Posts Tagged ‘Customer Support’

Study after study has shown that investing in employee experience impacts the customer experience and can generate a high ROI for the company.

The Un-Ignorable Link Between Employee Experience And Customer Experience

Engaged employees lead to happy customers.

There is an undeniable link between employee experience and customer experience. Companies that lead in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees, and study after study has shown that investing in employee experience impacts the customer experience and can generate a high ROI for the company. Here are 10 companies that have seen the benefit of engaging their employees to build customer experience.

“Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” -J.W.Marriott

Marriott International founder J.W. Marriott said, “Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” It still holds true at the company—employees are valued, which makes them want to share that experience with guests. Marriott publicly rewards employees for a job well done, celebrates diversity and inclusion, values loyalty, and offers a wide variety of training programs. It has been regularly rated a top place to work and a top company for customer experience.

Chick-Fil-A Encourages Employees To Build Relationships With Customers

With its chicken and waffle fries, Chick-fil-A generates more revenue per restaurant than any other chain in the country. But it’s not just the food that sets the restaurant apart—it’s the employees. Franchise owners are given thorough training but also have bandwidth to explore creative ideas. Employees are encouraged to build relationships with customers because they have strong relationships with each other and with the company.

The Zappos Contact Center Calls Its Team Customer Loyalty Team Members

E-commerce site Zappos is known for connecting with its customers and for responding to issues quickly. That’s likely because the company also has a great reputation for connecting with its employees. Every employee plays a role in the company’s customer-first culture—even call center employees are referred to as customer loyalty team members. When employees feel connected to and valued by the brand, they want to bring customers into the circle.

Nordstrom Only Asks Employees To Use Their Best Judgement

Employees at Nordstrom are given just one rule in their employee handbook: “Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.” Instead of being bogged down with corporate guidance, empowered employees know they are trusted and valued. That translates to their interactions with customers and is a large reason why the “Nordstrom Way” of doing customer service is well respected.

Taco Bell Provides An Easy Way For Employees To Ask For Help

Fast food giant Taco Bell puts employees first by always providing them a way to contact management. The company has a network of 1-800 numbers to field complaints, answer questions, and alert management of potential red flags for its 175,000-plus employees. It also holds regular employee roundtable meetings and company-wide surveys to gage employee satisfaction. With their needs met and questions answered, employees can focus on helping customers.

Jet Blue Employees Are Allowed To Go The Extra Mile For Customers

Jet Blue is consistently rated one of the best airlines, and a large part of that is the great customer experience. Jet Blue’s employees are given the freedom to go the extra mile to help customers. Instead of being constrained by red tape and bureaucracy, employees have power to solve problems themselves, which means they often consider customers problems to be their own. Jet Blue also fosters a spirit of collaboration and teamwork with employees that extends to customers.

Starbucks Provides Extensive Training On How To Interact With Customers

Starbucks knows that happy employees lead to happy customers. The company is consistently at the top of every customer experience “best” list, and this recognition comes from taking care of its employees. Starbucks provides employees competitive wages, health benefits, and stock options. Each employee is trained not only on how to make the drinks but also how to interact with customers. The welcoming atmosphere of a Starbucks coffee shop is echoed in the company, where every employee knows they are welcomed and included.

Airbnb Helps Employees Focus On Personal Growth

Airbnb’s mission statement of “Belong Anywhere” extends beyond customers to also include employees. Airbnb is invested in every aspect of its employees’ lives, not just what they do at the office. The company works to create a culture that sets employees up for success in their personal and professional lives, from having a flexible, open office space to being transparent with the goals of the company. Employees can focus on their personal growth and the mission of the company, which allows them to create better customer experiences.

Adobe Ties Employee Compensation To Customer Experience

Instead of viewing customers and employees as separate entities, Adobe brings them together to drive positive, connected experiences. Employees are trained on customer experience metrics and how each person’s role impacts the overall customer experience. It also encourages employees to be advocates for customers’ needs and jump in when they see a problem instead of waiting for something to run its course. At Adobe, employee compensation is tied to customer experience. When employees are connected with customers and see the role they can each play individually, they want to create a better experience (disclosure: Adobe is a client).

