In today's digital world, prospective students and learners prefer an instant answer over having to wait for a pamphlet to arrive in the mail. Whether navigating through a Help Center of school-related content or engaging in an on-the-spot interaction via live chat, being able to respond immediately is paramount to providing a great support experience.
Many educational organizations use Zendesk to offer efficient, direct communication channels to their current and prospective student, faculty and staff. In this on-demand webinar, learn how Coursera and the University of Nevada, Reno used Zendesk to scale and innovate their support organizations by using multiple channels in Zendesk.
This webinar is facilitated by Ryan Kunkel, an enterprise account executive at Zendesk, and panelists include:
- Mike Robichaud, Manager of Support Products at Coursera
- Ana Fittrer, Admissions at University of Nevada, Reno
- Greg Dreyfus, Embeddables Product Manager at Zendesk
- Kristin Kwasnik, Senior Account Manager at Zendesk
Despite the rise of newer channels like social media and email, many customers still prefer the immediacy and real-time interaction that’s possible with the 1:1 interaction of a phone call. According to Forrester Research, 73% of consumers have used phone support in the past 12 months.
While many companies are adopting strategies and infrastructure to provide great customer service via newer channels, they are still making the investment in phone support. That’s the good news.
The bad news: too many companies are using phone support solutions that are separate from their other support channels, creating a silo around phone support. Treating phone support as a standalone support channel creates major problems, for everyone involved:
Agents: impacted productivity
- Agents must switch between separate platforms for different support channels, slowing time to resolution
- Agents must deliver phone support without a complete view of the customer’s cross-channel experience, making it difficult to provide personalized service
- Agents must manually enter the details of a phone call or not log the call at all
Managers: limited visibility
- Managers lack visibility into their phone support operations if agents don’t log calls
- Managers cannot easily gain insight into how their phone support fits into multichannel support strategies without centralized reporting
IT/Owners: additional set-up and management
- Setup can be costly and may require additional integrations or equipment
- IT must work with multiple vendors
Customers - negative experiences
- Customers are kept waiting as agents switch between systems
- Customers receive inconsistent service across channels, as agents don’t have visibility into customers’ complete cross-channel interactions
The solution is simple: integrated phone support
Benefits of integrated phone support
Luckily, all of the above issues are mitigated or outright solved by taking phone support out of the silo and integrating it with other support channels. With integrated phone support, customer service teams can manage all support channels from a single, centralized support system.
Let’s take a look at the three main problems and address each one:
Agents - boost productivity
If agents need to switch through several systems for each support channel might, those seconds add up throughout the day, greatly hindering an agent’s overall productivity. A consolidated customer communication system solves this: now agents don’t need to switch systems when responding to different support channels. It also give them full visibility into the customer’s activities across all channels, enabling the agent to provide personalized service.
Integrated phone support should include automatic ticket creation, call recording and customer history, so agents aren’t forced to manually take notes or search several systems of record for information about the customer. Everything happens automatically and exists in a single location, so agents have the context they need and the freedom to truly focus on the customer call. Plus outbound calls from existing tickets automatically update that ticket, keeping all multi-channel interactions in one place.
Managers - improve visibility
Managers require clear visibility into their customer service health—both of individual agents and the department as a whole—to improve performance and plan for the future. This is not feasible when phone support is managed through a system separate from other support channels.
Two distinct systems of record that don’t “speak” to each other—one for a call records (which only include phone and provides insights like average call time and number of calls each agent handles an hour) and a ticket record—make it impossible to gain comprehensive insights into all channels and plan accurately for the future.
Integrated phone support lets managers understand the performance of the entire channel mix, including:
- What percentage of support tickets are through the phone
- Which types of issues drive phone calls vs. emails vs. chat, etc., enabling managers to strategize ways to reduce calls or divert support requests to other channels, reducing costs and improving efficiencies
- How to best train, hire, and distribute staff. If managers know they need more top-notch phone support agents, they can plan accordingly
Owners/IT: consolidate systems and reduce costs
With integrated phone support—specifically a phone support solution that’s built into a customer support platform—IT is able to work with one trusted vendor for all support channels. Furthermore, phone support systems that integrate with other channels are typically VoIP solutions, which come with the additional benefits of reduced equipment and maintenance costs, portability and flexibility.
