We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.
We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.
We all know the feeling. It’s certainly happened to me on more than one occasion.
There you are watching television, flipping through a magazine or checking your online news feed when, suddenly, you come across an urgent message about … [cue loud, menacing music] … THE DANGERS OF STRESS.
Naturally, processing this bit of “helpful” information only makes you more stressed out about how often you’re needlessly stressing out. A slice of deliciously cruel irony if there ever was one.
But let’s be honest: When put in perspective, the stressors of the average person are fairly trivial. Most of us live in general equanimity compared to, say, what a typical Customer Service Representative (CSR) contends with on a daily basis. It’s not a coincidence that the average turnover rate for CSRs in the U.S. is 33% — nearly double what the average turnover rate is among all professions.
These statistics are not lost on today’s forward-thinking companies.
As business leaders shift their focus to more value-added strategies such as customer experience improvement, the link between CSR burnout and business profitability has become painfully clear. After all, it costs a lot of money to find, hire and train new employees. The question is, can anything significant really be done about a department that’s long been synonymous with high-stress and high-turnover rates?
When looking at how order processing automation fits into a customer service environment, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.”
Although stress can be a positive and motivating force in small doses, the long-term activation of the body’s stress-response system opens the door to some pretty serious health issues: It can alter mood, memory and sleeping patterns; it can contribute to headaches, heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders; and, it can even affect how a person’s genes express themselves!
Unfortunately for many CSRs, prolonged exposure to stress is all in a day’s work. When they’re not fielding calls from needy customers, CSRs can be found performing the mind-numbing task of hand-entering order data into their department’s ERP system or hunting down a lost document. And, when a mistake is made and the arrows of blame start to fly, you can bet that the biggest targets hang on the backs of CSRs.
These types of stressors are so prevalent in environments that rely on manual and paper-based processes that they’re often just accepted as “part of the deal.” Thankfully, more businesses are waking up to the fact that this is not a sound strategy.
A stressed-out CSR team ultimately leads to larger issues. The big two being:
Now, I know what you may be thinking: How can automation — something that’s often feared by CSRs as a job replacer — be the key to reducing their tension and avoiding the subsequent fallout? It’s all about equipping them with the right tools to succeed …
Too many managers make life harder for their CSRs by setting them up for failure. If a banana was the only tool a team of carpenters had to pound nails with, it’s fair to say that frustration and cynicism would soon follow. The right tools can make all the difference.
Below are the four biggest stress-busting benefits automation offers CSRs:
Workplace stress is a serious health issue that we’ve all experienced in varying degrees. And while measures like exercise, meditation and self-affirmation techniques can be employed at an individual level, in specific cases (i.e., CSRs), a more holistic solution is needed. What sets order processing automation apart is its ability to go beyond simply treating the symptoms of CSR stress and actually address the underlying root causes.
So, to all the businesses stressing out over how to solve their customer service problems, relax. Take a deep breath. It’s nothing a little automation can’t solve.
If there’s one business aspect that most organizations understand the importance of but don’t spend enough time improving, it’s customer service.
Since my first home-buying experience last year, I have experienced more poor customer service than I could have ever predicted. From smaller instances of companies not responding to requests for information to extremely frustrating occurrences of workers simply not showing when scheduled. Every time left me wondering “do they really not need the business?”
Many companies seem to believe that a single bad customer experience only impacts business with that company or person. Nothing could be further from the truth. The impact of poor customer service is like an iceberg in that it is far greater than what you see at first. Not only do unhappy customers end up going elsewhere with their business, but most report their mishaps to other potential customers — causing companies greater loss of potential revenue.
Taking a pro-active approach to customer service is the best way to ensure customer happiness and business prosperity. If your customer service department displays any of the following behaviors, it’s time to rethink the way you do business and the people you hire to communicate with customers.
Don’t let poor customer service sink your company. Begin evaluating your customer service efforts and building a plan for improvement. And remember: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” (Bill Gates).
