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Bots – Making Sense of Conversational Technology

Ayush Saxena on 12 July, 2018

“Bots” is a term used everywhere in the industry of customer service. They come in the form of chatbots, virtual customer assistants, avatars, intelligent assistants, and the list goes on. What do these terms refer to and is there a universal way to classify them? Check out our guide on how you should be thinking about bots!

That means…

“Bots” is a term used everywhere in the industry of customer service. They come in the form of chatbots, virtual customer assistants, avatars, intelligent assistants, conversational agents, and basically whatever else a company wants to call their product. So what do these terms refer to, exactly? Is there a universal way to classify bots based on their features or internal technology? Here’s how you can think about them:

Primitive Marketing Bots:

The most simple form of bots are primitive marketing bots. These are often used in digital marketing to simply send out messages on chat platforms such as Facebook Messenger. They fulfill the very basic requirements of being called a bot, which means they allow you to enter a question to respond back to you. They fall short on basically everything else – how long they take to respond, how well they understand your question, and how intuitive their responses are. A good start on the promise of chatbots, but nothing close to their potential.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Chatbots:

The next step in the evolution of chatbots is Do-It-Yourself, or DIY chatbots, which represent the majority of products referred to when speaking about bots. These bots must be developed over a period of months by companies’ customer service teams to include every possible user input and its corresponding bot response. “I would like to track my shipment” is different from “Where’s my package?” within these systems because the phrases contain different words despite having the same intent, so building these bots to be effective can be cumbersome. Some DIY chatbots do advertise the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning, but realistically its power is limited to synonyms of words, not the intent of a user’s question.

Customer-Service Chatbots:

When a product needs to be trained rather than built from DIY software, a product crosses into the realm of customer-service chatbots. These are “pre-built” in the sense that a company doesn’t need to spend hours programming the software on how to respond to every question. It can decipher intent regardless of how a user asks a question. Due to the advanced artificial intelligence technology that these bots require, there are very few fully developed customer-service chatbots in the market yet. The main difference between these and DIY chatbots is on the back-end – are companies building or training the product?

Virtual Assistants:

Although they aren’t used in the realm of customer service, virtual assistants represent the most advanced artificial intelligence technology today. Software such as Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa can interpret voice, hold conversations, retain information, and integrate across different applications and platforms.

Where Bots Fall Short

So if chatbots have so much potential, why do 43% of people still prefer dealing with an actual person over a chatbot? Or to put it another way – when is the last time you had a great experience with a chatbot? The technology clearly has a long way to go, and here’s where they fall short:

  1. They need to be built manually: The majority of chatbots in the market are at best DIY, so customer service teams need to build out decision trees for every possible customer request, as well as every way that request can be worded. If you want a bot to be conversational, then that introduces a full decision tree, increasing input possibilities exponentially.
  2. They need ongoing maintenance: They need to be reconfigured every time new information is added to the knowledge base. Chatbots do not automatically crawl company knowledge bases once information is added. Every new product comes with a new set of questions (and new ways they can be worded!) and a new set of answers.
  3. They require heavy integration: Every industry has unique words and phrases, from “tickets” and “NPS” in customer service to “accounts” and “sourcing” in sales teams. Chatbots need to be configured from the ground up to understand every use of these terms.

Bottom line: They’re cumbersome. To build an effective bot using a DIY chatbot product would take a huge amount of both time and resources. Even for large corporations that might be able to afford that, the technology will be left in the dust when pre-built bots are released.

We’re often asked if Solvvy is a bot. The short answer? No. We’re an intelligent conversational platform focused on helping users self-service their questions. We fundamentally differ from chatbots because we are built around artificial intelligence, not business rules. This means that our customers don’t build our product, they train it. They don’t make long lists of inputs and outputs, they guide our learning engine, which can understand questions however they’re worded.

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Giving Customer Support A Seat At The Revenue Table

Kaan Ersun on 10 July, 2018

Customer support holds a treasure trove of knowledge about customers. Explore how to convert these valuable support insights into revenue-generating conversations with product, marketing, and sales leaders.

When companies think about customer growth, they immediately think about the sales and marketing teams, then product.

But what about customer support?

Many companies often overlook the role of customer support in driving revenue. It’s left out of the conversation and seen as an overhead cost rather than a revenue-generating function–and that can be problematic.

One of the first steps in transforming into a customer-first company is to lean into customer support, the team that holds the treasure trove of knowledge about your customers and embed them with the sales, marketing and product teams.

Listening to the Voice of Customers

We’ve all heard it before: Silos are bad.

They stifle collaboration and inhibit communication. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to wave a magic wand and break silos down without changing the team structure.

A new type of team structure is embedding customer support into the product team, especially during product ideation. The result of this simple change is having direct access to the voice of customer during internal meetings. Often times, product teams fall prey to building the next big thing before tackling the unglamorous (yet much needed) product fixes that are frustrating their customers.

