11 Customer Service Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates

Before you go on and hire that eager and smart customer service candidate, it’s essential to gauge whether that individual will be a productive and engaged team member. But is there any way to do so? Other than using a time machine, there is no sure-fire method, which makes the interview the best way to judge customer support and service candidates. 

With the right questions, you can force interviewees to reflect on their experiences and think on their feet, thus making them reveal useful information. Their body language and reactions will speak volumes about how they’ll manage real-life situations and will help determine any red flags.

It’s important to remember that the qualities and core skills of every customer service job are the same. To ensure you hire top talent, here are some interview questions you can ask candidates and what you can hope to learn from them:

 

  • How would you define customer service, and what does it mean to you?

 

This question will enable you to see the mindset and philosophy the candidate will bring to the position. You’ll be able to gain insights and details about their philosophy and gauge their commitment to the job. 

The best response 

Candidates you choose should talk about the impact and importance of customers for the growth of the company, should believe in the significance of retaining customers, and should be interested in learning from and working with others. They should also be dedicated to servant leadership and believe in the fact that customer satisfaction can change businesses in the same way as sales and marketing.  

 

  • Can you recall a time you handled a fussy customer, and how did you manage the situation?

 

This question will help determine whether a candidate will go the extra mile to help a customer, even in a difficult situation. 

The best response 

Good answers include detailed examples of the candidate’s own experiences, which showcase humility and the ability to accept their mistakes. Candidates should be able to easily answer any follow-up questions about those experiences. It’s also important to see if they remained calm, understood, and empathized with the customer. Furthermore, candidates suggesting new improvements or ideas to de-escalate the situation is always a big plus. 

On the other hand, mediocre candidates will talk about how unreasonable the customer was and how frustrating it was to solve the issue.

 

  • What can you tell us about our company or our product?

 

This question will help evaluate the amount of research a candidate did before the interview and will help determine whether they want this particular customer service job or are looking for any customer service job. 

The best response

Good candidates will have done their research about your company, thus showing that they’re really invested in this particular opportunity.

 

  • How do you handle and de-escalate angry customers?

 

In order to gauge a candidate’s level of empathy, it’s important to determine their views on how difficult customers should be handled. You should be looking for candidates that can easily empathize with others and are able to turn a bad situation into a constructive learning experience.

The best response

Good candidates are characterized by their respect for customers, humility, and practical conflict resolution skills. They should also understand that angry customers prefer an apology rather than an explanation for their problem.

 

  • How do you maintain a positive attitude when customers are rude to you?

 

Customer service jobs involve plenty of unpleasant encounters with unhappy customers, who are often quite vocal about their problems. This question will help determine whether candidates have considered this part of the job and if it’s something they will be able to manage. 

The best response

Good candidates should understand that a customer service job has its disadvantages, but at the same time, should be able to convey that its advantages far outweigh them. You should look for individuals that won’t burn out and won’t yell at a customer. 

Look out for candidates that complain about customers in their interview. Mentioning the phrase, ‘dealing with customers’ is also a red flag, as it shows that candidates don’t view their job as something they would enjoy. Although it’s not a deal-breaker, you should still ask follow-up questions to see how they’d interact with angry customers and if they really want a customer support job. 

 

  • How would you define empathy? Did you use empathy in any of your previous roles?

 

This question is how interviewers screen for empathy. It’s important to understand that you don’t want the exact definition of empathy, but are looking for candidates who can explain empathy in their own words. It’s also a good sign if they provide examples of how they understand and relate to customers. 

The best response

Good candidates will provide a concrete example that includes more than just apologizing to a customer. They should explain how they used rapport-building and understanding to establish a strong relationship with the customer and how they consequently solved the problem.

 

  • Was there a time when you didn’t know how to help a customer? What did you do?

 

Even with extensive experience and training, it’s practically impossible for customer service representatives to have the solution for every problem. Ask this question to determine whether a candidate will respond efficiently and calmly if presented with this situation. 

The best response

Good candidates will be honest, confident, and will be able to demonstrate how they handled situations where they didn’t have an answer. Look out for individuals who claim they’ve never been stumped or only provide examples where another colleague gave the final answer. 

 

  • When answering a customer, how do you determine what information to exclude and what to include?

 

The most important skill for customer service representatives is the ability to clearly communicate information with just the right amount of detail. This section will enable candidates to explain how they write or talk to customers, helping you identify the best ones. 

The best response

Great candidates will be able to properly understand the needs of a customer and change their communication styles to suit different audiences. Beware of inflexible candidates who can only explain one communication approach.

 

  • What do you think was your biggest failure in your last job, and how did you learn from it?

 

This question helps gauge a candidate’s honesty and coachability. Every person has failed at least once in their life, but the important question is whether they blamed someone else for it or learned and improved from it?

