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From the blog

How Live Chat Can Improve Your Customer Service

Customer service is the face of an organization, and while the methods for delivering that service have changed, the goal remains the same. You want your customers to feel good about your service.

It’s for this reason that many companies have started to implement live chat into their customer service operations. Traditional phone-only communication is now coupled with live chat, and many companies are seeing the benefits of using this hybrid formula.

If your organization has been tossing around the idea of implementing live chat into your customer service but still don’t know if it’s a good fit, we’ve provided a run down of benefits which could help you in your decision.

Cost Efficient

Anyone who’s been tasked with setting up a call center’s phone lines can probably tell you not only how time consuming it is, but also about the costs. Setting up phone support is expensive and involves a variety of factors that must be in place before it can go operational. Implementing live chat support only takes only a few steps and requires less of an investment.

Some companies take this a step further and outsource their live chat for even more efficient operations and less costs.

Visual Aids

A large part of the population are visual learners, meaning that no matter how many times you lay out a solution to them over the phone they still won’t truly get what you’re saying. One benefit of live chat is being able to show a customer what you’re talking about. Whether it’s a product guide, screen sharing, a graph, or an animated GIF, visual aids can help customers better understand their issue and the solution.

Remote Real Time Assistance

No one likes being put on hold, and a call into a company’s customer service department is almost certainly going to result in one. Live chat eliminates this issue by putting a customer directly in contact with an agent.

Customers want answers, quick. In fact, Forrester Research found that 57% of customers will abandon their purchase if their questions aren’t answered quickly. They also found that 44% of online consumers find live chat to be one of the most vital features a website can have. Chat support provides agents the tools needed to guide customers through step-by-step instructions.

Agents are also able to handle multiple customers at once, adding an extra layer of efficiency to your operation.

Understand Your Customer Base

Learning about your customer base is the best way to create an experience that they will remember. Live chat can help you do just that. A comprehensive live chat software comes with features and tools that provide insight into customer behavior.
Customer data and relevant customer analytics can give your company insight and help you identify problem areas in your customer service experience.

Some of the data you can get for every live messaging session include:

• Time spent on site
• Referral links
• Customer location
• Operating system/device used

As you can see, implementing live chat can help your company continually modify its customer service experience to accommodate a changing customer base. If you’d like to learn more about live chat, or even outsourcing your live chat operations, click here.

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6 Tips for Providing Awesome Customer Service

Customer service is more important today than ever before, considering that people now have extensive options for products and services available with the click of a button. Providing a customer service experience that leaves people wanting more cannot be obtained simply by slapping a headset on an agent. Instead, it has to be developed through training and practice. We’ve provided some ways to revamp your customer service experience – many of which are currently being used by industry giants today.

Implement Live Chat

More companies are using live chat in addition to their traditional telephone customer service, and the resulting benefits are clear. Statistics show that many customers prefer live chat because it allows them to perform other tasks at the same time. Knowing that you’re not taking a customer away from their day’s plans can provide a positive experience for both parties.

Get Better at Saying No

An inescapable part of customer service is at some point saying “no” to a customer. The guilt you feel for saying no doesn’t mean you’re a bad worker. In fact, it makes you a better agent since you are identifying with the customer’s issues. When saying no, remain sympathetic with the customer, but don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

Roleplay During Meetings

The best way to prepare for real world customer service issues is to roleplay with other employees during training sessions and meetings. Not only does this provide an opportunity for creativity and even some fun, the more hypothetical situations you’re exposed to the more prepared you’ll before anything that arises.

Utilize IT Automation

According to Spiceworks’ 2019 State of IT report, 43% of financial service organizations have implemented IT automation into their operations. Automated services, when applied to customer service operations, increase efficiency and reduce call abandonment rates. Customers are also more likely to prefer a callback later as opposed to staying on hold for an extended period of time.

Monitor Social Media

What started as a way for people to connect with friends and family online has become a vessel for everyone around the world to display their thoughts; great news for companies in good standing with consumers, bad news for those that mess up those interactions. You can keep a good reputation with your customers by constantly checking your social media accounts for any messages or mentions, keeping an eye out for anyone venting frustrations. If your company is called out publicly, it’s better to address it head on. Many times, just replying to a customer is enough to let people know you care.

