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How to transform complaining customers into real ambassadors

Improve your customer service skills with sincerity and the LAST Method

In a world that’s becoming increasingly more fast-paced and technology-obsessed, customer service is now a bigger challenge than ever. Customer service representatives must accomplish at least two things: getting a customer’s full attention, and coming off sincere.

A recent Forbes article talks about the increasing difficulty of customer service. The article suggests that by simply smiling, customer service representatives can initiate trust with customers:

“Smiling sets a tone. It establishes a rapport and initiates trust, the cornerstone of every business relationship. This last point is more relevant than ever as we struggle to retain that integral factor in our fast-paced, smartphone-addicted, multitask-driven culture. Technological advances, globalization and new business models have us spending more time working remotely on our devices, which also makes us more remote.”

For personal interactions, a smile can make a big impression on customers. It shows that the customer service representative is sincere and wants to fix the problem.

Yet in addition to building trust, customer service agents also must follow a process to identify and solve problems. Many businesses over the world already use the LAST method:

1) Listen to the customer’s concern;
2) Apologize for any inconvenience experience;
3) Solve the problem quickly;
4) Thank the customer for his or her business;

It’s very important that customer service representatives are both sincere and thorough. If an agent or representative perfectly executes the LAST method but is insincere, your customer most likely won’t be satisfied with the outcome. But if a representative is sincere and establishes trust but can’t solve the problem at a hand, your customer will be just as frustrated.

With all those distractions of smartphones, tablets, and social media, customer service has to be fast, efficient, and effective. You can improve your customer service by training your employees in the LAST method and showing them how to come off as sincere. A combination of being sincere and thorough will make a great impression on customers.

21 rules the best customer service teams know - and follow

The profession that great customer service reps practise entails much more than merely answering customer questions. The greatest reps are your foot soldiers, your people on the frontline of the battle - the battle of winning your customers’ hearts and minds! They’re your company’s ambassadors in flesh and blood, going above and beyond to create a great experience for each and every one of your customers.

Experience is everything. Customers are eight times more likely to talk about a negative customer service experience than a positive one. In today’s social media empowered world, this can very quickly result in widespread bad publicity.

Here are 21 rules that the best customer service teams follow to make sure none of this happens. From basic to great, how far do your reps make it down the list?

  1. Listen to your customer. Are we stating the obvious here? We sure are - but this is not just a cliché. Think about it: your customer has reached out and possibly paid for your service or product. S/he has every right to be the center of your attention. It’s just for a short period. Pay attention and do your utmost to help!

  2. Use your customer’s name. Personalization of the customer goes a long way. Too often customers feel like ‘just another number’. Scientific studies like this one have shown that certain areas of the brain light up quite like no other when we hear our own name. We love it!

  3. Communicate clearly. There is nothing more infuriating than a customer service rep who cannot communicate clearly. S/he is the customers’ direct line of contact to your company, and making things clear and simple for the customer will do wonders for your business.

  4. Act quickly. Nearly 3 in 4 customers expect complaints on Twitter to be answered within the hour. At least half of all customers with complaints will give repeat business if the complaint is resolved. And 95% will give repeat business if the complaint is resolved quickly. Basically, fast service is hard to argue with.

  5. Put the customer first. The customer potentially has the most power, so put him or her first. All it takes is one negative review to go viral to have dire consequences for your company.

  6. Always remain professional. Being polite and perfectly mannered is all well and good. However, taking professionalism to the next level is what can separate you from your competitors. Professional customer service is luxury customer service, and customers will recognise that.

  7. Make yourself knowledgeable. Customer service reps have to know everything about everything in their field of expertise (the products or services you offer), period. If the customer uses the product every day, then your team members should know what it’s like to use the product every day. Your team has to be ready for any curve ball the customer may throw at them. Knowledge is power!

  8. Get used to working under pressure. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to do your job while you constantly have someone breathing down your neck. Good customer service reps manage this type of stress on a daily basis, and do not let it affect their productivity.

  9. Beam out confidence. Have you ever had a positive customer experience during which the customer service rep ‘umm-eddd’ and ‘eerrrd’ away? I bet you haven't; stammering reps don't inspire much confidence in their company. So sell the solution like a zen master! If you don’t know the answer to the problem, just say it: “I don’t know the answer to that right now, but let me find out for you.”

  10. Deal with each situation as if it's new. Even though situations get repetitive, there can be no short cuts in explaining the situation and why a particular solution is the best one. For customers, it's all new. Give the impression that his or her situation is unique (even if it’s not). Making every customer feel valued is the best way to guarantee a repeat sale.