The best response

Moderate candidates will give an evasive and vague answer. It’s better to look for answers that showcase resilience, an ability to learn and improve from mistakes, and a sense of personal responsibility.

 

  • Are you experienced with any customer service tools?

 

The customer service stack of every company is different, but it’s always a plus if a candidate is experienced and knows how to use CRMs, collaboration tools, and ticketing systems. 

The best response

Look for candidates that express a desire to learn new systems and technologies. They should also be experienced with specific systems and tools and should possess the ability to grasp new concepts quickly.

 

  • What qualities do you think a good teammate should have?

 

This question will help you understand whether a candidate is a good teammate, and if the individual is able to work well with others. 

The best response

It’s important to look for candidates that are eager to learn new skills and are supportive of their co-workers, along with their customers. People who can easily talk about their interests and can have a casual conversation are usually better suited for customer service roles. 

Traits to look for when interviewing customer service candidates

Asking the right questions is only half the battle. When interviewing candidates for a customer service job, it’s important to look for the following traits:

 

  • Drive

 

Customer service representatives should be eager to start and ready to learn. They should be driven, have a desire to prove themselves, but most not be entitled. They want to be promoted to better positions but know that they’ll have to earn it. 

 

  • Coachability

 

Customer service representatives should be eager to grasp new concepts, but should not get defensive if given criticism. The best candidates pick things up pretty quickly. 

 

  • Positivity 

 

This is one of the most overlooked traits. A negative person makes for an incredibly poor team member as they might talk poorly about colleagues and customers. It’s important to ensure that every new hire is a positive person. 

 

  • Problem-solving skills

 

Unfortunately, people rarely contact customer support to praise and thank them for exceptional service. Since a customer service representative is responsible for solving people’s problems, it’s important to look for candidates that can untangle sticky issues, think on their feet, and quickly find effective solutions.

Conclusion 

The most productive interviews are never straight-forward question-and-answer sessions; instead, they’re carefully constructed conversations that determine candidates’ strengths, challenges, and attitudes. It’s important to remember that the questions are only starting pieces for different conversational topics. If you find an answer concerning or interesting, remember to ask follow-up questions to glean more details. 


SaaS Customer Support Best Practices

SaaS companies thrive on repeat buyers, who in turn thrive on good customer support. 

It won’t take more than one bad experience to compel 51% of users to cancel their subscription, according to NewVoiceMedia. And while 72% of customers will tell six or more people about a pleasant experience, poor support will have 13% of users telling 15 or more people who not to buy software from. 

In fact, one study by Slideshare found that a bad experience with customer service was the primary reason for a canceled subscription among 67% of respondents. So, even if you have the best software on the market, it’s not going to keep people coming back if you can’t provide the assistance they need. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best practices to offer superior SaaS customer support. 

Accessibility

Perhaps a user is confused about certain changes made in a recent update. Maybe they’re having compatibility issues. They could have found a bug that you weren’t aware of. In any case, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to let you know. 

Make sure that your support service is easy to reach. It’s also important that customers can use a contact method that’s convenient to them, be it email, live chat, or social media. Those details should be clear and visible wherever you’re present - both on desktop and mobile devices. 

Don’t forget to clearly state the times during which your team is available. Ideally, that would be 24/7, or at the very least, during business hours. You don’t want to keep customers waiting too long, which brings us to our next point.

Self-Service

Not every user wants or needs to talk to a support agent. Sometimes, they’re just looking for a quick answer or solution. 

Knowing the most common questions and problems that come your way, you can develop a knowledge base or FAQ for your website. This can significantly reduce the number of messages that your team receives while helping customers effortlessly find out what they need to know. Make sure that it’s informative, responsive, and easy to navigate. 

You can take this further by setting up a community forum where users can discuss and resolve issues amongst themselves. This is a good way to identify the biggest problems your customers face and send feedback to your development team accordingly.

Live Chat

Your users have high expectations when it comes to the quality and responsiveness of your customer support. Most of them are probably not willing to wait hours (and definitely not days) for a reply to their email. 

Providing a live chat service can help to remedy this problem. Users can have their questions answered and problems solved almost immediately, without having to take any additional steps after reaching your website. Most live chat services are far more affordable than a support hotline, while also being an effective way to onboard new users.

Staff

At the foundation of any effective customer support service is a good team. 

Given the complexity of your product, it’s important to have educated and knowledgeable staff who know what they’re talking about. At the same time, they need to have adequate communication skills and an ability to build relationships.

They need to know how to deal with stressed, rude, and angry users in a diplomatic manner that upholds the values of your company. Ensure that these qualities are present among the rest of your organisation as well, with a particular focus on those who are likely to interact with customers. 

This is a good time to discern the difference between customer support and customer service. The former refers to staff who respond to queries, while customer service is responsible for improving engagement. Tasking certain employees with identifying trends in the messages your users send is a great way to reduce ticket numbers. 

