Calling #ServiceTrailblazers For Dreamforce 2018!

Dreamforce 2018 is here! And there’s so much to do and see! To get the most out of the week I’ve put together some notes for #ServiceTrailblazers! Reserve your seat and put these sessions on your calendar! They span the world of customer service and are curated for anyone wanting to learn more about customer service and becoming a #ServiceTrailblazer! If you are Tweeting or want to follow what’s happening please join in the fun, share the info so everyone is included! The hashtags/handles are: #DF18 and #ServiceTrailblazers and @ServiceCloud @Dreamforce!

Have colleagues not attending DF? Watch sessions from your desk: http://bit.ly/ServiceKeynoteLive

Want to know how to get the ROI out of Dreamforce? This is an insider’s view on how two of our #ServiceTrailblazer customers (who attended Dreamforce ‘17) made the most of their experience and got the maximum return on their investment! Here’s the link to the on-demand webinar: https://sforce.co/2wzablw You’ll hear how these customers”

  • Plan with their team before Dreamforce
  • Collaborate at Dreamforce
  • And bring the “best of Dreamforce” back to their teams!

The Service Cloud Keynote: Thursday, September 27th! Arrive at 10:30 AM. Starts at 11:00 AM in Moscone North, Hall D – Add this to your agenda builder to make sure it’s on your calendar! sfdc.co/ServiceKeynote
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Guest Post: Get to Know Your Customers Better with This All-In-One Tool

Whether you’re a business owner or marketing expert, you understand the importance of knowing your audience inside and out is key to attracting prospects and retaining existing customers. Fortunately, there are a number of tools on the market that can help you do just that.

Through cloud call center software available from companies like Aspect, you’re able to get a more complete picture and understanding of your customers, from their search behavior and purchase patterns to their history of interactions with your company.

Here are several ways this tool can help you achieve that highly-desired, 360-degree view of your customers.

Personalization

Aspect’s cloud call center allows for businesses to get a more personalized look at each and every customer. In particular, the software can provide insights into customers’ purchase and spending history, as well as the frequency with which they do business with your company. Indeed, gaining these insights will allow you to retarget specific customers — based on their specific desires — with similar products or must-have accessories, which will keep them coming back time and time again.

Furthermore, call center software in the cloud gives you the ability to recall every customer’s recent interaction history with your company. For example, when a specific customer calls your support line more than once, your live agents will already have a number of tools at their fingertips — this may include who the customer initially spoke with and the details of their previous conversations — to more seamlessly resolve any outstanding issues.

Based on this information, your live agents will be able to determine the customer’s needs and anticipate any problems or questions they may have.

Convenience

Another great customer-focused aspect of cloud call center software is its omnichannel capabilities. Of course, not all customers prefer the same methods of communication. But by providing omnichannel options, customers can reach your live agents through a number of different mediums, including voice, email, text messaging, live chat and social media.

For example, if a customer prefers to be contacted via text and requests a status update on their most recent purchase, your live agents can text them in real time with the requested information, allowing the customer to respond when it’s most convenient for them.

But perhaps one reason why employing omnichannel options can be valuable to your company is the ability for customers to reach support agents 24/7. No matter the time of day, employing a cloud contact center gives you the ability to offer live chat support via your website, where customers can ask questions at any time from virtually anywhere.

Ultimately, this allows your company to fit the individual needs of a variety of different customers around the clock, even outside of normal business hours.

Satisfaction

Last but not least, cloud call center software allows your company to track customer satisfaction scores by deploying surveys to gather important feedback. Simply tailor your questions to your liking and specific needs in order to gain crucial customer insights and gauge which areas of your business need some fine-tuning.

Cloud call center software can help you achieve this through both stand-alone and post-call surveys that can be deployed after a voice call or via text message. For example, you can deploy a post-call survey to use for training purposes or to simply gain additional feedback from your customers.

