Customer service is becoming a critical driver of how a company is perceived, what drives consumer loyalty and determining where they open their wallets. Companies are equally praised for the exceptional support they provide, while others are relentlessly chastised for failing to deliver. Below, we want to show you how that perception has become reality with 50 customer service statistics you need to know for 2023.
AI customer service is transforming how companies support the people who support them – working alongside human agents to provide quick, convenient, and personal support. We thought it would be a good idea to get a real sense of where customer support is today by sharing these 45 customer service stats from leading research organizations.
Here are some of the best customer service statistics that really paint the picture of:
What consumers expect
The baseline of where many brands are today
The opportunity for AI to catapult a brand’s customer service to the next level
To review some of our own research on this topic, please check out any of our four eBooks on the topic of customer service:
59% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service than they did just a 1 year ago [Microsoft]
60% don’t see customer service as getting any easier [Microsoft]
Customers expect to receive service through any channel and on any device, with 59 percent of respondents using the omnichannel experience to get questions answered. [Microsoft]
Americans are telling an average of 15 people about poor service [American Express (1)]
Nearly 50% of consumers expect a response on social media questions or complaints within an hour, with 18% expecting an immediate response [American Express (1)]
33% say getting their issue resolved in a single interaction (no matter the length of time) is the most important aspect of customer service [American Express (1)]
40% want companies to focus on taking care of their needs quickly; The future of service belongs to those who deliver quick, convenient and personalized customer service in the customer’s channel of choice [American Express (1)]
66% of US online adults said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience [Forrester (1)]
86% of customers have to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason [InfoLink]
Many companies rely on these stats to benchmark customer service. You might not need all these fancy customer service statistics to know what’s the most important: customer satisfaction.
Satisfaction = Reality – Expectations. If you can beat expectations on a consistent basis you have entered the powerful realm of leveraging customer service to promote your brand. When it comes to customer service as a marketing tool (think “word of mouth”), we’ve carved out a whole separate section for that below.
Key Statistics Covering How Customer Service Is The New Marketing
95% of consumers cite customer service as important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand [Microsoft]
90% of Americans use customer service as a deciding factor when choosing to do business with a company [American Express (2)]
78% of customers say the quality of service is fundamental to earning their loyalty and repeat business [Netomi]
Seven in 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service [American Express (1)]
61% have switched brands due to poor customer service with nearly half having done so in the past 12 months [Microsoft]
More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service [American Express (1)]
US consumers say they’re willing to spend 17 percent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14 percent in 2014 [American Express (1)]
33% of Americans will consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service [American Express (1)]
61% of insurance consumers in the United Kingdom, 76 percent in Germany and 79 percent in Spain say their insurer choice is influenced by the carrier’s claims handling and customer service quality [Accenture] (click the link to get more insights on the benefits of insurance chatbot solutions)
Proactive Customer Support Statistics
90% of customers rate immediate responses as important or higher when they have a question. [Hubspot (1)]
82% of people say good customer service is extremely or very important [Netomi]
71% of consumers under 25 believes quickness in responses from customer service representatives improves their experience [Comm100]
70% have a more favorable view of brands that offer proactive customer service notifications [Microsoft]
87% of customers want to be proactively reached out to by a company for customer service related issues [inContact (via MyCustomer)]
Over a 12 month period, proactive customer service can lead to a 20-30% reduction in call center calls — lowering call center operating costs by as much as 25% [Enkata (via MyCustomer)]
83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company [Salesforce] (click the link to learn more about our salesforce chatbot integrations)
Customer Service Statistics That Show Agents Need Help
More than 75%of consumers expect customer service representatives to have visibility into previous interactions and purchases, Yet nearly half say agents almost never or only occasionally have the context they need to most effectively and efficiently solve their issue [Microsoft]
68% say a pleasant representative is a key to their recent positive service experiences [American Express (1)]
40% of customers want agents to focus on taking care of their needs quickly [American Express (1)]
62% of consumers have been ghosted by company customer service call-back options more than once [Netomi (2)]
53% have publicly shamed a company following an instance of poor customer service [Netomi (2)]
73% of customers have experienced an agent being rude to them [Netomi (2)]
84% of customer service agents can’t answer the questions [InfoLink]
83% of consumers have to repeat the same information to multiple agents [InfoLink]
82% of customers expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person [Salesforce]
Customer Service Is A Real Business Issue (And Opportunity)
$62 billion is lost by U.S. businesses each year following bad customer experiences [New Voice Media]
93% of customers make repeat purchases with companies that provide great customer service. [HubSpot (1)]
69% of US online adults shop more with a retailer that offers consistent customer service both online and offline [Forrester (1)]
Poor customer service causes consumers to abandon intended purchases, which translated to an estimated $62 billion in lost sales in the US in 2015 — an alarming 51% increase over the previous two years [Forrester (1)]
Customers are 4x more likely to switch service providers if the problem they are having is service-based. [Bain and Company]
A moderate improvement in CX would impact the revenue of a typical $1 billion company an average of $775 million over three years [Temkin Group]
Within the last year alone, reported merchandise returns went up from $351 billion to $369 billion, and an estimated $24 billion was lost to return fraud and abuse. [Appriss]
Businesses can grow their revenue by as much as 8% above their competition when they improve the customer service experience. [Bain and Company]
All Of These Customer Support Stats Pave The Way For AI
54% of consumers use a customer support email for customer service, making it the number 1 customer service communication channel. [Forrester (2)]
42% of customers want to communicate with companies via live chat for customer service. [HubSpot (2)]
Millennials prefer live chat for customer service over other channels [Comm100]
By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI, an increase of 400% from 2017 [Gartner (1)]
80% of customer engagements can be handled by bots [Accenture]
73% of consumers ascribe no value to agents engaging in small talk when fixing their issue [Netomi (2)]
By 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more on bots than traditional mobile [Gartner (2)]
By 2030, 70% of companies will have adopted some form of AI and the majority of enterprises will be using a full range of AI technology [McKinsey]
We have shown you through these 50 customer service stats that support is more important to your business than ever before.