Standards

More on the above point, it would be a mistake to assume that all of your support agents have the same approach to their job. This is why it’s important to have standards for how they treat customers. Here are some considerations:

  • Response times. 
  • Refund discretions.
  • Handling certain situations.
  • Greeting and welcoming customers. 
  • When and how to send follow-up messages.
  • Tracking requests and avoiding missed tickets. 
  • Categorising issues and assigning them to the right department. 

It would be wise to have published service level agreements that users can see to gain peace of mind knowing that your company upholds certain standards when it comes to customer support. Here, you can provide a FAQ of sorts with answers to questions regarding issues such as how you deal with downtime and how fast you respond to requests.

Transparency

Being part of the ‘big data’ industry, SaaS companies tend to be perceived by customers with a certain level of weariness or suspicion. Some users think that they’re being charged a high price for something that costs much less to provide. 

Your support service is an ideal place to reduce this kind of scepticism. This is done by being transparent about your policies and pricing, with a particular focus on how you handle customer data. The following practices can help you keep your users at ease:

  • Downtime notifications.
  • Advance notice of changes in terms or fees. 
  • Information about how you spend customer money. 
  • Making it easy for users to cancel their subscription. 
  • Answering questions asked by prospective customers. 

Staying in touch with your customers and monitoring what they say about your company on public channels such as forums and social media will help you identify and address any other sources of scepticism. This is key to maintaining a strong reputation. 

Central Platform

One way to make your support team’s job much easier is to stick to a central platform upon which you can handle all enquiries, whether they’re sent via email, live chat or social media. There are several advantages to this approach.

Aside from saving time, it will spare your staff from having to log into numerous platforms to stay on top of their respective requests. Another benefit is being able to see how your team is performing. Regular analysis will help you identify room for improvement. Having a central platform also makes it easier to flag and escalate tickets. 

Feedback

The customer support process doesn’t end when you close the ticket. There’s one more step, which is asking for feedback. This is key to finding out whether the support you provided is satisfactory and how you can make it better.

Customers will also appreciate the opportunity to send that feedback, especially if they weren’t happy with the support they received. The data you collect can help you build a more comprehensive knowledge base and a better chatbot, which can reduce tickets and improve the morale of your support team. 

With enough information, you’ll be able to automate routine functions and significantly lower the workload faced by your team. This will only become more important as you gain customers. There’s always room for improvement and being open to any feedback that comes your way is key to identifying it. 

By following these practices, you can make leaps and bounds in providing the best possible support service any customer can hope to interact with. Be sure to spend some time on this, as the level of effort you put in can make-or-break the success of your SaaS company. 


Customer Service Email Tips for Better, Faster Support

A loyal customer base is an asset for any business or company. They are the reason to increase your sales of products or services. However, earning their trust and retaining your clientele for a long time is not an easy task. Customer service emails are the best way to build a relationship between you and your customer. It must provide support to the customer, giving them an insight into your products and services. The design of a customer service email should be such that it attracts the customers towards you, and forces them to remain loyal to your brand or service.

You need to consider the following tips when sending an email to your customer. 

 

  • Personalize Your Emails

 

Emails personalization is key in customer service. It makes the customer feel that they are interacting with a human being and not a robot. When your customer feels that they are getting custom-tailored service from you, they develop trust in your company. 

To design personalized emails, make sure to use customers' names at the beginning and your name at the end of the text of the email. This gives a sense to customers that there is a real person behind the computer screen. 

 

  • Make It Simple

 

In your day-to-day business, you use different jargon of your field, i.e., terms specific to your niche. However, many customers may not be familiar with those terms and may face difficulty in understanding your email. So, substitute that vocabulary with the simple ones, which aids your customers in better understanding. 

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you are underestimating the reader of the email. But you need to make sure that they comprehend the email information and don’t misunderstand anything. 

 

  • Keep a Smooth Tone

 

What type of tone will have more impact on your customer, casual or formal? This question has always been under debate.

Well, you can use both, but customers prefer a more casual and friendly tone because it has a human touch. Moreover, when you need to deny their request, people prefer to be told more formally and politely, as it feels more professional. 

If you don’t know which tone is going to work for you, then go with a similar tone as of your customer. Make sure that, along with copying your customer’s style, you must provide some valuable information about your company. 

 

  • A Simple Thank You

 

It’s important to appreciate your customer's effort to write. No matter what complaints or problems are, make sure to let them know that you feel pleased by their response or email. Just add, "Thank you for your email” to your text. 

The feedback, both negative and positive, is crucial to push your company’s growth. 

The majority of the customers stop doing business with you when they don’t like the quality of your service. But if someone is trying to approach you and give his/her feedback, this means they are doing a favor to you. It helps to identify the hidden issues you were not aware of; thus, you can address these issues and improve your service. So, make sure to thank your customers for their valuable time and provide solutions to their problems. 

