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How Quality Assurance Can Help Manage Your Team

How Quality Assurance Can Help Manage Your Team

It really doesn't matter if you work in or around customer service, in a contact centre, or maybe in sales. When it comes down to it, nearly every job relates to customer service - everything we do is to help provide a good service to someone else.

We're all constantly searching for improvements and ways to make our jobs easier, whilst at the same time, producing better results.

If only those "Get Rich Quick" emails weren't scams...

When you don't know who your next customer is going to be, it can feel like a raffle to see who gets the next insane customer. Even when your team is going above and beyond excellent, you just need one bad day (or call) to hurt your company's reputation.

So let's see what can be done to minimise the chances of these situations happening!

1. The Importance of Customer Opinions

Discovering ways to progress your company can become difficult after a while - that's when we need to turn to our customers!

When we speak about trying to have not just good, but great customer service, it's important to analyse the small pieces of the puzzle that don't fit perfectly. Checking every piece of the puzzle (your companies' interactions) can be slow and exhausting, and the time and resources expended could be used in better areas.

That's where customers can help - but how? It's pretty straightforward, really.

Ask them for help!

Simple as that. Sometimes we try to overthink things, and forget that some more established strategies that have worked wonders still do just that.

So, we should keep using them. One of the best actions that you can take is to ask the customer for their opinion. Why do they like it? What makes it unique? What could have been done better?

To gain a better understanding, it is helpful to use Benchmark Surveys. Doing so creates a better understanding of your key areas, highlighting what needs improvement. It is recommended to do this periodically to see your progress and evolution.

Now you have an overall idea of your business from a customers' perspective. However, you'd be right in thinking that it doesn't show every error, and how you could solve it. This is where the second step begins:

Customer Feedback and Opinions

2. Get Feedback For Every Interaction

Customers shape their opinions of a company based on all the interactions they have with it. They might have received an excellent product, but even the slightest fault in communication with staff can ruin the whole experience.

The opposite can also happen. Excellent customer service can turn around the disappointment created from a poor product.

Do you have the confidence that all of your staff can do the latter?

To find out for yourself, you could listen to every communication your staff have with customers, but the amount of time that it would take would be counterintuitive. That sort of job is far better suited for a robot as opposed to a human - there are better ways to spend your day.

In an ideal world, you should only have to be alerted to customer feedback that is below your standards, or that suggests they've had an 'above and beyond' experience.

You never know when this may happen, so it's important to have the ability to collect feedback after every interaction, whether it be an email, call, letter, or even a video chat.

This is where Cxceed can help, making it easy to automate these repetitive, tedious steps. It collects your customer opinions by automatically sending out feedback requests, as frequently as you like. Through this feedback and our AI, you will only see the interactions that need reviewing - from the poorest performing that will show you the areas to improve on, to the best interactions which show where you need to be.

3. Evaluate With The Team

Now you have all the information, it's time to act on it. In this step, you and your team will evaluate the highlighted communications.

How Can You Get The Most Out Of Evaluating?

Establish rules and be impartial with your team

Biased evaluations will make all your previous effort worthless, so it's vital to ensure every agent is singing from the same hymn sheet. It's unlikely that everyone will achieve this straight away, but it's part of the learning process.

After a handful of calibration sessions, you'll begin to see things move in the right direction, with closer matching scores. This will make you achieve results, whilst helping your staff understand that it is not a personal attack - making them more cooperative.

Offer transparency and be open to communication

The rules for evaluation should not be a secret document kept locked away in the office. They should be an open statement for everyone to know what you are expecting from them when evaluating.

Listen to what everyone has to say because you never know who is going to come out with the next brilliant idea. Two heads are better than one, after all.

A transparent work-environment is more likely to be a happy one, with negativity unable to hide around corners. Happier employees work better, and want success just as much as you do!

 

 

Personalised coaching and training

The way to change bad behaviours and encourage good ones is by training, coaching and giving feedback. For this, it is important to bear in mind that "one lesson for all" is one of the worst approaches that can be taken.

Instead, the best practice is to personalise what each individual should focus on to improve. You may decide to separate your teams into groups, based on experience or skill.

Doing so means you don't leave anyone behind because it's too advance, or have employees using toothpicks to keep their eyes open due to how easy it is.

Make feedback one of your daily tasks

While a big, in-depth training session can be very useful to help your employees to improve their performance, short, daily feedback can be equally or even more useful.

As training could happen every X number of months, keeping a constant flow of feedback to your employees will be crucial. It will be essential to notice the strength and flaws of your employees in a timely manner, so you can solve any small daily issues that could help them to improve.

Waiting months to address an issue is just asking for trouble!

Don't focus on the negatives

Sometimes when agents know the service they provide is going to be checked, it can make them feel overstressed and pressured.

Is there anything more worrying than knowing someone is on the lookout for any and every mistake you make?

That's why it is important to not just bombard them with things which can be improved, but also point out when they have done a good job and practice positive reinforcement.

Of course, don't go too over the top or you run the risk of sounding sarcastic!

The Wrap Up

There are many steps that you can do to improve your business, one of which is implementing a quality assurance software.

Cxceed will help you to get inside your customer's minds and highlight the positives and things to improve on when delivering a service to your clients. If you want to make the changes that will make a difference to your business, without spending hours searching for it, you can!

Read more about Cxceed here, or get started today.

Adapting Customer Service

The Importance of Adapting Your Customer Experience To Build Customer Relationships

Maybe the title should read "Why you need to adapt your customer experience to build customer relationships, or your business will fail miserably like the rest before you". But that's a bit too long, and not quite as catchy...

It is true though. If businesses don't adapt the customer service and experience provided to suit their customers, they fail.

It's not as simple as copying and pasting methods used by competitors.

Why?

No two businesses are the same. If everyone's business was the same, everyone would struggle.

Look at the most successful companies in the world: Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google to name a few. What do they all have in common? They offer a better customer experience than the rest of their competitors, for now, anyway.

They all understand the importance of their customers, so they've adapted to suit them.

The best way to understand customers is undoubtedly through building customer relationships. But if it's really that simple, then why do so many companies alienate their target audience?

How they act, how they see your brand, how they interact with you - It's all-important in customer relationship marketing.

Some companies decide to play a personality-less approach when replying to their customers. But playing it safe, is hardly going to make you stand out. Companies that decide to change up the customer experience, often on social media, can build stronger customer relationships than those who don't.

What Is Adapting In The World Of Customer Experience?

Every business is different, and so are their customers. You can't put square pegs in round holes, and the same applies to the customer service plan and the overall experience provided.

There are some excellent customer service teams out there, especially on social media, as we'll see later on. Whether they're serious with robotic-like, immediate responses, or have a bit of fun with their customers, the best companies are in tune with their audience and know what they want from them.

It's not viable for every business to copy and paste the same method when interacting with customers. It's almost impossible to build a relationship with customers doing this. Be the type of company that you and your customers want you to be. Don't try to be another company; be better than them!

There's nothing wrong with being serious and safe, but will it give you the competitive edge you desire? Sometimes, but most times it will not.

What Is A Customer Relationship?

The 'Customer Relationship' is the ongoing relationship between the company and a customer, and is often measured by their customer satisfaction levels.

It's developed through customer service, marketing communications, sales support as well as any other communication a company may have with the customer.

Why Should You Adapt?

Every customer base is different, so it only makes sense to communicate with them all differently. With this in mind, it's a bad idea to generalise your consumer base just because you are similar to another brand.

Sure, a lot of different types of people may interact with your brand, but what do they all have in common? If you can find what it is, then you can find the common ground on how you can effectively interact with them.

Once the style of communication is figured out, it's time to build customer relationships - but with all things in life, it's an ever-changing, on-going process.

It's a good idea to tinker with the way you deliver your messages; some will be a success, some will fall flat. Be prepared to fail, and you'll succeed as the saying goes.

The best customer service is adapted and tailored to the customer's needs, demands, and attitudes. Since they are ever-changing, you should be too.

Some companies can get away with giving an unpersonalised experience, which is fine, but others can't; especially those in a niche market, with a smaller audience.

Don't Go Charging In!

Be warned, though! If you do decide to go for a more personal approach, it is ESSENTIAL to ensure that the tone and language you use matches the customer's expectations.

If one minute you're plain Jane because your customers want this approach, and the next you've turned into a sarcastic, meme-fuelled account, they will be baffled (and probably annoyed).

If they're not into what is being posted, or providing, they'll be put off the company altogether.

So, how do you move on from the boring copy and paste customer experience provided? What better way to learn than from those who've done it best?

