Customers Don’t Know What They Want.. Or Maybe?

Customers don't know what they want....

Or do they?

Everyone has at some point heard a company or a business leader say that customers don’t know what they want. But I don’t agree with that statement and this blog post is my explanation why. Instead of focusing in what someone want you should focus on what they need.

Companies think that their customers don’t know what they want

Your company is the expert on your product, or at least it should be. Whenever two people are talking who have different levels of knowledge about a topic an asymmetry is created. When your sales people start asking deep, maybe technical questions you are very likely to confuse the customer. To be frank, most of your customers probably don’t care about having deep knowledge in every purchase they make.

Your customer knows what they need even if it’s only on a basic level. The deeper their knowledge is of what they need the more they are invested in the possible purchase of your product. Depending on how big of an investment your product equals they will have different interest in the technical details. There is a big difference depending on for e.g. the cost of your product and how many people the purchase affect.

You speak different languages

Because of the asymmetry you can almost see it as you speak a different language than your customer. It’s only if you understand this that you can start taking real steps toward your customer. If you on the other hand decide to stick to the idea that your customer don’t know what they want then you have to realise one thing. You are probably asking your customer the wrong questions. You might even be pursuing the wrong prospect.

There are only so much information that we can keep in our minds at one time. If you are selling a B2B product then your customer probably is busy remembering information that has to do with their company. If it’s a private consumer then they also have something that is more important. Even worse will it be over time. If the customer only will be reminded by your information on more rare occasions, then they will find it hard to remember it. Customers need to be reminded of important information.

IT psychology gives us a hint

Do you need to work with a software on a daily basis that is not actually that good? A software that does not fill all your needs? Then I’m sure you try to find your ways around task related obstacles on a daily basis. A company can only overcome this if the IT company listens to their customer and help the customer with training. As a customer you usually only have two options. Deal with the obstacles or buy the product from someone else.

Your customer will work around obstacles no matter what product you offer. Have you, or a woman around you, used different kinds of facial treatments to meet all their needs? There has been a trend for the past few years that are perfect proof of this. Where you use different kind of facial products in different areas of your face to deal with different problems. There is no perfect product and you will probably not solve all your customer’s needs. All you can do is respect your customer enough to realise that they know what they need. Even if they cannot formulate it in the language you are used to.

Customers know what they need

The issue has been stated, we are so used to not having all our needs met but products. This has resulted in us almost avoiding thinking about it because it will often be wasted energy. If we all had our creative hats on all the time, then there would probably be more innovative products that actually solve our problems on the market.

So if as a company you should not stick to the assumption that customers don’t know what they want. Show them enough respect to realise that they know what they need. What they need is more important than what they want. They can say that they want the latest product on the market. But if that product does not solve their needs then they will not be loyal. It will just be a matter of time before they turn to another company. So, think again about the information you gather from your customer. What can you change to make you better at gathering information about what they need?

When it comes to customer service, it should be what your customer are asking for. One thing they are asking for is better customer service. With our help and platform you can serve your customers like you should. Read about omni channel here . Visit our product page here.

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choice architecture

Choice Architecture; The Strategic Importance of Choice In Customer Service

Choice architecture

The strategic importance of choice in customer service

Have you ever thought of a Customer Service Manager as a Choice Architect? Or any other decision maker in a customer service? The thought definitely changes my way of looking at the importance of the role. After reading this blog post, about Choice Architecture, your view of the role probably will change as well. At least it will if you understand the strategic aspect of the role.

I keep thinking about how things work, and why things happen around us. This has led me to the second Nobel Prize winning principle. You can read about the other Nobel Prize winning principle here. This time I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it, since it became such a buzzword last year. The same year as it won the Nobel Prize. I’m talking about nudging.

I read the book written by the Nobel Prize winners Thaler and Sunstein about their research. Here is a description of the concept nudging. While nudging itself it very interesting I specifically got stuck on the concept of choice architecture. Which I introduced to you in the beginning of this blog post.

The choice architecture of a customer service

If you look at how you build a customer service, you are faced with choices you have to make. One of those choices is something I have introduced before. Whether you should choose an omni channel or multi-channel strategy, or maybe you will only offer customer support by phone.

