Archive for April, 2013


How to Lead with Customer Service as Brand Differentiator

Every place a customer goes, they are promised “outstanding customer service”. The reality is that most businesses fail to deliver this promise and instead offer horrible customer service. When a customer finally gets “amazing service”, they are so impressed that it becomes an important part of the company’s brand when they need to buy again. If a business can be remembered for their customer service, that value will make it difficult for customers to ever switch.

How can a company use customer service as a significant part of their brand?

1. Forget about asking the customer “How can I help you?” When an employee says this, it is usually ignored by the customer since it has become as common as saying hello. The customer never thinks the employee really means it. Instead ask “How can I help you feel more satisfied?” Great customer service is about the attitude and actions employees take to make a customer feel more satisfied each and every time they interact with them.  This question needs to be asked at each interaction since it’s a constant moving target and changes from customer to customer and from day to day.

2. Listen to what customers are really saying and reply even just to say the message was received. Too many times, customers reach out to companies and get no response for hours or days. The first thing customers want is to be acknowledged. They realize that their issue can’t always be resolved immediately, but the company can always be listening.  Acknowledging a customer concern in a timely matter is always the first step.

3. Give multiple ways for the customers to give feedback.  Don’t just use comment cards or other surveys, but add email, phone, Twitter and Facebook.  This will create more of a dialogue rather than a “suggestion box” model. Customers need a lot of opportunities to give feedback at all stages of the transaction. No need to offer a “bribe” to them by giving a future discount. (i.e. $5 off their next order if they fill out this survey.) The customers that are very satisfied or very dissatisfied will always reply. A company wants to get responses from those “silent customers” that will just drift away and never ever come back.

4. Don’t pass the buck. Harvard Business Review reports that the biggest complaint from customers is having to explain their issues to multiple people or have to repeatedly contact the company to address an issue. The employee that starts to handle the complaint should follow it until resolution.

Is your company able to lead with customer service?

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Barry Moltz gets small businesses unstuck. He is a small business motivational speaker, writer, and radio host. Barry can be found at www.barrymoltz.com


New to Nextiva: The Polycom VVX Series

The newest addition to Nextiva’s collection of VoIP-ready phones is the Polycom VVX series. These media phones are the most innovative devices that Nextiva has ever featured, offering a fully unified voice and video communication experience.

The combination of Polycom’s superior audio and video quality combined with Nextiva’s user interface and extensive features are sure to increase the productivity of executives and call attendants alike. The VVX business media phones offer premium-quality desktop voice and video communications for organizations of all sizes and intuitive features designed for multitasking needs and growing offices.

The Polycom VVX 300, 400, 500 & 600

One of our favorite devices of this new series is the Polycom VVX 500. Featuring 12-lines and a gesture-based user interface, the VVX 500 is designed to make navigation intuitive and easy. Want to learn more? Check out the extensive list of features that the phone has to offer.

The Polycom VVX 500 is available for $249.95, but this month you can enter the Upgrade Your Office contest and win a desk phone makeover from Nextiva! To become the hero of your office, simply tweet a picture of the coolest, most exciting thing in your office to @Nextiva with the hashtag #MyAmazingOffice. Each Wednesday, we will pick a winner who will receive brand new Polycom VVX 500 phones for their entire office!

To learn about the full collection of Polycom VVX phones available from Nextiva, visit our VoIP Phones page.


5 Essential Skills to Hire For Customer Service

It’s always one of the most critical questions in any business. Do you hire based on specific skills or the candidate’s attitude and company culture fit?

When hiring for any customer service position, attitude is everything. Only an employee with the right attitude can come to work every day and truly help the customer service effort. In a survey, American Express revealed that the most successful customer service people have experience in the hospitality area (hotels, restaurant, and tourism). This type of industry experience encourages employees to build deeper relationships with customers. 

Most customers that call with a problem or question realize it may not be solved immediately. As a result, actual problem solving skills are not high on the hiring list. Instead, here are the skills that will enable employees to give the customers exactly what they really need for them to remain loyal to a company:

1. Courtesy. Throughout hundreds of individual calls and interactions with customers, can the employee remain courteous to each customer? The caller (emailer or social media poster) doesn’t care how many other customers the rep dealt with or if they are having a bad day. Can the employee set all this aside and treat this customer with the courtesy they deserve?

2. Focus. Does the employee have a proven ability to focus on a single task and follow it through to the end? Many customers complain that they constantly get passed around a company and have to explain an issue over and over again. When surveyed, this is always a very sore point for customers.

3. Empathy. Can the employee put themselves in the customer’s shoes even if they think they are wrong? Can they truly say, “I understand how you can see things that way”. When calling a company, empathy is what customers truly want in order to be satisfied.

4. Calm. Can the employee keep calm even when the customer gets angry and begins to shout? Many people have a tendency to mirror the other person’s reaction and ratchet up the emotion. This never leads to effective customer service. 

5. Improvise. Can they improvise and not just be robotic by following a script and standard practices? Can they recognize when an exception to the rules needs to be made? Can they see the bigger profit picture and offer what is best for the customer and the company?

At the interview, it is important to actually test for these skills through work simulations before an employee is hired for customer service. Are they able to remain courteous, focused and calm in the tested situation? Do they always show empathy in their responses?  Are they able to improvise?

Which skills does your company value in customer service?

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Barry Moltz gets small businesses unstuck. He is a small business motivational speaker, writer, and radio host. Barry can be found at www.barrymoltz.com


Nextiva Customer Success Story: 19th Ave. Dental Care

Last week, we met with Doctor Marc Kay, owner of Phoenix-based 19th Ave. Dental Care to chat about his office’s Nextiva phone service.  One of his practice’s most important commitments is delivering seamless, comfortable service, so we were thrilled to hear that Nextiva’s phone systems were able to help them increase patient satisfaction and overall efficiency.

Nextiva’s cloud-based phone systems offer dozens of benefits for medical practices, including:

  • The ability to swap calls between a desk phone and cell phone so that doctors can stay mobile while remaining connected
  • An auto attendant to act as an automated receptionist for patients while the office is closed
  • Call continuity in the rare case of a disaster
  • Call logging to view all incoming and outgoing calls for easy tracking of billing and appointments
  • A customized greeting message, professionally recorded by Nextiva for free
  • Shared line appearance so incoming calls ring directly to all of a doctor’s phones and front desk simultaneously

Dr. Kay’s staff has found automatic rerouting to be particularly useful in their office during everyday office hours and in cases of patient emergencies. Watch the full interview to see how Nextiva has helped 19th Ave Dental Care stay mobile and save money:




 
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