1. dbrand: Taking Sassy Customer Service To A New Level

When you know how your customers' act, it becomes easy to align your brand's personality to match theirs.
Everyone loves something they can relate to.

Have a look at dbrand's Twitter account, for example. They are masters when it comes to interacting with their audience.

So, how do you move on from the boring copy and paste customer experience provided? What better way to learn than from those who've done it best?

dbrand reply on Twitterdbrand Twitter advert

Can you image other brands getting away with this level of sass?

Put it this way; I'd be shocked if Virgin Media suddenly called me fat. However, with dbrand, it's funny, and it's what their customers have come to expect from them.

There are some even ruder replies to customers, although we decided not to include them in the photo list.

How Do They Get Away With It?

Because they understand their audience, plain and simple! Look at the replies, likes, and favourites they get; everyone loves it!

Thanks in part to showing their 'don't give a s**t attitude' side to their brand on social media, their audience has continued to grow.

Their customers are meme-loving, sarcastic millennials (or Generation Z's); so dbrand get to send borderline abusive messages to their customers, yet they love it! It's a win-win for everyone!

With over 1.5 million followers on Twitter, they must be doing something right, and, every time someone retweets or favourites their sarcastic response, more people see it. Genius.

2. Greggs: A Bakery That's Self Aware

To some extent, Greggs has become a joke (but a very successful one). They've become an iconic and a household name in the UK.

But it's not always been like this; I remember earlier marketing strategies from Greggs being very serious. Since the Greggs 'rebirth', they've taken a different approach to the customer experience they provide, mainly on social media.

Whether you like their baked goods or not, they know how to laugh at themselves.

Those who love Greggs really love it. It's become a staple in the British economy, so why not play on it?

Greggs Being a MemeGreggs and Jeremy Clarkson

All hail the mighty sausage roll! (Vegan options also available).

Greggs became aware of their iconic status amongst UK culture, grabbed it, and ran!

3. IKEA: A Day Out

Stepping out of the online world, let's take a look at IKEA.

Simply put, IKEA is a furniture store, but it has become far more than that.

The Swedish company quickly realized that their customers didn't just want a bog-standard store - they wanted an experience.

You don't merely spend 10 minutes in IKEA; you spend hours! All that walking around and shopping gives people an appetite; so they introduced cafes!

Perfect, the customer can spend as long as they want in the well-thought-out store, safe with the knowledge they can have a stop for a bite to eat and a drink halfway through.

IKEA: Sofa and a Snack

As they've strived to improve the customer service they provide, they've introduced features like children's play centers. More recently (well, starting around six years ago), they released a phone app so customers can see what furniture looks like in a room before they buy it!

Now, if we do switch our attention to their social media channels, you'll notice it is a lot more serious than the previous two companies.

This is because customers only interact with IKEA online for product and purchase inquiries or complaints.

IKEA on Twitter

Their real, unique customer experience is in-store, and everybody knows that. After all, IKEA is known for its stores, not their social media accounts!

A perfect example of a company not trying to be something they're not.

4. Trello: Not Just Another Automated Reply

Trello is all about making life easier for you and your team. If you haven’t heard of them, they offer an online work space in which colleagues can manage anything from small tasks to big projects.

Not only do they want to make your life easier, but they’re not ashamed of how they make their life easier – through automation.

When you apply for a job with Trello, they don’t try trick you into thinking you’re getting a personalised response from the top dog, or send you the boring, standard “Thank you for your application. You will hear back from us soon”.

Have a quick read of part of the email they send you (whilst it may not be strictly customer service, it’s still something we should take note of:

"Hurrah! We have received your job application. At least, we think it’s yours. It is possible that someone who thinks very highly of you is forwarding around your resume while pretending to be you. That’s not a bad thing, is it?

In any case, this is an automatic email, sent by a mindless robot, to let you know that we’re absolutely thrilled that you would be interested in working for Trello. We’re very honored.
Even though this is an automatic email, it’s not the usual blah blah, so please read on!

First of all—what to expect? Well, it may take a week or ten days (or even three or four as our volume of applications have increased) before a developer gets around to reviewing your application. We’re a small company, and to be honest sometimes eating lunch seems more important than reviewing resumes. But we will assure you that a real live human being, not an automated computer zapper program, will review your application carefully, and only after drinking plenty of coffee and getting lots of sleep and exercise, and under no circumstances will we reject your application because you lack ten years of experience in a technology that was invented only last year."

What’s not to love about this email? It’s honest, it’s funny, and it’s totally different to any other application response I’ve ever received or sent. Before you even talk to anyone about the job, you feel like you’re friends with them – this isn’t just another corporate, cold company. This is a company you could go for a beer with at the pub.

Even if I didn’t get the job, I’d be happy I just got to see the email they sent me!

The Take-Away

The moral of the story? Understand your audience before you attempt to build-up customer relationships.

It may sound a fun idea to go for an approach similar to dbrand, or even Greggs, but be careful before you do! This is not guaranteed to work for every company and can do a lot more harm than good if executed poorly.

Making a competitive advantage for your company can be hard enough; so don't give yourself a disadvantage. Analyze your business, look at your audience, carefully test, repeat.

No matter how much you want to make jokes and poke fun on your social media account, sometimes the IKEA approach is best. Keep it simple online, and create the real difference in-store.

So how can you start to understand what your customers think of the service you provide? By straight-up asking them!

Cxceed automatically sends out benchmark surveys and feedback requests so you can keep a close eye on how satisfied your customers are with the customer experience you provide.

Why not check it out, and start improving your customer service today!

Have anything to add or want to start a conversation about one of the points raised? Leave a comment down below!

Improve Your Business Today

Discover how Cxceed can help improve your customer experience and boost your profit. 

customer service technology

How Has Technology Changed Customer Service?

Technology is ever-evolving and with it, brings changes to the way businesses and their customers interact with each other. It's getting to the point where humans no longer want to speak to other humans. Some may call it misanthropy (the hate of other humans), I just call it sick of speaking to people who can't or won't do their job properly.

I think we can all agree that technology when done correctly, is more efficient than a human ever will be. There’s a strong correlation between the growth of technology and customer expectations, and as technology advances, so to do customer's demands.

But, is this a good or bad thing? Well, I guess it depends on how up-to-date the company is with the latest gizmos, widgets, or whatever other funny names are used. Companies that are ‘old-fashioned’ in their operations will start to notice their more 'hip', up-to-date competitors over take them in both customer satisfaction levels and as a result, the number of actual customers.

What Is The Role Of Technology In Customer Service?

In customer service, technology is used to increase the speed and efficiency of customer interactions.

Customer service technology trends have allowed companies to provide a more personalised experience, and save money. Although some companies have reduced costs considerably and also lowered the standard of service they provide to customers.

Rather than waiting hours on the phone, or days for a reply to an email, customers can make instant communication through the use of live chats or social media interaction. If you're lucky, the reason for your call can all be solved in an instant, thanks to these technological advancements.

What Is Customer Service Technology?

Customer service technology can range from having multi-channel communications, to using software to manage your customer database. It's any form of technology used to aid and enhance the customer experience you deliver.

From a manager's perspective it makes complete sense. Why have an error-prone, slow human to tell your customer something (that might not even be right), when you can use technology to personalize your message to the individual and do it instantly? It's nothing personal, people are just impatient.

Everyone wants their issues or requests to be dealt with quickly, and companies adopting customer service technology, achieve this every day.

The rise of technology might mean our robot-overlords will take over and enslave humanity, but at least the customer service will be excellent.

How Does Technology Affect Customer Value?

Technology can impact every aspect of the customer experience, whether it be placing an order, asking for help, or wanting to make a complaint. It adds value to the experience, helping the customer throughout their journey with the company.

So, just how has technology impacted the customer service industry? Let's take a look:

You're a Self-Serving Technical Wizard

No, I don't mean the kind of self-service you have at Tesco or Walmart, where you get teh infuritating 'unknown item in the bagging area' ringing out everytime you scan an item.

Instead, we're talking about the kind of self-service that results in you fixing your own issue. You may have experienced this already.

Have you ever had a problem with your internet, and you’ve been able to press a reset button on your router or computer to fix it? Self-service!

When it works, you don’t half feel good - you’ve fixed the internet yourself. Technical wizard. Everyone will be so impressed.

Not only this, but the likes of banks are taking advantage of technology. Transferring money, checking balances, cancelling direct debits, and even cashing in cheques - all can be done from a phone or laptop! The added ease of use is bringing customer satisfaction levels up, and is beneficial to both parties. 

Soon we may never have to leave the house or talk to another human again.

