Why Does the Right CRM Make a Difference

If you run a business that relies on customer experience to grow, then chances are that you have probably heard about CRMs multiple times in your life. If you haven’t and this is the first time you have heard of it, then you’re in luck! In this post, I’m going to talk all about what a CRM is, its importance as well as explore some of the most popular CRM solutions in the market, and also tell you which one of these you should definitely use to enhance customer experience.

What is a CRM?

For those who don’t know, CRM stands for customer relationship management. As its name suggests, it is one of the most (if not, the most) efficient method for maintaining a strong relationship with your customers. It helps create a strong, healthy, personal relationship with your clients and can even help form brand loyalty. 

This is why a CRM is very important for your business. A CRM allows you to monitor and analyze your interactions with your customers. This helps the team understand more clearly what customers are looking for.

Additionally, by using CRM, as a company, you’re able to understand what your clients want rather than what you think they want. This is actually a really good way of doing business as you’re looking to satisfying your clients completely- this will build customer loyalty in the long run, something which is very important in today’s very competitive market.

In order to understand what the client wants the CRM will use a number of ways to collect data regarding the customer’s preference. This may be in the form of a survey or a series of pop-up questions that come as the customer browses your website. By filling in what they’d like to see, or what they didn’t like, on your website, the CRM system collects this information and provides raw, accurate data for analysis. When the analysis is complete, you’ll be able to tell exactly what your customers want and then provide it to them. It’s a really simple concept with quite a lot of benefits. 

This is why it is absolutely essential that you have the right CRM solution for your company. In order to understand why you need the right CRM solution, you must understand the benefits that come with them.

The Benefit of the Right CRM System

Every company will have a different CRM system to meet its requirements. With the right CRM solution, your company can be quite successful. In particular, the benefits will include:

An Increase in Profit Potential

This is brought about by a strong, healthy relationship with your customers. If your customers are happy with your service, you’ll find that you don’t really need to do much marketing. You can stick with your current clients and then use the money set aside for marketing for other development prospects. 

You’ll be investing more in areas that need improvement instead, and you’ll know that clients will be there for you because, by meeting their needs, you will have developed a trusting relationship with them which will significantly reduce their chances of leaving your services for another’s.

An Increase in Productivity

A CRM solution is, for all intents and purposes, a computerized system. This makes the job easier for your team. Instead of allocating monitoring and analysis jobs to individuals, your team can use the CRM system to do the job. 

This increases workplace productivity as less time will be spent in gathering information since it is now automated, and more time will be spent on understanding your clientele’s needs and moving in the right direction to satisfy their needs.

Enhanced Customer Experience

With a CRM solution, engaging with customers in real time takes place a lot more quickly than it would without one. Additionally, the experience also becomes as personal as possible. This enhances the chance of converting a visitor to your website into a customer by a large margin. 

A CRM solution will provide links to the customer as well as showcase its social media presence to attract the customer. By doing this, and using other methods, a CRM is able to enhance the customer experience and bring in more clients to your company.

Examples of Some CRM Solutions

Of course, now that you know all about the benefits of the CRM solutions, let’s move on to inspect the best-known ones in the market.


First up on our list is Freshdesk. It is a cloud-based CRM platform with the goal to allow companies, no matter how big or how small they are, to be able to provide superb customer service. It is a CRM solution which integrates traditional support systems like live chat, emails and telephone support with the new social systems like Twitter and Facebook.

  • Has a built-in knowledge base
  • Has a self-service portal as well as multi-channel support that includes all major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Includes a community portal for management and sharing of ideas
  • It’s automatic so ticket routing is managed easily
  • Quick follow-up and initial response


  • Reporting module has room for improvement
  • Premium packages (which provides excellent service) is on the costlier side.


Zendesk is a similar CRM solution that also supports multi-channel support and has a quality ticketing system. Furthermore, it also has a great reporting and analytics module and offers a self-service portal, much like Freshdesk.


  • A flexible ticket management system
  • Multi-brand support system with linked accounts
  • Unlimited, free ‘light agents’
  • Public and private forums
  • CSS rebranding


  • Does not include answers from its knowledge base app
  • Not enough guidelines provided in the forum for users when submitting a ticket.
  • Zendesk has a harder user interface.
  • Tickets’ workflow isn’t natural.


Lastly, we have Salesforce. Like the other two, it is also a cloud-based CRM solution which companies use to help manage their customer service. Salesforce was one of the first CRM solutions to come up on the internet. Truly, before this, companies had to create their own CRM solution. In a way, Salesforce paved the way for the other two CRM solutions on this list.


  • It has an easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Multi-channel support and links to all major social media sites like Facebook.
  • Customizable dashboard so you can log in and check your company’s performance from a bird’s eye view.


  • It is very complex and this can be problematic if you’re a small business using a CRM solution.
  • It is actually far more expensive than the other two CRM solutions mentioned on this list even though it has a range of different prices- the features offered are limited if you choose the cheaper options.

Ultimate Verdict: Freshdesk is the better choice!

As it might be a bit obvious for you, we personally believe that out of the three, Freshdesk is the best CRM solution

While Salesforce delivers good service as well, you’re more inclined to use Freshdesk because of its better pricing policy. This is because Freshdesk’s features make it worth the price you’re paying whereas Salesforce limits feature according to the pricing and that is enough to put a lot of people off. 

Similarly, Zendesk does not have the same number of features and user-friendly interface as Freshdesk does. As a result, Freshdesk is a CRM solution that caters to every type of business- be it big or small.


CRM systems are very important for your company. We hope that this article was able to help you understand why so many companies are turning towards them to help them establish a greater customer experience as well as decide which CRM solution you should use for your business.

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 5 (Interviewing)

Check out the previous posts related to the Job Search.

Part 1 – Job Boards & Recruiters
Part 2 – Networking & Other Job Search Methods
Part 3 – LinkedIn
Part 4 – The Resume & Cover Letter


Confident Interviewing 

Before you even consider the tips and bits of advice that will make the interview less stressful, you must, first of all, fit the role. An interview is intended to give you a chance to prove why you are the best fit for the job at hand. 

You should have a clear understanding of the company’s operation and objectives instead of telling them where you think you would fit. An interview requires confidence in order for the interviewee to convince the interviewers easily. Nonetheless, it is important to practice. 

Practicing and playing out the interview in your mind will help you avoid small mistakes that can affect your interview. A good preparation will also make you confident as you enter the interview. 
You can use the STAR exercise to present your career accomplishments briefly during the interview. It is also important to prepare questions concerning the role you are applying for. The questions should not be confronting but as a way of knowing more about the company.

Executing a Great Interview as a Senior Level Professional 

Most executive professionals are the ones who usually hire employees. When it comes to getting hired, you have to be prepared as well. 

Every executive panel will be difficult despite your job position so it is up to you to prepare and give them a worthy reason to hire you. 

First of all, you have to be able to sell your skill and not simply tell it. The difference between the two is that with telling you are just pointing out what you have accomplished while with selling it is quantifying your achievements in an orderly manner. This is more or less providing the best definition for your career accomplishments. 

Be sure to turn negative comments to positive comebacks that will show you are competent in coping with your weaknesses. You should, however, avoid being too confident and boastful to avoid putting the employers off. 

Getting an appointment booked means you have already passed the first test and the employers want to hear from you and even give you a chance. All that is left to do is taking the initiative and making sure the interview is smooth and streamlined. 

Good Leadership Skills 

If you are looking for a senior level job position, then you should know that leadership is one of the main aspects that is usually tested. 

An employer will want to work with someone who can get the job done and also have the appropriate managerial skills to make work more efficient. Focusing on your leadership skills and accomplishments can help you ace your interview especially if the employer is looking for a manager and not simply a technical employee. 

Being a leader is not something simple. In a business setting, you will find many different pressures that can sometimes make you less effective in your managerial duties. Employers look for employees who can undertake managerial duties and not be overwhelmed. If you can portray these qualities in your achievements, you can be sure to land the job. 

 Learning how to Maneuver ‘Deep’ Questions 

For top-level professionals being vetted for a job, the questions that are asked during the interview may differ a lot as compared to other technical employees. 

Some interviewers may want to know how you dealt with your worst or biggest challenge and which is the biggest mistake you have ever made. 

These and other similar questions are aimed at determining how you respond to situations. As a senior level professional, you should prepare yourself for such questions during an interview. 

For you to effectively answer these questions, you have to be self-aware. These deep questions test whether you have really understood the cause of your mistakes in the past or if you still are not certain as to what may have caused the problem. 

Top level management jobs are prone to more intensive grilling compared to other technical employment since the job has larger responsibilities that affect the company largely. In most cases, these deep questions are what causes most people to either lose or win the interview. 

Your Ambition is Priceless 

Being open and vocal about your ambitions can be very important in winning over an interview. Employers usually opt for someone who is passionate and goal oriented. 

If you can prove to the employing board that your ambition in the company would bring them more benefits they will be more inclined to give you a chance. 

Openly discussing your ambitions may be sensitive but you should be able to bring out your true nature which is one of the factors that employers look for. Your ambition should be linked or tuned towards the company’s objectives to bring more impact to your pitch. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

ITIL Service Catalogs

By this point, you hopefully realize that I’m a bit of an ITIL and process junkie! The ITIL Service Catalog is part of the ITIL Service design module, but while it seems very focused on the design side, it has implications in many other areas. Basically, its aim is making sure reliable, accurate information from all aspects of operations are easily available and understandable by others.

What is the ITIL Service Catalog?

If you’re unfamiliar with the ITIL Service Catalog, you should know that, at its very center, IT service delivery includes a list of services from the IT portfolio that are accessible for client usage. Inside this IT list, you will locate a digital summary of the majority of the IT benefits that your organization gives – from resetting forgotten passwords to the more complex, financial requirements of the system.

The ITIL system has been created based on the fundamental concepts of Service and Customer Care. Therefore, the Service Catalog is at the center of these essential ideas. Numerous IT companies are able to deliver a Service Catalog as a major aspect of their ITIL Service Level Management. Others see the chance to use the Service Catalog as the point of focus for cooperation among IT and the business, as endorsed in the latest ITIL Business Perspective catalog. Wherever you are in your ITIL activity, the Service Catalog is fundamental to progress, providing the establishment with key defining points and business material.

To be compelling, the Service Catalog must be comprehended, grasped, and utilized by the business. However very frequently, IT divisions contribute innumerable hours to make Service Catalog documentation that only a couple of clients will ever use. The greater part of these Service Catalogs are infrequently observed or perused by either clients or business leaders – and in this way have practically zero effect. With the end goal to guarantee an effective and client cantered ITIL activity, IT associations can pursue three rules for their Service Catalog:

Prioritizing the Customer

The Service Catalog ought to be made with a relentless spotlight on client needs. The most well-known misstep IT associations make is to explain their work from an IT point of view. Clients would prefer to be explained these processes in a way which they can easily understand. Fruitful Service Catalogs are characterized from the client’s perspective rather than from an IT standpoint.

A Service Catalog should resemble web-based customer inventories, with straightforward depictions and an instinctive retail interface with accessible services available for the clients to look at. A powerful Service Catalog additionally provides clients who may get to the list – regardless of whether it’s the clients or specialty unit executives – and gives distinctive substance dependent on capacity, jobs, needs, areas, and privileges.

This client-centered methodology guarantees that the Service Catalog is embraced by clients, and gives the premise to a reasonable, business-level discourse on administration quality and cost exchange offs with business chiefs.

It Should Be Usable

Next, the Service Catalog ought to be something beyond a static archive of data. A shopper seeing an online index of things expects that when they find something they like they can interact with it. This means that they can view it, separate from the catalog, view it and then if it meets their expectations, then they can order it. Moreover, the Service Catalog for clients ought to be providing similar features – with a web-based shopping basket for online purchases (if you’re operating an e-commerce website) such that it empowers end clients and allows them to use services in a way that satisfies them and allows them to keep track of their activities and so on.

Also, specialty unit officials should have their own one of a kind perspective of the Service Catalog that gives more straightforwardness into the IT spending things, benefit levels, and the business effect of each service that IT gives.

The IT service is important to workers when they need to update their workstation or when they have to include their email inbox. IT makes a difference to business officials when they are looking into spending plans or when they get their IT bill. It is at these times that the Service Catalog should be accessible and significant.

To guarantee success, the Service Catalog must turn into the single passage that clients will turn to for all their IT service deliverance, and promptly accessible whenever your business clients need to understand what IT does and how well it is.