You can also deploy an in-app survey to gauge user experience, mobile-friendliness and overall satisfaction with your company. Gaining these types of insights are valuable, as the feedback comes directly from the customer, which can then help you make the best business decisions with their interests in mind.

Capturing a More Complete Picture

By using cloud call center software to aggregate customer data, your company will be able to gather a more complete picture of each and every customer. In the end, better understanding your customers’ desires will help your company in future retargeting strategies and, in turn, help retain this clientele.

 

About the Author

Andrea Rodriguez is a freelance writer and digital marketing expert

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Guest Post and Infographic: How AI Changed Customer Service

You can make or break your business’s future by how well, or how poorly, you treat your clients. But you have a lot on your plate, too—even more as you manage the endless technology needs that seem to be developing overnight.


    That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) aspects of customer service are so crucial to how well (or how badly) we do business in the future. You may not even realize how many of these AI elements are already in place in your interaction with companies—and that number is only going to increase.


    Right now, about 2 out of 5 enterprises in the United States are already using AI in some form; that number is going to grow to about 3 out of 5 just this year alone. The human touch still matters, but the bots are already here. What does that mean for you and your business? This graphic explains it.

Infographic source: https://www.salesforce.com/hub/service/how-ai-changed-customer-service/

AUTHOR:

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword research to recovering from Google Algorithm updates and changes. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO Company HigherVisibility that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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Guest Post: 4 Ways Technology Can Boost Your Customer Service Experience

In a mobile-oriented society where consumers thrive on social media and have come to expect instant communication, technology has become an increasingly important key to delivering effective customer service. Companies are using technology to meet customer demands for omnichannel support and access to online knowledge bases with a goal of differentiating their brands through customer service. Eighty-eight percent of companies feel they’ve made good or excellent progress toward delivering modern customer experience. Telephone support, online service and mobile service are some areas where companies are increasing their technology investments. Here’s a look at some technology tools you can use to improve your customer service experience and boost customer satisfaction.

Cloud Contact Centers

Today’s foundation for delivering effective omnichannel support is the cloud contact center. Cloud contact center solutions such as 8×8, Altitude and Aspect provide a single platform companies can use to centralize online, chat, phone and email support. This type of central platform enables your support team to deliver a seamlessly-integrated experience to customers even when a ticket moves from one channel or agent to another. Cloud centers also make it easier to deploy remote representatives, giving you more agility and cutting your expenses for on-premise support.

Self-service Tools

The most important customer service option you can provide to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction are tools for self-service like online knowledge bases answering frequently-asked questions. Seventy-five percent of consumers see self-service as an effective way to address customer service issues, and 67 percent prefer self-service to speaking to a company representative, a Nuance survey found. Only 40 percent of consumers contact customer support to resolve their issue after consulting an online knowledge database, meaning you can reduce your service volume by more than half by providing self-service options.

Live Chat

For service issues that don’t lend themselves to self-service, live chat is one of the best contact channels you can offer. Live chat delivers the highest satisfaction rate of all service channels, with 73 percent of customers coming away satisfied from live chat experience, compared to 61 percent for email and 44 percent for phone. Chatbot tools such as Pandorabots can also help you streamline your customer service workload by automatically handling many of your support tickets and improving the efficiency of ticker routing to human representatives. 1-800-FLOWERS found that deploying a chatbot to place orders on Facebook and direct other inquires to human representatives, used in conjunction with voice-command tools such as Alexa and Watson, boosted revenue in addition to increasing efficiency.

Phone Tools

While automated tools such as knowledge bases and chatbots can help you reduce your service workload, it’s also important to have live phone support for tickets that require a human response. Being unable to reach a live person is one of the most frustrating customer service experiences, and failing to provide this option will greatly reduce your customer satisfaction levels. To optimize the efficiency of your phone support, you can use an 800 number in conjunction with a menu system that automatically routes calls to the appropriate department. Structuring your menu options based on your customers’ most frequently-asked questions can greatly improve the efficiency of your phone service. To identify your customers’ most common concerns, monitor your site search bar and online knowledge database’s most frequent search terms and design menu options that correspond to these topics.

