Zingtree Tags: customer support

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. 

4 Customizations to Make Self-Service Support More User-Friendly

When developing a customer-facing decision tree, an important piece is to add some personality, brand identity, and industry-relevant knowledge to allow end-users a more user-friendly customer support experience.

Implementing a personalized or branded color scheme, along with icons that relate to your company, will keep an easy-to-follow and digest structure throughout your support process. An interactive decision tree is the easiest way to help a user with visuals, where they can follow the trees effortlessly while being able to really learn from the guided instructions.

We’ve detailed each customizable element – and examples of how to use them correctly – to make your end-users even happier about their customer service experience!

1. CSS & Personal Style Customizations

Colors and icon choices communicate in subtle ways and can reinforce your brand and mission. Here are some ways to manage these:

Custom colors

We made it easier to adapt your decision tree to your personality or brand when customizing so your tree can fit your desired color, custom CSS files being the main one. Once you have created your ideal profile, you can simply add it to your decision tree product finder which will help reveal your true brand identity.

Animated themes

We had feedback from our users suggesting that it would be more user-friendly if we included a feature of animated themes, including colors but remaining easy-to-use. Our design team and engineers set out to create this recommendation with the main goal of making tree color customizations easy.

See the endless possibilities in this quick, fun video:

Color buttons and icons

Here’s the feature that will allow you to build your own personalized color buttons, icon imagery or even to include emojis within your page titles and buttons. To customize the style of your buttons, all you need to do is prefix the button text with special classes. For example, for your color buttons, choose:

  • .btn-blue
  • .btn-yellow
  • .btn-sky
  • .btn-purple
  • .btn-pink

To add an icon that helps guide your customer but also helps reveal your brand personality, add one or more of these classes:

  • .btn-yes
  • .btn-careful
  • .btn-arrow
  • .btn-thumbs-up
  • .btn-question

2. Visual Features for Creative Support

Video content is shaping user satisfaction across the internet. And with many uses and forms, this is something that more people are demanding, which is why video is the best way to improve your user experience. GIFs are also actively being incorporated into decision trees making the user experience more rewarding. A short clip of a difficult instruction, being repeated several times after 3 seconds or so makes the process of self-service a lot easier to follow.

When including still imagery, diagrams or other graphics into your customization, you are allowing the customer to be at the same pace when working towards a solution. Having reminders follow your tree also makes the service more user-friendly.

There are two main features when using visual aids with a decision tree, one is the effectiveness and the second is interactiveness. It’s so easily done, you can add it to any node you want.

3. Easy Data Collection and Presentation

The use of document nodes can be used for specific types of customized documentation that prove highly beneficial to the self-service aspect of support. Documentation can include building legal agreements, generating purchase orders or even a lead to a returns label that the user has personally generated. 

4. Messaging & Translations for Understanding

When publishing across multiple languages, creating a decision tree that works interactively for these can become complicated. With the translation customization, you can reach a larger user base who need the language localized. With localization management software, along with other custom support features, your users will find your platform much easier to follow. You can follow our instructions here on how to translate your decision trees.

It all starts with a good base of messaging, however. When communicating throughout your decision tree, you should write well and use industry language that is helpful and informative. For nodes with poorly descriptive language, it creates confusion and incomplete results. Here are some of the basics of writing effective nodes that will help you write informative questions that lead to a better, more personal experience. 

Make questions concise by focusing on one subject at a time and structuring to an easily absorbed manner.

What not to do:

If our system of tutorials and articles hasn’t been helpful, do you think you would consider switching service providers?

What to do:

Would you consider another provider if you were not able to self-solve using our knowledge base?

Use the right language so that every user can navigate through your tree knowing the subject and words being used. 

What not to do:

What kind of issue or problem is happening with your account? 

What to do:

How can we help? Please select a category.

Focus on an active voice so you can communicate areas appropriately that identify awareness of the issue within that action. 

What not to do:

Our recommended guidelines and instructions for solving your issue should be followed as written below.

What to do:

Follow our recommended guidelines below to solve your issue!

When navigating through the creation of your decision tree, have the customer at the forefront of your mind, and keep questioning the end user experience. If you need any other assistance, reach out to us so we can assist you with the best self-service solutions.