Empowering a Record System

At last, a significant Service Catalog must fill in is that of record system that empowers IT benefit associations to be overseen like a business inside a business. The Service Catalog can give access to oversee client request, delineate procedures for each administration, guarantee benefit level consistency and drive process efficiencies.

No service sector business can flourish without such operational and financial information available and effectively accessible. By giving inside the main issue for asking for administrations, IT can use this information to all the more successfully control utilization.

With institutionalized and recorded information, IT groups can implement repeatable and quantifiable service delivery applications that eventually results in solid service quality.


The Service Catalog is the foundation for accomplishment in any ITIL activity. By characterizing and distributing a standard arrangement of business-significant administration contributions, IT can all the more adequately advertise its esteem and set up a system for correspondence with the business. Also, by making the Service Catalog operational and value-based, IT activities can help institutionalize benefit satisfaction forms, oversee utilization, and drive ceaseless enhancement.

Services that are not frequently used can be suspended. Delivery applications for high volume services can be streamlined. Key execution markers can give more insight to control costs, guarantee ideal administration quality, and support planning discussions with IT chiefs.

With a significant and client-centered Service Catalog set up, IT associations can genuinely work as an administration arranged supplier to adequately address the issues of their business clients.

Dispelling Misconceptions – What we Think we Know About IoT and Security

The internet of things – IoT for short – is taking over the world, specifically businesses. This technology is the latest in the series of technological evolutions that have taken place since the computer (and the internet) was first created. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are misconceptions not only surrounding IoT itself but also the security of the devices that come under its umbrella. But before we move on to address these misconceptions, we have to understand what the term actually means.

What Exactly is the “Internet of Things”?

The question of exactly “what” this technology is, is something that a lot of people don’t ask simply because they don’t want to know. In our day and age, we just want to consume more and more advanced and sophisticated technology without actually understanding it. And therein lies the problem.

When people don’t understand something, they tend to put the blame on it when something goes wrong. In an HBR article, writer Andrew Tannenbaum speaks of an Internet of Things hostage situation that is not difficult to imagine due to the security problems surrounding IoT devices. In the same article, he speaks of the reasons behind these problems. We shall explore them later in this article.

As for now, in order to understand Internet of Things, we must understand what it is.

Internet of Things is the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. This definition is an oversimplification of something that is revolutionizing the world we live in.      Oxford Living Dictionaries

IoT’s development is changing the way data is received, perceived and utilized. If anything, it is just a stepping stone which may ultimately be used by AI technology. But that may be years down the lane. The fact is, IoT is creating a network among devices that we use all the time – it can be through our phones, refrigerators, television screens – everything that we come in contact with every single day to learn more about us as a consumer so that it can adapt and integrate technology even further into our lives.

Basically, what IoT devices are doing is that they are making everything easier for us by using sensors, actuators, and software to connect everything in our lives from our front door to our smartphones to one central unit.

And this may sound scary because of the many, many “AI gone rogue” Hollywood blockbuster movies that have come out over the years, and because of growing hacking problems, security is a concern for anyone who uses the Internet of Things in any aspect of their life. Our job though is to help anyone with any misconceptions surrounding the usage of IoT.

IoT Devices are Secure

This may sound obvious, but it is the biggest misconception surrounding IoT devices and the reason behind it is pretty legitimate. After all, why would you care about IoT security? It couldn’t have been released into the market just like that.

However, it is important for individuals to understand one thing: the manufacturers of IoT devices aren’t selling their products with security in mind. It is you – the buyer – who must be wary of security concerns because, at the end of the day, you are the one who will be affected by any security breaches.

In fact, various individuals and companies have begun questioning the security of IoT devices because of a few cases where hackers have hacked into the network and used that as a bargaining chip. This is alarming. Luckily, big businesses and even government agencies like the FBI have taken notice of the lack of security in some IoT devices and there has been a lot of talk and implementation of more secure fronts for these devices.

In order to put this misconception to bed, it is important that you understand that IoT is a very new development in the field and therefore, a lot of manufacturers are rushing to take advantage of it but that doesn’t mean that its security is being neglected.

As for now, it is very important that you as an individual take care of your IoT devices yourself. It is not that complicated either. A lot of people think that IoT is just part of the IT department of the firm. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to ensure that your system is secure – all you need to do is be careful.

Only Those Authorized can Access IoT Devices and the Network

This misconception follows the first one and is part of network security. A lot of individuals believe that because they are spending a lot of money on the Internet of Things, their investment should be safe from unauthorized access. This isn’t true.

You do not need an IT expert to connect a device to your system. Anyone can do it. Therefore, it is important that you do not expose your network to everyone. It should not be easy for your employees, clients…anyone really to connect to your network.

Because the security of any other device plugged into your system is not checked – it could be the tool used to hack your system, and it’s really not that hard to hack into a computer or a smartphone that does not have the right security settings.  This is why we strongly recommend that every IoT device connected to your network is thoroughly checked to eliminate the chances of these devices being used to breach your network security.

All IoT Devices are Interconnected

This is yet another misconception that arises when people don’t understand a certain bit of technology. It is, therefore, very important that you understand this as it makes the case for why – in spite of the risk – you should be thinking about using IoT. It is also a good security protocol and can prevent security risks.

While all IoT devices are definitely connected to the main network, they are not connected to each other – unless the network operator wants that. They will also not work together i.e. you can choose to assign certain devices with certain tasks and protocols. By using this facility, you can ensure that the IoT devices handed out to your staff only shows data you want them to be able to access. This is also a very good way of preventing corporate espionage and also security breach.

The Internet of Things is a Waste for Small Business

Moving away from security breaches, we will now move on the usefulness of IoT for small businesses. Larger companies are at the risk of hacking and security issues because they have large corporate rivals who may be willing to pay quite a bit to know their trade secrets. This is why they have to spend more on network security than start-ups or small businesses. In fact, it has been shown that the security of small businesses has actually improved by using IoT. Not only that, but it actually helps to grow a business and make it more efficient by making the business “smarter”.

In today’s world, that is a brilliant way to stay with and ahead of the competition. IoT is helping small businesses to prosper so that makes a good case for the technology and is something small business owners should definitely look into. It may not seem so, but IoT is not very expensive for installation and you can take advantage of the organization and stability it brings to the table.

IoT devices are not secure

This statement contradicts the very first misconception introduced in this article and the reason behind it is that while a lot of people don’t even think about IoT security, many others believe that they are not secure enough to make the investment.

As mentioned earlier, there is research going on into IoT security and users themselves must also take the initiative to work on security themselves, the point is that IoT devices can be made safe.

As you can see, the security of IoT devices, in the end, lies primarily with the user. Companies can provide the user with a lot of security but it is up to you to use IoT in such a way that it does not cost you. So even though it might seem very daunting, with the right security check in place, IoT devices are quite safe and can be used to make your business better.


It is safe to say that IoT and security go hand in hand with proper work ethics. If you focus on the right things in your business and are generally concerned about its welfare, you will take the necessary steps required to ensure that not only does your business prosper under the Internet of Things, but that it will also remain safe.

Management & Problem Solving

As someone that has been involved in Technical Support and Operations for the majority of my career, problem-solving is something that I’m very interested in! Now many believe that this is a skill that only applies to the actual support resource but in reality, it is something that applies throughout the chain from the customer all the way to the SLT.

Managers & supervisors are generally the first ones to get the ax when it comes time to trim budgets as it’s considered that they do not directly produce any specific goods or services. Their responsibility is to manage those who actually “do the work”. However, if you look at operational effectiveness it’s very much the manager’s job to look at the best and most effective way to optimize and complete a task. The phrase that most aptly applies here is that you can – 

“have it cheap, have it quick or have it good … pick two”. 

Managers are the “choosers” where they can work to build products and services faster using fewer resources or they can strive for an improvement in quality. They generally are not able to accomplish all three goals unless a radical shift in technology completely moves the overall paradigm.

When it comes to Operational Effectiveness, you can look at three primary areas where Managers work:


The focus here is the efficient use of resources and tools using technology to best achieve the goals of the organization.


The focus is on the resources (people) doing the actual work. How are they best used and utilized? Another aspect of this is the care and wellbeing of those resources.


The third leg of the triangle is the development of new processes, systems, and methods of operation. This can be through the utilization of technology or otherwise.

As managers progress up the “ladder” the amount of work they do at each level changes. Junior managers, for example, spend a lot more time with the technical and resource areas while more senior leaders are focused more on the process side. 

Regardless of the level that you are at, you should always expect your role to have some component of one of the three areas.

Organizational Behaviour vs Organizational Theory

Organizational Behaviour (OB) is a study of people. While this could be likened to the famous Pavlov and his experiments with dogs, in this case, the study is specifically around the attitudes and performance of people in organizations.

OB tries to analyze how the work performed contributes to the effectiveness of a business and it specifically looks at it in three different ways. From the point of view of the individual, the group or team and then the larger organization itself. At the individual level, OB focuses on what makes an employee tick and looks at things like motivation, leadership and employee attitudes to work. This analysis is very specific and focused on the employee level. From the point of view of the larger organization, organizational theory (OT) becomes the tool of choice and its focus is targeted more towards structure and design at the organizational level.

Both disciplines are heavily guided by psychology (how people interact and work together), anthropology (the culture of different people) and economics (why and how people are incentivized with respect to motivation). 

Management & OB

Management is generally defined as the process of planning, organizing and leading the people and processes within an organization. Traditionally managers were responsible for supervising and motivating subordinates, but newer styles of management focus more on allowing a manager to be someone that enables and coaches an employee to succeed. The old-fashioned style of repetitive, activity-based management is changing to a more proactive method. Management and its definition is something that changes from organization to organization – there is no “one guiding principle” that all managers follow as it evolves naturally from the environment.

There is a strong relationship between OB and management where OB tries to explain how and why people act in certain ways due to current prevailing theories. These theories are often focused on many of the day-to-day responsibilities that managers face. OB in this context is the theory that managers use to put practical applications into effect to benefit the organization that they work for.

Why Managers Need To Understand Organizational Behavior

Regardless of if you spell it Behavior or Behaviour, Managers need to understand what makes their teams “tick”. With the internet continually forcing businesses globally to become ever more innovative with little to no increase in resources or budgets, it’s essential that companies embrace this challenge if they want to survive.

Over the course of the coming months, I shall be covering a key discipline of management – namely Organizational Behavior & How it Impacts Team Management. For some of you, this might seem a departure from a blog focused on customer service and operations, but I believe that if you want to have a successful team, you need to understand how to lead and grow that resource.

With the growth of the “gig economy” and freelancing taking an ever-larger proportion of the employment pie, understanding how to manage and lead teams is even more important. Now, the simple 9-5 office worker drone is frequently replaced by remote staff either working from home or performing a job in another country. Leading teams separated not only by geography but possibly time zone and culture has challenges that are quite distinct and finding a happy medium is key. 

However, Organizational Behaviour (OB) is not only about the teams and management. Key criteria that I’ve spoken about often is the requirement of understanding the importance of Quality within the organization. This could be through the use of tools like Six Sigma and ITIL, but those also are just a “symptom”. It is important within the organization to realize that Quality matters and that it’s only by continually striving to improve can true success be achieved.

Understanding NPS, How It Works & Whether it’s a Measurement that Makes Sense

Improving customer experience is one sure-fire way of expanding your business and establishing a credible brand name for yourself. After all, who doesn’t want their brand to be known for a great customer experience?! Great customer experience is essentially the key to a successful business. So why not use tools to help you improve your customer experience? There’s an abundance of tools available both online and offline that are designed to help you achieve the ideal you’ve envisioned for your clients. However, few can boast the power and usefulness that the NPS can provide you with.

So, What Is This “NPS”?

NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and it was developed by Fred Reichheld. It helps to create a clear and understandable customer satisfaction score which can then be used as a comparison between various businesses over even a single business across an extended period of time. This is done through surveys (we’ll get to that in a bit), and sometimes questionnaires, which are directly given to consumers so that accurate data can be collected. Of course, you’re probably wondering where this happens.

Well, think about any random time you ever got a pop up on your screen while you were visiting a website. Often times you will get questions like “would you recommend this product (or service) to a family or friend?”. Considering how little time it takes, you will probably answer and then continue your search. Well, that is the kind of surveys used to determine the NPS. They’re short, to-the-point and strategically placed by companies so that you answer them as honestly as you can as you’re doing your search.


The NPS question given to the customer will generally include an 11 point scale from 0 to 10. Think of it as a rating with 0 meaning that you are not likely to recommend it at all to 10 meaning that you are extremely likely to.