The choice you make will end up being the choice architecture for your customer when they want to get in touch with you. The way you communicate to your customer about the choices they have when they need your support. Right here is where nudging could play a role. The more complicated this architecture is the harder it will be for your customer to solve their problems.


Problematic choice architecture

I have a good example of a complicated architecture. Not long ago I had to help my mother because she was having problems with Adobe Reader. She had two accounts, one paid for and one free trial. The free version was causing problems for the paid version. I assumed it would be easy to contact their customer service. It ended up taking me more than ten minutes to find anything useful at all. The problem with their architecture was that they had hidden the main customer service options behind a confusing and complicated FAQ. So even I got stuck in a loop in their FAQ, trying to find a chat or phone number to get some actual help.

The sad thing is that this is not the first time I see a company hide their customer service. Having an FAQ or a “customer community” as the first option is becoming to common. I’ve realized how much this breaks my connection to a company because it’s so obvious that they do not actually want to help you.

Good choice architecture

But choice architecture of a customer service can actually present all options in a clear way. While still gearing customers away from the phone. Imagine on the customer service part of your website having everything clear. But by using graphical or typographic tricks highlight the channels you prefer they will choose. Maybe make some options easier for them to use without hiding behind the easy FAQ. Another option could be to write out an estimate of queue times for your different channels. Let the customer choose themselves.

The common critique for nudging is that it’s manipulation, that it assumes that people don’t know what’s best for them. But communication will always be flawed. By using nudge marketing maybe you, who should know your customer, can gear them into channels that they probably will make them happier in the end.

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remote customer service thanks to cloud technology

The Remote Customer Service; Thanks To Cloud Technology

The Remote Customer Service;

Thanks To Cloud Technology

We live in a society where the old school office is something people are working to get away from. People have realised that the focus on an office does not mean we are more productive or better at teamwork. If you do not want your customer support to be tied to one specifik location, then this is the blog post for you. This blog post will discuss how the Connectel platform can make that happen. A remote customer service feels cool. We know how you can make it happen in a function that doesn’t feel easy to do remotely.

You log in to the given CEC website and you have everything you need in front of you. Everything will be gathered in one place. The great thing with the CEC system is that you don’t really need to gather all the agents in the same place. If you are using WebRTC, then all you need is your computer and a pair of headphones. With agents spread out geographically this is how you can set up a remote customer service.

We see more of this set up in the industry than ever. Especially with the increase in, for example, health care support apps. The owner of an web shop or a digital company that has a few employees spread out geographically could also find use for a system set up like this. When you are running a small company you often need to wear many hats. Maybe even you as the owner needs to handle customer support. So while it might seem difficult, a remote customer support is doable and something we will see more of in the future.

A remote customer support might even be beneficial if you think of some of the tech trends we see today. If you as a customer made a video call, would you rather see a boring office in the background? Or maybe it could create a better connection if the agent was sitting at a café or outside? Another benefit is the money your department would save if you didn’t have a large, stiff office that can fit all the agents. The truth is that 60-80% of the customer service budget goes to dealing with agents.

But I think the main benefit to a remote customer service is that you will have happier agents. The environment agents have to deal with is usually stressful and high pressure. If you have a calm surrounding then you are better able to focus on your customer’s needs.

But now I’m asking you, could you consider having a remote customer service? 

Connectel – the perfect remote customer service platform

You can of course create a customer support that is just as good as the traditional one. The omni channel strategy is equally easy to create, and you can read about that strategy here. You can connect many well known systems, like CRM systems or ticket management systems to CEC. You have support systems, like our brand new speech analytics functionality and our scripting tool. Integrating everything you can do with CEC into your process means that you almost do not need your team leader. But if you would need to contact him or her, then we have a chatting tool in the platform for co-workers.

When you buy the platform it’s empty, but you can shape it into something unique for what you need. We at Connectel will always be here to help you figure out what you want and need. We have a lot of ideas about setups and you know your business. If you could build the perfect customer service, no matter how complicated it seems, how would you do it?