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.

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. 

Marketing Case Study: Global Players

Here’s an example of how Zingtree’s interactive decision trees are helping to improve online marketing efforts in a real education abroad organization.

Global Players helps to place student-athletes in their perfect study-abroad fit, promoting awareness and cultural education as well as athletic endeavors around the world. As an organization growing in popularity, Global Players was in search of finding a streamlined, self-service way to placing students in their ideal location abroad.

Since adopting Zingtree’s solution to integrate their “Program Match” decision tree, Global Players has been able to place over 1,000 students so far, increased the likelihood of a visitor to contact the organization by 5 times, and more!

You can view the case study below, and open a PDF version here.

casestudy-global_players copy

Want to see more? Explore the Zingtree Gallery for examples of how our decision trees and interactive solutions provide value for businesses!

This case study was originally published January 19, 2016.

25 Customer Support Statistics You Should Pay Attention To

It used to be that winning products and services spoke for themselves, and kept customers loyal and happy; an era that’s long since been over. We think Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said it best himself: “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”

Customer support and experience are fundamental to the performance, and ultimately, the long-term success of modern-day businesses. These customer support statistics pulled from various industry reports and studies tell a story of how increasingly important it is to provide full-service, multichannel, round-the-clock, easy-to-digest support to every customer in 2017.

1. Companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service every year on average. (Source: New Voice Media)

2. researchers found that among thousands of customers studied, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

3. 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. (Source: ConverSocial)

4. 54% of millennials said they stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. So did 50% of Gen Xers and 52% of baby boomers. (Source: Conversion Research)

5. 40% of customers switch brands or services because a competitor offers better customer support. (Source: Zendesk)

6. There’s a $3 return on investment expected for every $1 invested in the customer experience. (Source: SiteCore)

7. 95% of consumers have taken action as a result of a bad customer experience, and of those consumers, 85% wanted to warn others about doing business with the company. (Source: Zendesk)

8. On the other hand, 23% of customers who had a good customer experience told 10+ people. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

9. 67% of consumers list bad customer experience as one of the primary reasons for churning. (Source: Kolsky)

10. 32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. (Source: The Social Habit)

11. 77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. (Source: Forrester)

12. 90% of consumers say they expect consistency and continuity from a brand across channels. (Source: Microsoft)

13. 97% of global consumers say customer service is important in their choice of, and loyalty to, a brand. (Source: Microsoft)

14. 51% of B2B companies avoid vendors after a poor customer service experience, and 66% stopped buying completely. (Source: Zendesk)

15. 66% of customers said that they would spend more with a retailer for improved customer service. (Source: Salesforce)

16. Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain, and the rest churn. (Source: Kolsky)

17. Live chat support has a customer satisfaction rate of 73% – the highest of all customer service channels – with email at 61% and a low 44% for phone support. (Source: Econsultancy)

18. 55% of consumers say that easy access to support and information can make them fall in love with a brand. (Source: RightNow)

19. Even for a small support team of three people, implementing simple automation can save up to 600 hours — that’s an extra 25 days every year. (Source: Groove HQ)

20. 60% of consumers view a brand with a mobile-responsive self-service offering more favorably. (Source: 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report)

21. 90% of customer service decision-makers believe that delivering good customer service is critical to their company’s success. (Source: Forrester)

22. 50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves. (Source: Zendesk)

23. 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. (Source: Super Office)

24. 91% of customers surveyed said that they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs/questions. (Source: Coleman Parkes)

25. In a survey of more than 75,000 consumers, the number one most important factor in a customer’s loyalty was found to be reducing their effort; in other words, the work they have to do in order to solve their problem. (Source: Harvard Business Review)


As new trends in customer service and customer experience emerge, companies in every industry are taking stock of what they can do to improve. With such high importance placed on providing consistent, fast, and self-service support to customers, Zingtree decision trees are a powerful tool that can streamline and strengthen customer service.

With an interactive online format that can be hosted anywhere, interactive decision trees allow customers to quickly self-solve issues, find answers to questions, and schedule follow-ups, so they’re more likely to be happier and more loyal to your business.

Did we miss any important statistics or trends? Let us know in the comments below!

