Customer Service Benchmark Report Follow-up Part 2
As promised in the last installment I will be looking at the first two of seven Benchmark results of a report carried out by SuperOffice,
However, I would like to recap on what has been written previously.
As mentioned before your business depends on how you manage your Customer Service enquiries.
It can make or break companies regardless of size, more so now than ever with the ”Name and Shame” culture as well as the added showcase of social media.
How many times have you regaled to friends and family: “Wait till I tell you” or “You’ll never guess what x, y or z, did when I complained about a b or c”. Then proceed to tell them about your bad experience of their customer service.
How do I know the experience was bad?
You are more often than not going to relay a bad experience and never a good one.
So what, as a consumer, are you looking for when it comes to customer service? Why are so many companies getting it completely wrong?
As the report said “Loyal and happy customers are the lifeblood of any business. They contribute to a healthy business, create new customers and act as referrals for future customers.”
On the other hand, in the world of social media an unhappy customer can share their complaints to thousands of friends, connections and followers. Which can eventually lead to business failure.
Most companies know that they need and should deliver excellent customer service.
But interestingly enough, research shows that while 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service. In fact only 8% of customers believe they are actually receiving excellent service.”
So what can companies do to ensure they are providing excellent customer service?
Well they would not go far wrong by following the report’s seven key areas which contribute to good customer service. And ensuring that they have the correct processes in place for dealing with customer service requests.
1. Responding to customer requests.
2. Acknowledging that the email request has been received.
3. Following up with customers.
4. Solving the request in the first reply.
5. Reducing the response time.
6. Making it easy for customers to contact you.
7. Adding the element of sincerity.
Let’s start by having a look at the first two:-
1.Customer service – Responding to customer requests
When a customer sends an email they normally expect a response. In fact, that’s why most companies hire a team of professionals to handle customer service questions. So when Superoffice contacted a sample of 500 companies how many responses did they get? What we found was that 41% (205 companies) did not respond to the customer service request. That’s nearly half of all companies that do not respond.
It was also noticeable that the companies who did not respond to customer service requests had quite a few things in common:-
They could only be contacted through an email on their website.
They were mostly smaller sized companies and employed less than 100 people.
They didn’t send an automated response once to confirm that our message had been received.
Based on these findings we can conclude that these companies do not have the correct processes established in handling support requests.
Best Practice tip #1
Always answer customers when they contact you. If you don’t respond they are likely to spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.
And even if you cannot answer the question right away. Inform them that you are working on it, and let them know they can expect a reply.
Pro Tip:- Customer Serviced software allows you to send an automated response. When a request has been received, it automatically forwards the request to the correct department, which means the right person.
Personally, I would try and use the Best Practice Tip as much as I can. – it lends itself to the personal touch or if you find you are being overwhelmed contact an email management company like Call Team who provide this service to clients…..
Also automated services can sometimes be just that, automated and generic and don’t allow editing to cover for ALL eventualities that may pop up.
You may also find that not everyone, especially if a start-up or small – medium business has the budget for that kind of software.
2. Customer service – Acknowledging their email.
Letting your customers know that you have received their support request shows that you are listening and working on a solution to help them. However, if customers send an email to your support team and they don’t receive a response, they may contact you on more than one channel looking for a reply. Then before you know it, you’ve got an increase in the number of customer service requests from the same customer on the same topic.
One way of letting the customer know you have received their request is to send a automated response..
Unfortunately, Superoffice found, after sending 500 emails to companies worldwide, only 33 companies acknowledged that they received our email request. This means that 94% didn’t acknowledge the request at all.
Get into the habit of acknowledging an email without the use of an automated service. However the whole point of this report is to equip companies with the means of providing better customer service and if an automated response suits you better then by all means use one, just as long as you acknowledge customers emails.
A third option again would be to use Call Team’s email management service where a team of highly professional VAs await to support you
Best Practice Tip #2
Setting up an auto-responder that includes working hours and an emergency telephone number. This will help reduce the number of follow up emails customers send.