In A Nutshell

Attracting customers is a challenge in itself, let alone retaining a clientele. You need to work on the little things to establish a trustworthy relationship with your customers. Also, you must improve the quality of your product and provide faster customer support. Make sure to follow the tips mentioned above when sending a customer service email. You will see the difference in your company's sales. 

 


How to Respond to Negative Reviews - Real Examples That Worked

We live in the age of the internet, and unlike in the past where companies could rely on suggestion boxes to find out exactly what customers thought about your products, services, and the business at large, the internet has changed that.

Today, online reviews are done online be it on your social media pages, website or external sites like Yelp or Google. 

What’s even frustrating is that such reviews are visible to anyone who searches for you online unlike a few sheets of paper in a suggestion box that are only accessible to you and anyone else who has such clearance.

The norm is that a large percentage of consumers will first go through online reviews before making a purchase. 

As such, you need to know how to respond to each review including the negative ones because ignoring them is not going to cut it.

Acknowledge the problem

Sometimes, a user will just leave a negative review because they are going through something and are frustrated. Sometimes, it will be a genuine negative review because something is wrong with your products or services.

Whatever the case, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge the issue rather than playing the defensive card.

Example:

When a JetBlue Airways passenger complained that their TV screen was not working, the Twitter team was quick to respond to the comment by acknowledging that it happens but they were more than happy to resolve the issue.

Say you are sorry

At the end of the day, acknowledging a problem and not offering an apology in return will do more harm than good.

When you have a negative review, the consumer expects an apology whether you are on the wrong or not.

And it’s not just about throwing words out there in the name of an apology rather, make it sound genuine and sincere, and like you are committed to excellent service.

Example: 

In August of 2017, Lexus dealership in Calgary found themselves facing a PR nightmare when Calgary Airport got rid of disabled parking stalls to create Lexus designated spots.

With so many one-star reviews, Lexus was able to turn around the situation in their favor by acknowledging that they were not happy that that happened.

By infusing their personality in the response, it came out authentic and genuine.

Offer an explanation

Sometimes an apology will not cut it and you need to go a step further and explain the situation. Avoid however making excuses even if the negative review is uncalled for.

Example:

When a customer complained of poor service at Mother Bear Pizza, the management responded to that by apologizing and giving an explanation that service is usually unpredictable during summer when their students are not around.

Offer compensation

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a poor service, you know how frustrating the situation can be mainly because you would not only have wasted your time but money in the process.

It’s even worse when the company just dismisses your complaint like it was nothing and like you are in no position to complain.

With that in mind, sometimes an apology will work but in some instances, a customer will feel better if some form of compensation was offered.

Example: 

In 2016, a Dominion Pest Control Services customer complained of poor customer service from one of their customer service representatives when they called to reschedule an appointment. 

The Owner responded by apologizing and offering a discount due to the negative experience.

Take matters offline

Once you have apologized and acknowledged the issue, the next best thing you can do for the customer is to offer to resolve the issue offline to come to a resolution that works for both parties.

Give them your name, title as well as a way they can contact you directly to discuss the issue. This goes a long way than just apologizing online.

However, after they have contacted you, never ask them to take down their review because what that means to them is that you have something to hide and don’t care about resolving issues with your products and services.

Example:

A Honda of Thousand Oaks customer complained of being asked to pay despite the company promising free oil change when you brought your car back to the auto dealership.

The company apologized for the issue and asked the customer to contact their general manager directly to have the issue addressed, something that they have become good at.

Negative reviews are part and parcel of running a successful business even when in your best judgment you know that the customer is just unleashing their frustrations on you. The mistake that most companies make is thinking that they don’t need to address negative reviews especially when they have so many positive reviews. To protect the integrity of your company and business, you need to respond to these negative reviews in a way that shows consumers that you are committed to offering the best services.


The Checklist You Need When Choosing an Outsourcing Company

Today’s businesses are well in tune with the advantages of outsourcing. Controlling and reducing costs, being able to focus on core operations, and solving capacity issues are the main reasons why companies consider paying for external talent, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey. 

Improving service quality, gaining access to skills, and facilitating organizational transformation also made the list. These are all compelling reasons to outsource. But being able to access a global workforce comes at a cost, which is figuring out who exactly to work with.  

Opting for an outsourcing company is a good start, as this already brings a certain degree of service quality and reliability into the picture. To further narrow down your search and find the right partner, use the following checklist for choosing an outsourcing company. 

Cultural Compatibility

If cutting costs forms part of your reason for outsourcing, chances are that you’ll be looking abroad. This has its benefits, but it’s important to remember that your potential partner might be operating under a corporate and societal structure unlike your own. Reviewing their hiring policies and processes can help you get a better idea of what to expect. 

Consider whether your partner has the knowledge, discipline, and soft skills your business requires. This is especially important in areas such as customer service. The outsourcing company should understand the values, beliefs, and quality standards upheld by your employees. In doing so, you can foster a more productive relationship. 

