Category Archives: Customer Support

Prepare Your Support Call Center for the Holiday Rush with Zingtree

call center scripts

The most chaotic season of the year is quickly approaching, and it’s more important than ever to prepare your call center staff for the impending holiday craziness. Beyond having helpful, well-trained agents at the ready, it’s smart to adopt technology to handle inquiries and get agents online faster.

Zingtree interactive decision trees and call center scripts are one way to avoid the headache of customer service disarray during the peak periods of November and December. With customers self-solving using customized decision trees and agents being guided with interactive scripts, your support team will have a happy holiday season instead of a hectic one.

Decision Trees for Customer Support

Happy customers lead to happy agent staff, and vice versa. Zingtree is an amazing tool for any customer support team, as it allows you to create custom troubleshooters to take customers, or agents, through the support flow step-by-step.

Organizations that deploy Zingtree troubleshooters have seen a 20% reduction in support costs on average. Customers are gently guided to answers, and, if a problem can’t be solved, your agents receive background information on the problem, saving time and resources. With no programming required, Zingtree decision trees and troubleshooters make it easy to build each step of the process so no important information is left behind.

With design customization and plugins to fit your integration needs, Zingtree can help you ramp up your support this season.

Agent Scripting Solutions

High-tech solutions can also empower your live support agents to be efficient and effective when communicating with customers. Agent Scripting is a robust tool for any company offering chat or phone support.

Scripts are easy to build using Zingtree’s tools, you’ll effectively reduce time and resources spent on holiday support. With powerful tracking and analytics, Zingtree agent scripts help companies collect useful data that can even be used to prepare for the holidays next year – we even have a direct integration with popular customer service platform, Zendesk!

Learn More

Remember – the holidays can be stressful, but with proper preparation for your call centers and support staff, you’ll make the load just a little bit lighter, and the season just a little more jolly!

Visit Zingtree.com to get started free for 30 days, and see how Zingtree will save you time and money.

This article was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy. 

Industry Report: Here’s How to Improve Customer Support & Sales on Black Friday

Whether you’re an online retailer or consumer, Black Friday is a crazy time of the year. For customer support teams, in particular, the stress and demand can seem neverending – it’s not a question of if a customer will have an issue or question, but when. Adding extra layers of employees needing (and deserving) time off of work around these times and generally higher stress levels, startups and small businesses especially can feel the tension around customer support.

Black Friday On-Demand: Salesforce Industry Report

To be frank, mobile and on-demand options truly reign supreme. Customers today expect a smooth purchasing experience, fast shipping, and even faster customer support.

Salesforce combined the insights on the activity of over 500 million global shoppers and billions of transactions, millions of public social media conversations, and data from Salesforce’s annual Connected Shoppers Report to give retailers and online businesses the intelligence they need keep moving forward this holiday season.

Here’s what VP of Industry Insights, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Rob Garf, had to say:

“Just like watching television, holiday shopping has moved from an appointment based activity to an on-demand activity. Salesforce expects to see continued growth not only in mobile orders and website visits, but also in newer technologies such as mobile payments and artificial intelligence. It’s not too late for retailers to make adjustments today in order to meet consumer expectations and better compete this holiday season.”

You can read the full report and insights here.

A Better System of Customer Support for the Holidays

So, how does an online business truly prepare for holiday shopping? A new trend in customer support: self-service.

Interactive decision trees allow customers to quickly and easily navigate through processes, products, troubleshooting, and more. Setting up a completely automated, information-filled FAQ or knowledge base, simple-to-use product finder, or digestible problem-solving can solve a myriad of internal issues (and your customer’s, too!).

Our retail customers are able to solve problems and answer questions outside of regular and holiday office hours, as well as encourage more sales and truly streamline the customer support process. Take a look at some of our own resources for improving customer support here, and stop by our own decision tree-built knowledge base here.

Ready to start streamlining retail customer support for your eCommerce business? Get in touch with us, or sign up for an account. 

Building Troubleshooters for Complex Products & Tools

interactive troubleshooter

Interactive troubleshooters are becoming a more frequent way to solve problems involving complex, technical products.  Since most complex equipment for industries like manufacturing, videography, and hardware/software have fewer “expert technicians,” the need for more intelligent support systems has risen. Where issues and complicated instructions run rampant, the fastest way to find the solution to a problem is with interactive troubleshooters.