The Robots Are Taking Over!

Whatever you call them, chatbots, webchats or live chats aim to remove the need for an agent. They’ve already been around for a while, and can be hit and miss. Customers are often left annoyed as they are asked the same question 100 different ways to get the right answer.

Currently, though, chatbots are great at dealing with the simple requests like “What time are you open?” or “How long does delivery take?” Basically anything that can be found on the companies website, but we're too lazy to search for.

As technology advances, so to will the artificial intelligence (AI) for these chatbots. IBM believes that by the end of 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be handled without the need for a human agent.

Smart robots will be able to take over the world while helping us with any problems we have along the way... how kind of them.

Robots taking over

AI Creates More Time for the Human Touch

As robots deal with more customers, human agents have more time to deal with more complex, personal requests and complaints.

Workloads can be reduced, not having to deal with the same monotonous problems. When this is the case, you can get the more critical issues dealt with, and your customers will be happier.

There's the added bonus that if your agents don’t have to be stressed out dealing with hundreds of customers, they’ll be happier in their job. Happy agents produce a better customer experience - that's a fact.

Don't Allow Social Media Fails to Lose You Business

I doubt companies would have ever thought about handling a customer complaint via the likes of Twitter and Instagram a few years ago. Now, however, it’s becoming more and more common.

The advancement of technology means customers are online all the time - usually on social media. Whatever the latest gadget a customer uses to log in to Facebook, or other social media sites, it’s another point of access that customers can raise issues on. No longer do you have to wait till you get home to leave a complaint; you can let them know as it’s happening! You can even tweet a company from the family fridge (no, seriously!)

As the ability to complain becomes easier and the audience gets bigger, businesses have to pay much closer attention to their social media accounts to deal with complaints.

Customer Service Is The Defining Factor

Advancements in technology allow more and more businesses to produce high quality, homogeneous (similar) products. As these products get more and more alike, there are two defining factors when choosing which you want to buy: price and customer experience.

Price can play a significant role, especially if there is a big gap between what’s on offer. Having said that, customers still often believe that a lower price means inferior quality, even if it’s the exact same product.

For products which are similar in terms of price and quality, it comes down to the customer experience you provide. The better the service you provide, the higher your review scores are likely to be. The better your reviews are, the more trustworthy you appear to customers.

When yours and your competitors products similar to a customer, they are more likely to go with the company that they believe will offer them the best service.

A Tailored Experience at Your Fingertips

Have you noticed that more and more online adverts are becoming personalised towards your needs? No longer do you receive adverts for children’s toys and clothes if you’re a single male living alone (if you do then what you get up to in your spare time is your own business).

Instead, you’ll be shown adverts that are based on your preferences. The wonders of data collection! Nothing is private anymore, not even the size of your pants (I only get a bigger size for comfort, okay?).

While this may creep out the more paranoid of us, it’s enhancing our customer experience. You’re thinking about buying some new trainers, and as if by magic, the latest shoes from Nike or Adidas appear all over your Facebook feed.

It's not all bad, the more companies know about you, the more they can tailor their support and what they offer to meet your needs. After all, the ultimate customer service is one that matches the customer's every need, even before they know it themselves!

Facebook on phone

Expanding Your Customer Service Toolbox

Gone are the days of call centers being able to get away with just offering phone call support. Progressive businesses have been expanding their customer service toolbox to build multi-channel or omnichannel experiences in an attempt to strengthen their relationships with customers.

As markets get more competitive, a business must be able to support their services over any medium. Whether it be mobile, social media, live chats, or even video calling, customers expect businesses to be able to recognise them across all channels.

As more and more companies begin to offer an omnichannel experience, this further raises customer expectations. If you can’t provide live chat but your competitor can, then you’re at an immediate disadvantage.

If you’re really interested about the omnichannel model, you can read about it on our blog dedicated to it!

Technology Changes, But One Thing Won't

Technology can change as much as it likes, but one critical point still remains: you need to know what you’re doing well, and not so well. How do you go about doing this? By asking your customers!

Cxceed makes it simple to receive feedback from your customers, to gain a better insight into the specific interactions they are having with you and analyze what you can improve. This information can then be used to enhance the customer experience you provide by further targeting the areas that need improving.

Cxceed has a whole host of features to help improve your business, which you can see here.

So, It's Wise to Embrace Technology!

While it may seem a bit of a hassle to get your head around the latest programs and trends, it’s well worth doing. It’s easy to take technology for granted. Without it though, any company would struggle to stay competitive - no matter how good their product is.

Of course, this is only how technology has changed the way customer service has evolved up to now. Who knows what the future holds, but businesses should embrace it, and try to be proactive, rather than always playing catch-up.

So, how has technology impacted the way you deliver your customer experience? Let us know in the comment section!

Improve Your Business Today

Discover how Cxceed can help improve your customer experience and boost your profit. 

feature image

Effective Employee Engagement Tactics

Effective Employee Engagement Tactics

Having employee engagment in the workplace is vital, and its importance cannot be stressed enough. As a famous (and very successful) man once said, "Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."

It was Richard Branson if you were wondering and he's not done too badly for himself, so it might be wise to take note!

Employees that feel looked after and needed will be more engaged in the workplace.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment a member of staff has with their organisation.

When they have this engagement, they see the workplace as more than just a place that pays them. They want the best for the organisation and will work hard to ensure the goals are met.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

The end result of increasing employee engagement isn't just about keeping workers happy (although, this should be a big focus!). It's about improving efficiency and profitability for the company.

A recent study showed that employers experienced an increase in profitability by around 21% when their employees felt more engaged. Imagine being able to turn £1,000,000 into £1,210,000 just by making your employees more engaged.

There are much harder ways to increase profits that's for sure. No matter the size of your company, this percentage is a huge improvement and highlights the importance of employee engagement.

How Does This Increase Happen?

It could have something to do with employees working 4.6 times harder when they feel their voices are heard, or disengaged employees costing organizations up to $550 billion a year. It could also be down to nearly two-thirds of workforces feeling burned out due to their employer's practices.

I'm not just throwing random numbers at you here for the sake of it. Improving employee engagement doesn't just improve one aspect of the business, it improves the whole business.

Let's take a look at some employee engagement ideas that can make a real difference in the workplace!

Be The Change You Want To See

In the past, I've seen many managers failing to practice what they preach.

"I'm open to any suggestion", shortly followed by ignoring all suggestions. "No idea is a bad idea..." That's correct - only, they won't get used.

As a manager, supervisor, or business owner, you have to believe in what you're telling everybody else. It's easy to go around preaching that you want employee engagement, but it requires dedication to implement it when you get it.

Don't let staff ideas pile up in the corner of your office desk; your staff will begin to notice their ideas falling on deaf ears.

When actively giving your all, and acting upon suggestions by involving your staff - they will follow suit.

I've seen so many managers destroy their business from being set in their ways, despite declaring they are open to change.

Oh, and also, if someone's idea gets used, don't be that guy and take all the credit. Go on... make them feel good.

Give Help To Those Who Need It

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to perform at the top of their game all of the time, and occasionally everybody needs a little guidance or support.

More often than not, staff know when they're not performing well. It can make them hide in their shell, as they continue to fall down an unproductive well.

I'm sure we've all been there at one point, but you can't engage with a company (or anything for that matter) that you're hiding from.

Offering them help with their workload if they need it, or a one-on-one talk can make a huge difference. Make them feel loved (not too loved though; you might have another issue or employee grievance pop up).

When help is given to those who are struggling, it not only benefits the individual, but it shows the rest of the company that it's okay to seek help.

It also shows you're a great boss who makes time for their employees - that Boss of the Year award is yours! (It doesn't matter that you're the only one in the company who can win it, it's still yours!)

Employees are scared of making mistakes when working for a boss that won't give them the time of day. They're less likely to try out something new, staying safe and boring; but this won't get anyone to where they need to be.

That isn't a problem when employers engage with their employees, so be proactive, and look around the workplace to identify any issues before it's too late.

Copy of Untitled Design-9

Promote Open Communication

It isn't as simple as saying "feel free to discuss anything you want with me".

Communication can often be a large barrier in the workplace, which undoubtedly impacts employee engagement levels.

Similarly, to the previous tip, staff want to be able to see that you're happy to listen. They don't want to feel like they'e causing their boss an inconvenience by coming to them with ideas or concerns.

Once one or two members of staff begin to openly discuss, the rest will feel confident enough to follow suit. If you're surprised by what you hear, that's probably a good thing! No-one needs an office full of yes-(wo)men; let everyone challenge everything - respectfully, of course.

