How to Run an Effective Customer Service Department

We’re sure you’ve heard over and over how important customer service is.

But just how important is it really?

Well, according to the following stats, it’s quite important:

  • 47% of consumers have decided to switch to a competitor after receiving poor customer service
  • The majority of consumers in the US end up not making a purchase due to a poor customer service experience
  • 67% of customer churn can be prevented – organizations just need to make an effort to resolve issues the first time they occur

Now that we see how important customer service is, the question is how to actually provide great service. Below are some methods that are sure to guide you to stay on the right track.

Let’s start.

1. Define What Great Customer Service Means to You

Though there is no definite rule for serving your customers, there’s more to providing exceptional customer service than just solving a customer’s problem. It’s about going the extra step to exceed your customers’ expectations so that you distinguish yourself from your competitors. At the end of the day, your products or services can be emulated by others, but your ability to sympathize and pleasantly surprise your customers is much harder to copy.

Here are a few examples of businesses taking that extra step:

  • In December 2013 WestJet surprised all of their 250 passengers of two flights, by accomplishing their Christmas wishes made in front of the WestJet Santa before they checked in for Calgary. The ‘tearful reactions’ of the passengers confirmed how WestJet pioneered the service for customers to a different dimension.
  • In 2012, Taco Bell sent a helicopter carrying a food truck with enough materials to make 10,000 Doritos Tacos treat the citizens of Bethel, Alaska who were upset with the breaking of a hoax of Taco Bell opening in their remote area. Their “Operation Alaska” was out of the track for business rewards. But their efforts earned them 6,000 business evangelists from this ‘Publicity Stunt’.

Don’t get us wrong – you don’t have to make this big of an effort when trying to please your customers. The point though is to do something above the ordinary. One way to make sure you can do that is to target the customers that you’re dealing with. For example, the way of serving B2C customers differs in many ways to serve B2B customers. So, your efficiency in this field rides on your understanding of your niche.

Let’s go through an example:

  • Heyman Mailing Service, of Rockville, Maryland has made their business oath to satisfy their customers by helping them to do the same on their own. Their slogan “Your deadlines are our deadlines.” is not just mere words to their clients. It’s a promise with a belief that “if Heyman blows the deadline, well, they just don’t.

Another one is an example of situation management:

  • Scott Barbour bought a Nest’s product, a self-learning digital thermostat controlled by a phone through Wi-Fi which got in trouble while using. He contacted Nest and the support rep discovered that the issue was with his house wiring. Here, Nest took it as their responsibility to compensate him for paying professional technician and apologize for his hassle. It’s called going beyond expectation.

So, let’s begin with mastering the niche and then pouring creativity into humanizing your customer service.

2. Define the Standard of Quick Response

When Peter Shankman tweeted Morton’s Steakhouse to deliver a porterhouse at Newark airport, he was not actually expecting for them to make the delivery then.

But, Morton’s staff drove for 23 miles to reach the airport in time with a package of a full meal. The unforgettable reaction of Peter was the greatest earning for Morton’s reputation on quick service:

Your efforts define your sincerity to lead customer service beyond records. In today’s world, when the time is the essence of our life, it plays the most crucial role in setting the direction towards the success of your business.

Another example will show you how much negative impact it acquires if you don’t pay attention into it already:
Corbin Smith called the customer support of TigerDirect with a complaint when he was put on hold for 8 hours and then disconnected.

Basically, 60% of people hate to wait longer than a minute or two when they call customer support for help. Again, modern standard for email response has dropped to one hour only. Not only that, 72% of users expect a Twitter complaint to be answered within one hour.

But, people expect more when they get more, right!

The conventional support channels are not enough to match with this ever growing hunger. You need to hold the hands of new technologies to stay one step ahead of your audience. Here, more personalized ways like live chat tools are winning the game because of its quick response time. 79% of live chat users prefer it because they get replied immediately.

Hence, the ever changing standard of quick response demands you to prepare for the marathon race with multitasking ability to manage the surge of people all the time.

3. Encourage and Educate Your Service Department on Using Communication Technologies

Modern communication tools like live chat are presenting a potential solution for customer service future. But, the best tool can alter into the worst nightmare within wrong hands, right! Without proper training and sincere efforts, live chat tools can bring the worst feedback for your business. People press the chat button with a high expectation to talk directly to an agent. But, it’s quite upsetting when there is no one to answer your call or put you on hold for a long time. So, prepare your agents to become an efficient multitasker with vivid knowledge on your product info.

Here, the story of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance will clear my view on how live chat tools integrated with other features can help businesses to regain customer trust.

They were losing their existing customers due to lack of visual instructions for new technologies and long waiting list for customer complaints. Also, new customers were giving up on them after several times of correction issues in lengthy form submissions. Then, they implemented live chat software with their unique features of co-browsing and screen sharing tools. They used live voice and video call sessions to answer their clients in real time. Again, screen sharing and co-browsing technologies helped them to demonstrate their new technologies to their customers by sharing their browsing page temporarily. It also trained their customers to fill their forms on their own without any mistake.