Being a customer-first company is a full-team sport that takes input from every team.

To develop a clear and effective customer experience strategy, you could also build a cross-functional team or task force that includes product, marketing, sales, customer support.

Feedback Loops

Once a sale is closed, the worst thing that the team can do is close the file and move on.

Of course, there are more sales coming down the pipeline. But there is a lot of value to be gained from understanding the customer experience after the sale.

By communicating with the customer support team, sales teams can learn how to improve their approach:

  • How to better position the product/service to align with customer expectations To understand points of friction after the purchase
  • To identify “sweet spot” customer segments as well as those are likely to churn or request a refund

The role of customer support is to close the loop on sales–allowing sales teams to gain valuable insight about the rest of the process. This helps drive revenue by helping the sales team focus on the right customer segments with the most effective approaches.

Using Great Customer Experience as a Differentiator

Customers are willing to pay more to ensure they receive a great customer experience.

Delighting customers with a positive experience go a long way. It can drive customer loyalty manifested via positive reviews, testimonials, case studies, and referrals

Giving customer support a seat at the product table to provide the customer perspective to all discussions can ensure that you have impactful changes on the product roadmap. Leaning on the customer support for insights to improve your sales & marketing strategy can ensure you are targeting the right customer segments with the right messaging. If you are considering making similar type of changes or want to know more, we’d love to hear from you.

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How Atlassian Used Automation to Build a $4 Billion Company with More Than 100,000 Customers

Maria Jiang on 5 July, 2018

At the 2018 Customer Experience Strategies Summit, we discussed Atlassian’s growth and CX strategy with Chris de Vylder, Atlassian's Head of Sales Strategy and Operations. We learned about how--and where--they’re deploying automation to successfully streamline processes.

Back in 2002, Atlassian launched their first product, Jira.

At the time, they didn’t make a lot of waves. The company was tiny and their product was one of many in a fairly crowded market.

Two years later, when they unveiled Confluence, they were still a relatively obscure company that was only starting to gain international attention. But over the course of 15 years, they have become one of the largest–and fastest growing–software companies in the world.

Through a combination of investment and acquisition, they have grown to offer at least a dozen separate software products and a market cap of more than $4 billion.

They became a public company in 2015, and they’ve continued to grow.

In a single quarter in 2017, the company added more than 4,000 new customers.

Most software companies would be lucky to add that many new customer in an entire year. And smaller companies would be crushed by the logistics of bringing on so much new business at once. But Atlassian took it in stride.

Despite enormous growth, the company hired fewer than 100 new employees in all of 2017. With more than 100,000 total customers, their team is lean–just 2,300 in total.

They have accomplished this because they have a clear strategy that separates them from competitors. Rather than growing in size and numbers, their team has leveraged automation to rapidly scale the business while keeping overhead low.

Instead of traditional sales staff, they’ve sold enterprise-grade software primarily through a self-serve model. Whereas most companies this size would have hundreds or thousands of employees to provide customer service, they’ve scaled customer support through AI and machine learning.

Their team uses technology to accomplish more with less.

At the 2018 Customer Experience Strategies Summit, we got the chance to discuss Atlassian’s growth and CX strategy with Chris de Vylder, head of sales strategy and operations. Through the course of our discussion, we learned about how–and where–they’re deploying automation to streamline processes.

Using Automation to Increase Revenue and Sales Efficiency

Atlassian’s rise to prominence all comes down to their ability to use automation to drive new revenue and growth.

At the core of their business, they’ve used technology to scale in 3 ways:

  1. Automating sales
  2. Automating customer engagement
  3. Automating customer service

When it comes to sales, the company has embraced the software-as-a-service model at scale.

Their entire growth, sales, and operations strategy is built around acquiring new users (generally through a freemium model), onboarding them, and converting them into customers–without human interaction.

While this is common practice for many software companies, Atlassian has made it a central piece of their strategy. They’ve seamlessly blended the self-serve buying experience with automation and intelligence that help drive sales.

Customers who appear on the cusp of signing up or upgrading their service receive a nudge from human sales staff who are available to answer questions. Meanwhile, most of Atlassian’s customers just flow through the onboarding and sales process automatically.

Rather than an army of sales executives and account managers for enterprise customers, almost everyone gets this same treatment–and it works.

Customer Engagement Drives Revenue

The second piece of Atlassian’s success is their strategy for automating customer engagement.

This piece of the puzzle neatly bridges the self-serve buying process with the self-service support model. In order to help customers engage with their products, answer their questions, and upsell them on paid features, Atlassian uses in-product automation.

As a user, you experience this through pop-ups, tool tips, and other incremental nudges within the product experience.

These small interactions are absolutely critical because they help customers learn and understand the product. For those who are using free versions of the software, this initial engagement is generally what drives an upgrade to a paid plan. But, it also reduces the demand on the support and service team by helping users with proactive support.