Are you ready to see how AI in customer service can transform your business? Use AI to answer high-volume, repeatable issues without delay while looping in your human agents to manage the other inquiries. Let’s chat.
It’s no secret that customers today have high expectations when it comes to customer service. In order to keep up with the competition, businesses need to meet (or exceed) these expectations. Every business has customers, no matter what field or industry, and it’s vitally important to be aware of what they expect.
What are Customer Expectations?
Simply put, customer expectations are the standards that customers have for a product or service. These standards can be based on many factors, such as previous experiences, what they’ve heard from others, or even societal norms. And when customers don’t feel that their expectations have been met, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to customer expectations:
– They’re constantly changing: What customers expect today may be different tomorrow, so it’s important to stay on top of trends and changes.
– They vary by customer: Not all customers have the same expectations, so it’s important to tailor the experience to each individual.
– They should be met or exceeded: Meeting customer expectations is the bare minimum — businesses should aim to exceed them whenever possible.
The 12 Most Important Customer Service Expectations
While customer expectations can differ depending on the company or industry, there are some common themes that businesses should be aware of. Here are 12 of the most important customer service expectations:
1. Honesty and Transparency
Customers today expect honesty and transparency from businesses. They want to know that they can trust the company, and they want to be able to easily find information about the product or service. For example, if a customer is buying a product online, they should be able to easily find shipping costs, return policies, and other important information. Companies should not try to hide this information or be vague about it.
2. Friendliness and Courteousness
It seems like it should go without saying, but sometimes it’s easy to forget about basic decency. Friendliness and courteousness are two of the most important customer service expectations. Customers want to feel like they’re valued, and they want to be treated with respect.
3. Being Understood
Customers want to feel like they’re being understood, and they want businesses to take the time to listen to their concerns. This includes everything from active listening to providing support in their language of choice. Customers want to feel like they’re being understood, and they want businesses to take the time to listen to their concerns. This includes everything from active listening to providing support in their language of choice. Active listening is a customer service technique that involves giving your full attention to the customer, paraphrasing what they’ve said, and checking for understanding. This can help to make sure that the customer feels heard and that their issues are being addressed.
Innovation is one of the most important customer service expectations in today’s climate. With new technologies and platforms constantly emerging, customers expect businesses to be on the cutting-edge. They want companies to be constantly improving and adapting to change. Innovation also means being able to meet customer needs in new and unique ways, like using chatbots or artificial intelligence. Innovation should never be made at the expense of smooth function–after all, the latest and greatest technology is hardly great if it hampers your customer service agents from giving customers the best possible experience.
Customers today expect businesses to be proactive, and they want companies to anticipate their needs. This includes everything from proactively addressing problems to offering personalized recommendations. A proactive approach means identifying potential issues and taking steps to prevent them before they happen. It also involves awareness of customer needs and offering solutions or recommendations before the customer even knows they need them.
6. Speed and Efficiency
Customers today want speed and efficiency when it comes to customer service. They don’t want to wait on hold for hours, and they expect problems to be resolved quickly and efficiently. Quick reaction time from customer service is essential in today’s climate.
7. Multi-Channel Service
In order to meet customer expectations, businesses need to provide multi-channel service. This means that customers should be able to reach out through a variety of channels, such as phone, email, chat, or social media. And they should be able to receive a consistent experience no matter which channel they use. In addition to this consistent access, they also want continuity–a conversation that begins on one channel should continue on another.
8. Privacy and Security
With all of the recent data breaches in the news, it’s no surprise that privacy and security are top customer service expectations. Customers want to know that their personal information is safe, and they want businesses to take steps to protect their data. This includes everything from ensuring that data is encrypted to offering secure payment options.
Customers today expect a personalized experience, and they want businesses to take the time to get to know them. This includes everything from using their name to providing tailored recommendations. Not only this, but customers also want the feeling that they’re more than just a number. They want to be treated as individuals, and they want their customer service experiences to reflect that.
In addition to being understood, customers also want businesses to show empathy. This means that businesses need to be able to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and understand their needs. This is more than just a sympathetic ear or a kind word–it’s about being able to truly understand what the customer is going through. The Human connection is an important one and should be a cornerstone of any customer service approach.
11. Constant Availability
With the rise of online shopping, customers now expect businesses to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means that businesses need to have customer service representatives available around-the-clock to answer questions and resolve problems.
12. Customer Self-Service
Finally, customers today expect to be able to serve themselves. This means that businesses need to provide easy-to-use self-service options, such as FAQ pages, online chatbots, and step-by-step guides.In addition, businesses need to make sure that these self-service options are easily accessible and easy to use by their customers. Efficient and convenient self service is not only great for customers, but it’s also cost-effective for businesses.
How to leverage AI in the quest for customer service excellence
There is power to be realized in partnerships and the strategic combination of forces, and companies using chatbots for customer service can further enhance the CX, taking it to new heights. While platforms can streamline the agent experience and can decrease resolution times, multichannel conversational AI platforms like Netomi are now acting as the first line of defense when it comes to customer support. Netomi’s virtual agents sit alongside human agents to supplement and enhance the capacity of support teams, ensuring the seamless resolution of customer queries.
No matter which platform you choose to implement in your customer service operations, the Netomi AI helps you by taking the best course of action with every incoming support ticket:
The AI can automatically resolve common, highly repeatable tickets without having to loop in a human agent (‘auto-pilot’ mode)
For more complex tickets, the AI can gather information from the customer or back-end systems, and even draft a response for review, before handing off to a human agent (‘co-pilot’ mode)
For the most complex tickets that require a human hand, the AI can summarize and route tickets to the most appropriate agent for the task
By leveraging the out-of-the-box Netomi virtual agent integration, companies enhance both the agent and customer experience, while also reducing costs. Other chatbots don’t sit natively within the agent desk, but with Netomi, virtual and human agents work alongside each other, creating an efficient and ultra-powerful customer service team.
Many of us have experience interacting with customer support agents in various contexts, from streaming service subscriptions and car rental bookings, to online clothing purchases.