  11. Ask the right questions. Great customer service reps know how to get to the heart of the problem by asking the right questions. It is not unusual for customers to be shy, vague, or clouded by anger in describing their problem, and good customer service reps recognise this and dig deeper. Effective questions also let the customer know that the representative understands the product and the potential problem.

  12. Negotiate. Great customer service reps are great negotiators. Why? Because the customer sees himself as more powerful in the relationship. The rep has to know how and when to say no.

  13. Read the customer. We’re not saying your customer service reps have to be psychic, but being able to pick up on customers’ emotions is a huge advantage. If they can read a customer, they can guide him or her at an appropriate pace, make negotiations easier, and make the customer feel heard.

  14. Be quietly persuasive. Good customer service reps guide customers to a decision rather than dictate it to them. You can achieve this through story-telling (where customers can relate their situation to yours), and adding personal touches to your relationship with the customer. Try making a small comment about things you have in common, or something else that naturally comes to mind whilst talking to your customer.

  15. Be empathic. Great customer service reps know that showing empathy is a good path to building trust between them and the customer. Being able to step back and understand the situation from the customer’s perspective is essential for diffusing difficult situations, and long-term customer retention.

  16. Focus on the YES. This doesn’t mean giving the customer whatever he or her wants. It means that there are always alternatives; ‘no’ is simply not an option. Zappos, a major online shoe and clothing shop, received a call from its CEO requesting a pizza be delivered to his hotel as a joke. Although it was completely out of the job description of the customer service rep, and unaware it was her big boss calling, she researched pizza restaurants in the area and had it delivered anyway.

  17. Recognise when to exceed expectations. In March last year, United Airlines went above and beyond the realms of customer service when a passenger on his way to see his mother one last time in hospital, was due to miss his connecting flight. The flight crew radioed ahead to the other plane to delay itself, so the passenger would make his flight.

  18. Ask for feedback. In terms of service, customers can also be just as valuable to us as we are to them. Understanding a customer's needs and wants is key to innovation and to delivering a five-star product. Listen to your customers, and they’ll tell you what they want.

  19. Sell the solution.Customers want to believe they are getting first class treatment. Great customer service teams provide options where possible, selling the best one (aka the one they want to sell). It shows customers they have really thought things through.

  20. Make sure to follow up. This is the bread and butter of customer service. Everything a customer service rep does after solving the initial problem counts as a bonus, and there is no speed limit on the extra mile. Following up with customers when they think they were just another annoying task in your day, can make a world of difference in making your service memorable.

  21. Surprise your customers. Good reps know that surprising customers is one of the best ways to make their company memorable. Even if it’s just a small gift voucher or freebie for your product or service, it allows the customer to get you know you better - and it’s cost effective.

If you’ve checked the boxes this far down the list, then your customer service team is on the right track. And so is your business. After all, the best way to be successful in business is providing great customer service. Happy customers are loyal customers!

Live chat for starters (part 1/7)

This 7 part-series 'Chat smarter with your customers' is an update of my earlier written guide Chatiquette.
You can find many tips and trics how to gain and retain customers and learn the best practises of using live chat.

Want to know more about how to use messengers like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger? Learn best practises about using messengers with your customers Download the ebook.

Part 1: Live chat for beginners

The biggest mistake companies make is thinking that they don't need live chat. Of course they don't 'need' no chat. We've lived without Email for centuries. We survived; it all worked fine with regular mail. Nothing wrong with a little patience! And when the fax machine made its appearance, many eyebrows frown took the position. What is new, creates fear. Because novelties were not there first, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Well, maybe because good novelties make the world a bit more productive and fun than before. There is no self-respecting Western company that nowadays can not be reached via e-mail. With this channel lap the number of customer inquiries height in: sending an email is free, easy and relatively accessible for the customer. But customers who want a straight answer, and do not want to have ten minutes to hang the line before an operator (e) to the line krij- gene respite with the latest trend: chat.

Well, new ... Chat existed before the Internet was in the sixties. Chatting went there when very cumbersome to it: it was only when the computer is off made of a network. Servers they had trouble yet. You had the address of each mega computer knowledge sources, otherwise your machine did not know where the message should go. Of 'ff chat' was still far from there.