Excelling At Customer Experience Automation

When businesses scale, the cost of providing service and support is generally a major concern. The need to respond to requests and manage the customer experience can grow exponentially.

For many firms, this is a barrier.

For Atlassian, this is an advantage.

The company has embraced self-service support technology to help customers find answers and resolve issues quickly, without the need for an enormous customer support team.

They’re tapped into a rising tide of customers who prefer self-service support over interacting with live agents to resolve problems. Not only does this allow Atlassian to lower their support costs, it also provides quicker and better service for many of their users.

Automated self-service works because it allows customers to engage with service on their own terms. If they need an agent, they can request one. But if they just have a simple question, they can find an answer without having to wait.

Solvvy’s self-service support platform is a one key component of Atlassian’s strategy and allows them to scale service as they grow, without added overhead and expense. But it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.

Self-service support tools have come a long way in the last few years. They include technology such as:

  • Knowledge bases
  • Virtual agents or chatbots
  • Troubleshooting wizards
  • Informative videos

So long as your company provides multiple automated service channels, your customers will be able to pick their preferred channel, which increases their level of engagement as well as their satisfaction.

Scaling Gracefully

Automating many parts of your business’ core functions can flip the traditional sales and customer experience paradigms on their head.

For most companies, growth means a bigger team, new teams, and more people.

With automation, companies can grow their customer base at just a fractional rate; each new customer costs less than the last because the overall cost is spread across all of the customers that can be added through the use of technology and self-service systems.

Likewise, generating additional revenue from each customer can be automated with AI and customer engagement systems that have a fixed cost, rather than the incremental costs of adding new employees .

And automated customer service tools play the dual role of both increasing customer satisfaction and lowering support expense.

Atlassian’s success can teach us a clear lesson: It pays to automate.

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Customer Support’s Important Role in Solving Common Churn Problems

Yulia Savitskaya on 3 July, 2018

While it’s easy to focus and highlight growth, churn is equally important and should not be swept under the rug--we've identified 3 common churn problems and support's ability to mitigate churn.

For growing companies (like us!), growth and churn are two important areas of focus–while often times it’s easier to focus and highlight growth because it’s more exciting and sexy, churn is equally important and should not be swept under the rug and dismissed.

Understanding why customers churn is critical to how you continue to position, sell, and support your customers and to build your product and business. Churn is also costly–it’s 5-25x more expensive to earn a new customer than it is to keep an existing one!

While churn is a problem all departments work together to address, customer support has a unique perspective and ability to mitigate churn.

We’ve identified 3 common problems and ways support can deliver impact to the business.

1. Insufficient onboarding

The most critical stage of customer retention is getting a user from sign-up to her first feeling of success and seeing the value of your product or service. While signing up a new user (or account) means revenue, if she does not experience a ‘win’ in a timely fashion, she’s more likely to churn.

We’ve seen support successfully take a proactive role in messaging customers on Day 1 or Day 3 of onboarding to open a line of communication and let the customer know that support is invested in their success on the platform! Engagement is paramount during onboarding and determines how engaged your customer will be with your product or service long-term. Don’t wait until your customers have to raise their hand, introduce yourself as a resource early on.

2. High Effort Support Experience

The art of customer support lies in making it easy for the customer to find their answer — whether that’s through self-service or through your support team. Ultimately customers want their question answered as quickly as possible.

Investing in building out help content and and ways to increase discovery of that content reduces the effort a user needs to take to find their answer and saves time and money for your business and support team.

It doesn’t matter if you offer every contact channel under the sun; if users are frustrated and experience high wait times to get their answer, they will likely churn.

Take the time to evaluate your support strategy and ensure it’s designed to meet customer expectations. A customer’s experience with your support team creates a lasting impression and influences their perception of your business.

3. Mismatch in Expectations

For any growing business, it’s natural that at times you will attract the wrong customers. At the end of the day, if a customer’s needs ultimately don’t match with the product or service that you offer, they won’t continue on no matter how much support you’ve given them. It’s unrealistic to expect 0% churn. However, there are times where a mismatch in expectations can be addressed–and is also support’s time to shine!

Support has the unique position of receiving the most customer feedback and has the opportunity to identify where customer expectations are aligned or misaligned. This can be a powerful predictor of why customers may be churning now or in the future.

Support can determine where there is a mismatch and act as the feedback loop with marketing, sales, product, or engineering.

As the voice of the customer, support can identify:

  • Are customers asking for unintended use cases that don’t align well with the product or service?
  • Are they identifying a product limitation or requesting a certain feature?
  • Are they confused with certain parts of the product?
  • What part of the customer journey is there friction or confusion? Pre-sales? Onboarding? Ongoing product assistance?
  • Where do customers need the most help?

Churn is a complex problem that requires collaboration from all functions. Customer support plays a strategic role in identifying reasons for churn and partnering with stakeholders to address potential issues and impact the holistic customer experience.