For businesses worldwide, offering timely support across multiple channels and touchpoints is critical in today’s highly competitive and digital-first world.
A strong customer experience strategy is a defining feature that sets companies apart – yet what do customer service and customer support truly mean? Why is delivering quality customer support so essential, and how can companies begin doing so? Fundamentally, how can businesses keep customers happy? Here, we break down the meanings behind the terms, and several key best practices to consider weaving into your customer support strategy.
We’ll answer the following questions, so jump directly to a specific section or scroll to read the post in its entirety:
Customer support: the team of individuals who provide assistance when customers have questions about a product or service, or experience issues.
How does customer support differ from customer service?
Although the two are often used interchangeably, customer support is not synonymous with customer service. The latter is an umbrella term for all interactions that encompass the overall customer experience and help shape a person’s relationship with the company.
Focuses on creating positive, hassle-free customer transactions
Focuses on how the customer interacts with a product
Attends to customer needs throughout every interaction with the product
Solves one specific need at a time
Does not always include customer support
Always requires customer service
Proactive to customer needs and reactive to issues
Reactive to specific customer issues
Agents use soft skills often
Agents rarely need soft skills
Not inherently technical
Often very technical
Customer service, the broader umbrella term, typically refers to all types of customer-facing activities, those that often are non-technical in nature. An essential part of improving customer success is the sales process for many products.
Customer service is directly related to the customer experience, and is comprised of roles such as a sales associate at a department store, or a barista at a cafe. Successful customer service teams often employ customer-centric soft skills. Great customer support requires attention to detail and an overall positive approach in order to keep existing customers. Customer service is all about adding value by helping customers to make the most of a business’ products or services, and support is just one subset of this.
What are the most important qualities?
Good support is more than just installation and troubleshooting – it is about making the customer feel heard, about collecting data and using that to better the customer experience. It is about investing in personal conversations, demonstrating sound product knowledge and empathy, and devising creative and customized solutions to customer issues. Good customer support involves meeting, as well as exceeding customer expectations – what do customers themselves want? What types of experiences do they expect, and what will keep them coming back for more?
A survey from Zendesk discovered that the key customer service principles revolve around empathy, convenience and speed. Customers favor, above all, speedy resolutions to their problems, 24/7 access to support, and interacting with friendly agents.
For customers today, a seamless omnichannel experience is also critical. This allows them to switch devices and fluidly maneuver between multiple channels, carrying forward context with each interaction. For instance, if one day an individual received support via telephone, they want to log into their web browsers to continue the conversation on a separate occasion. Consistency is key – 71% of consumers desire a consistent experience across all channels, yet only 29% say they actually receive this. Investing in omnichannel experiences plays a big part in customer loyalty. Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies enjoy 91% higher customer retention rates year-over-year, compared to businesses that don’t.
Why is customer support essential for businesses?
Amid a shifting global landscape (new and emerging technologies, new ways of working), consumer expectations are shifting along with it. In Netomi’s The State of Customer Service in 2022 Report, more than 65% of those surveyed report they have higher expectations for customer service today than they did 3-5 years ago. What’s more, the report found these higher expectations are not being sufficiently met, with 51% believing that customer service has not improved over the past 12 months.
Put simply, support, delivered in a timely manner, drives customer satisfaction, and conclusively impacts customer retention, customer lifetime value, and brand reputation. Our report also revealed that 77% of U.S. consumers believe that good customer service is crucial to earning loyalty as well as business. Such findings emphasize that there is a tremendous opportunity for companies to put such strategies into place, to go above and beyond to elevate the overall customer experience. Good customer support is expected – it is sought-after and highly regarded.
What are some tips for boosting customer support?
Support your support team with AI-powered chatbots
In the demanding and always-on economy of today, many contact centers are feeling the pressure – with 74% of them at risk for burnout. Moreover, turnover rates hover between 30 and 45%, among the highest of any industry. Companies using AI chatbots for customer service can create a more cost-effective and streamlined approach to drastically improve the experience of agents themselves. This helps to make them feel more fulfilled and engaged in their roles.
A February 2022 survey from Salesforce found that 71% of service agents have considered leaving their job in the past six months, while 69% are considering leaving customer service roles entirely. Working with outdated technology systems and a lack of access to career development opportunities are among the challenges faced by agents. According to the survey, 81% of service agents say they do not have new and advanced technology/tools at their current jobs.
AI-powered chatbots have come to the forefront as a means to meet consumer preferences for 24/7, instantaneous support in real-time. Interest and usage of these tools is burgeoning, and not just among SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. Insider Intelligence predicts that, by 2024, consumer retail spend via chatbots worldwide will reach $142 billion – a jump from just $2.8 billion in 2019.
By providing immediate resolutions to the most common and repeatable of queries, chatbots help to drastically cut down on customer service tickets. They can also assist customers with no human intervention (How do I pause my gym membership? How can I select my seat?) Agents, as a result, can dedicate their time and energy to more complex, high-touch and creative tasks. Advanced technologies such as chatbots serve as the all-important key to supporting overworked employees, helping them to complete their jobs more efficiently.
Today, 27% percent of customers expect customer service to be proactive – for companies to anticipate their needs and wants. How can you preemptively intervene, before an issue exacerbates, or even turns into an issue? Informing customers that a software update is available, or they will soon be eligible for a cell phone upgrade takes your customer support strategy one notch higher, and signifies to customers that you are looking out for them.
How can we harness customer data that is at our disposal to better tailor and curate the experience? This can be as simple as greeting customers by name or asking for feedback in Customer Satisfaction Surveys.
A customer, for instance, may have previously ordered several pairs of jeans from an online retailer. After being sold out for some time, these best-selling jeans are now back in stock – and are also now available in several colors. Might the customer want to purchase another pair or two?
According to research from Accenture, 83% of consumers are inclined to share their data with companies, to enable a more personalized experience for them. This is true so long as businesses are transparent about how they plan to use that data and that customers have control over it, however. Moreover, almost 70% of consumers want companies to personalize their communications, and 65% of customers report that personalization influences their brand loyalty.