According to the NPS guidelines, consumers can be broken down into three categories:

Category #1: Promoters

These are the people who will be giving your recommendation question a 9 or a 10. We call them promoters because they are very likely to spread the word about your product

These are the people who loved your customer service and will probably be advertising your brand to others through the word of mouth; never underestimate the power of word of mouth! It is a great, genuine and free advertisement for your business and as such makes promoters very valuable.

Category #2: Passives

Next up are the “passives”. These are the people who will give a score between 7 and 8. These are the most vulnerable of your clientele. Why? 

Because, unlike the promoters, they aren’t spreading the word about how great your brand is. They’re just there because. 

They don’t love your brand; they don’t hate it either, but they can be easily diverted elsewhere if the competition is offering the right price tag.

Category #3: Detractors

Detractors are the unhappy customers who’re giving you’re a score of 0 to 6. These are the people who can cause some serious damage to your brand. Like the promoters, they’re going to be spreading the word…of how bad your brand is. 

You need to make sure that you do not have a lot of detractors because they can seriously hinder the growth of your business.

In order to calculate your Net Promoter Score, you subtract the percentage of detractors from the promoters. The NPS is not expressed in terms of percentage. It needs to be an absolute number between -100 and +100. Generally, a positive NPS is considered good for businesses. In fact, many businesses aim to make sure that their NPS does not fall to zero or negative as zero shows that your business is stagnant while a negative NPS will show that your business’s customer experience is bad and that there are more detractors than promoters. This will, in turn, lead to a series of losses for you, so it is vital to make sure that your NPS is always positive.

By using this data, you can begin to plan a business strategy that improves your NPS.

Why Is It Important?

The biggest advantage of NPS is that it is able to provide a simple, yet holistic, understanding of your customer experience. This coupled with the fact that your customers are the ones directly answering questions without any filter, provides you with accurate data. 

The NPS is able to give you the real picture of how your clients perceive your business. Similarly, by comparing the NPS of other businesses, you can determine how well you’re doing. In some sectors, the NPS score rarely comes out to be more than +50 and even though this may not look good, if held up against the rest of the market, you will find that the NPS of +50 might actually be the score of the highest performing company in that industry. 

It’s relative yet it does not generalize or marginalize any competitor. You get a clear picture of what’s happening and that is great for business. There are many other benefits to the NPS which you can find here.

Does It Make Sense?

While it might initially take some time to wrap your head around it, once you get it you’ll realize the NPS is actually really easy to use and understand. While other tools can be very complicated, the NPS is simple, and its effectiveness lies in its simplicity. 

The results are pretty clear: the promoters are your loyal customers, the passives may be deterred away and the detractors are leaving. As we’ve already said before, you can use this to your advantage and establish an order that helps to grow your business. It accurately shows how your client feels.

Consumer Trust (Part 2)

Customers’ Preference for Innovation 

In this world of ever-increasing change, companies have the chance to improve customer trust through innovative technological advances. Research has shown that customers have a preference for companies that have implemented innovative strategies of operation. Historically this innovation has taken the shape of improved efficiencies in business but today the provision of digital services is a key preference. 
Brands that use intelligent software like AI have a sharper impact on customers due to the user experience they have when engaging with these companies. Innovation in technology also offers brands a chance to engage customers in different ways while also providing customers with a variety of tools they can utilize to improve customer self-service
Customer expectations are being surpassed due to the multiple possibilities that have been brought about by the implementation of technological innovation. When customers realize that they can get digitized customer service and engaging artificial technology, they develop trust in the brand owing to the ease of engagement with brand services. Technological innovation has so far been a major driver in building customer loyalty and improving customer experience.

Data and Improving Customer Trust

Customers are sensitive about their personal data. Research findings have proven that more than 75 % of customers will not purchase services or products from a company that is not assured to protect their personal data. The pool of customer data collected is like an oil field-rich in possibilities. Aside from brand owners, customers have also come to understand this fact and since then have been protective of their personal data. 
With this in mind, companies have to maintain ethical and responsible data practices that will see them become more effective in handling customer data. Data practices within the organization can only be successful if the employees are correctly trained. From the management level down, employees should be able to maintain a high level of data integrity in a bid to protect customer data
Ethical practices in handling customer data will ensure that customers are satisfied with services which eventually improve customer trust. This commitment maintained in handling customer data with care goes a long way in drilling employees towards a positive culture of data integrity. Through a systemic operational framework in data management, a company can establish strong data principles that will ensure customer satisfaction and improved CX.

Engaging Customers

Most of the time, customers do not have a way of ascertaining whether the company they rely on preserves or misuses their private data. This can make them skeptical as to whether the brand is, in fact, protecting their personal data. 
A recent trend in customer service has been formulated to engage customers in data management practices. Here, customers are able to participate in data protection practices like authorizing the use or manipulation of their data by the company. In this way, brands can directly address customers in matters related to their personal data. As customers’ preference for ethical data practices increases, businesses need to take the initiative and provide ways through which they can provide customers with a chance to protect their private data from ill use.

Having a Competitive Edge

Every business is in a competition with others in their sector and they are all competing for a chance to show the customer who can best provide the service to their liking. 
True to the fact, customers are more receptive to companies that they think offer a differentiator when compared to the other companies. This matter of maintaining the top spot among your competition impacts heavily on customer perception and eventually customer trust. 
Customers will be automatically driven to your brand since they deduce that being the best, your brand offers most of the needed services in customer support and service provision. If a brand can maintain a high appeal from customers and relative brands as well, then they are in a better position to improve customer loyalty and customer trust in the brand. 

Customer Convenience 

As customers engage with business services whether online or offline, they have to enjoy an ease of operation. If the customer finds interaction with your brand representatives tedious or too long, they won’t take long before they switch off and move to more promising brands. 
We live in a digital world where almost everything revolves around mobile phones and computers. Most people are usually stuck on their phones and computers for a large part of the day making it a concrete pathway for brands to engage with customers. 
Developing mobile-friendly websites and automated assistants can go a long way in improving customer experience. If a customer can receive brand assistance quickly as he navigates through social media and other similar sites, they are likely to enjoy the brand service and observe brand trust in the long run. Making operations customer friendly and easy to access for customers is very vital in maintaining your customer base while also providing good customer experience. 


Probably one of the most relevant points to make here is a simple recitation of a quote from Warren Buffett. Buffett stated that

 “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” 

For many of the companies that have been impacted by data breaches, hacks and security scandals the impact to the business is still only just being realized. Companies need to realize that their customers’ matter and they need to put the necessary effort and systems into place to protect their most valuable commodity – you and I!

Employee Attrition – What Can YOU Do To Reduce It?

Employees usually come and go and at some point, you can expect to lose a few workers. The service sector is notorious for high employee turnover at 30% with the average for all industries standing at 13%. Millennials are also partly responsible for the increased employee turnover since they are more likely to switch jobs than their older counterparts. 

There are some costs attached to losing employees and an organization with high employee turnover can incur heavy losses including the time taken to find new workers. When the bounce rate for new hires gets too high, you cannot get a return on your investment especially when you factor in costs for training and recruitment. 

A high bounce rate for new employees is an indication of something wrong with your hiring process. Here are a few ways to reduce new hire bounce rate:

Formulate a Comprehensive and Competitive Benefits Package

One way to retain new employees is to compensate them handsomely. Apart from needing enough money to pay for living expenses like food, rent, and utilities, employees want to know they are compensated in other ways too. Moving to a better paying job is one of the major causes of employee turnover and paying well can prevent this. 

To get a feel for a fair salary, research on what competitors pay for similar jobs in your area e.g. how much do accountants make in your area. In addition to salaries, add some benefits like life insurance, disability insurance, 401K and pension plans to retain new hires. When dealing with millennials, keep in mind that they’ve witnessed the financial mistakes of their parents and are keen on additional benefits.

Hire the right person for the job

When interviewing new employees, make sure you hire the people who are most capable of doing the job. This way, you get a return on your investment. Do not hesitate to hire smart people or people with the ambition and potential to become stellar employees. 

Smart people are more flexible and their versatility will be of benefit. One major reason that people give for leaving a job is that it was not what they expected. To counter this, clearly, define the roles to the interviewee and ensure they are familiar with what will be done on the job. 

Another consideration for hiring is choosing someone who will fit with the company culture; that is if it’s important to you. Cohesion with other employees will encourage new employees to stick around and consequently reduce new hire bounce rate.

Reward employees and recognize their efforts

Employees are humans and will greatly appreciate if you recognize their efforts. When your workers go overboard and produce excellent work, complete a project well before the deadline or perform any other notable action, congratulate them. Doing this in front of colleagues is more effective as they will feel motivated by your acknowledgment. 

You don’t have to shower them with praise for everyday tasks, only for notable achievements. Another effective way to reward employees is to tie tangible, financial rewards to certain feats. Giving bonuses to high performing employees in front of the colleagues will encourage new employees to work towards the preset goals and reduce employee turnover. 

Additionally, you can create a career path for your employees so that they don’t feel like they landed in a dead-end job. Although it may seem obvious, most companies do not offer opportunities for growth like raises and promotions. When career advancement options look bleak and a new hire finds the other employees looking miserable and downtrodden, they won’t think twice about leaving for greener pastures.

Create a positive working environment

To create a positive work environment you have to factor in a good work/life balance. This involves flexible starting and ending times so that they have enough time for other activities. Many a new employee is put off by inflexible working hours and swaps jobs for more flexible hours. 

A study by a Boston organization concluded that 80% of workers and 76% of managers agree that flexible hours contribute to employee retention. Remember that workers spend close to half of their day at work and a positive environment will go a long way to increase engagement. 

Additionally, a conducive environment will improve the worker’s performance and boost productivity which works in the company’s favor. A good example of a superb work environment is Google, whose Googleplex building looks more like an adult playground than an office complex. Google also offers free food, health benefits, massages and haircuts, video games, gym and swimming pools to employees. Although this increases the running costs, it effectively cut down employee turnover and dissatisfaction.

Here’s Seven Great CX Blogs from the Month of August

Customer service blogs are a unique genre in the blog writing community. This is mainly because they’re the kind of non-fiction piece of literature that one can only write after extensive research and experience. Furthermore, they’re also quite helpful to those looking to improve their customer service as they offer great advice to all those who’re willing to listen as well as provide a voice for business owners to share their experiences in the community so that certain topics can be discussed.

For the month of August, we’re back with some great customer service blog posts written by talented individuals wishing to share their experience and knowledge with the rest of the world. As you will see throughout this entry, the topics under discussion are vast from mental health to the blame game that we often see in businesses where there’s- to quote the writer- an “I” in teamwork to advise on how to make customers talk about your business.

This month there’s an entire treasure chest full of great information on offer, so, without further ado, let’s begin to talk about the seven most impressive customer service blogs for the month of August.

1. Mental and Physical Well-Being In the Service Sector

The very first article that’s made our list comes from the CX Accelerator website itself, where writers Nate Brown and Jenny Dempsey talk about mental and physical health promotion in the service sector. In their article, they talk about how- by taking care of one’s employees, one can actually accelerate great customer service and increase efficiency in the workplace

Several suggestions for this are given through the course of the article. It starts off with simple tips that don’t really ask for drastic changes. Many leaders complain about a lot of investment (which they do not necessarily have) into well-being programs, but in this article, the writers have successfully mentioned the simplest and most effective methods of making sure that your customer service providers’ health is not compromised. 

This article definitely warrants a read. You can pick up any one of the many suggestions provided to ensure that the health of your staff is not neglected. As the two writers point out, there is a correlation between the health of your staff and their performance. So, don’t neglect it!

2. The Fault In Our “Staff”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Steve Gioia, his blog post called But the Other Guy is Really at Fault, talks about common problems faced by teams in the service sector, particularly those in the hotel and restaurant businesses. 

Here he sheds light on the problems between the kitchen and the wait staff and how lack of understanding of ‘teamwork’ often leads to both sides not really accepting their responsibility. He gives an example of how a colleague of his received a bad service at a high end restaurant, thereby, establishing that no matter who’s fault it is, bad customer service and bad staff relations ultimately reflects badly upon the restaurant itself and customers don’t really care who’s fault it is- they’ll see it as a failure of the all the staff. 

This is an important lesson in customer service and reflects a side of customer service which we’ve often seen in restaurants, but don’t really comment on it and chalk it out as bad service. Gioia talks about how this badly affects the business. Give it a read, there are important lessons to learn from here.

3. Lessons From Amazon

In his article, writer Dan Gingiss presents the case for Amazon (and everyone else really) and how in today’s globalized world, you- as a business owner in the service sector- are actually in competition with Amazon and a lot of other online (and big) retailers. The reason behind this is investigated by the writer. 