On the other hand, most customer service software comes with the option to tag all emails with a unique code, which allows you to track all emails relating to that request.
The key here is to keep your customers informed, yes you got the email, yes you are working on a way to find a solution agreeable to both yourself and your customer. But unless you communicate this to them, how will they know? As the report stated will likely result in multiple emails all about the same request and each one escalating to a higher level of frustration as your customer increasingly feels ignored and left in the dark.
After all how would you feel if you were the customer?
It’s only common sense, and courteous, these simple steps will go a long way to keeping your customer happy and that is what we all want – Happy Customers.
About six months ago I posted a blog post about Customer Service – What makes a company great? Along with some guidelines and a few dos and don’ts to help with what is one of the most important aspects of any business, big or small, as discussed in aforementioned blog post.
Well now I’d like to revisit this topic, not because, as some may think I am running out of topics, ‘au contraire’ but due to the fact that there has been a benchmark report on the subject of customer service published and the statistics are, to say the least, alarming, however they make for an interesting read.
How the companies compare to each other in customer service.
How the companies manage and respond to customer support requests.
What can we learn from ‘best in class’ companies.
The findings came up with seven key areas, however before we look at those, we will have a look at the introduction, methodology, and key findings before I bore you with a load of facts.
Please read on, your business could depend on it.
Introduction Loyal and happy customers are the lifeblood of any business. They contribute to a healthy business, create new customers and act as referrals for future customers. On the other hand, in the world of social media an unhappy customer can share their complaints to thousands of friends, connections and followers which could in turn, lead to business failure.
Like I said your business could depend on it, nothing spreads quicker than a “Name and Shame”.
The report goes onto say “most companies know that they need and should deliver excellent customer service. But interestingly enough, here comes the science bit, research shows that while 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service; in fact only 8% of customers believe they are actually receiving excellent service.”
That seems such a HUGE difference.
Why did the businesses believe they were giving excellent customer service? What were they doing or not doing? And why did such a low percentage of customers believe they were getting excellent customer service? What were the customers expecting but not getting to score so badly.
Here’s what the company carrying out the research did.
They analysed the customer service quality of five hundred companies across the world, both small and large companies and to keep the study simple they sent one email to each company with the following two questions.
Do you have a phone number I can call you on?
Where can I find pricing information on your website?
Based on the speed, quality and tone, they then scored each response out of one hundred, where one is poor and one hundred is excellent.
The responses were based on the following categories:-
Was the contact information easy to find?
Did the company acknowledge the support request?
How long did it take for the company to respond?
Were both questions answered in the first reply?
Did the company follow up to see if we were happy with the level of support?
And here are the findings – “if I can have the envelope, please”. However before I make the announcement, can I just say that before reading the report it was thought that
Customer Service is a priority to most, if not all, companies.
Smaller companies would manage customer service better than bigger ones.
All companies would respond quickly to customer service requests.
Well the study found that (drum roll, opens envelope):-
41% of companies did not respond to a customer service request.
90% of companies did not acknowledge an email had been received.
99% of companies did not follow up with customers.
11% of companies answered both questions in the first reply.
The average response time to handle a customer service request was 15 hours.
The results speak for themselves.
In the next blog, one of four, I will be going over the first two of seven key areas which contribute to good customer service as well as sharing some best practice tips.
It’s a competitive world today, no longer is the high street the king of sales. Online it is easy to research, shop around and make well informed buying decisions. Price is, as always, a major deciding factor but other issues like ethics and environmental credentials are important too. Most importantly, customer recommendation has a big influence on our buying decisions today.
Have you ever bought anything from Amazon with only a one star recommendation?
…..Didn’t think so.
20 years ago
We all bought what we found on the high street or in a mail order catalogue. TV advertising ruled, a prime time slot during the soaps guaranteed your product would be a best seller. Everyone bought the same brands. A trusted recommendation was generally from a friend or family member.
Today the internet is a giant open market, noisy and competitive; it’s difficult for even large corporations to get a share of voice. So how do smaller businesses differentiate themselves and stand out in the crowd?
