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How To Collect & Use Customer Feedback To Improve Your Business

How To Collect And Use Customer Feedback To Improve Your Business

A few decades ago, if a customer had an issue, question, or complaint, they would write a letter, compile an email or call a hotline. This can now all be done within seconds through a few clicks on a social platform.

Customer feedback has never been so accessible for businesses. There are multiple ways to gain it from every customer demographic, from a Gen Z to an old age pensioner. You just need the right tools to be able to collect this feedback.

Having said this, a survey by SnappApp found that 95% of people thought that collecting and measuring their current customer data is their most significant barrier.

How is it that 95% of people feel they don't have the correct tools to gain a better understanding of their customers?

This blog aims to help that 95%.

Here are 8 ways companies can collect and use customer feedback to improve their business, whilst measuring their customer's opinion.

Build a Social Presence

Potential customers are more likely to purchase something if surrounding influencers such as family and friends are saying "Have you seen this?", "Did you see what X posted last night?", or even "Check out the deal I tagged you in on Facebook".

The more followers you have on social platforms, the more trustworthy you look, and the bigger opportunity you have to collect valuable feedback to continue your growth. It's a win-win.

Social influence can be created in multiple ways, and one of the best ways is through responding to customers via social media. Having a presence this way does leave you open to public criticism though, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

It's a great way to interact with customers listen to their latest needs, as they're often a lot more vocal over social media.

You shouldn't be afraid to ask for feedback either - there's nothing more reassuring for a customer than when they can see a business trying to improve.

The Need For Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form can be looked at like a tennis match.

The company serves first, by sending out an initial feedback form about their company. Customers return with answers to the form, which the business can then use to adapt the service and products they provide.

The process is then repeated - send a form, receive feedback, use it to improve! Every piece of returned feedback offers you the chance to improve an aspect of your business and adapt, so it's important to be able to collect and analyse it.

To make the best use of feedback, you need also need to record customer sentiments regularly and compare results to ascertain if improvements to the Customer experience you deliver are being made. Which is why it's important to benchmark.

Sending out Benchmark Surveys, allows you to do exactly this, allowing you to track any progress made over a period of time.

Don't wait until the end-of-year review to find out your customers don't like what you're doing.

Innovate

Customers are not all 'idiotic bigots', no matter what your support staff may say or think. Some customers can come up with breakthrough innovative ideas the sort that you would be happy to pay your creative team to come up with - but for free!

A perfect example of a company using the power of the customer innovation is Dell, establishing the Dell IdeaStorm in 2007, a platform where customers could brainstorm any ideas they wanted Dell to implement into their products.

They created a platform for their customers to do all the thinking, being able to take the brilliant ideas, royalty-free, without having to give any compensation or credit to the originator!

If that isn't genius, I don't know what is. It just goes to show that it's not just your workforce that has all the good ideas.

Customers are valuable, and at the end of the day you are selling to them, so it's more than worth listening to what they have to say.

Innovate

Think Big

They say focused data is better data, and I agree to some extent, but disagree in another.

Not everyone has the same opinion. Requesting small demographics can be great for micro-changes and adjustments to meet specific customers needs, but it doesn't give you the full picture.

Using feedback from a bigger catchment creates more scope for improvement, creating a flexible product/service that had many strings to its bow. It's a lot easier to spot patterns and trends when more data is collected.

Show You Listen

It's all about PR. Responding quickly to customer feedback online shows people that you care and value peoples opinion. It's one thing making a statement about how much you value feedback, it's another to actually listen and act on it.

Ask for feedback, act on it, and don't be shy about communicating that you've acted on it. Show off the fact that you listen to your customers! You'll find anyone is much more likely to give honest feedback when they know it will actually make a difference - just like it does when you ask for employee feedback.

Restoring Credibility

Fighting fire with fire doesn't work with customer feedback. A negative comment doesn't need a negative response, unless you're dbrand. Always respond, If you got it wrong apologise, If you didn't and the customer was out of order, don't be afraid to explain your side of the story, but keep it polite, short and sweet.

Negative commentary can be counterattacked by positive feedback, reversing any loss of credibility you would have received from any nasty review.

Everyone expects a company to have negative reviews, and if they don't it begins to a look a little dodgy - like you've got all your mates from the pub to leave you 5 star raving reviews! You just can't win.