Caterpillar, the US manufacturer of construction and farm equipment, is using Zingtree troubleshooters in their manufacturing plant. Likewise, IT Works, the most relied-on resource for collecting information on living environments. We even got our own start by building troubleshooters for another software company, Applian Technologies.

Self-Solving with Troubleshooters

With complicated products and tools, troubleshooters aim to help find the area of the problem by narrowing down other contextual factors. By offering an interactive format to simplify the issue, you have solved part of the problem already.

For highly-specialized or complex products, it can take a while to get fixed or for the right person in the right location to come and fix it, in many cases. Troubleshooting solutions make it easier for expert technicians to judge the issue and solve accordingly, and for less-than-expert level folks to figure things out.

Success Stories: Troubleshooters in Practice

For the U.S.-based manufacturing company, Caterpillar, this rings especially true. With an array of complex (and often large) manufacturing tools in use, equipment operators across the country needed an easier way to help work through issues and find answers anywhere. When an error code comes up, operators and technicians are able to assess the problem and find a way to fix it.

The decisions behind Applian’s customer support are also powered by our troubleshooters. The results? The company saved over $30,000 on resources per year and 15 hours of support time per week.

Here’s one of the Applian troubleshooters you can take a look at:

 

 

Building an Interactive Experience

Instructions are easier to follow from an interactive decision tree if the user is being guided by easy-to-follow, bite-sized directions. With complex products and tools, there is generally a lot of important information to cover – with no real understanding of your user’s experience level, it’s better to be as user-friendly as you can. You can even include videos, images and other types of media within your troubleshooter to make things even more easy to digest.

We have heaps of information on how to get started building troubleshooters right away – there’s a method that fits just about everyone! For more ideas, tips, and inspiration, we recommend having a look at our troubleshooters on display in the Gallery, as well as checking the blog for a catalog of best tips for building. There’s something in there for every industry!

After creating your in-depth, intuitive decision tree, end users will be delighted with the ease of providing a faster solution. Ready to start your revolutionary, problem-solving troubleshooter? Take a shot, or reach out to us if you need some expert advice.

5 Outdated Customer Support Tools You Need to Ditch

Customer service agents have always been at the heart of what makes companies, and their customer communications, so incredibly important to business success. However, certain resources aren’t always up to the job. Armed with only outdated customer support tools, it’s difficult for an agent or customer service representative to perform their tasks, and help people, to the best of their ability.

Thankfully, technology has done a great job of keeping up; there are dozens of amazing tools to help businesses small and large improve how they handle support and troubleshooting, customer interactions, and other key communications. If you’re still using an outdated tool or method like the ones mentioned here, now’s the time to make a change for the better.

Setting Up Spreadsheets to Track Issues

We’ll always love spreadsheets (heck, Zingtrees even connect with them for quick creation!), but using them as a means of manually tracking the details of tickets and inquiries is a definite resource-waster. The details of every customer call are important, so adopting a more automated way to enter key information during a call or via an online support ticket is vital to improving customer service goals. Don’t tackle it cell-by-cell. You waste precious time and this method is prone to errors.

Using Standard Email for Tickets

Using Outlook for support? Gmail? Yahoo? We certainly hope not, but if you are, there’s still time to make things right and upgrade to a real support system. A solid CRM tool like Zendesk or  Freshdesk isn’t as daunting or expensive as you might think, and can easily track and organize every incoming ticket. After getting started and connecting all of your communication channels, you can even integrate with decision trees for a completely holistic setup.

Sending Customers Through a Phone Tree

The most impersonal of all contact channels, a phone tree is as hard to set up as it is for customers to wait through. While still critical for some industries to offer in order to contact a live agent, others benefit from building a better system online and on mobile. Roughly 72% of people think self-service support is a preferred way to handle customer support, so using decision trees can help customers navigate for themselves, find answers, and contact the right department for more information.

Printing Out Call Scripts on Paper

Not only is printing bad for the environment, it’s cumbersome and unnecessary. While customer support and call center agents should be prepared with a script on hand, there’s always a technical way to make things more efficient. Taking the digital plunge and creating an online call center script for agent use will improve support KPIs, make it simple to streamline communication, and leave customers happier with every standardized, personalized interaction.


Any questions? We’re always here to help!

This article was originally published on April 13, 2017.

7 Ways to Ensure You Get More Customer Feedback

Customer satisfaction is a little tough sometimes when you don’t know if you are making mistakes, and if you are, who’s telling you? Issues surrounding response rates are something that most people struggle to conquer to get to the best reputation. In fact, internal surveys will generally receive an average of 30-40% response rate, compared to a 10-15% response rate for external surveys.