Growth often steals the spotlight, but churn is an up-and-comer and support is a key part of the puzzle and the conversation.

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Too Many Communication Blunders?

Maria Jiang on 13 June, 2018

We've all been in conversations where things get a bit lost in translation. In this blog post and our upcoming webinar, we cover the 7 elements of a successful conversation developed by Bruce Temkin--customer experience transformist and founder of Temkin Group.

Join Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner, Temkin Group and Maria Jiang, Head of Product Marketing, Solvvy in an exclusive webinar ‘Applying The Art of Human Conversations to Digital Interactions’ on July 26 at 10am PDT.

How many times have you had to say, “That’s not really what I meant.” Countless times probably. To your boss, mom and hairdresser, right? Yes, conversations can get complicated. We spend our entire lives conversing, but we’re still not able to get it right everytime. Even though we are speaking the same exact language, often times there is miscommunication.

Touchy to easy conversations

I wish I had known earlier about the human conversational model developed by Bruce Temkin, customer experience transformist and founder of Temkin Group.

According to Bruce, these are the seven elements of a successful conversation:

  1. Self-awareness: Know thyself and what you want to get out of the conversation. Are you trying to convince, inform, inspire someone?
  2. Basic manners: Don’t be an asshole and remember to “treat others how you want to be treated”
  3. Intent decoding: Find something in common and be relatable.
  4. Contextual framing: Read the room. Know who you are talking to and adjust accordingly.
  5. Empathetic agility: Listen up and pay attention. There’s more going on than just words.
  6. Supportive feedback: Indicate that you are actively listening–it takes two to tango.
  7. Emotional reflection: Show that you’re on the same page, or at least the same book.

In our upcoming webinar, Bruce Temkin will take these key elements a step further to talk about how they can be applied to digital conversations from a brand.

Looking to have kick-ass conversations? Join us for this webinar to learn how to be a great communicator with everyone — family, friends, colleagues and customers.

Join Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner, Temkin Group and me for an exclusive webinar ‘Applying The Art of Human Conversations to Digital Interactions’ on July 26 at 10am PDT.

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10 Must-See Sessions at Customer Contact Week 2018!

Maggie Lin on 12 June, 2018

Attending Customer Contact Week (CCW) in a few weeks? Check out our 10 Must-See Sessions to help plan out your week. See you there!

Whether you’re trying to jumpstart a customer experience program from scratch or you’re a CX veteran looking to learn about the latest AI tools and technology, there is no shortage of information out there–the question is how do you harness it to work for you?

Customer Contact Week is where that knowledge and opportunity meets you! With 175+ speakers, there is truly something for everyone. Truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of the incredible sessions in store. To help you plan your week, we’ve picked out our top 10 sessions you can’t miss. Hope to see you there!

1. AI, Bots and Humans – The Future Customer Journey is Here

Tuesday, June 19 — 8:15 AM – 11 AM

Jim Whatton, VP Solutions Consulting, Genesys
Chas Bowman, Senior Technical Sales Consultant, Genesys

We all know that technology is changing the customer experience landscape. What does that mean for leaders navigating the world of humans and bots? Grab your seat at this discussion to learn how both will play a role in shaping and understanding the customer journey.

2. Transform Your Customer Experience into Connected Omnichannel Journeys

Tuesday, June 19 — 11:15 AM – 2 PM

Matthew Clare, Product Marketing Manager, Mitel
George Despinic, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Contact Centers, Mitel

The modern customer journey is more complex and less predictable than ever. New devices, channels, and touchpoints require proactive strategy. Join the Mitel team for a discussion about the evolution of the customer journey and how to manage the omnichannel experience.

3. Today’s Connected Customers: Deliver Personalized Service Across Channels

Tuesday, June 19, 2:15 PM – 5 PM

Stephen Bell, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Service Cloud, Salesforce

Hear from Salesforce on the strategies, tactics, and tools you need to not only manage the service experience but deliver personalized service at scale.

4. Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat your Customers

Wednesday, June 20— 9:05 AM – 9:50 AM

Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss

Sometimes it’s important to just reflect on the basics. This presentation will highlight a simple and timeless approach to measuring customer service interactions. Join this session for a practical reminder and a coaching strategy for service and support teams.

5. Develop a Scalable, Transformative Support Model

Wednesday, June 20 — 2:10 PM – 2:55 PM

Janelle Sallenave, Head of Customer Support, North America, Uber

Learn how one of the fastest-growing companies in the world is able to build and scale a support model that serves millions of users nationally and internationally. Get takeaways on tactics and strategies that you can apply to your own company.

6. Create a Customer Centric Culture

Wednesday, June 20 / Thursday, June 21 — Multiple Times

Bill Gessert, President, International Customer Service Association

There’s a lot of talk about putting customers at the heart of everything you do. But is your company actually taking steps to make that a reality? Hear firsthand from Bill Gessert how customer service leaders are building a culture and a strategy with customers–and their needs–at the center of it all.