Instinctively we always jump straight to the negative feedback on review sites- who doesn't love a bit of drama? However, this doesn't mean you can't show off your positive reviews and testimonials to your website. It always helps to increase credibility and trustworthiness of your products/services when you see a name or company talking about what you offer.

Explore Different Avenues

As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways to collect customer feedback to measure your customers opinions - below are a few ways that should not be forgotten:

  • Email isn't dead yet. In fact, most companies still rely on email to receive customer feedback. How do you ask for customer feedback via email, or on the emails you send out? Click here to find out!

  • Don't be scared of social media, it isn't all full of trolls and hate. You shouldn't be reluctant to ask for feedback on all social media platforms. Want to begin asking for feedback on your content? Click here to find out how you can!

  • Customers are not aliens. Interact with them face-to-face, which can be done with strategies such as focus groups.

  • Allow for reviews on your website. This can be either for feedback on the web pages, or on the service itself! To discover how you can effectively do that, click here.

  • Third-party sites are a good source of reviews about your company, such as eBay or TripAdvisor. Wherever you have collect reviews and feedback from, don't be afraid to learn from it, and show it off!

The more places and areas you ask for feedback, the better the understanding you can get of your customers opinions. You can never have too much feedback!

Use Competitors as a Benchmark

A company shouldn't be embarrassed about looking at how others who are in the same field are dealing with customers.

It shouldn't be seen as copying, but as a comparison to the big hitters in your industry. Since bigger companies are much likely to take a hefty amount of abuse from customers, why not take advantage of this and see how they tackle it? There's no need to try and reinvent the wheel!

There is the urban myth of the man who worked in the fast-food industry and was tasked by his company to find the best place to put a fast food restaurant in each city. He breezed into each city, found a busy McDonald's then simply wrote a quick report recommending that they should place the restaurant near to it, and then took a few days off. Why? McDonald's spend millions on market research and seem to always be successful.

No, I'm not saying copy everything your competitor does - just use it to help influence some of your decisions whilst creating your unique customer experience. Learn what impresses your customer from the feedback collected and then try to improve on it.

Compare!

Final Thoughts

Moral of the story? There's no excuse for not being able to collect feedback, use it to discover what your customers really think, and use it to make the changes your business really needs.

You can read more on collecting customer feedback via Benchmark Surveys and Customer Feedback requests by clicking here.

If you have any questions about collecting customer feedback, or have any of your own strategies, let us know in the comments below!

Improve Your Business Today

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

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.

How To Deliver a Fantastic Customer Service During a Pandemic

How To Deliver Fantastic Customer Service During a Pandemic

How To Deliver Fantastic Customer Service During a Pandemic

COVID-19 has chewed up, and for the unfortunate ones, swallowed many small businesses. Whilst big corporations have cash reserves and have been able to survive for months doing a reduced amount of business, the average small business owner doesn't have this privilege. They have employees who are reliant on the business to pay the bills to keep a roof over their heads.

But the number one rule of business is...

Don't run out of cash!

It's therefore not only tempting, but sometimes necessary to cut down to a skeleton workforce and reduce costs, so the company doesn't sink.

But reducing staff numbers usually also means that the Customer Service level you provide will also suffer. This obviously risks alienating current customers and at the moment retaining current customers is as important as ever - if not more so.

Here are 6 ways companies can deliver great customer service whilst in a pandemic.

Start With Your Team

Having the team in the office allows for an easy pick me up, with a 10-minute motivational speech. But what about those who are working from home, how can you rally and motivate your troops?

Motivated troops give out better results than ones who are shuffling around, looking at their feet waiting for the day to end, or sat day-dreaming about being anywhere else.

I've come to realise that some office distractions get a bad reputation. Having a little break to talk about your plans for the weekend or poking fun at a colleague's latest disaster of a haircut may be seen as wasted time from a manager's point of view. But these interactions make work humane and allows it to be an enjoyable atmosphere (unless it's your haircut being poked fun at). You even start missing your managers awkward sense of humour when working from home, even if it does come at your expense.

The importance to connect with your team will create a sense of happiness and belongingness that will rub off onto your customers. Step forward tech.

Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype (remember that?) come in very handy when teams are working remotely.

