3 Questions to Ask Before Launching Live Chat for Customer Service

At CTS Service Solutions, we believe one of the best ways to improve  customer experiences is by making interactions ad easy as possible and by decreasing the hassle-factor.

Enter live chat.

Live chat contains a number of attributes that contribute to hassle-free experiences. From ease of first contact, to low-to-no hold times, to the convenience of customers interacting with service reps while performing other tasks, live chat offers an opportunity for organizations to assist customers quickly, easily, and cost effectively.

Live chat allows organizations to assist online customers in real time. When customers run into a problem, the customer can immediately take advantage of the live chat feature, interact with reps, and hopefully have their question answered or issue resolved quickly.

Live chat seems like a no-brainer.

However, investing in a new or lightly staffed customer service channel comes at a cost. Live chat is not for every customer, or every organization. Using data from a recent Software Advice report, we have formulated three questions to help you determine if live chat might be an effective channel for your customers. Read more

Customer Information Form Basics: What You Need to Know

dreamstimefree_192239The words Big Data are spoken every day in corporate offices around the world. And the benefits of it to companies and customers is, well… big.

And while Big Data is becoming more accessible to small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the basics of customer information — small data, if you will — is still where customer and experience meet for most organizations.

To collect this information, you need a method, and the customer information form is a tried and true way to get to know your customers. Let’s look as some of the basic types of information your form should have and then look at five tips to be effective with the form.

Four Types of Customer Information

Not all information is equal. But the more you know about your customers the better you can serve them. Here are four types of customer information you should consider having your form capture.

Basic Contact Information

This is the solid foundation you need to stay in contact with your client. Name, address, phone number, email address and the like are essential to making sure you can contact your customers in a timely fashion. Almost every form captures this basic data; the trick is having the real-time systems in place to make sure it is accurate. Read more

5 Ways to Improve Your Team's Product Knowledge | Office worker point at screen

5 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Product Knowledge

5 Ways to Improve Your Team's Product Knowledge | Office worker point at screen

When it comes down to it, a company’s thorough knowledge of its own products has the ability to make or break customer relationships, both individually and organisationally. A company that is knowledgeable of both changing market conditions and the evolving nature of its own products gives customers a sense of trustworthiness and competence. These feelings translate into customers perceiving that company or brand to be less risky than others.

More specifically, having a knowledgeable team of both sales and customer service staff inevitably leads to:

  • Enhanced customer trust on a one-to-one level
  • Empowered employees who feel ready to tackle problems without referring to a higher authority
  • Faster resolution rate for customer issues and complaints
  • Improved sales
  • Positive customer reviews when a member of staff has been particularly helpful

Read more

Five Ways that Video Matters for Customer Experience

konoff_headshot_125x125Guest Poster: Andrew Konoff

It is my pleasure to introduce Andrew Konoff. Andrew is the Marketing and Community Manager at GoInstant, a co-browsing company. There, he runs a blog that focuses on bringing customer experience management to a broader audience. You can find him on Twitter as @andrewkonoff.


Last week I decided it was finally time to enter my organizational life into the digital sphere. “No more being solely responsible for keeping the maker of Post-it Notes in business,” I told myself as I looked at the hundreds of multi-colored sticky squares surrounding my computer, desk, windows, sink, etc.

My research quickly produced a few highly recommended apps of the to-do list variety, and of course I went straight to the website of each. Many sites contained videos depicting how the product would help me.

But some did not.

Now, I may be organizationally challenged, but I highly value my time. Wasting half an hour of my life to download a web app, install it, learn how it works, only to find that it does not fit my needs certainly does not appeal to me.

Eventually, I chose an app that had a great video showing exactly how the resource would benefit my life. I clicked “Download” and couldn’t be happier or more organized.

Why? Because the company chose to tell me about its product through video. Read More

Cover: The Non-Designer's Design Book

Monthly Mash: Customer Service Tools and Non-Designer’s Design

Volume 6: April 2012

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Customer Experience Resource: The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Cover: The Non-Designer's Design BookSo, what on earth does a design book have to do with the customer experience? Everything.

It’s no secret that all of our lives are becoming increasingly tied to digital user interfaces, and as businesspeople, many of our customer’s experiences with our company begin with a design — whether it be digital or print.

Understanding basic design principles can take you a long way towards understanding how to create a great user experience, and The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams (no, not Mork) is a short, layperson introduction to the most fundamental principles of the discipline.

Will this book make you a professional designer? Absolutely not. However, it will introduce you to basic precepts and make you better at reviewing the designs of others or creating your own designs when budgets do not allow for professional help.

If you run a small business or marketing agency, you absolutely must read this book; however, if you work for a large company, you will find the principles helpful for even the least design-oriented and mundane communications. Three items that reading this book immensely improved for me: Better emails, better memos, and better training materials.

If you have a natural eye for design, this book might not be for you, but if you are graphically-challenged (like me), then you will find the introduction to basic principles invaluable. If you are at all concerned with the user experience — whether for the internal or external customer — The Non-Designer’s Design Book is a great place begin learning the language of design.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.
Read More

Picture of Snow Owl | HootSuite Owl Representation

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and The HootSuite Owl

Volume 2: November 2011 Mashup

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.


Customer Experience Resource: “Hootie” The HootSuite Owl

This month’s spotlight is on HootSuite, a social media management dashboard, who has affectionately been renamed Hootie in my household.

How does HootSuite relate to the customer experience? As social media increasingly becomes part of the customer experience for businesses across industries and sizes, properly scaling social media monitoring and response is essential to enhancing the customer experience and responding to customer service complaints made in the social sphere.

