The customer service lessons we must all learn from that Comcast call

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​By now, you’ve probably  heard the call that hijacked the Internet last week. If not, let me warn you. It is painful – incredibly painful.  And while I do feel awful for the customer, ultimately, the cancellation call from hell breaks my heart for a shocking reason.

Listen to it again, and try not to empathize for the hapless agent and his cringe-inducing commitment to the Comcast way. This poor soul morphed, in eight short minutes and one tweet, from internal hero (revered and rewarded for his ability to continually face-off against tough odds and win) into the saddest character in a modern-day tragedy. Thankfully, like all great tragedies of the stage, we can heed the warnings and reap the rewards of lessons that become apparent.Frustrated for everyone

First, let me frame the scene. On one side of the phone we have Ryan Block, famous tech journalist (founder of gdgt and founding editor of Engadget), and on the other we have a nameless cog in the massive machine of horrible customer service that is commonly known as  Comcast. As in all tragedies, ultimately both players become victims of a larger, more devious force. Read more

8 tips for measuring (and improving) customer happiness

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Dear Newark Airport Express,

Not that you care, which you made glaringly obvious during our interactions, but your customer service sucks. Actually, sucks is far too generous. Let me see if I can dig up an adjective to accurately describe your “customer service.” Insipid, deprived, anemic… those aren’t quite painting the picture either.

Let’s try this on, Newark Airport Express (operated by Coach USA), whatever the opposite of customer service is – customer disservice? – you dominate that game and will be in contention for the top spot at this year’s most miserable event, the World Cup of Dissatisfaction. Pay attention, Time Warner Cable and Comcast. While your impending supernova of awful customer service might swallow us all, you’re gonna have to fight to take down these buses if you want the trophy. 

To those with customers, I beg you to take note. While I don’t have the secret recipe to amazing customer service, I can point you in the right direction (the exact opposite route Coach USA takes) of the most important ingredient. It’s the same ingredient on which many of our most beloved brands base their signature sauce.

Tip #1

Boiled down to the basics, customer service is all about delivering happiness to your customers. So if you only take one thing away today, remember that screaming at paying customers, refusing to offer solutions, threatening missed flights, and making a whole bus full of customers uncomfortable at 5:30 a.m. (all before ever leaving the stop) isn’t recommended. Read more

7 benefits mobile customer service apps unleash

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Seven years ago, I graduated high school. That night with the whole world in front of us, Crandall High School’s Class of 2007, we were severed from it by those hideous black gowns. Seriously, it was impossible to get pocket access and it was devastating.

As wise 18-year-olds, we knew we were living in the golden age of mobile technology and with the complete freedom to text, clunkily update our Facebook and rearrange our Myspace top 8 without fear of teachers or principals intervention so very near, it was excruciating to sit and suffer completely disconnected.

Looking back, it seems trivial to miss that Samsung flip-phone. But this was a far different age. The iPhone was a month from launching, Android was a secret project in the bowels of Mountain View to be announced three months later, you were using a Blackberry, and Bill Gates was the only person in the world actually operating a Tablet.

Put it simply, things changed. This week across the country, there are graduates running their businesses from their smart phones while waiting to scoop their diplomas. Some morph down time into efficient bursts of productivity, solving their customers’ issues from Zoho Support’s mobile app (available to all you cool kids for Android and iOS).

Zoho Support for iOS

To honor the mobile revolution of the last seven years, here are seven benefits mobile customer service can unlock for you, your agents and your customers. Read more

LiveDesk + Zoho Support = Instant Customer Happiness

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It’s getting late, and you’re tired, dare I even say cranky. I can call you that, because if I miss a meal, ney, even have to wait a few minutes for one, I morph into captain cranky–so I definitely feel your pain.

Yet, you can’t pack it in and call it a day because business being business, it must be taken care of, and it must be taken care of today. You have to get your boss added to the system, and you need to be able to export that report for a presentation on Monday. The problem is today is Friday, and today is quickly expiring.

