Enabling B2B global customer support

In the CX community this is not news. When it comes to Customer Experience, our expectations are set by the interactions we have with companies like Amazon and Apple (companies on the B2C – Business to Consumer market).

When at work, dealing with other companies (in B2B – Business to Business scenarios), we also expect the same level of service, the same smooth and simple Customer Experiences, the same innovation and type of engagement.

I’m lucky to work with companies in both spaces. One of the B2B companies I work with is Sandvik – a global high-tech and engineering company founded in Sweden in 1862, with 40,000 employees and presence in 160 countries.

My team at Capventis had the pleasure to work with their Global Technical Support Team (for Mobile Mining & Rock Technology), enabling Zendesk – and it’s Support, Chat, Talk, Guide products – to allow them to provide seamless, effortless, convenient omni-channel support to their customers.

The video above shows Sandvik introducing the new Digital Helpdesk in a mission “To provide world leading customer service through a remote 24-hour technical support desk

Note: Sandvik are specialist in “Tools and systems for industrial metal-cutting; Equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries; Advanced stainless steels and special alloys as well as products for industrial heating“.

“Fast-Forward” on Retail Experience

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The COVID-19 pandemic will have a “fast-forward” effect on certain things, namely in the way we shop with retailers. The transformation was already in progress, but will now happen faster than expected.

Many consumers, particularly in the biggest cities, already shop mostly online and have orders delivered by retailers at home – groceries, clothing, electronics, furniture, etc. The pandemic forced most consumers to do the same.

Some consumers suddenly realised that you can actually do shopping online, having the same offering. Others realised how secure and comfortable it is. Others even noticed how effortless and seamless it can be.

On the retailers side, those who thought it would be hard, and procrastinated their journey to be on-line, finally adopted technology, subscribed to e-commerce platforms (like Shopify) and are now in a much better position to compete.

Opening an online operation, allowing consumers to buy from “distance” also required a customer service setup. Again, many retailers accelerated the adoption of multi-channel customer interaction technology (like Zendesk).

The way we shop, will surely change for good. Going forward, consumers will shop much more online (accelerating the trend of the last decade) and only go to brick & mortar shops when the need exceeds “shopping”.

What I mean is… many people go out shopping (in malls, etc.) not only because they need to buy something, but because they are looking for social interaction and distraction, with family or friends.

This is not news, and that is exactly why malls and retail parks started opening restaurants, cinemas, bowling alleys, entertainment venues for kids, etc. People go there not only (sometimes not even) to buy stuff, but rather to socialise.

The same will now apply to the wider industry – big, medium and small retailers. Meaning everyone will have to do something to attract people to their shops. Of course not all can or have size to build cinemas, so they will have to build Experiences.

Big successful retailers are already pioneering this. Apple designed all their shops with a focus on customer’s experiences. Offering a modern and innovative environment, that unlocks creativity, inspires learning, and encourages connections.

But how do you know what “experiences” will attract customers? Once more, technology can help. Experience management platforms (like Qualtrics) allow companies to reach out and understand customers’ needs, wants, drivers.

That insight can then be turned into action to baseline experiences and improve continuously.

Customer Experience in Water Companies

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In England and Wales, OFWAT (part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is the authority that regulates the water and sewerage industry, after services started being provided by private companies, to residential consumers.

A year ago OFWAT issued PR19 (Price Review 19) a comprehensive and stringent report about the way the water industry operates in these countries. And on the back of that, replaced SIM (Service Improvement Mechanism, launched in 2010) for C-MEX.

C-MEX stands for Customer Experience Measurement and is the mechanism OFWAT found to incentivise water companies to become customer-centric and deliver good experiences. Until 2020 incentives would be reputational, and thereafter financial.

But water is a commodity and customers don’t have a choice of supplier. We must use the incumbent in our area. Majority of us don’t even interact with our water company, and a significant subset of us pay bills via direct debit, without even looking.

So how can water companies engage with customers, from a CX perspective? From my point of view there are a couple of things that matter and impact customer’s satisfaction with a water supplier: Brand perception and customer service.

Of course we would like water suppliers to ensure service doesn’t have issues (e.g. leaks, disruptions), that bills are clear, and prices fair. But a new generation also wants companies to care about the planet, and how water is used (or wasted) – see good example in email I received from my supplier (Affinity Water).