About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

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Guest Post: How Cloud-Based Predictive Analytics Gives Companies a Competitive Marketing Advantage

Monitoring and fine-tuning analytics are becoming essential to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. Case in point: Business intelligence analytics software sales will reach $18.3 billion in 2017, a 7.3 percent increase from last year, Gartner projects.

By 2020, the market will be worth $22.8 billion and analytics will be mainstream, Gartner forecasts. This means your competitors will be using analytics. Here’s how getting on board with cloud-based predictive analytics now can help you gain a lead on the competition and increase your bottom line.

Optimize Your Marketing

A great advantage of analytics software is that it gives you the ability to objectively measure the effectiveness of your marketing by tracking key performance indicators, explains Silvon Software director Pat Hennel. Some KPIs you can easily track include:

  • Sales revenue
  • Cost per lead acquisition
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Online marketing ROI

Tracking KPIs enables you to see which of your marketing campaigns are generating the best return on investment so that you can reallocate resources to those efforts rather than non-performing ones.

Similarly, you can identify which marketing channels are yielding the best results so you can focus on those media. You can also see which demographics represent your best customers to emphasize those target markets and gear your sales themes toward benefits that will appeal to them.

Refocus Your Sales Efforts

Another benefit of cloud-based analytics tools is the ability to combine them with customer relationship software to better leverage your sales efforts. By analyzing your organization’s lead database, you can better identify which prospects are qualified leads in order to deploy your sales reps accordingly. From there, you can identify which prospects are furthest along in the sales cycle and more likely to convert into a sale.

You can also analyze customer sales history to identify which customers represent your biggest revenue sources and best repeat buyers. You can then prioritize these customers and develop sales strategies specifically geared toward them.

Personalize Your Sales Presentations

Combining cloud-based predictive analytics with CRM tools can also help you personalize your sales presentations to make them more persuasive to individual customers. In fact, you can review a customer’s history of past purchases to see what types of products and services they prefer.

For example, Amazon displays offers based on what the customer has previously browsed or purchased and what types of products have been purchased by other people who browsed or purchased the same items.

You can also study individual purchase patterns to identify their shopping style and what types of factors influenced their previous buying decisions. For instance, one customer might be more likely to respond to a certain type of added-value benefit, while another might be more likely to respond to a lower price. You can then supply this information to your sales representatives so they have a better idea how to appeal to that particular customer.

Increase Customer Satisfaction with Superior Service

Cloud-based analytics can also enhance your sales and marketing efforts by allowing you to track the performance of your customer service teams, which is key in achieving repeat business and referrals. Cloud-based contact center platforms, including Aspect Zipwire, let you track your customer service performance across multiple channels (e.g., phone, email, online chat and more), giving you a comprehensive perspective so you can make any necessary adjustments and improvements.

To track your customer service performance, you can then set up KPIs. Customer performance KPIs you can track include overall satisfaction, the number of resolved issues, average resolution time and complaint escalation rate.

 

About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

 

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Guest Post: 5 Loyalty Languages to Boost Brand Loyalty

In the age of instant gratification, brand loyalty is not what it used to be: Today, you can get your groceries delivered straight to your home, request a ride across town via Uber or Lyft, and turn to a service like Amazon Prime to bring nearly anything else you want to your doorstep.

Indeed, our culture has grow so accustomed to relying on technology for just about anything that many people are quick to jump ship and move on to the next trendy app or service if it promises better convenience and service. While customers stand to benefit due to strategies developed by such forward-thinking companies, this proverbial arms race is causing brands to completely reconsider how to craft messaging and marketing initiatives.

Business strategy experts at Accenture recently conducted a study on this very subject in order to identify the latest strategies to reach customers in our digital age. Here are the five loyalty languages that Accenture experts found to be the most effective at establishing brand loyalty.

