Posts Tagged ‘customer experience’


Customer Success Story: ABBOTT Engineering

We always enjoy meeting with Nextiva customers and recently had the pleasure of meeting the team at ABBOTT Engineering in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. ABBOTT Engineering is a full service HVAC and plumbing design firm that serves the greater San Diego area with building energy optimization, plumbing, humidification, engineering reports, and more.

Louis Abbott, President and CEO, told us about how his growing team of mechanical engineers uses Nextiva’s cloud phone service to keep in touch with contractors and clients. His business received multiple benefits from switching to a VoIP system, including:

  • Affordability– Previously, the team at ABBOTT had a single cordless phone that they passed throughout their 10-person office. Now, each employee is able to have their own desk phone at a price that the company can easily afford.
  • Scalability – Louis has enjoyed how easy it is to add new phone lines as his team continues to grow.  “All we have to do is just plug it in, and it works,” Louis says. “It caters towards growth.”
  • Advanced Features – Louis’s team enjoys utilizing Nextiva’s phone functions, especially voicemail-to-email and call forwarding so they can receive messages when out of the office (and on surf breaks!)
  • Accessible Customer Support – The ABBOTT team is able to reach out to the Nextiva support team whenever they have a question or issue so they can spend their day focusing on what they excel at: mechanical engineering.
  • Enhanced Company Image – The professional features and organized forwarding that Nextiva has put into place for the ABBOTT Engineering team has allowed their 10-person team to project the image of a larger company.

Meet Louis and hear his story:


Improve Your Company’s Customer Experience – By Thinking Like Steve Jobs

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

2-26 customer experience smallThis is a message that Steve Jobs would repeat, over and over and over. It means that the technology sold by Apple, or used by Apple in support of the customer experience, doesn't have to be invented at Apple. And the technology Apple has lying around at its disposal doesn’t have to end up being used.

A company like Apple, and perhaps yours, suffers from almost a surplus of technologically adept employees.  But Apple, when it is at its best (which isn't always, unfortunately), refuses to let technological capability drive the customer experience.  Siri, to pick just one small example, wasn’t developed at Apple.  It was envisioned at Apple after which Apple went on a hunt to see how their vision could be brought to life.

The Apple Store, to pick another example, was envisioned as the best customer experience anywhere (not just the best electronics retailing experience).  So Apple benchmarked its customer service not against Best Buy, not against Radio Shack.

Instead, in preparing to open the first Apple Store, Apple chose to benchmark a company in an entirely different industry, hospitality: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. From their study of the Ritz-Carlton, they developed the Genius Bar (a repurposing of the concierge station in the lobby of hotel: just like concierges at the Ritz, the Apple Genius Bar is staffed with empathetic, knowledgeable people who will, so to speak, help you get to where you want to go), as well as their very specific approach to greeting customers as they enter the Apple Store.

Apply this to your own business situation

Obviously, Apple is a unique company, with a unique historical and financial position.  But there is a practical entrepreneurial lesson here: Think about how different your customer experience could be if you channeled Steve Jobs’ "first things first" attitude and made it integral to your customer experience approach.  A couple examples that might apply to your business:

  • What if you didn’t force customers to suffer through your use of the (probably obsolete) CRM technology you have in house, but instead reconsidered what it would take to actually create the experience you want to provide for customers?
  • What if you didn’t surrender responsibility for your social media interactions with customers to those in your company who are most technically adept at social media, but instead kept it firmly under the reins of the people who are truly your long-time customer service experts, with, of course, the helpful support of the above-mentioned technocrats?
  • What if you picked up the doggone phone and called your customer (telephones are fantastic technology, albeit often poorly used by business) when that's the most direct way to resolve a customer issue, rather than thinking you need to sit back and hopelessly watch a simple customer issue escalate via twitter, email, and live chat?

Nextiva Launches Zendesk-Integrated App

Nextiva and Zendesk have created the best customer experience. Ever.

Your two favorite business tools have joined forces for an enhanced customer experience! Integrate your Nextiva cloud phone system with your Zendesk console to increase team efficiency, functionality, and productivity. The best part? The app is FREE to all Nextiva users who rely on Zendesk for their customer service needs. 

Nextiva App for Zendesk - large

Key Features:

  • Make and receive calls through the Zendesk console
  • Identify the customer as soon as an inbound call is received
  • Automatically generate tickets for new customers
  • Instantly look up information for existing customers
  • Reduce wait time associated with looking up record history

For more information about the Nextiva App for Zendesk and how to install the app on your Zendesk console, click here.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: What Customer Service Benchmarks Should Your E-commerce Business Measure?

