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

What Email Support Tone Do Customers Prefer?

According to Help Scout, 94% of all online retailers provide email customer service. That means that a significant number of interactions with customers are made through email. Software Advice, a website that rates customer service software, released some interesting findings in a survey this summer on the best ‘tone’ for email customer support.

So, how do we train customer support agents to speak in a tone that customers prefer without negatively impacting the customer’s experience or our business? First we need to understand our customers’ preferences.

Casual Tone Is Preferred Over Formal

First our agents must speak to our customers in the tone they would prefer. Based on the survey we now know that customers generally prefer a casual tone. In fact, 65% said they prefer a casual tone while only 35% said they preferred a formal tone.

Of course, there is a fine line to consider when conversing with customers via email.

We must take into consideration the nature of the correspondence and what the customer’s emotional state is. The appropriate tone is context dependent.

Customer Perferences for CSS Agents' ToneExcept When Denying a Request

Most customers prefer a casual tone, except when they don’t. Read More

5 Customer Service Language Hacks

Language is important not just to how we communicate with our customers but to how we communicate with ourselves. The right words can put an irritated customer at ease and help you approach difficult situations with greater ease. ID-10087852

Effective customer service language can take a long time to master, so I thought I would share a few quick language tips you can incorporate into your service communication immediately. Give your communication repertoire a shot in the arm with these five quick customer service language hacks.

Use “We” sometimes and “I” sometimes

Use the word “we” to let the customer know you are on the same team and working towards the same goal; use the word “I” when you need to take accountability for the situation or your company. We and I send different signals to the listener, and which signal you want to deliver depends heavily on the message you want them to receive. Read More

Kate Nasser

An Interview with Kate Nasser: Better #PeopleSkills

Kate NasserKate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, is a smart, energizing, experienced speaker, coach, and workshop leader. Her work in customer experience, employee engagement, leadership, teamwork, transforms how people think, act, and interact. With 25 years in business and a Masters in Organizational Psychology, Kate has guided tens of thousands to engage in uplifting productive interactions.

Kate, what was your first job and what did you learn about customer service in it? 

My very first job was a part-time summer job in city government. Dealing with the public is great training for customer service. I learned that it was my job to adapt to their personality and attitude not their responsibility to adapt to mine.

Speaking generally, in what area of the customer experience do you find that people skills (or the lack thereof) tend to have the greatest impact? 

People skills impact every aspect of the customer experience. The people skills of team members working together affect the customer experience. Leaders’ people skills inspire and engage or de-motivate the teams. The people skills of customer interaction have a huge impact. Perhaps the greatest impact comes from people skills in difficult moments. It makes or breaks customer experience. 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

Customer Service Throwback Thursday

A friend sent me this checklist she found while cleaning her mother’s room. We could not find the company that produced it, but it appears to have been created in 1969.

The list includes 10 timeless customer service tips on how to treat people. The list is elegantly simple and is as true today as it was 45 years ago. It is a great reminder that no matter what technology we have at our fingertips, the basics of customer service will always remain.

Enjoy our version of Throwback Thursday. We’ll let these tips from the past speak for themselves.

Customer Service Principles Poster

Frontline Customer Service Book Announcement

We Have a Book Deal!

Frontline Customer Service Book AnnouncementWe are super excited to announce that we officially have a book deal!

The book is centered on frontline customer service and is meant to provide customer-facing employees the mindset, strategies, and techniques to provide Hero-ClassTM Customer Service.

The publisher is AMACOM, a significant publisher of business books for over 50 years. AMACOM has published books from a wide variety of customer experience and customer service authors, including my buddy Jeff Toister (Service Failure), Steve Curtin (Delight Your Customers), and John DiJulius (Secret Service).

It’s a tremendous honor to join such a reputable publisher and such an esteemed tradition of service professionals. But the honor is not mine alone. I say we have a book deal, because this book would not have happened without the CTS community, my team here at CTS (particularly Donna Gurnic), and a number of amazing friends. Publishers look for platform, and this blog and all of you are a part of that.