Customer service is how.
Offering a personalised service is so much easier for a smaller organisation. Large corporations are envious of this flexibility. All the content marketing, CRM systems, automation and data in the world can’t ensure a satisfied customer. Customer service is now king of sales; the most important factor in the buying process is how the customer feels about the experience.
Was it a positive interaction?
Would they buy from you again?
Will they recommend you?
All purchasing experiences are based on emotion. The way your customers feel about you is the way to stand out from the competition. If small businesses make sure that every interaction a current customer has with them is a positive one they will be happy and they will be loyal. In fact, not just current customers, everyone is a potential customer or might recommend you to a potential customer. So put a smile on your face and go out to make some raving fans today.
With Christmas just around the corner , we are discussing a subject close to every business owners heart; What to do about Christmas and by that I am referring to “How Much time, if any, are you planning to take off? Do you……….
Finish on Friday 23rd December and start back on Tuesday 3rd January?
Finish on Friday 23rd December and resume on Wednesday 28th, then finish on Friday 30th and resume on Tuesday 3rd January? or
Don’t stop except for Christmas dinner and even then you are constantly checking your devices?
It can be a difficult time for business owners; they feel torn; the whole point of starting your own business was to spend more time with your family. We all have visions of it all being sweetness and light but what you don’t figure in or what people don’t tell you is the time it takes when doing everything yourself: From getting and then keeping clients, turning these clients into returning clients; to finding new ones; to marketing, networking, social media, scheduling meetings, appointments, overseeing orders to delivery and so on. Before you know it you’re either hidden under a pile of paperwork or you’re sleeping slumped on your desk.
The truth is there is no right or wrong decision, take whatever time off you feel comfortable with. I am sure like most business owners you make split second, life changing decisions every minute, well maybe not every minute but certainly several times a day with no qualms and yet this decision can leave most owners quivering like a plate of jelly or blancmange or if I am really being twenty-first century Panna Cotta, different name same wobble.
However there is a fourth option you could consider – hire a company of Virtual Receptionists to take care of all your festive needs over the coming season. To see how Call team can help call 0845 544 0681.
And now finally and in the vein of all things Christmassy here is a new version of an old classic, one I am sure you have sung many times before and you might even adopt these alternative words.
12 Days of Christmas
“On the first day of Christmas my VA said to me “And a charity event organised”
On the second day of Christmas my VA said to me “Two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the third day of Christmas my VA said to me “Three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the fourth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the fifth day of Christmas my VA said to me “FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the sixth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the seventh day of Christmas my VA said to me “Seven days’ work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the eighth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Eight bills paid, seven days’ work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the ninth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Nine taxis ordered, eight bills paid, seven days’ work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”,
On the tenth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Ten presents bought, nine taxis ordered, eight bills paid, seven days’ work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and a charity event organised”
On the eleventh day of Christmas my VA said to me ”Eleven quotes emailed, ten presents bought, nine taxis ordered, eight bills paid, seven days’ work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed , two blogs managed and a charity event organised”,
On the twelfth day of Christmas my VA said to me “Twelve files created, eleven quotes emailed, ten presents bought, nine taxis ordered, eight bills paid, seven days work, six rooms reserved, FIVE GOLD PENS, four network meetings, three tapes transcribed, two blogs managed and an charity event organised”.
Disclaimer: – This is by no means a true reflection of seven days’ work for a VA. We are good, some say brilliant but we are not miracle workers, speak to the Birthday boy if you want that.
Virtual Assistants, if you have not heard of the term, are very much like your PA/EA or traditional secretary. The only difference is that as VA’s we have elected to work from home or remotely. We do not need a desk, a computer or a phone as we have our own, thank you. As well as managing your phone calls, some of Call team are a virtual assistants. We charge either hourly, per project. In some cases on a retainer package which means you pay only for the work/hours agreed on. No sickness pay, holiday pay or any other deductions associated with employees, . As some business owners* have found, hiring a VA is a win-win situation. The majority of them wonder how they ever coped without a VA.