Feedback

Ideally, you want to work with a company that puts the time and effort into measuring their performance, informing you about it, and seeking ways to improve. Your partner should value the process of setting numerous KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and regularly providing feedback on their success - not just when a certain goal is achieved. 

The level of effort that they put into doing this speaks for the transparency of the company and how proud they are of their work. If it doesn’t seem like you’re going to hear from them until something goes horribly wrong, then you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. 

Industry Experience

The more experience your partner has with businesses in your industry, the more likely they are to avoid the mistakes that newer outsourcing companies are yet to learn from. It can mean the difference between efficient communication and receiving a never-ending stream of questions that your partner should already know the answers to.

You can gauge their industry experience by looking into their portfolio. This is also a useful way to get a better idea of the quality of their work and the type of businesses they’ve worked with in the past. Of course, a portfolio doesn’t always tell the full story, so it’s a good idea to contact the company and ask some questions. 

In a similar vein, the people they hire should display relevant qualifications and experience. It’s better to avoid the jack-of-all-trades and master of none, opting for a team that specializes in your specific industry instead.

Technical Expertise

Is the company always looking for the latest technology to improve their output, or are they stuck in the past? Your ideal outsourcing partner should have a solid set of tools for managing workers, tracking performance, staying in touch, and resolving issues so that you have a better idea of how quickly and effectively your needs will be met. 

One way this shows itself is the company’s willingness to tailor their services to your specific business. For instance, they might be able to make use of automation tools or analytics to improve your efficiency. How interested they are in not only moving themselves forward but also your own business, speaks for the level of dedication you can expect.

Communication

Your future outsourcing partner’s approach to communication can make-or-break your relationship with them. Ensure that they’re skilled with and available to use all of the channels you require, be it email, phone, or any other messaging application. Time zone hours should be considered to minimize any gaps. 

It’s also a good idea to agree on a single channel for exchanging feedback, queries, and concerns. You can gauge their level of effort by making a call or sending an email. How soon do they reply? Are they genuinely interested in meeting your unique needs, or do they just want to make a sale? Be sure to pay attention to these factors moving forward.

Trust

While not always easy to determine, it’s worth looking into whether your future outsourcing partner is a stable and solvent company. They should be there for as long as you need them such as to avoid situations where their services are suddenly unavailable, which can otherwise cause hiccups in your own business. 

This is especially important if you’re going to have to entrust your partner with sensitive information. Look into the legalities of your relationship, which can include insurance, liability, contractual obligations, and nondisclosure agreements. Peace of mind knowing that your partner is going to play by the rules can save you a great deal of trouble. 

Another aspect to consider here is the company’s ability to hire new workers when you need them. You want to work with a partner who can meet the demands of your business as it grows. 

Costs

Another area where your partner should be as transparent as possible is the fees they charge for their services. Fixed project costs can go a long way in helping you budget and will inevitably prove more affordable than hourly rates. You should be able to receive all of this information upfront. Hidden fees are a red flag. 

Don’t forget to conduct market research before settling on a specific company. Low prices usually mean low quality, but you don’t want to be overpaying for something either. Working with an overseas partner is usually more cost-effective, however, and comes with potential benefits, such as time zone differences that allow you to get work done overnight.

Of course, this depends on your specific needs. Outsourcing your customer support to a country that’s awake when yours is sleeping probably won’t solve many problems. On the other hand, being able to wake up and see all your accounting work up-to-date for the day ahead is a good start. 

Finally, an outsourcing partner that can provide some sort of guarantee related to the quality of their work is often a better choice. In the same way a good laptop manufacturer will provide a hardware warranty to protect your device against any malfunctions, a good outsourcing company will be able to replace any underperforming workers. 

Keeping the above points in mind will go a long way in helping you choose the best outsourcing company for your business. Your due diligence in making this decision will certainly pay off. 

 


Proven Methods for Measuring Customer Satisfaction

For any business to succeed, satisfied customers are essential primarily because they are loyal and promise excellent word-of-mouth advertising. However, it’s not as easy to measure as it is to measure website visitors or the revenue earned. But there are metrics and methods available specifically for this purpose. The following are some of them:

1. Customer Satisfaction Score

This score is the standard metric for customer satisfaction and asks customers to rate satisfaction with your service or product. The average rating of your consumer responses makes up your average rating. Typically, the scale could be 1-10, 1-5, or 1-3. The best thing about this metric is its directness; however, what’s wrong with it is the fact that satisfaction is a fleeting sentiment, making it difficult to judge at times.