Watch Your Tone

Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” A large percentage of customer service calls will end with no solution for the customer’s problem, but they can end on a positive note. Maintaining a firm, confident, and sympathetic tone with your customers keeps you in control of the call, while also validating their issues. You may be surprised when you start receiving good feedback on what you perceived as a negative issue for the customer.

Finally, to implement all of these points – if you’re looking to make your company’s customer service experience more efficient or want to cut down on the costs of maintaining the operation in-house, outsourcing your customer service could be the answer.

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4 Office Tasks You Should Consider Outsourcing

Every company or organization should have goals, and any and all resources should be allocated to successfully complete projects that support business goals. But what happens when day-to-day work operations begin to wreak havoc on those resources?

It’s this exact situation that forces many companies to start searching for solutions that save time and money. In most situations, outsourcing eventually comes into the conversation. The reasons a company turns to outsourcing varies. In a Deloitte Global Outsourcing survey, 57% of companies cited an opportunity to focus on core operations as the reason they decided to outsource, while 59% stated cost cutting was also a factor.

You know the benefits of outsourcing your customer service, but you may be lost on where else in your business you can apply outsourcing solutions. We’ve provided some examples of common office tasks you can outsource, and the benefits of each below.

Payroll

The saying “time is money” is uniquely relevant to payroll since you are literally spending time to pay someone.
By outsourcing your payroll operations, you not only save time but also money that would be spent distributing paychecks, processing hours, generating accounting reports, preparing taxes, and filing government paperwork.

Contracts Processing

Outsourcing contracts processing takes care of a variety of documents including legal contracts, new-hire contracts, mortgage loans, payroll negotiations, and transportation contracts.
Working with outsourced contracts processing allows your company to process at higher volumes, reduce customer turnover, and give you access to professional guidance in contract matters.

Claims Filing

With the help of outsourcing agents and automation software, claims filing service outsourcing can assist you with data confirmation, claim authentication, auditing, reporting, and documentation.
Benefits of outsourcing claims filing include
• Increased work efficiency
• Lower operational costs
• Access to exceptional technology and talent
• Time to focus on other aspects of business

Human Resources

Hiring a new employee isn’t free, and when you factor in the lengthy hiring process, the costs begin to add up. Outsourcing human resources cuts costs, and puts the operation in the hands of qualified experts who have extensive experience in the field.

Another area an outsourced human resources operation can handle is health insurance, specifically Health Savings Accounts, 401k’s, disability, and all other aspects of employee benefits.

Now that you’ve learned just some of the office tasks that can be outsourced, you can start looking into problem areas within your company that can be improved by outsourcing operations.

Don’t be afraid to change the way your company handles its day-to-day work. Many other businesses have made the move to outsourcing and have experienced the results first hand. In fact, 78% of businesses all over the world feel positive about their relationship with their outsourcing partner.

So, what are you waiting for?

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Customer Service: Live Chat vs. Telephone Support

It doesn’t matter what your company’s service or product is, you will have to provide some sort of customer support. Traditionally, companies have relied on telephone agents to assist customers with their issues, and telephone support remains the preferred method for providing service. But with the ever-evolving live chat functions being utilized by everyone from hotels to online retail, companies are beginning to look at new options for their customer experience.

Both techniques are great for interacting with customers, so we’ve laid out the pros and cons of each so that you can better decide what’s right for you.

Telephone

Pros

  • Customers still want to hear another voice solve their problems, this was proven in a study by Google that found that 57% of respondents call a customer service line so that they can speak to a human.
  • More personal, you’re able to come off sincerer in your responses.
  • Easier for agents to determine a customer’s state of mind, or emotional state.
  • Customers may be more comfortable speaking than typing, and as a result, you won’t have to decipher interpret choppy writing.

Cons

  • It’s harder for an agent to disguise their emotions, if a caller rubs you the wrong way and your voice begins to reflect that, then they’ll be able to tell.
  • A customer’s message can get lost because of bad cell service or a faulty connection.
  • Setting up telephone systems in a call center is costly, and it requires time for them to be fully operational.