Read on to discover what they had to say about hiring a VA and if this is for you, get in touch 0845 544 0681.
I was overwhelmed by scheduling Once I started getting overwhelmed by scheduling meetings/calls and emails I decided it was time to hire my Virtual Assistant. She’s been a huge help and costs me £450 a month for full time work. Eric Sin
I was Angry at My Work A few weeks ago I felt a flash of tightness in my chest from anger as I was sitting down to do work I really didn’t want to do. That was a wakeup call that I needed to delegate more tasks and focus on work that I actually enjoyed doing. The best part is that the assistant I hired was thrilled to be doing this type of work so it was a huge win-win for both of us. Peter Kennedy.
I was Bogged Down in Repetition I knew I needed a VA when I found myself doing a lot of repetitive tasks on a daily basis. I’ve worked with a number of VAs over the years and I found the relationship most beneficial when I could outsource time consuming, repetitive tasks. You want to avoid spending too much time explaining or reviewing projects so that you can maximise the time savings of having a VA in the first place. Nicolas Greenen.
My Personal Errands were Killing My Productivity It became clear when tasks from my personal life started to interfere with my ever-growing schedule. It wasn’t as much of a problem before – but after that line was crossed it became a trade-off. I could get all my work done or neglect the personal errands or vice versa. Thankfully now I can delegate much of my personal life to my assistant as well as some of those small business tasks that ate time. Alec Bowers
I Was Ignoring Core Tasks The moment you realise that lately you haven’t really worked on the core tasks that grow your business because of all the other things. – That is the final moment you need to stop and reassess your work load. Focus on the work you do best and hire other people to do the rest, like Call Team. Being the Jack of all Trades can seem like a necessity for many entrepreneurs; but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Focus! Sam Smith
I Realised Others Could Do It Better
When clients ask me about Virtual Assistants or remote staff the first thing I get them to understand is what they, as clients are good at or not good at doing. This is often quite difficult for entrepreneurs as they’ve usually been doing everything in their business themselves. Once you show them that others can not only do it better but that their business can’t grow without delegation they get a VA. Liam Martin
My First Hour Was No Longer My Own I’ve always thought that the first hour of the work day really sets the tone for those to follow. Realising this hour had become routinely filled with marginalia was a big sign I needed to hand off some tasks in order to get the right ones back. Sam Sixton.
As you can see from these recounts a Virtual Assistant will not only help but enhance your business, support you and your growth.
For more information on how Call Team can help please contact us.
What makes a company great, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the rest?
How do they have not only loyal but repeat customers who go back time and time again?
Is it the size of the company – bigger is always better?
Is it the amount of profits they make – well they must be good if they are making all that money – right?
Is it maybe they are the only business which has a particular item – hardly.
Or is their marketing top notch, taking full advantage of ALL media. Are they including online, social, TV and broadsheets as well as radio and tabloids?
What is their secret?
The truth is there is no secret, it all boils down to one thing – no matter size, profits, products, services or marketing plan.If you don’t have this one thing you may as well shut up shop and go home – and that one thing is Customer Service.
Don’t get me wrong the other things do help in some small way but Customer Service is King.
It should be natural and not forced. How annoying did “Have a nice day” become? Novel at first perhaps, but now it is not.So how do you achieve great Customer Service?
Try following these dos and don’ts as guidelines:-
Do smile when talking – seems strange I know but it works, try it and see the difference.
Practice active listening and hear what your Customer is saying but don’t sit in silence use audible nods and empathise. Repeat to show you have been listening using expressions like “If I have heard you correctly…….” This goes a long way and also informs customer that you have been listening.
Out of bounds expressions such as“You need to……,” or “I can’t so you have to………..” They neither have to nor need to do anything.
Ask permission “Is it OK if I take some details?” “May I have your name?” “Are you happy to give me…….?”
Don’t argue back, tempting as it maybe and never swear!
