Welcome to Friday Five, we hope you enjoy this roundup of five of the top customer service news stories from the week:
Chat Bots Replacing Human Jobs?
Hey, if AI can replace lawyers, it’s probably only a matter of time before it replaces a lot more jobs. Forbes looks at what they call Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “grand plan,” which they say is “to help businesses build bots on his chat app, so they can hold automated chats with people that eventually lead to bookings, sales and greater brand awareness.”
Hm, would that replace anybody in your organization?
Much of it’s still just froth and confusion – Peder Fjallstrom, an app developer in Sweden, tells Forbes “Everyone wants a bot. No one knows why” – but there are bots out there doing jobs humans once did:
- Customer Service Agents. Some businesses on Facebook Messenger are already employing bots to man – sorry – their accounts, Forbes says.
- Fast-food Servers. McDonald’s already offers self-serve kiosks at some restaurants as a first step towards automating service. Chat app Kik is talking with fast food companies specifically about bots.
- Personal Assistants. There are bots today that can schedule appointments for you when copied on emails, communicating with the person on the other end and adjusting schedules.
Others say bots will simply “augment” human interaction, not replace it. We’ll see.
Customer Service, the Mercedes Way.
Knowledge@Wharton has a good interview with customer service expert Joseph Michelli, looking at how Mercedes-Benz made high-level changes “to rescue the company from itself.”
- “It’s not the products. It is a proliferation of competitors who have access to comparable products, so the differentiation comes in the execution of customer experience.”
- “Most of these purchasing decisions now happen much earlier in the process, thanks to technology. This change in purchasing habits has to change the way you think about the customer experience.”
- “I’ve seen smart dealerships that make incentives for salespeople, telling them they won’t get paid until they warmly hand off customers to the service department… to ensure the customer journey is seamless.”
- “Once you have agreement between the board of directors and the C-Suite, then you just need to keep centrically working it out throughout the organization to make sure the customer can feel the change too.”
Three Ways the C-Suite Can Improve the Customer Experience.
Thanks to Jeffrey Hayzlett for reminding us that “customer service” isn’t just for the front line, it’s the c-suite’s job too.
“Being a c-suite dweller is no excuse to ignore customer service,” Hayzlett writes. “If that’s your mentality, need to change it (and fast).”
There are three things Hayzlett says the c-suite needs to keep in mind to improve the customer experience:
- Unique in-store experience. Customers expect a consistent experience across all platforms, including in-store. You can do a great deal to make sure the in-store experience is as good as it can be.
- Cutting-edge technology. Not everything has the be the most expensive and latest model, but there can never be a bad customer experience due to insufficient technology.
- Social media. Setting organization-wide social media policy needs c-suite muscle.
Does Your Customer Strategy Include the Golden Rule?
B2C has an interesting article about how sometimes, a good customer experience strategy is “as easy as being nice.”
Let’s not overcomplicate customer service, folks. Common courtesy and refraining from offending customers goes a long way with most people.
Which, of course, goes straight to the employees: Give them a great experience, and odds are high they’ll pass that on to the customers.
“The best customer experience companies understand the power of the relationships between customers and employees,” B2C notes. “So they focus on hiring and training great employees, they focus on employee experience, and they empower those employees to act in the best interest of customers.”
In other words, if you focus on a) hiring the right employees and b) keeping them satisfied with their job and work conditions, they’ll take care of your customers. The lists of the companies most highly rated for employee satisfaction bear a striking resemblance to the lists of those with the highest customer satisfaction.
Companies Turning Up Heat on Customer Journey Mapping.
The noted 1to1media blog writes that “Data-driven customer journey mapping is emerging as a critical tool for engaging customers.” Companies want to maximize every touch point, and deliver “more relevant experiences.”
Such maps are built on Customer Relationship Management, and the effort required to keep your CRM databases clean and accurate
To that end, the blog offers two takeaways:
- Personalized customer journeys enable brands to drive deeper engagement.
- Customer journey mapping is more powerful when it's driven by data insights, but that depends on how clean and accurate the data is.
Have a great weekend!