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Takeaways from the Customer Service Experience conference

Key takeaways from the Customer Service Experience conference. The increase in self service channels such as FAQs has made agents even more important.

Last month, we attended the Customer Service Experience conference in Washington DC. This post is a recap of our key takeaways.

Photo by Sutherland Weston

Look through the lens of the customer

Dennis Snow from Snow & Associates who worked at Walt Disney World for over 20 years gave an example of a typical customer question at a Disney park — “What time is the 3PM parade?” This sounds like a silly question but when you look through the lens of the customer, a parade typically starts at a particular place and then has a path through the park. The customer is really asking, “where is the best place to watch the parade?”

Strive for moments of wow

Dennis talked about how a member of the cleaning staff at the Disney hotel came up with an idea to line up the children’s plush toys on the bed. When the children came home, the TV was on and it looked like the toys were watching TV. The family loved it and word got around the staff. It soon became a competition among the cleaning staff to come up with the most creative arrangement of the plush toys.

Don’t let backstage come on stage

Dennis also talked about how Disney is meticulous about preserving the cleanliness and presentation of the Disney theme parks. For example, if there is an empty Pepsi can or some other trash in the middle of a garden, that destroys the customer experience. At Disney, trash cans are not more than 26 steps apart in order to combat this type of situation. Another example of “backstage coming on stage” and destroying the customer experience is when you see duct tape on the wing of an airline. Companies put so much effort into creating a nice environment so they shouldn’t let the inner workings of the company be visible to customers.

Self service makes agents even more important

Ian Jacobs from Forrester talked about how the increase in self service channels such as FAQs on the company website has made agents even more important. This is because customers are able to solve the common issues on their own and customers now go to the agents for more complex issues.

The 4 faces of messaging for customer service

Tobias Goebel from Aspect software talked about the following use cases for messaging in customer service

  1. Direct questions — For example, Aspect is building a system for a car manufacturer where a customer can ask “Where is my jack?”
  2. Form filling — For example, a customer could use messaging to schedule an appointment — “My car needs to schedule service” and the system can ask the customer “what time?”
  3. Context aware links — You can use messenging to send the customer a short URL to more rich content. The link should be context aware which means it should send the customer to exactly the content that they need instead of sending the customer to a general main menu
  4. Getting human help — When a customer says “call me,” you can pre-qualify the customer over SMS and then have an agent call them. The call should also maintain the context. For example, when Amazon calls you back the agent says “We saw you had a problem with X”

Best practices from AOL

Erin Robinson and Jordan Golob from AOL shared the following best practices for social media marketing and social care

  1. Watch your hashtags — Digiorno’s pizza used the hashtag #whyIstayed to make a pizza related joke when the hashtag was actually related to domestic violence
  2. Don’t delete posts and comments
  3. Know when to stop — Some customers will keep going back and forth with you for a long time. You can stop when you feel you have resolved the complaint. Don’t argue with the customer.
  4. Not every comment needs a response — AOL agents follow a decision tree to decide which comments and questions to engage on
  5. Shorten your links
  6. Retweet and favorite complements
  7. Include availability in your profile — This helps to set expectations for response time
  8. Tell customers exactly what they need to know in the first message
  9. Avoid over-promising
  10. Keep it personal. Avoid sounding like a robot — Customers prefer speaking to a person, not a brand. Mentioning something from the customer’s original tweet helps to personalize the conversation and establish trust with the customer. Use elements of the customer profile where possible e.g. use the customer’s name on Twitter not just their Twitter handle

Other insights and best practices

Jeff Toister from Toister Performance Solutions said that the #1 reason why customers contact you is because they tried getting information through another channel and they were frustrated so they contact you.

Esteban Kolsky from thinkJar said that brands should stop worrying about being omnichannel. Instead, companies should focus on making 1 channel the best.

The future of support

Nathan Deeds from OpenTable believes that in the future, customers won’t have to ask for help because the system anticipates your need and pushes the answer directly to you. Self-healing will become the norm for products. For example, when a printer runs out of ink, it could re-order more ink automatically.

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