Parature’s 2014 users’ conference brought together some of the best and brightest in customer service and customer engagement. While there were at least 2014 great takeaways from this year’s conference, here are 14 top tips, best practices and insights from key conference presenters including Kate Leggett, Paul Greenberg, Ray Wang, Esteban Kolsky, Shep Hyken and more:
1. Manage the first impression. It doesn’t matter if it is the first time or the 500th time you are interacting with a customer; manage the first impression to create a positive start to all interactions that will follow. – Shep Hyken
2. Customer experience defined: the ongoing interaction between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer. – Paul Greenberg, The 56 Group
3. Hire user engagement rock stars who love your brand, love your products, and love talking to people about them. These are the people on whom you can count to deliver human experiences on your brand’s behalf, and form emotional connections with customers. Once your team is in place, make sure they’re using a system that can also deliver surprising, delightful experiences. – Eric McKirdy, Ask.com
4. 92% of companies view customer experience as one of their top priorities; 60% use customer experiences as a competitive differentiator. – Kate Leggett, Forrester Research
5. In today’s era of customer engagement, the customer self-selects, using products, tools and consumable experiences to sculpt the kind of experience and the level of engagement they want to have with companies. They look for highly personalized interactions. They want to feel valued, and they want to know that you “know” them, even in interactions that are not human-to-human. – Paul Greenberg, The 56 Group
6. Good service comes from happy agents. Empower them with information, a comprehensive customer history, and channel specific content. – Kate Leggett, Forrester Research
7. Knowledge workers currently spend almost one-third of their day trying to find the knowledge they need to do their jobs. Investing in knowledge management for customer service is an imperative. – Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar
8. Right now, surprise-and-delight is, well, surprising! It’s not the norm. But companies who adopt this model for their customer support will be ahead of the curve by the time this becomes industry standard, and “industry-required.” Let other companies be the ones playing catch-up and having to figure this out in five or six years. To quote, “Performers follow convention. Top performers break from it.” – Eric McKirdy, Ask.com
9. Apply the 9 Cs of engagement to your brand’s customer experience strategy: culture, community, credibility, channel, content, cadence, context, catalyst, currency. – R “Ray” Wang, Constellation Research
10. Executives don’t decide how customer-centric a brand is; its customers do. – Kate Leggett, Forrester Research
11. Collaboration has its benefits. Collaborative enterprises understand what the client wants, collect data, collaborate and co-create with customers to give them what they want; understand and provide experiences the customer asks for and suggests, and is more transparent, building trust. – Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar
12. People-centric values come from active listening and monitoring of digital and analog feedback. While digital means can be easier to manage, those signals may not reflect the broader customer base or all segments. This cacophony of signals must come together to produce a concerto of insight. – R “Ray” Wang, Constellation Research
13. What the word CUSTOMER means to Travelodge UK:
- Care: Ensuring we take care of every customer, every day at every touchpoint.
- Understand: Identify, understand and meet our different customers’ needs.
- Smile: Develop a positive, personal presence guaranteeing a warm welcome.
- Talk: Nurture the relationships we develop with our customers and take ownership for our promises.
- Observe: Identify opportunities and act upon them to improve the customer’s experience.
- Memorable: Make our customers remember us by going the extra mile.
- Enthusiasm: Every customer receives the same level of service regardless what time of day.
- Result: Ensure our customers leave happy and recommend us to others.
14. Consistency is key in customer service and the customer experience. Always put forth the same commitment to greatness, all of the time. Not some of the time. Think in terms of an actor always treating every night like an opening night performance. Try to do your best all of the time to inspire a feeling of customer confidence and loyalty. – Shep Hyken