Live Chat

Pros

  • Quick response, which means customers will wait less time for an answer.
  • Live chat allows agents to handle more clients at once since problems are resolved quicker.
  • Convenience is important for customers; a 2016 report by Econsultancy found that 21% of people prefer live chat because it allows them to shop while they work.
  • The ability to engage a customer the moment they visit your website via pop-up chat plug-ins; this is helpful if your company has an online storefront.
  • Opportunities for upselling if a chat is initiated at checkout.

Cons

  • Not everyone is proficient at typing, you can encounter spelling errors, sentences that don’t make sense, and customers that type very slowly.
  • Agent will have to learn to convey sincerity, or urgency through their messaging. Additionally, messages can be misinterpreted due to the lack of personalization (in comparison to speaking over the phone).

As you can see, there are many differences between live chat and the more traditional phone-based customer service. There are benefits to each, outperforming the other in different aspects of the customer experience. Your company’s customer service strategy should incorporate a mix of both for optimum results, that way you can reach more clients in a shorter amount of time while also taking time to dissolve any major conflicts. Implementation of both also allows you to stay in contact you’re your customers, which is important since according to an Ubisend 2016 report, 51% of people think a company should be available 24/7.

Remember, customer service is the face and voice of your company, so putting the effort into customizing an efficient, pleasant, and results oriented customer experience should be priority number one.

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Customer Service Team

Anyone who has worked in the customer service field knows just how stressful it can become, as well as how easy it can be to experience burnout. Customer service staff are the face and voice of your company, so it is important to be understanding and motivating in your support of them. Here are some tips for getting your team back to their best:

Communication

Maintaining an open line of communication between service staff and management is one of the most helpful things you can do. The impact of your representatives’ work on your company is undeniable, so it’s essential to treat them with respect by communicating well. The more comfortable your representatives feel about communicating with management, the greater insight management will have into making positive decisions for the staff overall. Having good relationships between management and your service team helps maintain morale, motivation, and support.

Encourage Positive Work

Every moment that you spend communicating one-on-one with one of your representatives is valuable. Management can often make the mistake of thinking of their representatives as disposable, rather than take the time to help them develop and improve in their work.

Take the time to provide encouragement to your staff. Let them know when they’ve done a good job, and give them plenty of constructive feedback when there is room for improvement. Connect with them, maintain that line of communication, and watch your representatives blossom.

Provide Your Staff with Proper Resources and Equipment

It’s easy to lower staff morale by accidental negligence. Make sure your staff has the equipment and resources to do their job correctly. Poorly-performing equipment (phones, computers, workspaces) can lead to delays and lower service quality, potentially decreasing customer satisfaction. Ensuring that your staff has the proper resources to do their job can motivate them to do their best work, which benefits everyone involved.
Providing thorough, proper training is another great way to ensure that your representatives are prepared to provide exceptional service. These trainings can help your staff develop skills, but can also be used to boost team morale.

You don’t have to wait for your employees to burnout to get them back on their feet. When in doubt, provide clear communication, support, and make sure they are taken care of. Additionally, you can ensure that you have a customer service team that is treated well and equipped with the proper resources by outsourcing your customer service work with a company you trust.

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4 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Customer Service

Customer service is a vital part of running a business. Even if your company is selling the best product or service in your industry, customers won’t stay loyal if they don’t feel heard, supported, and respected in their business with you. Unfortunately, many companies are running low on resources and don’t have the time (or staff) to tend to their clients’ post-purchase needs. Outsourcing customer support can help your company maintain a connection with its client base, as well as improve its brand. Read on to discover even more benefits.

Stress Relief for In-House Staff

One of the most prominent concerns regarding outsourcing is that a company will lose the personal touch that comes with in-house service staff. This is a valid concern, but it is important to consider that overworked staff often have service calls fall to them, and this can increase their stress and prevent them from properly fulfilling their duties. With the right steps, your outsourcing company will be able to capture your business’s personality while also removing extra burdens from your staff’s shoulders.

There’s No Need to Train New Employees

Everyone knows how to use a phone, but it’s much more difficult to communicate in a professional, personable, and inviting manner. Your company is responsible for its employees and how they engage with your clientele, so if they fall short on their duties, you have to improve their training – which means more time and money. Outsourcing the task allows you to avoid this and hire representatives that already have the necessary skills for the job.