2-24 e-commerce customer service smallWhat type of customer service benchmarks should your ecommerce business be hitting? The E-Tailing Group’s 17th Annual Mystery Shopping Study has some insights. The survey, conducted at the end of 2014, studied 100 top retail websites for their best practices. When it comes to customer service, these are the benchmarks used and how you can incorporate them in your business:

Self-service information

What type of self-service information is available on your website? How easy is it to find? How comprehensive is it? If there is a lot of information, is it categorized properly or searchable?

Of the 100 retailers surveyed, 83 percent have FAQs on-site. However, only 26 percent offer the ability to search FAQs. Surprisingly, the percentage of sites that list customer service hours of operation dropped from 83 percent in 2013 to 77 percent in 2014. This is the type of basic information every business should include on its website.

Online shopping cart

How easy is your shopping cart to use and edit? Is make-or-break information such as shipping costs and taxes presented before the end of the process? Can the customer save key information (shipping addresses, etc.) securely?

Top-rated retailers enable customers to checkout with five or fewer total steps/screens to fill out. Nearly all of the retailers (98 percent) now offer the ability to pre-populate the customer profile in the shopping cart so shoppers can check out faster. In addition, half have enabled one-click checkout.

As more consumers are browsing and buying on different devices, the “universal” shopping cart (which can be accessed from any device) is now offered by 82 percent of the top retailers, up from 73 percent in 2013. Another desirable feature: 65 percent of top retailers allow shoppers to move items from the shopping cart to a “wish list” or “buy later” list, up from 54 percent in 2013.

Days to receive ordered products

How long does it take to receive orders? What types of shipping options do you offer and for what prices?

Top retailers in the survey average delivery in 3.42 days, a slight improvement over 3.8 days in 2013.

Order confirmations

How quickly do you provide order confirmations? What information do they contain? How easy is it to adjust or cancel an order after receiving confirmation?

Some 81 percent of e-tailers include customer service phone numbers in their order confirmation emails, up from 77 percent in 2013.

Quality of and response times for email/call center customer service queries

How quickly are emails/calls answered? What are average hold times at the call center? How many times is the average customer placed on hold or transferred during a customer service call?

The top retailers not only answer email questions within 24 hours, but also include a personalized salutation and content.

Return policy

How easy are returns? If you have a brick-and-mortar store as well as an ecommerce site, can customers return online purchases in-store? Is there a charge for returns or are shipping costs covered?

Two-thirds of retailers now have one, uniform return policy for both online and offline purchases. Retailers are also adding convenience to the online return process by providing prepaid return shipping labels—64 percent of sites provide these, up from 59 percent in 2013.

By monitoring these benchmarks and continually seeking to improve upon them, your business can reach new levels of customer service success.


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Nella Law Group

Cloud-based phone systems can benefit all types of office environments by bringing companies reduced costs and enhanced features. Nextiva serves over 100,000 businesses across the country, including thousands of law firms. We understand how critical it is, in particular for lawyers, to be able to handle clients’ calls properly every time.

Our latest Customer Success Story spotlight features Nella Law Group, a boutique law firm in Los Angeles that helps small and mid-sized businesses with their legal needs. We met with Rahsaana Allen, founding and managing attorney of Nella Law Group, to find out more about her team’s experience with Nextiva’s phone service.

“Prior to Nextiva, I had the standard Verizon basic business plan. It was very expensive and it didn’t offer a lot of flexibility,” Rahsaana explained. “I did a lot of research into what voiceover IP company I wanted to go with…Nextiva stood out from the pack.” Her team and clients are now able to experience:

  • Accelerate client response time – It’s impossible to be in the office 24/7, but features such as Voicemail-to-Email allow Rahsaana to receive messages any time, from any place.
  • Reduce monthly expenses – “I’m able to offer my clients a much more competitive legal rate,” explained Rahsaana. One of the greatest benefits of VoIP service is a bundled flat monthly fee.
  • Eliminate answering service – Multiple Call Recording options allow the Nella Law Firm team to ensure that clients are able to reach the right line every single time, whether they’re dialing an extension or main number.
  • Increase billing accuracy – Rahsaana can easily access phone records from the customer dashboard to review phone recordings and read call history reports to ensure an accurate client bill.
  • Boost productivity – Rahsaana’s team can now instantly swaps calls from one device to another with no hang-ups or hold time, allowing them to remain mobile throughout the day.
  • Improve client relations – The Nextiva dashboard lets the Nella Law Firm team access reports that show call trends that can affect staffing and other business decisions.

Meet Rahsaana and hear her story here:

Time is money for a business, especially for law firms. We understand that efficiency and productivity are a key to maximizing the time small business owners have to serve their customers. Give us a call at 800.799.0600 to chat with us about what phone system and features could best benefit your business!