GE Uses Root Cause Analysis To Improve Customer Satisfaction

It takes an innovative HR department to drive employee experience at General Electric. Employees are involved in the process to make sure they have the physical space and technological tools to do their best work and that training programs keep employees moving forward. When a division of GE saw it had low customer satisfaction scores, it worked to find the root cause and streamline internal processes. Cutting red tape keeps employees happier and allows them to be more productive, which helped the customer satisfaction score jump more than 40% in two years.

Your employees are your often your most untapped resource when it comes to building powerful customer experiences. I hope you are just as inspired by the companies highlighted here as I was.

The article above was first published on Forbes.com and reprinted with permission. View original post here.

About the author: Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. You can read more of Blake’s articles by visiting her website.

Troubleshooting API Connection Issues

You know what it is like when that new phone doesn’t get a dial tone, or your router isn’t getting an internet signal. In much the same way, connectivity issues are an annoying but common part of implementing web services in your applications software. Whether it is navigating your system’s firewalls, moving from development to production environments, or simply dealing with calling out to an API, few things are as frustrating as troubleshooting a piece of code that should be working but isn’t.

We are here to help. The Applications Engineering team here at Service Objects understands the full range of connection issues, and after 15-plus years in business we’ve seen it all. Between the sample code we’ve written and the support we provide our customers, chances are that we can help you get your application up and running as quickly as possible with the Service Objects’ API of your choice. But first let’s look at some of the most common issues we’ve seen, and how you can troubleshoot them.

Monitoring Tools

Tools like Wireshark and Fiddler can be invaluable when debugging a connection to a web service.  These tools allow you to see all the different network connections that your system is making, and can also allow you to view the information that is being sent to the service.  This can be helpful for cases where you want to see what exactly is being sent to our services. Often these tools can highlight malformed requests, blocks by your firewall or any other odd behavior that is getting in the way of receiving valuable data from one of our APIs.

Firewalls, IP Addresses and Connection Issues

Another issue we see quite frequently is a connection issue when moving a website or application from development to production.  If this happens, and you experience issues connecting to our services, a couple of quick checks can get you pointed in the right direction to debug your application.

First, check if your firewall needs to have IP addresses whitelisted. If it does, reach out to us at support@serviceobjects.com and we will be happy to provide the most up-to-date set of IP addresses that our services utilize. Still having a tough time connecting to our services? Check through a command prompt on the server in question to ensure you can ping our primary (ws.serviceobjects.com) and backup (wsbackup.serviceobjects.com) endpoints. After that, you can perform a trace route to our endpoints to determine if there is any packet loss between your system and ours.

Failover and Service Downtime

A frequent question that we receive about connectivity to our services is what to do if the Service Objects’ API is unreachable.

First, understand that this should normally be an extremely rare event. Our SLA guarantees “five 9” availability, meaning that our services will be available 99.999% of the time. The equates to less than 5 minutes service downtime per year or around 26 seconds of downtime per month. We have several data centers around the country to help provide redundancy to ensure that your data keeps on getting validated in the event that our primary servers are down.

In addition to this, we recommend that you implement a failover call to our web services. What this means is that if our primary endpoint at ws.serviceobjects.com is down or working unexpectedly, your application should call our backup endpoint at wsbackup.serviceobjects.com.  Below is an example of what failover configuration would look like while calling our AV3 service and using C# syntax.

Contacting Service Objects Tech Support

Finally, whether you are just beginning to troubleshoot or are at the end of your rope, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We can assist you in tracking down issues you are encountering.  It always helps if you can provide any relevant information about the problem you are encountering, such as the error message received, inputs that are causing the error, or time that the issue started. This information will help us isolate whether your problem is an issue with our services or an issue on your end.

Whatever your connectivity issues are, Service Objects support is here to help you. We are always happy to speak with you by phone, do a live screen sharing session with you, share tips or troubleshooting steps by email, or help in any way we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime, and best of success with your connections!