Meetings should be slightly more frequent than in if they were happening the office, to help prevent cabin fever caused from being cut off from the rest of your crew.

No-one will work as well when they think they're isolated from the rest of the team, and this will reflect in the customer service they deliver.

Start With Your Team!

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Setting yourself up with false promises would be an error for any company.

We're in unusual times, and even though we're slowly starting to get back to things with our 'new normal', there are still some factors that cannot be controlled.

The worst thing you can do is pretend you've not been effected, and get your employees to make promises to customers you know can't be kept.

If there's going to be a delay, let your customers know, rather than trying to sound better than your competition. Customers are usually more accepting of a delay when they have been told to expect it, rather than when they've not been given any indication of a problem and their order is a week late.

As the heading says, honesty is the best policy, and goes a long way to helping deliver an excellent customer service!

It's Time To Be More Flexible

Being strict with your staff when they are working at home is not the way forward during these turbulent times. Stress levels are sky-high, so every bit of extra help will be appreciated, especially as they continue to work from home.

Allowing staff the opportunity to work the hours they want (within reason, of course), can be a real mood booster. Some people work better in the early hours, others later on, so letting staff work the hours which will produce higher quality work for you is a win-win.

I know some people that are real grumps in the mornings, and I couldn't image them ever giving a customer a positive experience until they've had their third cup of coffee!

As long as they're able to produce results, does it really matter if they start an hour later or earlier than everyone else?

Be Flexible!

Adjust Your Plan As Needed

Who would have expected this time last year that we'd go from suits in the office, to pyjamas in the dining room?

Companies that have successfully adjusted to working from home have managed to ensure their customers are still being provided with a great service. Those who haven't will have undoubtedly seen customer satisfaction scores drop.

So, any plan for the future needs to be able to bend, adjust, and twist or any word you want to use, it needs to be flexible.

Customers are in the dark on how you're operating, and to be honest, they don't really care. They just want their goods and services, and they want them now.

Whatever plans you have, you need to ensure that the customers and employees will benefit from them. Cutting costs may help out in the short term, but eventually, your employees and customers are likely to suffer.

Get a fall back plan. If you have more than one action plan, you won't find yourself making hasty decisions that within a week, suddenly don't seem too good.

Special Focus On Your Current Customers

New customers are always welcomed, but loyal ones guarantee repeat purchases. In current circumstances where time and money are at a restraint, you may find customers looking for faster and cheaper alternatives, unless you give them a reason not to.

A quick thank-you email, a special offer, or even a 10% discount can go a long way in showing a customer you appreciate them. Not only does this help strength the customer experience and relationship, they're often great ways of making a little extra money!

Here are some great ideas on how to decide how you will say thank-you to your customers:

  1. Think about what would keep you loyal to a company, and continue to spend your money with.
  2. What have other companies done? A quick check of your inbox will help with this.
  3. Are your competitors giving their customers anything back? If not, this could be a perfect opportunity to show them why you're better.

Don't Be Afraid To Show Off

Don't be shy. During this stressful time, customers want to receive some positive news for once. So, why not share all the good things your company is doing to help improve the situation. (It might even boost their confidence in you as a company.)

Announce your plans on social media, and use numerical data to help show you have substance behind those claims. Social media should never be feared. Even the pandemic has not struck it down - in fact, it has brought people closer together.

Don't Be Distant In Socially Distanced Times

Companies are going out of their way to assist people during the most uncertain of times, so it's important to have a glass half full mentality. View the pandemic as an opportunity to deliver creative customer service, exploring new avenues of what you have to offer.

Customers should never be distant from your company. Just 1 or 2 metres maybe...

These were just some ways companies can continue to deliver a fantastic customer service during such unusual times. With Coronavirus looking like it's here for the long-run, it's more important than ever to ensure your customer experience gives your business a defining "stand-out" factor.

What do you think companies should do to deliver great customer service during the pandemic? Don't be a stranger - Drop a comment below!

Improve Your Business Today

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

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. 

How Can Businesses Hire New Staff During COVID-19?

How Can Businesses Hire New Staff During COVID-19?

How Can Businesses Hire New Staff During COVID-19?

 

When we went into lockdown, everyone’s daily life came to a halt – but life must go on.