Step one, you’ve got to track down your vendor’s contact information. What is that guy’s email? You just asked him a question… Quick search through your inbox, scan of your contacts, still can’t find it. You remember you called their support team a few weeks back, but you don’t have that number handy either. Hop on over to their site, check out their contact us page, but before you can start dialing the most enticing thing you’ve seen all day catches your eye. The little icon beckoning you to chat and get an instant answer.

And BOOM, within five minutes Patricia has added your boss to your company’s portal, exported your report, and smoothed over some configuration issues you were having–something you had forgot you had emailed about earlier in the week.

Thankfully for you, your sanity, and your weekend plans–your software vendor, Zillium, is using Zoho LiveDesk completely integrated with their help desk software, Zoho Support. So from the moment you initiated the chat, Patricia had the complete details of you, your company’s account and your recent support requests handy within her chat window. With instant access to the information she needed, she was able to answer your questions faster, provide you support exactly tailored to your needs, and even resolve multiple issues in one, pain-free interaction. Read more

McDonald’s customer service problem

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In a surprise to absolutely no one who has ever spent more than a minute inside one of their 34,000 restaurants, McDonald’s has begun admitting after a string of missed expectations that even in the world of fast food, being cheap and tasty isn’t actually everything—customer service matters.

By Giorgio Martini (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Ronald, in the face of news that could make anyone Grimace, has finally learned what we—the customers—always knew: customer service, or the lack there-of in this case, makes up a huge part of the combo meal we are looking for in a place to eat (or from any business for that matter).

Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal reported on a webcast that Mickey-D’s executives had with franchise owners, in which the company said 1 in 5 customer complaints are related to “friendliness issues, ‘and it’s increasing.’” According to the presentation, the top complaint from customers: “rude or unprofessional employees.”

Executives admitted that “service is broken,” and cited that customers find their service chaotic. The Journal added, “McDonald’s told franchisees that customers rate good service almost as highly as dollar value, pointing to a National Restaurant Association survey.”

One franchisee told the Journal where he feels the Golden Arches are headed, “The new leadership has decided to focus on customer satisfaction as a real driver for us to build the brand and build sales. So for us to maximize the potential that’s out there, we’ve got to be the leader in guest satisfaction.”

Well, duh. What took so long?

With 1.7 million employees worldwide serving 68 million customers each day at 34,000 restaurants in 119 countries, McDonald’s is the world’s burger behemoth. But stateside, the typical McDonald’s is a small business, with 90% of the 14,000 restaurants owned by independent operators.

Like any small business, a McDonald’s is much more than the products it makes and distributes, it is an organization driven by customer service interactions. Without quality employees delivering happiness to customers in harmony with a consistent and accurate product—the customers will stop returning, the sales will decrease.

For me, there is always somewhere else I can spend my money. In this case, the Chick-Fil-A across the street will always greet me with a smile and go out of their way to refill my refreshing diet lemonade. Of course, that is only if I am not at the local joint around the corner where they know me by name and have memorized my usual order.

Regardless of how cheap your food is, and how fast you can deliver it, if you continually screw up customers’ orders, treat them with contempt when they make requests, and are flat out rude—they won’t return. Those addictively delicious, crispy, salty fries and the smooth sweetness of a $1.29 hot fudge sundae can only cover up so much bitterness from your employees.

Known the world over for their iconic Golden Arches and greasy boxes of children’s happiness, Ronald and Co. appear to be slowly coming around to today’s customers—who value good customer service and support and will quickly and boisterously share with the digital world when they encounter sub-par service.

A real McDonald's. New and modern look, same old rude service.

Yes, this is a real McDonald’s. Seriously. (Credit: Freshhome.com)

Lately, they’ve focused on rehabbing the company’s image from a mechanical slinger of processed, fatty foods (Super Size Me” wasn’t the best PR), to an affordable, fresh, quick-service café with options (even healthy ones) for every mood, taste and budget. Their attempts to remain relevant to today’s customers—adding variety to the menu, redesigning their locations, even adding upscale beverages (they have real-fruit smoothies, at McDonald’s, seriously)—are impressive in contrast to the old McDonald’s. But while extensive, and expensive, these changes were only skin-deep.