He talks about how today’s market is very, very competitive compared to the “older days” where competition only extended towards local markets. Now, because of the advent of technology and social media, your competition is everyone, everywhere. Therefore, the importance of customer experience should not be underestimated. 

By taking note from big firms like Amazon and Netflix, we should try to improve upon our customer experience and really understand why a lot of people prefer these platforms and maybe take a leaf out of their books. After all, these corporations don’t simply exist because they’re great just like that- people prefer them over the others. So, what makes them so great? You’ll have to find out because, in today’s world, they’re your competition as well. No matter how big or small your business is.

4. Breaking Boundaries

This one’s a little different. In the article, writer and co-founder of CX Accelerator talks about surveys, their accessibility and how likely customers are to answer them in today’s time. He presents his case by highlighting that, contrary to popular belief, it might actually be more difficult to get customers to talk about their preferences through surveys. In fact, many industries are actually struggling with the lack of data available. But this is mostly because companies- not all but some and that’s still a significant amount- take the voice of the customer for granted, and probably still look to surveys to make a decision. 

Brown disagrees with this method as the only one in the business and suggests that there are other ways one can capture data. After all, customers haven’t gotten quiet in today’s world. There’s plenty of other ways they’re letting their voice be heard. Companies just have to tap into this oilfield of wealth in order to collect this valuable data, and maybe along the way, they’ll also end their dependence on surveys.

5. The Power of The Word of Mouth (150-200)

This one’s an interesting read in particular. Author Dan Gingiss once more finds himself on our list for his article. The reason behind this is simple: this article holds key advice for those looking to get their customers to do a bit of promotion for them. Of course, the main aim here is to get your customers to talk. 

Word of mouth is single-handedly one of the most powerful promotion platforms out there and it can also be used to your advantage. Of course, a lot of people struggle with it in their businesses- but you don’t have to be one of those people. In his article, Gingiss talks with various experts in the field and how they would do the job. There’s an abundance of advice from a number of people in a variety of different fields. Their tips aren’t very hard to pull off either. 

If you read through all of the advice given, you’ll notice it is the attention to detail the customer likes and they’ll recommend you for it. Customers want a personalized experience where they feel comfortable and at home- do this and they’re sure to talk about your business with their friends and colleagues. You can find more great advice from the article as well, so do check it out!

6. The ‘Peak-end’ Factor

This is a great read by Mary Drumond. The article, Understanding How The Peak-end Defines Customers’ Experiences the writer talks about the ‘peak-end rule’, a psychological heuristic developed by two professors called Kahneman and Tversky and is described as a phenomena where people remember a particular experience- it can be good or bad- based on how they felt at the ‘peak’ and the ‘end’ rather than judging the whole experience. 

This is an interesting phenomenon and Drumond has delved deeper into this phenomenon. She’s talked about how companies can use this to their advantage and thus, enhance customer experience. We can further look at it as a way of understanding the mindset of a customer and thus eliminate any cognitive bias or something along those lines and make them like your product. That, or you can simply research into this to just understand your customers better. 

After all, understanding the mindset of one’s customers is one of the most important pillars in customer service. 

7. A Study For Coffee Lovers Everywhere

And lastly, we end up with another Dan Gingiss article, and it’s quite literally a case study and look into a neighborhood coffee shop in New York and how it stands out in a world full of Starbucks. Gingiss uses this case study to show how this coffee shop is back to basics to attract new clientele. It’s not the “anti-Starbucks”, he lets us know that early in the blog post. But it’s good; it’s different. And sometimes that’s what customers want. 

He talks about his own experience with Birch Coffee and how we can use that as a lesson in customer service. This company doesn’t just serve ‘drinks’ like Starbucks has taken to doing. In fact, it’s really not just Starbucks- it’s a lot of coffee shops these days. Birch Coffee goes back to basics- we’re talking simple coffee. Nothing fancy. In fact, this is how they’ve advertised their business on their website as well. I think it’s a pretty good case study to look into, so do check it out!


There you have it- this month’s list of the best customer service blog posts on the Slack CX Accelerator community. These articles are truly great in the wealth of information that they provide us with. From tips to case studies to pointing out key factors that may change a company’s entire relationship with their customers, these blogs are for those who are all ears and want to improve their businesses. 

Read them and discover key information about the world of customer service and how you, a business owner, can benefit from the extensive and meticulous planning that goes into customer service to make it the face of your company and, in return, to make people come back to your business over and over again. We hope you found these articles hopeful!

Consumer Trust is at an All Time Low

In recent years, customer dynamics has become a very sensitive topic to brands and service providers in particular. The customers’ preferences and likes have slowly and gradually taken on greater importance as businesses work to provide and maintain an excellent customer experience.
With the increased number of brands in the market, the issue of customer loyalty is no longer the only factor to be considered for customer-oriented services. Today’s consumer has to worry about their data, how information is shared across sites and even the threat of cyber-attacks on a regular basis. In 2017, several massive breaches of personal data were observed after a series of cyber-attacks that saw many brands lose customer trust. The brands impacted ran the gamut from technology companies (Sony, Yahoo & Uber) to Home Renovation (Home Depot). 
More than two billion people were affected by different issues, and in addition to cyber-attacks, issues related to ransomware were prevalent. On the political front, it’s now been proven that foreign governments have influenced voters. Customer trust is very sensitive and when it comes to products and services, its something that companies need to keep in mind if they expect to maintain customer loyalty.

Poor Engagement by Employers as a Cause of Customer Distrust

Before any customer decides to purchase a product from a specific brand for the first time, they are always skeptical about the quality of the service and the product that will be provided. 
Customer trust is not usually an automatic switch that can be turned on when needed. Customer trust has to be nurtured and allowed to grow in order for customers to be fully comfortable transacting with a specific brand.
The level of employee engagement with customers usually determines how well the customer will trust the brand and the possibility of staying loyal to the brand. Most brands focus on providing quality services to customers and neglect the important aspect of engaging the customer in order to make them assured and comfortable during purchase. 
This engagement ensures rapport building which improves the relationship between the customer and the brand. With high customer engagement, brands provide customers with an enjoyable CX through customer support and assistance. 
With the development of technological methods of customer support like AI technology, brands can easily engage with customers directly and in so doing develop and maintain customer trust in the brand.

Customer Concerns over Personal Data

After the recent cyber-attacks in this and the previous year, customers have become very wary concerning the safety of their personal data when transacting with any brand. 
Recently, we observed Facebook facing lawsuits due to their inappropriate use of personal data to influence poll research that was unrelated to the customer expectations of the brand. Such incidences spiked the customers’ concern over how brands treat and utilize personal customer data. 
Most customers have now developed the preference of brands that are more customer-oriented and focused on responding to customer likes before using their personal data to determine the best solution for on-going problems. 
Privacy practices need to be maintained and regularly observed by any brand if they want to maintain customer trust. Today, customers are more knowledgeable about how their private information is used to improve customer service and in protecting their individual identity. If a brand breaches this set of privacy practices, then they are very likely to lose customer trust and eventually observe a drop in customer retention.

Personalization and Customer Trust

As customers interact with your support team, they are usually more responsive to an empathetic conversation versus one that only makes them feel like a statistic. 
For instance, simple interactions like addressing the client by name and not through a default system of salutations can greatly improve customer trust. A personalized experience on the customer’s side relays the impression that they are important to the company thus making them more likely to stick with the company. 
Brands can use customer data from previous interactions to improve personalized customer service and product promotion that will give the impression of a customer-based brand.
Everyone likes being treated like they matter and this often helps ensure that customers, respond better to personalized services. With an improved customer experience, the customer also increases the trust they have for the brand ensuring customer retention for the company.

Continue to Part 2

Top Seven Great CX Blogs from May to July ‘18

In this post, we will be talking about some of the best CX blog posts written between May and July.

1.   The Importance of Customer Service

We’re going to start off by talking about serious topics before moving on to more entertaining one. Therefore, the first post we’ll be sharing is called Why Customer Success is the Future of Customer Service by author Michael Pace. 

In this post, the author tells us about how customer service is very important to companies how businesses should focus on this in order to come out on top and succeed. But that’s not all that he talked about. Pace gives us real, hard numbers to back his statements. He analyses the importance of churn and how it can help you with your next conversation both as a customer service representative to your next customer as well as the senior management.

We particularly liked this post as it does not simply state things but also backs them with statistics as well as showing how successful businesses like Microsoft and Amazon have used such method to their advantage to generate greater revenues. One particular piece of information that we would like to point out is the chart he made showing the critical customer success period that can render a purchase. This, he states, is only possible if customer service is able to convince the customer to, well, actually buy the product by overcoming any problems they’ve been trying to resolve.

2.   Dealing With Difficult Patients

Continuing our trend with customer service blog posts, next we will be discussing the question that a lot of customer service professionals would love to have an answer to how to deal with difficult customers. It is probably one of the worst experiences that anyone can have for a difficult customer not only makes their own life miserable but also the representatives. It can be particularly difficult to maintain control when the customer is yelling at you and not letting you help them.

However, in her piece on difficult customers, Elizabeth Wellington not only describes the situation we all know about but also talks about how customer service agents can get a hang of the situation and, well, turn it all around in their favor. This usually comes in various stages, but the first stage obviously is to control yourself and then do as Wellington suggestions. Primarily, her suggestions include the following stages:

1.    Preparation

2.    Recognizing the opportunity in failure

3.    Changing channels

4.    Adapting your approach to the customer’s personality

5.    A balance between empathy and boundaries

6.    Sincerely apologize

7.    Don’t lie to customers

Of course, she’s explained it all in great detail. You can read her post here.

3.   One for the Team
Like the previous post, this post by Steve DiGoia also focuses on customers that are upset and frustrated and how best one can deal with it. Like Wellington in the previous post, he talks about how customer service employees can use his acronym and can, therefore, remember the way to deal with the problem of difficult customers. 

What we really liked about this post was that it was very informative. The topics he talked about were very clear and the method he used is actually pretty simple and understandable. In fact, if you were to implement this method on your customer service team then we’re pretty sure that you wouldn’t have any problem with dealing with upset customers.

4.    Traits Successful Companies Share

Michael Pace makes it on our list once more with another fantastic post on his blog the Pace of Service. This time Michael informs of us some of the common things that most successful companies have in regards to their customer service. The companies mentioned in this post are specifically well known for their customer service. We won’t spoil any of it by mentioning them here (trust us, the post is worth a read on your own), here’s the link to his post.

A bit of warning though as Michael clarifies that while these characteristics are shared by the associations he’s evaluated, they are not the sure fire way to become a successful business- that’s all on you. You can, however, use this as a great reference point as you work on the customer care service of your company.

5.   On Airlines and The Blame, We Put On Them

Moving a little away from our central customer service theme, this post by Dan Gingiss is a particular favourite of ours as it not only does it talk about how Airlines use their customer support units but also how sometimes, it’s really not the airlines fault that there are delays in flights- this is due to the uncontrollable factors such as weather which airlines cannot control. 

What we like about this post is the fact that the writer actively mentions and recognizes the importance of customer service and how “every customer experience matters”. 

Immediately after that, he lists a whole bunch of scenarios where the airline is responsible, and this includes overbooking and maintenance and things like that. He also recognizes that it is the airline’s responsibility to make sure that customer service is excellent for things that it can control in order to establish customer loyalty. But then he starts to talk about the things most people are not fond of airlines (and air travel in general) for. This comes with weather and flight delays that come with it because these are simply something that an airline can’t control, and people often complain about this. 

By giving us this insight, the writer does a great job at showing both sides of the industry and we commend him for doing his research well.

6.   Of Heroes & Villains

Another one by Steve DiGioia is featured on our list and there’s a reason behind that. His interesting take on customer service agents and their behavior is an interesting read. Not only does it connect with just about anyone who has read a comic book (and in today’s time’s comic book movies) and has thus, categorized agents into three categories: the hero, the villain and the problem solver. 

By doing so, he presents the case of how companies can use these examples as a way of training their customer representative staff. No one wants to be a villain in the customer service business as that can lead to your client being driven away. What people want is a hero- but is that really all that people want? What about a problem solver? Someone who is, not just really nice to talk to, but also can actually solve a customer’s problem without delaying them for too long. These skills can be especially essential if you’re trying to enhance customer service experience for your clients and we definitely recommend you to give this a read.

7.   Stories of Ourselves

This final post is probably one of the greatest pieces of advice anyone can offer a company looking to make its customer service better. Kaye is a member of the CXAccelerator community and she’s written a blog post on how a company can use storytelling as a way to create “customer heroes”.

