as possible through simple and easy to navigate menus is far more efficient than leaving someone on the line or passing them from department to department. Bond has Moneypenny, why not include an almost virtual secretary to your phone systems with IVR recordings?