Tag Archive for: Customer service

Will Your Customer Service Project Sink or Swim?

By Rachel F Freeman, Operations Director

Creating a plan and an overall inspiring vision for which you imagine receiving accolades and awards sounds like a great place to be. However, the key to deciding whether the vision is going to sink or swim is based on the details, the objectives, and the team responsible for delivery.

Quick example: a 90-year-old woman decides that she’d like to make some fitness gains. Whilst she is an avid horseback rider, her thoughts move to jumping out of an airplane. She tells a local newspaper, and you can picture the publicity and the thrill of the activity. The small print is less than ideal: the woman, although fighting fit at first glance, has a recurring problem with blood pressure and dizziness. Altitude could wreak havoc on both of those issues, but she forgets to mention this. The news reporter is so caught up on the potential of the story, that he never asks for more details. The story never goes to print because the woman never jumps and pursues hiking instead on the advice of her doctor. Perhaps not quite as exciting on the surface, hiking is actually the best outcome for her situation and still an impressive achievement. This example ends well but not with the anticipated fanfare.

When applied to business solutions, this scenario can take on much heavier implications. Imagine a chief stakeholder has a vision for a customer service project full of whistles and bells but does not quite understand how to reach that point and leaves the details to the team. The team is so enthralled by the vision and the prospect of a new shiny development, as well as being caught up in the enthusiasm the chief has for the project, that certain basic and very important questions are not asked.

Questions such as: The idea is great, but what is the use case? What are the customer pain points to solve?  What are the measurable objectives? Can we achieve the objectives by doing something less time consuming and complicated if we try another option? And my particular favourite, have you considered the end-to-end journey for the project across all channels?

Failing to take the time to ask and answer these questions doesn’t necessarily mean the project will sink. It can, however, mean lots of wasted time and unnecessary confusion or frustration. The end result may be effective, but it probably won’t be as shiny as the initial vision.

Here is the controversial question: Do shiny things tarnish more quickly than a solid solution that is effective? I work for a software solution company where innovation and shiny, cool things are what we do.  I strongly believe based on my experience that you can have shiny and solid simultaneously when it comes to customer service solutions.

What I do not advocate is applying “shiny” without considering the questions above. For example, a smooth end-to-end digital user journey is a holy grail for online customer service. Yet just because you can help a customer smoothly journey through multiple channels for support doesn’t mean you should always do that. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of showing off all the whistles and bells of different channels. Instead, always ask if there is a real use case or a point beyond it seeming to look impressive.

Customers don’t care if your tools and channels are innovative and shiny if they aren’t getting their questions answered. They don’t care about your inspirational vision if their time is being wasted because you haven’t planned your customer journeys based on the real way your solutions are going to be used.

Likewise, why waste your team’s time by trying to solve all customer problems across multiple channels when, for instance, certain use cases will truly only be used via a mobile device and not on a desktop? If the team is caught up in the hype and overlooking the details, you risk delivering a mediocre project that just floats along instead of maximising on the potential of the initial vision.

Digital customer service awards are given to those projects that showcase shiny developments, but only when they take the customer down the right path at the right time and serve the right information as required.

This Customer Service Week let’s celebrate the people on our teams that pay attention to the details and make sure we answer the important questions. They are the ones that enable even the most ambitious and shiniest visions to become a reality through solid, successful solutions.

I’d much rather swim with the confidence that my project has buoyancy based on the right questions being answered than risk sinking in a sea of bright and unchallenged options – and I’m guessing you would, too! If you’re interested in learning more about how the Creative Virtual team can help you with customer service solutions that are both shiny and solid, contact us here.

Multi-Lingual Digital Customer Service is Easier Than Ever

By Maria Ward, Account Manager & Knowledgebase Engineer

Good day – Guten tag – Buenos días – Bonne journée – Goededag – Buona giornata – There are more than 7,000 known languages spoken in the world today. So, it’s no surprise that language is a common barrier in both personal and business interactions.