At the end, ICICI earned 65% higher customer satisfaction rate and 62% rise in closed deals than before.

Now, what do you think? Isn’t it worth of a shot for your service?

4. Incentivize Internal Benchmarks to Integrate ‘Over Deliver’ With Customers’ Expectations

“In the early 1980’s I ordered a piece of luggage from Kluge.  The luggage was advertised in a magazine with four to six weeks for delivery.  I remember that the luggage showed up in just three weeks.  Wow, I was impressed.  That was fast.” – Shep Hyken.

This is what matters, earning the ‘wow’ effect on a customer’s face every time when you aim for an ‘over deliver’. It’s called going beyond customer expectation. And what is the importance of internal benchmarking here? To stick to this aim for almost all the time and analyzing your resources to get the job done with a minimum amount of effort. Results?

In Shep’s words, “Even today people recognize that “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” people think of Federal Express.  The term “Fed-Ex” has become more than the name of a company.  Today it is a verb that that is used to describe that you want something delivered fast – by tomorrow – even if it is UPS, the United States Post Office, or some other company can also deliver tomorrow.” It’s about building the promise people depends on with closed eyes.

5. Encourage Better Communication Between Sales and Customer Service

Doris Seger, Head of Customer Service at Sunstar Deutschland said: “We have been able to improve the collaboration between Sales and Customer Service significantly with Salesforce.” He claimed again that, “We are therefore even closer to our customers than previously.” This is the reason why you need to encourage communication between sales and support team, to bind your relationship with your customers better than before. Here, Salesforce is just a tool to enable everyone in your team to have access to customer data, but in this process, it helped the sales and support partnership to work seamlessly, which worked well for GE Aviation too.

Why?  When a salesperson hooks new customers and goes through a process to close deals, they acquire a significant amount of data. Now, when the service reps face the queries of these customers or suggest them with some recommendations, the users expect them to have knowledge acquired by the sales reps in the process. Not only are that, after closing deals, service reps the frontlines to follow up with existing clients.

Again, some issues are solely sales oriented on which service reps need to consult them or to direct them to the customers in the frontline while answering client queries. A slight misalignment within sales and service team impacts negatively in consumer’s mind and increases bounce rate. Hence, data sharing, workload monitoring or consulting on analytical issues are in the most required list for targeting customer happiness.

Lastly, the best methods to run your customer service departments are not purely dedicated to your customer service departments only. Rather, it’s all about finding the right balance between teams.

So, what’s your take?

15 A/B Testing Tools for Mobile Apps

Successful mobile app makers learn what works. And one way they learn is by repeatedly testing and optimizing.

No matter if you have a live app or you’re about to launch, mobile app A/B testing tools can give you the information to retain, engage, and onboard your mobile app users properly.

Ever wondered if your users would buy more in-app purchases if the “Buy” button was blue? or If your users prefer the blue background in your game versus the red background? You need to A/B test to find out.

Now fair warning, a lot of these A/B testing tools have similar features. So choose something that fits your budget with the features you want.

Taplytics (Free –  Paid) –*Recommended* – Taplytics is an A/B testing tool that lets you make live changes without App Store updates. This is a big deal for mobile because many platforms don’t allow for fast iterations. Taplytics makes it easy for Product Managers and Marketers to test anything in their apps without needing to know how to code. You can even make visual changes, iterate with more advanced features, and work with cross-functional teams with all the tools everyone on the team needs to drive improvements. Taplytics is available for iOS and Android, and through a REST API.

Splitforce (Free – Paid)  – Splitforce helps you test everything from your button colors to game physics. I like that Splitforce makes it easy to send out the winning A/B test variation with one click. This makes improving conversions simple and quick. Splitforce also supports localization which is a big deal if you have a localized app (which you should). Splitforce claims it’s easy to install. You just copy and paste the code and in 5 minutes you’re done with setup. Splitforce is available on the iOS, Android, and Unity platform.

Airlock (Free)- Airlock is a free open source A/B testing tool for mobile apps made by Facebook. Airlock seems great in theory but for the life of me I can’t find the direct link to use the thing. If you can find it let me know and I’ll update the article with that information. I also looked around for reviews from others using it and couldn’t really find anything. At least you know this option exists?!

Amazon A/B Testing (Free) – Amazon’s A/B testing tool is essential if you want a cheap mobile backend with your A/B testing tool.  Admittedly, Amazon’s mobile app A/B testing tool seems targeted to app makers with lots of users. But I see no reason a small team couldn’t use them as well. In typical Amazon style the UI is sparse but functional. If you don’t mind a plain user interface, try out Amazon’s tool.It’s available for iOS, Android, and of course the Amazon apps. So if you’re looking for Windows and mobile web support, look elsewhere.