Meet your customers where they are
Allowing for multi-channel customer service, chatbots enable businesses to deploy their customer strategy across social media, email, chat, voice, and phone – scaling support across every channel of their – and their customer’s – choosing. Support delivered via live chat has grown to become a must-have. This is the preferred channel for consumers between the ages of 18 and 49, nearly 70% of consumers expect live chat support. Some matters may be better suited to one channel over others, depending on the situation and degree of urgency. Customers typically do not have one single channel that they choose to use 100% of the time.
Make it easy for customers to assist themselves
In line with the ‘DIY’ culture of today, customer preference for self-service is growing. A 2022 report from Gartner points to several categorical shifts in customer service – among them, customer’s growing preference for self-service. 59% of customers, the report found, prefer to resolve their issues without reaching out to a customer service rep. However, only 13% of customers feel that they are successfully contained within self-service.
Meanwhile, Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report found that 70% of customers say that they expect a company to have a self-service portal or content available to them.
How can we reimagine the customer journey, guiding customers to the best fit path? The key then, is to coordinate the self-service journey all the way from search through to resolution, from directing customers to relevant self-service options on a company’s website, to routing them to a human agent, if and when needed.
Leveraging curated FAQ pages and robust online knowledge bases (or Help Centers) can help users easily find answers, and enhance the customer self-service experience. The ultimate combo, however, is a knowledge base, used in parallel with AI-powered chatbot software. This offers content that is most relevant to each individual customer, and delivers it at the exact moment-of-need. To determine the appropriate next steps, chatbots should first diagnose and triage the customer issue. Can the customer find the necessary information within an article in the company’s knowledge base, or does the situation warrant an interaction with an agent? With AI chatbot platforms sitting at the center and human agents stepping in only when needed, this also relieves a bit of the pressure on the agents themselves, significantly reducing their workloads.
Track KPIs, and determine where they can evolve
It is important to employ metrics and KPIs in order to gauge performance of support efforts, for businesses to track the performance of their support agents and identify areas for improvement. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), volume by channel and total tickets are among the KPIs that can be measured. How does ticket volume fluctuate based on the time of day? On which channels are customers reaching out for support?
It is also advantageous to regularly review KPIs to determine where they can evolve. The relevance and efficacy of KPIs that were initially selected will change over time, as a business grows and customer expectations and preferences shift.
Customer support, as part of a great customer service approach, can add tremendous value to a business’ product or service, improve multiple business bottom lines, increase customer retention, and build trust and loyalty. It can offer an experience that is in line with today’s digitally-savvy customers, and keep them coming back for more.
Get in touch with us at Netomi to chat about leveraging conversational AI to supercharge your customer support strategy, and boost overall customer experience!
To learn more about improving the customer experience, visit:
What are the most dreaded customer service calls to make? Do customers enjoy making small talk with support agents, or prefer to get straight to the point? We polled more than 1,200 consumers across the United States to get a pulse on how they are feeling today, when it comes to interacting with customer support teams. We discovered that, in the fast-paced world of today, customer expectations are not being met, frustrations are high, and patience is wearing thin.
Our Top 5 Findings from The State of Customer Service Report
Emotional outbursts are common: 14% of customers report having screamed at and 19% have sworn at a company’s representative, while, out of frustration, 61% of people have hung up the phone mid-conversation. This is true on both sides of the equation, as…
Stress is taking its toll on agents: 73% of consumers have had instances of an agent being rude to them, and 44% have experienced an agent grow agitated
The desire for instant gratification is real: 39% of consumers have less patience today than they did prior to the pandemic
Small talk is not necessary:Only 27% of respondents value situations when customer service agents engage in small talk when assisting them, while 73% find no value in such friendly banter, preferring agents to focus on the issue at hand
Many issues are left unresolved, after a single interaction: 65% of consumers have needed to follow up more than once to get their question resolved, and 25% of respondents reported needing to contact a company three or more times in order to resolve an issue
The bottom line: What does all of this signify?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumer behaviors, preferences and expectations, businesses need to evolve amid the changing landscape to meet the needs of the modern consumer. In today’s fast-paced world, the pressure to deliver superior customer experiences is on, big time.
AI-powered chatbots can have an enormous impact on support organizations, and greatly elevate the experience of agents and the customers that they serve, by:
Swiftly resolving customers’ queries, across channels (such as email, chat, and SMS), for enhanced customer satisfaction and happiness
Surfacing relevant answers and links to the agents during support calls, transforming them from agents to super-agents
Automatically resolving repetitive, everyday tickets, offloading mundane work from agents and allowing them to concentrate more on complex tasks
Working around-the-clock with 24/7 availability, so there are no frustrating hold times for customers
Today, providing strong customer service is key – according to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report, 72% of business leaders say that their organization views customer service as a critical business priority. Moreover, customers today are engaging more with service teams, with support requests – ranging from technical questions to assistance with a return – up 14%, in comparison to last year.
So, in order to deliver the best possible experience, it becomes essential to equip support teams with robust tools and resources, setting them up for ultimate success. To provide customers with a seamless, personalized, and connected experience, across all channels. When it comes to service desk platforms (aka agent desks) that help accomplish this feat of providing a best-in-class customer experience, there are no shortage options available.
If you are considering help desk software, you’ve likely heard of Zendesk.
What is Zendesk?
Zendesk is one of the most well-known and best help desk platforms in the market today. In a nutshell, Zendesk helps companies manage the entire experience for their customers and improve customer relationships – bringing all marketing and support functions together into one platform.
Zendesk also has a spunky side and is known for bold messaging. Take a look at how Zendesk describes themselves in their own words:
While Zendesk is an exceptional customer service solution, there are other options available, all with their own unique and sophisticated features. Here, we take a look at 11 alternatives to Zendesk.
What makes Freshdesk one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
Freshdesk helps businesses to deliver seamless customer service across digital and traditional channels, including email, chat, phone, and social media. Complete with a help widget and multilingual knowledge base that supports 42 languages, the platform lets businesses design a self-service experience for their customers, one in which they are free to help themselves.
