6 Customer Service Influencers Give Their Best Advice

Customer service influencers

Jim Rohn, a well-known entrepreneur and speaker, once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Think about those five people… are any of them customer service experts?

Chances are, probably not. Hopefully, they’re rockstars, celebrities, and athletes. If so, let’s hang out!

Anyway, while you may not be able to spend time with the customer service influencers on this list (or those rockstars and athletes you want to be like), you can still learn from them and turn them into your mentors.

To help you do just that, we’ve asked 6 of the top customer service influencers on the web to answer 9 frequently asked customer service questions.

6 Top customer service influencers answer common questions Click To Tweet

Ready to learn? Let’s dive in.

#1: Bill Quiseng (@billquiseng)

Bill Quiseng

Bill Quiseng is a B2C customer service influencer and frequently tweets about customer experience.

Bill, what is the hardest problem in a relationship between customers and companies?

Companies believe that the end goal is satisfied customers.

With that in mind, companies focus on the transaction. They create journey maps to ensure that, at every touchpoint, the customer transaction is consistent and effortless. They believe that, with expectations met, the customer will be satisfied.

But satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers.

If the product and services are similar between several competitors, customers will be more loyal to the company that makes them feel important and special, not just as another customer.

So your value to the customer is in the interaction, not the transaction.

Think RELATIONSHIPS!

Your value to the customer is in the interaction, not the transaction says @billquiseng Click To Tweet

Formilla’s Input

How many times have you worked with a customer and just tried to “get them out the door”, so to speak?

While it can be tempting to see these people as merely a part of your transactions, you have to remember who’s on the other end of that phone or live chat.

The easiest solution? Treat your customers how you’d like to be treated. 

What are the best ways to measure customer loyalty?

Customer loyalty is directly proportional to the positive feelings customers have about the company.

To that end, to drive customer loyalty, companies shouldn’t try to get into the customer’s heads. Instead, get inside their hearts.

Create an emotional connection.

Companies need to understand and educate their employees that there is a difference between taking care of a customer and caring for the customer. Know the difference and deliver the latter.

So, the only survey question to measure customer loyalty is…

“Did you feel that the Associate cared about you?” Yes or no.

Formilla’s Input

What a powerful one question survey!

So, how do you create emotional connections with your customers to get a resounding YES to this question?

Genuinely listen to what they’re about, how they started their business, or why they’re interested in your product or service.

Let me give you a real-life example…

Just the other day, Zack, co-founder of Formilla.com, was telling me how a quick customer support call turned into a lengthy conversation with a fellow entrepreneur about how he started his eCommerce store, how he came up with the idea, the early success he had, and how they exchanged tips about different marketing strategies.

What started as a simple question or customer support call turned into a 30-minute conversation and ultimately a genuine connection with a customer.

#2: Steve Curtin (@enthused)

Steve Curtin

Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary and a fan of exceptional customer service.

Steve, how do you scale customer support? Should you scale it?

Of course, you can outsource customer support to a third party.

I have a bias, however, toward providing customer support internally.

Scaling internally can benefit from self-service options (such as website FAQs, mobile apps, and self-serve kiosks).

Everything I’m currently reading suggests that a growing percentage of customers prefer robust self-service options to execute transactions, locate information, and answer questions.

However, the danger with self-service options (due to the allure of lower labor costs) is that companies will abdicate the responsibility for customer service to the customer.

I like to remind companies that, as they begin to adopt/expand self-service options, self-service does not mean no service.

Offer self-customer service, but don't rely on it says @enthused Click To Tweet

If you buy into Net Promoter Score (NPS) – and I do – then you’ll find that highly-satisfied customers (i.e., promoters) have several attributes in common, including:

All of these attributes correlate with loyalty and retention as opposed to disloyalty and defection.

So, the corollary to dissatisfied customers defecting for a host of reasons, such as poor value for price paid, rude service, poor quality, etc., is that highly-satisfied customers will stay for the opposite reasons: good value for price paid, excellent service, excellent quality, etc.

Formilla’s Input

Well said, Steve! We couldn’t agree more. In fact, we’ve covered a lot of the same topics in our post on the cost of bad customer service.

For example, we found that 58% of customers will never use a company again after a bad experience and 80% of people will not complete a transaction due to poor customer service.

The post then goes on to talk about how to avoid these pains with tips to provide excellent service.

Note: If you’re curious about Net Promoter Score, check out Roy Atkinson’s answers at the end – we go into more detail there.

#3: Dan Gingiss (@DGingiss)

Dan Gingiss

Dan Gingiss is the author of Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media and host of the Focus on Customer Service podcast.

Dan, what person (or company) has had the most influence on you in regards to customer service, and why?

Shep Hyken, because of his wealth of knowledge about customer service and because he is such a prolific content creator.

Several times every week I read an article or blog or “top articles” newsletter, or listen to a podcast from Shep, so I’m always learning something from him. His common-sense approach to putting the customer first and keeping things simple makes him a must-follow customer service and social media influencer.

@Hyken is an awesome customer service resource says @DGingiss Click To Tweet

If you could choose just one, what online resource would you recommend for anyone serious about providing excellent customer service?

The weekly #custserv Twitter chat hosted by Marsha Collier, Greg Ortbach, Al Hopper, and Roy Atkinson is one of the longest-running Twitter chats and continues to draw dozens of customer service leaders and practitioners every week. It’s a great way to learn from the experts while sharing your own experiences and best practices.

Formilla’s Input

We couldn’t agree more. I’ve personally participated in the weekly chat, and it’s full of great people providing valuable insights. It’s every Tuesday at 9 PM eastern time.

If you didn’t know about it, TweetChat is a great way to follow along with the chat – just type in #CustServ and you’ll be there.