Keep Them Involved

From the evaluation process to searching for new ideas; keep your employees involved in every step.

Remember how we said employees are likely to work 4.6 times harder when their voices are heard? This is where you can give them one.

No-one wants to be a silent cog in the machine, every employee should want to help make a difference and bring more success to the company. When you're looking for a bit of creative genius, or need some comedy gold to add into an article, ask around - you never know who might surprise you.

If you get something, great! You've improved their day, and yours; if nothing is found, it's a shame, but at least everyone knows you're open to their ideas.

As for the evaluation process, no-one likes been given feedback when they don't have a clue how it was worked out. When this happens, staff get defensive and disengage from said feedback, reducing the likelihood of improvement.

So, how can managers get them involved in this process?

Why not let them evaluate their own performances as well as other colleagues? Not only can they identify where to improve first hand, but they also see how their co-workers handle similar situations.

It keeps everyone in the loop and has many more benefits than just increasing employee engagement.

If you want to do this, you're on the right website! Take a look around after you've finished reading this blog, to see how we can help you.

Don't Let The Workplace Become Stale

Keep your business like a bakery - fresh.

When you lose interest in the working environment, you begin to just 'go through the motions'. Each day blurs into another, you can't remember what you did the other day... sound familiar?

Start work at 9, lunch at 12, leave 5. I'm yawning just typing it!

Add a bit of spice into the workplace, whether meeting with colleagues to discuss ideas, team building sessions, using different parts of the office, or even just going out for lunch now and then.

Get your staff to actively use their brains, and they'll use them! No-one likes the same old boring routine in their life, so why have it in the workplace?

Copy of Untitled Design-10

Give Your Employees Dynamic Roles and Responsibilites 

No, I'm not just using dynamic as a buzzword to make it sound cool.

Don't just have one set of goals and responsibilities, and leave it for a few weeks/months. What happens when they easily reach the goal within a few days?

You should add to or change employee targets and responsibilities based on their performance and progress, so they're constantly working towards something.

Do this within reason though. Don't have your employee's sprinting after an impossible goal and burning themselves out. Regular bite-size changes will keep everyone moving at a pace that suits them, without becoming too relaxed or stressed!

Additional responsibilities also keep employees engaged as it shows you are trusting them beyond their daily tasks. If you put someone in charge of an area you enjoy, you can bet they'll take pride in doing it.

Don't Keep Your Employees Under Lock and Key

I'm not suggesting you force your employees to work for you, but it can feel like that for some due to a lack of control over their own work.

A lot of managers want things done in a certain, exact way - if it's not done their way it's wrong.

Don't be that manager. Give your employees the freedom to complete the work in ways they see fit. You can give them guidance, that's great, but don't be breathing down their neck.

As long as the work is carried out in a timely (and cost-efficient) manner, does it really matter if they're not doing it the exact way you want?

If they fail, it's not the end of the world. Instead, it can be made into a learning opportunity for everyone. Every negative can be turned into a positive with the right mindset!

Make sure you deal with any failures in the right way (don't go in red-faced, all guns blazing and raising hell).

Make The Change

Keep your employees engaged, and the chances that your business will flourish increase!

It's very unlikely that you'll be able to make all these improvements in one go. Instead, it's best to deal with them in bite-sized chunks to keep things simple and easy for everyone.

It's all about the margin gains: improve one small thing at a time and you'll see big improvements. You can read more about marginal gains and its impact on businesses in our whitepaper.

Do you have any tips for driving employee engagement? If so, let us know in the comments!

Quora Asks Is Your Business Prepared for Coronavirus

Quora Answer: Is Your Business Prepared for Coronavirus?

Quora Answer: Is Your Business Prepared for Coronavirus? 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading across the world, and it's looking severe.

As the number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus rises, so does the risk of one of your employees catching it and infecting the rest of your team.

The UK Government has begun to advise thousands of people to self-isolate, and firms in London have already begun to ask employees to work from home as a precautionary measure against the virus. The oil giant, Chevron, asked 300 employees not to go into work to help cut down on the spread.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure there are minimal health risks to employees but how do we achieve this without a lot of people spending time watching Friends on Netflix, instead of working?

So, if the worst comes to the worst, and your business needs to 'self-isolate', here's how you can do it, whilst ensuring your employees remain effective at home.

Fewer Face-to-Face Meetings With Clients 

The fewer people you see, the lower the chance you have of catching the virus. Simple maths.

So, physically meeting those business men and women who have been well travelled might not be the best idea - but that doesn't mean you can't meet them!

We live in 2020, a time when we don't even need to meet people face-to-face any more. Instead, it might be a better idea to have these meetings via a video conference, from the comfort of your kitchen. If anything, it can be better to do it this way.

Whilst talking, you can easily show them your screen without having to shuffle laptops around, and being unable to see for yourself. As long as you have a reliable Internet connection, and a webcam you're good to go!

Even just having a microphone can be good enough, as long as it's the same for both parties. And, as a bonus, you only have to tidy up what the camera is showing. Suit jackets and pyjama bottoms can even be a thing!

Video conference

Visiting clients is a great way to build relationships, but like with the meetings, it might be a good idea to cut down for now. Instead, why not just pick up the phone to see how they're doing?

If anything, this can be more beneficial to you. Now you don't have to spend time going to the location, spending money on fuel, as well as picking up snacks for the road.

When your client has any requests, you might be able to do it straight away from your office, rather than waiting until you get back.

But don't let the virus be only reason you cut down on meeting your clients. By having over-the-phone/video conferences, you're cutting down on those costs we mentioned.

Not only is it better for the environment, but it's better for your wallet whilst saving you a lot of time.

Keep Your Distance 

There aren't many better ways to spread a virus than having a load of people in a small space coughing all over each other.

If you can try space everyone out, then do it. Not only will you not have to smell someone's smelly lunch quite as much, but you've also got the freedom to not sneeze all over your desk neighbour.

Get VoIP Phones Before It's Too Late

When your employees aren't in the office, you still want them to make and take phone calls for your business as usual.

Investing in VoIP systems will allow them to do exactly this. Just make a few configurations, and all necessary phone calls will get redirected to them at home - a must-have for anyone working away from the office.

Be warned though - if you're going to invest in them, you should do it sooner rather than later.

If it does become a case of having to self-isolate, they'll all be gone before you even get a chance. Every business will need them, and these systems aren't usually supplied in large bulk. Just a few offices suddenly buying them will clear out a lot of stock.

As VoIP systems will be an essential to allow your employees to work from home effectively, demand will definitely exceed supply.

Get yours now.

VoIP Telephone System

Put a Halt to the Handshakes

You might know how to properly wash your hands, but does the person you're giving a handshake? We're not trying to scare you into never touching another human again, but let's have a think about the journey of the person you're shaking hands with:

  • If they got public transport, think of all the surfaces they've touched on their way. Now think about how many other people have touched it.
  • It's likely someone has coughed or sneezed - have they caught it, killed it, and binned it?
  • Who else have they shaken hands with, and who has that person shaken with? It's not farfetched to suggest that down the line, someone has been in close contact with someone that has COVID-19.

Suddenly, a handshake doesn't seem so friendly... 

Sanitize For Your Own Sanity!

If you haven't got the message that's being spread around faster than the virus itself, you need to keep your hands clean!

It's recommended that you wash your hands for 20 seconds, or sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself twice - the latter will definitely keep everyone else away, as you begin to look insane!

With everyone washing their hands more regularly than before, you'll need to stock up on dispensable soap and hand sanitizer.

Be careful where you buy it though, as some cheeky sellers have decided to cash in on the latest 'craze'.

hand santizer for cononavirus

£39.99 for 3 tiny bottles? No thanks, I think I'd rather get the virus...

And whilst I'm at it, how dare they only send by 2nd class?! Don't they know there's a world-wide panic going on? We need it NOW!

Amazon has been having none of it though, as they banned over 10,000 users who tried to hike the price up. 

A quick shop around, or a visit to your local bargain store will provide you with a much more reasonable price! 

Get Your Tissues Ready

Whilst you're at the shops, why not pick up some a few boxes of tissues?

We've all been guilty of sneezing into our hands and not cleaning them (not mentioning any names). Now there're no excuses for snot-covered desks and keyboards. Catch it, kill it, bin it. 

Clean Your Keyboard

It might seem silly, but your keyboard is probably the dirtiest thing on your desk.

Every day you sit over it, typing away, as hairs, skin flakes, crumbs, dust and other bacteria fall in between the keys.

Now, to clean it, there are two ways - but it depends on how dedicated you are to the cause.