Customers: better experiences
The most important reason to adopt integrated phone support is because it’s better for customers. It allows companies to provide customers with exactly what they want: quick, consistent, personalized service.
First and foremost, customers want customer service to be fast. As mentioned earlier, the seconds can really add up when agents are forced to switch back and forth between different systems to reference interactions while on the phone with a customer. Integrated phone support means agents will have ready access to that information, leading to faster service. Integrated phone support means agents don’t have to keep customers waiting or worse, put them on hold while they search for information that straddles different systems.
Customers also want service from knowledgeable agents, and they want it to feel personal. When phone support lives in a silo, agents lack access to previous interactions with the customer and other context. But with integrated phone support, agents will not only know who is calling (thanks to CTI screen pops), they can also see if the customers has any outstanding tickets in other channels, previously closed tickets, purchase history, and more. All of which makes it easier for the agent to treat the customer like an individual.
Selecting a vendor
Now that you’ve made the decision to give your customers the best possible service with integrated phone support, here is a quick primer to help you choose the best vendor:
Support platform integration
Look for a phone system that fits into your agents’ workflows, complementing other channels. Agents should work from a single platform, and managers should have a full-view into support operations. Seek a telephony system that is built in to the support platform, limiting need for any custom integration work and reducing the number of software vendors.
Inbound screen popping
For inbound calls, receiving pop-up alerts with a link to the contact’s record in your CRM puts essential information at agents’ fingertips. This is especially useful for organizations focused on customer service and support so that you can provide a personalized experience.
Contact details, including custom user and organization fields, as well as full multi-channel support history, should be at the agent's' fingertips during a call for easy reference. Knowing what other issues a customer may be facing leads to faster resolution and consistent cross-channel support.
Automatic ticket creation
It is essential that you choose something that keeps track of calls and voicemails with automatic ticket creation, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Plus, tickets can serve as a data source for quality assurance, agent training, and customer feedback.
Call activity reporting with real-time performance analytics and dashboards are essential to monitor productivity. You will also want to make sure that it is easy to do historical reporting and analysis across your channels.
You should have the ability to record all inbound and outbound calls made from any device associated with the system. These recordings should be easily accessible directly in the contact record and easy to share with other agents for training and quality assurance.
Routing and automatic call distribution
Ensure your phone support system will route callers to the right agent or department with routing tools like IVR (interactive voice response) systems and group routing. Round robin call distribution will ensure that calls are always routed to an available agent and evenly distributed among support team members.
Flexibility & customization
It’s important to seek a vendor that offers the flexibility to work with the systems you have in place and doesn’t require purchasing any additional software or hardware. It should be easy to customize for your team’s specific use cases and workflows, without the help of consultants or technicians.
Ease of use
Since agents and managers will work with this tool for many hours at a time, it’s mandatory that you choose something that’s simple to use and designed with the user in mind.
Ready to get started?
Zendesk Talk is a phone support solution built right into Zendesk, making integrated phone support easy. Learn more Zendesk Talk.
Consumers are becoming more comfortable interacting with companies across a growing number of channels, and as a result, they're demanding a seamless and consistent approach across all those channels when it comes to customer service.
How are companies around the globe doing in implementing omnichannel customer service and sales strategies to meet consumers' expectations? Loudhouse, an independent research agency, surveyed 7,000 consumers in seven countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, and Japan) to find out.