Infographic Update: How People Are Using Decision Trees

Last year, we introduced an interesting infographic to show just exactly how our customers are using their Zingtree decision trees. And, because new and updated information will always give a more accurate picture, we took the liberty of freshening it up a bit.

Since we initially “sprouted up” in late 2013, we’ve helped over 15,800 organizations everywhere to streamline support and business processes, build powerful sales funnels, help engage with customers, and a whole lot more. To put it in perspective, that’s more than double the number of organizations we had helped (to date) just last year.

Have you planted your tree yet?

5 Traits You Need to Be a Great Customer Advocate

At Zingtree, we take the time to be available to customers on a daily basis, whether the interactions are about new feature suggestions, questions about the possibilities or limitations of decision trees, or even just to stay within easy reach. Understanding that providing the right kind of customer support can lead to incredible relationships, ideas and growth have been fundamental in developing Zingtree.

Customer advocacy involves using a totally customer-focused support strategy and is important because it ultimately transforms loyal customers into ambassadors for your brand. When your representatives act as true customer advocates, the effect of customers acting as advocates for your business in return grows organically. We’ve seen it time and time again; actively listening to and being engaged with customers, and taking their ideas and issues to heart, comes back around to businesses in a big way.

Our experience with support has taught us that, while it may not be difficult to switch gears to a more customer-focused strategy, it requires a lot of prioritization and attention to detail in the long-run. That said, here’s what we’ve learned over the years for how to be an incredible customer advocate.

1. Responsiveness

When your customers have a question or issue, being prompt in your response is always key to starting off with a positive interaction. While speed shouldn’t be the most critical customer service metric your business is tracking actively, it contributes to the customers’ perspective that their inquiry is important to you (because it is!). Being quick on the draw with helpful, accurate information allows customers to gain more confidence in your company, leading to a much greater likelihood of an ongoing relationship with your brand.

2. Composure

Being calm, collected and easy to talk to is something that seems like it should come naturally to many people in customer service, but, in reality, doesn’t always. When support agents are able to find a natural and relaxed level of conversation, it really shows; coupled with the ability to communicate highly technical phrases in an understandable way, agents become unstoppable. Standardized scripts set in place to guide support reps through everyday interactions are the perfect way to ensure that every agent knows just what to say, and when to say it, so that customers always feel heard, understood and helped.

3. Adaptability

In the customer service field, no two days are exactly the same. Preparation, excellent (and ongoing) training, and custom scripting solutions are all in place to set customer service agents up for success, but being adaptable in new situations can be an incredible asset in times of uncertainty. Did someone discover a nasty bug in your software before the tech team? Is a customer feeling impatient about an order or a discontinued promotion? It’s important that support agents feel empowered and comfortable enough in a support situation to adapt to new or foreign scenarios.

4. Knowledge 

Having a deep understanding and breadth of knowledge where your products, services, and interdepartmental functions are concerned is always valuable to a customer. Customer-facing agents should be thoroughly trained on every facet of the company’s products and inner workings in order to provide the most helpful service possible. It’s inefficient to have to tap on the shoulder of every other department head just to answer a quick question and can be incredibly frustrating for customers to have to jump from agent to agent.

5. Proactivity

Do something for your customers before they even realize they want or need it done! When your business implements a system of proactive customer service, you’re effectively keeping customers in the loop (well in advance) when problems and notable updates arise, and are staying ahead of potential customer service failures. While proactive communication may not be possible for every scenario, when you anticipate or identify what can potentially go wrong and notify the customer early on, you boost the confidence that a customer has with your company.

 

The Best Ways to Make Customer Support Profitable

To the untrained eye, customer support is merely a means of communication and troubleshooting. Experts and strategic decision-makers, however, have seen the incredible impact that customer service can have in all areas of business — including improving revenue.

Your success as an organization relies on providing an exceptional experience throughout the entire purchase and post-purchase process; it’s so much more than just offering a support system. At Zingtree, having great support has been key to our success. In spite of the fact we have lots of information in the form of decision trees, articles, and our FAQ, over 90% of our new customers have interacted with us via email, chat or voice.

What it takes to actually deliver excellent customer service is simple: put your customers at the center of your business initiatives and take them into consideration before any decision is made. Once you figure out how to implement this magic formula into your day-to-day processes, you’ll be well on your way to making customer support a major profit-generator.