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Measure and Use Net Promoter Scores

2-17 promoter score smallHow loyal are customers to your business? How likely are they to recommend your products and services to others? Doing a Net Promoter Score survey (NPS) can help you get the answers to these questions quickly and take action to build more customer loyalty.

The Net Promoter Score survey was developed by Bain & Company and works like this: You ask customers one simple question: How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? and have users answer on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 means not at all likely and 10 means definitely likely.

The test is scored this way:

  • Promoters” are loyal customers who keep buying from a company and urge friends to do the same (scores of 9 and 10)
  • “Passives” (scores of 7 and 8) are satisfied customers, but are also at risk of being wooed away by your competitors.
  • “Detractors” (scores of 6 or under) are dissatisfied and at risk of spreading negative word-of-mouth about your company.

To find your Net Promoter Score, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. The resulting percentage is your score. For instance, a company with 40 percent Promoters and 10 percent Detractors has an NPS of 30 percent.  Any NPS over zero is good; an NPS of 50 percent or more is considered excellent.

In order to make your Net Promoter Score survey effective:

Deliver the survey at the right time. It needs to taken sent soon enough after the customer experience that customers remember it, but not so soon that they haven’t gotten to use the product or service yet.

Include room for open-ended follow-up. After the single question, include an optional section on your survey for additional comments:

  • Please tell us what you like or don’t like about our company.
  • Would you like to be contacted to discuss this?
  • Name/Phone Number/Email

This gives customers who are unhappy with you space to “vent” about what they didn’t like, as well as to be heard.

Take action on both Detractors and Promoters. Promoters are much more likely to be loyal to your business, buy more from your business and prove more profitable to your business. Use tactics such as:

  • Offering them loyalty rewards
  • Offering rewards for referring a new customer
  • Upselling additional related products and services

Detractors, meanwhile, are likely to badmouth your business, so do your best to change what they’re unhappy about. If a Detractor asks to be contacted, do so immediately! Positive outreach can turn Detractors into Promoters.

Share results with your team. Let your staff know your business’s NPS as well as any specific praise or criticism that customers share in the survey. By doing so, you can help them improve customer service and overall performance.


Refreshing Your Customer Service Experience (Without Losing Your Core Identity)

2-12 hotel guest checking in small

Once you've initially succeeded in interesting your customers in your brand, once you've succeeded in pleasing them with your customer experience and customer service, you need to work on keeping their interest by adding clues and cues to the plot.

Any meaningful service, any meaning customer experience will start to grow stale over time. Service signatures, scripted interactions, and product offerings that delighted customers at first will get copied, replicated, and bastardized over time. They'll lose their intended meaning (Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company's signature phrase, “My pleasure,” for instance, has lost some of its freshness now that you can get a $2.99 rendition of it from a server at —I kid you not—Chik Fil A. This has led Ritz-Carlton to  change up its language of late to keep it fresh and authentic, authenticity being a key attribute that Ritz-Carlton is striving for in its revamped modern-day hotel brand.)

And, of course, design and product offerings will get stale and tired. What's fabulous to a customer on visit one will be "fine but nothing new" on visit five.  And, especially in this era of intensive and friction-free social sharing, you need something fresh, something, literally, to write or tweet home about, to tantalize your customer.

Retelling a story too many times

Retail is perhaps the most ruthless of businesses in the extent that customers are expecting change–regular seasonal changes and special holiday revamps. Restaurants can also feel stale after a few visits and need new menu items, a fresh cocktail list, or new art on the wall to keep customers engaged and coming back from visit to visit, and after three-ish years, most restaurants need a major overhaul to stay successful. The same is true to only a slightly lesser extent for many other service businesses.

For a business to stay relevant, it needs to be relentlessly reinventing itself, including its once cutting-edge practices. A friend of mine described to me his reaction to the practice at Nordstrom of coming from behind the counter to hand you your shopping bag. “This was pretty cool the first five times or so. Around the sixth time, it became annoying; it just seemed like they were slowing me down for the sake of their internal ceremony.” And I’ve seen a similar loss of love for the once-fresh idea of printing a guest’s name on a menu at a destination restaurant. The first time you see this by your plate, you're undoubtedly amazed. The third time, you’re bored and ready for a new trick.

Businesses need to realize the shelf life of any such scripted or quickly-expected service interactions and change it when the expiration date hits. To keep today’s customers coming back a business needs to constantly improve, update, and appropriately add to its line of products or services –on a schedule faster than ever before.