Freshdesk’s key features
Built for omnichannel support
Collaboration features that fuel teamwork and efficiency, including shared ownership of tickets and parent-child ticketing (splitting tickets into smaller tasks that respective teams can work on in parallel)
What makes Gladly one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
With a strong emphasis on providing personal customer service, Gladly is a customer service platform that “treats customers like people, not tickets.” Its people-centered rather than ticket-centered approach means that all conversations, across all channels, are tied to customer profiles, in one single place. As voice, email, text, and chat are all built-in natively to the platform, agents can respond across all channels during a conversation from a single screen, while also having the historical context from a customer’s previous interactions.
Gladly’s key features
‘People match’ that pairs customers with the best “service hero” to assist them, based on their own unique situation, history, and needs
What makes Salesforce Service Cloud one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
Built on Salesforce Customer 360, Salesforce Service Cloud gives businesses a 360-degree view of their customers, allowing them to deliver smarter, faster, and more personalized service. The platform gives agents the tools to deliver an exceptional customer experience, enabling them to work faster and more productively, which, in turn, improves customer satisfaction and reduces costs.
Best Zendesk alternative for teams that are already using HubSpot
What makes HubSpot Service Hub one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
Part of the HubSpot CRM platform, Service Hub includes conversational tools, help desk automation, customer feedback surveys, reporting, and more, to provide businesses with one unified view of each customer interaction. The comprehensive, end-to-end service allows for better customer service management and satisfied customers, at each stage of their journey.
HubSpot Service Hub’s key features
Reporting dashboards that surface actionable data to improve customer service, highlighting the top service requests
A secure customer portal that empowers customers to gain ownership over their experience, and keeps ticket conversations between customers and reps flowing
Live chat that enables teams to assist customers on their website in real-time, automatically routing them to the right support agents
A shared inbox that connects team email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and more to one universal inbox, so support teams are able to manage and reply to conversations in one place
Best Zendesk alternative for early stage businesses
What makes Intercom one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
An all-in-one customer communications platform, and one that offers conversational support, conversational engagement and conversational marketing, Intercom’s comprehensive solution enables businesses to personalize all customer interactions, and deliver support that is personalized as well as proactive. Ideal for both large as well as growing businesses, under Intercom’s Early Stage Program, eligible startups receive advanced Intercom features and Early Stage Academy at a 95% discount.
Intercom’s key features
Product tours that introduce customers to a company’s products, offering guided experiences that spotlight new features and drive adoption
Management tools, including a collaborative inbox, rules and automated workflows, and reporting tools to help teams be more efficient
Customer messaging that allows agents to communicate with customers across platforms, chat in real-time or follow up later, and help customers self-serve
Integration with 300+ apps, including Slack, WhatsApp and Google Analytics, to maximize customer experience and team efficiency
What makes Zoho Desk one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
An omnichannel customer service solution, Zoho Desk works across verticals including telecom, hospitality and finance, catering to businesses of all sizes, from startups to enterprises. With actionable insights, ticket management and automation, Zoho Desk helps support teams stay on top of all aspects of their customer service efforts. Additionally, Radar, the company’s mobile app, allows teams to monitor ticket traffic and key support metrics, wherever they are.
Zoho Desk’s key features
A multichannel ticketing system that collects support tickets from various channels (such as email and social media), and organizes them in a single interface
Zoho’s AI-powered assistant can identify the sentiment behind tickets, process incoming tickets, and assign them appropriate tags
Instant remote assistance with the Zoho Assist add-on that enables teams to provide cloud-based remote support from within Zoho Desk
Different ticket views that help agents automatically organize tickets based on priority, due time, status, or CRM status, and ‘ticket peek’ that shows a preview of every interaction that team members have had with the customer, as well as the ticket’s properties
Best Zendesk alternative for companies that offer the majority of their customer support through email
What makes Front one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
Offering a hub for all things related to customer communication, Front combines the simplicity of email with the intelligence of a CRM. The platform’s intuitive design allows for smarter collaboration between teammates, so they can deliver unmatched and tailor-made service to their customers.
Front’s key features
Custom workflows that automatically route, triage and escalate messages, and prioritize VIPs
A universal inbox that consolidates work all in one place, and each message gets a clear owner, so no customer requests fall through the cracks
In-depth analytics to track performance, customer satisfaction, and growth
100+ integrations with apps such as Asana, Gmail, and Facebook, so teams can manage projects, consult their CRMs, and view all communication channels right in their inbox
What makes Groove one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
A shared inbox for small businesses seeking an alternative to Gmail, Groove provides a space for teams to organize all of their support emails in one place, route them to the right people, and get more work done as a team.
Groove’s key features
Reporting functionalities, including team analytics, conversation insights, and performance metrics
A 24/7 smart, self-service knowledge base, that can be easily edited and designed to match a company’s brand, featuring insights such as most-searched terms, most-viewed articles, and article suggestions
Automations such as instant replies, rules and tags, to organize conversations and speed up workflows
Integrations with hundreds of apps, such as Slack, Shopify, and MailChimp
What makes Help Scout one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
An all-in-one support platform, Help Scout is designed to help growing companies “turn customers into brand ambassadors.” Complete with an integrated knowledge base, 50+ integrations, in-app messaging and live chat, it helps keep support teams on the same page so they can focus on delivering a great customer experience. What’s more, with Help Scout’s free iOS and Android apps, teams can easily check their inboxes and reply to customers, while on the go.
Help Scout’s key features
Workflows that automate repetitive tasks, keep response times low and act based on pre-set conditions (if one event takes place, what action should happen after?)