Never carry it over to the next customer and don’t take it home with you.
Each customer is an individual. Although you may think that they are Bat Crazy or what they are contacting you about is trivial. Always remember, to them it is important.
It isn’t personal, all they want is for someone to take responsibility and to listen.
And finally always end on a positive note, even if it’s a simple thanks for your call.
That’s how to do Customer Service!
Follow these guidelines and you will notice a difference.
Not just in your customers but also in your staff who will be happier in their work and willing to go that extra mile.
Please contact us here to find out how Call team could support your customers, improve your Customer Service and free up time for you.
Lorraine Jack is a Call Handler with Call team and a Virtual Assistant.
She loves writing blogs.Contact her here: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the questions asked the most of VA’s or Virtual Assistants is “How will a Virtual Assistant help me?”
Business owners often feel overwhelmed and stuck, but they can also be reluctant to hand over the reins to someone else.
Here are six services that a VA could offer that you might not have thought of:-
Bookkeeping and Invoicing:-
Two of your favourite things right? Not. A Virtual Assistant can pay bills online; prepare end-of-the-month reports, track accounts payable, receivable and more. You can also email your hours for each client to the VA and she or he can prepare invoices for you. Even better use an online time tracking service like Toggl.com to track your billable hours.
Need to hire a new employee? A Virtual Assistant can help you post listings and filter applications. Then send you the most qualified candidates, schedule interviews, respond to clients and more.
A Virtual Assistant can be a life saver when it comes to planning your next event. Your VA can research venues, get quotes and send out event announcements. They will arrange all necessary equipment, stage, projector, refreshments etc. They will also maintain contact with you to help with any troubleshooting during the actual event .
Do you take a lot of handwritten notes that you need typed? Easy. Use a mobile scanning app to turn your physical notes into digital PDF’s: Email the PDF’s to your Virtual Assistant to type up and return to you in Word format. (or whatever format you need them in)
Your virtual assistant can recommend a Call Handling service like Call team. Call forward your phone when you need to get on with work and feel confident that your important calls are in safe hands.
As a small business owner the issue of holidays can be a sticky one. This isn’t because of the seaside rock or the kiss-me-quick hat.
You know you deserve a break because you’ve been working flat out all winter. Your friends/family are putting pressure on you to take a break, they want to book it NOW. One of the reasons you chose to work for yourself was to have a better quality of life.
But Do you even dare leave your business for a couple of weeks? Will your clients desert you if their queries go unanswered? Who will deal with urgent issues? Will you come back to such a mess that you regret the holiday?
According to elite magazine’s Aug 2015 edition, 20% of SME owners won’t take a summer break, that’s over a million people. A further 30% said they would take a break but only if they could stay in the UK to keep an eye on their business. But a survey from Xero shows an even worse story with 76% of small business owners saying that they won’t take a break. Even worse the Xero article goes on to show suitable apps so entrepreneurs can stay in touch on the beach. Easy today and many claim to live the ‘laptop lifestyle’ but that isn’t taking a holiday is it?
Actually taking a total break from your business will boost your productivity. Time away from work will encourage idea generation and give a much needed refocusing on what is important.
There is a direct correlation between number of hours worked and productivity as brainies at The Economist showed us when they told us to ‘Get a Life’ with this graph. The longer hours worked in a country, the less productive that country is.
John Pencavel of Stanford University, published a paper about working hours and showed that reducing working hours is necessary for productivity: output is proportional to hours. Above a threshold, output rises at a decreasing rate as hours increase. So in theory if you don’t take a decent break you could end up in a situation where you’re in negative productivity after a few years. You’re doing more harm than good. Also known as burn-out, which is a serious issue.
Here are our top tips for a bit of forward planning to prepare your business for a break:
– Practice going on holiday by taking a few days off – next week for example.
– Prepare staff with training in advance or get a virtual assistant to help out.
– If you’re not already, schedule your social media in advance by joining Hootsuite (free of charge for a month.)
– Get wages, expenses, invoices and credit control up to date in the month before you go away.