"Freshen the guest experience without changing its core identity"–Patrick O'Connell

On the other hand, change for change's  sake is very, very hazardous.  Because the goal of customer service and the customer experience isn't buzz–it's loyalty; it's repeat business that keeps you alive. So while it's true that customers seek innovation from the companies they frequent, if a company only invests in change, then how can a customer remain loyal–what, to put it bluntly, is left for them to be loyal to? So there’s a tension to navigate between innovation and maintaining quality through tradition.

In an interview I just did with the celebrated restaurateur and innkeeper Patrick O'Connell – proprietor of the Inn At Little Washington and President of Relais And Chateaux – Chef O'Connell puts this well: “Cultivating loyalty is a tricky business. It requires maintaining a rigorous level of consistency while constantly adding newness and a little surprise—freshening the guest experience without changing its core identity.”


The Customer Service Speed Trap

2-6 stop watch smallI finding myself carrying on quite often about the need to speed up customer service and the customer experience, because customer expectations for speed of service have become so frenzied. This is thanks to mobile and amazon.com and Starbucks, and is a phenomenon that’s even more intense among the important millennial generation of customers. (Born 1980-2000, Millennials are the biggest generation in history. And they've never known a world without a smartphone.)

But there's a speed trap here, so to speak, and I want to encourage you to be aware of it: In most business contexts you should be equally leery of sacrificing the customer's experience due to some enforced speed march. What you will find–and what you should emulate– is how the companies most cognizant of time are also the ones who allow time for lingering, for connection. Which is the approach you should take as well.

Take Starbucks, since they are such a paragon of consistent timeliness. Even though Starbucks spends a lot of time measuring and improving how well they match their customers’ speed expectations—delivering a custom (truly from scratch) beverage in a matter of minutes—they don’t let the need for speed suck the life out of the Starbucks experience.

In fact, they go in the other direction: They want the world to linger with them over coffee. Everything is designed to facilitate this lingering, which puts them right on track to please the millennial generation (as well as the rest of us). In spite of their penchant for mobile and online socializing, customers today also yearn for face-to-face interaction and collaboration—from their peers and, often, from your more empathetic employees. All of which takes time and the allowance of time.  

Customers today want the stupid, transactional stuff to take less time, less of their time. They want to wave their phones and have their purchase paid for, but they want the meaningful parts of the customer experience to take more time, or at least better time.

Think about Apple, specifically the Apple Stores: When you're face to face with the genius, you want the breathing room to state your problem, to understand the solution. No rush, thank you very much, now that I've driven across town to meet with you. But you do want to be able to pre-schedule that meeting, and you do want to be able to pay and leave without a lick of paperwork or delay.  Getting this dance just right is the sign of a master approach to respecting the customers' time, and it can be a real competitive advantage. 


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Austin Cake Ball

Part of our goal at Nextiva is to ensure your phone system is optimized so that you can focus on providing great service to your clients and customers this holiday season.

We’re always eager to hear feedback about our system and service, which is why we love to meet face-to-face with customers to hear their candid opinions about Nextiva. Our Customer Success Story series has taken us across the country to speak with small business owners in a variety of industries, and we are excited to introduce you to our first restaurant spotlight: Austin Cake Ball.

Texas-based Austin Cake Ball resides within Copper Restaurant & Dessert Lounge just north of the city in The Domain shopping center. Diners can satisfy their sweet tooth with a full menu of bite-sized cake balls, in addition to the full dining and cocktail menu that the restaurant has available.  The holiday season means that Austin Cake Ball expands their menu from classic options such as chocolate, red velvet, salted caramel, and Oreo to include festive flavors like pumpkin spice and white chocolate peppermint. In addition to shoppers dropping in from the nearby shops, the restaurant receives a steady stream of dining reservations and cake ball to-go orders – especially in the fall and winter months.

Austin Cake Ball Office Manager, Christi Greene, explained why their business decided to switch to Nextiva, “Before we used Nextiva it was extremely frustrating; we would unfortunately hear stories of people not being able to connect to us and our business.” And those were only the stories that Christi’s team heard – how many other potential customers had they lost because phone calls weren’t coming through?

Anticipating high volumes of bakeshop custom orders and restaurant reservations over the holidays, Christi looked to other business phone solutions so that their phone communications wouldn’t be hindered. “When folks reach out to us via telephone, it’s essential that we’re there to answer the call and that they don’t get a busy signal,” Christi says. Nextiva was able to give her team this peace of mind.

“With our Nextiva service, I know that our guests and clients are able to reach us, make their reservation or place an order and receive great information,” explained Christi. “Our phone system is our lifeline to the outside world.”

Meet Christi and hear her story here:




 
Nextiva Logo

phone-icon Sales phone-icon Support
Nextiva is the leader in Business VoIP Services. Copyright 2015 Nextiva, All Rights Reserved,
Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Patents, Sitemap