Posted tagged ‘customer service’

Customer Service Triumphs: A Round of Applause for Shawn at Logitech

February 12, 2010

As we head into a long weekend, I thought I would close the week on a positive note. One of the side effects of being a long-time spokesperson, ombudsman and cheerleader for the customer service industry is that friends tend to save up their worst service stories and when they see me, I get an earful.  I don’t think I’m personally at fault for every problem in the world of service, but apparently in the views of some, if I was doing a better job, they would never encounter a poor service experience. Last night I met some friends for cocktails, and I’m happy to report there wasn’t a single customer service horror story.  In fact, it was just the opposite.

The topic of discussion was a $400 pair of Logitech ear buds my friend Ed received for Christmas. They stopped working. Naturally, I made dismissive comments about people who buy $400 ear buds, but I was the lone non-audiophile in the crowd and was quickly shouted down. After an initial call to service, and an unsuccessful attempt to track down a receipt, Ed called Logitech customer service back to find out what his options were, thinking he was out of luck.

Enter Shawn at Logitech.  My friend loved Shawn. He raved about Shawn.  Shawn was sincerely sorry my friend had experienced a problem. Shawn was excited about the Logitech products and wanted Ed to love his ear buds. Shawn spent a lot of time with him, walked him through diagnostics to identify the problem and ultimately, dispatched a part that should fix the problem. For once, instead of making excuses about increased complexity, poor accent training, brusque agents and long wait times, I was basking in the glory of someone on Cloud 9 because of a perfect customer experience.

So I asked the million dollar question:  Are you more likely to buy Logitech products in the future because of this experience?  His response? Not only was he going to actively shop for another Logitech product to buy, he strongly recommended we all do the same.  Now that’s turning an upset customer into a satisfied AND loyal customer.  All with one phone call.

So Shawn at Logitech, thank you for making me the hero instead of the goat for once. And to all of the nay sayers who think customer service is declining, here’s my challenge to you:  buy more Logitech products, and if you encounter a problem, ask for Shawn.

I wish everyone a wonderful long weekend, and as always, thanks for reading!

2009 Remembered: Top Three Customer Service Technology Trends

December 29, 2009

We all seem to be breathing a collective sigh of relief that 2009 is over. Thank goodness.  2009 started in a very dark place, with budgets in question, technology projects on hold, and a laser focus on ROI.  I remember advising our partners in January that, “2009 is not the year anyone wants to hear your Web 2.0 vision.” What a difference 12 months can make. As a buzz term, “Web 2.0”  certainly died, but it was replaced by the almost interchangeable “social media,” another generic term meaning whatever you want it to mean. Delayed projects seemed to mostly revive and continue by mid-2009, and judging by my inquiry volume from companies building RFPs for CRM and KM tools, 2010 will be a big year for updating infrastructure and building out some innovative technology areas.

As I look over 2009, with an eye toward what’s coming in 2010, here are the three technology trends I think most impacted the service and support industry this year: (more…)

The Economics of Customer Service Excellence

November 18, 2009

I’m preparing for tomorrow’s Webcast, “The Economics of Customer Service Excellence: Critical Improvements for Tier 1 and First Contact Resolution,” and wanted to share some of the data I’ve come across in my research.  Obviously in a down economy (and for all the talk about recovery I’ve yet to hear any service execs getting budget increases) there is a big focus on servicing customers as cost effectively as possible. But in this case, reducing support costs is a win:win–not only does resolving more issues at Level 1 lower operating costs, but customers are much happier when issues are resolved more quickly, and by the first person they speak to.

The economics are simple:  the longer a support incident is open, the more it costs.  If you escalate an issue from Level 1 to Level 2, the cost doubles.  Everyone asks about incident costs, and based on member surveys, here is the data I quote: (more…)

Five WORST Practices of Customer Service

November 10, 2009

A few years ago I was speaking at a conference and committed a cardinal sin: I used a company as an example of poor customer service, and that company, an electric utility, was in the audience. I tried to mea culpa my way out of it, and apologized profusely to the company’s support manager at the conference. A couple of weeks later I received a call at my office from the head of support for the utility company, who informed me they had made major investments to their support operations, including 100% call recording, and he had listened to every one of my phone interactions over the last couple of years and I had zero reason to think they gave poor support.

Worst Practice #1: Never tell a customer their feelings about poor treatment are unjustified. You are basically calling them a liar, and putting the customer immediately on the defensive.

The folly of all of this is that the account I had had so many problems with was a rental property I owned at the time, and the electric account wasn’t even in my name. Using call recording as a bully club to argue with customers is ridiculous, as you can’t possibly tie me personally to account problems my name and phone number aren’t associated with.