A single shared inbox that houses all support requests, allowing teams to collaborate with ease, and personalize conversations with customers
“Beacons” that can be placed on any page of a website or app, standing as an easy way for customers to flip through a knowledge base or reach out to a support team
Reports that do all of the heavy lifting, providing summaries of phone calls created, key chat metrics, trending topics among customers, and more
Best Zendesk alternative for teams looking for more native CRM capabilities in their helpdesk
What makes Kustomer one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
Kustomer brings together CRM, customer engagement, and helpdesk software into a single omnichannel platform. With a strong emphasis on omnichannel, the platform allows agents to view the entire experience and seamlessly switch between channels to meet customers where they are.
Kustomer’s key features
Kustomer IQ’s AI capabilities contextualize conversations, generate predictive insights, and recommend next-best actions
The Kustomer Timeline – an easy-to-use agent workspace for managing customer conversations, displaying each customer journey in a chronological timeline view, including website visits, historical interactions, and purchase history
Integrations with various apps to unify CX operations, including Gmail, SurveyMonkey, and Instagram
Reporting and analytics features that enable teams to generate reports about conversations, team performance, and customer base
Best Zendesk alternative for larger teams who have the need for the platform’s numerous support desk features
What makes LiveAgent one of the best Zendesk alternatives?
A pioneering customer service software established in 2006, LiveAgent was the first solution to offer both live chat and help desk capabilities. Its advanced help desk ticketing system integrates with numerous communication channels to provide customers with exceptional support, going “beyond an IT ticketing system.”
LiveAgent’s key features
A comprehensive ticketing system that allows teams to handle all customer inquiries from one interface, complete with automated ticket distribution, time rules that prioritize tickets, and a ‘to solve’ button that reminds agents about incoming tickets
15 live chat features, including proactive chat invitations, chat button animations, real-time typing view, and chat embedded tracking
A built-in call center with unlimited call recordings, internal calls and call routing
Social media integrations with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to save agents time by streamlining all customer interactions into a single, unified inbox
Are you using Zendesk to its fullest potential?
“Alone we are one, yet together we are stronger,” Alexandra da Silva Rodrigues, Radisson Hotel Group’s Strategical Advisor for Global Contact Centers, noted in a recent Netomi webinar. While Alexandra was referring to teams of call center agents, the same idea rings true when it comes to integration of systems and softwares. Because one platform alone can be powerful and make a true impact, but two combined? Now that’s a whole other story.
This is why we work to bring together the best of machine and human intelligence. Netomi’s AI-powered Zendesk chatbot works natively within the Zendesk Chat window and agent console, to resolve up to 80% of repeatable customer tickets within seconds with zero human effort. Issues that are sensitive, critical or high-risk are routed to human support agents. Netomi’s virtual agents are there to supplement and enhance live chat support teams, working alongside them to create the ultimate customer service team. Best of all, the seamless integration means that agents do not require any re-training, they need not master new tools.
The possibilities for service desk platforms are endless, yet not all are the same. As your needs are unique to your team and your industry, it is important to select the one that fits your organization, and will deliver the most impact to your support team and your customers.
How can a powerful AI-powered chatbot like Netomi’s integrate with your service desk solution? Send us a message to learn more!
Today, many companies worldwide are doubling down 1 on their reskilling and upskilling efforts, and equipping employees with the crucial skills that they need to thrive in the world of work today.
Here, we review the key skills that customer service agents need to hone, in today’s ever-evolving landscape of work.
How Technologies are Changing the Game, when it Comes to Essential Customer Service Skills
As businesses adopt AI across their organizations, the skill set of the human workforce will also need to evolve 2 alongside it, as their focus and scope of work will shift.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 3, as adoption of technology increases, 50% of all employees will require reskilling by 2025. Among the top skills of 2025 include critical thinking and analysis, complex problem-solving, as well as creativity, originality and initiative. Several skills related to self-management are also emerging, such as resilience, active learning, flexibility, and stress tolerance. Moreover, a study 4 from Korn Ferry found that, by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people (which is roughly equivalent to the population of Germany)!
During discussions that took place at the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, various experts agreed: 5 hospitality, management and creativity constitute three advanced abilities that cannot be substituted by AI. While rapidly advancing AI technologies will eventually replace these abilities at rudimentary levels, it will become essential to develop and refine more sophisticated abilities in these areas so that AI cannot replace them. In the hospitality industry, for instance, AI can take over standardized services such as information services, booking and concierge-services. Yet, for this reason, human workers in hospitality will need to acquire more advanced skills that AI can’t replicate.
So, it is time for customer service agents to focus on building out skill sets that AI cannot, and should not, perform. With this in mind, what are some essential customer service skills that cannot be replicated by AI?
How can you seamlessly integrate AI into your workforce, to give your customer service agents superpowers, allowing their skills related to resilience, creativity, and problem-solving to flourish? Explore our ROI calculator to discover how much increase in tickets your team can handle with your current headcount by adding Netomi’s AI to your support team!
Essential customer service skills unique to humans
Setting an overall customer support strategy, such as identifying KPIs to monitor, mapping the customer journey by identifying all key touchpoints, and investing in a robust customer service toolkit are all tasks that humans can do. While AIs can be trained to execute various tasks and knowledge work, such as sending a prompt to a customer that it is time to install the latest software update on their laptop or immediately resolving a query like order status, humans can excel at looking at the big picture, problem solving, and using data to make informed decisions.
While AI has helped with 6 composing songs and mimicking the styles of great painters, for now, it stays relegated to the role of assistant and master orchestrator. While it can observe and learn from 7 data to gain creative skills in areas such as drawing, musical composition, and writing, it will not be able to truly replicate a human’s ability to inspire, create, and invent. There are times when customer service agents will need to flex their creative skills, such as sending a well-written holiday card to long-term customers.
As humans, we are all unique and bring to the table our own strengths and keen observations. We can actively listen intently to, and build rapport with customers. Sometimes a human touch is essential, such as when dealing with an exhausted and angry customer who is frantically trying to cancel an airline ticket, and in such situations, conversing with a machine will not suffice. For instance, a customer may be struggling to file a tax return for her elderly mother. Having a parent with dementia, the customer agent assisting with the claim may be more apt to understand her situation, and the two can connect on a deeper level. This level of empathy is nearly impossible for an AI to replicate (read more about synthetic empathy 8, and how it often slows down the completion of a task).