Tailor Your Approach

Customers value companies that can custom-tailor the shopping experience for them. Whether it’s deciding between a pair of custom-designed Vans or Nike sneakers or a monogrammed handbag from Madewell or Longchamp, customers appreciate the option to make a product their own — and this appreciation tends to yield brand loyalty.

Customers also value brands that communicate with them through their preferred social media channels. This is why it’s so crucial to use a broad range of social media and marketing initiatives to get your message to your customers in a manner that establishes convenience and loyalty.

If your company struggles to manage effective customer service, consider using a cloud contact center that offers workforce management software. This can help your company to stay in contact with customers 24/7 — from virtually any location — to better track their wants and needs.

Offer Rewards

Accenture’s research noted that nearly 60 percent of consumers feel loyal to brands as a result of being offered rewards for their patronage. Receiving free gift cards and promotional discounts with a purchase are strategies that have proven effective for creating brand loyalty.

While you may view these rewards as an expensive undertaking, it’s actually a short-sighted way of looking at the issue. Instead of focusing on the cost of offering rewards, think of how much more business you’ll enjoy over time by sending small tokens of appreciation to customers when they least expect it.

Provide an Experience

Millennials in particular value new experiences over “things.” To effectively reach this market, you can invite customers to co-create with your brand as well as assist and inspire the design of your products and services. By eliciting customer feedback and putting it into action, you can build loyalty by showing customers that their opinions matter to you.

Partner with Influencers

Today’s consumers also appreciate companies that aim to model the same behavior and charisma made popular in pop culture. One highly effective way to build brand loyalty is to partner with social media influencers and celebrities who your audience idolizes. An estimated 23 percent of survey respondents in Accenture’s research noted that they tend to remain loyal to brands that partner with celebrities and social media influencers.

Share Your Connections

Finally, trying to operate in a silo — and not always thinking outside the box — could be a detriment to your business. Partnering with other non-competing brands that attract a similar customer base is a great way to reach new consumers. It’s also a show of good faith to your current customers to connect them with other useful products and services that can make their lives a little easier.

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Guest Post: 5 Tech Solutions That Will Help You Exceed Customer Expectations

In a time where the world is more connected through technology and social media, providing excellent customer service is crucial. The reputation of your business is built on its effectiveness, including the customer experience.

Exceeding customer expectations creates loyal customers and it differentiates you from the competition. In addition, word of mouth is now more powerful than ever, as customers can easily share both positive and negative opinions online.

Here are 5 powerful tech solutions that will help you exceed customer expectations and provide exceptional customer service:

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  1. Vision Helpdesk 

Serving businesses of all sizes and levels, Vision Helpdesk is a leading customer support software that comes in 3 different products. There’s the Helpdesk software, which enables customer support agents to receive, process, and respond to service requests. On the other hand, the Satellite Helpdesk software provides a multi-company customer support management solutions.

Additionally, all features from Helpdesk and Satellite Helpdesk combined are provided by the Service Desk software which follows the discipline of IT service management.

Unique features of these software include task management, ticket billing, asset management, and release management. Vision Helpdesk allows you to stay on track as you serve clients, creating a client portal that is convenient for both customer and company.

There are multiple pricing plans offered, varying by the specific software and the hosting plan. Pricing starts at $7 per month to host Helpdesk on your server with a recurring license, or a one-time license for $150.

  1. TeamSupport

This customer support program allows teams to collaborate better by eliminating miscommunications and quickly addressing customer issues. Improving customer communication helps teams handle the customer service process better.

The program has some key unique features that help with the delivery of cohesive customer support. There is ticket automation, which allows support staff to flag messages by word or type. For example, a staff could add a flag for any support request that contains the word “upset” or “frustrated.” This allows the team to prioritize the more urgent requests that need attention.