By using storytelling as a primary tool to gather information on your customers, you can make their experience a lot better than most would have thought. Storytelling is almost never used in call centers, so it will very smart business move on your part and we strongly suggest you go with it. Why? Because through this you’re essentially making both the customer and your agent feel better about themselves and by making your agents a customer’s superhero, you’re making their job more enjoyable as well. We strongly recommend that you give this one a read.


As you can see, these blog posts covered a wide range of variety. Some of them were merely informative, offering readers with an overview of many products; others were more specific, focusing on only one matter at hand. The most important thing about these blog posts was their ability to connect with their audience, causing readers to comment or share the blog posts with people they know. Indeed, a good blog post is one that connects with its audience on a personal level, causing them to be ‘touched’ by it. This, in turn, leads them to consider the opinions they read online as well as influencing their choices later on in real life. As said before, blogs can be powerful tools and these blog posts certainly do show that. Hope you liked this post, we’d love to hear your opinions on this one!

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 4 (Resume & Cover Letter)

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:


Writing a Resume for a Senior Level Position 

Despite being in senior management positions, most people do not know how to write a winning resume. When it comes to executive positions, crafting a resume requires a bit more prowess in order to convince the employer that you are good enough for the C-Suite. 

One of the things that you should tweak from your old resume are the resume objectives at the top. In an interview, you want the employers to look at your executive professionalism that claims you suit the role before they can view your personal goals and aspirations. 

  • A five-bullet summary of your value propositions will act brilliantly in convincing the employers of your qualified status. 
  • For your executive objectives, you can include a section on the resume to highlight your core executive principles. This section should display some of your areas of expertise in senior level management. 
  • If you intend on posting the resume online, you can use keywords which will make it simpler to be found in an online search.

 In writing a resume, you have to update your current skills and achievements in order to be most appealing to the employer. For most people, they don’t find it necessary to change their resume when applying for a new job and this can negatively affect their hiring. 

In the case of senior-level positions, most employers will expect you to fit the role of an executive profile and your resume will help in building this. One of the things you can do to boost your resume is getting a professional to review it. This can help you see what your resume may be missing to awe the employers. 

In your resume, you should have valid numbers and data that supports your credentials. Numbers speak a lot in a resume and they can easily convince the employers instead of having to explain every single executive achievement. Your relevance to the job position should also reflect on your resume. Having a current and updated resume will make it less tedious to convince the employers and land a job. 

Creating a Cover Letter 

For top-level executives in Customer Service, writing a cover letter may prove to be quite hard. This is because the cover letter is the first impression you will have on the employers. 

First of all, your cover letter should be well suited for the specific role you want to get. Ensure that you are the exact fit for the job you want when writing the resume. 

A brief and detailed cover letter is more inviting than one which is crowded. Always make your cover letter short and to the point so that the employer can have the entire scope of what you can do in a moment. You can use bullet points to list down executive prowess in a simple and reliable manner. 

It is important to always leave your contact information on your cover letter because this is what the employers will use to determine whether you are fit to hire.  Employers will always want to see the team building and leadership experience skills that a top-level executive has to offer and this is what you should provide on the resume. 

Sharing statistics can be more compelling than simply writing the task you had undertaken although it is important to keep the cover letter as brief as possible. It may add you some points if you choose to start the cover letter with a salutation that is directly aimed at the employing board. This will show that you have done your research and know what you want. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

Is the Terminator our Eventual Fate? AI in the Contact Center

Artificial intelligence is the future of customer service and the CX world is excited to grab the opportunity by the scruff of the neck. As many analysts and professionals have already deduced, AI will change the way contact centers work. 

AI like many other new technologies has a lot of misconceptions since it is in its infancy stages. So it would be important to expound on what artificial intelligence is at its core. While humans and other animals use “natural intelligence”, machines use artificial intelligence where every data input makes it smarter; like learning new chess moves after a match. This is called “machine learning” and is combined with “natural language processing” where AI analyzes written language to maximize its abilities. This is how AI can categorize queries from chatbots and answer accurately or transfer the customer to the right agent.

How AI can be Used in Contact Centers

CX managers will be delighted to hear that speech technology has evolved and virtual assistants can now communicate with customers. There is an increased adoption of virtual assistants that are backed by AI-powered speech technology according to a speech by Jon Arnold of J Arnold and Associates at Enterprise Connect 2018.

Google, for instance, have developed speech recognition AI that is 95% accurate. At such high accuracy rates, we can confidently say that speech recognition AI is ready for the market and CX managers can take advantage of this. Another advantage of speech recognition is that it converts large sets of unstructured data into structured data that can be enforced in sentiment analysis where new customer trends can be identified. Other benefits of this conversion of data include quality monitoring, compliance with internal procedures, boosting the efficiency of call centers and recording calls.

Contrary to popular opinion that AI will replace call center agents, AI can actually help the agents. First off customer facing AI, be it chatbots or speech bots, will handle routine tasks and free up the agents’ time to handle more complex queries. This makes call centers more efficient and it is easier to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) for call centers.

Another reason to employ AI is that it can accurately give customers the right information negating the need to call in the first place. Agent facing AI can also supply call center agents with enough information to sort out complex issues. Additionally, the AI can listen to calls and analyze the impact on the customer i.e. how well the issue has been resolved and the effect on customer loyalty.

The Maturity of Current AI

Right now, we are in an era where customer expectations are rising by the day which has forced CX managers to use AI to fill the void. However, AI hasn’t matured as such and most companies are only dipping their toes in. Most companies are trying their hand at chatbots and there are currently more than 100,000 Facebook Messenger chatbots in operation today. A recent report by Gartner revealed 55% of companies have already started investing in AI or have plans to adopt the technology by 2020. A new trend has emerged where companies are rushing to promote their brands on social media.

This has led to the adoption of real-time chatbots (like Facebook Messenger chatbots) to communicate with new and existing customers. We can now see AI rapidly changing customer service through automation where the AI can respond to customer queries with greater speed and accuracy than humans can achieve. AI has matured to the point where it is used to identify customer issues, behaviors and patterns and process this data. This, in turn, enables the company to identify customer preferences, resolve issues before they appear and offer alerts of personalized offers and promotions.

The Future of AI

When contemplating the future of AI, the sky is literally the limit. This can be evidenced by advanced digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Users like them so much that CX managers are forced to integrate such virtual assistants in their customer journey.

At the same time, other benefits are accrued such as cost reduction, a boost in productivity and streamlining processes. Customer facing AI is increasingly being used to take control of repetitive tasks that previously took up the majority of agents’ time. Nowadays, chatbots can resolve 10 – 35% of customer queries without the assistance of a human agent and this number is expected to rise.

CX managers can attribute higher accuracy of issue resolution to AI and chatbots; call center agents are left with time for more complex issues which boost their confidence and sharpens their skills. As of now, AI is reactive but in the future, chatbots can be expected to predict customer questions and give accurate answers by analyzing the conversation. This leads to a higher personalization of the customer journey leading to increased customer retention.

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 3 (LinkedIn)

Check out Part 1 – Job Boards & Recruiters & Part 2 – Networking & Other Job Search Methods.

Using and Leveraging LinkedIn

For professionals who are seeking to get a new job, having a LinkedIn profile can be of great service.

As we know, LinkedIn is one of the top professional social networking sites which provides a platform for companies to find qualified employees. It’s a site I’ve been using and writing about for years!

LinkedIn is not like every other job searching website in that you can have the chance to show your full profile. For most people who are successful in using LinkedIn to land a senior level position, they can tell you for free that how you present your profile is what determines if you get hired.

Having a welcoming profile with frequently updated skills and achievements will make it easier to land a job on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn headline is also an important tool in job searching. People usually see your profile picture and your headline when they search for candidates and it would be quite convincing if your headline was a brief statement highlighting all that you do.

LinkedIn has numerous features that you can use to make job searching much easier. First of all, you can employ the Advanced Search on LinkedIn to find specific businesses or people and learn more about them from their profile and bio. Like all social platforms, LinkedIn gives you the option of following companies you are interested in and stay informed about their news and vacant positions that may arise.

You can only fully benefit from LinkedIn if you are active and current. Posting recent objectives and accomplishments can help improve your profile to prospective employers. The more interaction you have, the more you are noticed and the more likely you will land a superb employer. 

Targeting the Hidden Job Sector 

In the Customer Service Field, it is true to say that not all jobs are posted on the common job searching websites. Sometimes you have to look for the hidden jobs that do not make it to advertising platforms. 

This hidden job sector accounts for up to 80% of Customer Service jobs that are not advertised. To get to this hidden job market you have to be creative and smart. You have to look where others are not looking. For example, you can use Google Maps to locate companies that are hiring around your area. 

You can also reap from online alerts like Google Alerts to learn what is happening in different companies that you are interested in. Use your network of friends and associates to find the jobs that are available but not posted on the websites. 

What to Avoid when Searching for a Job as a Senior Level Executive 

In most cases, senior-level professionals don’t see the need to sell themselves. They think that their reputation and work experience will be enough to awe the employing company to hire them. 

This is a wrong mindset to keep in today’s world. C-level executives have to be even more convincing in interviews if they are to be given responsibility for managing or being in charge of a section of the company. 

Preparation is just as important for a C-level executive as it is for a technical employee. As a senior executive, you have to be prepared for confronting questions that may put you on the hot seat. A thorough preparation for the role you desire to get is crucial in winning your interview. 

Avoid asking too many questions about the role and focus on selling your skills and management prowess to the employing company. Being proud of your previous achievements will not help you land a job with new employers. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

How Storytelling Helps in Customer Service

Agents as the Organization’s Ears and Voice

Call center representatives play the vital role of being the ears of the organization. Most customers find filling formal surveys and questionnaires to be too cumbersome and a lot of feedback is left uncollected. However, customers give out titbits of information during phone conversations which can be eye-opening for the company. Call centers are data rich for this reason and as such should be more efficient in collecting customer stories. 

Agents at the same time are the voice of the company and customers will often judge the company according to their support team. How your agents carry themselves in conversation and share information adversely affects your brand image. This is why the reps shouldn’t give stories of how they are in a powerless situation where they would like to help but their hands are tied. It gives off a negative impression. Encourage agents to create their own hero stories where they are the main character in the story, who gets the job done.

Why you Should use Storytelling in Contact Centers

The reason storytelling is so powerful is that it assists in getting buy-in from both the customers and top executives. After collecting data from various feedback channels like surveys, CSAT, NPS and CES, it is best to deliver the insights in form of stories. Bombarding agents with charts and presentations to show them how to make changes to the customer experience is highly ineffective. Telling a story instead helps the agents to comprehend how they are going to fit changes and improve the customer experience. 

At the same time, the stories that agents collect are supposed to be shared with the team since they are a rich source of data. CX managers ideally should come up with a framework for sharing stories e.g. a roundtable discussion or channels to communicate with top-level management.

Another overlooked advantage of storytelling is that it helps the story-teller to fly under the radar. Stories are so effective since the listener gets to learn a lot without knowing it consciously. Nowadays, a lot of companies are being exposed and ridiculed for their blatant attempts at advertising themselves, especially on social media. 

These range from awkwardly referencing social media trends to tracking website cookies and conspicuously sending tailored adverts based on the viewer’s browsing history. Storytelling is a more covert way of spreading information in an engaging way that makes the customer recognise that certain steps lead to the expected outcome. Customers can also be hesitant to be open and honest when they are asked for feedback about a certain feature or product. But when telling a story about their experience with the new product, they unknowingly offer a sea of valuable and honest information. As highlighted before, stories are also easier to remember and a well told story will leave a lasting impression on the customer.

How to Create Customer Hero’s out of Your Agents

Doing this might mean some organizational changes as well as training. Not everyone is a good storyteller but it is a skill that can be taught. A recent study by Microsoft and Nucleus discovered that companies with successful contact centers have designed their organizational structure and leveraged technology to their advantage. As such, the structure can be renovated to accommodate more internal exchange of stories and insights. 

To teach storytelling, one should break down stories into individual parts e.g. the usual details, the customer problem, the business problem, the steps to take, the actions to take and finally the desired outcome. 

It instantly becomes easier to relate an interaction into a story and advise the customer. The agents should weave in their own anecdotes or prior experiences to show empathy, but shouldn’t resign themselves to the victim role. Stories should also stay on topic to avoid diluting the message. Integrating storytelling into call center conversations will make the organization more productive and improve the customer experience as well.

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 2 (Networking)

Continuing on from our previous post (How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 1), let’s stay focused on the Job Search process.

