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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Drew Chamberlain from JOANN to learn the secrets to keeping up with the modern customer. As times change, so should CX. Tune in to learn how you can adapt in these modern times.
How CX has Changed Over the Years
In the old days of CX, the best an agent could do was to wait for a customer to call in and hope that they could answer their question with their limited tools. These interactions are more of a one and done situation where there wasn’t much a rep could do to delight the customer beyond just solving the problem on a surface level. The goal of CX is to be the customer’s hero and this is accomplished through adapting with your consumers. As time and technology progresses, leaders would be wise to grow as well and to implement new standards of excellence among their CX teams. Agents used to be limited to only using the phone as a way to talk with customers, but now a plethora of tools are available to provide the ultimate experience. “Somebody calls you, you’re there to help and you move on and that evolved to email and then social media and that’s continuing to grow, whether it’s chat or SMS or even self-help options.” Chat bots, email, social media, instant messaging are all available for agents to utilize in the digital era.
Are You Available for Your Customer?
Now that there are plenty of communication channels open for consumers, many leaders struggle to find the right channels that fit their clientele the best. Drew’s advice is to first, look internally and find processes that can be automated. If there’s a common question among customers that’s easily answered with a copy and paste response, that entire interaction can be automated. The next step is to find a system that will integrate all of your channels and customer information into one place. Agents will historically take the path of least resistance so having a common ground where all of the necessary information is readily available saves time, energy, and money.
Drew also explains how important it is to be on your customer’s preferred channel of communication. Once you figure out what processes can be automated, you have to then understand how customers are coming to you – how they’re communicating with you and how their demographic responds to different channels. If a customer is talking to you on social media but then they decide to call in and the agent has no knowledge about their previous interaction, according to Drew, you’ve already lost that customer. “My biggest fear in this segment is if you’re not available in the channel the customer wants, you lose that opportunity to help them, to be available.” Customers want to be on the same page and they want to feel like the brand has a holistic view of their needs.
Adapt with Your Customer Through Smart Technology
If AI was implemented years ago in CX, customers most likely would’ve shied away from using such technology because it wasn’t common in everyday life. Nowadays, AI is in our pockets, on our desks, in our homes, and at our fingertips. The more that people are familiarized with AI, the more comfortable they are when using it in business and CX interactions. “To me, it’s more about how you can provide service to your customers when your agents aren’t available, or when the questions are easy enough that it can be responded to quickly without having to engage one of your team members.” This is why AI is such a great option for the modern CX leader. It allows teams like never before, to be available at all times for their customers. Sometimes customers have questions in the middle of the night or at different time zones – with automated responses made through chat bots, your team can still deliver the ultimate experience and be a hero to the customer at all hours of the day. “The real win there is being able to provide that 24/7/365 support, as well as allowing your agents to really focus on those really challenging and difficult tasks.”
To learn more about adapting to the modern customer and integrating communication channels, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
Listen to “Are You Available for Your Customer? | How Great Companies Master Modern Customer Experiences with Drew Chamberlain” on Spreaker.
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Full Episode Transcript:
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Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody to today’s podcast, I’m excited to get rocking and rolling. We’re going to be talking about, are you available for your customer? How great companies master modern customer experiences. To do that, we brought on the Director of Operations and Customer Experience at JOANN. I’ve been bugging Drew Chamberlain for, what is it now, Drew? Two years? I think I’ve been kind of harassing you about random stuff.
Drew Chamberlain: (00:36)
That’s about right. Yeah.
Gabe Larsen: (00:38)
Random stuff, but really cool background. Really gets into, I think both, to me he understands, I think the customer experience side and the operations side, that title highlights it. Which I think is just so unique. Oftentimes that is in two different roles and gets the systems, the process, and I think kind of the NPS, the overall experience side. So I think we’ll have a fun conversation today. So Drew, thanks for joining us. How are you, man?
Drew Chamberlain: (01:03)
I’m good, man. Thanks for having me. You’re right. It’s been two years. We’ve been interacting back and forth and trying to get this together. I’m glad we finally connected.
Gabe Larsen: (01:11)
Yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve definitely found a bit of your past and some of the things you’ve done, other podcasts you’ve been on, I think it’s, you are a man of much wisdom. So I’m looking forward to parting with some of that today. Before we jump in, we’d love to just get a little more personal. Outside of work, anything you’re passionate about? Any hobbies, crazy things you’ve done that you want to maybe mention to the group?
