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How Diverse Takes on Client Service can Produce Quality Results

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When researching the possible ways to improve customer service, we always get a checklist of things that have to be constantly improved. Shorter response times, no queues, simple language, handling several chats at a time, round the clock service – these list can go on and on.

What if I told you, that going for the same customer service metrics as every other company won’t necessarily produce the same results?

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Recently, we set out to prepare a new edition of our Customer Happiness Report. When researching customer satisfaction, we stumbled across data that seemed to contradict itself.

At one side, we had companies that were quick on the trigger – ready to help within mere seconds after receiving a chat message. On the other side, we had companies that got longer first response times and much longer chat times.

What these companies shared was the great customer satisfaction scores. What these companies didn’t share was the industry they represent.

Different industries, and consequently audiences, will prioritize different aspects of the customer experience.

For example, the retail industry is all about relatively quick and short chats. Retail clients don’t ask many questions during chat – usually a couple of answers will do the trick, setting the average chat length at just under 12 minutes. When we take a look at the same statistic for the wholesale industry. it would seem that clients buying wholesale ask a lot more questions. The average chat time in the wholesale industry is nearly two times longer than in retail (an average of 22 minutes 23 seconds).

What’s most important is the fact that both these industries managed to get relatively similar average customer satisfaction ratings (86.2 percent for retail and 87.5 percent for wholesale).

The most extreme pair we found was the Games / Gambling sector and the Web Hosting industry.

Games / Gambling is one of the industries where you really don’t have to wait for an answer. On average, you can get a question answered within 40 seconds. Which is about 20 seconds faster than the overall average.

This, along with relatively short chats (just below 11 minutes), shows that customers in the Games / Gambling industry don’t like to wait and expect the fastest service. This amazing speed is rewarded with high customer satisfaction rating of 90.9 percent.

The Web Hosting industry promotes a mellow, steady approach to the service they provide. With first response time of 1 minute and 30 seconds and chats lasting 24 minutes on average. You would expect that these companies get terrible customer satisfaction ratings. However, hosting companies scored above average 88.4 percent customer satisfaction.

Choose What Your Customers Want

Depending on the industry you represent, you might want to reconsider your customer service priorities. If you push too hard for quick response times when your clients don’t expect them. You might actually get worse ratings.

If you are not sure about which metrics are important for your business, you should check out the full Customer Happiness Report for 2014. It offers commentary on 24 major industries. The report is available for free, no need to register.

You might also want to check out the Customer Service Benchmark we released a couple of weeks ago. The benchmark updated monthly and offers more precise data on customer service metrics and trends for specific company profiles.

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Considering Starting Over? What No One Tells You about Changing Careers

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Changing jobs is hard enough, but changing careers? That’s a giant leap into unchartered territory.

During my decade-long career in marketing, I’ve considered doing everything from working in an animal shelter to trying my luck as a professional book reviewer (I haven’t ruled out either of those things, yet).

Staying in the same role for more than five years may have once been the norm, but over the past 15-20 years the job market has changed considerably. In fact, research has shown that career changes are happening more than ever before and not just that, but people are significantly happier when they’ve taken the plunge to pursue their passion.

There are many misconceptions surrounding career change, so what do you need to know to take the next step? Here are some of the things we don’t get told often enough when making the decision to follow a new career path.

It’s Never Too Late To Change

At the age of 35, former Air Force Officer Eddie Reece returned to graduate school to study community services. Unhappy with the many roles he had taken on throughout his life, he needed a career change and in his mind, it was now or never.

“My main motivation to change careers was that I knew in some way that what I was doing wasn’t really me”

Eddie says, “many of my career choices were driven by the desire to make a lot of money… but I would find myself unhappy and want a change.”

The myth that changing careers is a luxury reserved only for the younger generations continues to persist, despite little evidence to support it. In fact, a recent article on PayScale suggests that 82% of adults aged 47 and over are successful in their quest to change careers, with 87% saying they were very happy with the new direction.

As we get older, our priorities change and our mindset can shift. Your career goals at age 20 versus when you’re 40 are completely different, so it makes sense to consider different career options at different stages of your life.

Be Prepared To Learn – A Lot

You may be an expert in your field, having spent years building a reputation and the respect and admiration of your colleagues. But once you switch careers, you may no longer be at the head of every board meeting, so it’s important to let go of any ego you may have about your past career and treat this like a new adventure.

There’s a steep learning curve involved in transitioning from one career to another, not just in learning new skills, but also the different expectations that come with your new role. There may be aspects that are easier, but some things will also be more challenging. Learning can be a very exciting and rewarding experience, so stay humble and you’ll certainly reap the rewards.

Fear Shouldn’t Stop You From Doing What You Truly Want To Do

Transitioning into a completely different industry and role can seem frightening, but once you’ve done it, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.

“I had to learn what really mattered to me”, says Eddie of his career change,

“living my life more authentically and working in a job that truly satisfies me in so many ways are just some of the payoffs of being in a career that fits the person I’ve become. It’s so much easier to go to work, and it doesn’t even feel like work.”

Your career isn’t everything, but being unhappy in your job can affect other areas of your life.

Don’t Get Caught Up In All The Advice

Well-meaning friends and family may have plenty of advice to give, but too much advice can make the decision making process more overwhelming. Of course, talking to your loved ones about your dreams is important and it can certainly be nice to hear their input but you also don’t want to lose sight of your own goals.

This is also true of those articles that tell you which career is the most stable, or what the happiest jobs are remember that these are often based on various factors that may or may not apply to you. Only you know what will make you happy in the long-term.

