April 19th, 2018 by Leonard Klie

I don’t think Hallmark has come out with a card for it yet, but today is officially “National Get to Know Your Customers Day.”

But before you wend your way to the drugstore or have your marketing team frantically craft an e-card to send to everyone who has ever done business with you, know that this really isn’t that big of a deal.

Apparently, Get to Know Your Customers Day is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter (January, April, July, October). This is a day to reach out to your patrons and get to know them better.

While its origins are unknown, the holiday apparently came about in response to the  Internet and big-box stores that have pretty much killed the sense of personalization that were the hallmarks (no pun intended) of the mom-and-pop store down the street.

The day is billed as an opportunity for companies to get to know a little more about their customers and make each of them feel special. It’s an effort that needs to be undertaken right away, as in-app messaging company Helpshift discovered when it delved deeply into how people really feel about customer service.

“Historically, customer support has only been available during ‘business hours’—in other words, when it is convenient for the brand,” said Helpshift CEO Linda Crawford, in a statement. “Today, that’s no longer acceptable. Brands need to engage with their customers on their customers’ terms. Smart brands will put AI and bots to work to complement their agents’ availability and bandwidth.”

Helpshift, together with Propeller Insights, recently conducted a study of more than 2,000 U.S. adults and  found that almost all Americans (94 percent) dread contacting customer support, and 52 percent give customer service a “C” grade or lower.

When asked why, Americans cited the following:

  • Difficult-to-understand accents from offshore call centers – 17 percent;
  • Long wait and hold times – 16 percent;
  • Being transferred around and having to repeat the problem over and over – 15 percent;
  • Never-ending automated self-service menus – 12 percent; and
  • Being forced to speak to robots – 8 percent.

So there’s your holiday  to-do list. Now get to it!

April 17th, 2018 by Sam Del Rowe

Customer care and a straightforward process for returns are essential to building customer loyalty, according to a recent study from Narvar, a company that aims to help retailers improve customer loyalty.

More specifically, the study—which analyzed responses from 1,543 U.S. online shoppers—found that 54 percent of shoppers would give repeat business to a retailer that accurately predicts the date that their package will arrive, 77 percent would give repeat business to a retailer that resends lost or damaged items with expedited shipping, and 76 percent would do so for a retailer that makes returns and exchanges easy. Additionally, although the majority—67 percent—elect to return online purchases via mail, 25 percent indicated that they won’t buy something if they don’t have the option of returning it to a physical store.

The study also found that consumers are partial to voice capabilities and chatbots. In terms of voice capabilities, 51 percent of shoppers use them to research products, 36 percent to add items to their shopping list, and 30 percent to track a package. As for chatbots, 65 percent say they like using them because the bots are available at any time.

“To deliver customer care at its highest level, brands will need to anticipate customers’ wants and needs, using technologies like voice and chatbots to communicate with shoppers at every point of their journey,” Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narvar, said in a statement. “The retailers that succeed in building loyalty with shoppers will be those that connect with people personally and communicate proactively.”

March 15th, 2018 by Sam Del Rowe

For its 2018 Customer Service Benchmark Report, SuperOffice analyzed the customer service quality of 1,000 companies of all sizes worldwide. In order to determine how companies handle requests for customer support via email, an email was sent to each company asking two questions: “do you have a phone number I can call you on?” and “Where can I find pricing information on your website?”. The report found that 62 percent of companies failed to respond.

With this in mind, the report offers seven tips:

  • Route requests to the right department: The report found that the average response time for the top ten companies was two hours, suggesting that the right department received the request and was able to handle it accordingly. The report suggests that companies set up rules in their customer service software or inboxes that allow them to automatically forward requests to the correct department.
  • Use automated responses to acknowledge support requests: The report advises that companies set up automated replies that are sent to customers acknowledging receipt of their service requests.
  • Follow up with customers: The report asserts that following up is an easy way for companies to get ahead of the competition, and that companies should schedule follow-up messages to be sent three to four days after their initial response to determine if the level of service was satisfactory.
  • Strive to answer questions in the first response: The report found that the top ten companies all scored 100 percent for first contact resolution. It advises that companies answer the questions they can in their first reply and include a note that they will follow up with the customer regarding any questions they cannot immediately answer.
  • Make it simple for the customer to contact support: The report found that every company in the top ten had an email address clearly visible on its homepage. The report asserts that in addition to making it easy for the customer to get in touch with the company, this practice also boosts trust as the company shows it is not afraid to hear from its customers.
  • Quality, not quantity: The report found that the top ten companies all scored highly on the content of their replies, even though some of them took several hours to respond. The report suggests that a high quality answer is better than a low quality answer, even if the high quality one takes longer to compose.
  • Use customer service tools to empower your team: The report acknowledges that delivering great customer service requires the proper tools and processes, and that companies should implement customer service software that enables them to acknowledge, track, manage, and report on all customer service requests.
February 21st, 2018 by Sam Del Rowe

Consumers increasingly expect businesses to take political and social stands as part of their public presence on social media and other channels, according to a study by Sprout Social.

More specifically, Sprout Social found that two thirds of consumers believe that it is important for brands to take a public stand on leading social and political issues, while more than half indicated that they are most receptive to brands doing so on social media. Furthermore, the study found that consumers’ most common emotional reactions to brands taking a stand on social media were positive: the top three consumer reactions were “intrigued,” “impressed,” and “engaged.”

“Brands that effectively navigate strategic decisions around when to take a stand on social have more opportunity than ever to turn potential risks into business opportunities,” Andrew Caravella, VP of strategy and brand engagement at Sprout Social, said in a statement. “People not only want brands to speak out on social, but they want authenticity and values communicated cohesively by company leadership as well. People want to feel socially and politically connected to the brands they support—and while vocalizing opinions may drive away some customers, it will ultimately engender greater loyalty and enthusiasm from people who agree.”

February 1st, 2018 by Sam Del Rowe

Data intelligence and knowledge inefficiencies cost U.S. organization $1.7 million per year for every 100 employees, and European Organizations €1.1M per year for every 100 employees, according to an Alteryx-sponsored IDC InfoBrief.

Based on a survey of more than 400 individuals performing data functions across North America and Europe, the study yielded a number of findings indicating that organizations have significant room for improvement to get the most out of their data assets and infrastructures. The study found that data professionals waste 30 percent of their time—14 hours per week on average—because they cannot find, protect or prepare data; and another 20 percent of their time—10 hours per week on average—building information assets that already exist, losing 50 percent of their time in total every week due to unsuccessful activities or repeated efforts. Additionally, they spend 60 percent of their time getting to insight, but just 27 percent of that time is spent on actual analysis.

“It is evident that many professionals are not aware of what resources are available within data assets like data lakes, how to access the data, where it came from, or how to glean trusted insights,” Langley Eide, chief strategy officer at Alteryx, said in a statement. “Unless organizations make changes to their infrastructure now, and close the gaps on data discovery, integrity and cataloging, processes will only become more inefficient as data volume and variety continues to grow.”

“Data discovery is important to all aspects of business, from operations efficiency to compliance to risk reduction, revenue growth, and beyond,” Stewart Bond, director of data integration and integrity software research at IDC, said in a statement. “Knowledge of how, where and why data is used, by whom, and what information already exists will help data professionals refrain from repeating efforts, increase personal productivity and free-up time for more advanced analytics.”


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