Businesses still need to continue to better themselves, and need the staff to do so. Many companies came to a stand-still on Monday 23rd of March, but a few weeks later, and they have begun to gear back up to return to business life as normal (well, as normal as they can be).

To continue to improve, develop, and expand a business, it takes skilled employees to do so. This is where a problem comes in – the hiring and recruitment becomes a lot harder when you can’t meet up with them.

Or is it?

The answer is no. In fact, hiring new staff has never been easier for businesses that are prepared to adapt to remote working.

In this blog, we’re going to discuss just how any business can continue to recruit new staff during these uncertain times.

Remote Working

From what used to be a distant dream for some employees has suddenly become a cold-hitting reality. We’re well into the lockdown now (hopefully nearer the end than the start), and the majority of businesses have been able to adapt to working from home.

Now that businesses have had time to put the necessary infrastructure in place, it’s a lot easier to onboard new employees. Whilst the first couple of weeks were a mad rush enabling current employees to work from home, at least we all know how to do it now.

Before you can even think about hiring new staff, you need to be able to set any newcomer up to work from home.

So, you’ve got the infrastructure in place, and you’re ready to start finding your new star employees, let’s have a look at how you can do it.

The Job Advert

We’re not going to be in lockdown forever (hopefully), but ask yourself – is this a job they could do from home even after this is all over? If so, it might be a good idea to not worry about where the candidates are applying from?

Not only does this mean your office won’t be getting any more crowded, but it also means the pool of talent you choose from, has just increased significantly.

After all there’s no such thing as having too many good applicants apply.

The Interview

You’ve found a potential candidate, it’s time for the dreaded interview. A chance for you to look them in the eye, into their soul and see if they’ll fit into the puzzle you’re completing.

There’s nothing quite like sitting a meter or two away from them as you separate the bullshitters from the honest, hard workers.

When you’re miles apart, it’s harder to do this, so you’re left with two options:

Telephone

The classic, and you don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing when you take the call (unless you’re already in the office). This can be harder for both you and the interviewee that opposed to face-to-face. As an interviewer, you can’t see their list of prepared answers, and the interviewee often doesn’t know whether or not to keep talking. Body language is a wonderful thing!

A positive from the phone interview is that everyone knows how to use a phone. If they don’t, question why they’ve made it this far.

Video Chat

Thanks to technology you don’t need to be in the same room as someone to see the whites of their eyes – depending on the quality of connection and webcam.

This adds a much more personal touch as you can see the interviewee presents themselves, and make sure they’re 100% focused.

However, because of internet speeds, you often lose out hearing everything that’s said, as well as beginning to talk when the other does. In these video calls there’s often lots of “Oops, go on… Sorry, say that again?”.

Of course, not everyone is as well adapted towards using the computer as you and me. Is it always worth the hassle? I’ll leave that up to you and your faith in their abilities.

Training and Monitoring to Make Sure They Do Their Job Properly

When you hire someone, no-matter how much you like them, or what experience they have, you can never guarantee that they’ll be doing the job right. It’s important to be able to monitor what they’re doing, whilst making sure you don’t look like an over-paranoid, micromanaging boss.

This is especially important with “customer facing” employees that can make or break your company’s reputation depending on how they respond to a situation. But it’s no good waiting until you get a complaint to look into matters – the damage is done then!

With Cxceed, you can monitor, control, and improve what your employees are saying to your customers, whilst keeping them involved in the process. Whether they’re in the office, or working at home, our software seamlessly integrates with your telephone and email systems. No complicated installations are needed – just log into our online software, and you’re good to go once it has been set up.

You can assign your employees previous conversations to evaluate, which not only gives them a taste of what to expect, but can also give you an idea of their current standards.

As well as this, you can assign a percentage of their communications for evaluation, which helps keep a close track of progress they’ve made whilst at your company.

If you’d like to read more about the benefits of Cxceed, you can click here.

Not only this, but it's now possible to make training courses for your employees. Applications like Coassemble allow you to easily create training courses, which can include a multitude of questions and tests to make sure they're learning what they read and see.

Meetings

It’s never been easier to host meetings with your team thanks to the wide variety of applications and programs out there. From Zoom (link), Skype (link), Microsoft Teams, to even conference calls using your VoIP system.