Drew Chamberlain: (01:39)
Yeah. I mean, from a passion standpoint, I have collected and refurbished old school arcade machines for about 15 years now. Yeah, it’s crazy. It started as a passion project, right? Always had an affinity for video games and found something on Craigslist, fixed it up. But now it’s become a whole family ordeal. My daughters love old school video games and they’re always looking for new ones for us to buy and put back together and I have a whole basement full of them so it’s a lot of fun. I’m the coolest kid in the neighborhood at this point.
Gabe Larsen: (02:16)
So it is, it’s like, I mean, true, is this more like pinball machines or is this more like an Atari game?
Drew Chamberlain: (02:22)
Yeah, so I just got my first pinball machine. Those are a little harder to restore, but historically they’ve been like PacMan and Space Invaders. The standup, full-size, they’re like 400 pounds to carry around. I have no idea why I picked this as a hobby, but once you get them up and running, it’s a lot of fun. And we have friends all the time to play, but my daughters, again, they’re really into it. They haven’t really picked up the rehabbing part of it, but once they’re fixed, they love to sit behind them and play with them.
Gabe Larsen: (02:57)
Oh man! I wish you hadn’t said that, I would’ve asked like 10 more questions on that but I don’t want to spend too much time because I know our time is short. So if anybody else is interested, again, you might have to find Drew on LinkedIn.
Drew Chamberlain: (03:06)
Yeah. Reach out.
Gabe Larsen: (03:07)
So let’s do it. Let’s talk a little bit about this idea of modern customer experiences and maybe just start with the real big picture and tell me a little bit of some of your philosophies around how you have thought about really optimizing the customer experiences now and in your past.
Drew Chamberlain: (03:26)
Yeah, and I’ve been supporting customers, it feels like all my life, whether it was on the front lines in retail or eventually the last 25 years in call center and care center environments. But the real thing that’s changed over the years is how you show up for your customer. And it used to be, you just had to have a phone number, right? Somebody calls you, you’re there to help and you move on and that evolves to email and then social media and that’s continuing to grow, whether it’s chat or SMS or even self-help options. And that’s really, the thing is, today you have to be available through all these channels. My biggest fear in this segment is if you’re not available in the channel the customer wants, you lose that opportunity to help them, to be available.
Gabe Larsen: (04:19)
Oh, sorry. I wanted to click on that just real quick, because it seems like people debate, there is. There’s so many channels and they’re not sure where to go. And you start, all of a sudden, you find yourself on WhatsApp because you think it’s cool. How have you, or how would you coach companies to really find, what channels should they be on? How do you maximize that potential? You can’t possibly be on 75. So it’s sometimes like, where do you go there?
Drew Chamberlain: (04:44)
Yeah, absolutely. Well, obviously first you have to understand your customers, right? If your customer base lives strongly in the social environment, you need to show up in those channels to be able to support them. If your customers still prefer phone-based support, that has to be available. Obviously as people running care centers, we want to go to the areas that we’re optimized in that we have the best return on investment. But you have to understand that if you alienate the customer by not providing a channel that they’re looking for you at, you’re going to lose that customer completely. The trick here is that channels that you optimize in, you can try and lead people to that direction. But that doesn’t mean eliminating the channels that you’re not the best in are going to cost you more. Maybe you focus on email or chat, but you always have to leave that other channel out there, whether it’s phone or social in case the customer wants to contact you that way.
Gabe Larsen: (05:36)
Yeah. I think that’s so wise this channel thing. For a while there, I thought it was stopping, meaning we kind of maybe hit our max, but yeah. The WhatsApp, the Instagram, some of these social things that keep kind of evolving, it just is going –
Drew Chamberlain: (05:54)
I’ll tell you that the best tool is the one that can help you manage all those channels in one centralized location. It’s not, it’s a challenge to try and have five or six different tools to try and support your customers. You need to find that tool and that partner out there that can have all those channels in one. So whether it’s an individual agent that’s sharing information to other agents or one agent that’s multi-channel can answer all those, they have it right in front of them, that full 360 view of the customer.
Gabe Larsen: (06:23)
Yeah. Okay. Two follow-ups on that. The first one is, I still feel like there’s a little bit of confusion on kind of multi-channel versus omnichannel. Maybe just go a little further than that, because we can certainly respond on any channel we want, but as you kind of picture, if you could bring those into a single view for the agent, it changes things. Maybe click on that for a second.