Download the full report: The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap
More of a visual person? Check out our infographics:
Bridging the gap: Customer service omnichannel survey (global findings)
Australia omnichannel survey graphic
Brazil omnichannel survey graphic
Japan omnichannel survey graphic
U.K. omnichannel survey graphic
U.S. omnichannel survey graphic
In an effort to appeal to consumer demands for seamless, consistent service across all channels, many companies are now ramping up their omnichannel strategies. How are they doing? Loudhouse surveyed 7,000 consumers in seven countries to find out more about the gap between consumer expectations and what shoppers experience in the real world. In addition to the global findings below, check out our country-specific graphics for Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.
Consumers are using more channels and devices than ever to research buying decisions, make purchases, and seek customer service. Smart retailers that are focused on customer retention have responded by forging into new channels to meet their customers where they're living.
Now that shoppers have access to their favorite brands everywhere, their expectations are evolving again. The reality is that many consumers use multiple devices and channels at the same time or one after the other, and they expect their experiences with a brand to be consistent across it all. When retailers manage to pull it off, consumers reward them with their loyalty.
Our infographic examines how retailers are building a seamless customer experience by integrating across channels and how they expect their efforts to pay off in terms of customer retention and repeat business.
With Micah Solomon
Social media, self-service technologies, and smartphones have created a challenging new landscape for businesses when it comes to managing the customer experience and delivering exceptional customer service.
This 1-hour webinar with customer service expert, author, and business keynote speaker, Micah Solomon will teach you how to harness the power of technology to build emotional connections with your customers, while retaining the best of classic service techniques — and, as a result, generate fierce customer loyalty. Micah explains through real-life examples how to implement the eight unbreakable rules of social media customer service (including how to effectively address customer complaints on sites such as Yelp, Twitter and TripAdvisor), as well as how to design compelling self-service options to help today's customers help themselves. This webinar will leave you with tips and tricks that agents and managers alike can put into practice today to deliver best-of-class customer service.
Micah Solomon is a top professional business keynote speaker, bestselling author, customer service and marketing strategist, and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture. He has been termed by the Financial Post a 'new guru of customer service excellence.' An entrepreneur and business leader, he authored the new business bestseller, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, as well as the earlier book Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit. His expertise has been featured in Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, CNBC, Forbes.com, and elsewhere, and he created and helms the 'College of the Customer' website.
There was a time when customer support meant you told a shop owner your issue with what they sold you, and they either decided the problem was for them to fix or your own damn fault. But then the telephone was invented and everything changed. Call centers emerged, phone trees were born, and suddenly there was no way around pressing '1' for one thing and '2' for another. It's actually pretty interesting stuff.
So when you find yourself wondering how on earth hold music came to be, and why it always seem to be smooth jazz, let this little history lesson fill in some of the blanks.
Given the fact that online spending has jumped from $29.7 billion in 2007 to a whopping $38 billion in 2011, it's clear that customers are embracing the online shopping experience faster than ever before (with no signs of that embracement waning — possibly ever). With that growth comes a steady stream of customer support requests, issues, and the like, and a customer base that's become deftly skilled at venting their customer support woes to their peers. For online retailers, having a bulletproof support strategy in place can no longer be an after thought.
And there's no time like the holidays to really prove that point. For most organizations, the holidays are the true test of any company's support team. The best way to prep: figure out just exactly what customers expect out of online support.
Customer service organizations face increasing amounts of pressure to deliver better service over a broader range of channels including the Web, email, and phone. Customers expect to get service at any time of the day or night and assume that customer service teams will maintain a complete history of all interactions.
More recently, the social network boom has created a new revolution in customer service. The reach and immediacy of Twitter, Facebook and, now, Google+ has made the voice of the customer an extremely powerful force. Bad customer experiences can quickly snowball into online customer uprisings leading to PR disasters.
In addition, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has raised customer expectations for timely response. Customers now expect to reach companies from anywhere, at anytime, and through any device that they choose such as iPads, iPhones, and Blackberry and Android smartphones. While it used to be expected that customer inquiries would be answered in a couple days, now customers expect answers in hours, if not minutes.