2. Customer satisfaction surveys

This is the standard way of working out the customers’ happiness. The questions ask customers how satisfied they are. Such surveys are of three kinds.

a. In-app surveys
These involve a subtle feedback bar within the website that generally has a couple of questions. This method has the highest response rate because the customer is asked for his or her opinion while being engaged with your company. These are especially useful for measuring standard customer satisfaction metrics. Good tools for such surveys include SurveyMonkey and Floq.

b. Post-service surveys
These focus on the customers’ specifications relating to a certain service. This survey is done right after the delivery so that honest feedback can be received while it is still fresh in mind. The best method for such services is sending a rating link via email.

c. Email surveys
Since the above two methods don’t offer in-depth information about customer happiness, the best solution is email surveys for greater insights. Despite having low response rates, these allow customers to take their time while answering their questions. An incredible tool for this is Google Forms.

3. Customer Effort Score

With this metric, you basically get to measure the effort it took consumers to get their problem solved. Usually, the customers are asked to rate on a scale of 1-7 with 7 being quite a lot of effort.
With this metric, the aim is to reduce the average score. There are several tools with which you can make your own customer effort score survey, such as CheckMarket.

4. Net Promoter Score

This measures the likeliness that the customer will refer your business to someone else. More than the satisfaction, it measures the customer’s loyalty. Customers have to rate on a scale of 1-10 the likelihood of recommending you.
Since this metric tests the intention of referring rather than satisfaction, customers find it easier to answer. With this kind of survey, you don’t have to question consumers whether your product is good enough.
It also has two benefits. Firstly, it gives you insight into how well you fare in the industry. Secondly, the option of referring is introduced to the mind of the consumers, something they might not have thought of previously.

5. Number of complaints

As the name states, this measures the number of complaints. This is called the things gone wrong metric and measures the number of complaints per certain number of either survey responses or units sold. For instance, it could be measured against 100, 1000, or 1,000,000 units sold.
While the standard for this metric is to measure complaints via customer surveys, you can also maintain internal metrics. At worst, your score could be 1 or higher, which means that you receive at least one complaint per your chosen unit (such as survey response recorded or unit sold).

6. Social Media Monitoring

It’s no secret that social media has a great impact on the business-customer relationship. While a great experience or poor service could only be shared with the closest friends before, social media now lets users vocalize their experience, even if it’s extremely bad, that reaches up to millions of people. Therefore, it’s the ideal place for knowing what customers think about your service.While both Twitter and Facebook are important platforms, you should also not dismiss the feedback you receive on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Quora. Helpful tools for social media monitoring include social mention and Google Alerts.

Conclusion

The importance of measuring customer satisfaction cannot be underestimated. Once you know your customer satisfaction, you can start working on reaching greater levels and ultimately have more happy customers.


How to Deal with Bad Reviews of Your Online Business

Before we get into how you deal with them, you have to accept that they do happen and, in some instances, it has nothing to do with you. They hurt financially and emotionally as well. It is the emotional part that is usually a problem when service and products providers decide that they are going to say something to their reviewers. 

Bad reviews do not necessarily mean that you are bad at what you do. Here are five important things to help you see this from a better perspective so you can get started on how responses should be framed and approached:

  • It is possible that your business might not be a good fit for the customer. That’s not a bad thing. You cannot be great for everyone. 
  • If your business is a good fit, their review should be seen as a gift. It is a way to discover weaknesses and fix them.
  • A bad review should be taken as an opportunity to shine. It pushes you to do more by revealing something you may not have seen.
  • The customer could very well be having a bad day and taking it out on you. It’s not fair but, it happens.
  • The customer could be a jerk, plain and simple.

How Do You Respond?

If you thought about having it removed, don’t. That is not the approach you want to take. The bad review is not the problem per se. The real problem is what happened between you and the customer. 

Try empathy, compassion and commitment to see if you can rectify the review. 

Here’s a technique developed for and used by the Walt Disney Company. They host 135 million people in their parks every year and have to deal with angry parents who are feeling the pressure of even angrier kids. 

  • Hear- Let the customer give you their side of the story without interrupting. 
  • Empathize- Let them know you understand. Use words that relate with them “I’d be frustrated as well”
  • Apologize- Make it sincere, even if you feel you are not at fault. 
  • Resolve- Give them solutions or allow them to express what they would like done, to make the issue go away. Ask “what can I do to make this right?”
  • Diagnose- Find out how the problem emerged and fix it at the source so it does not happen again. Do not blame anyone while you do it.

When responding, do it publicly but DO NOT go on the defensive. Do not tell them whey they are wrong. Make your response an apology for how they feel. If you go on the defensive, it just throws fuel on their anger. 

When you get bad reviews, try to drown them out with good ones. If you serve people well, the good reviews will come in and the bad ones will be lost in a flood of support for your business. 

Learn by reading what other successful businesses do and say when responding to customers. 


17 Customer Service KPI Metrics You Should Be Measuring

Poor customer service can lead to customers leaving, switching to competitors, and leaving bad reviews. Working towards the efficiency of your customer service team is critical to client retention and acquisition.