Drew Chamberlain: (06:45)
Yeah, absolutely. In multiple roles I’ve had, some of the challenges that we’ve been presented with are that an agent may not have visibility into all the channels that a customer tried to reach out to us in. And so if your email is separate from your social and from your voice channels, a customer could channel hop and you could deliver maybe different answers to the same customer for the same question. You could solve the same problem multiple times and appease that customer three different ways and exceed what you’d want to do to resolve that issue. In that customer experience too, when a customer reaches out to you, regardless of the channel, they want to know that you know who they are, what their issue is, and how to resolve it. If they spoke to you over your social channels, and then they pick up the phone to call and you act like it’s an entirely new support situation, you’ve already lost that customer. That credibility is gone.
Gabe Larsen: (07:41)
Yeah, I think that’s so, I appreciate you bringing that up. I just think that’s still so pertinent to so many of our customer service interactions. And then the second question I wanted to ask is, it’s a buzzword, but you gave me that 360 view of the customer. It’s like, well, yeah. I have that. I go, I have my phone tree over here on screen one. And then I pop over to my name, CRM, Oracle or Salesforce. I’ve got that over here and I just have a different tab or different screen and I look up that person, like I have the 360 view. It’s just, I have 12 systems, right? Is that what you need? Or what do you mean by 360?
Drew Chamberlain: (08:18)
Yeah. You know as well as I do that an agent is going to go the path of least resistance. If it’s one system in front of them that they get the most information that they can use, that’s where they’re going to stay. And that means they miss out on information from another channel or answers that can help provide a solution for the customer, those things are going to be lost. And that’s why having a product that puts it all right in front of the agent without having to go to another tab, another window, without having to click on it. I can remember 15 years ago when I was taking inbound calls, there were two phones that I could click on. A red phone and a yellow phone. One was for closed calls, one was for open calls. I never clicked on them, ever. And I needed to because I could provide better support for my customer. If I knew there was an existing request for them, I could look at it and respond to it. But I didn’t because it took extra effort. If you have a tool in front of you that shows you on the screen you’re working on any outstanding items for that customer, leads you through that process and sets you through how to support them through the issues they’re requesting, man, you’re going to be that customer’s hero.
Gabe Larsen: (09:27)
I really think, it’s feeling like it’s more obvious, but boy, when I go about my daily business and buying and shopping, my wife just had an instance the other day. We’re just not there. What you’re talking about, for some it may seem obvious, but guys, we’ve not reached critical mass. So get on your tail and get going on it. All right. Let’s jump from omnichannel. You talk a lot about AI. This is another buzzword, but how can customer service leaders be thinking about AI? Should they? Are we still in a place where it’s like maybe learn about it but keep it, it’s a couple of years out?
Drew Chamberlain: (10:05)
Yeah. So artificial intelligence, AI, is definitely a buzzword. Definitely things that you’ll hear in promotional material. And to me, it’s more about how you can provide service to your customers when your agents aren’t available, or when the questions are easy enough that it can be responded to quickly without having to engage one of your team members. And whether that’s computer logic figuring out how to respond or whether you’re building a table that says, if this question’s asked, this answer is provided, the real win there is being able to provide that 24/7/365 support, as well as allowing your agents to really focus on those really challenging and difficult tasks. And the thing is, our customers have evolved. 10 years ago, if you said a robot’s going to answer your question, or you’re going to have to find your own answer, customers would have it, right? There’s no way. What do I pay you for? What are you there? You’re there to support me, right?
Drew Chamberlain: (11:04)
But today, because whether it’s technology in your hand in your cell phone, or just the way we’ve grown through how we interact with computers, people now expect it, right? They want to be able to self-serve and that’s again, having every channel available for your customer. I wish I could staff team members 24/7, but that’s just not possible today. It’s just too difficult. But customers want answers at midnight, at one in the morning. They want west coast time and east coast time and having a tool, whether it’s artificial intelligence or self-service that helps those customers with the majority of the requests that you’re going to get, it’s just going to get you that much further ahead.
Gabe Larsen: (11:46)
Where do you recommend that people start? I mean, I kind of liked your overview, but if I was just hearing this for the first time and it resonates with me, it’s like, especially 24/7, I feel like a lot of us are in that place where it’s like, hey, we have to have something after hours. And we’re having a hard time overseeing. How do you recommend people kind of just get going? Is it you focus on the chat area? Like get a chat and get smarter there? Or do you focus on that problem after hours? Or how would you start to think about the baby steps?