The Real Value of Customer Support

Heard any customer support horror stories recently? Poor interactions with customers happen more often than you’d think, and they have a direct negative effect on your annual revenue. According to a Gartner study, as much as 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company completely because of a single bad customer experience, and 51% said they would only try to reach support once before giving up on a purchase. These statistics in mind, your margin of error is incredibly small.

On the positive side of things, however, great customer support leads to a direct increase in annual revenue. So, if you can focus on how to make customer service better (for both your customers and representatives), you’ll be opening your doors to even more potential sales. Research from the Harvard Business Review has shown that “not only it is possible to quantify the impact of customer experience — but the effects are huge.”

After looking at two separate companies with different revenue models, and comparing customer feedback with data on future spending by customers, HBR found that “after controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases in the transaction-based business (for example, how often the customer needs the type of goods and services that the company sells), customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.”

In our own experience working with industry-spanning organizations large and small, we’ve also seen the effect that amazing customer support can have in all other areas of business; in fact, it’s a big reason why we started Zingtree to streamline the support process. So now that you understand the possibilities, what are some simple ways to improve support and make customer service more profitable?

Show Empathy & Understanding

At the end of the day, your customers are humans. Showing compassion for their problems, and taking the time to really understand the areas of disconnect, can go miles for brand loyalty. Put the customer first always, and bend the rules when and if you can — your customer will give your company extra kudos for being flexible, and will more than likely come back again and again.

Display Multi-Channel Support

What kind of documentation do customers expect? Knowledge base articles, tutorial and demo videos, blog posts, and live agent chats are just a select few different channels of support that many people search for. Offering multiple channels of support is the only way to discover the channels you truly need, versus the ones that may be more of a “nice-to-have.” With this information under your belt, it’s easy to remain in contact with your customers, as well as to weed out and remove the unnecessary support channels to save time and money.

Have a Fast Response Time

If you have a complex product or service or don’t have all of the available knowledge base material available online, chances are that customers will want to get in touch. Self-service support can only go so far with certain issues, so it’s incredibly important to offer other ways to talk to a representative; be it through live chat, a phone call or simple back-and-forth email communication.

Hire the Best People (And Train Them Well)

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: amazing customer service agents with exceptional training is absolutely necessary for a successful customer support strategy. And, the better your representatives are at helping customers, the more likely those customers are to make additional purchases! By taking the time to hire great people, and training them with the proper technical and soft skills, you’ll set up your support department to bring in more revenue than you thought possible.


Ready to get more from your customer support? Sign up or log in and start your first interactive decision tree!

The Visual Designer: Drawing Out Your Decision Tree

Everyone prefers their own way of creating, and it can come in many forms. To address this, we built Zingtree with a few different ways to design and construct an interactive decision tree.

For the more visual learner, the Zingtree Visual Designer allows you to draw out your decision tree. This “white board” style lets users to create nodes, along with their connections, and see the nitty gritty details of how the tree functions.

Here’s how to get started with the Visual Designer:

1. Once you log in to your Zingtree account and start Designer, you’ll see a screen that looks like the one shown below, with one node already in place as a green box. This is the very first node your users will see and interact with.

2. Click on Node #1, and you’ll see an edit window pop up on the right hand side. You can edit the Title, Question and main Content segments to your liking.

3. Drag new nodes into the design area – these correspond to the pages in your decision tree. Again, select the green box to edit each node’s Question, Content, etc.

4. When you’re ready, add a Final Answer Node and edit to fit your needs. These will appear in blue, to differentiate from your green Question Nodes.

5. Continue to create these Questions & Answer Nodes by dragging new nodes into the design area, and then connect them using labeled arrows. The connecting arrows represent the button selections from each node.

6. Finish linking all of your nodes using this method, and you’ll end up with a finished product that looks something like this image below. Often times, Zingtree users only use this mode as a way of assembling their decision trees. Please keep in mind that things can get confusing for more complex trees that require more nodes.

For a more in-depth tutorial, watch this video to see how to build the example tree above using Zingtree Designer:

 

 

To view more ways of building your decision trees, check out our Zingtree Design Tutorials.