Why Our Customers Love Data Quality

Every year, February 14th is a time when our thoughts turn to things like true love, flowers, chocolates … and data quality.

In fact, there is more in common between these things than you might think. If you look at the history of Valentine’s Day, St. Valentine’s intention was to protect his fellow man. In ancient Rome, St. Valentine accomplished this by secretly marrying couples so that the husbands would not have to go to war. This is how his name became synonymous with love and marriage. Along those lines, Service Objects tries to also help our fellow man– admittedly less romantically – by ensuring your data accuracy, automating regulatory compliance, and protecting you from fraud.

Nowadays, our customers love how our data quality solutions solve the following problems:

High quality contact data. When you communicate with your prospects or customers, the cost directly links to the accuracy and validity of your contact list. When you automate the quality of this contact data – often your biggest and most valuable data asset – the ROI will warm the hearts of the toughest CFOs.

Lead validation. Does she love me or does she not? Better to find out early in the relationship whether she gave you a fake email address, bad contact information, or is otherwise giving you the slip, with validation tools that check over 130 data points to give you a numerical rating of lead quality.

Delivery accuracy. Nothing will make your customers fall out of love with you quicker than misdirected deliveries – even though in the US alone, 40 million of them don’t help matters by changing their addresses every year, while many others mistype their address at the time they order. When you automatically verify these addresses against continually updated postal databases, you help ensure a good relationship.

Compliance strategies. When government regulators come calling, they aren’t bringing you flowers. New rules on consumer privacy in the US and Europe have changed the game of outbound marketing, including stiff financial penalties for non-compliance, and sales tax policies are constantly changing. Automated compliance verification tools can help prevent problems from happening in the first place, and also provide quantifiable proof of your efforts.

Fraud prevention. Cupid isn’t the only one aiming his arrows at you. Fraudsters are constantly trying to separate you from your inventory and money, particularly during your busiest periods. We can help with solutions ranging from address, BIN, email and IP validation to tools that provide you an overall order quality score, to help keep the bad guys out.

Finally, it turns out we have one other connection to St. Valentine. In Italy, he is still commemorated by a charm known as St. Valentine’s Key, which is supposed to unlock the hearts of lovers. We have a key for you as well: a free trial key to any of our API products, yours for the asking. Happy Valentine’s Day!

How to Convince Your Boss Your Business Needs a Data Quality Solution

Many developers come to Service Objects because they recognize their company has a need for a data quality solution. Maybe you were tasked by a manager to help find a solution, perhaps someone in Marketing mentioned one of their pain points, or maybe you just naturally saw opportunities for improvement. Whatever the reason was that got you looking for a data quality solution, you most likely need to get someone in management to sign off on your solution. Often, especially in larger organizations, this can be a challenge. So how are others accomplishing this?

Service Objects has been in business for over 16 years and in that time frame, we have helped potential customers just like you get sign off for our services. In addition to being armed with information from your Account Executive on how you can achieve ROI for the service you have chosen, the following recommendations are the ones we have found to be the most useful.

Test Out Our Services

If you haven’t already, get a free trial key for the service you are interested in.  We allow you to try out as many of our 23 data quality solutions as you would like.  My blog, Taking Service Objects for a Test Drive, can help you figure out which method of testing our services is best for you.

One of the values in testing our services is that it reinforces your own understanding of our products. Testing allows you to quickly visualize and show others in your organization the benefits of utilizing a data quality solution.  Showing your boss an actual test integration you did with our API is more powerful than just explaining how it works.  Or, if you decide to run a test batch with us, you will see first hand how we can improve your contact data.

You can also leverage our quick look up page and set up on a screen share with a larger team and run live examples for them.  Let your team choose some data to run live and see the results first hand.

Data Summaries

Data summaries are a great visual aid to take a look at how our services help.  Take a subset of any of your data sets and send them over for a batch test.  Each batch test contains a comprehensive summary, providing you with how we validated your data and what the results mean.  Your Account Executive can review this and guide you through the results. Having a detailed report that clearly shows the current state of your data is a great tool to have when you are ready to go forward with any type of presentation to your team. A recent blog shows what one of our reports includes.  All data has a story, and with our batch summaries we try to tell that story.