Back in 2014, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) published a report titled The Growing Need for Multilanguage Customer Support. Their survey of customer service leaders found that 72% said support in a customer’s native language increased their satisfaction with customer support and 58% said it increased loyalty to the brand. Over half acknowledged that offering support in a customer’s native language was a competitive differentiator.

This research is old now, but the desire of customers to have native language support is still very much there. Luckily for businesses, new technologies are making it easier for them to offer multilingual customer service on digital channels than it was in 2014.

One of these technologies is machine translation which has seen huge improvement in recent years. Developments over the past two years have greatly increased the accuracy and reliability of many translation engine applications. This has opened up new possibilities for delivering multilingual customer self-service.

For example, this year I’ve been working on several conversational AI projects with businesses taking advantage of machine translation to provide customer service in multiple languages. One is with an organisation that has used V-Person technology since 2016 on their UK website. They are an international company and became interested in exploring ways they could leverage their successful English-speaking virtual agent in other countries.

Using an automatic translation engine is a great solution for them because it is cheaper, simpler, and easier than creating a whole new virtual agent in a second language. It lets them build on the years of investment they had already made in their English-speaking virtual agent. Now they are using that same knowledgebase to provide self-service on their German website by adding translated versions of their virtual agent answers and integrating with a translation engine.

Here’s how it works: The customer enters their question in German in the virtual agent. A translation engine is utilised to translate that input into English. The translated input is then matched in the knowledgebase to the correct piece of content. The virtual agent selects the German version of the response from the knowledgebase and presents that answer to the customer.

The company started the project by identifying the top FAQs for their German website. They then provided German translations for those pieces of content. The team also worked on making any modifications to the natural language processing (NLP) to accommodate for differences in how a German user might ask those questions or ‘weird’ automatic translations that may be returned by the engine. After a successful launch of the German-speaking virtual agent, work got underway to slowly expand the content.

Another project I’ve been working on recently is for a brand-new virtual agent. One of the reasons Creative Virtual was selected as their conversational AI provider is our ability to integrate with translation engines and manage multiple languages within one knowledgebase. This company is starting their project with seven languages.

The process for this multi-lingual virtual agent has been a little different than my first example because there was no existing knowledgebase at the start. My recommendation for any organisation looking to build a new virtual agent in multiple languages is to start by finalising all content in the main language first. This will save you time with the translation work because changes to an answer typically means having to make updates to that answer across all languages.

Using automatic translation to expand a virtual agent to multiple languages is cost-effective and saves time, but it’s not a perfect solution. You’re likely to encounter content clashes and inputs that aren’t matched with your existing content. This is why you need a virtual agent management platform that has the right functionality to specifically support integration with a translation engine. The projects I’ve been working on are successful because of our V-Portal™ platform.

The right conversational AI platform will support workarounds for the content clashes and customisations for your different languages. It should also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide relevant ‘did you mean’ suggestions to users when their input doesn’t match with a specific piece of content. You also have the ability to set the virtual agent to ‘auto-select’ answers. This means that if the NLP fails to match the input directly with the correct answer, it pushes one of the ‘did you mean’ answers automatically as long as that answer meets a specified confidence level.

Maintenance of your multi-lingual virtual agent is also easier when you have a highly functional management platform integrated with a translation engine. When you need to make updates to an answer, you can do that quickly across all languages since all answers are listed under the same intent in the knowledgebase. Also, any changes you make to the NLP in your main language benefits all languages. And as machine translation engines improve, you automatically benefit from the most recent developments without having to do any work on your virtual agent.

The quality of your customer service affects customer loyalty, repeat business, and your brand reputation. Offering native language support can really improve your support experience. Technologies like automatic machine translation are making it easier than ever to give customers multi-lingual customer service options. Contact the experts at Creative Virtual to learn more about how we’re helping companies deliver these solutions.

Are All Members of Your Conversational AI Team Equal?

By Laura Ludmany, Knowledgebase Engineer

There is a question I came across recently which made me think and raises a good discussion for Customer Service Week: Who is the most important participant in the workflow of the development and maintenance of any AI-powered customer service tool?