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improve the statistics

3 ways to improve both statistics & how you communicate with customers

3 ways

to improve both statistics &

how you communicate with customers

We often want more and more and we rarely are satisfied with what we’ve got. Could you call it greed? Maybe. Many people have today a naive expectation on IT that it will solve all problems. But at the same time we have a high mistrust against IT. What if it actually was possible to both have the cake and eat at the same time? What if there is a scenario where we could have everything we want in both soft and hard metrics?

We will in this blog post list three solutions or processes that can both improve how you communicate and also improve the statistics your agents deliver. All that without increase the stress and pressure on your agents!

1. Gather all systems in one place for the best overview

Something you see in many successful companies is their emphasis on efficient processes. Cutting time and tasks where it’s possible can almost be an obsession with these large corporations. Because the understand that time is money. I’m pretty sure you understand that as well. A majority of your budget probably goes to agents, so every minute matters.

The problem with budgets is that when a customer support manager is under pressure that can result in added stress on agents. That is stress that will not make your numbers better long term, only short term. By helping your agents with their work process, just like the large corporations, you can improve the numbers long term. A great of doing that is to gather as many systems and tasks in the same place. That will help your agents avoid wasting time on searching for the right system and page.

2. Show the customer information where you are working

Even if this one is closely connected to the earlier topic it has more to do with easy access to relevant information. Your agents will be able to answer questions quicker and finish inquiries faster if customer information is available exactly where your agents will use it.

Don’t underestimate the time it could take for your agent to search for a customer and then finding the information they are looking for.

3. Smart distribution & automations

This is a big one, and probably one of the most important ones. A customer support system should be able to intelligently distribute new inquiries. Based on agents’ availability inquiries should be sent their way. That way agents will never be able to cherry pick easy inquiries of take unaccepted breaks without it showing in their statistics.

The even better thing is when you combine smart distribution and automations. Let the computer for example look up a customer based on their phone number or an identifier given in the phone line. It will save incredible amount of time, and the agent can put their energy on the customer instead of finding information. In this solution you can let the agent work on the customer relationship instead of your inefficient process.

As you can see it is possible to have the cake and eat it too. But you will need to rely on the expertise of IT professionals who does these things for a living. Teaming up with the right software company is key to building a process that will work in the long term.

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mechanism design theory in customer service

Mechanism Design Theory In Customer Service

Mechanism Design Theory

In Customer Service

Mechanism design theory won the Nobel Prize 2007. In this blog post we will introduce the theory that affects the customer service environment on a daily basis.

In this blog post I’m going to attempt to do something I haven’t seen anywhere else. Something that I’m simply exited and inspired by. While researching for inspiration for blog posts, I realised that every customer service blog writes about the same things. If I want to read about how AI is going to affect customer service, there are at least ten posts. Which is not really a bad thing, AI is an interesting topic. The problem is just that none of these blogs delivers anything new or really interesting.

That is why I am going to attempt to do something a bit deeper in this blog post. I will apply a Nobel prize winning economic principle to the customer service environment. Principles that you probably have seen, but you haven’t realised that there is something more scientific going on here. While I can at least think of three principles that are interesting to discuss, we will focus on Mechanism Design Theory in this blog post. Mechanism design is one of the main branches of economic research (together with game theory, decision theory and general equilibrium theory).

The reason why this is a bit of a gamble is because usually in this principle, the example has to do with auctions and the relationship between seller and buyer. Or in general a market. But if you look at how they are using the example you can see how it can also be applied to what happens in a call center or customer service.

Mechanism design looks at how different types of rules have different consequences. So, it’s the same relationship as between how the dependent variable (consequence) reacts to the independent variable (rules). What Mechanism design says is that because of information asymmetry (gap in knowledge), you need rules or mechanisms that can try to overcome that. For example, if you look at the market, you have buyers with a set of incentives and sellers with completely other incentives. So, they have different information about the value of the transaction.

Applied to customer service

Apply this thinking to the customer service environment and you will see something similar going on. Your customer service is hoping to take as few calls as possible (like that would ever happen), and your customer has problems they need to solve. You have two parties that have their own self-interest, and each have their own private information about their preferences.

