By: Bob Weaver, Director of Customer Engagement
You diligently and excitedly developed your brand. You spent countless hours on research, studied demographics, held sensing sessions—everything you could do, right? You even ensured your customer service needs were covered, right? But did you put the same level of effort into the customer engagement that you put into your branding? Because if you didn’t, it won’t matter where your brand started out—it’ll end in the crapper.
Companies large and small spend LOTS of money on developing their brand. Millions even. They go to extreme levels of effort to make sure every facet of their online, broadcast and print media efforts are reaching their target audience and pushing their brand story to everyone who will listen. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do, right? So you’ve done your due diligence, and guess what? It worked! Now your target audience is engaged and ready to engage you back. How are you handling that?
We’ve all experienced good customer service, and, unfortunately, most of us have experienced bad customer service. Both combine to create an overall brand perception. And for consumers, the negative experiences outweigh the positives. In fact, according to a 2011 American Express survey, 78% of consumers have bailed on a purchase because of a bad customer service experience.
So is it possible to always win the customer service battle? No, but you can certainly take pains to ensure it is the best possible. How?
78% of consumers say they have bailed on a purchase because of a bad customer service experience. — American Express Survey, 2011
The approach we use for customer service and engagement is the Subject Matter Expert (SME) concept. If your customer calls or chats to engage with a question or concern, they should engage someone who knows your product or service, right? We think so.
At iostudio, we strive to provide excellent customer service through “First Call Resolution” (known in the industry as FCR). Our SMEs are how we do that. We staff every support team with individuals who are intimately familiar with our brands. At our Army National Guard Call Center, for example, 70% of our staff is current or former National Guard members. This firsthand knowledge makes them great problem solvers for our callers. If our operators haven’t experienced the product we’re working with, we provide in-depth training on the subject, coupled with a robust knowledge database of details and specifications, and an extensive FAQ. Additionally, each of our operators is continually connected to an open instant messaging platform, so they can ask questions of supervisors and other operators to ensure they’re providing up-to-date information. Our supervisory team and a quality assurance and training manager closely monitor all of this in real time.
No matter your brand or product, you can utilize this SME approach by taking these steps:
1. When hiring, prioritize brand familiarity and enthusiasm over customer service experience.
You can teach customer service. You can’t teach excitement.
2. When building ongoing training programs for your current operators, make brand knowledge a priority.
Teach new product lines, features and sales like your bottom line depends on it. (It does.)
3. Include new product knowledge in your employee assessment criteria.
4. Give operators immediate in-call access to detailed, solution-based information about your products.
5. Include FCR rate in employee assessment programs—if it’s one of your strategic goals, you should monitor it.
If you’re our client, we pride ourselves on getting the right answers for your customers’ questions, and doing it in a way that represents your brand with the same enthusiasm as you would. There’s an old axiom in sales that if you do right by a customer, they will tell seven people. If you do them wrong, they will tell 50. And that was before social media. Now, the math of social sharing takes every engagement and multiplies it exponentially, turning every bad encounter into a terrible one, and every terrible encounter into a potential national crisis.. The good news is that in the right hands, your brand can use this multiplication to build Return on Investment (ROI) instead of killing it. If only you knew somebody with the right hands…
Bob brings 30 years of sales, leadership and management experience to our Customer Engagement Team. The retired Army veteran has spent his entire career focused on results—now as a student of the ever-changing call center industry, leading both our U.S. Navy and Army National Guard Call Centers. Bob works with clients to provide customized solutions that will engage a target audience when, where and how they prefer to be engaged, maximizing conversions and client success. When he’s not managing or hiring the best operators in the country, you’ll probably find Bob where he’s most comfortable—out in a duck blind in the middle of nowhere, dreaming of landing his next dinner.