Let’s imagine we build a virtual assistant from scratch for a large enterprise client where the solution must be scalable, available across multiple channels, and delivering measurable results. There are many out-of-the-box, seemingly quick solutions on the market which catch attention with claims of being up and running with little time and effort. However, these deployments are not often expandable or manageable as the real-life interaction traffic increases. These chatbots often cannot mature at the same pace as the usage, leaving a bitter taste in the users’ mouths and doing more harm than good for the organisation.

To deploy a chatbot just for the sake of having a chatbot, to tick one cool gadget off the list, to appear to be keeping up with the technology trends – none of these are good goals for a conversational AI project. The goal should be a long term one: to leverage the virtual assistant to its full capabilities; to discover new integrations, features, channels and start using it in a proactive way; to listen to your customers’ needs and feedback gathered in conversations; to broadcast news and promote products, offers, and sales to users in a centralised, accessible way.

Building and managing a virtual assistant with the goals described above, requires more people than a reader from outside the industry would probably imagine:

  • We need a salesperson to introduce the technology to the client and translate their business requirements into virtual assistant project specs.
  • We need a project manager who keeps the momentum going between the client and the team, organises the resources, streamlines the workflows, oversees the processes, and really just holds everything together.
  • We need a knowledgebase/AI engineer who designs the user journeys, builds and updates the database of the chatbot, and manages the algorithm that matches the submitted questions with the intent.
  • We need ‘hard techies’, the software engineers and developers who build the user interface, work on the different integrations, design the templates, and ultimately deploy the virtual assistant.
  • We need an analyst to look after the reporting side of the tool, understand the client’s KPIs, implement those indicators to the reporting platforms, and then deliver the required insights and statistics to the desired reporting suites.

Depending on the size and nature of the project, there can be multiple people sharing the same sets of tasks and many times there can be even more experts involved in a launch of a single chatbot.

So, then the question is: Who is the most important part in this workflow? The sales lead as he ‘brings’ the business in and has to pitch the future client? The project manager who deals with both sides and oversees everything? The AI engineers who build and maintain the ‘brain’ of the virtual assistant? The software developers who bring the chatbot to reality by building the user interface? The analytics experts who provide the reports which show the performance and measurable results of the tool?

Hint: there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has different views and valid arguments about it. We might say very diplomatically that each and every person has equal importance in the process.

I think, based on my experience, the most important participant in a chatbot project is the client. As the conversational AI vendor, we might have the latest integrations, the coolest features on the template and the best performing chatbots ever, but our client needs to be heavily involved in the continuous journey of a conversational AI tool for real success.

There is no sadder thing for us as chatbot professionals, than to build a majestic AI tool which is then no longer looked after as it is supposed to be. There will always be new user trends evolving, new unrecognised user questions to be addressed, and new technology updates becoming available.

Hence each point of contact has a crucial role to play to win the ‘heart’ of the client, to prove and promote the value of the chatbot, to raise interest, show enthusiasm and engage with the stakeholders. Everyone in the team needs to be proactive and showcase the capabilities of the virtual assistant, whether that be through post-sales add-on integrations and launches, regular touch base meetings, analysing and improving user journeys, flagging content gaps, showing the latest technology solutions, or sharing new reporting features. We have to pass on the passion we share within our team to the client who is just starting to discover the endless possibilities and advantages conversational AI has to offer.

So, from my point of view, making the client interested, invested and an advocate for their chatbot will ultimately make them the most important participant in the chatbot workflow. As we celebrate Customer Service Week, we should recognise their crucial role. At Creative Virtual, we celebrate all our clients who are so devoted to keeping their virtual assistants successful and with whom we work hand-in-hand, day-to-day with over years and even decades.

Showing Love for Customer Service Week

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

Happy Customer Service Week! Observed every year during the first full week of October, Customer Service Week is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis.