Ronald is wearing the right things, he’s listening to the right bands, but underneath he is still the same old, creepy, rude clown.

The reason why others are passing McDonald’s by, as McDonald’s has finally admitted, is because they have a cultural problem with customer service. Their culture isn’t centered on the customer. The new expert-designed spaces and menus are aimed to make McDonald’s convenient, comfortable and friendly in today’s marketplace, but the key ingredient – the people delivering the customer service – was neglected rather than rehabbed.

Last week, for the first time in a very long time, I had a meal at McDonald’s. I stopped in for breakfast at a trendy, clean, well-designed space in downtown Chicago’s Loop. Uncluttered, well designed, easy-to-use digital menu boards welcomed me, enticed me to order. I even had a choice of fashionable mid-century chairs to sit in and eat. The space was great – it felt cool and comfortable, and was more an extension of it’s chic neighbor, the W hotel, than a competitor to the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.

Yet the whole experience fell flat because the employees were mechanical, impersonal, and in the case of the one who handed me my order, flat-out rude. I was somehow inconveniencing them for making a simple request.

Maybe McDonald’s will get it right. Maybe the small-business owners that operate the majority of their restaurants in America will realize that the Golden Arches only go so far, that they need to focus on building a customer service culture that gives everyone, not just those under the age of 10, a happy meal.

Next time you stop in, please share with me your latest McDonald’s experience. Myself, I think I will track their progressing customer service elsewhere.

Support customers in LiveDesk, extend the value of Zoho CRM

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We heard your requests for LiveDesk to integrate with Zoho CRM, so last week we announced Zoho CRM integration for all paying LiveDesk customers (or those on a current trial of any of the paid plans).

By tag-teaming with the premier CRM solution for small businesses, your LiveDesk gets instant access to the customer data you need while chatting, and your support interactions are logged alongside your other data in your newly-unified customer interaction suite. Leverage the power of LiveDesk and Zoho CRM together, and join the small businesses who are already elevating their team’s customer-supporting skills.

Zorge, who runs English Maestro, a small business providing online language lessons, put it this way:

“As an automation fanatic, I was very enthusiastic to use Zoho LiveDesk in integration with my Zoho CRM to provide live support to my customers. The functionality and features work awesome and exceed my expectations. [This integration] adds more value to my Zoho products.”

Join Zorge and discover through easy integration with Zoho CRM, how LiveDesk quickly adds more value to your existing customer interactions. Get started with LiveDesk today, and test-drive what it can do in tandem with your CRM. Let’s explore how the apps work together for small teams like English Maestro and soon you, your customers’, and your company’s benefit.

Easy linking unlocks value instantly

Because both products are members of the Zoho family, it is easy to link the two apps, quickly adding the ability to support customers through live chat into your existing customer interaction structure.

Recognize customers and deliver tailored solutions

When a customer initiates a chat with your team, LiveDesk automatically relays their information from your CRM, directly to the live chat window. Your agents have instant access in the chat window to vital information—such as the high-value account a customer belongs to—and are only one click away from the contact (or account’s) complete details. When they notice this customer’s long and valuable history with your company and past interactions, they discover that this particular customer responds best to step-by-step instructions. Enlightened, your agent asks the right questions and tailors his responses exactly to the customer’s preferred style.

Continually refine your customer knowledge base

Maximize the potential value of future interactions—sales, support, whatever—utilizing new insights gleaned from live chats to retain and grow customer relationships. With the power to add valuable notes directly into your CRM from LiveDesk, and chat transcripts automatically logged inside CRM, your whole team benefits from every live chat interaction.

When a customer asked for help configuring your iPad app as he prepares for an upcoming cross-country motorcycle trip, your agent was able to add insights that will someday payoff. Your friendly support rep discovered through chatting that the customer’s trip was with his business partners to celebrate their company’s five-year anniversary. While chatting, your agent quickly added a note, so your team can send a note congratulating the customers on their milestone. He also added a note in the contact’s details about his affinity for Harley Davidsons and passion for being on the open-road as much as possible.