24/7 Service

Convenience is an important factor in customer service. Consumers love being able to send an email, pick up a phone, or jump into a live chat session when it is most convenient for them. For some people (such as those who work night shifts or live in a different time zone), this extended availability is even more helpful. It typically isn’t a realistic option for in-house staff and is also much cheaper when outsourced.

Flexibility

Call volumes fluctuate throughout the day, which can cause your in-house staff’s daily, non-support-focused work to go to the wayside. Outsourced call centers are designed with the purpose of constantly tending to customers’ needs, and since they usually have multiple clients, the rise and fall of call volumes are less severe for them. Representatives can work more efficiently, and their managers can schedule staff to best address their clients’ needs.

Outsourcing is an innovative, efficient business practice. Leaving customer service to the experts will allow you to maintain a better connection with clientele, relieve stress for in-house staff, and save you the time and cost of training more representatives.

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The Importance of Following Up in Sales

Great sales includes following up with your customers, and this practice can be a valuable asset for a growing business. To break through the noise of your customers’ crowded inboxes, a personal connection needs to be made, and here are a few reasons as to why doing this is crucial to your sales:

Following up builds trust

Part of a salesperson’s job is to encourage a prospective customer to purchase a product. This process starts at the beginning, with the very first conversation. In this conversation, a salesperson should be walking a customer through the reasons why this potential purchase is worth the customer’s time and money. This encouragement should continue in subsequent follow-up contact, which can help build trust. Trust in a product can lead to loyalty to the brand, potentially leading to more sales in the future.

Follow up contact adds value

Instead of relying on deals and promises made during a meeting, follow-up contact can help a salesperson be sure of where they stand within a current deal. It can also help them ensure their connection with a customer and provide growth for that relationship. Even if a deal seems closed, follow up contact shows the customer that the salesperson is interested in maintaining a long-term relationship and that they’re not only interested in the possible, short-term commission reward.

Following up can address problems early

A customer can sometimes have issues that get overlooked during the sales process. These issues can lead to cancellations or returns, which is not ideal. By actively following up with customers, salespeople can provide themselves with an opportunity to address customer frustrations and further secure a sale. Make sure to encourage your customer to ask questions, and answer all of them before ending the conversation. Apart from securing the sale, you’re also showing your customer that your business provides outstanding customer service.

In a study done by Roshan Shetty, it was found that the most successful salespeople are consistent in following up with their customers via phone and email. If you want to add an extra edge to your sales skills, follow up with your customers more. In the same study mentioned, it was shown that major mortgage lenders attempt to follow up with their customers a minimum of four to five times, with some major lenders following up over a dozen times. When in doubt, reach out!

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4 Reasons Your Company Needs to Implement Live Chat

In a digital world, speed is vital. Customers want products and services as soon as possible, and this expectation has become the standard. One aspect of the market that hasn’t quite caught up to this is customer service. The average response time for a customer service request received via social media is ten hours, with those received via email taking longer than 12 hours. It’s crucial to respond to your customers quickly to prevent a loss in business, and implementing a live chat software and staff can help with this. It can also help your company:

Provide a Better Website Experience

Live chat allows your customers to immediately have their questions and concerns addressed by a live person. Forrester Research found that 57% of customers will abandon their purchase if their questions aren’t answered quickly. They also found that 44% of online consumers find live chat to be one of the most vital features a website can have.

Prevent Unnecessary Costs

Calling customer service hotlines costs time for the consumer and money for the company. The longer a customer is on hold, the more time one support representative is spending on a single call. Live chat typically runs more smoothly, is easy to set up, offers more transparency, and is a low investment method that increases customer reach.

Increase Sales

A customer who visits your website is likely already interested in what your company has to offer. Live chat has become popular because it allows representatives to nudge customers toward other products without being obvious with a hard sell, and by making contact during the decision-making process, you increase the chance of your customers making a purchase. Research reflects this, with one group finding that customers who use live chat features are three times more likely to buy a product or service.