7. Build the Business Case for AI and Automation

Wednesday, June 20 / Thursday, June 21 — Multiple Times

Chris Danson, Chief Technology Officer, Mattersight
Adam Schmitt, Director, Contact Center Strategy, Macy’s

It can be easy to think of the latest automation solutions as just nice-to-haves. But, there is a real and compelling business case for integrating AI and automation into your customer experience strategy. This session will discuss how to save money, increase efficiency, and improve outcomes with better technology.

8. Are you Easy to do Business with?

Wednesday, June 20 / Thursday, June 21 — Multiple Times

Corey Robinson, Operations Director, Cigna
Brian Quigg, Sales Director, Virtual Hold Technology

Customer tolerance for friction is at an all-time low. In order to compete, companies must focus on providing a seamless, pain-free experience for every single customer. This session tackles that topic and how to measure and manage every touchpoint.

9. Deliver Success, Effort and Emotion While Leveraging AI

Thursday, June 21 — 8:20 AM – 9:05 AM

Jason Bradshaw, Chief Customer Officer, Volkswagen Group Australia

Artificial intelligence isn’t just about bits and bytes. With the right technology and a solid strategy, you can use automation to improve service without sacrificing the empathy and understanding of world-class service and support. Learn how Volkswagen is implementing AI successfully to elevate the customer experience.

10. World Class Service Starts with Culture

Thursday, June 21 — 4:15 PM – 5:00 PM

Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

Join Shep Hyken, one of the world’s foremost thought leaders on customer experience, for a discussion about culture. This keynote will explain how organizations can build the foundation for world-class service by focusing on the people who provide it.

This list scratches the surface of the packed agenda at CCW, but we hope you find it helpful in planning out your week. We’re looking forward to hearing from industry leaders and all the learnings we’ll walk away with–after all, it’s one of the best CX events of the year.

When you find some time between the incredible sessions in store, don’t forget to swing by and say hello to Solvvy team. We’ll be in the exhibition hall, Booth Number 720.

See you at CCW!

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Lead with Customer Experience, Not Technology

Maggie Lin on 7 June, 2018

Taking a customer experience first approach is critical to Apple's success. How can this help re-think your CX and product strategy?

Apple is probably one of the most divisive companies in modern history. As a consumer, chances are you either 1) use a multitude of Apple products in your daily life or 2) you actively choose not to use any Apple products.

From detractors, Apple has been criticized for not offering the most advanced/innovative technology, yet the company has continued to dominate the consumer electronics market and remains one of the largest companies in the world.

What has made Apple so successful for so long?

One reason, undoubtedly, is their focus–obsession, really–with customer experience.

As a company, they realized early on that being a technology company isn’t just about creating great technology. It was about creating technology with purpose that solves real, human problems.

Famously, Steve Jobs explained that the core strategy at Apple is to understand and shape the customer experience and then work backwards to the technology. Ultimately, this allows you to find how the technology you are developing fits into the larger, cohesive vision that allows a company to sell billions of dollars of product a year.

This should ring true for any technology company, whether it’s hardware or software.

The core of your product may be code, algorithms, or processors. But the part that the customer touches–the part that they care about–is the experience.

Everything from the marketing and messaging to the user interface plays a role in shaping the customer experience. Yes, technology will also be an important part of that. But, it’s one of many factors.

For Apple, they have gone to great lengths to control the entire customer lifecycle. Customers know what to expect when buying the product, they know how to use it to accomplish the tasks they need, and they can receive hands-on support when they have questions or issues online, on the phone, or in person at the Genius Bar.

This entire experience is the embodiment of the vision that Apple has put forth for how they want customers to experience their products and their brand. And they protect that vision ruthlessly in their execution.

So, where do you start with customer experience?

The Customer Experience Vision

While there are many factors that shape the final experience, the core of the process is defining what kind of experience customers should have.

For instance, if you run an on-demand marketplace, then the customer experience should feel seamless and quick. Customers should have all of their immediate questions answered by the application’s interface and buyer or seller profiles. If users have to wait too long for an answer, they are likely to just abandon the process all together.

This is one example of a vision for customer experience. Using this vision as a guide, begin defining a technology strategy that allows you to achieve this experience.

Your vision for the customer experience can also drive the core product strategy.

Artificial intelligence, for instance, is an incredible and powerful technology. But it’s not until we imagine the experience of using AI—digital personal assistants, marketing optimization, or automated customer service—that it’s clear how it can be used to solve real customer problems. So, if you’re an AI company, you need to first develop your vision for how AI can improve people’s lives and then develop a strategy and product that brings this vision to life.

Bringing the vision to life isn’t always easy. And it shouldn’t be.

It’s a big, difficult, and complex problem to solve–that’s what makes it interesting and exciting.

In Summary: Working Backward to Definitive Technology

There’s a famous saying that goes, “when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

In the technology world, this is especially true. If you begin any project or business by building the solution before you’ve defined the problem, you’ll spend all of your time searching for problems you could solve, but never quite sure which one is right.