Thought Leadership in Job Searching

Have you tried thought leadership in your job search? Thought leadership is a job searching method where you share your opinions, views, and insights within your target companies or on your online career profile. This is aimed at attracting employers who are looking for that specific mindset. 

The main aspect of thought leadership is to be able to show your employer how you think and how you would react in most circumstances. Thought leadership is not about re-blogging and reposting other people’s opinions and posts. 

Thought leadership is a brilliant job searching technique for management-level professionals. This is mainly because managerial positions require an opinionated person who can make firm decisions and ensure usual business activities are run despite shortcomings. Thought leadership will also work best if you have a powerful profile that people can associate your ideas with. This will help build your professional image to the public as well as prospective employers. This method is easy to implement given the technology advantages that we have today.

Networking in Job Searching

Networking is not for everybody. Some people prefer getting a recruiter or someone who will help them get a job. What these people don’t know is that networking can help you build your career profile. 

In customer service, communication and social skills are some of the automatic instincts that a professional should have. This will put them in an easier position to network with other managers. 

Networking is all about forging business relationships that are mutual and supportive of both parties. One of the benefits of networking is that you never lose. Even though a contact may be unsuccessful in landing you a job in a certain company, you don’t leave empty-handed. Since the contact is a professional as well, they can offer guidance and advice on how best to tackle a specific interview or how to sell the profession. 

Having a network of business contacts is also important in letting you know the latest business posts and news in major firms. This can help you be among the first to learn about a hiring program or a vacant position that you are suitable for.

Company Targeting

Company targeting is a way through which you can search for jobs in companies that are yet to provide the job vacancy. Company targeting is like requesting for jobs that are not yet available but when they do become available then you will be the one of the first to be notified. It is quite convenient for senior executives who are not interested in hiring or looking for recruiters. 

Company targeting can be applied by people who cannot find their specific job descriptions in the listings online and so they can approach a business owner directly to pitch their idea. Although you won’t get a job immediately with company targeting, you can become a prospective employee of the stated company.

Connect with Your Alumni

Associates from University and College can help you get a desirable job. In order to reap career-wise from your alumni, you have to have networking skills. These skills will help you interact with the individuals you are sure can lend a hand in the corporate world and possibly find someone who can get you a job. 

Today, you will find that most schools have created groups on social media where alumni can interact, share ideas and get details about each other’s lives. This platform, if used correctly, can be a great tool in searching for jobs.

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

More Six Sigma Basics

Six Sigma as we discussed in our earlier post is not intended to as a quick fix but is rather a systematic process and procedure that is focused on ongoing quality improvement. The ultimate goal of a Lean Six Sigma project is continually improved and sustained quality through an improved and more efficient process.

Six Sigma delivers these improvements by focusing on reducing and removing defects and eliminating waste. This is accomplished through research and data collection so it’s not a quick process but rather one that requires time. Organizations can over time reduce errors and rework saving the company time, lost business opportunities and money. The real goal like other quality improvement projects is to ensure that the product or service meets the standards of the customer!

To accomplish this, organizations need to meet several deliverables under the DMAIC model.


  • Build a project team capable of actually accomplishing the objectives & committed to solving the problem(s). Ensure that management buy-in includes all the necessary resources to actually solve the issues.
  • Identify the issues that actually matter & develop a project charter which should include the known business processes.


  • Identify the key measures and come up with a plan to ensure that this information can be obtained. Create an initial baseline and communicate this to all parties.



  • Probably the most critical stage, but also the most difficult. Define and develop possible solutions, along with an implementation plan.


  • Standardization is the key with control. Standardize the processes, document procedures and implement the monitoring plan to ensure that the improvements have had the desired effect.

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 1 (Job Boards & Recruiters)

While this post is not specifically customer service or operations-related, it is something you’ve probably experienced or will experience at least once in your career so it’s worth exploring. I’ve talked a bit about interviewing and using LinkedIn and other job boards in some previous posts.

I’ve also talked about job searches, resumes, and how to be effective at finding a new role.

In the next set of posts though I thought I’d bring it all together.

Benefits of Using Job Boards

If you are stuck in the middle of a job hunt looking for the perfect job, you should try searching on job boards. Job boards are quite convenient when it comes to being updated with the latest job positions available. 

One of the major benefits of job boards is that employers can find you instead of you searching for them. In job boards, you can post your resume under your profile such that employers can see your qualifications and contact you. A better resume will attract more employers.

With job boards, you can customize your searches regarding the specific job you want. This means you can get a job that fits your exact qualifications. Unlike other job searching methods, job boards allow you to spread your resume across different employers without physically presenting it. This increases your chances of landing a job

Job boards can modify or arrange your resume and cover letter to make it more appealing to the employer. They have professional writers who can write you a winning resume that is sure to impress the employers. Job boards are a simple and affordable way of job searching.

Working with a Recruiter 

When you’re searching for the perfect job, a recruiter can be very important in helping out. A good recruiter with a number of connections with employers can be exactly what you need when looking for a senior-level job. 

For most recruiters to provide their services, they will probably require that you have strong credentials that will no doubt land you a job. The advantage of having a recruiter is that they will ensure that you get a job whatever it may take. Since they are paid on commission, landing you a job is their main goal. With their experience in the hiring field, you can learn helpful information that will help you sell your role to the interviewing firm. 

You should know that the recruiter doesn’t disclose every detail to you. After receiving the company’s hiring requirements, he can determine whether you are fit for the role by looking at your present skills. The company may not be after your profile but it may be after your skills.  

Recruiters usually have a broad network of employers through which they can easily connect you to. If you haven’t had any fruitful results lately, you can try searching for a recruiter. 

You can take the easy approach and ask your friends for a recruiter they know or you can search online through the Advanced People Search Page on LinkedIn. Through this channel, you can get a wide array of recruiters including those who have been hired by specific companies. 

Nonetheless, recruiters are inclined to accept strong profiles so don’t be offended when they refuse to contract their services. It simply means you should build your career profile some more. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

The Basics of Six Sigma

Six Sigma’s goal is process improvement and variation reduction. By improving processes and reducing defects, customer satisfaction is naturally improved.

Minimizing defects in production through continuous improvement. Six Sigma focuses on measuring the impact of an improvement project and uses the following phases:

  • Defining
  • Measuring
  • Analyzing
  • Improving, and
  • Controlling

We’ve seen this before in the DMAIC process that we discussed when talking about KPIs & the Importance of Measurement.

A sigma is a measurement of variance and denotes the variance from a mean average of an event. “Six Sigma” assumes a failure rate of 3.4 parts per million or 99.9997%. Six Sigma focuses on efficiencies and reducing costs. It also accounts for the “cost” of poor quality and works to reduce it.

Reducing Poor Quality

We’ve talked about Quality and Customer service before, but it bears repeating again. To reduce poor quality, there are certain actions that need to be taken:

  • Understand who your customers are and what matters to them.
  • Understand customer feedback (the Voice of the Customer) and see how that applies to your product/service & then prioritizing resolution based on the issues related to your product
  • Understand your internal processes and what causes variation
  • Understand the right metrics to measure and how to standardize
  • Understand what causes a defect and how it can be addressed
Once you realize that every process can be measured and analyzed, it’s not too far a leap to understand improvements based on the analysis are possible. By continuing this process of improvement (continuous improvements) you can gradually reduce variations and improve the final product.

The Meaning of Six Sigma

I talked in an earlier post about 99% uptime and how great that sounds but in reality, it’s pretty horrible. 99% uptime actually equates to –

  • Unsafe drinking water almost 15 minutes each day. 
  • 5,000 incorrect surgical operations per week. 
  • Two airplane accidents at most U.S. major airports each day. 
  • 200,000 wrong drug prescriptions each year. 
  • No electricity for almost 7 hours each month.
As you can see, that’s a pretty dire state of affairs. By contrast:
  • At the 1st Sigma level – 690,000 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 2nd Sigma level – 308,538 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 3rd Sigma level – 66,807 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 4th Sigma level – 6,210 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 5th Sigma level – 233 defective parts/million occur 
  • At the 6th Sigma level – 3.4 defective parts/million occur (99.9997%)
Business success depends on improving business process and results in combination with great customer service. Some tangible and realistic benefits based on implementing the methodologies promoted by Six Sigma include:
  • Reduced repair times
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced order delays
  • Reduced defects
  • Increase productivity
  • Decreased Measurement Error

History of Continuous Improvement

Shewart and Deming helped define quality in the early 1900s. In 1920 Walter Shewart explained that three sigma is the point at which a process needs to be corrected. This is where a product would need to be remade as it would fail a quality audit. Edwards Deming, on the other hand, pointed to management and made it clear that it is their responsibility to improve the systems so that workers can work more effectively. Based on his research, management owned 80% of the quality problems and the workers could only influence 20% … by the way, any chance you’ve seen that ratio before?

If that name sounds familiar then you’ve probably heard of the Deming Cycle before (pictured above). Deming taught something called the System of Profound Knowledge which had four related parts. The theory of (1) Optimization, (2) Variation, (3) Knowledge, and (4) Psychology. 

Why is Everyone Chatting?

All the world over, businesses are changing their modes of operation. More specifically in how they handle their customers. This is because the population all over the world is mostly comprised of the youthful (the millennials) whose tastes and technology application in business greatly influences preferences.

Customer care is a critical issue in growing your business to resonate with the millennials equally. A company whose presence can be felt is dependent on the level of customer care. Anything short of client-sensitive customer care will see the clients shying away from interacting with the business contact center and probably moving to another different business that can guarantee them the service they want. This is a common trait of the millennials (born from around 1980 to the mid 90’s)

Drop in Traditional Customer Interaction Services.

According to BI intelligence, interactions with customer service through traditional channels like email and phone have dropped in the United States by 7% in the past two years. This drop may have been triggered partly by poor customer service and also by the fact that consumers (youthful consumers) are embracing automated consumer communication channels at a higher rate.

Talk about poor customer service, and you imagine the long ques at the counter before you are served or do a one on one inquiry with customer care representative. Hectic. Rather still, most millennials would lose their patience with the traditional phone calls at the customer care where they’ll be placed on hold or redirected to various departments before accessing the service they want. Now think about these millennials having an alternative place where these barriers can be eliminated or reduced to the lowest level! They will definitely shun the older system and embrace that which is sensitive to their needs.

These traditional customer service does not cover the vast population of the millennials who now enjoy some real-time business to business apps that are web-based services which even offer live chats with the customers. Try to do a comparative analysis of online business to business(B2B) and emailing a business for later response. What will suppose be the choice to the millennials? Well, the answer is obvious, that which will hasten and give them the best transaction service.                                                                    

Bridging the Gap

We all know that customer care is a crucial ‘ingredient’ to the success of a business. So how do bridge the gap between the millennials and customer service? According to Stewart Bloom(CEO Aspect Software), improving customer interaction is an inevitable thing and must be done for a business to remain relevant.

Make Customer Interaction Real-Time. 

Well, this may sound ridiculous and expensive but other businesses are trying out so as to capture that vast market of the millennials. Some business web platforms are deploying live chat software to answer customers’ questions and inquiries to are handled in a more faster way so as to capture their attention and feeling that the business actually cares for their wants.

In most instances, live chat can not only be more approachable but easier and less threatening to navigate for those introverts who may not have liked your customer care service and may not even complain. Companies have also tried to be more responsible since they understand the impact a social media can bring to their businesses. According to BI intelligence, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Viber have had the highest number of users. These are places businesses should target their customers from.

Which way Then?

All these millennial stuff may sound crazy but something worth noting here is that responsive technology that tackles customers’ interaction problems with business is gaining ground daily. This is simply because millennials are not only early adopters, they are also, according to Tech Times, the most connected in a generation.

Setting up and Launching a Remote Office

In the early days of my career I was responsible for setting up an operation in a different city. It was a great opportunity for me and something that I really wanted to succeed in, however looking back on that person with the experience I now have. Well, lets just say that I was very lucky that I didn’t fall completely flat on my face!

The City

As a native Torontonian (that’s what people in Toronto, Canada call themselves for my International readers!), I’d visited Montreal a couple of times and had always enjoyed spending time there, so when my boss asked me to set up a new office in that city I thought it was a great idea! I mean, how hard could it be?

Well, it was 1998 or 1999, and while I was working for an Internet company, the many conveniences we’ve all come to expect and enjoy had yet to be invented or for that matter even thought of! Websites like Yelp! and Foursquare didn’t exist and while the multiple listing service (MLS) was there, it was really only useful for residential properties and in most cases you needed a realtor to provide the information.