You’re not receiving as many responses as you hope, but there are plenty of valuable reasons behind this. Dana Severson, a writer for Promoter.io, learned the hard way and has shared some secrets that make sure his experience will never happen again.

Check out one tip here, and find the other 6 on the Promoter.io site:

Once the survey was refined to my satisfaction, I quickly sent the email out and waited in anticipation … the truth is, most companies get this totally wrong, including even the most successful company in the world.

Send your survey from a human, not a department or company

This may seem obvious, but all too often, companies want responses to go to an email address that everyone on a team has access to.

What you need to know is that nobody wants to respond to a bot (i.e. support@company.com), they want to know that their voice is being heard by an actual person.

 

You can even create a fictitious email address or alias, so long as it looks like a human.

BONUS: If you want more honest answers, send the survey from someone that the customer doesn’t deal with on a regular basis.

 

Keep reading the article here.

Zingtree makes it easy to build surveys, questionnaires, and other interactive guided experiences that allow businesses to gather more feedback and grow more strategically. Sign up for a free trial to get started.

Zingtree Enterprise: Self-Hosted Decision Trees

enterprise-BLOG

While we are highly focused on our own security and data integrity, we recognize that using a SaaS (Software as a Service) site like Zingtree may require approval from various departments. For many, the hosting of company data offsite immediately triggers a cautionary reaction.

To address these concerns, we have a completely self-hosted Zingtree version. It utilizes the same awesome tools found in Zingtree but packaged in a way that can be installed on any server with industry standard PHP and MySQL. A full source code license is included, as well as regular updates.

This self-hosted option has a lot of benefits:

  • Customer data remains on-site.
  • Data is not intermixed with other company’s data (in case of legal subpoena issues).
  • Full source code allows security specialists to inspect the code for any possible hacking loopholes.
  • The design and engineering teams can modify the code or design of Zingtree to their liking.
  • You can guarantee your own uptime.
  • Plus, we provide consulting, support and maintenance as requested.

Want to learn more about the self-hosted Zingtree Enterprise solution?

Please contact us with licensing questions, or to get started with your self-hosted Zingtree Enterprise solution.

This article was originally published on September 28, 2015, but the information is still just as relevant! 

3 Reasons Why Retailers Need to Offer Self-Service Support Online

self_service-BLOG@2x

As Internet usage rises exponentially around the world, so does the popularity of online shopping. And naturally, as self-service shopping becomes more prevalent, the need for complementary self-service customer support becomes even more important for retail stores to introduce. Whether it’s for convenience, savings, location restrictions or any other reason, consumers are spending a lot of time and money with eCommerce retail.

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Global online retail sales are estimated to top $4 trillion by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending. (eMarketer)
  • Retail eCommerce sales in North America will rise 15.6% this year to reach $423.34 billion. (eMarketer)
  • The number of consumers browsing and buying online will hit 270 million by 2020, driven largely by mobile. (Forrester)
  • 72% of people think that self-service support is a fast and easy way to handle support issues. (Desk)

Is your retail store providing online, self-service support to empower customers? Here are a few big reasons to start making the change…

1. Answer Questions Outside “Regular Hours”

Your storefront hours and customer service representative availability will always have a timeframe. Meanwhile, customers are online shopping at any and all hours of the day – they are bound to run into some questions or issues while you’re away. Knowledge bases of information and thorough FAQs are critical to upkeep for online shoppers, and when you put that information into an interactive, easy-to-follow format, customers are all the more likely to find the answers they need quickly and painlessly.

Online decision trees and troubleshooters are the perfect way to set up customers for success outside of official store hours. Rather than forcing customers to search a trove of documents, by guiding end-users through a simple, click-by-click knowledge base they can easily self-solve questions about sizing charts, returns and exchange policies, gift card redeeming, credit card processing, and anything else they might need.

2. Encourage More Sales

Forrester estimates that online retail sales in the United States will grow 17% between 2016 and 2018. However, this fails to represent the huge percentage of customers who are far more likely to make a purchase (either online or in-person) after a successful online experience. In fact, offline sales that were influenced by a web-based interaction or experience hit close to $1.5 trillion just last year. Customers who purchase in your brick and mortar retail store have already looked at your website before walking in the door to buy. For this reason, creating a super-helpful online experience is just as important as the trained sales staff hired to generate interest in-person.