When there’s an error in order entry, it can wreak havoc on your billing and collections team. If one of your customer service representatives makes a mistake, it can disrupt your supply chain, increase returns and complaints, and delay payment. Although customer service may seem a world away from accounts receivable, your organision needs them to work together like a well-oiled machine. Eliminating manual errors at the order step will eliminate unnecessary complications in getting paid.
A miss-entered order creates a cascade of effects on the supply chain:
These problems can snowball if they’re not identified early in the fulfillment process, creating potential conflicts with state revenue and regulatory agencies and weak spots in inventory management.
Incorrect order entry has immediate, unpleasant effects on your customers. Not only will you see an increase in returns, with the associated costs of shipping and re-stocking, but your brand reputation will suffer. Dissatisfied customers will be quick to offer negative feedback and reviews, which may dampen future sales. Goods shipped in error may never sell, creating a backlog of waste that must be stored or disposed of. Re-shipping corrected orders increases your costs and creates delays for your customers.
A mistake in order entry doesn’t just annoy customers and jam up your supply chain, it creates problems with payment. Your invoicing process depends on the validity of billing addresses, contact information and credit card/purchase order/account numbers. If these are entered manually and incorrectly, you may not be able to collect payment on your order.
Even if your accounts receivable team is in a different city than your customer service team, you need an integrated, automated system that prevents manual entry errors and allows you to track the progress of an order from start to finish. Such an Order To Cash (OTC) system has 8 primary components, each of which can be customised to fit your organisation’s needs.
If manual orders are creating problems across your supply chain and revenue cycles, your organisation may benefit from automating these processes using an OTC system. Are you ready to learn more about the specifics of these systems and how they can support your business? Let us know, and we’ll work with you to design a customised, flexible solution that meets your organisation’s needs.
Those of us at Esker continually aim to help others use document process automation and similar tools to make their businesses run more efficiently. We recently held a Live Question and Answer session that focused on your most craved questions regarding customer service department metrics and key performance indicators.
Bill Gessert, President of the International Customer Service Association (ICSA), joined us for this exclusive session. He has years of progressive responsibility within both the Association and Customer Experience industries. Bill also has expertise in business development, strategic planning and execution, customer experience, training and coaching.
Esker’s very own, Howie Hahn, also joined the session as he explained how tracking customer service performance can help you identify other downstream organizational impacts, such as the ability to scale and support business growth.
In our live session we pointed out three particular KPI’s to measure, and ones you’ve perhaps ignored too often.
Top Three KPI’s to Measure in Your Metrics
Key performance indicators tell you everything you need to know about what’s happening in your customer service department. Yet, with so many available, which ones should you pay attention to over others that look important?
Customer Satisfaction Score
This is one of the most important because it gives you a consolidated number telling you whether what you’re doing is truly working. It doesn’t involve just one source either and can range from a Net Promoter Score to group surveys.
In the case of the Net Promoter Score, you’re given a simple 1-10 score that determines how likely your customers are not only to remain loyal but how likely they are to give the ultimate gift of a referral. This ranges from detractors on the low end to promoters on the high end. However, we pondered whether it truly goes deep enough to analyze customer responses.
Gessert pointed out CSAT surveys, focus groups, and survey forms are worth trying in gaining a good idea of what customers want. Surveys are important to do immediately after a transaction. You still need to set a realistic time frame and clearly indicate how many questions you ask.
Setting and Adhering to a Service Level Agreement
With service level agreement metrics, you can determine a lot about how you’re living up to service contract promises. You’ll want to measure your average speed to answer customer requests, and how well you execute first calls and handling time.
Reading these metrics helps you analyze how well your staff performs in their customer service roles.
Another aspect discussed in the session was how available your customer service staff is. Here, you need to study the effort level in how your staff resolves customer problems. Studying this helps you examine how you can increase customer loyalty.
Using Customer Effort Scores was also discussed, and Gessert mentions companies need to respond to customers 85% of the time to retain loyalty.
After a discussion on growth and how using metrics helps with future ROI, we went into discussing the visibility side of a business. To empower your employees, Gessert noted three things to uphold more visibility: Send out a newsletter from internal departments with success stories and other highlights; Award and reward your employees to entice them to keep their performance level up. Leveraging awards is a great sales tactic; Place your C-Suite in the role of a secret customer or shopper. They’ll know what day-to-day activities are like with your team.