Capture curious visitors in your CRM

Unlock the ability to capture new website visitors who connect with you through chat (either automatically or manually) as leads or contacts in your CRM. While answering questions about your product from someone who is currently on a trial, you learn that the company he works for is looking for a new, custom-made solution, right in your team’s wheelhouse. So while continuing to answer questions, you quickly capture the visitor as a new lead from the chat window, and even convert the lead into a potential.

You even create a follow-up task in your CRM to ensure the account manager from your custom-builds team connects with the lead and builds on the foundation you built through chat.

Extend the value of both products for your team, and link up LiveDesk and Zoho CRM today.

Announcing Zoho LiveDesk: Start delivering instant happiness to your customers

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I can still remember the happiness of hearing a buddy pop up online and knowing I was only one-click away from an awesome conversation. It was 1999, and to me AOL Instant Messenger was pure magic.

While things have changed drastically in the last 14 years, there is one constant, chat remains an integral part of my daily life—even if it is no longer AIM. In fact, chat is something many of you have been asking about for a while, wondering when we would add live chat to our customer support software solutions. Well, cue up the ol’ AIM chime (do-duh-dum)—because I have an exciting message for you.

Meet your newest buddy, Zoho LiveDesk—the small business live chat solution for customer support.  Simply put, LiveDesk is the easiest way to add live chat to your websites and wow your customers with instantaneous support.

Zoho LiveDesk improves customer support for everyone involved—customers and companies.  Your customers are empowered by instant access to personalized answers from real, live people. And your team will love the power to resolve customer issues before they ever become a request in their inbox, slashing your response times and their workload.

Live support chat through LiveDesk is the quickest way to connect and delight your customers.

Both customers and agents love quick-and-easy live support chat.

LiveDesk also teams up with Zoho Support to add fully integrated live chat functionality into your existing help desk dashboard. Beginning today all Enterprise plan customers in Zoho Support can offer their customers a new channel to connect—chat powered by LiveDesk. Easily embed live chat into your existing customer portal and watch your agents close more requests in less time by interacting live with customers.

Easily create, configure and customize your LiveDesk within minutes, and with one copy-and-paste of code, you have added live chat to your website. Embed customizable click-to-chat widgets into any-and-all parts of your web presence and meet customers on their terms.

Give your customers easy access to live support chat

With three fully-customizable options to embed live chat into your pages, it is easy to give your customers access to live support chat throughout your web presence.

Once a customer initiates a chat, you can engage directly from LiveDesk’s powerful dashboard or from wherever—live chat on your terms. With complete support for the Jabber/XMPP protocol, you have the freedom to chat with customers from anywhere via clients on your mobile devices, or even from desktop chat clients.

LiveDesk was built to transform your small businesses into lean, mean customer supporting machines. It comes chocked full of features your growing team will love: 

  • Save more valuable time: Program and deploy canned messages to rapidly address recurring questions.
  • Customer Support’s Crystal Ball: Read your customer’s mind, and speed up your response times. You see what your customer types as they type it, so before they submit their question you already have the answer they need.
  • Transfer Chats: Move ongoing chats to better-equipped agents.
  • Advanced Organization: Structure your LiveDesk to fit your needs. Create departments, associate agents to those departments, even route chats to defined departments.
  • Monitoring: Supervisors can monitor on-going chats to ensure consistent results, with the ability to step-in and help when needed.
  • Collaborate: Integrated inter-agent chat and a portal-wide message board give your agents the ability to collaborate, communicate and thrive.
  • Reporting and Daily Statistics: Learn more about your customers, your agents and your business with advanced pre-built reports.
LiveDesk's powerful dashboard helps you connect and support more customers in less time.

LiveDesk has the powerful tools you need to deliver happiness to more customers in less time.

I encourage you to take LiveDesk for a test drive today and start connecting with your customers in real time.  Within seconds you can be on your way to unleashing your on-demand customer supporting potential. And because you want it, there is a risk-free, no credit card required 30-day-free trial of our most powerful plan waiting with your name on it.

Start chatting, my friends.