A self-service decision tree can also help encourage more sales online, too. For instance, our clients, Phoenix Bats, created a perfectly customized decision tree to help more customers find the exact right product to fit their needs. The Bat Selector decision tree now helps direct customers to the ideal bat, leading to an increase in overall sales.

3. Streamline Customer Communication

Your store’s website should be doing most of the work – if a customer has to hunt around in order to get some form of contact, you’re off to a rough start. Decision trees make a helpful interactive front-end for directing customers to the right page on your retail website, so people can easily get where they need to go with the power of automated filtering. Plus, they look and work great on any browser – on desktop or mobile – so customers can access a system to communicate with you anywhere with Internet access.

Once your agents are signed back online, any information submitted through your online troubleshooter decision tree during offline hours can be linked directly to any CRM (or live chat tool) your retail store is using, including Freshdesk, Zopim, Intercom, Salesforce, and others


Check out the Zingtree Gallery for decision tree examples.

Ready to start streamlining retail customer support for your eCommerce business? Get in touch with us, or sign up for an account. 

This article was originally published on March 16, 2017.

You Are Talking to a Robot. How Does That Make You Feel?

Chat is an incredible tool for having a real-time conversation with a customer on the other end of the computer. It’s been proven to be one of the most preferred methods of communicating with a customer support representative online. In fact, 63% of customers said they were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat as opposed to one that doesn’t.

But how do the tables turn when chatbots are introduced into the customer service mix? Do customers really mind if an automation is clicking “send” on their responses? Alex Debecker of Ubisend and VentureBeat teamed up to publish this article on the issues and real questions around having a robot do the talking.

Read a portion of the post here, and the rest on the VentureBeat site:

Conversations about chatbots helping humans in the workplace always brings up the same range of issues. We often end up discussing the place artificial intelligence will have in our lives. We (very) often talk about robots taking over completely. Some mention ‘the Singularity’ in a frightened tone, while others scoff at it.

Whatever the conversation, it always seems to revolve around the same topic: the impact robots will have on the humans they might replace and/or harm.

This debate is missing an entire piece of the puzzle, though. What about the humans on the other side of the conversation? After all, chatbots are there to converse, and there must be someone on the other end. So how do they feel about talking to a robot?

You are talking to a robot. How does that make you feel?

This is a highly relevant question. A chatbot could be as smart as anything in tech, but if people are reluctant to use it — for whatever reason — it becomes utterly useless. We know the prospect of robots taking over our jobs is scary to some. But how do we feel about chatbots helping us in our daily lives?

Thankfully, a few studies have allowed us to answer this question.

Mimi An from HubSpot shared the results of her study on the topic of artificial intelligence in eCommerce and customer support. The study found that only 57 percent of the people interviewed would rather get help from a real person than an AI program. To support this statistic, 40 percent answered they didn’t care whether they are talking to a human or a machine as long as they get the help they need.

Continue reading the article >>

Check out Ubisend’s 2017 Chatbot Report here >>

How does the thought of robots taking over live chat support make you or your business feel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

3 Helpful Tips for Live Chat Etiquette

zing-chat-etiquette

Live chat is a great communication channel, and the preferred choice for many customers when engaging with a company; some of the appeal has to do with its ease, simplicity and brevity. When agents are appropriately trained in live chat etiquette, and have access to efficient scripting tools, they are much more likely to have a successful interaction with a customer.

In a paper published by TELUS International, the company asserts that avoiding customer frustration and brand damage should be top of mind for companies when training live chat agents. Often, customers choose live chat because it’s easy and quick; if your live chat interactions are forcing customers to put forth a lot of effort in their engagement, then your company isn’t realizing the full potential of this communication channel.

To bolster its argument for minimizing customer effort, the report cited a 2010 Harvard Business Review article where the case was made that “delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.”

So, how do live chat agents reduce the customer’s effort when choosing this communication channel?

1. Keep It Brief

Reducing customer effort begins with your agent’s greeting. The greeting sets the tone of the conversation, so if it’s long-winded or muddled, your agent is placing an undue burden on the customer. Once the conversation has commenced, keeping responses to the point is key to providing a positive customer experience. As mentioned earlier, being brief doesn’t mean being clipped. The goal is to provide enough information to the customer in an efficient, yet courteous, manner.

Keeping it brief is especially important when working with a frustrated customer. A simple “I’m sorry” has more impact than a convoluted, over-worded apology.

2. Make Sure It’s Concise

Concise wording will lessen the chances of misunderstanding, and providing clear answers reduces the customers’ effort. Remember that customers prefer live chat because it’s efficient, so training agents how to properly write out responses that quickly get to the heart of the issue, and using proper and robust Live Agent Scripting, are key components of efficiency.