Multiple social platforms can be challenging to maintain. HootSuite enables organizations to consolidate most of their social media management, monitoring multiple streams in one location.

HootSuite Screenshot

For instance, with Twitter, you can have a column for lists, a column for keywords, a column for @mentions, and more. HootSuite allows me to keep track of Facebook and Twitter for multiple retail businesses, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for my personal/blog — all with one login.

HootSuite’s mobile app (at least for iPhone) is an excellent way to keep on top of social accounts; however, if you suffer from any type of smart phone addiction, it is likely to only increase the condition. “Please put Hootie down and take out the trash” has been heard quite a few times around my house.

One of the best selling points for HootSuite is it scales economically for small organizations but is robust enough to be used by large media companies like Fox and The Huffington Post.

HootSuite provides an excellent way to delegate responsibility without giving up control. If you are concerned at all about Facebook fan page security (and you should be), then HootSuite allows you to have others manage the page without giving up dangerous admin privileges.

While HootSuite has too many features to list in this short spotlight, I hope this brief introduction has helped expose you to some of the possibilities for monitoring and managing social customer service. While HootSuite is not the only platform for managing multiple social accounts, it is one of the most popular and, to my mind, the best in class.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

  • Language Engineering: Finding the Right Words to Use with Customers – Careful word choices are an integral part of not only reactive customer service but also of the customer experience as a whole.
  • Do You Believe Customers Are an Asset… Or a Cost Center? – Many firms need to evaluate whether they have systems in place that inconvenience the 99% just to protect them from the 1%. Context is everything in this discussion, but most businesses fail to have the discussion at all.
  • Customer Equity — Should you treat all customers equally? An interesting post that ties in well with the discussion of Customer Lifetime Value from earlier this week.
  • Infographic: The Word and The World of Customers — An interesting look at word of mouth marketing both online and off.


And in the spirit of the holiday season, a couple of posts on how to get, not give, better service…


Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I am most proud of.

  • Understanding Customer Lifetime Value: A Non-Geek’s Guide. Calculating Customer Lifetime Value can be a complicated undertaking, but extremely worthwhile. This post takes an exhaustive look at CLV using a back of the napkin approach. This is the longest post on this site, and it has received the most initial traffic of any post yet.


Thoughts on the Customer

“Even loyal customers like to try new things.”
Jack Mackey

As you might know, I recently heard Mackey speak at The Secret Service Summit. This quote really stood out, because I believe it strikes at the heart of how customers view loyalty versus how many businesses do.

Much writing on customer loyalty tends to view the customer relationship as a marriage, as if customers are only truly loyal if they don’t stray. Companies have even attempted to reinforce the idea through marketing (particularly cigarette companies back in the day): “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” “I’d walk a mile for a camel.”

However, in most cases, customers do not view loyalty the way we wish they did. Our customers will always be tempted to try the competition, and it is human nature to want to experience new things. Accept that loyal customers will stray on occasion, and remember that your service experience and value proposition should be ready to withstand the enticements of newness.

Customer loyalty should not be viewed as a chain that binds but as a home where the door is always open.


I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Please join others in sharing it using the social share buttons below.


John DiJulius | Customer Service Keynote Speaker

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Secret Service

Volume 1: October 2011 Mashup

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Many thanks to those who participated and supported the naming of this series! You know who you are.

Customer Experience Resource: John DiJulius

John DiJulius | Customer Service Keynote SpeakerThis month’s spotlight is on John DiJulius, one of the premiere customer experience keynote speakers, authors, and consultants around. He has written two excellent books about customer service: What’s The Secret and Secret Service, both of which I highly recommend. I had the pleasure of seeing DiJulius speak at the Multi-Unit Franchise show this past spring, and his presentation was simply excellent. I mentioned the customer service video he showed during his talk in an earlier post.

I thought John DiJulius would be a fitting first spotlight for the Monthly Mash, as his work has been one of the bigger influences on my customer service thinking and, more aptly, because I am very excited to be attending his Secret Service Summit this week! One of DiJulius’ core teachings is having invisible systems (hence, Secret Service) that seamlessly help organizations deliver an exceptional customer experience. Please check out John DiJulius’ website, blog, and books. You won’t be disappointed.

The Month In Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I am most proud of.

Thoughts on the Customer

In China a Zen master traveled with a few disciples to the capital and camped near the river.  A monk of another sect asked one of the disciples of the Zen master if his teacher could do magic tricks.  His own master, said the monk of the other sect, was a very talented and developed man.  If he stood on one side of the river, and somebody else stood on the other side, and if you gave the master a brush and the other man a sheet of paper then the master would be able to write characters in the air which would appear on the sheet of paper. 

The Zen monk replied that his master was also a very talented and developed man, because he too could perform the most astounding feats.  If he slept, for instance, he slept, and if he ate, he ate.

Buddhist Tale*

I’ve thought more and more about this story in recent years, as our lives have become increasingly intertwined with the technologies of the day. While there is a powerful lesson here for life, there is also a powerful lesson for anyone who touches a customer.

Our customers deserve our attention. Are you present in the moment and focused on the person you are serving? Have you left your inbox, To Do list, and voicemails behind while you focus on the customer and what they are saying about their needs? It sounds simple; yet, as most of us know, in today’s world, true focus might be one of the most difficult feats of all.

I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Feel free to share it using the social share buttons below.

*Please forgive the lack of attribution. I copied this from a collection of Buddhist stories over 15 years ago, and an exact word search on Google yielded nothing.