The real strength of Mechanism design is how it can make markets more powerful. So maybe applying mechanisms to a customer service environment can optimise productivity? According to the Nobel prize winner Eric Maskin, you start with the goals you have and then you reverse engineer your way back to what mechanisms that can achieve those goals. What Mechanism design does is to tell you what combination of mechanism is most likely to work best. While Mechanism design is much more scientific and mathematical, my guess would be to utilise all appropriate technology in an aligned process and gather your whole process in one system like our solution.  That shouldn’t be impossible right? 😉

I really think applying the holistic approach of omni channel (explain here) can be a key strategy here. Even if the strategy is scary to a lot of people. By giving good service on all channels, the pressure will decrease on the voice channel.

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good customer support connectel

The strength of good customer support

The Strength

of Good Customer Support

The closest link your company has to your customers is through the customer service. How much do you value that? Companies are misplacing their focus within customer service. They rather focus on limiting costs instead of optimising the effects customer service can have on a customer relationship.

Customer Service – One of the Fundamental Areas of Marketing

While everyone knows that advertising and public relations are areas of marketing, it seems like people often forget that so is customer service. Advertising and many marketing areas are something that is easier to control and literally a one-way communication. Customer service is rather the opposite. For a company that wishes to be customer-centric the emphasis on customer service and support is crucial. How can you really call yourself customer-centric if you don’t have a great support system in place? It’s in customer service your company have the chance to prove your customer centric spirit.

Thinking of customer service relationship to marketing always makes me think of mom and pop stores. These stores that can have loyal customers on a different level than any other kind of business. There seems to be a magic to these kinds of small businesses. Somehow they really have created a lasting impact on their customers. It’s that magic that big businesses often try to recreate but usually fails to succeed with. What is that magic? It’s often the relationship between the customer and employee. Building a relationship cannot be broken down into a science.

A company should want the atmosphere to be set for building a relationship with the customer. It all comes down to conversations, digital or vocal. If the marketing department spreads the façade on social media that this is a company that puts the customer first. Then that will be in vain if the two-way conversations you have with customers don’t live up to that attitude.

Separate Departments

The problem is the fact that we are talking about two departments that usually function completely separately. This is probably the reason why there is a disconnect in the alignment between efforts. Sometimes it even seems like the customer support department have a closer connection to the IT-department than to marketing. What does that tell us about the end result? It doesn’t really matter how hard the marketing department is working to present an image. It only matters if customer support breathes the same spirit.

In talking about values and spirit, take for example some of the most common company values; compassion, customers, responsibility and teamwork. All of these somewhat cliché values are all about people and relationships. How can a company stand for these things and still work so hard not to have to talk to customers? If the customer support department are pushing their agents so hard to save money, marketings efforts will almost be neutralised.

The most important thing is alignment and communication between departments. Every action company managers take also has to exude these values. There are too many companies that think it’s good enough if their employees fake the sound and look of happy employees towards customers. How your company treat your employees behind the scene truly matters. It will show through the cracks and your marketing attempts will fail.

Market Research & Feedback

How often do you actually get a chance to have a real conversation with your customers? Companies usually have two separate approaches towards market research and feedback. Either they put a lot of emphasis on it, or they don’t really seem to work on it at all. The first approach thinks it’s an investment that will be worth the money long term. The second don’t understand the value and think it’s too expensive.

But in customer support you have a team that should be working with this on a daily basis. Value the time they spend with your customers and do your best in making your agents comfortable on the phone with customers. Everything doesn’t have to be so efficient. Do not focus too much on statistics. It will leave a lasting impression on your customers if they had a nice conversation with your agent.

Creating Brand Ambassadors

If you (against the odds?) succeed in your customer service and support. You have a greater chance of creating brand ambassadors. Those people that all companies wish to have but is far from easy to create. In this day and age, we attempt to turn how to create brand ambassadors into a science. We measure everything we can and hope that our NPS score and Customer Satisfaction score is proof that our customers are becoming loyal to us. But when we think of it, are we really always that honest while answering surveys? If we are as honest as we can be in surveys, is it actually that easy to grade our feelings?

A customer relationship is as non-scientific as any other kind of relationship. That is what makes it so hard, and small things can have a massive effect on that relationship. So instead of focusing on the science of it, why not just focus on building that relationship through genuine conversations?