1. You could take off every key, clean each one, and then the board underneath it. This is definitely the best way, until you put the keys in the wrong place! And as they say: time is money.

2. The way I've done it. Get a good old can of compressed air and spray in-between the keys, give it a good shake, and see what comes out. Then after give it a wipe down with some anti-bacterial type wash.

TOP TIP: unplug your keyboard BEFORE you do either of these. 

Don't Rely On One Person

Everyone has their own jobs that they take care of - but can someone else take their place if they're not there?

Ask yourself this question for every task your business does. If there's a job that only one person can do, you could be in trouble. What happens if they suddenly have to self-quarantine, and can't do their job?

Some small tasks you might be able to get away with and learn on the spot, but others, such as coding and web-design, you cannot.

Therefore, it's important to ensure everyone has a wide range of skills and has some level of know-how for their colleagues job. They don't have to be as good, or better (if they are, why aren't they doing it in the first place?!) but should at least have a decent understanding.

This isn't just a rule for viruses, but is a top tip for at any time. You never know what might happen to your star employee - just don't leave a big hole in your company when it does happen!

Working From Home

The easiest way, and most obvious, way to avoid the risk of spreading the virus is by asking your employees to work from home. For many staff, this would be welcomed!

Sitting at home in their cosy office, not getting distracted by colleagues talking loudly on the phone, and being able to make a brew without having to offer one to anyone else!

Getting your employees to work from home is probably the most straight-forward way to ensure your employees aren't contaminating each other (and yourself), but for many managers this option can be a little concerning. 

Working For Home

The Right Equipment

Employees can come to the office and carry their role out perfectly well, but will they be able to do the same once in their kitchen at home?

You need to ensure that staff have the correct equipment to do their job, so Laptops if they don't own a personal computer, network cables to ensure the fastest speeds are achieved to do the work.

If they don't have an internet connection at home then that opens up a whole new headache!

Security

When employees are working from home it's likely that they'll need access to private or secure data.

Therefore, you need to make sure their firewalls are secure. Not everyone is a techno-wizard like your IT team, so you might need to show them how, either in office, or by screen sharing when they're at home.

If you take the second option, you will be able to rest easy, knowing they have the capability to set it up. 

Are You Getting the Same Effort?

When we're at home, we naturally relax a little and lower our standards - even if we don't mean to.

As standards slip, communications with your customers may begin to suffer. Whilst COVID-19 may not be around for ever, the customer reputation you develop will be!

How do you know your employees are still putting in the same effort? If they're on the phone, it's impossible to know how well they're doing... isn't it?

Actually, no! 

Use a System to Keep Control of Your Employees

No matter how much you trust your employees, allowing them to work from home is a risky, especially when their job includes communicating to current and potential customers, so it's important to be able to track their progress from home, which you can now do.

Cxceed is a Quantity Assurance System that makes it easy to evaluate the communications your staff are having with your customers.

Using customer feedback, as well as AI, Cxceed identifies which communications require an evaluation - allowing you to spend your time on the ones that need your attention.

It's never been easier to keep an eye on your employees and ensure they're doing exactly as you asked!

Train From Home

As well as allowing for quick and easy evaluations, Cxceed allows you to easily mark a selection of the best and worst conversations your staff are having with customers.

These can be assigned to the individual who undertook the communication, as well as their peers. Allowing your staff to evaluate their own interactions shows that you trust their judgment, and can be a great motivator.

By creating such a unique level of transparency in the evaluation process, everyone will begin to understand and have clarity over the required expectations, and find they can meet them easier.

Every conversation becomes an opportunity to train, improve, and motivate your team! It doesn't matter whether your employees are making calls from the office, or their bedroom - they can easily connect to Cxceed.

Of course, you don't need a global pandemic to get started with Cxceed. Why not get started today, and then you'll be able to improve your business no-matter the situation! 

Start Testing Now

It might not be time to send every home, but that doesn't mean you can't test it.

The last thing you want is to send all your employees home one day to find out that all the planning and technology has failed. By getting a few members of the office to trail it, you can iron out any issues to ensure the business runs just as smoothly at home as it does in the office.

Not only this, but those who have been asked to work from home now won't be able to spread or catch the virus from anyone else in the office. If the worst does happen, and one of your staff members does get infected, then at least your whole team won't go down with it.

Better to have 50% of the office working from home than off sick!

Publish Your Action Plan

Now that you know your course of action, you need to make sure everyone else does!

Publish your action plan, and make sure your employees know about it. Have team meetings, send out emails, put posters up around the office. Just make sure everyone is on the same page!

So, even if Coronavirus forces us all to hibernate, it doesn't have to put a halt to your business!

With Cxceed, you can easily keep track of your employees communications, and help them improve - no matter where they are.

If your business was to go into a self-lockdown, how would you cope? Let us know in the comments section! 

Improve Your Business Today

Discover how Cxceed can help improve your customer experience, and boost your profit. 

google isn't fit for purpose

Google Isn’t Fit For Purpose

Google Isn't Fit For Purpose

Yes, you read that title correct. Google isn't good enough, and it no longer has you (the user) at the heart of its operation.

I'm not on about Gmail, Google Scholar, YouTube, or any of their other services. We're talking Google Search, the original service that has achieved God-like status.

To reaffirm just how popular Google is (as if I need to tell you), around 63,000 searches are done on the platform, per second.

Take the phrase "just Google it", what do you think? Have a quick search and find the answer straight away, in the first result? I think we all do.

When in doubt, Google it! The answer will be at the top of the page for you.

That's not the reality, though. An answer will be there, but the chances of it being one which isn't best suited for you are high.

In this article, I'm going to go against the grain and delve into why Google just isn't fit for purpose anymore.

*Please note that as with all things in life, Google is ever-changing. The results and ordering is more than likely going to have changed when you're reading this. The concept is still the same, however. 

It's a Rich Man's (Or Woman's) World 

Money is a language we all speak, none more so than Google. They hold 76% of the search engine market for a reason.

Google Ads have been a revolution for businesses. No longer do they have to spend months working on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), crafting perfectly formed webpages, with highly ranked keywords.

Instead, they can just throw their bank card at Google, and they'll put them to the top of the pile. The more money the better.

It doesn't matter whether you offer the best value for money or customer experience. If you spend more money on Google Ads than your competitors, you will be higher in the rankings.

Let me show you what I mean.

Image you're a UK business and you need DBS certificates for your employees, so naturally, you search "DBS Check" on Google.

What do you want out of this?

  •  A quick, reliable service.
  • A company that knows what they're doing.
  • If you're doing multiple checks, you want affordability - every penny counts!

 We searched on Google for 'DBS Check', and this is what we were shown:

DBS Check

Great, the first four results are all DBS Checking services!

What is not so great, however, is that these four results which take up the whole screen, are all adverts.

To any unsuspecting individual, these appear to be the best companies to do DBS checks with - after all, the cream usually rises to the top.

Since time is money, and money can be better spent on Google Ads, we're going to use the price, and any information on the website to make a judgment on the company, their service and its value to you the customer.

Here's how they're broken down: 

Advert 1:

dbscheckonline.org.uk

Basic Checks £70 +VAT ...Ouch!

No mention is made that individuals should apply for a Basic DBS directly via the DBS service.

The Government fee for the Basic DBS is £23, so it is assumed this company's admin fee is £42 per person.

For companies, there is also a £20 (+VAT) set-up fee. This is the only one on the list to charge you for pretty much just entering your details! But you then get a reduction and only have to pay the £65 per application for Basic, Standard and enhanced Checks - well worth it then!

Total Basic DBS Cost (and set-up): £85 (+ set-up VAT)

Advert 2:

ddc.uk.net

Admin fees range from £10 to £18 (plus VAT), per person.

Then add on the Basic DBS fee, which is £23.

Total Basic DBS Cost: £35 (including VAT)

At the bottom of their page, ddc do mention that individuals should apply directly to the DBS service but don't provide a link. 

Advert 3:

crbdirect.org.uk

This company offer two services: standard, and then fast track, for which they claim to prioritise and try to submit to the DBS within one day.

Standard Admin Fee - £42 (including VAT) + 23 Basic DBS Fee = Total Basic DBS Cost: £65

Fast Track Admin Fee - £52 (including VAT) + 23 Basic DBS Fee = Total Basic DBS Cost: £75

Basically, they charge you an extra £10 for giving you faster customer service, a service that they should be providing fast anyway.

At the bottom of the page CRB Direct do mention that individuals should apply directly to the DBS service but don't provide a link. 

