Sky moves to Apps for Customer Service

Sky has recently launched a new app to help their customers manage the most frequently used services linked to their TV subscription directly from their phone. Customers with the app can manage their bill, schedule engineer visits, and manage processes such as recording requests.

This emphasises the importance of understanding the move towards a multichannel customer service environment. Apps are certainly going to grow in significance for customer service in coming years. Customers find apps very easy to use – they are immediately available on the phone once installed and can be accessed in seconds.

Even if the functionality a company offers on an app is all available on their website, the experience is very different. How many times have you tried to login to your customer account on a website only to experience difficulties and then give up?

Though the Sky app is linked to a TV subscription, many other types of service are suitable for support via an app; online banking, credit cards, mobile phone contracts. All could be more easily managed online if an app offers an easy wrapper to the service, rather than relying on customers to login via a website.

And this automation will change the way customer service is provided in general. Customers are adopting new channels – such as apps – and expecting brands to offer these choices. All this self-service does mean that customers can often resolve their own service problems and this does deflect contact away from the traditional support channels of voice, email, and chat, but it requires planning to ensure that all the supported channels fit together as part of a coherent customer service strategy.

Some customers will still call. Some will prefer to only ever use an app. Smart customer service leaders will ensure that their brand offers customers all the channels and the best possible experience regardless of which channel the customer prefers.

Channel hopping 12/01/25

 

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You don’t need to delight, just be effective

Business magazines are full of tips on how companies can delight their customers. This language is used to describe how companies – particularly retailers – can make their customer service experience so good that customers will leave with a smile on their face and a desire to return again to spend more cash.

But the reality isn’t quite like that.

What most customers want when they need to call for help or information is an efficient and competent service. This excellent blog post by Kate Leggett of Forrester addresses this point exactly. Leggett suggests that 77% of consumers (USA) feel that the most important thing any brand can do is to respect their time.

So deal with the problem quickly. Don’t keep people on hold or waiting days for a response. Try to get the response right the first time. These are all the most important factors in trying to offer a great service.

The case studies that talk about customer ‘delight’ are often focused on social media channels. We have all read about the hungry tweeter greeted at airport arrivals with a steak from his favourite restaurant. All these great customer interactions can truly produce delight, but they are not the majority of interactions, in fact they are just a tiny percentage of your customer interactions.

By focusing on pleasing the customer with good information quickly 99% of the time, perhaps your team will have the ability to truly delight the customer 1% of the time. But if you don’t focus on making sure that 99% of service is great then nobody will be delighted at all.

Kathryn blowing bubbles

 

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Frustrate your customers with poor experiences and benefit your competitors

Getting your customer service strategy right is really important. It’s not just a question of making sure the contact centre is ready to pick up some calls – we are now operating in an omni-channel, multi-device consumer environment where customers are comfortable using any one of six or seven channels to get in touch.

More importantly, customers today are less loyal than ever. Let them down once when they get in touch with a query and they are likely to turn to the competition faster than ever – who are only a click or a touch away after all!

New research that questioned 2,000 adults in the UK found that 69% of consumers have become so angered by a customer service interaction that they either demanded to speak to the supervisor or they just gave up on the brand entirely. And how many of those told all their friends (on Twitter) that they were giving up on that brand?

Utilities, telecoms providers, and government are the top three offenders according to this research, but there is no reason why the utilities cannot be providing a far better customer experience – I have seen it. I know it’s possible.

Every executive will tell you that it costs far more to find new customers then to promote loyalty in those you already have. Ensuring your customer service team is not actively ‘encouraging’ customers to switch to an alternative provider is a good start. In fact, it’s really just the foundation that you need to build a service that is so good it improves your revenue, profits and long term growth.

frustration

 

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Have restaurant customers changed because of smart phones?

Any observer of changes in the way customer service operates globally will know that what has really changed is the way people communicate. My last blog talked about the social changes introduced by the smart phone with ubiquitous Internet access and the use of social networks. Both developments have been reshaping customer needs for the past five or six years.

But changes sometimes happens too slowly for us to easily observe so I was interested to see this article about how people are spending more time over dinner in restaurants. It is claimed that this was a serious piece of research by a restaurant owner in New York who has spent the past decade recording service times in his or her restaurant – however the author of the research posted the information online anonymously, perhaps fearing that it would sound critical of the customers a restaurant needs.