So, what are your company’s goals when it comes to marketing? Is it to portray an image that puts the customer first? Then value customer support and service and realise how much potential these efforts have and how it can either make or break your company’s image. In the next blog post we will have a look at what is not a buzzword, omni channel communication. It’s here to stay and companies needs to adapt to it. It’s because of that Connectel specialises in omni channel, which you will learn more about it in the next post. Would you like to get more information on how Connectel’s solution CEC handles a omni channel strategy? Then visit open your channels!

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The Power of Facebook Messenger

The power of facebook messenger

We expect B2C companies to use Facebook Messenger. Don’t we also expect the company to answer straight away? Like if we were chatting with our friends on Facebook. Did you know that today 63% of us use a messaging app(*)? Also, that 53% of us are more likely to buy from a company that we can reach on a messaging app? In this blog post we will talk about Facebook Messenger and how much potential it’s future has. There will also be two more posts about Facebook Messenger this week.

How was the statistics on your last email marketing campaign? They were probably not very good. Well some companies, e.g. Sephora, have realised that to reach your target group you need to find channels that are not established yet. If you want to stand out from your competitors you need to do the same.

Facebook Messenger – The Next Big Marketing Channel

The features and functionalities of Messenger increase every year. At the Facebook F8 event in May (2018) a couple really exiting features was introduced. Remember these are up and coming and are not available just yet.

First feature is still only in a closed beta version but it’s potential is very exiting! We’re talking about the camera effect, augmented reality. The possibility here is to let customers “try on” products virtually before they buy them. Companies like car manufacturer KIA, beauty store Sephora and sports brand Nike are included in this beta. Read more in this article.

The other big introduction was Messenger MDavid Marcus, Facebooks Vice President, described Messenger M as something that will make interactions that never were possible before, possible. According to him it will make the world smaller. Maybe you have guessed what it is? It’s a translation feature! So soon you will be able to talk to customers who doesn’t speak the same language as you in the app.

But some fairly established features of Facebook Messenger so far is the sending documents, video chatting, the integration of a paying service (like Paypal) and chatbots. They are working on their own fintech feature in Messenger though. This feature will mean that you don’t even have to use Paypal but can send payments easier than ever directly in Messenger. So far it’s only available in a few countries, like the US.

Facebook Messenger is changing all of the time. Who knows how much it will grow in the next couple of years! As David Marcus says in his keynote from the F8 conference in May, it still feels like Messenger is early in it’s development. Exciting!

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Build Behavioral Personas

Build Behavioral Personas

Using Customer Service Data

This blogpost is about how you can use customer service data to create behavioural personas. Just less than five years ago we would only build our marketing personas based on stereotypes. The assumptions that a woman have specific interests, and someone with a high income spend their money in this way. We have since then become smarter and realised that the market doesn’t work like that. We now realise the only thing we can rely on is behaviour. 

Behavioural data is more reliable than opinion, I have said it in earlier blog posts. When your company does the traditional market research they will probably only gather data that is less reliable. We soon have a day when a company doesn’t need to make manual market research. All the data they need is already there in the IT systems and processes. You already are tracking traffic to your website and conversion. Probably, how many you reach and engagement on social media. In your customer service you might for example track returned items and categories of issues.


Build behavioural personas with analytics

But you can take it a step further. We at Connectel have developed a speech analytics product with huge potential. To be able to extract valuable data from your conversations with customers could relieve your marketing department from assignments which gives them time to do something more valuable. Instead of relying on surveys that only 10-20 % of your customer base will answer now we can gather data and display it in real-time. Read more about the flaws with market research here.

Instead of sending out Customer Satisfaction questions you can with the help of speech analytics detect whether the customer seem happy or not. Together with data from the rest of the platform you can once and for all understand what channel your customer prefers. You can understand during what times of the day they tend to use what channel. With the help of speech analytics, we can catch all questions a customer is asking during a call, and text analytics can find the same information in emails and chat conversations. These examples are only scratching the surface of what we can do with the different analytics you will have available if you are using the CEC solution.

Get in touch with me if you have questions about the CEC solution or our analytical products.