– Ask your network or colleagues in the same industry to job swap, they cover for you and vice versa.
– Don’t book a holiday at month end or year end or tax man deadline times.
– Employ a call handling company to tell your customers you’re in a meeting. (You can scan read their messages, so no surprises when you get back.)
According to a recent survey from Dutch telecommunication experts Telecompaper.com, over 2/3rds of people hang up when they reach an answerphone.
That’s a lot of customers that don’t like your machine.
The younger they are, the less likely to leave a message, with a staggering 84% of 20-29 year-old’s who said they can’t be bothered. They hang up straight away when they get voicemail, although they are more likely to ring back again.
The 50-64 age group are most likely to leave a message, even then only 37 percent of them would bother. Overall 69% of consumers hang up because they want to talk to a real person.
Voicemail is a dying service and universally disliked and derided by customers regardless of their age. Its considered a joke so try some of these messages:
Here at Call team, voicemail is our arch enemy: We are Batman and voicemail is The Joker.
We believe it is the lowest form of customer service and one of the quickest ways to lose a customer. If your phone goes to voicemail, will your customers just wait and ring back later or will they ring one of your competitors? What do you do when you get voicemail?
Your customers will go elsewhere if you don’t answer your phone.
Call team believe all small business owners should ditch the robot message, show your customers some LOVE and get a proper call answering service with trained real people who are helpful like us.
Add the results of the Telecompaper survey to other statistics about the overall customer experience and it becomes apparent how important a personal touch on the phone is: A Zendesk report showed that 82 % of customers stopped doing business with a company or brand after a bad customer experience and based on the survey results, reaching a voicemail box could easily be described as a bad customer experience.
Therefore, statistics show you lose customers when you let their calls go to voicemail.
However 85% of consumers would pay up to 25% more for good customer service. So if all calls to your business were answered by a human professional instead of a machine you could translate that into cash money in the bank. Add to that the bonus of growing a loyal customer base. They will love you back because they get a real person who answers their query on the phone. Plus, you will be providing a great point of difference from your competitors with the standard of customer service you offer.
Quality customer service doesn’t include voicemail, even in today’s electronic world, we all prefer to speak to a person.
…….as the late great Bob Hoskins told us in the nineties as part of the BT ‘friends and family’ campaign. If you don’t remember, have a look at the rosy olden days before the internet or mobile phones were invented. The land line phone was the only way to communicate and BT was the only provider.
The idea was to choose your top 5 favourite friends and family members and talk to them for the extra low weekend rate of 3 minutes for 10p which equates to £2 an hour. It was a good deal then but we wouldn’t dream of paying that kind of money today.
The campaign was a great success, according to campaignlive.co.uk the advertising industry website, it netted BT £5 million in incremental sales: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/its-good-talk-story-behind-campaign/938629
Bob’s adverts are still fondly remembered 20 years later and he liberated men by giving them permission to have a natter not just pay the bill.
As a business owner, you already know its good to talk and the importance of the telephone as a way of communicating to your customers and not just your top 5, what about all those potential customers?
But what if you are not available to take your calls?
Who is booking your clients in for appointments with you when you’re with a client?
Who is dealing with your customer requests when you can’t?
If it’s not you, it could be your competitors!
Have you ever hung up when you got through to a business voicemail?
We all know how annoying it is to talk to a machine rather than a real person, in business too, people want to deal with people not answer machines. But your customers need never feel irritated by your voicemail again because you won’t have one. Call team make sure that your important callers always speak to a real person, your customers feel valued and your competitors lose out.
More than that, Call team speak to your customers in a tone of voice they expect, we are appropriate to your brand and your business. A relationship counsellor would like his callers to hear an emphatic and soothing voice when they ring, whereas a business coach requires and energetic and upbeat receptionist. Your clients will feel confident in booking your services assuming they are talking to a member of your staff.
We agree with Bob Hoskins – It is good to talk
And at Call team we passionately believe – It’s good to talk to your customers!