Zingtree Tags: improve customer support

Amazon’s Annual Report – What Growing Business Can Learn From It

Amazon recently released its Annual Report for the past fiscal year, effectively making piles and piles of useful data and findings available to the public in one convenient package. Along with obvious growth, there were also some marked difficulties during the year that made an impact on the company’s current and future operations.

As Zingtree continues to grow, we’re always looking out for the best ways to optimize what we’re doing – often using our own decision tree toolkit. And, while our company may not be raking in billions of dollars like Amazon (yet), their key takeaways are something that any business can (and should) learn from.

Amazon Risk Factors and Obstacles in 2018

1. Channel expansion and high-growth pains.

Scaling and diversifying can present issues of complexity in a business’ operations. According to the report, “This expansion increases the complexity of our business and places a significant strain on our management, personnel, operations, systems, technical performance, financial resources, and internal financial control and reporting functions.”

2. The risks of international operations.

Expanding into new international markets is an exciting step, especially when revenue trends start pointing in the right direction. However, factors such as business licensing, regulations on eCommerce, cultural barriers, currency, and access to the internet can cause hurdles and risks during growth.

3. Optimization of data & fulfillment centers.

Properly housing and protecting data is a hot topic for good reason. As more data is being collected, its storage and privacy are more important (and more threatened) than ever. According to the report, “If we do not adequately predict customer demand or otherwise optimize and operate our fulfillment network and data centers successfully, it could result in excess or insufficient fulfillment or data center capacity, or result in increased costs, impairment charges, or both, or harm our business in other ways.”

4. Seasonality and holiday strain.

Certain seasons always see more booming business than others, and it’s not just Amazon that feels it – in the United States especially, that season just so happens to be around the year-end holidays. During this time, demand is up, up, up, along with the amount of shipping, site traffic, and extra customer service and support staff that’s often needed. Planning well ahead to better forecast issues around the holidays is the best way to tackle this.

5. Rapidly evolving business model.

Growth is always a great thing, but growing too rapidly comes with its own set of challenges that even Amazon has faced recently. The need for increased and more efficient technology, maintaining and growing stock value, and improving the way customers discover and research products, are all huge factors to keep in mind during growth.

6. Government regulation.

Legislation has its hand to play in how businesses operate, and eCommerce companies like Amazon in particular need to take consideration in every facet of their organization. This includes making sure you’re following the rules when it comes to data protection (i.e. GDPR), energy consumption, taxation, and online payments – all necessary regulations to enforce.

Read the full Amazon Annual Report here.

Check out a great summary of the report on BigCommerce here.

As Zingtree continues to grow as a company and product, we’re looking forward to discovering new uses of our toolkit to streamline internal workflows, improve customer service strains, adhere to governmental regulations, enhance data collection, and optimize business processes. Interactive decision trees are an amazing, versatile tool that has allowed us to minimize growing pains while always providing customer support when it’s needed.

Take a look at our decision tree examples to see what amazing use-cases can help to improve your company during growth! Have any questions? Our team is here to help any time you need it.

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.

 

8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Support Game

Your support team is the first (and often only) point of contact between you and your customers. In reality, they hold one of the most important roles in your entire business. The bottom line is that a positive customer experience is defined by the skill, quality and knowledge of the support they receive.

So, how can you strengthen support efforts and improve your business overall? Here are some of our best tips for boosting how you serve your customers, and improving your internal customer support in the long-term.

1. Help Customers Help Themselves

It’s proven that people today aren’t thrilled with more traditional support methods, like calling your company up on the phone or sending in an email. Creating and maintaining an up-to-date knowledge base of information online, along with tutorials, FAQs and other valuable resources, allows your customers to proactively search for answers to the questions they may have and effectively self-serve their own needs.

2. Create Active Communities

In many cases, businesses are finding that creating actual communities online has been a powerful way to engage customers. By providing them with exclusive resources, updates, sneak peeks and contests, you’ll build up better rapport with your active community members, allow customers to communicate with each other to solve problems, and help improve your presence online.

3. Communicate Like People

Even though digital is really the way to go, at the end of the day your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, too. Offer up easy ways to get in contact, whether it be through email, phone or live chat capabilities. Social media is also a valuable tool to keep in touch with customers, help answer questions, and share updates on your business (and the people within it!) in general.

4. Take Advantage of Helpful Visuals

Words can sometimes get in the way, especially when dealing with visual learners and more complicated issues. Using the help of annotated screenshots, tutorial videos, how-to GIFs and other images to communicate a message makes things easier for everyone. Not only are visuals nice to look at, they are experts at conveying information, directions and context to a customer better than text alone.

5. Start Engaging Employees

If you’re running a business with a staff of employees at hand, be sure you’re paying them enough attention. You can have the best skills and support training in the industry, but if your agents aren’t happy or motivated, it won’t mean a lot. Getting your support staff energized and engaged with their role (and with helping others) is a great way to make sure customers have positive experiences all around!

6. Build Personalized Experiences

Your main support channels, like your support staff, are extensions of your company and brand as a whole. Having a support experience that feels out of place in association with your core message, product or service offering can throw customers off. Make sure that your knowledge base and other channels of information are customized and personalized to make your customers feel right at home.

7. Give Agents Custom Scripts

Once you find your magic formula for customer phone calls, you will be amazed what it can do to improve the effectiveness of your support staff and the happiness of your customers. Standardized agent scripts are a super easy way to guide reps through a natural, productive conversation and make sure customers are feeling heard, getting help and leaving the interaction worry-free. And management can see the various pathways that agents take through these scripts too.

8. Offer Always-On Access

In the digital age, it’s possible to give 24/7 support access to your customers without paying staff for any overtime. Building interactive, customer support decision trees and troubleshooters based on knowledge base data makes it incredibly easy to provide help to your customers across any or all areas of your business, even when no one is available to help one-on-one.

Companies that integrate Zingtree troubleshooters into their customer support processes have seen, on average, a 20% overall reduction in support cost and a measurable improvement in the number of tickets coming in.

Ready to improve your customer support efforts? Get started with Zingtree today!