Integration Plan

Having an integration plan is an asset when getting sign off for our services.  You are bound to get some questions after showing your plan, such as “who?” “how?” and “how long?”.  It is a good idea to be prepared to answer these questions.

Integrating with us is not a complicated task and we have several resources to guide you.  Our sample code can quickly get you up and running and we can even customize it for your specific use case. We also have best practices available to help you with your integration. For instance, you may need to check if there are any network or firewall issues your IT team needs to complete. If you are switching from another solution or vendor, you may need to have your integration timeline in sync with turning off an old service and turning our service on.  And never forget about testing, which is one of the most important parts of any integration.  Finally, you may need to account for any training you want to provide to your team about how to work with our data or your new system.  Having answers to these questions can help arm you with everything you need to keep the ball rolling.

Customer Service and Support

Support.  It is just one word but it is key.  Sometimes even the most important word.  You can purchase a top-notch product or service, but if you can’t get adequate customer support when you need it, your purchase loses most of its value to you.  With Service Objects, this is never the case.  In fact, customer service is one of our core values. We care about your success and truly want you to be succeed.  If you want to get buy in from your team, then it is very important to discuss our customer service expertise. Having a dedicated customer support resource, comprised of engineers, will ease your transition to our offerings and in the end, will save your organization significant time and money.

Value Proposition

At Service Objects, our value proposition is very clear. Our data quality solutions ensure your data is as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as it can possibly be. A large percentage of our customers have been with us for many years, and this is due to the effort we put into the quality, accuracy, speed, reliability and expertise we deliver.

Getting Buy-In from Colleagues

It is always helpful to get people on your side when you want to present a new service to your company. Talking it over with colleagues and managers is great and many of the things written in this blog can help get them on your side to support your idea.  It also goes a long way in educating your team on the data quality issues you are facing and how a Service Objects’ solution can alleviate many of those problems.

I hope some of these ideas or tips can help you along the way in presenting our services to your team or manager.  The last thing you want to do is have a conversation with your boss without adequate preparation.  Your ideas are good, so take your time and plan the right action in getting them implemented.  In the end, the results our services will provide for your company will be impactful and worth your time.

Visit our product page to Get started testing any of our services.

Protecting Your Investment in Data Validation

Whenever I am in the process of making a new purchase, I do quite a bit of research before I buy. There are many reasons I do the research. I like to know all the technical details and features; satisfy my desire to be as frugal as possible; ensure my money is well spent; and know that I get the best product available at the best price. I know that many other consumers and businesses share the desire to maximize the value of their investment.

We all want to have confidence that we will benefit from our purchases. This is especially true for businesses that are considering purchasing data validation solutions. Throwing some money at cheap solutions or tools can save a business up front, but the direct and indirect costs will grow on an exponential basis when the inferior solution doesn’t work as intended, breaks down, can’t be fixed for a long while, or is unexpectedly unavailable.

Since 2001, Service Objects has prided ourselves on having the best solutions available that provide a full suite of features and benefits. We make sure that we protect your investment in data validation.  Below are just some of the reasons why we have the best service available.

Top Notch Availability

We stand by our commitment to have our services available whenever they are needed. That’s why we have implemented the industry’s only financially backed Service Level Agreement. That means that we promise to have our services provide an uptime of 99.999% availability.  We measure this percentage of availability on a monthly basis. Achieving 99.999% uptime over a month means that our services won’t be down for more than 30 seconds. We implement failovers, backups and many other things to help ensure that we meet this uptime availability.  If we do not, then our customers are eligible to receive service credit based on the unavailability provided.

Fanatic Customer Support

Customer support excellence is one our core values. We have a capable and eager team of people whose goal is to provide the best support available. Whether it’s a question about your account, maximizing the value of the results from our APIs, or any other customer service issues, we are standing by to help in any way that we can.