In the late eighties chat took off: in 1988 the first IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client and server has been developed. The invention appears to be in the name of Jarkko Oikarinen, a Finn who was attached to the Finnish university of Oulu. The Finns coupled the IRC network to the local network, which in turn was linked to other local networks. From that moment IRC was part of a long-distance network, which then Arkanet called - the "Inter (between) Networks - what we now know as the Internet. By 1990, the weighting reld counted some 40 IRC servers.

However, it took years before the first true 'instant messaging service' was born. it was finally in 1996 that: the technology Mira- awareness in Israel launched ICQ ( "I seek you 'or' I seek you"). On the ICQ website is why: "[The four young founders] have Realized That people were connected to the Internet, but not interconnected. Instant messaging was the missing link, a Technology that made peer-to-peer communication possible. "

Those who downloaded the free program, and could chat directly with other ICQ'ers. A smart move, because ICQ'ers who wanted to chat with friends, had to exhort them to install the program. This form of viral marketing, the company grew rapidly. Barely two years Mirabilis was later acquired by US giant AOL. Other providers sequence den a few years later, such as MSN Messenger (now known as Windows Live Messenger).

Anno 2009 is chatting so ingrained that even the most well-known chess-playing and writing over sixty, Tim bé crab, media herhaardelijk tells about the happy fact that he communicates via live web chat with his son living in Japan. And that's saying something.

In the United States, live chat business has already developed into a serious sales and service tool. With the emphasis on tool: chat is a tool, a tool that is used as an additional communication channel in the B2C market. Even the Dutch B2B market starts chat to deploy as customers binder.

Example? MSA IT is one of the oldest independent ICT service providers in the Netherlands, let her key account managers to chat with their main (B2B!) Customers. Once a company known for the customer Mega Sellers. nl (part of MSA-ICT) is the accountmana- ger of this particular customer receives an alert that the customer is online, after which he can invite these proactive to discuss the latest situation through live web chat. Chat is therefore more than supplement: MSA-ICT shows that there are also devise new touch applications.

The benefits of live web chat at a glance:

For the customers live webchat a direct, personal and accessible way to get answers to their questions. They are already on the website, and with the chat button, the answer is just one click away.

For the customers it is convenient to chat without others noticing. Today, consumers can even ask questions of their office about botox and breast enlargements: they can chat via Kliniekoverzicht.nl with plastic surgeons. No colleague who can listen!

Customers abroad? With instant they have free contact with you. 0800 and 0900 numbers do not work across borders.

Both customers and call center employees with a hearing disability to communicate well through live web chat. Deaf and sign language interpreters can chat since early 2009 with Team Deaf Interpreters Menzis. The health insurer hope live webchat will replace the old text telephone in due course.

The call center employee can combine a chat conversation with another chat application or an email. With chat so you can work efficiently.

In the future, we will see that instant email will displace. There are multinationals that already indicate chat preferable in the long run over emails. Many companies struggle with overflowing mailboxes, so they do not always respond quickly enough. If customers start calling after, create a channel conflict: their emails are however still in the mail queue when their question has been answered. That conflict Wil- len companies overcome by using chat intensive.

In the search for a good chat application you will see that there are a lot of free variants, such as Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. Worse, these ap- plications not, and for individuals they meet just fine. But for call centers they are suitable on the one hand a free application can chat request is not routed to the appropriate employees cancer, and the other a visitor who wants to chat from his workplace with a live advice desk is very likely to be blocked by his company. Can chat at work, which must be aware, and the stream of the free chat applications are often at system level known and are based on the company policy blocked. A good chat application circumvents this problem.

Prices vary. Do you have a small shop, you need to make any major investments. Thirty per month and you're there. But larger companies chats want to store safely. Chat can be used as evidence in disputes and shall be valid bewijsmateri- material at trial. Data storage and security are for larger companies so important, but They wanted cells also can block temporary visitors (the so-called IP-blocking). And they often need extensive reporting, integrated comparison testing (A / B testing), performance analysis, and above all, the guarantee of consistent availability. They want to ensure that their chat provider is not up once declared bankrupt, making it their own customers and employees - who were already accustomed to the chat function - to disappoint. Larger companies with a few bucks a month so far done.

First let anyway perform a quick scan to determine whether chat anyway adds to your current customer contact channels. For chat is fine and dandy, but also eats FTEs because it is a one-to-one channel. Think objectives: if you want a higher conversation rate of looking at purchase gain, reduce the number of dropouts, better service to offer can give personal advice or an online customer? Then it is entering chat
a good idea. But do not just happen.

