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.

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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.

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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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.

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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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!

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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Webchat - Your Website's Golden Star

Webchat

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. 

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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Go for omnichannel instead of multichannel - even if there is a lack of time

Go for omnichannel instead of multichannel

Even if there is a lack of time

“We cannot set aside employees’ time just to handle facebook chat. “

“Omnichannel takes more time, which we don’t have! “

Ever heard these reasons for why not to embrace the omnichannel strategy, or any others like these? The idea of omnichannel tends to make a lot of companies uncomfortable. At the same time the “omnichannel experts” keeps saying that omnichannel is what today’s market is expecting.

“Your customer wants it!”

The tagline almost screams at you.

Not every company is hesitant to embrace omnichannel, e.g. Virgin media and Disney, have been raised to the skies for the excellent omnichannel approach. For large American companies omnichannel comes naturally. They have a relationship to customer service that you do not see in Europe.

But what about all those companies that does not have the deep pockets? American or European, it doesn’t matter. Is it only for elitist companies or can (or should) perhaps the masses of companies embrace the approach that is here to stay?

We can perhaps find the answer in the definition of what omnichannel vs multichannel is.

What is omnichannel and multichannel?

Omni comes from the Latin word omnis and means all or every, and multi obviously means many. While many professionals try to differentiate between multi and omni they are in the foundation the same, they just take it to different levels.

That means that omnichannel is a multichannel strategy.

Only, instead of separating channels like you do in multichannel where it’s hard to share information across the channel limits, in omnichannel everything is intertwined. Omnichannel can therefore be visualized with a spiderweb where the customer is the center of everything.

The key here is to remove the focus from the tickets many traditional multichannel systems create. You instead want to focus on the individual and their pain points and problems. By getting more context through omnichannel you are able to give the customer better support.

3 Reasons why omnichannel is better

  1. It moves the focus from tickets in your system onto your customer, the real individual. Which creates happier customers!
  2. It changes your perspective and makes it possible for you to handle changes in technology better. Your mindset will go from reactive to proactive which is exactly what you need to make better investments in technology.
  3. It gives you more, and better information about your customers. With that information you will know better who to target as well as you will know what problems what customer groups are having. If you take action based on that information you can expect saved money and time in the end.

Is it worth it?

It’s always comes to resource allocation in the discussions of whether to go omnichannel or not. To someone who doesn’t understand how a well-executed omnichannel strategy looks like it might seem like more time and money than it’s worth. If your strategy uses the best tools and systems on the market, then you can be sure that you will instead save time and money.

Omnichannel is a strategy that have a high return on the investment.

Connectel is a omnichannel solution. By saying that I am telling you that with our help you can make that previously explained situation a reality. By partnering up with us you can get a high return on your investment.

We can help you limit the number of systems you use. We can also help you save time and money.

Anna Itzel - marketing manager at connectel
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