Advert 4:

disclosurechecks.org.uk

Only do Basic DBS checks

For some reason, this company claims that a Basic DBS still costs £25, that's £2 more than the actual Government fee.

Their admin fee is £40.

Total Basic DBS Cost: £65.

No mention is made that individuals should apply for a Basic DBS directly via the DBS service. 

Research Your Companies!

After sifting through the true returned results (the ones who got to the top on merit, not buying their place), Aaron's Department DBS, appears to be the cheapest overall package, whilst still claiming a quality service.

Their admin fees start from as little as £3.97, and then when that is added the £23 their Total Basic DBS Cost is from: £26.97.

And they have a bold section advising individuals to apply directly through the government website.

So, that's £23 (after searching around) or £85 (top of Google) for the exact same Basic DBS Check - almost a £60 difference!

So, if you're not much of a bargain hunter or are unaware how Google Ads work, you will end up paying anywhere between £35 and £75 for a Basic DBS.

Ouch! - and that's PER applicant!

To get to the top of the page, (even if it is artificial) these four companies have had to join the Google ad space auction and fork out major money on Google Ads. The only way to get to the top is to pay more than the company below you. But this advertising fee has to be recovered from you the customer.

Google knows which it wants you to go for, and it's not the one that is the best value for money for you!

As a customer, why would you pay double, in some cases, triple, the amount when you can scroll down, click through a few websites and find a much better deal?

Being at the Top Doesn't Mean They're the Best

After the adverts, it's all down to SEO. Who has used keywords to their advantage to land the best spots?

It's all about being tactical; you can offer the worst service in the world, but if there's an SEO genius behind your website, to the top of the pile you go (underneath the adverts).

When doing a search of DBS check, there were a total of seven adverts on the first page, which meant there were nine spots up for grabs. However, four of these were taken up by the Government website containing information on checks, and the fifth spot taken by Reed was an information guide. This left a measly four spots available (on the first page) for companies that provide DBS Checks.

You'll find that the companies that occupy these spots changes order pretty much every day, depending on how Google see fit. Looking at these companies, some are good, some make false claims and some twist the truth.

Rich Snippets Are Not Independently Checked

Feature snippets are meant to give people a quick answer without having to click on any links.

How does your website become a featured snippet for a website? By giving the answer Google thinks is best. Extra emphasis on the world thinks.

Since we're on the theme of DBS checks, shall we have a look at how long one lasts?

Here's what Google shows:

how long does a dbs last

The main big, bold, "look at me" answer it gives is 3 years, which is wrong! The actual answer is as long as the employer wants it to last, or until you perform a new check.

When you actually read the snippet, it says "Some authorities suggest a new check every 3 years." Google has done whatever Google does, and somehow used its algorithm to put this to the top of the pile.

I'm sure there are many more examples of Google dishing out misleading information. Who was it that said "Fake News has never been so fake"? Oh yeah, maybe not too wise to quote that source...

Being a Featured Snippet Can Be a Bad Thing

You've done all the work, and finally made it into the snippet. All is well and good, isn't it?

Actually, no - being a featured snippet can actually cost you clicks.

The snippet is designed to give all the information the user is looking for at a glance, so there is no incentive to click onto the webpage it is from.

If you've made an excellent snippet, then you'll have definitely told the user the key facts, and you've got nothing to show for it.

I often use the featured snippet as a reference point, and will click on the links below it to double and triple check.

If people are clicking on other links more than yours, Google will assume that there are better snippets out there than yours. Back down the rankings you go, unless you fancy getting your credit card out... 

New Starters Have No Chance

As mentioned, to get to the top of Google, you need to either invest heavily, or build your SEO over time.

Where does this leave new websites? At the very bottom.

Building a webpage which is featured in the single digits of Google results can take time - something new businesses don't have enough of.

If you're asking me what can be done to make it fair for everyone, I don't have the answer.

I just know that the current situation shouldn't be the final one. You better get the cash and false claims ready if you're in a hurry! 

The Wrap-Up

Is Google good? Yes. Will it ever be overtaken by a better service? Eventually but probably not soon.

After all, they're already making themselves at home with the Google Home!

As users, we want the best experience: the best price, the best quality, the quickest service. Will Google find us the companies that do this? Nope!

I don't expect you to boycott Google and flock to Yahoo, or dare I say... Bing, after reading this. Just don't take Google's first suggestion as gospel in the future.

Have a hunt around, double check the information it gives you, and try to find a better bargain than those offered in the first few rankings.

Google does get it right a lot of the time, and is by far the most convenient service on offer, as it integrates itself into our daily lives.

Do you think Google is fit for purpose, and do you agree or disagree with any of the points made? Let us know down below!

Are Our Devices Listening To Everything We Say_

Are Our Devices Listening To Everything We Say?

Are Our Devices Listening To Everything We Say?

Have you ever been talking about something with a friend, maybe about a new phone or car, and then all of a sudden... it's being advertised to you online?

'How weird is that?' you think as you scroll past the adverts.

You wouldn't be alone, though. Everyone seems to have some kind of story relating to this; maybe we're being over-paranoid, afraid that there's no such thing as privacy anymore.

But is it really a coincidence, or are our devices listening to every word we say? Do we need to start wearing tinfoil hats?

Let's take a deeper look, and discuss some theories.

The Undeniable Proof

In technical terms, it is possible for your phone to record everything you're saying. How many apps request permission to access our photos and microphone, and how many do we actually say no to?

When doing some research for this blog, I noticed some very concerning headlines: "Apple and Google Stop Workers From Listening To Intimate Recordings of Customers"

Well, that's promising.

In August 2019, Google and Apple suspended their employee's access to recordings made by their virtual assistants, Google Assistant and Siri respectively.

Why? Because workers were listening to people's private conversations, which included drug deals, and people getting frisky in the bedroom. All those intimate, private moments - not so private.

The workers in question were sent home, but it remains unclear what happened next.

Maybe next time you and your lover lock eyes, keep the phones out of the bedroom - unless you're into that sort of thing.

The more concerning part is that the devices are only meant to record audio when prompted. So, why have they been able to record people having sex?

Surely people aren't shouting "Hey Siri!", "Ok Google!", or "Alexa!" - Well maybe the last one. Be careful who you go out with...

Whilst these two major tech players were caught, Amazon openly admitted earlier on in the year that they listen to a sample of Amazon Echo recordings, with the purpose of doing so to improve their voice-assistant.

The things we will give up for a better customer service! We're a big fan of improving your customer service - but there are better ways to do it.

Well, I guess that settles that. Our devices are listening to us - well, the likes of Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri are at least.

ok google

They're Watching Us!

Your device could not only be listening, but actually record your screen activity.

At Northeastern University, they'd just about had enough of these rumours and conspiracies flying around, so they carried out a full-blown investigation.

They downloaded 17,000 of the most popular apps onto several phones. None of the apps activated the microphone, but rather, took screenshots of themselves, which were then sent to third parties.

Out of the 17,000 applications downloaded and tested, over 9,000 did this, and the majority didn't make it clear in the terms and conditions that it would happen.

It may be the case that some companies use this data to help improve the customer experience, but there's nothing to say a third party couldn't be sold the information.

Is this worse than recording your voice? I guess it depends what is on your screen, and what it's used for.

Another concerning factor is what happens when the apps are running in the background - can they still take screenshots of your device?

To See or Not To See: We Put The Theory To The Test

One of our male colleagues, who does not shop for female clothing (so he tells us), said the words "women's lingerie" into his phone when it was locked.

Here's where it gets interesting - when he was scrolling through a webpage on his computer later the same day, an advert for Victoria's Secret came up.

The computer doesn't have a microphone connected, so how could this happen?

Here are our theories:

> Another phone which is connected to the same Wi-Fi picked it up.
> He actually buys women's lingerie (for himself, or others).
> It's just a total coincidence.

Whilst the second and third theory aren't too far-fetched, the first one can't be right.

If the phone on the Wi-Fi picked it up, why haven't the rest of us seen it? Can this sort of information be passed across, and transferred to different users on the same internet connection?

Maybe he just wanted an excuse to look at women's underwear at work...

Something else similar happened to me recently.

Further down in this blog you will see me mention researching a trip to Amsterdam from home (spoiler alert!).

Afterwards, at work I mentioned the trip to a colleague. Low and behold, no more than an hour later, I received an advert on my works PC for... yes, you guessed it, flights and hotels for Amsterdam.

I definitely had not typed the word on my works PC or searched, anything to do with the Dutch city - (I've only searched it at home).

Something is definitely taking notes!

Funnily enough, half of my adverts now seem to be regarding holidays.