When designing dialogue for chatbots, we can show empathy by showing that a user’s situation is understood (i.e. ‘I’m sorry that you’re having trouble streaming the game. Let’s look into this!), however, there should never be an attempt at displaying empathy beyond that.
An AI-powered chatbot can easily respond to repeatable queries, yet human agents can excel in analysis, prioritization, and troubleshooting, in taking a degree of ownership over the issue at hand. In fact, 29% of customers believe 9that the ability to handle requests without the need for transfers or escalations is one of the most important skills for a representative. Perhaps a customer service agent may be handed a unique query, one in which there is no standard resolution procedure 10. In such situations, a little ingenuity and innovation might be required. Can the root cause behind a customer’s issue be identified? Does the agent foresee any related issues?
For instance, a customer may inquire whether a certain brand of swimwear is made from all-natural fibers, information that they are unable to find on the website. Rather than responding with the standard answer of ‘no’, upon further conversation the agent may discover that the customer has a skin allergy to spandex, a common swimwear fabric, and suggest an alternate product that solely makes organic, hypoallergenic swimwear.
As pointed out in a World Economic Forum article 5, AI is set to supplant workers in tasks such as financial management, materials management, human resource management and project management, which will steer people towards more advanced management tasks that cannot be replaced by AI, including:
Growth management – referring to the ability of managers and leaders to support members of their workforce in developing their skills and growing professionally (related to coaching). An example of this may include training sessions for customer service agents to hone their tech skills and teach them about a company’s new software.
Mind management – referring to the ability to support members of an organization in distress when they suffer from issues arising from interpersonal relationships or other problems. For example, agents who actively listen to and support a colleague who dealt with a difficult situation.
Collective intelligence management – referring to the ability of leaders to manage employees by encouraging them to share their knowledge and expertise in a collaborative setting, and facilitating the emergence of new ideas that arise from such an activity. An example of this would be a manager holding a group brainstorming activity for agents to come up with new ideas for boosting customer loyalty.
AI and the changing nature of customer service work, with humans at the center
Customer service is at a critical point. For decades, the job remained relatively unchanged. However, with new tools like email, agent desk platforms and, now AI, the job looks completely different than it did not too long ago. AI has the potential to make the job more fulfilling, as it will require higher-level thinking and training.
As Tyrone Smith, from a Harvard Business Review article 11 explains, “With the increasing support of technology and digital transformation, today’s most engaged employees are also constantly acquiring new skills and crossing previously well-defined lines to boost productivity and work quality….expanding beyond narrow job titles will be a critical aspect of the digital workplace as it’s streamlined by automated technology.” That is, conventional job titles will evolve to fit with the new business landscape of today, the title of “customer service agent” may morph into “Practical Director of the Customer Experience,” for instance.
While AI and other technologies will transform how we work, humans will remain firmly at the center of nearly every occupation. In order to expand beyond the narrow job titles of the past, it is up to leaders to encourage and invest in technologies that complement the work of employees, automate mundane tasks so the human workforce can leverage the skills that are uniquely human: creativity, complex problem solving, strategizing and empathy. Leaders need to implement more robust training to help the members of their workforce thrive and adapt to change.
With AI taking care of the mundane tasks, agents can concentrate on boosting their essential customer service skills in critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and resilience, and transcend those traditional job titles.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we at Netomi are celebrating CX ‘Sheroes’ who are leading from the front in the world of customer support and CX. From our Women of Influence list to our CX Sheroes webinar, we are shining a spotlight on inspiring female leaders who are doing their part to #BreakTheBias.
Here, we revisit some of the highlights from this special edition of our Support Superheroes virtual series, held on International Women’s Day, March 8. During the live event, Rupal Nishar, Netomi’s VP of Customer Success, chatted with Anastasia Zdoroviak, Charlotte Ward, Tania Hoque and Laura Lakhwara about emerging CX industry trends, bolstering tech skills and the importance of carving out time for oneself. For customer service, what does the future look like?
Bridging the gap
“The gender gap is not just a salary gap, it’s an opportunity and growth gap,” Charlotte said, pointing out that the gap is affected by several things, one of which is transparency. “Women, particularly younger women, are great at being authentic and transparent with one another in a safe space, but we don’t really get that authentic and transparent in the presence of men,” she said. “Transparency across the divide is needed.”
Tania pointed out that, in the tech industry, women are the minority, especially in positions of leadership. How can companies create space, and support growth for their female employees? This may include setting DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) targets, or having awareness of unconscious bias that may be occurring during a meeting. Having male mentors (or champions) is also important, others who can help to pave the path. “It is important to have someone say ‘she has something to say, let’s give her an opportunity,” she said.
Making time for yourself & committing to your own learning
“Make sure you’re investing in yourself and are putting yourself out there to have that opportunity,” said Laura, who works in the AI space at automation platform UiPath. “This could involve getting the technical acumen that you need, you don’t need to be doing the technical development or execution but just need to have the acumen in order to be able to speak to it,” she continued, noting that she may pull aside an engineer in the room for a whiteboard brainstorming session.
Aside from investing in your personal development, it is also important to make those important financial investments that will make an impact in your career journey. “Pay for things that you need, whether that may be tips to enhance a resume, or help with interviewing or public speaking,” Laura urged. “The top CEOs have executive coaches to help them..investing that money will mean a lot in terms of how you grow.”
Essential skills for women in customer service
“Analytical skills are a necessity because experience, the way I think about it, is all about understanding what is important to customers, and in order to understand what is important, you need qualitative feedback,” Anastasia pointed out. “You need to be able to interpret the feedback you are receiving, rather than relying on your analytics team to prepare a report and then tell you what it means.”
Having such skills, she continued, can also prove useful during a meeting, as, rather than simply rephrasing their own thoughts and referencing their own opinions, women can easily refer to data. Tangible and difficult to argue with logically, stats and figures can be a good base for women to use in challenging situations in which they may not feel that their opinion or experience is heard or valued.