Meetings are a vital part of keeping the team together and singing off the team sheet. Even if you’re only having a meeting once a week you can use this to catch up on your employee’s thoughts, ideas, as well as what they’ve been doing.

Having these online/over-the-phone are just as good as face-to-face meetings, as long as everyone’s Internet holds up!

Keeping Them Involved

It can be hard being on the outside looking in.

If you have hired someone that’s outside of a reasonable travel-to-work time frame, it’s important to keep them involved and feeling part of the team.

Whilst we are in lockdown, there is no easy solution, apart from keeping them involved in meetings, encouraging groups to work together, as well as making sure you always invite them to any online events your business is having.

Once we are out of lockdown then, whenever your company is having any events, make sure you always invite them, even if you don’t think they will be able to come. If you have a few employees away from the central office, you could always hold an event that is more accessible and local to them.

Continue To Better Your Business

We may be in testing times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to better our businesses with new recruits.

This doesn’t have to stop when the pandemic is over either. As devastating as COVID-19 has been on our society, we can take what we have learnt to pave a path for a better tomorrow. One where you can hire talent from across the country, or even the world, safe in the knowledge that you operate just as, if not more, effectively than you can in an office.

Why limit yourself to hiring the closet fit from your city, when you could find someone better a little further away?

Let us know what you think, and how your business is recruiting in the comments below.

Improve Your Business Today

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

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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.

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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?

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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!

What is Next for Businesses in This Lockdown World

What is Next for Businesses in This Lockdown World?

What is Next for Businesses in This Lockdown World?

All around the world, offices are empty, it's like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Suffice to say, these are not normal times, with most businesses being forced to either furlough staff or work from home, businesses are in a limbo state of panic and confusion.

But What If This Is The New Normal?

All of a sudden, those big open-offices and plans for renovations don't seem like such a good idea!

Nobody can predict the length that the lockdown will last, how it will come to an end, and the length of time non-essential key workers will have to remain at home.

But looking forward, what can businesses expect to happen in the future? And what should they learn from this period, to expand and thrive when they are allowed to go back to 'normality'?

My personal opinion is, the lockdown isn't going to end soon unless we get a vaccine, and even if we do, the world of work has changed for good.

If it were to end tomorrow, can we really justify going back to:

  • Staff queuing in traffic to get to work, to do tasks that they could do at home?
  • Judging people by attendance, not results?
  • Spending money on huge offices that aren't needed?
  • Expecting staff to take the day off to wait in for a tradesman?
  • A large carbon footprint?

Trust Issues

I've wanted to transform how our company operates for years. I always liked the idea of working from home, but like most bosses, I suffer from trust issues.

These are not something I was born with. They have been collected, along with the (metaphorical) bruises and scars from 30+ years of managing people.

So even though the concept of working from home was always great, and unlike most business owners, I have Cxceed integrated, so monitoring and ensuring the quality of our call center's communications was not a problem, I just wasn't brave enough.

My logical brain said do it, but my limbic brain (my emotional side) always said no, I just couldn't make the jump.

Should You Embrace The Change?

Nobody likes change that they don't initiate, but because I've wanted to do this for years, I'm not fighting it.

But should you embrace the change?

Alter all, not all change is bad. The fact that a virus has upturned traditional work practices doesn't mean that some change wasn't needed.

Working Online Means Catchment Areas Are Widended

When businesses shift to working from home, catchments areas are no longer an issue, meaning previously restricted talent pools will expand exponentially.

The pool could be overflowing with possible candidates who are willing and able to do a fantastic job from home, who wouldn't have been looked at twice before due to their location.

Have a business in Kent, but your best candidate for the job is in Edinburgh? That won't be a problem any more!

For employees, they would not have to worry about their dream job being too far away. No longer do they have to settle for a job that is "kind-of" what they're looking for. Being in the job that you really want is good for everyone - higher moral, increased motivation, and actually knowing what you're doing!

A Working From Home Model Benefits All Staff

Staff can also feel the benefits. They are people - some busy parents, some care givers. They have outside interests that make them happier and more rounded employees. Some struggle to get to work through transport issues, or horrendous rush hour traffic, but these don't always have to be an issue any more.

By allowing staff to work from home, businesses will have happier, more alert staff who want to do their job.