Why Our Devices Aren't Listening To Us

Digital Footprint

When you consider the amount of content we consume every day, whether it be through Facebook, YoutTube, Google, our emails etc, it's a lot.

The amount you actually view is probably a lot more than you realise. With every link, post, webpage, email, and video that you view, a cookie will be placed on you.

Why would companies spend thousands on the technology to listen on you, when you have a whole jar of cookies that are giving your interests away?

You want a holiday. You've had a little browse here and there before, but you've saved enough money and it's time to book! All of a sudden, those holiday adverts at the side of your page will begin to attract your attention.

When TUI (other choices are available) email you about a bargain holiday, of course you're going to click on it! Now they know you've been tempted, so will begin to retarget you with adverts in the hope of luring you in.

The same happened to me recently when planning a trip to Amsterdam. I'd booked the hotel and flights, and wanted to look forward to some excursions whilst there. So, I went on TripAdvisor, booked one, and the next thing I knew I was getting adverts left, right and center for canal rides, museum tours etc.

No-one was spying on me. TripAdvisor placed a cookie on me, knew that I was going to Amsterdam, so they retargeted me with similar excursions that I might enjoy.

If you want to stop these companies retargetting you, just delete your cookies!

clear your cookies

Constantly Transcribing Isn't Feasible

As mentioned, all the cookies tracking us means there is no need for our devices to listen to us.

Just imagine all the transcribing that would be required, and the space needed to store it in. We haven't even touched upon how unreliable audio to text normally is, and with all the different accents, combined with speed of speech, it becomes an almost impossible task.

If your device was constantly listening to you, and translating, it would take up a lot of processing power - and it would show.

Many tests have been done by examining the battery usage from apps that have permission to access the microphone. The results? All the same.

When not being used, or running in the background, processing power was always kept to a minimum, meaning it would be very unlikely for your microphone to be in use.

Based Off Similar Interests

If you buy football boots, then it's likely you'd be interested in football shirts too.

If you watched Shaun of the Dead, then it's likely you'll enjoy other Simon Pegg and Nick Frost films, such as Hot Fuzz.

What am I getting at here? It's pretty easy to guess what else you're interested in, based on what you have already consumed.

As we already discussed, you have multiple cookies on you, which allow marketeers to know what you're interested in. Because our data is being shared around like a pass-the-parcel at a children's birthday party, your interests are no secret.

If you really want to see how data is harvested, tracked, and targeted, I would recommend watching "The Great Hack" on Netflix. However, if you don't want to become more paranoid, maybe give it a miss!

Red Car Syndrome

Have you ever bought something, and then started to see the same product everywhere?

A few months ago, I bought some AirPods. Before I bought them, I could have sworn the majority of people were still living in the 1990s with their wired headphones.

Apparently not.

After buying them, I noticed everyone seemed to have them at the gym. Was I a trendsetter, or had I just been living in the past?

This is what's called the Red Car Syndrome, or if you're a little fancier, the "Baader-Meinhof Effect". You don't see the thing in question, and then as soon as you do (or buy it in this case) you see it everywhere. Frequency illusion.

Well, it could be happening with the adverts you see. It could just be a coincidence that after talking about wanting a holiday that you begin to see them advertised everywhere.

Chances are they've been there all along, but since you had no interest in them they just got zoned out.

Red Car with the Baader-Meinhof Effect

The Final Verdict

Want to find out if your device is really listening to you? Tell a funny joke - if it laughs, it's listening. If not, you might not be as funny as you think you are.

All evidence is pointing towards your device not listening to you, when you don't want it to, but I can't 100% guarantee it!.

Of course, the likes of Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri are listening, but hopefully only when you prompt them.

It appears that at one point, some nosey people were spying in on conversations picked up on these devices, but we can only take their word that it has stopped.

Before you set up your next Smart Device, check the terms and conditions as well as the privacy notices in the small print. You never know what you might find.

The unfortunate reality is that we've probably already signed away our rights when agree to terms and conditions. How many of us can honestly say they've read all the conditions before agreeing? Very few, I'm sure.

In reality, anything could have been in the terms of those face-swapping apps we've downloaded... even if you've deleted the app, it's probably too late!

How to Deal with Sales Rejection

How to Deal with Sales Rejection

How to Deal With Sales Rejection

Having someone reject you is never nice. Putting yourself out there only to get your efforts thrown back in your face. And no, I'm still not bitter that my childhood love said no to a date when I was 15. I'm talking about sales rejection; always being told no, can damage anyone's confidence. To me there are few this worse than the gut-wrenching feeling when you do get close to a deal, only for it to be cut off at the last minute.

Even the most experienced sales rep never gets used to hearing the words, 'NO, THANKS.' (If you're even lucky enough to get the thanks!)

Sales rejection is part of the job; not everyone is going to say yes. So, you need to get used to dealing with it to move forward.

Here are 10 of the best ways to help deal with sales rejection, all taken from personal experience.

Are you Hearing a Non-Existent No? 

Are you sure it was a definite no?

Before you take a look at the other ways of dealing with sales rejection, was it one?

Typical responses like, 'we don't have the funds' is not a no. Consider when the customer/company will have the funds, jot it down and call again in the future.

Another standard reply will be "we already have something like that." Ask what they already have, use this as a way into the conversation. Here you can explain why your service is better, and if it's not, you can win them over with your charm!

Don't give up so easily, but don't be forceful. By just asking questions, you can get the information you need.

Keep Emotions In Check 

Keep Emotions in Check

Handling rejection in sales is never easy when you are low on confidence and not reaching your targets. But you can't afford to take it personally. Maybe the product is too expensive for them, or they already have one similar, and they don't need it. Whatever the reason, it's rarely got anything to do with you.

Letting emotion get the better of you will always carry on to the next call. Then you are in a spiral of constant rejection as each sales call becomes a desperate cry for help.

Also, don't carry the stress home. When you leave work, that should be it done for the day. Otherwise, you'll just be miserable at home being worried or upset, and nothing good will come out of that!

Get Others to Analyse Your Performance

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are struggling. I do it every day.

You will find you will go up in your manager's estimations by being open about your troubles. If you ask for help, you are more likely to receive kinder treatment than hiding the problem until you have to discuss it at an appraisal. By the time this comes round, it won't be a pretty sight, and your manager is unlikely to have sympathy if you haven't brought up a difficulty previously.

From failure, you learn to succeed, cheesy but true. Having one of your colleagues/managers monitor your calls gives you another perspective. Others may notice the smallest things, like how you breathe heavily down the phone, or don't confirm certain pieces of information.

When you talk to your colleagues, you begin to realize that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is dealing with sales rejection. Discussing the obstacles to a sale with each other is an excellent way to dissipate your anger, have a laugh and joke, whilst discovering ways to improve from each other.

Cxceed can be a great way to learn where you're going wrong, with opinions from your customers, colleagues as well as yourself.

Remember to Ask Why

There is nothing wrong with asking! Finding out if it was something you said that put them off can be the perfect way to improve in the future. Not knowing what you are doing wrong will slowly destroy your enthusiasm one call at a time. Ask why, so you can do better the next time, it's better than making the same mistake time and time again and not understanding where you are going wrong.

If you find its something small, you may even be able to fix it there and then, and turn the result around!

Asking why every time, turns every phone call into a personal training opportunity!

Be Positive, Not Negative

be positive

Negative thinking causes a spiral which affects your body language, tone, and most importantly, attitude. You can't afford to beat yourself up. After hearing plenty of noes, tell yourself that the next one will be a yes.

The best salespeople are mission-minded. They focus on the primary objective of pitching a product/service, not worrying about the response from the customer. They understand that rejection is part of the process and don't get thrown off track from a bad call.

A rejection is in the past, and you can't change the past (unless you have access to a TARDIS).

Stick to a Routine

Having a pattern to the way you deliver sales can be a great way to carry on from rejection. I used to set myself goals of making a certain number of calls in the morning, then again in the afternoon. It's also essential to have regular breaks in between to follow up on potential customers.

Personally, routines keep you on track and prevents a defeatist attitude.

Always Remain Professional

From time to time, you're going to get aggressive responses from your sales pitch. For the companies' reputation, if not your own, it's so important to remain professional and polite. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. A certain stigma can arise from rude salespeople, so take rejection well, or just don't let the person on the other end of the phone hear your frustration.

You don't know when you might need their services again. As I've stated before, a 'no' is not always a definite no in the world of sales.

Always Follow Up

Just because they say no today it doesn't mean that they will say no tomorrow. Schedule a follow-up call in a few months. In the meantime, regularly send them product information via email or even a letter to build their interest.