We invite you to listen to our recorded version of our webinar to help you decide whether your metrics should become tactical or strategic.
Customer service is the heart of any organization; happy customers mean brand loyalty, a healthy bottom line and a wide horizon for growth. Outstanding customer service requires successful alignment of three key components: people, process and technology (PPT). The next three paragraphs describe each of these components, with some of the common challenges associated with each, and some suggestions about developing a comprehensive customer service program without breaking the budget.
People. Customer service is the ultimate people business. You need smart, articulate, flexible, creative people on your team, with a broad range of conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. Unfortunately, many aspects of customer service are repetitive, time-consuming and boring. Without ways to utilize their most important talents, skilled customer service representatives (CSRs) often burn out and move on. Minimizing the amount of time spent doing routine tasks and maximizing the time spent helping customers will help you retain your best CSRs and attract the kind of new hires you need. In addition, you can learn a lot from your best CSRs about how to improve their job satisfaction. Treating them as the experts in their field–which they are–can open new insights into streamlining their workflows and making the best use of their talents.
Process. If it’s hard to keep your top CSRs because of the high number of routine, repetitive tasks, it’s time to look at your customer service process. How do your CSRs document their calls? How do they identify problems, take orders, troubleshoot product malfunctions and resolve disputes? Are these procedures fast, efficient and easy to remember? Could they be automated to save time and reduce errors? Are CSRs involved in designing and implementing new procedures? If CSRs are the actors in your customer service theater, the process is the play they’re performing. It needs to highlight their talents, shore up their weaknesses and bring out the best they have to offer. Pairing top-notch CSRs with effective, service-focused processes will make your customers applaud!
Technology. Technology, from the pencil to the tablet computer, is the bedrock of your customer service toolkit. In the theater analogy, technology is the stage, supporting both the actors and the script. You want it to be simple, intuitive and reliable. Your CSRs want it to be efficient and accurate so they can spend their time helping customers instead of struggling with technical glitches. Your customers want it to be tailored to their needs so that their calls go quickly and smoothly. As technology advances, new tools are available to support every aspect of customer service, from language translation to order entry to quality reporting. With the right array of tools, your CSRs will feel empowered to do what they do best–make your customers happy,
Customer service teams are often underfunded, which makes it difficult to implement large-scale improvements. By breaking down your operation into the three components of PPT, however, you can identify changes that are moderate in cost but have a big impact on your team’s performance. A third-party vendor may be able to help you prioritize your needs and help you visualize the solutions you need. Manual processes that your CSRs find tedious or vulnerable to error may be streamlined into automated, paperless versions that in turn yield detailed reports. Decreased time spent in documentation will free up your CSRs to focus on your customers–and significantly reduce your call wait times.
If you are looking for ways to improve your customer service performance, download this detailed white paper to see how a comprehensive PPT approach may fit your needs.
Lisa has a great deal of responsibilities as a customer service rep – she juggles many tasks all while managing the growing and demanding needs of her customers. Yet she still spends hours manually entering orders. These days customers expect more and CSRs should be free to focus on what’s most important – customer service.
Most supply chain leaders like James are struggling with ways to improve organizational performance and overall customer experience. James understands the ability to process orders faster and more accurately directly effects supply chain.
Susan has her MBA and is a customer service representative in the Life Science industry. She faces unique challenges in this industry and recognizes the importance of accuracy in her position. But she is frustrated most of her time is spent manually entering sales orders.
Let’s not confuse ‘issue management’ solution and ‘issue management’ process.
For sure, most companies deal with ‘customer issues’ – mostly via a mix of tools such as email, telephone, CRM, intranet, etc. This means that there is no adequate ‘issue management’ solution in place to effectively and productively drive the prompt resolution of customer issues. Of course, this leads to customer dissatisfaction and erode positive branding. Like the recent quote from the CEO of Telstra who said that customers do not compare their customer experience between vendors but against their last interaction with the same company.