24/7 Emergency Support

We understand that when your business is experiencing technical issues it can impact your customers. So along with our traditional support, we also offer after hours support options for any issues that may occur during non-traditional office hours. No matter what time it is, we’ll assist with whatever issue you are encountering.  Simply call our office line and follow the prompts to the access the emergency support line.

Custom Solutions

One of the things that we pride ourselves on is the ability to be flexible with the solutions that we provide. On many occasions, we have implemented product improvements that have arisen when customers tell us what new features they are looking for. Service Objects prides ourselves on being flexible enough to pivot to the needs that our customers have. If you have some custom need, just ask! We’d be happy to look into the feasibility of your request.

To Be Customer-Centric, You Have To Be Data-Centric

In today’s fast-paced world, customers have become more demanding than ever before. Customer-centric organizations need to build their models after critically analyzing their customers, and this requires them to be data-centric.

Today, customers expect companies to be available 24/7 to solve their queries. They expect companies to provide them with seamless information about their products and services. Not getting such features can have a serious impact on their buying decision. Customer-centric organizations need to adopt a data-centric approach not just for targeted customer interactions, but also to survive competition from peers who are data-centric.

Customer-centric organizations need to go data-centric

Why?

Today, customers enquire a lot before making a decision. And social media enquiries are the most widely used by customers. A satisfactory experience is not limited to prompt answers to customer queries alone. Customers need a good experience before making the purchase, during the installment of product or deployment of service, and even after making the purchase. Thus, to retain a customer’s loyalty and to drive in regular profits, companies need to be customer-centric. And that can only happen if companies adopt a data-centric approach. Big data comes handy in developing a model that gives optimum customer experience. It helps build a profound understanding of the customer, such as what they like and value the most and the customer lifetime value to the company. Besides, every department in a data-centric organization can have the same view about its customer, which guarantees efficient customer interactions. Companies like Amazon and Zappos are the best examples of customer-centric organizations that heavily depend on data to provide a unique experience to their customers. This has clearly helped them come a long way.

How?

Companies can collect a lot of information that can help them become customer-centric. Here are some ways in which they can do so:

  • Keep a close eye on any kind of new data that could help them stay competitive, such as their product prices and the money they invest in logistics and in-product promotion. They need to constantly monitor the data that tells them about the drivers of these income sources.
  • Reach out to customers from different fields with varying skill sets to derive as many insights as possible so as to help make a better product.
  • Develop a full-scale data project that will help them collect data and apply it to make a good data strategy and develop a successful business case.

Today, there is no escaping customer expectations. Companies need to satisfy customers for repeat business. Customer satisfaction is the backbone of selling products and services, maintaining a steady flow of revenue, and for the certainty of business. And for all of that to happen, companies need to gather and democratize as much information about their customers as possible.

Reprinted with permission from the author. View original post here.

Author: Naveen Joshi, Founder and CEO of Allerin

The Difference Between Customer Experience And User Experience

There are a lot of buzzwords thrown around in the customer sphere, but two of the big ones relate to experiences—customer and user. Although CX and UX are different and unique, they must work together for a company to have success.

User experience deals with customers’ interaction with a product, website, or app. It is measured in things like abandonment rate, error rate, and clicks to completion. Essentially, if a product or technology is difficult to use or navigate, it has a poor user experience.

Customer experience on the other hand focuses on the general experience a customer has with a company. It tends to exist higher in the clouds and can involve a number of interactions. It is measured by net promoter score, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction.

Both customer experience and user experience are incredibly important and can’t truly exist and thrive without each other. If a website or mobile app has a bad layout and is cumbersome to navigate, it will be difficult for customers to find what they need and can lead to frustration. If customers can’t easily open the mobile app from an email on their phone, they likely won’t purchase your product. Likewise, if the product layout is clunky, customers likely won’t recommend it to a friend no matter how innovative it is. User experience is a huge part of customer experience and needs to play a major role when thinking like a customer.

Although UX and CX are different, they need to work closely together to truly be successful. Customer experience representatives should be working alongside product engineers to make sure everything works together. By taking themselves through the entire customer journey, they can see how each role plays into a customer’s overall satisfaction with the product and the company. The ultimate goal is a website or product that beautifully meshes the required elements of navigation and ease with the extra features that will help the brand stand out with customers.

