Bomgar and Cherwell are a powerful combo when it comes to integrated service management software and remote support technology, but this partnership isn’t the only thing they have in common. Both companies are also passionate about providing customer service that stands out from the rest. This passion has become such a part of our companies’ architecture, that Bomgar and Cherwell are both up for the Service Desk Institute IT Service & Support Award for Best Vendor Customer Service. Nothing like a little healthy competition between partners!
But before a winner is announced, we wanted to find out more about what it means to have excellent, stand-out customer service. Cherwell’s Simon Kent, Head of Customer Experience EMEA, and Bomgar’s Senior Vice President of Services and Support, Aramis Alvarez, share their thoughts below.
Q. What are things that make an organization’s customer service stand out?
Simon Kent (SK): Listening and responding. Unfortunately, organizations don’t always get everything right, but how an organization listens and responds to unplanned and negative experiences defines the customer-centric culture of an organization.
Aramis Alvarez (AA): Good customer service has to be more than a business model. It has to be a passion ingrained in everything you do, from architecting and building the product, to selling the product, to supporting and servicing it. It has to be part of your value system. At Bomgar, we are committed to providing the best customer service internally and externally. It can be witnessed in how we treat our employees, our owners, our managers, our society, and our customers.
Q. How do you connect with your customers?
SK: Every possible method – person to person, social media, email, self-service portal, community web site, conferences, customer advisory board, surveys. It is important to use the appropriate medium for the appropriate purpose. For instance, in the age of immediate technology based interaction, Cherwell still values the engagement of direct person-to-person speaking. Relationships play the most critical part in Cherwell’s business model.
AA: We encourage our customers who are looking specifically for support to reach out to us on our support portal, but we also get many questions in our online Community and social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook. More and more, it’s becoming impossible to dictate where customers will reach out to you for which reasons. You have to be prepared to respond to your customers wherever they are, however they choose to contact you.
Q. How do you ensure that you are offering above and beyond customer service at all times?
SK: Our ‘Voice of the Customer’ program, run by our Customer Relations team, provides a mechanism that allows customers to voice opinions, concerns and feedback of any kind. We strive to listen after every hot spot along the customer journey and respond or escalate as required or necessary.
AA: First, we hire people that care and have passion for making our customers not only satisfied but also happy. Once the right people are in place, we consistently survey our customers in both a random fashion and at the end of every support session. While these customers give us a rating of “satisfied” or “very satisfied” 97% of the time, we are proactive in following up personally with those who do not in order to address their concerns and deal with the issue until they’re satisfied with the outcome.
Q. When you are offering the best in customer service, what kind of results should you expect to see from customers and in your own business processes?
SK: Essentially, your KPIs should reflect your efforts. The Customer Escalations monthly KPI should read zero. The Customer Success and Maturity monthly KPI should increase, as well as the Net Promoter Score KPI. If your KPI’s are shifting in the wrong direction, you have to investigate why, and quickly.
AA: The best indicator that your customers are happy is when they continue to renew their relationship with you and when they recommend your products to others. We see this not only in our 93% renewal rate but also in the fact that our customers consistently give us high feedback ratings most of the time, with 91% indicating they are “very satisfied.”
Q. Beyond your own companies, what is a brand or organization you believe has in some way encompassed what it means to have exceptional customer service?
SK: I have personally experienced great customer service at a global retail store in London, Victoria’s Secret. On a visit there with my wife to spend a voucher issued in the USA, the London store could not process the voucher (card) due to the US currency. The store manager intervened and issued a store card in British Pounds for the same value. Although their “systems” were unable to cope with the situation, the manager was empowered to make a decision that resulted in a great customer experience. And to their benefit, my wife and I spent quite a bit over and beyond the value of the voucher! Very often, a great story of customer service is when an individual has the freedom to make the right decision to overcome the potentially negative customer experience being faced. As stated in the answer to the first question, customer listening and responding defines an organization’s commitment to customer experience.
AA: I have always respected how Disney treats its guests. You can see it in the attention to detail. There is a passion for making people feel special and giving them an experience unlike any other. They do, after all, strive to be the “happiest place on earth.” There is a big difference between Disney and every other amusement park. We want to be like Disney, not like the other amusement parks. They both have rides, but everyone who has gone to both types of parks knows the difference.
What examples do you have of stand-out customer service? What factors have set apart a customer experience for you? Let us know.