When we contact our water supplier (statistic says mostly to complain/report issues) we want empathetic, seamless and efficient interactions. Actually, one of the drivers in C-MEX is complaints handling (and definition of “complaint” includes those made via social media – in line with Consumer Council for Water’s definition).

Another interesting guideline from PR19 is that water companies will need to offer at least 5 communication channels for receiving contacts and complaints. Phone, email, and post seem the obvious ones being used.

Water companies will need to start looking at the enablement of channels like Live Chat, Social Media, and Text Messaging (e.g. WhatsApp), to comply with the 5 channels rule. OFWAT says penalties will apply, if they don’t.

Technology can definitely help water companies comply with PR19, and ensure they follow C-MEX guidelines.

  • An omni-channel ticket/case management platform (like Zendesk) can enable the required multi-channel capability for interaction and complaint management.
  • An experience management platform (like Qualtrics) can enable the required C-MEX capability to measure consumer experience with NPS and CSAT.

Reduce backlog and improve productivity with “Bump-Bump-Solve”

In a time where customer service and support teams are being flooded with queries and requests, it is important that technology helps not only improve productivity, but also the experience delivered.

Examples like the one below allow technology platforms like Zendesk to take care of repetitive tasks, automating where possible, and freeing up customer service for key customer interactions and conversations.

This demo and video was built and recorded by my colleague Matt Brown – Senior Consultant at Capventis, with 15 years experience in Support Management, and leading the Zendesk enablement and implementation for our customers.

5 Essentials for CC Agents working from home

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The COVID-19 outbreak in Europe continues to spread, and it seems some countries have not seen the worst of it yet. However, businesses are already being impacted massively.

Some of the biggest impacts have happened in the Customer Service or Customer Care area, with many people trying to contact companies to ask for help – making contact centres very busy and stretched.

More than adding people to their contact centres (I heard some companies are adding thousands of agents) the challenge is to ensure they have all they need to work efficiently from their homes (no one is even remotely thinking of having hundreds of agents in an open-space now!)

What do companies need to provide agents, so they can work from home, without impacting the service delivery and customer experience?

  1. Laptop – most contact centres still equip agents with desktops, and it is critical that all agents have a laptop they can take home.
  2. Headset – a good headset (noise-cancelling, etc.) to ensure the kids screaming or the dog barking in the background doesn’t impact the call quality.
  3. Connection – not all agents will live in an area with fibre, so might as well cater for the faults of a wi-fi connection, with an Ethernet cable.
  4. Security – the majority of companies will have their systems (even if cloud) behind firewalls and only accessible from outside via VPN, so configure those.
  5. Collaboration – agents will no longer be able to turn to their colleagues, or tap them in the back for help. So ensure they can have “offline” conversations.

Of course this all assumes you have a SaaS platform (cloud and web-based), that your agents can access, to manage and log customer interactions – what we would call a customer/service/ticketing management system.

If you don’t… then I would strongly recommend you look into Zendesk. I partner with them, and have helped many companies enable it. It is probably the quickest to subscribe, switch on and start using. And the easiest to adopt, as it is easy-to-use and user-friendly. Apart from that, it brings the necessary features to collaborate, take calls, etc. all in one app.

Closing the loop with Qualtrics and Zendesk

Bill Gates has a famous quote “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning“. He was spot on. Gathering feedback from customers, in particular those who are not quite satisfied, is crucial for any business.

It is extremely important to use that information to improve products or services, but even more important to close the loop with the customer.

Most businesses send transactional CSAT surveys to customers, after interactions. And then digest, analyse and act on the feedback provided. But many still fail to come back to customers, leaving them to think they were ignored.

Technology can be the enabler, and this video shows how it can be done, using two of the most powerful technologies platforms in the market. On one side, Qualtrics (the XM platfom) and on the other Zendesk (the Customer Service platform), working seamlessly together.

In the scenario shown in the video, a customer receives and responds to a (Qualtrics) CSAT survey. It’s response automatically creates a (Zendesk) ticket, allowing the customer care team to close the loop.

P.S. – This demo was created by the Capventis team (Lydia Castano, Sergiu Ardelean, Adrian Remedios)