Friday, September 30, 2005

Customer service training tips

These customer service tips are suggestions submitted to me by readers for inclusion in the Virtual Observations newsletter...let me know what you think:

- Schedule a benchmarking session with other call centers. Share tips, experiences and metrics. Implement any process changes that may be valuable. Track the change in performance. Share the improvements with your partner call center. You can also make a list of performance deficiencies and see if the other call center has addressed them. If not, maybe the two organizations can collaborate on solutions for common problems.

- Have your employees listen to themselves on recorded call playbacks. Often, they'll be amazed at what they sound like. “I said whaaaat?”

Monday, September 19, 2005

Why a hosted on-demand CRM solution makes sense

* Organizes data for you and makes it easy to locate critical information
* Access info securely from home, road, anywhere
* Allows you to truly leverage the life time value of your customer base
* Nothing falls through the cracks
* No synchronization headaches
* All customer related info is in the same place
* Generate scheduled, automated communications with segmented groups like "current customers", "partners", "non-supported customers"
* Automatically feed new account or prospect info directly from website to crm, saving keystrokes
* Customers can update info automatically from the web to crm, so you always have the most accurate billing information
* Tasks can be prioritized, assigned, shared and reported, all tied to a customer account or contact record
* Reports that have been manually created and updated can now be run automatically to save time
* A Hosted CRM Solution requires little training and is up in less than a day
* Hosted CRM Solutions add functionality as the market demands it, with no technical requirements on our end for updating, backing up, installing, etc.

Anyone have any more?

On demand crm applications we've looked at:


On demand crm applications found on Google:

CRM Software: Customer Relationship Management On Demand | Siebel Siebel CRM OnDemand is a hosted CRM offering delivered over the Web and accessible from an Internet browser.

Salesnet | Salesnet Launches IndustryĆ¢€™s First Official Development ...

CRM software solutions - CRM ASP software - Uptilt hosted CRM software solutions for Global 2000 and middle market companies.

CRM as a service - Express Computer

Press Releases - NetSuite Launches NetSuite CRM+

Web based CRM software, CRM solution software and CRM software online

Monday, September 12, 2005

A bad customer experience will yield bad results

This call center experience was posted:

"The other day I called into a company's sales line to place an order for an item that I had seen advertised in a national magazine. The ad was very clear in explaining the two ways to place an order. One way was to use their website and the other was to place a call on their toll free number. I chose to place the order on the toll free number because I had questions about the item and I could not find answers that satisfied me on the website.

Although the questions I had were important to me they had no bearing on my decision to place my order, which I intended to do. Now I know that this company had to have spent a lot of money on that advertisement with the purpose of getting people to give them business. Now, normally when first connected there is a notification of recording for customer assurance, which I heard none of, but they did tell me there was a survey at the end of my call which they would like me to partake. When I reached a representative, much to my disappointment and should be to the company's mortification was that that call resulted in my not only deciding to not place my order but to go to their competition and buy a similar item for more money.

The reason for this change was due to the total lack of knowledge that the representative had about the item. Then to make things worse was the rudeness I encountered from them when I politely made clear my confusion to information they were telling me which contradicted what they had told me previously when we first started our conversation.

Because I am in sales myself I did recognize that the person was trying to recoup at the end of the call, but it was too late as I had already been turned off to them and just wanted to get off the phone. Again, they did have the survey attached to the end of the call as explained when I first connected to them, but by now I was too frustrated and would not give them the satisfaction to participate.

The bottom line here is a company that spent a lot of money to get me to call them, and because it was my first encounter to do business with them, they failed miserably by losing me completely as a customer and to make matters worse they don't even know it, let alone why. Plus to compound things further, I've told a lot of friends about my experience, and this is not a good thing for them. The number one rule in business is that you need to listen to your customers. They should have been listening."

The post was submitted by a contributor to

"Virtual" Customer Service

Came across this intriguing virtual customer service company in the latest issue of Business 2.0 magazine:

Company Name: Apptera


Concept: They eliminate phone-tree hell for thousands of midsize and small businesses. If you've bought Amtrak tickets over the phone, then you know "Julie," the virtual customer-service rep who didn't put you on hold, understood everything you said, and helped you book your tickets faster than you could have done it online. Unfortunately, Julie is a rarity in phone-based customer service, because the speech-recognition and transaction software that makes her so responsive costs more than most small companies can afford. Now comes Apptera, with the first off-the-shelf application that makes it possible to install a "Julie" at a fraction of the cost.

The article claims the system is less than $ 200k. Amtraks' "Julie" system reportedly cost more than a million dollars to implement.

I couldn't find any customer references on their site to try them out with.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Integrating web chat into QA Programs

Most of the larger call center quality assurance software programs seem to have all of the customer experiences covered. Phone, Email, and Web chat interactions are all logged, reviewed, and archived.

Web chat, or instant messaging has become an expected component of the customer service experience. Kids in college and high school IM more than they talk on their phones, and they will expect to do the same in the professional world once they join the work force.

Europeans have embraced text messaging on cell phones, and Google has opened up a myriad of services for these people - for example, send Google a text message and receive, in seconds, a Google answer to your query.

I'm not saying that customers will become huge text message support users, but as more people use their mobile phones for instant messaging, they just might.

I am not sure whether IM companies are offering conversation recording functionality, but I am sure they will. Likewise, call recording software will need to include this capability in the near future.

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