As is often the case, tech-savvy startups are the first to embrace new technologies and communication channels. Larger, more traditional organizations are now finding that they need to develop new customer service strategies or else smaller, more nimble organizations may leave them in the dust and take their customers with them.
The exciting part of this ever-changing environment is that these new pressures have lead to both innovation and disruption in customer service.
Customer Service Goes Social
When traditional customer service software was developed, the pressures of supporting new and multiple online channels just didnt exist; the products were never designed to accommodate input from social media or run on mobile devices. As companies using these traditional solutions look to update their customer service software infrastructure to keep up with new channels, many realize that they cannot afford to expend 6-12 months to customize their current help desk solution if it were, indeed, even possible.
As a result, many companies are making the move to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. These have proven to be the fastest and most cost-effective alternative to updating on-premise packages. More importantly, these new cloud-based solutions are specifically designed for multi-channel customer service.
As an example, lets take a look at Twitter as a channel. Studies by Edison Research have indicated that 19% of Twitter users seek customer service via Tweets. With more than 200 million users, this means 38,000,000 customers are seeking service via Twitter. Modern customer service solutions have made this manageable by allowing companies to create custom searches for their brand names and product names on Twitter. When a problem is encountered, the Tweet can be immediately converted into a customer service ticket, known as a Twicket, in this case. The Twicket then can be assigned to the most appropriate person in the company to respond. That response can then be sent as a Tweet or a direct message.
Customer Service Goes Mobile
On the hardware side, customers and employees do more and more on mobile devices than ever before. In fact, the mobile revolution seems like an unstoppable force with more than 5.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide (by the way, thats 77 percent of the worlds population).
Today the mobile consumer and the mobile workforce are rapidly converging. Whether officially sanctioned or not, many customer service employees already make use of their smart phones, iPads, and personal accounts like Twitter and Facebook to solve their customers' problems because these channels make their jobs easier.
Being able to access customer service systems from anywhere frees services teams from their desks. It allows them to respond to and escalate customer inquiries from anyplace at any time. As a result, response times go down and customer satisfaction goes through the roof. Time and time again, we see examples of customers who are delighted to get timely responses from inquiries whether theyre over the web, email, or Twitter. What matters is that youre taking care of the customer faster than ever before. In todays increasingly connected world, that wins customer loyalty and creates a huge competitive advantage.
Multiple Channels, Unified Tools
However, the more customer service channels a company supports, the more challenging it can be to effectively track and respond to customer inquiries. In addition, every new channel has the potential to create confusion for both customer service agents and customers. For example, one customer service agent may respond to a customer via email while another is communicating over Twitter. It can create the classic problem of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.
To avoid these issues, companies need all their channels to feed into a central help desk with a unified set of business processes. While requests may arrive in different ways, the organization should strive for consistency across channels. This will reduce an overlap of efforts, ensure consistent responses, and simplify the management of the customer service team.
That is exactly how the new generation of help desk solutions are designed. In fact, they can truly provide the fastest way to a great customer experience because they are easy to set up, funnel interactions from multiple channels into a single place, and improve the efficiency of customer service agents.
Todays companies are faced with the challenge of having to deliver customer service across a wide variety of channels such as email, the Web, social media, and mobile devices; its not just about having a call center or FAX machine anymore. By supporting these channels, customer service organization have an amazing opportunity to deliver a truly memorable customer experience with the right processes and tools in place. If the last update you made to your customer service organizations was the addition of a support@ email address, it is probably time to seriously reassess your customer service strategy. Happy customers are loyal customers who not only keep coming back for more, but also spread the word about your company and products.
Zendesk is the proven cloud-based help desk software that is the fastest way to enable great customer service in rapidly growing companies. Zendesk is so easy to use, it's loved by support teams and their customers worldwide. More than 30,000 organizations including Adobe, MSNBC, Sony, and Groupon, trust Zendesk with their most valuable asset: their customers. Now, organizations can deliver exceptional support across the web, email, and social media.Continue reading