Another key feature is the Knowledge Base tool. This allows clients to try to solve their own minor issues, which enables support staff to handle bigger challenges that may arise. With TeamSupport, customers can have their needs prioritized and met with efficient responses. Pricing starts from $40 per month.

  1. Office 365 

Another top solution that will help you exceed customer expectations is Office 365. This cloud-based service features a number of different tools that can be beneficial. One of the newly debuted services is Bookings, which allows customers to schedule appointments with a company using online software. This makes a convenient process for customers as it eliminates the need for a phone call.

Dynamics is another Office 365 software tool. The CRM package brings a line of integrated business management solutions that allow your staff to make important business decisions with a greater sense of confidence. Key features of Dynamics include lead management, contact management, and territory management.

Pricing for Office 365 starts from $5/month per user, for the Business Essentials plan. Microsoft Dynamics pricing plans start at $4 per user/month.

  1. Samanage

If your company is seeking a more advanced, user-friendly help desk solution then Samanage is the option for you. Making life easier for both your team and the customer, Samanage has comprehensive functionality that allows you to quickly respond to service requests. This results in improved support for your customers.

The intuitive service desk ensures that your team will deliver exemplary support. Clients use their email or the powerful self-service portal to submit service tickets. Users can even search for a solution independently by using the system’s Knowledge Base.

In addition to submitting a new service ticket, your customers can easily track the status of a pending issue.

Samanage allows for a desk data integration and can be used on the go from any smartphone or tablet with web browsing capabilities. You can experience the convenience and up-to-date reliability of Samanage for an affordable annual subscription based on your software needs.

  1. AmoCRM

AmoCRM allows you to manage your pipeline and sales team. The sales management service is a web-based platform enables businesses to manage customer relationships more effectively. You can directly link platforms such as Facebook, Dropbox, Xero, and Zendesk to AmoCRM.

Valuable features include sales analytics, lead scoring, and email integration. The software supports custom field creation and provides a user-friendly approach to managing your company’ interactions with current and potential customers.

AmoCrm allows you to upload existing customers from contact databases such as Gmail and Outlook. There are also follow-up tasks to keep you up-to-date on meetings and calls, and these are attached to the contact or lead cards.

AmoCRM is free to try and plans start from $15/month.

There are many excellent technological solutions available that help businesses thrive in managing their customer service by maximizing efficiency and enhancing communication. However, technology can only take you so far. In order to provide a stellar customer service, your entire business should be customer-service oriented. Strive to exceed customer expectations whenever you can and this will definitely take your business a long way in terms of longevity and reputation.

 

About the Author:

heather

Heather Redding is an avid reader, freelance writer, coffee snob and a tech enthusiast from Aurora, Illinois. When she is not working, Heather enjoys swimming and hanging out with her friends. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

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Guest Post: Prospering in the E-Commerce Market

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There are many e-commerce stores popping up right, left and center. The online market is like “Perfect Competition” described in economic studies; in perfect competition, there are no barriers toand exit and no single player can influence price. It is very easy to set-up an e-commerce store but with thin margins and cut-throat margins it is very difficult to survive and prosper in this segment. Many e-commerce stores are closing down, and yet at the same time, new big players like Walmart are entering into the market by purchasing websites like Jet.com in multi-dollar deals! Amazon is continuously expanding and is now currently pushing to capture a greater market share in India. The market has potential but only for the most determined. For the small players right now, it is especially a daunting challenge, as the market is in consolidation stage and most of the big players are combing and pushing slower businesses out or buying them out.

So the point comes what can you do for success in the e-commerce world?

  • Digital advertising is the key to success

You need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in online advertising, for it may look easy but it is actually quite challenging. Thanks to the advent of traditional Google ads will no longer cut it. Also charging your credit card on Facebook is also quite the expensive option and you cannot just rely on Facebook alone. So what do you do? You keep abreast of latest trends, for example right now Video ads are one way of getting around ad blockers.