Send them letters and emails, stay on their radar by connecting with them via LinkedIn and Twitter. Here you can post relevant content that promotes your product, making it a lot easier to sell.

Play the odds, you know that a certain number of contacts will eventually become customers. That's why it's vital always to follow up.

When you are making sales, always translate "No" to "No, not today." I've lost count of the amount of business that I have got from people that initially said no. We are all short of time, and sometimes the easiest thing to say to a salesperson is "No."

Always follow-up and then follow-up again and again!

Improve your Environment

improve your environment

Put your rubbish in the bin and take your jam jars to the bottle bank! Yes, you should be doing that, but I'm talking about improving your physical and psychological working environment.

Improving the physical environment is essential as it helps create a great place to work, which helps reduce stress and produces positive results.

A clean office can make the world of difference. A clean desk is a clean mind.

Enjoy Your Downtime

Sales can be hard, but it is even harder if you have a miserable home life. Get out, let your hair down and party! Tomorrow is another day.

Note 1: Don't get so drunk tonight, that you make tomorrow a lousy day!

Note 2: I need to take my own advice!

The End of the Line

The 10 ways of how to deal with sales rejection above will hopefully help; however, it's down to you to change your fortune.

Sales is a very strategic game, you will lose form from time to time, but you can control the number of times you do. So keep your emotions in check, and at the end of the day Sell, Sell, Sell!

And if you don't make a sale, chin up there's plenty more potential customers in the sea!

If you have any ideas on how to deal with sales rejection, drop us a comment below.

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7 Ways Bad Customer Service Drives People Insane (Rant) (1)

7 Ways Bad Customer Service Drives People Insane (Rant)

7 Ways Bad Customer Service Drives People Insane (Rant)

Call centres are one of, if not the most important places for business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions to happen. Relationships are made over the phone, so companies know they need to deliver a fantastic customer service.

As Customers, we have all been there, unable to get an answer to a simple question. As managers and business owners however we know it is a struggle to find staff who can do that.

Find me someone who has NEVER had a bad experience with a call centre and I'll find you a pint of Fosters that actually tastes nice - It's not going to happen.

Whether it be long waiting times, misinformation or having the delight of hearing everything that's happening behind an agent through their microphone, bad customer service from call centres is a sure-fire way to lose customers.

'I Hate Call Centres'

Apparently, we all share one thing in common in my office: the hatred of poor customer service. All I had to say was "What do you hate about call centers?" and it set everyone off.

Forget talking about the weather, maybe us Brits should just talk about our experiences with crap customer service!

I feel sorry for call center representatives, knowing everyone shares a common hatred towards them. It doesn't stop us hating them, though... and yes, this blog is just an excuse to have a good moan - sorry call agents!

1 - Waiting to be Connected

Listening to that bloody dreary music, getting your hopes up every time it stops, just to hear another monotonous flute solo.

Sometimes the music isn't actually that bad, but the quality most certainly is! Have they gone on a mission to find the worst quality music available? I'm no sound buff, but I know tinny, echoey, static-infused music when I hear it!
Oh, and the irony when you hear "Your call is very important to us" as you pass the ten-minute mark.

After 30 seconds pass, I'm already starting to get impatient so ten minutes is mind-numbing. After this point, they have pretty much lost me.
Even if the agent comes back to deliver a fantastic experience, they need to do well to drag us up from the deep dark depths we have sunken into while waiting.

Making customers wait around is a guaranteed way to get a bad review or land a lovely message with @yourcompany on Twitter for the world to see.

Take a look at onholdwith.com - These are the customers who are just using the phrase "on hold." Imagine how many others are complaining on-top of that!

WaitingToBeConnected

2 - Background Noise

You've finally been connected to someone, only to be greeted not just one agent, but the whole center (lucky you!)

As far as the customer is concerned, the agent might as well be speaking in another language, as they try to decipher which question is being aimed at them out of the 20 they can hear.

But why are they so loud? Well, I'm not here to answer that, not in this blog, but if you want to know why, and how to combat it, check out Why Are Call Agents So Loud.

As a customer, one of two things happen:

  • You feel like the agent is shouting at you. Not good. It's the customers that are meant to do the shouting, not the agents!
  • You have to ask them to repeat the question, and the next, and the one after that. Not only does it frustrate the customer, but also the agent.

Do you turn up the volume so you can hear the agent better? Well, you could, but then you also get to listen to the static and buzz of the center a lot louder too. It's a lose-lose.

3 - 'Sorry, There's Nothing I Can Do Here' 

Uh oh. You've spent ages calling, explaining your problem, waiting on hold, just to be told "There's nothing they can do" or "Try ringing another number or emailing someone else".

You're furious. Enough time has been wasted for what seems to be a simple request.

So, what's stopped the agent from helping you?

It might be a genuine reason; it happens. Other times it may be because their managers haven't empowered their agents to make decisions.

(RANT START) Managers, if you want your agents to help your customers, you have to give them the ability to do so! Otherwise, what's the point of them? (RANT END)

We don't know if the agent has the authority to sort it out, but assume they do! So, the agent gets the blame, after all, they are there to help resolve our issue.

4 - Overseas Call Centres

Just to make this clear, we don't have anything against the people in these centres. It's not their fault they've been put through to us angry sods.

Language barriers and accents can be a huge problem, though. When you have to keep repeating yourself, or asking them to, it's only making matters worse.

Not only this, but sometimes the call sounds like it's coming from the other side of the world! (I know it literally is, but I don't want it to sound that way on a call).

The connection breaks up; their voice seems to get fuzzy, louder, then quieter. As if it wasn't hard enough trying to get your issues sorted before!

If you're going to outsource, do it right for goodness’ sake! (Hint: STAFF TRAINING HELPS)

BT was one of the worst for this. I say "was" because they've finally seen the light and decided to bring all call centres back to the UK by 2020

5 - Giving Incorrect Information

Support team shouldn't tell you a lie. Sometimes it might well be an accident, due to a lack of knowledge or training, but it is still unacceptable.

A few times I've been promised refunds or extras added onto my order by the agent, only for them never to come to fruition. Then when you go back to complain, there's no trace of it! Or the new agent tells you that the company doesn't offer what you were promised.

Making false promises will always come back to haunt you. I feel many may do so just to shut the customer up, which points to a bigger internal problem.

We've been around long enough now to recognise the signs. Such as when an agent starts their sentence with "I think" or "I believe so" it's usually an indication that we're about to be told something that might not be correct.

I'd much rather that they didn't follow their instinct to give me an answer ASAP, but take a minute to find out the real answer. We'd all be happier to wait for a minute and be given the truth, than quickly receive some something made up to keep us quiet.

Basically, don't offer me a big juicy discount if you know I won't get it. That's just cruel.

I hate customer service operatives that do this (Yes, it's gotten too personal!).

6 - Robots

So you would like to speak to someone, is that right?

At the front of the battlefield, many centres get robots to initially take the call.

I get why it's a good idea. Rather than use operators time finding out routine information, they can waste your time instead.

"Please state your date of birth."

"15th of November, 1986."

"Did you say, 50th of December 1986?"

Give me strength. If you are going to use robots, put some effort into them and think carefully what is an appropriate response. Answering a couple of questions is fair enough, but after that, it just gets tiresome!

TalkingToARobot

7 - Press 1 to be Put Through to...

So, you quickly want to get an issue resolved, but something is stopping you.

The dreaded task of navigating through a series of menus on your keypad.

First of all, you can guarantee the option you want will be read out last. Then, there'll be another set of options which will take just as long to listen to. If you're unlucky, there'll be even more sets for after that.

But there's another issue. What if you don't know which section your problem falls into?

Do you hazard a guess and risk having to start all over again? Or do you have to listen through them all again to try and figure out which one you should give a go? Sometimes we need to call upon Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery!

At least if you try again, you know which numbers you need and don't need so you can speed through the options... That is unless they don't activate the key tones until they have finished listing all the options

How to Improve Call Center Customer Service

Managing and working in a call center is no easy task and I don't think anyone their right mind would say it is.

However, if businesses want to deliver the best customer experience possible, they have to learn what's causing the unsatisfactory ones. It's likely these poor calls and interactions will be occurring regularly but could by flying under the radar.

Gaining feedback from customers after they communicate with agents and evaluating the poorer ones. No-one knows the service you're providing better than those who receive it.

Cxceed makes it easy to do just that, and we've written a full post about how it does just that which you can read here.

The Wrap-Up

What's the worse thing that has happened to you when talking to a call center? And managers, how do you deal with these problems?

 

Let us know below!

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