As many startups have learned the hard way, it’s a big mistake to build a product and then go around and looking for a way to sell it. This kind of technology-first thinking leads to poor product-market fit and a challenging sales process. You’re literally fighting uphill for every customer, trying to convince them that they have a problem that needs solving before you can convince them that you have the solution.

On the flipside, if you begin by thinking through the lens of the customer experience, then you start with the problem–you understand the pain points.

For example, at Solvvy, one pain point we’ve observed is that customer service teams face a large number of self-serviceable questions that take away time from answering more pressing and complex issues. We’ve approached building our product with this pain point in mind (as well as others) and envisioning what kind of customer experience would solve these problems

Even highly technical customers are rarely persuaded by raw technology alone. They’re looking for solutions–for an experience that is shaped by purchasing the right product or service.

This is why it’s so important to begin with the customer experience.

Cast a vision for how your company can improve lives or solve a real problem. Then work backward through the engineering that it would take to provide that experience to customers.

Strive to build solutions, not just products or tools.

If we’ve learned anything from Apple, it’s that customers will pay a premium for a great product that’s created to meet the needs of the customer. They’ll even line up early to buy it.

That’s the power of an incredible customer experience.

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Win with Effortless Experiences

Kaan Ersun on 30 May, 2018

Join Matthew Dixon, Co-author of The Effortless Experience and Kaan Ersun, SVP of Marketing, Solvvy in a webinar, ‘The Ease Imperative’ on Tue, Jun 12 at 11:00 PDT.

Join Matthew Dixon, Co-author of The Effortless Experience and Kaan Ersun, SVP of Marketing, Solvvy in a webinar, ‘The Ease Imperative’ on Tue, Jun 12 at 11:00 PDT.

In his acclaimed bestseller, The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon busts the long-standing and entrenched myth that companies must delight and “wow” customers. While companies devote untold time and resources on dazzling customers, all that really matters is how effortless or easy their overall experience is.

Backed by a 5-year research spanning more than 400 organizations and 97,000 customers by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), Dixon reveals that customer loyalty is based on how companies deliver on their basic promises instead of exceptional service experiences.
Dixon lays out the four pillars of a low-effort service:

  1. Minimize channel switching with a simple, intuitive, and guided self-service experience
  2. Arm agents to avoid subsequent calls and think beyond resolving the current issues
  3. Equip them to manage customer interaction instead of just being “nice”
  4. Empower them to exercise their own personal judgment

In his webinar with Solvvy, Dixon will share insights and examples of companies applying these four principles so you can generate customer loyalty that the “dazzle factor” fails to deliver. As businesses aspire to win more customers and grow the existing ones, the ease imperative can be the game-changer.

Join Matt Dixon, Co-author of ‘The Effortless Experience’ and me in a webinar, ‘The Ease Imperative’ on Tue, Jun 12 at 11:00 PDT. We will discuss the importance of effortless customer experience while sharing practical use cases.

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Solvvy is GDPR Compliant

Kaan Ersun on 30 May, 2018

As the leader in intelligent self-service serving more than 250M end users around the world, Solvvy is fully compliant with the standards of the GDPR. Read more to learn what we've done to become GDPR compliant.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25th. The GDPR applies to any business that offers products or services within the European Union or collects personal data of EU citizens. The regulation provides more transparency and control over personal data collected by any organization. It is also designed to ensure that data is stored and transferred responsibly. As the leader in intelligent self-service serving more than 250M end users around the world, Solvvy is fully compliant with the standards of the GDPR.

GDPR compliance

Leading up to May 25th, we have taken the following steps to ensure compliance with GDPR:

1) Personally Identifying Information (PII) is redacted immediately (before any processing or storage) upon receipt of customer queries or when ingesting ticket data.

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The bottom line is that Solvvy does not collect or process any PII except when handing off tickets to our customer’s CRM. No PII is used for AI training or shared with third parties. We encourage our customers to review our updated privacy policy and contact us with any questions.

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What is Great Customer Service? 9 Industry Leaders to Learn From

Maggie Lin on 22 May, 2018

Wondering how to improve your company's customer experience? Learn from companies who are known for world-class service.

 

It’s no secret that having world-class customer service leads to more revenue, higher margins, and improved customer satisfaction and retention.

According to Harvard Business Review, customers who have the best customer experiences spend 140% more than customers with the worst experiences.

But how does a company transform their customer experience to become a market leader?

The tactics and the strategies that underpin great customer service are often more elusive. It may be simple to identify small issues that can be fixed to drive better service, but transforming the entire support operation is much more difficult and requires both high-level insight about what needs to be fixed and a clear vision for how to move in the right direction.

One way to approach this challenge is to learn from the best.

Year after year, a few companies are consistently lauded for their customer service strategies. Let’s take a closer look at some of these companies and get to the root of what makes them so successful.