I think of people like Kaarina Dillabough and Bill Dorman both of who entered this wacky world of blogging at the exact same time I did (Feb/Mar 2011) and who have remained friends and supporters ever since.

Or my friends Shonali Burke and Gini Dietrich, both of who generously offered counsel as I was in the process of seeking publication. (Check out my review of Gini’s awesome new book in our March 31st post!)

Or Erin Feldman, a great freelance editor, whom I knew for years through blogging and who helped edit the proposal that landed the deal.

I’ll save the detailed thanks for when there is an actual book, but this is why I say we. Sure, I have to do the work, but you get to share in the accomplishment.

Q&A: About that Frontline Customer Service Book

Instead of an expository post telling you all about the book, I thought I would present a Q&A section that includes a number of the questions I have received so far. If you’re pressed for time, make sure to jump to the bottom to find out how you might be able to be a part of the book. Read More

Sharpening the Organizational Saw

Sharpening Your Organizational Saw

In Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7 centers around the idea of  “sharpening the saw.” This concept is illustrated in an anecdote where a lumberjack is toiling away, trying to fell a tree with a dull saw. A man approaches him in the forest, and upon noticing his struggle, suggests that he sharpen the saw to cut the tree down quicker. The lumberjack barks back that he is too busy  cutting to stop and sharpen his saw.

Sharpening the Organizational SawThe concept of “sharpening the saw” represents self-care and renewal, maintaining and improving your most important tool — yourself. If you don’t sharpen your saw, you risk burnout and inefficiency.

Covey was originally focused on how individuals could improve themselves. However, organizations and customer-facing teams can attempt to sharpen their organizational saws. Like people, organizations can find ways to improve not only their skills but also their capacity to create great customer experiences through periodic sharpening.

Here are a few quick tips for sharpening your organizational saws: Read More

For Your #CustServ Front Lines: Remember One Thing

For the #CustServ Front Lines: Remember One Thing

Whenever we can personalize a customer experience, we have gone a long way towards making that experience great. Every customer wants to feel valued, to feel special, and personalizing the customer’s experience, even in very small ways can go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Of course, CRM systems are the most popular way to personalize the customer experience. Software today can hold a virtually limitless amount of information about customers, which is why Big Data and mass personalization are among the most talked about topics in the customer experience field.

Yet, CRM systems are only as powerful as their ability to be present in the customer experience. And therein lies a gulf between the present and the future in many retail environments.

In the Big Data/wearable computing future, store owners will likely (and creepily) know huge amounts about customers the moment they walk in the door, even if they have never been to the store before. Think Tom Cruise walking by the digital billboard that addresses him by name in the movie Minority Report.

But what do we do today? How do we personalize the customer experience when we are in the aisle at the home improvement store, the deli department at the grocery store, or inside a cousin’s dress boutique? How do we do it when the customer is a stranger whom we know nothing about.

Front line teams need techniques that allow them to quickly and easily personalize the customer experience.

Time is Short, Remembering One Thing is Easy

For Your #CustServ Front Lines: Remember One ThingHow do you personalize a customer experience for a stranger?

The trick is to remember one thing.

Read More

Customer Service Training: Principles Over Procedures | Food Sign with Seagulls

Customer Service Training: Principles Trump Procedures

Last week, I went to a national “market” restaurant to grab a quick lunch. I do not go to this chain often but have been an infrequent customer since I discovered it back in 1993. So, I have a bit of a long term perspective on its business and its customer service.

In the past year or so, the chain has impressed me with their customer experience initiatives. Here are some of the initiatives “The Market” seems to have adopted.

  • Real plates and silverware have replaced paper and plastic.
  • Trash cans have been removed from the dining area; employees bus your plates at the end of the meal.
  • Employees make eye contact and welcome you when you walk through the door.
  • An employee walks your plates to your table for you after you checkout.

This last initiative is in some ways the most impressive — but it is also the one that inspired this post.

Customer Service Procedures Are Not Enough

As I was checking out with my food, a gentleman wearing a headset picked up my plate and asked me where I would like to sit. I was still early in my transaction with the cashier and told him not to worry about it.

He held onto the plate. Read More