I didn’t know how to promote my company – we were established in Toronto but no one outside of that city had heard of us. I didn’t know where to open the office – downtown would be great but the rents would be a lot higher than out of town, but how much higher? I didn’t know how to get new customers or even hire staff for that office.

The Marketing

Knowing what I didn’t know (which is I’ve found the first step!), I decided that I couldn’t do it all by myself. I’d need help. Local help. So I started interviewing marketing companies that could help me with two of the things on my list – promoting the company I worked for and finding new customers.

Fortunately I was able to find a small bouteque agency that was priced right and seemed to have all of the appropriate credentials. I didn’t interview three different firms though or get competitive quotes (mistake #1?), but they seemed to know their stuff!

Over the course of the next 2-3 months, we were communicating back and forth about radio spots, billboards, print advertising, product pricing and other minutae relevant to launching in a new location. Again they seemed to ask all of the right questions so I thought I was onto a winner.

The Hiring and Staffing 

While the marketing piece was going on, I started looking for office space and staff to work in the office. Based on the model we had in Toronto, we’d need a local manager and customer service/technical support staff that could both resolve issues and perform administrative and billing functions in French and English.
Monster.com had launched and was used quite extensively in Canada around that timeframe so the interviewing process began in earnest.  Fortunately it was very buyount job market so getting some good quality candidates was fairly straightforward. The local MGR however – well that one took a while and although I ended up putting someone in place he wasn’t my first choice (mistake #2).

Now vs. Then

Looking back, I think I did the best that I could with the tools I had available at the time. Money was tight so my budgets were definitely constrained. Everything was moving extremely quickly and change was happening at an ever increasing pace.
Comparing the piecemeal strategy of those years with the way I’ve setup two new locations over the previous 2 years is very much night and day. Part of that of course is my seniority now and my ability to talk to people and leaders that are higher up the food chain. People that can actually negotiate based on the potential upside that they can see. The other part of course is the confidence I’ve gained in doing this a couple of times now and knowing some of the potential pitfalls inherent in having remote staff and operations.

You see, while the Montreal operation was successful both of my mistakes ended up coming back to bite me. My manager choice – well, without local oversight, he turned out to be a bit of a dictator and was making the office environment toxic for the other staff. He had to go and I had to find someone else. My first mistake though – the marketing company – was probably the bigger one. While the comminucation and interaction had seemed positive and enthusiastic they didn’t actually end up producing anything of real worth. Sadly, they actually ended up going out of business themselves before we’d launched which set us back several months.

What could I have done?

Hindsight is always 20-20 isn’t it? With the tools and information available to us today, most of my requirements could have been dealt with, without even leaving my office. I would have been able to search and get reviews on other companies that had done the same things. I would have been able to pick and choose marketing companies and been able to interview them remotely only after shortlisting them based on reviews and feedback from clients. I would have been able to evaluate property prices and rental costs remotely and conducted interviews remotely. Would I have had to go to Montreal at all? Yes, probably, but for different reasons – more along the lines of ensuring things are moving smoothly vs. setting up.

Things have definitely changed in only a few short years – I’m fortuntate that the mistakes I made early in my career helped me to learn how not to do things and I’ve taken that knowledge and applied it. I wonder what mistakes await the next generation though? I’m sure they are going to be doozies!

Cancellation – the final step in a long and drawn out process

Dealing with customers that want to cancel is hard. I know – I’m personally in the midst of trying to cancel my Television/Internet service & trying to keep my frustration in check is difficult to say the least! – however, this blog is not about the customer experience, but rather how to ensure that the customer does not feel the way they do!

But … that being said, my situation does make for a great case study so lets explore exactly what happened & where we are now.

I was a happy customer with my local Television/Internet provider (Cogeco) and paying about $100/mo for their services which I though reasonable.  However this price was based on a 1 yr promotion, so when that year was up and the price jumped to $189, I thought it would be reasonable to see if they would match the prices being offered by their competitors.  In addition, the promotion for new customers now was $75 or something like that, for similar services – unfortunately they were not willing to meet anywhere close to that, and the best they could offer was a $20/mo loyalty discount, bringing my price down to $169.

Well, as you can imagine, I started to look around.  While I was happy with the service, the price was too high in comparison to other businesses.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’d moved to another company and called Cogeco to cancel my service.  I was informed that because I’d taken advantage of the $20 promotion, I’d have to pay a penalty of $70 to cancel.  Doing some quick math in my head, I figured that it would still be worth it as I’d make that back in one month with the new company.  However, the “cancellation specialist” informed me that if I waited till the end of the month, I’d be able to skip the cancellation fee which seemed like a smart move for me.

Today takes us to my 2nd call to a different “cancellation specialist” where I’m now informed that I’m still going to be stuck with that cancellation fee and I’ve actually ended up paying for an additional 3 weeks of service with a company that I could not even use as their equipment was literally unplugged from the wall!

At this point, I’m willing to bite the bullet with the cancellation fee just to move on, but I don’t want to also have to pay for those extra weeks of service as that would have only made sense if I wasn’t paying the cancellation fee!  So I’ve asked for an escalation to the manager (which they cannot do, but promise a 24hr call back … stay tuned).

So long story short, lets reiterate some of the pain points and issues:

  1. Special Offers – special offers are a great tool to entice new business to an organization and the discounts to get customers on board are absolutely essential.  However, when an offer ends and the price doubles, you can expect customers to leave.  You might get some people that just ignore the increase, but not too many I suspect.  If and when customers do call in to discuss the offer, reasonable discounts should be made available to entice them to stay, perhaps even enhancements to the service – Netflix for example, or increased bandwidth or something along those lines.
  2. Hold Times – I didn’t really discuss it in my scenario above, but my hold time was close to 30 – 45 minutes + the time spent discussing the issue with the individual.  This did not help my mood at all, and I expect that the reason for the extreme hold time was very much due to #1 above!
  3. Copious Notes & Details + Follow Through – I unfortunately spent too much time once I spoke to the representative repeating myself with regards to the fact that my issue was not the $70 cancellation fee, but rather the discrepancy in information between the previous representative and this one and that I was now on the hook for an additional service charge for a service that I had not been using.
  4. Unwillingness to help an existing customer – despite my previous point about special offers, there is actually a cost to the business in terms of churn.  By not making me a competitive offer, not only have they lost my business now (short term), they’ve also lost my potential business in terms of upsell opportunities in the longer term also.  Not to mention this post and it’s potential damage overall!  It would have been far simpler and better for them if they were up front right from the start and said there was nothing they could do – sure they would have lost my revenue for a couple of months, but they might have potentially had me return in 6-12 months to take advantage of any “new” customer promotions that they might have then been offering.  

So that’s the scenario, what could they have done differently to not get me to the point where I’m airing my dirty laundry in public?

  1. Allow their staff to negotiate in good faith in an effort to truly retain customers.  A 10% discount on a bill is not really any incentive when the competition is offering 50%.  Something reasonable like 25%-30% would probably ensure that customers were retained, while still helping to maintain the bottom line.
  2. If $’s are not available in terms of incentives, offer additional services that the client might not even need or use as a benefit.  It’s a bit of a cheat, but increasing bandwidth is a great selling point if you know that it is not going to be utilized as then the customer believes they are getting something “better” but there is no real impact to the business.
  3. Staff your queues appropriately with staff that are trained to not only defuse irate customers, but also able to look for solutions and options.  Customer service is not just about keeping someone quiet – it’s about actually helping them.
  4. Remember that your existing customers matter also … churn hurts a business and having to reacquire customers is not only difficult and time consuming, it’s expensive also!  It wastes not only the companies resources, but in this case the consumer also with the reprogramming of devices + the retraining of family members on how to use the devices!
  5. Ensure that your staff provide accurate and reliable information (I’ll let you know what the supervisor says if I actually get a call back) so that the message the first time is the same message the second and third!  
  6. Staff your queues appropriately to ensure that hold times are minimized and offer high tech options to customers to get them off queues.  Tools and technologies like chat, knowledge and phone system call backs are all ways of helping to reduce wait times.
That’s my 2c for today – stay tuned to see how this one ends up and lets see if they can turn me around.

Nine Commandments

Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is its customers.

Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. 

When you satisfy our customers, they not only help us grow by continuing to do business with you but recommend you to friends and associates (remember, that while it seems only complaining customers tell others, this isn’t actually the case!).

The Key Commandments of Customer Service 

Know who is boss. 

You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want.
When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible. 

Be a good listener. 

Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel.

Beware of making assumptions – thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. It’s key here to not only listen to the question itself but also what the questions “means”.  A key example is when a customer asks

What time is the 3pm parade?

At first glance, this seems like a stupid question, but when you realize that the customer actually means:

What time does the 3pm parade ARRIVE HERE (where I’m standing)

it makes a lot more sense! (nb. this example is taken from Lessons from the Mouse – a training course that teaches Disney customer service excellence).

Do you know what three things are most important to your customer?

Identify and anticipate needs. 

Customers don’t buy products or services.

They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. 

Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs.

Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance.

Help customers understand your systems & terms. 

Stay away from jargon and industry-specific “speak”.  While these terms are completely understandable to you with your years of experience – to an outsider they don’t make any sense at all!  Remember, you’re the expert in your field, but your customer is the expert in theirs and quite often the service you provide to them is not their core business!

Your organization may have the world’s best systems for getting things done, but if customers don’t understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don’t reduce the human element of your organization.

Appreciate the power of “Yes”. 

Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterward. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.

Know how to apologize. 

When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win EVEN WHEN THEY ARE WRONG! Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done.  When a customer makes a mistake, don’t make them feel foolish, but rather treat them with dignity.  The key thing to remember here is the Golden Rule:

Treat Others, the way you Want to be Treated

Make it simple for customers to complain. 

Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable. Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition.

Consider the following:

  • What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere? 
  • What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don’t buy? 
  • What can you give customers that is totally unexpected? 

Get regular feedback. 

Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services – I talk about this in a bit more detail here. Listen carefully to what they say. Check back regularly to see how things are going. Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.  Whatever issues are identified need to be addressed and not ignored!

Treat employees well. 

Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.

The 5 Key Requirements of a Successful Project Manager

1. Be a Leader AND A Manager: 

Leaders share and communicate a common vision (of some future state); they gain agreement and establish the forward direction. Leadership is more than just telling someone what to do – it is inspiring them and motivating them by giving real world examples and ongoing guidance  Good Leaders motivate others. Managers are results driven and focus on getting work done against agreed requirements. A good project manager will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as the situations require. .

2. Be A Team Builder AND A Team Leader: 

Because projects are often cross-functional in that they use people who may not have worked together before. It is up to the project manager to set the ‘tone’ of the team and to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they perform as a team. Often, the team individuals have their own line manager, and so the PM has no implied authority – yet still needs to motivate the individual. This is particularly true in a ‘Matrix’ organization.

3. Be A Problem Solver: 

This is a skill that can be learned – it just needs a little ‘detective’ work up-front! You will want to first identify the possible ’causes’ that lead to the problem ‘symptom’. I talk a lot about the difference between Incidents and Problems here, but the key thing to remember is that causes can come from a variety of sources. The next step having found the root causes is to analyze possible options and alternatives, and determine the best course of action to take. Take care to agree what ‘best’ really means here!

4. Be A Negotiator AND Influencer: 

Negotiation is working together with other people with the intention of coming to a joint agreement. It doesn’t have to be the eye-ball-to-eye-ball power struggle you may be thinking of! For example getting one of the team to work late to meet a deadline when they would prefer to go to the Ball Game. And for all these, you need to have some influencing skills. Influencing is getting events to happen by convincing the other person that your way is the better way – even if it’s not what they want. Influencing power is the ability to get people to do things they would not do otherwise.

5. Be An Excellent Communicator: 

Being a communicator means recognizing that it’s a two-way street. Information comes into the project and information goes out of the project. A good way of summarizing this is that all communications on your project should be clear and complete. As a project manager, you will have to deal with both written and oral communications. Some examples are documents, meetings, reviews, reports, and assessments. A good mental guideline is “who needs this information, who gathers and delivers it, when or how often do they need it, and in what form will I give it to them”.

CSI & Benchmarking

As an IT professional, it is incumbent upon you to continue developing your skills and knowledge as that is the only way to ensure that you are current with what is considered “best practice”.

After all – while you might think of your skills at work as being similar to Wolverine’s, you’ll realize that he didn’t get that way without continuous and ongoing training in the Danger Room to ensure that he was able to meet and surpass any situation!

Now you might wonder about why I’ve gone into this tangent about comic book hero’s and their struggles, but I assure it will all make sense.  In my own personal life I’m currently working on my ITIL Intermediate set of certifications so that I can eventually have an ITIL Expert designation.  