Delivering service and support that customers love doesn’t happen by chance. Companies known for their positive customer service have a strategy that encompasses the whole organisation. They support their employees and contact centre agents with the right tools. They are available to their customers on the channels they prefer. They regularly review feedback from both customers and employees and take action to improve. They are agile and adapt to changes with a customer-centric approach.

This week we are showing love for the efforts of everyone involved with delivering customer service – employees helping customers face-to-face in brick-and-mortar locations; contact centre agents delivering support over the phone, live chat, and social media; team members working behind the scenes to build and maintain customer service tools.

It’s become tradition at Creative Virtual to start Customer Service Week with our annual blog post roundup. This will be the seventh year I’ve combed through the previous 12 months of posts on our blog to put this together. It’s always a challenge to decide which posts to include, but my goal is to select ones on a variety of customer service topics that deliver expert insights, actionable tips, and/or thought-provoking questions.

And so, without further ado, here are some of the best customer service posts shared on the Creative Virtual Blog over the past year:

  • Solving Common Conversational AI Project Issues – Conversational AI is widely recognised as an important technology in digital customer service and employee support strategies. However, some organisations are struggling with a chatbot that’s not performing as expected, can’t be scaled as their business grows, or doesn’t properly reflect their brand. It’s possible to get these projects back on track without abandoning the investment.
  • The Generic ‘Chat Now’: Virtual Agent or Live Chat? – Customers are more comfortable with and increasingly seeking out digital self-service options. However, if those tools are easily accessible or clearly identified as the place to self-serve (without having to engage with a human) then both customers and businesses are missing out on their benefit.
  • Gen Z and your Customer Self-Service – If you aren’t planning for the expectations of younger customers as they gain more buying power over the next few years, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to put your customer service efforts on the path to future success. Younger generations not only prefer self-service options but are also coming to expect intuitive self-service.
  • Take Your Customer Support from ‘Talking At’ to ‘Listening To’ – Good customer service means listening to your customers and creating a dialogue, not just talking at them. It also means using what you learn from customers to constantly improve. This requires courage – customers will speak their mind! – and the will to act.
  • Can Conversational AI Make Your CX More Human and Empathetic? – No matter how advanced and integrated a self-service tool may be, some support issues are best handled by a real person. However, as companies work to increase customer empathy and provide better service for vulnerable customers, they are finding that supporting their employees and contact centre agents with specially designed conversational AI solutions can actually make engagements with customers more human and empathic.
  • Contact Centres are Crying Out for Help – Contact centres and contact centre agents are under immense pressure, dealing with increased contact volumes, rising customer frustration, and agent attrition. While technology won’t solve all the issues facing the contact centre industry, the right solutions will go a long way in alleviating some of the stress being placed on agents.
  • Conversational AI and the Employee Experience – Your customer experience starts with your employee experience. Employees that feel supported and have the proper tools to do their jobs are going to be happier and more engaged. In turn, that means better products, services, and support for your customers.
  • Building a Cohesive Virtual Agent and Live Chat Solution – Once rival solutions, virtual agents and live chat are now seen as complementary tools for customer service. Organisations are having discussions about how to incorporate both into their digital customer support strategies. The tips in this post address adding a virtual agent to an existing live chat deployment, adding live chat to an existing virtual agent deployment, and adding both solutions or changing providers.
  • Not All Chatbots are Conversational AI Solutions – There are many names often used interchangeably in the industry, but what makes a virtual agent or chatbot a true conversational AI solution? How the technology is using artificial intelligence both in the development stage and for ongoing maintenance is important. However, don’t overlook the need for integration and personalisation, too.
  • Composable CX: Becoming Agile and Flexible – Over the past two years, composability has become a key discussion point for many organisations looking to take a more agile approach to their customer service. Composable CX is about being able to create and deploy solutions quickly but doing so in a way that responds to customer needs in a thoughtful and empathetic way.

The Creative Virtual team is once again marking this week with our annual Customer Service Week Blog Celebration – a series of posts written by expert members of our team on the present and future of customer service. Subscribe to our Blog to get them all delivered right to your Inbox and find them all listed here as each is published.