This post explores essential KPIs (key performance indicators) to boost efficiency. By setting KPI targets for your customer service team you can:

  • Better evaluate customer experience
  • Better predict consumer problems and be one step ahead with solutions
  • Identify and re-evaluate your goals or business objectives
  • Gain insight into how well your team is progressing towards your goals
  • Improve client retention as well as employee retention
  • Improve cooperation from the team
  • Gain insight into efficiency of your training process
  • Highlights peak times that call for hiring new staff.
  • Compare company’s performance to competitors
  • Predict future results

These are just some of the benefits of having measurable and quantifiable KPI targets in place. It can provide valuable information and help management determine when problems are brewing.

Keep in mind that the quality of support customers receive can result in clients:

  • Upselling- 7 out of 10 customers spend more after they receive excellent customer service.
  • Leaving- More than half of customers forego repeat purchases or transactions with a company they had a bad experience with.
  • Switching to Competitors- Just one experience of poor customer service results in 33% of customers switching to the brand’s competitor.
  • Reviews- Customers are more likely to leave reviews after a negative experience. Those who have a positive experience are more inclined to leave a review only after being asked.

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of measuring these KPIs, we now dive further into what these are and how to apply them to your own team:

 

  • Customers’ Waiting and Response Time

 

A faster response makes customers feel important. On average, businesses respond to customers within 42 hours. Meanwhile, customers expect a respond within a 60-minute period. With live chat, customers expect a response within a minute and then a follow-up soon after sending a support ticket.

For email, most customers are willing to wait 4 hours and no more than 24 hours. For those who seek customer support through social media, most expect a response on weekends and at night.

Your goal is to put a time crunch on your first response time. Consider canned replies, setting up time-based email alerts, or using email auto-responders. If you continue to notice a longer response time, identify the root causes which may include hiring more agents.

 

  • Abandonment Rate

 

Remember, if you keep customers waiting too long, they could abandon the purchase or switch to your competitor. So keep track of abandoned calls and tickets as well.

Monitor your abandonment across various channels including live chat, phone calls, email, and social media interactions. With this data, you can assess how many concurrent requests every agent can handle to meet KPIs, volume of tickets per channel, requests for extra channel, response time, and if inquiries can be resolved through automation.

 

  • Ticket Volume

 

A high volume of support tickets could indicate bigger issues with the company’s products or services. Otherwise, it could mean customers are unable to find resolutions by themselves with a lack of clear and incomprehensive FAQ page.

Measure the ticket volume in definite periods including after the launch of a product or service and updating the FAQ page. Ultimately, the goal is to lower and keep ticket volume at a minimum. Tracking this KPI can help you determine staffing needs and assess other issues related to the product/service itself.

Be wary of an increase in the number of complaints. How many resolved cases are recurring? How often does the same customer have to contact regarding the same issue?

 

  • Number of articles in the knowledge base

 

Customer service teams should regularly keep the knowledge base up-to-date and communicate updates to the entire team. It’s the team’s responsibility to provide efficient self-service information.

Keep in mind that customers are more likely to turn to the company’s FAQ page and self-service portals before turning to customer support via call, email, or social media.

A good way to minimize a high ticket volume is to predict and answer as many questions before customers ask. Further, it is wise to measure “failed searches” so you could better optimize your knowledge base. 

Also assess the efficiency of knowledge provided to your customers. Incorporate screenshots and graphics to make it easy for them to DIY problem resolution.

 

  • Issues Related to Product Defects

 

Monitor what clients are complaining about. If the percentage of complaints regarding defective units, be sure to determine when the customer purchased the product. Now, divide the number of defective products by the total number of units produced in the period with the most complaints.

When you can pinpoint and resolve the core issue, the volume of support tickets you receive each day will also decrease. 

 

  • How Agents Handle Customers

 

Besides measuring the number of tickets agents are able to respond and resolve over a certain period, measure other factors. These include the first greeting, tone of agent, product/service knowledge, and problem-solving skills. 

Are your agents qualified to provide support or do callers get passed on to different agents without anyone who knows how to help?

 

  • Volume of Unresolved Issues

 

A high volume of ticket backlog is indicative of poor customer service. Prevent agents from forgetting a ticket by teaching them to use email alerts, set up reminders or snooze the email to a time when they expect to receive word from other departments about the product or service in question.

However, ticket backlogs are inevitable as some issues are not easily resolved. Still, the goal is to reduce the number of ticket backlogs. You may also consider improving training to ensure customer support staff not only respond fast, but know how to resolve issues fast as well.

 

  • Average Resolution Time

 

How long does a customer have to wait between getting a reply, getting a support ticket issued, and finally coming to a resolution? A longer handling time is not necessary. Efficient teams are qualified to solve issues in a shorter period. A spike in resolution time needs to be investigated.