1. Amazon’s Customer Service Strategy is Perfectly Aligned with Their Business Strategy

Amazon’s empire is built on selling to anything and everything–and in enormous quantities.

As a result, the company handles a tremendous number of customer service inquiries. Core to their business is the role that support plays in keeping their customers happy and coming back. It’s a volume game.

This aligns directly with Amazon’s overall business strategy:

  1. Focus on volume; issues are resolved quickly without back and forth
  2. Focus on long-term relationships; Amazon assumes fault and delights the customer to keep them coming back, even if it has higher short-term costs

Of course, not every company can remain fixated on the big picture and ignore the short-term costs of a strategy like this. But, your firm can use its overarching business strategy as a compass that guides support operations.

Amazon always gives customers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to interactions with customer service. In fact, Amazon has an automated system that gives customers refunds immediately, no questions asked.

2. Trader Joe’s is Human to the Core

Trader Joe’s is known for being a different kind of grocery store.

Beyond the local products, friendly staff, and relaxed atmosphere, there is a general air of kindness, generosity, and understanding. Shoppers become loyal fans because of the in-store experience.

In a word: They’re human.

And that is reflected in their customer service strategy, which is more about understanding and meeting the specific needs of their customers rather than implementing a rigid system of processes and procedures.

It seems that TJ’s has adopted a customer service strategy that is focused on going the extra mile to make people happy.

Source: http://www.cpgmatters.com/RetailTrends061614.html

There have been countless stories of Trader Joe’s employees and managers going above and beyond for customers. From stocking a specific product at the request of a regular customer to hand-delivering groceries (for free) in the middle of a snow storm, there’s no support playbook that could outline all of these decisions.

They’re driven by individual circumstances and humans empowered to decide what seems right in the moment. That’s the magic of the experience.

For other companies, the takeaway is to give your support operations a human element. While there may be general rules, providing customer service is not always about having a prepared response to every situation–it’s about understanding the circumstances and adapting to meet the needs of the customer.

3. USAA Knows Its Customers Better than Anyone

USAA has reached the top of customer service rankings for many years running. One insurance review aggregator shows that 92% of customers would recommend USAA to a friend.

What’s their secret?

USAA’s entire approach relies on picking a niche–US military members and their families–and focusing entirely on meeting their insurance needs.

Because USAA has built their entire business around this customer segment, they are able to provide service that is custom-tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of military families. While other insurance carriers may not be prepared to handle these situations, USAA doesn’t bat an eye–they’ve seen it all before.

The reason this works is that USAA has been deliberate about identifying their customers and becoming experts on their needs. But that also means that they’re not a fit for other customer segments. They’ve made a choice to pursue a specific strategy.

Remember the old saying: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

While we often think of this as being the mission of customer service, it’s important to be thoughtful about which customer segments might be underserved or how serving certain segments may mean sacrificing the quality of service for others.

You may need to build customer support operations and teams that are focused entirely on serving certain types of customers. Or, in more extreme circumstances, you may adjust your entire business strategy to provide a higher level of service and support to a more narrow band of potential buyers.

4. American Express Understands that Their Role is More Than Just a Financial Institution

We may think of credit cards as just tools that we use.

But they’re also intimately linked to our lives. The way that we use our cards reveals a lot of information about us. What we buy, where we shop, and how we spend our time and money are all told in our billing statement.

In the wrong context, this can be scary. But this data can also be used for good.

American Express proved this in at least one instance when they notified their customers about some contaminated cake purchased from a hotel cafe. After learning about the circumstances, they gave the cardholders a call to let them know about the potential danger.

The crisis was averted.

This entire episode is made possible by the fact that AmEx views their role as extending beyond just the product or service that they’re selling. As a credit card company, they had no real obligation to do anything about this problem. But as a company that’s deeply embedded in the lives and wellbeing of their customers, they saw an opportunity to help protect them from harm.

To provide this kind of support, companies must foster a culture that focuses on the bigger picture and the role that their products or services play in the lives of customers.

5. Marriott Turns Every Employee Into a Customer Advocate

Many companies only train their customer service team on how to handle and resolve customer problems. But Marriott has a different take.

Marriott believes that every employee is customer facing. Everyone from the bellhop to the chef is ready to help a customer, even if the customer needs assistance with something that isn’t traditionally their responsibility.

This means customers never need to wait for the right employee to come by to help them.

Need a new key? Just flag down the nearest employee and get things in motion.

We’ve all heard horror stories where customers have asked for help only to receive a “not my job”response. This kind of respond has a toxic air–it feels dismissive.

Companies looking to improve the overall customer experience should look for ways to train any and all employees on customer service. From front-line staff to corporate executives, no one should be above the task of taking care of a customer.

This kind of ethos can immediately diffuse a tense situation; customers who are upset or distressed get immediate help rather than being passed off. These small gestures go a long way toward overall satisfaction.