The one that I’m currently on which I’d like to share with you is called CSI (Continual Service Improvement) and while some people might consider that acronym to refer to Crime Scene Investigations and the host of shows that have followed that theme, in reality, it’s not about looking at a problem after it’s happened (the crime) but rather proactive planning and organizing to ensure that the problem never happens in the first place!

CSI is a very large and complicated subject – in all honesty, so far its the one I’ve had the most difficulty with in my ITIL Expert journey – and it has quite a few different elements.  

As an IT Professional, ITIL generally makes a lot of sense to me and in most cases, I’ve implemented or worked on quite a few areas that are covered in the ITIL guides.  

In fact without boasting, many times I find that the ITIL books seem to be quoting something I’ve said!

One part of ITIL that I’ve not really explored or covered in my career, however, is that of benchmarking.  

Simply put – 

Benchmarking is a comparison of a specific element or process in your organization with that of other external companies/parties that have similar processes and products. 

Comparing your support responsiveness for example (Average Speed of Answer) if you’re a manufacturing company versus a bank doesn’t really work.  You need to (as much as possible) compare apples-to-apples.

How to Benchmark – some ideas!

  1. Focus on your key business drivers. These are the processes that underpin the success of your firm and will vary from sector to sector and business to business. If you provide a service, customer care is likely to be a key business driver; if you are a high-volume manufacturer, production-line speed will be a key business driver.
  2. Decide who to benchmark against. Your local Business Link or trade association should be able to suggest benchmarking partners. Pick firms of a similar size and with similar objectives to help work out industry yardsticks, but also compare with firms outside your sector who excel in areas you want to measure – importing their approach could help you leapfrog competitors.
  3. Assess the efficiency of your processes. Look at the mechanics of your business – the production techniques, quality controls, stock management and so on. How effective are they? How well are you using your technology? Are other businesses benefiting from new ways of doing things?
  4. Analyze your allocation of resources. Are you putting resources into the same areas as your benchmarking partners? Do they have more employees or fewer? In which parts of the business? Have they invested more in IT and other equipment? Are they spending more on marketing?
  5. Calculate sales per employee. This will provide a straightforward measure of productivity and efficiency. If your sales are comparatively low, investigate the reasons; you might find the problem is not with your sales staff but your product, or that you are pitching to the wrong market.
  6. Measure your customer service standards. Customer service is a key battleground for businesses with similar products or services. Working out the proportion of sales accounted for by returning customers will give you a picture of your service levels, as will the number of complaints you receive and the time it takes to fulfill an order.
Now is benchmarking always a hallmark of success?  Stay tuned for a subsequent post discussing why you shouldn’t benchmark!


What is it?

In its simplest form, a helpdesk is a group of people assigned to assist customers in solving their problems.  There are many different types of helpdesks and they are called by a variety of different names depending on the function that they serve, however the main point to make clear is that their purpose is to resolve a specific issue for a paying customer.

Types of Help Desks

At its simplest, you could break down Help Desks into two main types. There are definitely sub categorizations within each type and quite often they are called different things, but from an end users point of view there are really only two different types:

Customer Service – this type of helpdesk is generally more administrative in function and scope. They would provide customers with account information and perhaps act in a sales capacity with regards to new services and other offerings that might suit the client’s needs.

Technical Operations – break/fix or tech support or network operations or the NOC. The names are many and varied for this type of team, but their primary purpose is to resolve a specific incident or problem and restore the customer’s service in a timely manner as possible. Frequently this team is considered the 2nd level and is senior to the Customer Service team but this is not always the case.

Customer Service Helpdesks

Often referred to as a Contact Centre, these types of teams are more administrative in function and responsibility.  They are frequently called upon to provide customers with account information or deal with billing concerns.  While they may arrange visits with or escalate issues to the technical team, these individuals do not generally have the skills in-house to troubleshoot and resolve customer “problems”.

Quite often you will find that companies outsource this function to other companies and even other countries as it is more of a generic job then Technical and Operational Support.  However, in recent years this trend has been reversing as regardless of the cost, companies are striving to present customers with a more intelligent and higher quality of service.  Please note, outsourcing is not inherently bad by any means – if done properly, customers will receive a faster response time and all the information that they require to resolve their account issue.  However – to provide this level of support, companies need to provide the outsourcer with a significant level of access into their own internal systems and customer records.  In addition to this, the training that the outsourcer provides to their own staff is generally at a lower level than that provided internally – hence the quality of the answers provided are generally not at the same level.

In addition to the quality issues mentioned above, companies are actually using the fact that they provide service “in house” as a selling point, hoping in some cases to garner more customers simply based on “national pride”.

Incident & Problem Management

As mentioned previously, these teams are known by a variety of different names, but probably the most accurate name for them is the Service Desk. Based on the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework, the Service Desk is a component of the Incident Management team and they are responsible for resolving incidents and escalating problems.

What is an Incident?

Simply put, an incident is anything related to customer contact (incidents are also reported by automatic means via monitoring tools and I will discuss those types of incidents in greater depth in later posts).

Please note – Incidents are not restricted to technical teams, but can be something that a Customer Service team deals with also.

Incidents related to customers can be anything really – Information requests, Account Updates, Issue reporting are all examples of Incidents. All of these different Incidents coming from/through different sources would get routed to your Incident Management tool. For smaller teams this could be something as simple as a spreadsheet but in larger organizations either in-house customer built applications or enterprise level tools prevail.

Incident Management (in a nutshell)

Your helpdesk is responsible for reviewing the information in each of these incidents and checking if there is an appropriate solution already available to the customer.

For those instances for example where the customer wishes to update their Account Information, the helpdesk would look at the Incident, obtain the correct new information (& assuming that all appropriate security questions had been reviewed) log into the customers account and update the information. Once the information had been updated, they would inform the customer and then close the Incident. This is probably one of the simpler examples of an Incident from start to finish.

If the customer is reporting a problem or an issue, the Helpdesk staff are responsible for updating the Incident with all the relevant details as supplied by the customer. If the customer’s issue matches a known fix they are able to inform or supply that fix to the customer, however, if that is not the case they would need to escalate the issue to the Problem Management team.

The simplest way to think of the Incident Management (Helpdesk/Tier1) team and the issues they resolve is that if a “band-aid” exists they can apply it. If more drastic attention is required they will need to call the Doctor!

Problem Management

Problem Management is where the interesting work really happens. Incident Management due to its repetitive nature can get tedious and is definitely a drain on the more skilled staff in your organization … if you have people like that, think about moving them into Problem Management if you have such a team or create one if you don’t!

Problem Management is more in-depth. It’s where more often than not a single Problem is the cause of multiple Incident’s from multiple customers … as such you want your best people at this level. you would consider this Tier 2 or Tier 3 from an escalation and staffing perspective and dependent on your product or service you would have some very technically oriented people there. Their goal is not to just provide a band-aid, but rather to find out why the problem happened in the first place and fix it. they should be looking at ways to fix it in such a way as to ensure that it doesn’t happen again!!

KPI’s & Metrics

Regardless of the type of Help Desk you are running or dealing with there must be specific requirements in place to ensure that they are performing to peak efficiency and that they are resolving customer inquiries in a timely manner. A common industry term for these metrics is KPI – Key Performance Indicator and there are hundreds of different ones depending on the product and service you provide as well as what you want to measure and what is most important to your business.    

Now each of these teams would have different metrics in place. However, some that are common to both Customer Service and Technical Teams are as follows:

Response Time –

Obviously, your team (Incident Management/Customer Service/Helpdesk) needs to get back to the customer in a timely manner. Their goal as already mentioned is to fix it, fix it fast and move on.

A band-aid will not always reattach the finger though, so it’s up to the Tier2 team to ensure that the surgery goes smoothly which obviously takes a lot more time as you don’t want the surgeon doing a shoddy job!     So with that analogy in mind … you want to have an aggressive goal set for your Helpdesk – try to work with the 80/20 rule (The Pareto principle) … 80% of incidents responded to in 20 seconds (If you have the resources, otherwise maybe 20 minutes? Or 20 hours (that’s less than 1 day so might still be good – especially if you’re doing email support)? Or 20 days … well that’s probably not really worthwhile) but hopefully you get the point?

You want to set a specific goal for measuring how quickly your customers are getting a response.    

Resolve Time –

Notice that I have separated these out. As much as you’d like to be able to resolve 100% of issues at that first contact, it’s not always going to be possible. However, you can have another measurement in place that tracks this which is the Resolve Time (sometimes called MTTR (Mean Time to Repair)). 

The Goal here is also to get that band-aid on as quickly as possible so you need to ensure that your Incident Management system has some sort of a knowledge base which helps your staff find the solution to commonly placed issues/questions. If they have the answer every time, then a 100% resolution at 1st contact is achievable! If not, however … it gets a bit more complicated because all of a sudden your Incident Management team becomes the customer and the team they go to is the Problem Management team. Guess what? They have a different measurement for Response Time and Resolve Time too!    

Problem Management Response Time –

Now as previously mentioned these are generally your more senior staff and as much as you’d like them to be available 24/7 unless you have an extremely large organization this is probably fairly unlikely.

So you are going to have build or determine some relevant response times based on their availability.  In addition, as these escalated issues are generally issues that cannot easily be resolved, your resolution time is going to be extended also. Pick some appropriate intervals that meet your customers SLAs.

Your main goal for this team (in addition to resolving the problem of course) is communication, communication, communication!!! They must inform your agents what the issue is, what they are doing to resolve it and when they expect to have it resolved. If they cannot provide an estimated resolution time, they MUST provide your Tier1 team with an estimated update time.


A very important point to remember at all times is that you need to have a more aggressive Internal SLA vs. the one that you are offering to your customers. 
I know it sounds self evident doesn’t it, but there are no end of organizations that I’ve dealt with where customers are offered a 4hr SLA on a 24/7 basis and the engineers that can actually fix the problem are either unavailable till the next business day or NOT even on call!!! 
 Let me state this once again and very clearly so that there is NO CONFUSION … If you are offering your customers an SLA of ‘X Hours’ and your Engineering (or Development or Project Management or … etc…) team is only offering you an SLA of ‘X + Y Hours’ … YOU WILL LOSE MONEY and YOU WILL LOSE CUSTOMERS!!! 
 It is imperative that your internal SLA be better than the one you are offering to your customers and you need to ensure that your Sales team and Senior Management are both on board with this. 
Remember, also, that this must go all the way up the chain … your Engineering team has agreed to an internal SLA of ‘X – Y Hours’ (woohoo!! That will solve 80% of your problems) but the Development team is only offering them an SLA of ‘Z’ (assume ‘Z’ is a multiple of ‘X + Y’) … for those 20% of customers and problems that cannot be solved by your Tier 2 (Engineering team in this example) group … you are still going to be in trouble. 
The question, now becomes how much are you and your company willing to invest in protecting yourself from that 20%? Just like everything else there are things you can and cannot do, and you need to decide what your investment will be to give you the best “bang for your buck”.


Diagram of a matrix organisation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With large projects having all the required resources to hand is sometimes a difficult job in itself. While systems and hardware are easily acquired, the skills and specializations that people can bring to bear need time to develop. You could “hire” for it, but to some extent, that is a losing proposition as someone coming into the company fresh, will often not have the necessary internal knowledge or skills required to get the job done. This is where Matrix Management comes into play.


Matrix management is something that has been around for quite a while and despite your initial thoughts, it really does not have anything to do with Keanu Reaves and a long standing war between humanity and the machines! Rather, Matrix management (with respect to Projects) is a way of utilizing resources that exist in other teams so that you are able to accomplish your objectives. These resources are on temporary “loan” and must revert back to their previous home when the project or task is completed.


A significant advantage of this method of sourcing your resources in your project is the fact that you can get the best people possible to assist you in completing your project. While it is possible to hire externally and get the same or better skills, anyone that has come in from the street will not have the “company” knowledge that is sometimes the key requirement in getting things done. By obtaining resources from other internal departments and teams, you are able to bypass this bottleneck and ensure that you have got the team you need to get the job done.
Another significant advantage of this Matrix Management is that while you have the resources you need – you (as a manager) are still not their direct line manager. This means that you can leave the minutiae of people management tasks by the wayside and focus on what is of interest to you – completing that project!


While not having to manage your new resource is a definite plus, the fact that you are not their manager can sometimes be a disadvantage also. Often – unless clearly defined – staff get pulled in multiple directions between the demands of their new project team and their existing team. If this is not addressed quickly, it can become quite a drain on your team and their morale.

Service Matters – Learn What Works!

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