Arise (Free – Paid)  – Arise comes with all the typical A/B testing features. But with Arise you can test a segment of your users or all of them. I wouldn’t recommend this tool if you don’t have a technical marketing team.  Arise is the A/B testing tool for developers in my opinion. There are simple things you can’t do with Arise without coding. Arise is great for teams that think things can be done faster with a few lines of code. Arise is available on iOS, Android, and Phonegap.

Clutch.io (Free) – Clutch.io has the basic features you need in an A/B testing tool.  You can track goals and create data-driven tests. Even though Clutch.io hasn’t been updated in about a year, teams still use the tool with good reason. It’s open source so you can customize it for your needs, all for free. If you need a cheap, simple starting point to customize your own mobile app A/B testing tool, go with Clutch.io. Clutch.io is available for iOS and Android only.

Kii (Free – Paid) – Kii is actually a mobile app developer suite, not just an A/B testing tool. It comes with a mobile app backend, geolocation tools, and mobile app analytics. The good news is Kii has enough features to compete with the other A/B testing tools. They have all of the typical A/B testing tool features plus a one-click feature that lets you push out the optimal version of your app instantly. If you just want A/B testing, pick some other tool. If you think you need all the bells and whistles, go with Kii. Kii is available for iOS, Android, and Unity apps.

Switchboard (Free)  – Switchboard is another free and open source mobile A/B testing tool. You can segment users based on UDID and is still usable for users when they are offline. The offline feature is actually very important, since you want users to see updates even when they don’t have an Internet connection. Just like Clutch.io, Switchboard is not updated as frequently as we’d like. But it’s still totally usable and a great starting point if you want to build your own solution.

Abba (Free) – Abba is another open source app A/B testing tool. Abba is super basic with multi-variant support. Which is enough because most app development teams don’t need more than the basic A/B testing tool features anyway. Abba is based on Javascript and requires self-hosting to control your tests and see analytics. If your mobile app is based on Javascript and you know a thing or two about setting up servers, this is for you. If not, look for another tool.

Leanplum (Free – Paid) – Leanplum’s A/B testing tool seems like an app marketers dream. It has filters, segments, and a nice dashboard full of every analytics you could possibly need. Leanplum’s interface also seems a bit easier to use. It’s more a WYSIWYG A/B testing tool. This is ideal for teams with mobile product managers and mobile app marketers, because they need quick results.This is difficult to do when you always need the development team involved to make a simple test. The best part about Leanplum is it’s availablity on every platform. Leanplum is available on iOS, Android, Unity, HTML 5, and even has a REST API.

Apptimize (Free – Paid) – Like Taplytics, Apptimize gives you the power to make changes in real-time. So you can make new experiments anytime you want without resubmitting to the App Store. Apptimize is more than A/B testing. You get really powerful feature flagging features that help you roll out new features to certain users. You can even hide the feature for certain user groups during your A/B test. This is really helpful when you’re testing which features users actually want or which features bring in revenue. Now, Apptimize is not as app marketer or product manager friendly as some others, but as they say on their site ‘if you can code it you can test it.’ If you don’t mind coding to do everything, use Apptimize and test your little heart out!  Apptimize is available on iOS and Android.

Optimizely – Optimizely is the most “famous” A/B testing tool on the list, but they didn’t have a tool for mobile apps until now. If you’ve ever used Optimizely for your web app, you can imagine how easy their mobile A/B testing tool will be to use. Currently, Optimizely’s A/B testing tool is in closed beta and only looks available for iOS apps. So you have to apply and have certain qualifications to be the first to use it.

Fliptest.io -Fliptest is another mobile A/B testing tool in beta right now. From the little information available on their site, Fliptest helps you make real-time app changes, gives you a user-friendly backend, and can be used by non-developers. Fliptest also won’t require major code changes like many of the others. You’ll only need to copy and paste a line of code to get it working. Fliptest is only available on iOS.

Liquid – Liquid is also in beta. So there isn’t much to talk about yet. But from what I can see they have user segmentation and real-time app updates. Based on the images it looks clean and simple to use. But you have to sign up to really see if this is the tool for you.

VWO – VWO is also in beta. VWO has been a long solution for websites but have now introduce a mobile app A/B testing tool. So far on their site I don’t see exactly which platforms they’re available for. But sign up and be one of the first to test.

Again, the best way to chose an A/B testing tool for your mobile app is to just pick the one that’s simple and easy to use. There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when choosing an A/B testing mobile app tool:

  1. How easy is this mobile A/B testing tool to install?
  2. How quickly can I run an A/B testing experiment in my app?
  3. How many features can you afford on your budget?
  4. Which A/B testing tool will provide the most accurate test results?
  5. How will my A/B testing tool be used by the mobile app marketers and mobile product managers on the team (not necessarily the mobile app developers on the team)?
  6. How much support will I get (or do I need) to use this A/B testing tool?

We will keep adding to this list. If you feel any of your favorite mobile app A/B testing tools weren’t mentioned in this article, feel free to email us.