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3 Reasons for Self-Service

3 Reasons for Self-Service

From the customer's point of view

It nothing new that companies want to go for self-service because of the dream of lower costs and less pressure on the phones. While I love omnichannel and have expressed before how every customer service should use the omnichannel strategy there are a lot of companies that are simply not interested. Not as much in the US, but especially in Scandinavia. The option companies have is to make a real effort with self-service. The point here is not to do it for the money but to do it to please the customers who you are not pleasing when you avoid omnichannel.

1. The backup option

If your company is relying a lot on the phone channel your IVR might not be created in a way that is easy to use for your customer. Do you have a lot of options in your IVR and does your customer often end up in the wrong option? Then self-service could be an option to help your customer from going crazy.

It’s also an option for those who doesn’t have the time to make a phone call. Or you might be in a place where you really cannot even make a phone call. If you can solve your problems yourself then your life becomes a lot easier.

2. Self-service is available 24/7

Another great argument for self-service is the availability of it. I have in earlier blog posts mentioned that too many companies are not available when customers actually need them. Most of us realise we have something to solve during the evening after customer service has closed for the day. If you are not planning to solve this issue, then self-service is an option available as a compromise.

Mobile devices also make self-service more accessible than ever. No matter where and when. If you can solve your problem now, then there will be no need to remember your problem. I don’t think you want your customer to go around reminding themselves that they have a problem with you. Right?

But let’s be very clear that it’s only a viable option if you are planning to do the work that it takes to have self-service as an option to human customer service.

3. Better customer experience

If self-service has been built right then one great argument for it is the speed of it. If the structure of the information is easy to navigate then I can get answers to my questions within minutes. At the same time agents have more time to deal with the bigger problems that they actually should spend their time on. No need to call a customer service to ask them to send out a new copy of that invoice you seem to have lost!

Self-service is relying heavily on you using or building a information system that truly works for your customer. A well built self-service system is based on the science of usability. Read this article to get some guiding points on how to let usability guide you. Or google usability and self-service. Either way you do need it before you get started.

So clearly self-service is a win-win situation. For companies that does not want to go omni it is also a great opportunity to deliver great service and support with less pressuring daily effort. But it puts a lot of pressure on you  build or choosing the right information system. We at Connectel obviously stand by our own self-service FAQ product, Custello. You will find information about in a few weeks on our new website. Until then, if you are interested send us an email.

Webchat - Your Website's Golden Star


Your website's golden star

Despite not being a new communication channel webchat is just as hot today for business support as it has been for private communication for decades. We see an increase in its importance if your customers are more likely to visit your website on a mobile device. But in general, your customer is expecting to be able to chat with you. You should also value this channel more than you already do. It gives you the opportunity to be there for your customer in that crucial decision-making moment. That moment when they are ready to buy. Things can still go wrong in this moment. I mean how many companies haven’t experienced abandoned shopping carts?

Some companies report increase in revenue if your customer interacts with your chat function. I see one problem with how companies are handling this feature though. I, as a customer expect the webchat to be active when I’m on your website. That is more likely to be during the evening. The whole thing with a webchat is that I expect immediate answers. If I don’t get an answer within five minutes, then I will abandon the chat and then you as a company has lost an opportunity. I am not okay with you handling chat like it was a channel that can be treated like email or social media.

Webchat Software

Some questions that I might ask might be very basic. Basic enough for you to be able to implement a chatbot during the hours when no agent is available. To implement a chatbot successfully there will be a lot of work that needs to be done to feed the bot with data. We at Connectel are for example working with speech analytics and text analytics to feed our customers’ chatbots.

I have in earlier blog posts about Facebook Messenger described how their version of a webchat can be handled. I also described some exciting new additions to their software. Read those blog posts here:

Webchat summary

Do you see the value? To summarize here are the three reasons why you should use a webchat on your website:

  • It could increase your revenue
  • It will make customer service easier and quicker
  • It will leave your customer with a great impression

Do you want to read more about webchat? Read here what Neil Patel thinks about chat’s potential for marketing. Are you interested in how we can create a process where webchat becomes the golden star of your websiteContact me through email here. 

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