Besides ad-blockers, video ads make more sense. Video consumption across devices has increased thanks to falling data charges in most countries and increasing smartphone and internet penetration.

  • Look inwards

Right now the e-commerce market is cut-throat. You can only maximize margins to a certain level. To stay competitive against giants you need to cut every possible cost. You need to look inwards and see where you can save money. Find a cheaper toll-free number, a cheaper shipping service or find ways to save on packaging. Negotiate better credit periods and see your bank charges and negotiate for each and every cent you can. It is difficult but every cent saved helps to add towards the bottom line.

This is especially a must for start-ups, often being helmed by fresh graduates who also have to worry about paying off their student loans. Every strive and profit you make out of your business not only helps you scale but also helps to get your personal finances in order avoid problems like delayed student loans.

  • Keep track of customer satisfaction rates

Customer satisfaction rates are often treated like a fire putting exercise. They often come into the limelight once sales start to fall. By then, restoring customer satisfaction and restoring goodwill lost becomes an uphill task. All businesses heavily rely on customer satisfaction thus one should keep a constant track it. Monitor your total sales and then draw up a meaningful sample that represents the whole population. Follow up with this sample and understand the customer satisfaction levels. Also keep a good track on customer reviews. Pacify disgruntled customers fast because they are the ones who are more active at commenting on public pages.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

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Guest Post: Marketing To Individuals Online

For many companies who function predominantly online, face to face interactions with customers and clients seldom happen. Personal relationships are difficult to build when the individuals that your company targets are a demographic statistic rather a specific person with a smile and ambitions. So how can your company connect with individuals and form relationships that last when your business only has one brick and mortar store? Here’s a look at how your business can market to individuals and build the personal connections customers and clients crave.

iBeacons

iBeacons are a new technology that utilize a variant of Bluetooth technology called Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE. BLE lets your smartphone or other mobile device, like your Apple Watch Sport, communicate with other enabled devices over a short distance. It consumes considerably less battery than traditional Bluetooth, as its name implies. BLE uses are typically geared toward personalized advertisements. These are one-way transmissions from a beacon, like a computer that sends a message to a smartphone or other smart device.

What does this look like for a business? Let’s say a shopper strolls down the street, bag in hand. Suddenly their Apple Watch gives them a notification. The message you’ve set your iBeacon to communicate with mobile devices has appeared. For instance, if you have a vintage clothing boutique, you might program your message as, “Holiday sale, this weekend only, 20 percent off all items.” A moment later the potential customer walks into your shop and they already know why they want to enter your store.

Since most of your business is online, an iBeacon is a great way to make the physical interactions you have with customers count.

Online Communities

No matter what kind of business you have, your online presence is an essential part of your success. Build a community around your product or service with an online forum. A forum provides a communication hub for customers and clients. Many online forums serve community members in their search for knowledge when they trouble shoot a problem. Let the community you’ve created do part of the work for you in terms of customer support — and it’s a free work force. Of course, the most difficult part is getting this community started. Post exclusive information and materials on your forum, as this will make it an invaluable source of knowledge for your customers.

Personal Contact

This isn’t necessarily face to face, but you can certainly reach your target demographic in other ways. Increase your visibility with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Ask your customer or client base how you can serve them better. Listen. When those you serve see positive change come about from the input they’ve given, they will spread the word of your service. Never underestimate the impact of word of mouth, even if it’s online.

When you take customer input into account and make changes in how your business functions, let people know. A newsletter is worth the effort and reaches an audience that is less connected via social media. Include deals, information, customer success stories and updates to your business model. If these updates were brought about by a certain customer, give them credit or even feature them in the newsletter. This shows the recipients of the email how much you value input from those you serve.

 

About the Author

Alex Clark-McGlenn is a graduate of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Writer’s Workshop. His fiction has been published in the Best New Writing 2016 anthology, The Cost of Paper, Smokebox.net, and others. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, soccer, and reading. He lives the Pacific Northwest.

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