Furthermore, your team will want to leverage customer inquiries to prevent follow-up issues. Anticipate any further problems your customer may encounter and provide even more information.

 

  • Number of Replies Before Resolution

 

Monitor the back and forth between customer and agent before a resolution was finalized. How much effort do customers need to put in to get their issues resolved? 

Analyze spikes above the average baseline. Could it be due to changes introduced to a product or service? Were agents able to fully comprehend the situation before responding to the customer? 

Encourage agents to ask for help rather than responding to a customer unprepared. Better yet, equip them with info cards and templates to prevent agents from asking similar questions over and over.

 

  • First Contact Resolution Rate

 

You know you trained your support team well when they are able to fully resolve issues with a single response. However, for purposes of clarity, support agents may need to acquire more information via a second email. Still, by improving first contact resolution rates, you can boost productivity and customer satisfaction.

Tried and tested canned responses may work to your advantage. Moreover, equipping agents with a strong knowledge base and keeping them up-to-date with product/service changes can help boost this KPI.

 

  • Employee Productivity and Satisfaction

 

The crucial element of a support team is your agents. The lower your employee turnover, the more efficiently you can work towards reaching your KPI targets while reducing additional costs to train new hires. To determine turnover rate, divide the number of employees who left the company by your average number of employees.

Further, employee satisfaction results in better interactions between agents and customers. Evaluate your work environment and work culture. It is also vital to reassess how well your company attracts qualified applicants.

For agents who stick with your company for the long-term, it is a must to consistently measure their productivity. This can be measured through resolved tickets, customer satisfaction, feedback, response rates, and the other KPIs mentioned in this article.

Reward your top agents to encourage a more responsive and efficient support team. Encourage healthy competition and monitor agents who may need further training and nurturing.

 

  • Cash flow

 

Poor customer service can directly impact the profitability of your enterprise. Inefficient support can drive old customers away as well as become an obstacle to potential customers’ buying journey.

On the contrary, efficient and satisfactory customer support can boost referrals, repurchases, customer loyalty, and boost company profits.

 

  • Number of Customers

 

You may better understand your customer’s needs by measuring the number of customers gained and lost as one of your key performance indicators. Like profit or cash flow, customer support can also affect whether or not customers will choose to stay with a company after needing assistance.

Further, be wary of a high customer churn rate. You can measure this by monitoring the decrease of repeat purchase, an increase in customers that discontinue their service subscription, or a decline in the number of customers that renewed during a given timeframe. Measure this data within a given period divided by the customers you had at the start of such period.

 

  • Customer Satisfaction Score

 

Encourage customers to complete customer satisfaction surveys or provide feedback through various channels. Customers who have a positive experience are more likely to submit feedback when asked. However, if the customer had a negative experience from customer support, they give unsolicited feedback.

The goal is to measure customer satisfaction with the support they received. However, other factors should also be considered such as overall satisfaction with the product/service and the brand.

To measure this KPI, take the number of satisfied customers you have and divide it by the number of respondents. The higher the satisfaction score, the more efficient your team but the lower the scores, the more you should look into why. Problems may be product-related but at times it could be unfriendly and ineffective agents.

Finally, work on increasing your customer feedback response rate. This will give you a more balanced value to work with.

 

  • Net Promoter Score

 

One of the best ways to determine an enterprise’s growth over the long-term is by calculating NPS score. How likely are your customers to recommend your product/service to their family and friends? Measure the numbers with sales from quarter to quarter.

The simplest way to get the NPS is to let customers give a rate between 0 and 10. Respondents who give 0 to 6 scores are detractors and 7 to 8 are passive customers. Sure promoters will give 9 and 10 scores. Your NPS will be the percentage of supporters minus the detractors.

Granted there are varying factors that affect NPS, a strong support system can boost this score. It builds trust as customers know that they will be taken care of by the brand should something go wrong with the product/service. 

 

  • Quality of Customers

 

Not only should customer support work towards customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention, but should be sure to qualify them. Consider your customer acquisition costs over a certain period. Do this by taking the sum of acquisition costs and divide it by the number of new customers you have in a certain period.

Compare this value with the value your enterprise obtains from loyal customers or their lifetime value. Customer support should be able to determine Customer Acquisition Cost and compare it to Customer Lifetime Value when making tough decisions such as in giving refunds. You want to gain the best customers while minimizing costs.

 

  • Emotional Impact

 

Last but definitely not least important is measuring the emotional connection achieved through customer support. Emotions are elemental to the buyer’s decision-making. Customer support experience can influence actions.

Similar to testing the NPS and Customer Satisfaction, measure the emotional impact of customer support with a short survey with emotions ranging from irritated and confused to neutral and excited.

TAKING ACTION

It is important to know what to do with the data you want to measure even before setting up ways to measure your KPIs. It’s up to you now to take these valuable information and make the necessary tweaks that will create a better service experience for your customers.