Wat de klant wil: Appen met je bedrijf

Zojuist verschenen: ‘Appen met je klanten’, een gids over klantenservice via WhatsApp en Messenger

SAMENVATTING
Het tijdperk van de ideale klantcommunicatie is aangebroken, zo heeft het succes van WhatsApp en Facebook Messenger (samen ruim 2 miljard gebruikers) bewezen. Vergeet Facebook, Twitter en andere social media even: de sleutel naar het hart van de klant ligt in één-op-één communicatie. Zojuist verschenen: ‘Appen met je klanten’, de eerste gids over zakelijk appen.


De komst van WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger en binnenkort wellicht ook WeChat, is een zegen voor bedrijven. Slimme ondernemers en klantenservice-afdelingen kunnen nu via een chatapp een band opbouwen met iedereen die dat op prijs stelt. Mits professioneel ingezet, kunnen chatapps die band enorm versterken: klanten blijken zeer tevreden te zijn over klantenservice via WhatsApp.

Dat valt terug te zien in de cijfers, bijvoorbeeld bij T-mobile, waar de klanttevredenheid met 50% omhoog schoot tijdens een intensieve WhatsApp-campagne. ‘Wij zagen de klanttevredenheid flink stijgen na contact met de klantenservice via WhatsApp, ' zegt Edouard Leeuwenburg, Manager eService & Knowledge Management bij T-Mobile. 'Consumenten blijken gevoeliger te zijn voor WhatsApp dan voor chat of e-mail.’

Chatapps zijn dus goud waard voor slimme bedrijven. Doe mee en zet je deuren open! Maar doe dat op een professionele manier, zoals beschreven in het tweede boek van Floris van der Veen, Appen met je klanten. Dit is het vervolg op zijn debuut, Chatiquette (over live chatten met je klanten, 2010).

WhatsApp en Facebook Messenger hebben de evolutie van klantenservice versneld: anno 2017 wil de klant bijna direct antwoord op zijn vragen, via het kanaal dat hij verkiest. Dus de boodschap is duidelijk: be where your customers are. Bedrijven die niet aanwezig zijn op Facebook, Twitter en/of Instagram, zijn zelden goed bezig, maar nog erger is het niet aanwezig zijn op WhatsApp en/of Facebook Messenger.

De auteur van de gids is zo’n 15 jaar actief in de wereld van klantenservice-software. Zijn gids laat zien wat wel en niet kan via WhatsApp en Facebook Messenger. In Appen met je klanten deelt hij tips, tricks, en de verhalen van 5 ondernemers met zakelijke WhatsApp-ervaring. En hoe verandert artificial intelligence onze toekomst? Appen met je klanten werkt. Ga het gesprek aan!

Facebook Messenger via Casengo: connect efficiently with customers

If you want to be where your customers are, your company can’t hide from personal messaging. And with the introduction of the Casengo Connector, there’s no reason to miss out on your customers’ favorite channel: Facebook Messenger.

With Casengo’s software, companies have been able to resolve their customer’s questions in a structured and scalable way through case management functionalities for email, chat and WhatsApp. “Now that Facebook Messenger is quickly gaining in popularity, it’s a logical addition to our platform,” says Floris van der Veen, Chief Happy Customers at Casengo. “Not only is Messenger a more stable channel compared to WhatsApp, it also offers more possibilities for companies."

Embracing Facebook Messenger as a customer service channel comes with many benefits:

  • The open rate - the percentage of receivers that open the message - is a staggering 97% for Messenger. In comparison: for a good email campaign that’s only 23%.
  • Messenger has 1 billion users and is growing fast. In the first half of 2016, the number of active users increased by 100 million every 3 months. If this trend continues, all your customers will be on this channel in no time. So ask yourself: can you as a company afford not to be on this channel?
  • Users love personal messaging apps (and hence Facebook Messenger). But that love isn’t restricted to their family and friends: almost everybody (95%) who was in contact with a company through a personal messaging app would like to do this more often. And research also shows that 65% of consumers would love to be able to send messages with customers.
  • As opposed to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger has an open API that makes it easy to connect the platform to 3rd party software solutions. This stability makes Messenger a great customer service channel for companies with bigger customer service teams, who quickly run into the limits of the native applications.

With the Casengo connector for Facebook Messenger, companies (with or without multiple departments, brands or groups) can react to messages from email, chat, WhatsApp and - since today - Facebook Messenger from a team-inbox. In the upcoming months the Casengo team will continue to work on bulk message campaigns and chatbot functionalities to take Casengo’s customer engagement to the next level.