If you really want to talk to someone about a career change, make contact with the people who are doing the job you want to do, in the industry you want to work in. Ask them the tough questions and shadow them if you can. The advice they give will provide you with the most crucial information to help you decide if the move is right for you.

Fortunately, career pivots are not only possible, but quite common today. Just ask Eddie: Who has spent the last 25 years working as a psychotherapist; business consultant and writer, while running his own counselling practice helping others live better lives?

“The drive to change careers was an emotional one that came from unresolved emotional issues. Once I worked on those, choosing the right career and staying with it was easy.”

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Why Do I Need a Financial Advisor?

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Everyone wants to improve their financial situation. Everyone wants to protect the assets they have and make the most of the opportunities those assets afford them. But in today’s economic climate, doing so is more complex than ever before.

That’s where financial advisors enter the picture. A financial advisor, such as Oak Street Investments in Denver, is there to help you manage your assets, plan for your future, and live your best life financially.

Read on to learn more about what financial advisors offer and how you might benefit from the services they provide.

Tax Imbalances

If you finish each year owing money to the IRS, you’re probably already aware that you need to make some changes in your finances. But if you receive a refund every year, the problem may be going unnoticed. People enjoy getting tax refunds, and its fun to spend your little unexpected surplus on a treat for yourself or your loved ones.

In fact, however, your goal should be to pay exactly the right amount of taxes each year. You don’t earn any interest on the balance you overpay to the US government, and if you’d had that money sitting in an account all year, it could have been working for you. So if you’re finishing up the fiscal year far off the mark in either direction in terms of your taxes, seek the help of a financial advisor. They can get you back on track.

Understanding your Investments

No matter what you choose to do with your money, understanding your investments is crucial. If you’ve got money in the stock market, you need to know how to read the trends and trade wisely. If your money is a high interest account, you want to make sure you’re getting the greatest possible rate of return.

Working with a financial advisor can make an enormous difference here. Your financial advisor is experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to the area of investments, and they can help you find the right investments for your assets. When it comes to your money, you shouldn’t be flying blind. Let a professional help you get the most bang for your buck.

Planning for Retirement

No matter where you are in your career whether you’re a few years from retirement or just getting started it’s a good idea to be putting money away and to have a plan for the future. When you reach the end of your working years, you want to make sure you have enough saved to continue living comfortably. A financial advisor can help you achieve that goal. Not only that, they can also help you structure your retirement savings so that you might be able to hang up your hat a few years earlier than you’d planned! Getting ready for retirement can be overwhelming, but with a financial planner on your side, you’re halfway there.

Preparing for Down Markets

You never know when the economy is going to take a turn, and the last thing you want is to be caught unawares. That’s where a financial advisor can really help. You need to diversify your assets, ensuring that not all your eggs are in one basket. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have something to fall back on. Your financial advisor will help you divide your assets wisely and comfortably, and you can rest easy knowing you’ve got resources should troubled times arise.

Finances are a complicated matter, and it always helps to have someone educated and impartial to help you through the tangle. Reach out to a financial advisor and get started planning for the future you deserve.

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Accounting Tools Critical for Business Processes and Procedures

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An essential part of the success of any business is accounting – knowing how much money is being expended and how much is coming in. You need to make sure that your business is profitable, that you are bringing in more money than you have to spend to keep things running. But this is a complex question, and often it’s not easy to see a clear picture of the answer until well after the fact, when the money has already been lost.

The solution is to make sure your accounting, whether it’s done by a department, an individual, or just yourself – is both thorough and accurate. Adopt the following tools and practices to take your business’ accounting to the next level and ensure that things are running smoothly.

Establish Budgets and Stick to Them

It’s common for businesses to establish annual or semiannual budgets, and doing so is a good idea for a number of reasons. You’ll start out the year by planning how much money you intend to put into each of your business’ expenses, so it will be easier to keep track of and therefore, not exceed the amount you can afford.

When you build your budget, you should begin by looking at last year’s records. How much money did you spend, and how much did you bring in? Use these figures to project what the coming year will look like. Make a list of your business expenses. Can you trim the amount you’ve been spending in any areas? If so, you’ll give yourself the option to devote that money to another area of the business to stimulate growth, or to increase your profit directly.

An enterprise performance management (EPM) system can help you track your budget and ensure you keep to the plan. Living within your budget is a great way to make sure your business performs according to plan.

Utilize Cost Allocation

Cost allocation is a budgeting tool for those aspects of your business that do not have a concrete cost associated with them. Because it is difficult and sometimes impossible, to precisely forecast these costs, cost allocation is a tool that gives you a way to estimate. The ultimate goal of cost allocation is to spread the expense associated with a specific facet of your business appropriately, so the cost is borne in proportion by those departments or individuals who ought to be paying for it.

Track Financial Statements

In order to plan for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s important to keep track of how your business performed in the past. You should keep careful track of every financial statement, including – but not limited to – income, cash flows, and tax returns. You can take these papers to a professional accountant to help you analyze your finances, shore up weak spots, and prepare for the coming year. A good accountant, such as Nguyen CPA of Denver, can assist with many different aspects essential to managing the finances of your business:

  • Tax preparation
  • Budgeting and financing
  • Payroll management
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable

And, in many cases, much more.

Forecasting

Forecasting is a complex tool, but it can help you predict trends in the market and be prepared for what’s next in your industry. You can gain information by reviewing the history of your business itself as well as trends among your target demographic. It’s also a good idea to look at how your competitors are doing and compare their performance in the market to your own.

Having your accountant look over your books and make sure everything is in order is critical to the success of any business. Use the tools mentioned here to ensure that your bottom line is always met.

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