Not only do they not have to waste hours travelling to and from work (this could accumulate to a full day at work for some people), in some cases they can work hours more suitable for them. Moving from the office to the living room has shown positive results, with 68% of British employees saying they are more productive when working remotely.

More productive staff without the costs of an office? Sounds like a bargain of a deal to me!

Of course, this will depend on the type of business they work for. A customer support line wouldn't be very useful if all of their staff wanted to work from 9 pm until 6 am. For some jobs, you have to be there for what are deemed "normal" operating hours. But being flexible and allowing staff to work the sensible hours they want and can do, is a sensible move to allow for a better work-life balance.

Working from 8 am to 6 pm, with a two-hour lunch break could work much better for someone than a 9 am to 5 pm shift, with only one hour for lunch.

working from home

Lower Costs

Having staff working from home gives you the option of having more staff work during peak hours, or when you need an extra pair of hands.

Travelling to work to help out for just an hour doesn't make sense, but jumping on the phone to help out for an hour or two from home does. The potential cost savings and customer experience improvements are huge.

Businesses working remotely need fewer people in the office, and that's if they need an office to begin with! After all, businesses are people, not premesis!

Costs can be cut massively by downsizing the head office or getting rid of it.

Recently, the Chief Executive of Barclays, Jes Staley, suggested that the banking giant will now take a de-centralised approach.

“I think the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past, and we will find ways to operate with more distancing over a much longer period of time,” he said.

It makes sense. Why have the costs of a big office for all these employees when they can do as good a job, if not better without it?

Heating, electricity, rent, mortgages, food, security; costs all dwindle or are gone completely with staff working remotely, or from home. If your office is anything like ours, cutting down on the coffee and tea costs will be rewarding enough!

You also won't have to worry about anyone leaving the bathroom or kitchen in a mess which probably outweighs any cost out there!

You might have to help your staff out at first if they are working from home, some will need to purchase furniture and equipment, but this initial cost will soon be recouped with the reduces operating costs.

Finally Become a Paperless Office

Those businesses who work with documents such as letters or paper applications can make their workload a lot easier by moving it online. Paper documents are easy to misplace, a huge waste of desk space and take an eternity to send between people.

The paperless office was first talked about in 1975, but it's 2020 and email exists.

Ditching the paper will save time and a lot of money, especially through wages and postage costs. And, from personal experience, it's a lot easier to find a properly named document on the computer than it is find a piece of paper in an overcrowded filing cabinet.

paperless office

It's Not All Roses

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's not, and companies who have their staff working from home can suffer from some setbacks.

People not being together in the office can mean the person to person connection is lost, and those working relationships might not either form or carry on.

For some, the office socialising and banter is key to their mental well-being, and without it, you suddenly realise that you're a lot lonelier. That two minute gossip in the kitchen, laughing at someone's bizarre dress sense, all gone.

Similarly, not being in a space filled with like-minded people can reduce creativity, as ideas might not easily bounce off each other over the phone.

Online tools such as Zoom can be used for a quick meeting to shoot some ideas to the team. But the amount of time to set up the meeting, make sure everyone is there is far more time-consuming than just turning around and asking people when in the office space.

Our Plans - A Hybrid Office

We are embracing working from home and are changing our culture. After twenty years building a business and scaling up to more, and bigger offices every three to four years, we are leaving our current Contact Center's building.

We have given notice on the lease and plan to open smaller, hybrid offices, which will become collaboration hubs, where our teams can meet and work together if they want to.

We will encourage 'team working days' where a team will meet up, work and collaborate for the day. Although some staff members may prefer to work everyday day in the office, others will be able to WFH most of the time. Apart from these team working days, it will be up to the individual where they work.

By adapting to the new reality, our teams will continue to develop and improve Cxceed whilst giving exceptional customer service. We will also research and adopt any other applications which are needed to improve communications with our team and customers.

Working from home requires both a change in management mindset and the right tools to ensure that we maintain control over the conversations our staff are having with customers.

If our businesses are to remain productive and our customers happy with the service we provide - we have Cxceed, so that is the tools sorted, to allow that to happen. 

If you have any comments or can refine our ideas further, then let us know in the comments below, or if you found this article useful or insightful, share it to a friend to strike up that conversation between yourselves!

Thanks, and stay safe!

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

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!

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