When thinking about customer experience, user experience definitely shouldn’t be left behind. Make both unique features an essential part of your customer plan to build a brand that customers love all around.

Reprinted with permission from the author. View original post here.

Author Bio: Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker.

Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.

Leverage Service Objects’ Industry Expertise to Reach Your Data Quality Goals

At Service Objects, we are fully committed to our customers’ success, which is a main factor in why over 90% of our business is from repeat customers. And with over 16 years of experience in contact validation, we have accumulated a broad base of industry expertise, created numerous best practices and are considered thought leaders in global data validation.

It is because of this knowledge that some of our customers turn to us when they lack the internal resources to carry out their data quality project. Whether it is assistance in implementing a data quality initiative, asking for customization to our products to meet specific business needs or help integrating our solutions into Marketing or Sales Automation platforms, Service Objects’ Professional Services can assist your business in achieving optimal results on your project in a quick and efficient manner.

Here are just three of the ways we can help:

Integration Programming and Code Support

If your team is overwhelmed or lacks the technical resources to integrate data quality solutions into your existing systems, Service Objects can step in and quickly get your project moving. We provide your team with the technical knowledge, support, and best practices needed to implement your chosen solution in a timely fashion and within your budget.

CRM or Marketing Automation Platform Integration

We have created cloud connectors for the leading sales and marketing platforms and have developed extensive knowledge on how these systems work with our data quality solutions. We enable your organization to implement best practices, allowing your business to verify, correct and append contact data at the point of entry. The result is your contact database contains records that are as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as they can possibly be.

Custom Services

Our engineers have years of experience creating, implementing and supporting data quality services in many different programming languages. As a result, we can customize our existing services to solve a challenge that is specific to your business. Our proactive support services team will work with your technical team to refine, test and implement the custom service to work for your business’ specifications.

These are just some of the ways we can help. For more information about how you leverage our industry expertise and technical knowledge, contact us.

Three Things I am Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the United States is about much more than taking a couple of days off from work, eating too much turkey, or starting your holiday shopping. This holiday has always had a higher purpose: to reflect and give thanks every year. So what am I thankful for?

There are three things on my list. First and foremost, I am thankful for you, our customers. Obviously every CEO is thankful for paying customers, but I also mean it from a different perspective: you are a very diverse and talented group of people, and we enjoy working with you. Our customers run the whole gamut of applications: increasing museum attendance through demographic analysis, creating precise address lists to expand rural broadband coverage, geocoding maps of hurricane refugees, and much more. It is truly never boring to come to work here.

Which leads me to the next thing on my list: I am thankful that Service Objects is a great place to work. We began as a small startup in 2001, but today we are a growing organization whose management team has over a century of combined experience in our respective fields.  And we hire really cool people! We have a strong culture that emphasizes teamwork, healthy living and environmental awareness. And who wouldn’t be thankful for coming to work in sunny Santa Barbara, California every morning?

More important, everyone here is extremely good at what they do, whether it is technology, service, or operations. We operate in a very competitive space, and quite frankly the talent of our people – and the clear service culture people experience when they work with us – is our biggest competitive differentiator. If you look at the many customer success stories on our website, you will find clients raving about our technology AND our people, and I am very proud of that.

Finally, one of the biggest things I am thankful for is the chance to make a real difference in the environment we share on this planet. Many people know that I first started this company in response to the problem of excessive junk mail in the waste stream, developing mathematical models for ways to mitigate this massive waste of resources. Our focus on real-time contact validation, and all the products and services that follow from there always has had its roots in resource conservation.

Today, we are proud to have processed nearly three billion transactions. This translates directly to less waste and more efficient use of our precious resources, saving 23 million gallons of water and 11 thousand cubic yards of landfill space each and every year. Since Service Objects’ inception in 2001 this adds up to 12 million trees and 150 million pounds of paper saved – and counting. This is a legacy we frankly cherish as much as any quarterly sales figures.

SO what are you thankful for?

Hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!