3. Read First, Then Respond

One common problem identified by TELUS is that agents will provide quick answers without first taking the time to read or fully understand what the customer is asking – this is an efficiency killer. Whatever the reason, agents need to take the time to read what the customer has written and then respond with an answer that provides a quick solution.

Once the issue or question that the customer is getting at is identified, the agent can then provide a brief, yet concise, response that moves the conversation forward without requiring the customer to put forth much effort. This is made even simpler when using powerful scripting tools that can help the agent to stay on track and keep the engagement flowing smoothly.

This article was written by Jodi Beuder of MHI Global. Are you interested in submitting a guest blog post? Please contact us!

This article was originally published November 2, 2015. 

Customer Service Skills for the Next Generation of Support

As opposed to the traditional support methods focusing on being reactive, being proactive is the new way to control and scale your customer care. Beyond a customer service strategy in itself, proactive customer support is the one true driver of retaining customers and building relationships.

What does this mean for customer service teams? Anticipating customer issues and addressing them in engaging, informative, easy to understand ways. Luckily for agents and teams today, this can be done in a number of helpful formats – through tutorial videos, interactive knowledge bases, FAQs, decision tree troubleshooters, and other instructive media.

Beyond providing excellent self-service customer support methods, it’s still important to have basic contact information ready to go and easy to find, even in today’s digitally focused world. Studies show that 41% of companies currently don’t make this information visible or quick to locate – to be the best, you should always balance interactive decision trees and other helpful media with any and all platforms of communication available.

The Next Generation of Customers

Millennial customers today are like an entirely new category in their own light. Where previous generations prefer more one-on-one connection and personal relationships, young people today lean towards self-help solutions and fast-paced interactions.

In recent studies, it was found that nearly 70% of millennial females are comfortable resolving CS issues on their own, and 56% of millennials moved their business elsewhere as a result of poor customer service. With the trend continuing toward self-service support and easy, positive experiences, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be thinking about the next generation of forward-thinking, self-solving customers.

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills to Master

Your business’ millennial customers today will bring about the next generation of confident and well-researched purchasers. In terms of customer service skills, and in our own experience, here are the top few that agents need to truly master before that next generation comes.

1. Professionalism

The face of your business relies on the tone, grammar and writing style across digital ways of communication, as well as the professionalism and conciseness of any phone interaction. Some rules for professionalism in email or chat customer service: no abbreviations or lingo, check your information, and definitely never be pushy or leading.

Being understanding, friendly, informative and quick to respond to any customer service interaction is the best way to remain professional and help a customer resolve any issues with lightning speed. When in doubt, one of the best ways to promote better professionalism is to craft standardized decision trees and agent scripts that follow your company’s voice and brand perfectly.

2. Empathy

Every customer wants their issue to be understood and cared for. Customer service agents need to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and broaden their perspectives (and vocabularies, in some cases) to understand where the issue came from and how it can be resolved.

Everyone involved in a customer service interaction is a person — showing compassion and empathy in genuine ways for the problems they are facing, or relating on a more positive note, shows that you care and builds loyalty with the customer.

3. Assertiveness

With professionalism and empathy comes a need to be assertive in customer service situations. Now, we don’t mean aggressive — we mean being completely clear, confident and direct with the information provided and support offered. Taking control of a customer service interaction in a calm and helpful way by asking appropriate, direct questions will help guide support agents to the right conclusion far easier and faster, and the customer is much more likely to feel that the agent they spoke with is the right person for the job.

4. Expertise

32% percent of those surveyed in a recent State of Social Customer Service Report found the phone to be the most frustrating way to engage customer service (ConverSocial).

Without your customer service agents fully mastering the ins and outs of your business and product or service offering, they’ll never feel 100% comfortable and confident helping customers, and in return, customers will be more frustrated. Customer-facing agents should always be trained experts on every relevant inner working, allowing them to be more empowered to answer questions accurately and directly.


The main goal of customer service skills for the next generation is to make it easier for customers to solve problems, access help themselves, and feel totally satisfied with their relationship with your company. With Zingtree decision trees built for your business’ needs and scripts customized to your brand’s voice, customer service agents (and your customer service strategy overall) will become more effective, efficient, and automated.

Take a look at our Gallery to get more customer service inspiration, or get started with your own interactive decision tree or agent script to help streamline your customer service team.