Gather Data

Live chat software collects data, and adds an extra layer to your tracking tools. The data gathered varies by platform, but some common information received includes:
• The link that referred the customer to your site
• If the customer is active or idle
• How long (and how many times) the customer has been on the site

This information can help you establish a better relationship with and experience for your clientele.

For both consumers and companies, the advantages of live chat software ring loud and clear. Live chat leads to increased customer satisfaction, which results in increased sales and profits.

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4 Traits of an Effective Leader

There’s certainly no “one-size-fits-all” managing approach. However, it has been shown that when managers are focused on being effective leaders, their good habits are picked up by their employees. In addition to focusing on their own advancement and authority, good leaders should focus on providing genuine and positive experiences for their peers and team members. Here are six traits that help form influential and effective leaders:

Effective Communication

The ability to communicate clearly and tactfully is a vital leadership skill. It involves more than listening attentively and providing responses; it also includes asking smart questions, sharing important information, clearing up misunderstandings, and being clear and direct about your expectations. By being a good communicator, your team will have a better understanding of their role.

Empowerment

Truly great leaders understand that in order for people to do their best, they must feel a sense of pride in their work and believe that what they’re doing is meaningful. It is a good idea to communicate clear expectations (such as goals and deadlines) to your team, and then leave them with the authority to decide how that work gets done.

Vision

It’s important to have a look into your company’s future and create goals that make sense for that trajectory. Good leaders are optimistic, confident, and they look to inspire growth. Being a visionary means managing change in conjunction with a balance between growth and stability. It also means understanding that things are always changing, and that what has worked in the past may not work now.

Accountability

Successful bosses know how to use their authority and power appropriately so as to not overpower or overwhelm their employees. They hold themselves accountable for their own mistakes and expect others to do the same. They understand the importance of supporting individuality while still following the rules and policies that are put in place.

Motivation
The best leaders push their team forward with enthusiasm and passion. If you invest time in your people and determine their needs, priorities, and strengths, they will feel valuable and you will better understand how to motivate them. Make sure to show them that their work is making a difference, and continue to encourage the development of their skills with reasonable (but meaningful) goals.

Being an effective leader can be a challenging job, but it can also be very rewarding. If you’re looking to evolve your leadership skills, make sure to incorporate these five traits into your skill set. You & your team will be better off for it!

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3 Tips for Effective Delegation

Delegation is a necessary skill for leaders to have. If you’re feeling overworked, it can take a lot of stress off your plate. Additionally, it can increase team efficiency and establish a sense of responsibility within your workplace. While it can be hard to trust other people to take care of important tasks, it’s crucial that you take a first step toward relinquishing a small amount of control to better serve the future productivity of your business. Remember – you hired your team for a reason! If you’re struggling to figure out how to delegate effectively, here are some tips:

Delegate to the right team member.

Choosing the right person for a task is vital for efficient delegation. If you ever need to hire someone to work in accounting, for example, you’d look for someone with the appropriate skill set. The same mindset should apply toward internal delegation. You’ll need to pick a team member who has the right skills, disposition and space in their workload to take on the task in question. Keeping these parameters in mind will help your process.

Assign tasks where they best fit.

It can be difficult to figure out which tasks to assign to whom. A good first step is to log all your work projects for a week and then consider which ones don’t necessarily need your level of expertise. Administrative tasks like data entry and filing are good choices to assign to someone lower on your company’s totem pole.

Communicate!

When you are asking someone to take on new and possibly more impactful responsibilities, it’s a good idea to open the conversation by expressing your confidence in their skills. Assign tasks wholly, instead of asking someone to take care of one piece of it. This will help them become more confident and independent. Provide an outline of the work that includes the following:
• A full description of the task at hand, specifying what is being asked of the employee.
• Who to reach out to if they come across any roadblocks.
• A timeline, including a deadline.
• A budget (if applicable).
• Scheduled check-in meetings to ensure the employee is getting proper support and to make sure the project is going as planned.

Remember to have patience with your staff, especially if delegation is new in your workplace’s environment. Some employees will have hiccups and make mistakes while trying to find their own rhythm. Others may excel from the very beginning. No matter the results, provide support, constructive feedback and positive recognition when it is due. Follow these tips and watch your team thrive!

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