The research shows that the average diner in 2004 took 1hr and 5mins and in 2014 this average had almost doubled to 1hr 55mins. The reason? The author of the research blames smart phone use. Customers take photos of the décor, of the food, they communicate with people on the phone, they take up staff time calling for help with the wi-fi connection… the use of phones in restaurants has been an enormous change in social behaviour in the past decade and this has actually influenced the time people now need to eat dinner.

When planning customer service strategies we need to think of how changing behaviours can impact existing services. New channels can develop new freedoms and ease of communication, but can have a knock-on effect on other areas of the business.

Restaurant

 

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The worst possible #custserv practices

Most of the lists we all see in business magazines are all positive; the top ten strategies you should be exploring or 5 ways to improve your team, so it was striking when I saw that Forbes recently listed the 10 worst practices in customer service.

Ten really awful customer service practices is a lot, so if I was going to echo my own experience of what Forbes has identified as the worst way to treat customers then I’d pick out just three:

  • Customer service is not a ‘day one’ thing; it’s great when a company has a detailed initiation programme to help new team members come on board, but you cannot include a few golden words of customer service wisdom in the initiation and then forget about it altogether. Customer service is something that the team has to live and breathe on a daily basis.
  • Discriminating by channel; customers don’t expect different service on different channels. They don’t expect that you will answer the phone, but will not bother answering an email. They expect the same level of service however they get in touch so start considering how to manage all those new channels better.
  • Not respecting time; customers that call for help are often undress stress – something is going wrong, which is why they are calling. Putting them on hold for a couple of minutes can feel far longer for the customer who needs help. Likewise if the customer emailed a request for help, let them know you have the message and are working on it.

Getting this right is really all about communication and planning, making sure that your team operates within a company culture that aims to help the customer first.

First customers

 

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Teleperformance wins two major European awards! #TeamWorkWins

The Teleperformance EMEA team were out in force at the European Outsourcing Association awards last night in London. This is one of the biggest events in the European outsourcing calendar and they had been shortlisted for three European awards.

Earlier in the day, the UK National Outsourcing Association had held their annual symposium and the UK and I had spoken about the impact of social media on customer service today. There were some great questions from the floor about how this development of multiple channels is changing the industry today – we could have just kept the Q&A going for another hour!

It was a great day at the symposium and made even better at the EOA award ceremony in the evening because Teleperformance EMEA won two of the awards they were shortlisted for! And not just two minor awards either, we were crowned as the European Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year and also got the Award for Innovation in Pan-European Outsourcing for the work at our Customer Experience Lab in Portugal.

That’s quite an achievement – the best partner company and the most innovative too. No wonder the hashtag #TeamWorkWins was circulating amongst the Teleperformance team on Twitter last night!

I am really proud of the teams here in the UK and across Europe – the hashtag was right. It’s because of our entire team that we have won these awards and I’d like to extend thanks to every team member who helps to make Teleperformance not just the best partner to work with, but the most forward-thinking and innovative too.

Teamwork

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New channels are changing customer service forever – are you ready?

Veronica’s recent blog mentioned that the customer service industry has moved on from a focus on contact centres or how to improve the outsourced relationship between a client and supplier. These may have been important considerations in the past, but the emphasis today is on the overall customer experience and how this can be improved.

One of the biggest changes in the way customers interact with the customer service function of an organisation is the proliferation of new channels. A decade ago the number of channels available to customers was far more limited than now – a voice call and email were the only options offered by most companies – but today this has changed dramatically.

In fact, I would argue that the majority of customers are now quite familiar with some form of customer service using at least six channels. Voice and email are still available and online chat is also now popular. Add online review sites or forums, such as Tripadvisor, and social networks like Twitter and Facebook and it’s clear how things have changed.

But I’m only mentioning the most commonly used channels. There are many other social networks and the important thing for a customer service manager to think of now is that this is not a fixed environment. You cannot plan a multichannel customer service strategy merely by detailing how to respond to customer tweets or Facebook posts.

The texting application Whatsapp has many more users than Twitter and is adding about a million new users every day. Wearable technologies such as Google Glass are already available to regular users and many similar technologies are on the way.

All these new communication channels are almost certainly going to be used by consumers asking for some form of customer service. Companies that have a very fixed strategy on multichannel support will struggle as new tools or networks increase in prominence and previously popular networks decline in importance.

The key is to be ready for change. Customers will use any communication tool that is available to them to ask brands for help.  If you ensure that your approach to multichannel service allows you to react quickly to changing trends then you can ensure those calls for help are always answered.

Have you seen any significant changes in the approach to multichannel customer service recently? Leave a comment on the blog here or get in touch via my LinkedIn here.

I just want to whatsapp

 

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