At Botsify, we make chatbots for websites. The goal with the technology we provide our users isn’t simply to automate previously slow and manual tasks. Instead, the goal of our software is to make the customer’s experience interacting with a company more enjoyable. Imagine no more wait times, a more thorough understanding of your problems, and no chat agents dealing with 5 customers at the same time.
Essentially, the goal of our technology is to help companies improve their Customer Experience (CX). Over the coming months, we’ll be interviewing thought-leaders in the CX space in a quest to better educate you, our blog reader, about how to make your own company more competitive through the use of creative CX strategies.
Let’s jump into the interview below.
Thanks so much for speaking with us today Kate. We absolutely love your whole concept and approach - which focuses a lot on company morale and practical strategies. You’ve really been able to get into the deepest workings of a company’s internal structure, and pick it apart and debunk myths about how a CX should be executed from the inside out. Have you yourself ever been one of those team members inside the company, delivering a part of the CX?
Yes. Before starting my own business 30 years ago, I worked in delivering customer service and then in designing improved customer experience.
In the descriptions of your workshops, you often mention that you deliver “no fluff” in your trainings. What are some examples of common “fluff” you see? Is that fluff mostly centered around the training themselves, or the CX strategy?
I see common fluff in both CX training and in strategy for delivery. By common fluff I mean simply stating the evident things every customer wants from us and never going deeper in the training and the strategy on how to actually deliver it. For example, everyone knows that customers want courtesy, great listening, a sense of urgency, clear communication, personalized service, engaging activities, easy-to-use digital interactions, and follow-through. I teach how to actually do that. For instance, courtesy is defined differently in different parts of America and of course in different countries. So it isn't enough to say to employees be courteous face-to-face or line or to tell customers that you are courteous. You must dig in and use specifics. I could go on and on yet I think this example illustrates the difference between fluff and substance.
Most of the people reading this blog are entrepreneurs with online businesses. Of course, that means they work with all variations of IT. And it’s true that sometimes IT folks get a reputation for not having the same interpersonal skills that someone on the frontlines might have. Furthermore, it’s often thought that they aren’t necessary to the overall customer experience. You downright debunk this myth. In fact, you have a fascinating, very relevant workshop that focuses on how the IT department can, and must be, included in CX. Could you tell us some major highlights from that idea?
In this 'everything digital' age, saying that IT isn't necessary to CX is ludicrous. IT professionals have both tremendous knowledge and a willingness to make IT work for the business. I used to work in IT and although I had a different personality type than most IT staff, I learned much about them. Because of that I have taught customer service people skills to ITers for many years. They are just as surprised to learn how non-IT staff think as non-IT staff are with how IT staff think. The training that I offer IT staff is all about showing them how non-technical employees and customers think, what's important to them, and how to respond to them with more success.
I admit I got a bit of a chuckle when, in the above IT workshop’s description, you say that you teach how to “stop email wars”. Of course, this is something every company team member has experienced firsthand. But considering email wars are something deeply internal, and personal amongst the individuals involved, how is that related to CX? Are there any other surprising components like this one, that business owners often miss, that affect the quality of the customer experience?
Great question! Any internal communication trouble and wars affect customers because they delay results to the customers. Many times the email wars actually confuse people internally and faulty answers are given to customers. So follow this customer service experience rule: "Work together with clear communication, resolve problems, and deliver the best to customers. Wars don't serve the customers."
In your focus on teamwork, you mention that one of the best ways to get a highly functioning team is to recognize and address all different personality types, which is described in your workshop called Quick Spot & Adapt. I can really see how this would help a team function smoothly. Is there one particular personality type within a team that you find the most challenging to address? What are some signs that type’s behaviors are causing disruptions within the team, and, ultimately, within the customer experience?
You ask the most common question: Which personality type causes the most trouble on a team? If you ask this question to team members, they will each give you a different answer because each personality type finds another type to be most challenging. In truth, the personality types themselves don't cause the trouble. Misunderstandings and resistance to adapting to different types causes the trouble. That is why I teach "Quick Spot & Adapt". It is enlightening to all and easy to learn. Then all it takes is the desire to adapt to types and teams can deliver great CX. The bonus of all this is team members can spot customer types even in online live chats and adapt accordingly. Double win!!
In your workshop about leading morale, you address something undeniably essential for a smoothly operating business: leadership. In this description, I just love the line that says “morale is the very pulse of employee performance.” I couldn’t agree more. What are some red flags that your team’s morale is getting low? What can a leader do to boost it back up again, and keep it there, so the CX is not affected?
Red flags: People not talking to each other, lots of mistrust, not sharing information, covering their steps, low enthusiasm, doing the minimum effort, loads of complaining without offering solutions etc... As for what leaders can do: First and foremost lead morale every day so it doesn't sink. Be the model of open communication, respectful interactions, and accountability for your own actions and mistakes. Secondly, recognize and applaud individual talents, highlight how those talents contribute to business success, and show how the talents combine as a team. Lastly, engage their ideas, show them how to discuss and disagree without attacking each other, and above all address behavior issues. If you let bullying behavior (even the passive aggressive kind) go unchecked, morale will crumble as you hide from your leadership responsibilities. Morale is all about dignity and feeling equally important. If you let some disdain others, morale evaporates.
Seeing as the readers of this blog are running their businesses through online platforms, they’re looking to use progressive, innovative strategies such as yours in ways that are conducive to their needs. In terms of keeping up morale and a strong team feeling, what are your tips for online businesses to connect with their remote workers and keep everyone beating in the above mentioned “pulse” of employee performance?
I love this question! #1 Don't call them "remote" workers. All workers are virtual and work in different locations. To those working outside of the "main" office, they hear the word "remote" as "less important." #2 With all the technology today, it is quite easy to interact face-to-face and nobody has to feel "remote" or disconnected. #3 Have team building activities online with everyone preferably at the start of the week. Do ice breakers, inspirational thoughts to start the week, and perhaps end-of-week achievements. #4 Make sure communication and status flow every day. Feeling isolated and left in the dark ruins morale. People want to feel successful and that means great communication, teamwork, and problem solving.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in converting the real-world applications of CX into online ones, and do you believe this is where the future is headed?
It's clear that online CX is the real world today. Online CX has all the challenges of face-to-face PLUS the challenges of not seeing people's body language and emotion levels (until their angry.) The biggest online CX challenge is in anticipating all the expectations customers have, designing for them, and delivering on them. It takes significant coordination and collaboration with all the business teams to deliver on it. Every single aspect from the design of the app/website, the clarity of the details, the payment and refund process, handling errors, addressing exceptions, and improving the app/website take strategic, transactional, and technical skill. Lastly, online CX trouble can explode when it hits social media. So make sure you have a trouble team that knows how to respond really well to trouble and address negative social media with positive accountability and great integrity. Never demean, accuse, or blame a customer -- especially on social media!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with our blog readers today Kate. We really appreciate it! To our readers, if you’re interested in learning more about Kate and the work she does you can follow her on Twitter or head over to her website here.