Take Your Customer Support from ‘Talking At’ to ‘Listening To’

By Björn Gülsdorff, Chief Business Development Officer

Once upon a time ‘market’ was a noun, denoting the place where people got together and negotiated public affairs. In some markets, like the Forum Romanum, history was made. Then, ‘market’ also became a verb. Now marketing basically means talking at people, often raising the level of volume, colours, and wordings whilst lowering niveau. 😊

Surely, to say such a thing is utterly unfair to many marketeers. Yet, when it comes to customer service, I uphold the claim that the communication is often rather unidirectional, and in the wrong direction on top of that. Countless the websites where FAQs are not “frequently asked questions” but rather “answers we’d like to give”. Or where obviously someone has created a user journey for me. Frankly, nobody needs to design that. I know pretty well where I want to go, thank you.

What I do want on my journey, is to have road bumps removed, gaps bridged, and connections optimised. If customer service was an airport, I don’t want the lounge refurbished; I want another fast lane and quick boarding.

I am aware that people are different and that the same person has different needs at different times. Therefore, there is not the one journey for all and clearing the path is not easy.

That’s where two-sided conversations, aka dialogues, kick in. Customer service is about listening as well as acknowledging that each experience will be unique. Virtual agents can play a role in that as they come with a free text input field. So even when customers are self-serving, they don’t need to guess the one correct search term or scroll through a list of FAQs someone else has selected.

When it comes to creating this dialogue with customers, there are good and not so good ways to start.Things like expectation management, consistency, focus, and coverage make a big difference. It also requires courage (customers will speak their mind!) and the will to act.

It may be an inconvenient truth, but customer service with a virtual agent (or any other tool for that matter) is not a one-off thing. Good customer service means listening to your customers and improving constantly, be it the NLP (natural language processing), answers in the virtual agent, your processes, your services, or your products. In customer service, the journey to design is your way to become a better and more successful company.

Whether you’re ready to add a virtual agent to your customer service plan for the first time or have realised that your current tool isn’t creating a helpful dialogue with customers, I recommend this whitepaper for tips from conversational AI experts.

Register Now: Expert Insights on Conversational AI and Customer Service

By Scott Tompkins, Vice President of Sales

Just like a puppy isn’t only for the pandemic, customer service insights aren’t only for Customer Service Week. This week of celebrating customer service professionals and successful customer service experiences should just be the beginning of a renewed focus on your own customer service and CX strategies.

To help you keep that Customer Service Week momentum going, destinationCRM is hosting a roundtable webinar next week: Conversational AI: The Future of Customer Service? I’m looking forward to hearing the panel of experts, including Creative Virtual’s Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, discuss the current trends and future possibilities of conversational AI technology.

Drawing from his own experiences and those of Creative Virtual’s global team, Chris will share expert recommendations for how your organization can maximize the benefits of conversational AI technology. He will also be delving into ways you can use back-end integrations to take your digital self-service from basic FAQ tool to a personalized, conversational interaction.

Conversational AI solutions, like chatbots and virtual agents, can have a powerful impact on customer loyalty and retention. When designed, implemented, and maintained correctly, these solutions have been proven to reduce support costs, increase sales revenue, and even reduce employee turnover. The next generation of conversational AI advancements are poised to improve customer service even more.

Register now to join us on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 11:00 am PT/ 2:00 pm ET for the live webinar, Conversational AI: The Future of Customer Service? This destinationCRM roundtable will be recorded, so be sure to sign up even if you can’t join the live event.

Once you’ve registered, I recommend checking out (or re-reading!) all of the posts from the Creative Virtual team that make up this year’s Customer Service Week Blog Celebration. There are lots of great insights on conversational AI use cases, customer expectations, and customer service trends.

Dialogues are Between People

By Björn Gülsdorff, Chief Business Development Officer

Have you ever heard about the H-H-Interface, aka the H2I? Likely not, because I just made it up. But I did so with a reason and here’s why.

