In the live help world and elsewhere, a focus on customer experience (CX, or CEX) means shifting the attention from the provision of services to the experience of the customer receiving those services.
This is challenging for many organizations, as gathering information about what services your organization is providing is much easier to do than gathering information about what your customers think and feel about those services.
Live chat reporting has come a long way in this area. In its earlier days, reporting for live chat software was largely limited to information about efficiency. How long were customers waiting to be served on average? At the manager/admin level, what was each chat agent’s productivity? Some savvier websites may have included a post-chat satisfaction survey (whether provided by their live chat software vendor or by their own design), but that was about the extent of it. Thankfully things have changed, but more on that in a later blog post.
Admittedly, even just looking at data about wait times and missed chats can be helpful for guiding CX efforts, and post-chat surveys moreso still. Honestly, as starting places go, you could do much worse.
What CX-oriented companies ultimately need is this: some means of measurement that empowers them to continually improve, such that customers are eager to promote their company to friends and colleagues because those customers feel well-supported by a smart vendor who strives as hard as they do towards their continued success.
A CX Focus Means Continuous Improvement
Flavio Martins is a veritable guru when it comes to customer service, including customer experience management- but in the last two weeks he’s put some particularly excellent content out on his Win the Customer blog, with points that resonated very deeply with the live help team at Velaro Live Chat.
The article “Continuous Customer Experience Improvement is a Lifestyle” focuses on two key ideas. First, that continuous improvement is an essential characteristic of successful service organizations. Second, that it is a cultural issue, not merely a process issue (though it relies heavily on a cyclical process).
“While it’s natural to judge individuals or processes based on results, it’s more effective to realize that people and processes are fluid and naturally evolving. No individual or process is perfect from the onset. With careful study, learning, and application, people and processes can be improved. Everything we do, can be more than we think it to currently be. Development and improvement are not only a paradigm for people, but also for processes and technologies. Improvement is a choice. Continuous improvement is a lifestyle.”
As its name suggests, you are never “done” with continuous improvement. But that’s part of the compelling value you’re providing to your customers. You will never stop striving to beat your previous best, to equip your customers to do better and better and even better still.
For those just getting started, this may sound intimidating but it actually should be encouraging. Your process is not perfect. That’s ok. Start with what you can and understand that you’ll improve as you learn more. This fits into a larger discussion about being transparent with customers, which I won’t get too deeply into here – but you get farther by admitting failures and learning from them rather than by denying them and attempting to cover them up.
A CX Focus Means Engaging Customer Advocates
The other important piece about CX I wanted to steal from Win the Customer is the more recent article “Grooming Your Customers As Brand Ambassadors” – featured on Flavio’s blog, but written by Alistair Roque. The blog post focuses on creating loyal customers and equipping them to do some of your best marketing for you. There’s one piece I wanted to share here from the “building loyalty” section and one from the “ok they’re loyal, now what?” section.
First, Alistair’s middle step to becoming a loyal customer: choosing you again. Well-executed marketing and sales can convert leads into customers, and have those newly minted customers feeling excited about it- but ultimately if those customers don’t stick around, that means something is either wrong with your product or your CX process. Repeat business is a better indicator that you’re doing something right with your CX process than new business is—unless that new business is coming from customer referrals!
To that point, the other piece from the article you really need to pay attention to is that once you have loyal customers: “give them something to talk about.” Whether that’s beta-testing new features or encouraging them to write reviews or involving them in other ways. Show your customers that you want to be as valuable as you can to them, and that their engagement is essential to helping you achieve that.
Live Help and CX
Live help is a unique medium because it is both real-time and digital. That means that you can actually collect and respond to data in the moment, as well as easily aggregate data to look for general trends that might call for broader process changes. Obviously this is all vital to continuous improvement and customer engagement.
Additionally, by giving your chat agents access to the transcript history for any web visitor, you equip them with the information they need to make meaningful recommendations to your customers. If it seems like they’ve contacted your live help team a lot recently about a particular issue, your agent could point them to a relevant FAQ page or training resource. The important thing is that the focus is on providing value to the customer, not extracting value from them by pushing sales on them.
By soliciting customer feedback on the quality of the chat as well (at a minimum via post-chat satisfaction survey), you’re simultaneously engaging your customers in your mutual growth and gathering the data you need to continuously improve.
If you are serious about advancing a customer experience strategy in your service organization, keep these points in mind as you update your live help practices.