Drew Chamberlain: (12:19)
Yeah. So we have looked at it. First, you have to look within. Look at what types of requests you’re receiving and can you provide an answer, an automated response? And what I’ve done in the call centers that I’ve worked in is oftentimes we’ve built talk tracks or automatic scripts that we’re sending to customers, whether it’s over the phone or an email. We’re cutting and pasting, or putting it into our response. If it’s that same response every time, and that answers the customer’s requests, you can automate that. You can have artificial intelligence do that for you when your agents aren’t there to click the button and free them up. So the first thing you need to do is can your customers be supported that way, or a high percentage of your requests coming in, something that you could automate? Once you’ve figured that out, then what channels are they coming through? Obviously artificial intelligence is key for digital channels, whether it’s chat, email responses, even some social responses and direct messaging, private messaging, you can use some of that automated responses. But I would say, be honest about it. Let your customers know that you’re using a service to provide that answer. I wouldn’t try and fool somebody into thinking that it was a human response.
Gabe Larsen: (13:33)
That’s exactly right. I still run into that. I still run into that sometimes. There is, there’s this moment of like, trust loss that you’re like, “Oh. Is this a bot?” And I’m like, just say like this is the bot or you don’t have to like say this is Annie from whatever. I’m glad you threw that at the end because I’m like, look, just be authentic with me. It’s midnight, I’m tired, you’re tired.
Drew Chamberlain: (13:55)
Yeah. Just own it and make it cool. So our state of the art chat bot or our future technology is here to support you through this, but then leave that there that if need be, we’re always here to assist. Let them know that there’s always an escape plan. You don’t have to speak to the channel if you’re not comfortable with it. But what I have found is, once customers start to use tools like that, the key here is they have to get the right answer quickly the first time, then they’re bought in. If you don’t take the time to build the background for it and you’re not giving fully detailed answers or helping the customer through the experience, you’re going to lose them. They’re never going to want to go through that channel again.
Gabe Larsen: (14:39)
Yeah. So true. I really appreciate that. It’s right. I was talking to someone the other day and they were really struggling with the where’s my order question. They’re like, we’re just being bombarded by this kind of potentially simple requests that it’s like, that’s just a great place to maybe start your AI journey. Find that question that’s fairly simple. They can type in their order number. They can give some piece of information and it can just say, “Hey, it’s due Tuesday at six o’clock,” or whatever. And we don’t have to take that on the phone. We don’t have to take that. But identifying some of those potentially easy things that maybe reps don’t always have to answer, it’s a great place to start your AI journey. So, as we look to wrap here, Drew, I’m wanting to go just back, big picture. Certainly the pandemic has not been very fun for all of us. I say that with as much sympathy and empathy for those that are struggling, in and out of work or your businesses are struggling, but many customer service leaders have experienced this crazy surge and they didn’t know what to do. And some of that’s gone now. Others have had to find other ways to kind of keep their reps busy, et cetera. Any advice for kind of the different parties of customer service leaders that are hopefully coming out of this crazy situation, but moving into that next phase and really trying to kind of come out on top as leaders?
Drew Chamberlain: (16:01)
Yeah. And hopefully, these groups have already done this, but you have to leverage technology. If you’re using outdated technology, if you haven’t evaluated the technology you’re using, or even worse, if you’re not taking full advantage of the technology you have, you’re really cheating yourself. And that’s where you need to invest so that you are scalable. We talked about whether it’s artificial intelligence or an omnichannel having all of your channels in one area so that you can scale your team members, if you haven’t done that yet, you’re really selling yourself short and you’re hurting your customers.
Gabe Larsen: (16:40)
He said that nice. Get on your horse and get going everybody, seriously. Well, Drew, so fun to have you. I know our time is always short, but I really appreciate the punchy, action-driven explanations and advice for the group. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, or maybe ask a little more about your pinball machine or anything like that, anywhere you can direct them?
Drew Chamberlain: (17:04)
Yeah. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Drew Chamberlain. I’m at JOANN stores. Just connect with me there and we can always continue the conversation.
Gabe Larsen: (17:13)
Awesome. Alrighty. Well, hey. Again, appreciate your time, Drew, and for the audience, have a fantastic day.
Exit Voice: (17:25)
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