Oh, and Shep Hyken is a great guy. He’s had a massive influence on the Formilla blog. I highly recommend checking out his blog and his great YouTube channel.

#4: Matt Dixon (@Matthewxdixon)

matt-dixon

Matt Dixon is the co-author of three powerful customer service books: The Challenger Sale, The Challenger Customer, and The Effortless Experience.

Matt, in your experience, what would you say is the biggest challenge most teams or companies have with customer service? Where do you think startups and SMBs should put their focus in the beginning?

I would say that the big mistake most companies make is being overly “assumption lead” in how they build their service organizations.

Companies assume all sorts of things about what they think customers want–for instance, that customers want to be delighted, that they want channel choice, that they want a consistent service experience, that they’d prefer to talk to a live representative, or that they want to interact with empathetic reps.

When we test these assumptions with data, we find that they’re often wrong.

The issue is that once you make investments and build a service organization based on these assumptions, it becomes very hard to undo things.

So, my advice to SMBs and startups would be the old adage of “measure twice, cut once.”

You’ve got a fresh opportunity to build a service organization back from what customers really want… so, go figure out what your customers really want and build off of that, not off of erroneous assumptions about customer preferences.

Assumptions about customer service are often wrong says @Matthewdixon Click To Tweet

Formilla’s Input

One of the best ways to find out what your customers want is through surveys.

Real life example: We recently surveyed our blog readers to find out what they wanted to learn more about on the Formilla blog.

Here’s what we found: 74.42% of respondents are interested in learning how to drive traffic to their websites and how to effectively convert leads into paying customers.

We’ve been writing about customer service because we assumed that’s what our readers wanted. We’re not going to ignore these results – we’ll be writing more about online marketing and driving traffic going forward.

Don’t make assumptions – ask your customers what they want directly through email blasts, surveys, direct one-on-one phone calls, or via social media. Then, deliver on those results.

#5: Adrian Swinscoe (@adrianswinscoe)

Adrian Swinscoe

Adrian Swinscoe is a London-based marketing and business consultant with a passion for improving his client’s customer service.

Adrian, if you could recommend one resource to learn more about customer service, what would it be and why?

I wouldn’t recommend just one site or person. I think the key is to look for and learn from diverse sources and opinions. There is, after all, not just one way to deliver great service; there is only the best way for you and your customers.

Don't just listen to one customer service guru or service - expand your learning says @adrianswinscoe Click To Tweet

That said, here are some writers/authors/thinkers I like:

Directly related to customer service

General business knowledge/thinkers

Formilla’s Input

We love a lot of the resources Adrian mentioned. We also really enjoyed Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos)’ book, Delivering Happiness.

#6: Roy Atkinson (@RoyAtkinson)

Roy Atkinson

Roy Atkinson is a senior writer/analyst for HDI and ICMI. He frequently tweets about customer service and specializes in tech support.

What customer support metrics should you aim for?

You shouldn’t be aiming for specific metrics. As I have said elsewhere, the metric is not the goal; the metric is a milepost to measure progress toward your goal. The goal should always be a business outcome.

Metrics are not your goal. Outcomes are your goal says @RoyAtkinson Click To Tweet

While you shouldn’t set metric goals,

First contact resolution – What percentage of total contacts are resolved on the first try?

Wait time or time in queue – How long are customers left on hold or in limbo waiting for a response on a call or in a chat session before the agent picks up or responds? We need to staff appropriately so that customers aren’t left waiting for long periods.

Handle time – Not because shorter handles are cheaper, but because we should be respecting the customer’s time.

Formilla’s Input

While those three support metrics are definitely important, there are several more you can keep tabs on. For more info on customer service metrics, check out our post about how to avoid bad customer service.

Is the Net Promoter Score® worth paying attention to? What are the pros and cons of using it?

For those of us in medium to large businesses, we’ve heard a lot about the Net Promoter Score®. What’s your opinion on it?

I have some reservations about using only the Net Promoter Score®, which is intended as a predictor of customer loyalty. It requires us to remove “Passives” – and I believe that these are the very people we should be talking to to find out why we were not quite good enough. Their feedback can be very valuable.

Because it’s based on a single question, however, it can be used in conjunction with a traditional customer satisfaction survey (CSAT), which should be short and should not place too much emphasis on the individual agent.

NPS® can also be used in conjunction with the single-question Customer Effort Score, which asks how easy or difficult it was for the customer to get the issue resolved.

Formilla’s Input

For those of you who don’t know, Net Promoter Score® is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It’s used to gauge the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.

It looks like this:

Net Promoter Score

Basically, unless your customer ranks you as a 9 or 10 out of 10, they’re unlikely to promote your brand. It’s a useful tool for measuring how many highly satisfied customers you have, but as Roy said, it’s only one way of doing things.

Conclusion

Let’s recap. What have we learned?

  • Focus on building relationships with your customers. Don’t simply view them as transactions, but rather, as interactions to make you both better off.
  • Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Ask them!
  • While customer support metrics are important to track, you shouldn’t let them get in the way of providing great service.
  • Customer service is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Diversify yourself to learn from multiple resources.
  • Check out the Net Promoter Score®, but don’t rely solely on any one report.

Don’t ever let your business grow stale. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Keep learning new things and surround yourself with the best to take advantage of being the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I’d like to give one final thank you to all six contributors for making this post a reality. Be sure to follow them on social media!

I’d also like to give a shout out to a few honorable mentions, who you should follow as well!

What customer service experts did we miss? Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • elizabethskipper

    Great post with useful insights, but it’s 2017 – could you maybe include some women?

    • I totally agree! We had reached out to four women as well but didn’t get enough responses before publishing the article. We appreciate the candid feedback and will push harder to make our posts more inclusive. Cheers.