Fast forward a few years. A few weeks ago, Northern California received a record breaking storm, the remnants of a typhoon from Asia. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I received 10 inches of rain in one day. We had sustained winds at 40mph, with gusts up to 70mph. My power was out for 4 days, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my encounters with that same utility company left me so frustrated, that weeks later I am still angry. This blog post is my attempt at catharsis. (more…)

RightNow’s Acquisition of HiveLive: Industry Implications

September 10, 2009

My first day back from vacation was a very busy one with RightNow’s announcement on Tuesday that they had acquired social platform vendor HiveLive.  I can’t remember the last time I had this many calls and emails from the press and other industry folks about an announcement, and it is no surprise:  this is big news.  Why? Not only did RightNow show the importance of communities as an emerging customer channel with this transaction, they also paved the way for a new round of industry consolidation–today’s end to end customer service platform must include community features.

I remember attending a regional RightNow user conference in Santa Clara a few years back, and I had an opportunity to spend time with Greg Gianforte, RightNow’s CEO, before the general session.  This was in the early days of Web 2.0, and none of the customer service/CRM vendors had a community strategy yet in place.  Greg said customer demand for discussion forums was just beginning.  Then we walked into the general session, and there was an uproar from the audience pushing for community features in an upcoming release.

Perhaps because RightNow is a pure SaaS product its customers were ahead of Web 2.0 curve.  But I had not seen a group of customers demanding so much so early, and I think this user conference played a role in RightNow’s early selection of Lithium as a community partner and building a really tight integration that defined what “best of breed” integration between self-service knowledgebases and communities should be.

By bringing a full community solution in-house, RightNow is again ahead of the Web 2.0 curve for customer service and CRM vendors.  This acquisition has large implications for our industry, including:

  • Partnering is not enough. Companies may buy one channel at a time, but they shop for a vendor that can support all their channels down the road.  By adding ‘best of breed’ community capabilities as part of their customer service and knowledge management (CS and KM) platform, RightNow has set a standard for end-to-end channel support including communities.  Their CS competitors who have relied on loose “Barney” partnerships for communities, or who have developed low-end community features as a stop-gap measure, will have to up their game.  And for the CS/KM vendors who don’t even have a community strategy in place, you are really behind the 8 ball now.
  • Beyond search integration, to process integration. Companies struggling with community and social networking today are being stymied by process, not technology. For example, how do you begin involving customers in content creation without losing control? RightNow knows the search and data integration points between CS, KM and communities, but what about process integration? How do you transition struggling community users to assisted support? How do you automate taking popular forum content and instantiating it into a knowledgebase? Creating process integration between these two worlds provides ample room for innovation, and I expect we will see some early examples from RightNow and HiveLive by the end of the year.
  • Consolidation begins…again. Let’s face it, there are an over abundance of vendors offering customer service, knowledgebase, intelligent searching, and social networking.  With much of the functionality maturing, there is less differentiation between products than ever before:  most, if not all, can solve your business problems.  Between big CRM vendors (Oracle, SAP, Consona, Netsuite, FrontRange, Epicor, Chordiant, etc.), the CS/KM/search vendors (KANA, nGenera, Consona, eGain, RightNow, InQuira, Q-go, noHold, etc.), the community vendors (Jive, Lithium, SocialText, WetPaint), and the new breed of CS/community vendors (Fuze, Helpstream, Parature), there is a tremendous overlap of functionality, with too many vendors competing for each deal, and discounting driving down profitability. I forsee a great deal of consolidation in the months to come.

What do you think? How important is pre-integrated KM/CS and community? Who did invent knowledge in a cloud? Please add a comment or drop me an email. And as always, thanks for reading!

RightNow August ’08 Release: Customer Portal, Widgets, Co-Browse and Proactive Chat

August 27, 2008

RightNow Technologies announced their latest release this week, RightNow August ’08, and it includes some very cool features that pay tribute to their B2C roots.  It is surprising how much new functionality and infrastructure this vendor continues to deliver with their challenging quarterly release cycle.  For a complete list of what’s included you can read the press release, but allow me to highlight the pieces I was most excited about.

Coremetrics improves the Customer Experience by differentiating Visit vs. Visitor

April 23, 2008

I’ve been blessed with some amazing managers over the years.  The first was Judy Walden during my days as a support tech at JCPenney, who pushed me to think outside the box and be creative in attacking problems.  Another was Joe Davis, who was my boss at Clarify during the dark days after the Nortel acquisition.  Joe was the first executive I’d worked for with a “No BS” policy–he called ’em as he saw ’em, was clear and direct, and never afraid to discuss the occasional elephant in the room.  These two people have a lot to do with my becoming an analyst–a career that requires creative solutions to problems, and a level of frankness that some people find a bit uncomfortable.

Joe is now CEO of Coremetrics, the original “click stream analytics” company, and yesterday I went in for a briefing to better understand how Coremetrics can help support organizations improve the customer experience.  Though Coremetrics is best known as a solution for marketing professionals, there is a lot in their suite applicable to support.  The biggest takeaway for me was their in-depth understanding of Visit vs. Visitor, which gets to heart of why some knowledgebase vendors have ridiculous claims about the success of their self-service technology.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say a customer has a problem with their mobile phone.  (more…)