When it comes to transactional tools, there is a lot of talk about the Human Machine Interface (or HMI), the look and feel, and other technicalities. That is all fine and important of course, but customer communication, however, is about people talking to people. Even if this communication is automated and asynchronous, it is still Human to Human.

Customers use conversational AI on the web, in apps and other channels. They interact with virtual agents and chatbots in a technical sense, but they certainly do not converse with them. The replies they get are perceived as coming from a person or a group of people (usually called a company 😊).  Having this in mind makes an important shift of focus in the virtual agent design. The focus goes from designing transactions to creating the dialogues you’d like to have with your customers.

Just think about voice mail: When you are greeted nicely and the message makes you smile, will you think “What a friendly machine!”? Or will it be: “What a nice person!”? See? When creating a virtual agent, the same thinking applies.

You need to create a dialogue between yourself and your customers. You need to ask yourself, who are you talking to and what do you want to tell them.  As a result, it is about personal contact and the tools you use are not the deciding factor. Or let me phrase this differently: You need tools that do not get in the way between you and your customers. You need a platform rather than a readymade, which allows you to create conversations with your customers – or with your customer groups, for that matter.

As this year’s Customer Service Week celebrations come to an end, be sure to keep the H2I focus in your digital strategy. And if your conversational AI solution doesn’t provide you with the platform options to create the dialogue you want with customers, then it’s time to make a change.

Analysing Customer Queries to Improve Customer Service

By Maria Ward, Account Manager & Knowledgebase Engineer

I’ve worked in the chatbot field for over 15 years helping companies deliver better customer service, experiencing the technology both as a client and a provider. One of my favourite parts of my job is being able to use all my years of experience to steer my clients through the minefield of options to deliver a conversational AI solution that is both effective and efficient.

One of the reasons Creative Virtual has so many long-term customers is that we really get to know them and their products and services. This approach allows me to collaborate closely with my clients to identify opportunities that will specifically help them improve their chatbot experience.

Earlier this year I was working with one of my clients on expanding their customer-facing chatbot to provide self-service on more topics. One area we agreed would provide significant benefit to customers was addressing error codes they might encounter. However, due to the wide range of different machines and models customers might be using, the list of possible error messages they could see was very, very long!

Given the knowledge I had about their business and my experience with developing chatbot content, I knew right away that attempting to address every single error message would be wasted effort. I quickly steered them away from that pitfall and instead suggested our first step should be to go directly to the source: their own customer queries.

I analysed the previous year’s data collected by their chatbot to look for trends. What were the most common error codes users were asking about during that period? The goal of this analysis was to better understand which error messages customers were actually needing help with and how they were asking about them.

Once I identified the trends, I liaised with the client to select the error messages that should be added to the chatbot first. We looked at which ones customers were most frequently asking the chatbot about and which ones the client knew were likely to be the most common. We also looked at which errors could be explained and resolved best with a self-service approach. The error messages on this list were the ones that would deliver the biggest impact on their customer service.

Once we narrowed down the list of error messages, the next step was to identify whether each needed a new answer added to the chatbot or if there was existing content that was relevant. I also looked at how conversation flows could be used to guide customers to the specific information they needed to deal with their error code.

In the world of customer service, surveys are common tools for getting customer insights. However, you should never underestimate the value in analysing customer queries. The data collected by a self-service tool like a chatbot provides an honest, unfiltered look into your customers’ needs and what they are really asking.

My tip this Customer Service Week for improving your organisation’s customer service is to analyse your customer queries. Whether that’s transcripts from your chatbot, live chat, or contact centre, you can gain priceless insights that allow you to align your customer service updates with the actual needs of your customers.

AI Growth in the Insurance Industry

By Susan Ott, Senior Customer Success Manager

At the outset of the global pandemic in 2020, there was already a great emphasis on the consumer’s desire for artificial intelligence (AI) in day-to-day life.  As we find ourselves making our way, 18 months and counting, in this new normal it is a safe bet that the world of AI-powered self-service isn’t going anywhere.