6. Alaska Airlines Meets Customers Where They Already Are

Most would assume that the budget airline Alaska Airlines only retains minimal resources devoted to serving customers.

In reality, Alaska Airlines recently ranked as the airline with the lowest rate of customer complaints.

Even if they may not have the resources of the major carriers, they have made scrappy use of their customer service budget by meeting customers where they already are. The service team handles many requests in real time through channels like Twitter and Facebook.

Customers often reach out to their airline via Twitter for information about delays, airplane features, and using their frequent flier miles. By carefully monitoring their Twitter feed, Alaska Airlines responds to customer inquiries within minutes — a critical factor when passengers are scrambling to make their flight.

Alaska Airlines has even won special praise for its extensive Twitter-based customer service.

Other airlines might use their social media to direct customers to the “official” service channels, introducing friction and dissatisfaction. But, Alaska Airlines has realized that it’s easier–and provides a better experience–to answer requests on the channels that customers are already using and meeting customers where they are

For other companies, this means understanding customer habits and building your service strategy to reduce friction for the consumer rather than forcing them to adopt new channels or processes in order to get help.

7. REI is Laser-Focused On Customer Education

Customer service is built into the experience of buying from REI.

As customers may not know much about the vast camping and hiking gear that REI offers, every department in the store is staffed by veteran outdoors enthusiasts who work as personal shopping assistants and product experts.

They answer questions, give advice, and provide genuine product feedback.

By helping customers navigate the world of camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities, REI makes it easier for customers to purchase expensive items like tents and sleeping bags without fear. This also helps customers feel respected. Their questions and concerns are answered in a friendly way and they don’t have to feel silly about asking for help.

This kind of expertise is central to the REI experience and extends to their website and social media. Companies can embrace a similar approach by focusing on hiring subject matter experts and making expertise part of the shopping experience.

8. Valve Takes the Risk and Friction Out of Purchasing

As the creator of the ubiquitous video game distribution platform Steam, Valve is an expert at finding what their customers want and making sure that they get it.

Customers using Steam build a profile of the video games that they like to play, which Valve then uses this information to recommend them new games that are offered at massive discounts.

If users see a game they would like to purchase, it’s only a couple of clicks until they’re playing–in fact, Valve’s simplification of the process is so effective that it even curbed piracy of video games.

That’s right: Valve makes purchasing products so easy that users are willing to do it even if they could find the product for free

But that’s not all.

Valve understand that sometimes their suggestions aren’t on the money. Valve allows users to test a game for up to five hours and still get a refund if it doesn’t meet their expectations. It doesn’t matter if the user paid for the game years ago, they can still return it if they aren’t happy after actually trying it out.

Aspire to make buying your product so easy that customers would do it even if they could get the product for free. And be sure to provide service that’s rooted in reality rather than standard convention.

9. Ikea Has Mastered the Art of Self-Service

The entire Ikea business model is built on helping customers help themselves.

From the self-guided showroom to the self-assembled furniture, customers are in charge of their own buying experience. And front-line customer service at Ikea is also a self-service model.

Ikea is known for ease of assembly and proactive documentation that prevents customers from making mistakes during assembly.

They document the most common user mistakes in the instruction booklet for each piece of furniture at the point where the errors occur.

More companies are adopting self-service options, even for solving complex issues or finding answers to specific and technical questions. Artificial intelligence is leading the way–learning from customer interactions and questions to provide better and more accurate questions.

Source: http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture_Utilities_MultiChannelSelfService.pdf

Companies shouldn’t be afraid of providing self-service support options. In fact, many studies have found that customers would rather find answers themselves (provided that it’s simple) than have to talk to a support representative.

Understanding your customer and providing a self-service option where appropriate can improve the overall customer experience. It allows companies to provide faster, easier, and more consistent service. It also cuts costs on responding to customer service inquiries.

Turning Customer Service Success Into Revenue

Now that you understand the different approaches customer service leaders used to climb to the top of their industries, it’s time to execute them within your company.

As shown by companies like Trader Joe’s and Marriot, taking the initiative to stand out is the first step toward customer service excellence. Likewise, personalizing your customer interactions to create deep collaboration like REI can go a long way towards driving sales.

To tie everything together, you can learn from some of these examples:

  • Align your customer service strategy with your broader business strategy
  • Develop a clear support policies and procedures, but don’t remove the human element and empower your team to use their best judgment
  • Use channel selection and strategic routing to meet your customer’s needs and expectations
  • Focus on developing internal champions for customers–educators that help them make decisions and resolve issues
  • Answer questions and concerns proactively to avoid

Each company has their own approach to customer service, but the general trends are clear. Companies that are providing a world-class experience are riding trends toward proactive support, self-service/automation, and deep personalization that makes customers feel valued and respected.

Some of these trends are driven by new technology, but the core of great service remains the same–making customers feel like they are valued and making it an easy and seamless experience.

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