One industry that has experienced an influx in the need for self-service is Insurance. With technology advancing every day, the need for instant service and issue resolution is becoming more and more expected. The preference of customers to be able to self-serve isn’t waning, but their patience with companies that don’t provide that option certainly is.

AI remains a major trend in the technology sector that will continue to alter how we work and live. Within the customer service space in particular, conversational AI is enabling companies to successfully meet the growing need for instant service.

These new technologies are being used in the multi-faceted Insurance field to automate Claim Processing, get Pricing/Quotes, and improve the overall Customer Service experience for Auto, Home and Life policyholders. Here are some examples:

  • Claim Processing: Companies spend a lot of money on Claims personnel, often times increasing rates to account for the large number of calls coming into their contact centers. Using AI, these companies can reduce their hiring budget by automating many of the routine questions that representatives field on any given day.
  • Pricing/Quotes: This is a huge area in which AI can be beneficial. Using AI, companies can be more competitive in their pricing and allow for personalization tailored to individual policyholders. Knowing some key criteria about a person, such as geographical location, marital status, and likelihood of filing a claim, helps to set premiums.
  • Customer Service: Companies need to look at AI in terms of it acting as a personal Concierge for users coming into the company’s website. It gets them where they need to be to best resolve their questions, allowing for a seamless and smooth experience, while decreasing phone or other live contacts via this digital channel.

Insurance companies should approach AI projects with the goal of creating better experiences for their policyholders, agents, and contact center teams. When used correctly, these technologies provide instant service that is personalized, convenient, and meets the expectations of today’s consumers. Automating processes and top customer service queries with AI also improves efficiency, increases productivity, and helps build customer trust and loyalty. All of this is more important than ever as we continue to make our way through this new normal.

Satisfied Customers and Happy Employees Require a Long-term Mindset

By Rachel F Freeman, Operations Director

Whilst we celebrate customer service with a special week, we should always acknowledge that customer service is not something we can only think about 7 days out of the year! Equally, with the imminent COP26 taking place soon in Glasgow, we shouldn’t only spend a few weeks thinking about sustainability and climate change as a flavour of the month for it to then be tucked away until the next global summit.

We should use these special and timely events to do a deeper dive into what we can do to improve for the rest of the year and ways we can treat these topics with a focus year-round. In fact, I think that Customer Service Week and COP26 have a few overlaps in their objectives.

Part of the many aspects of ESG (environmental, sustainability, governance) objectives includes ensuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace as well as providing a safe working environment. Having happy and safe workers, who feel valued, increases both productivity and retention levels.

The parallel for how we should approach our customers is strikingly similar: well-treated customers, who feel safe in the care and attention given to them, are likely to be retained as customers. So long as the value we have for them continues and develops with their requirements, we will have happy, long-term customers.

Valued employees are more receptive to learning, listening, and wanting to support the company, which in turn means supporting our important customers – and they are ALL important! – in the best possible way. It is a team effort to create value in a company’s products, services, and support.

This creates a cyclical process which rewards everyone yet is crucial to maintain and takes ongoing attention and nurturing.

A linear customer experience can be defined as: customer asks for product; company gives product, end of story. This works well if you are buying a hot dog, for example.

However, a cyclical customer experience includes having the “lifecycle” of the exchange extended through communication and understanding of requirements and working to see how the customer can be supported. The experience covers everything from design to implementation and after-care. It aims to draw from core company values and expertise to offer best-of-breed advice.

This sounds so simple, but the key is to continue to monitor the cycle and check in on both employees and customers regularly to evaluate motivation, satisfaction, and success. Those are the prime elements for keeping satisfied customers and happy employees and for working towards sustainable ecosystems.

October and November will offer specific opportunities to consider all of the above. We should take advantage of these events with the mindset of carrying their importance with us for a lot more than just the next 12 months. Creative Virtual’s Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, often ends his internal company communications with “Onwards”, and I feel this is a perfect moment for me to do the same.

Onwards and upwards towards never quenching the thirst for keeping both employees and customers happy and for operating within a sustainable working model that maintains the long-term investment ethos.