For those working in CX in the tech industry, Tania pointed to the importance of understanding the technology that you are working with, at least at a high-level, so you are able to have informed and educational discussions with colleagues (no need to dive too deep into the specifics of coding). “Try to get your hands a little dirty, and you’ll be surprised with how much you can grasp through that process,” she said.
The future of women in customer service
As technology and automation advance, it becomes incumbent upon customer support agents to become educated and well-versed on what is happening on the back-end, Laura noted. Agents can then form their own points-of-view and recommendations and ask the big questions such as: what data do I want to see to make my job better? How could this process be improved? What does a better customer experience look like? “The jobs of the future will still have in-person agents, but more importantly, there will also be roles involved in managing these processes and putting in that customer journey, which is not linear, it is a web of pathways that people are following to get the help they need,” she said. “Learning about that is going to be the most important thing in having a voice, and you are the people to do it.”
“Rather than being confined to call centers, service reps will have more tools that they can use to work remotely,” said Tania. “There will be more and more automation that will happen in the customer service space where service reps will be more focused on doing things that require more intellectual power, rather than mundane tasks…there will be more elements that are automated so that humans can do what they’re good at, which is empathizing and bringing new products and services to life.”
In the future, Charlotte sees more of a collaborative partnership occurring between service reps and their customers. “We are going to extend much more into a space where we will find solutions for [customers] that exist outside of the box that we are currently operating in, in which we are presented with a problem and deliver the answer,” she emphasized. “We are going to get to a place in which we are delivering whole solutions in a much more collaborative way with our customers, this is where we can relate to them as human beings, solve bigger problems for them than they originally came to us for, and also preempt problems.”
For more engaging discussions from leaders in the CX world, check out our library of past Netomi webinars!
Customer service leaders come in all shapes and sizes. In the age of the internet, it is difficult to keep tabs on which thought leaders and influencers are the real deal, and which ones are not. This is especially true in the customer service industry. Customer Experience (CX) has catapulted into one of the most important aspects of determining business success.
At Netomi, we deeply care about improving the customer experience. So much so, we built the best chatbot and AI tool to help automate the low touch, mundane tasks support teams are inundated with. We fully recognize and appreciate that there are multiple ways CX can and should be improved that don’t have anything to do with Artificial Intelligence. That’s why we feel compelled to introduce our readers to a larger scope of people who inspire a world of excellent customer experience and thought leadership.
Each of these thought leaders brings so much to the table, it was impossible to rank the list below in any other way besides in alphabetical order. We documented why we chose each of these customer service leaders in detail along with where to follow them on social media below.
Top 51 Customer Service Leaders and CX Influencers (Editor’s Choice):
Denise Lee Yohn
Adam Toporek is an internationally-recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and frontline trainer who helps organizations get results by thinking differently about customer service. He is a third-generation entrepreneur with extensive experience in retail, wholesale, franchising, and small business. Adam understands the impact that customer experience can have on the bottom line.
He’s the author of Be Your Customer’s Hero, the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog, and the co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast. Adam regularly shares his customer experience and customer service insights with a global audience. He has appeared in over 150 media and is regularly cited as a top customer experience thought leader. In addition to his customer experience work, Adam is an angel investor with an interest in entrepreneurs who disrupt the status quo.
Adrian helps organizations of all sizes deliver better customer service and customer experiences in two ways:
1) He acts as an advisor on specific service/experience/engagement issues on an ongoing basis or project-by-project basis. 2) Adrian helps clients build internal teams and leaders capabilities via mentoring, through whitepapers, keynotes, and masterclasses.
His clients range from large, publicly traded companies to leading professional service firms and fast-growth and established small businesses including Apple, Diesel, Freshworks, KFC, Pearson, Shell etc… plus lots of smaller brands and SMEs.
Adrian is also a best-selling author, Forbes contributor, blogger & podcaster, frequent conference speaker, panel participant, and Chari. His best-selling book in 2016 is called: How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing.
Aimee Lucas is an experience management researcher, advisor, trainer, and speaker. As part of Qualtrics’ XM Institute, she focuses her efforts on helping organizations optimize their experience management (XM) programs. She leads the XM Institute’s research into CX and EX best practices and the broader organizational capabilities required for building loyalty by improving customer and employee experiences. Aimee has over 20 years of experience in improving service delivery and transforming CX through people development and process improvement initiatives.
Her areas of expertise include market research, program management, marketing, instructional design, and training. Aimee joined Qualtrics when it acquired Temkin Group, a leading CX research and advisory firm. Prior to joining Temkin Group, she implemented the CX strategy and managed the Voice of the Customer program for Crowe Horwath LLP, one of the top 10 public accounting and consulting firms in the US. Aimee is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in marketing management.
Annette Franz is the founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got more than 25 years of experience (both client-side and vendor side). She helps companies understand their employees and customers and identify what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and overall experience.
She recently wrote the book on customer understanding. She’s the author of Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of the Business).
Annette was named one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and is regularly recognized by companies around the world as a top influencer in Customer Experience.
Arie is a Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, Customer Lifecycle Management, and Innovation Independent Consultant. Arie’s Customer Lifecycle Management work is focused on developing Customer Strategy and Improving the performance of Customer Acquisition, Customer Onboarding, Customer Development, Customer Loyalty, and Customer Winback processes.
His Customer Insight work is focused on developing innovative segmentation, targeting, analysis, and measurement solutions.
Arie’s key consulting clients included: Prodigy, Safeway, FedEx, USAA, Capital One, BT Wireless (O2), Samsung Card, LG Capital, and many more. Arie’s industry specialties include: Financial Services, Credit Card, Consumer Lending, Retail, Internet, Telecommunications, and other services companies.
His diversified experience includes significant client-side, consulting-side, and agency-side tenures. Arie is also an effective leader of call center performance improvement projects, and is particularly adept at balancing the company, customer, and frontline perspectives.
Augie Ray is a Vice President Analyst covering customer experience (CX) for marketing and CX leaders. His coverage topics include the ROI of CX, CX strategy and governance, how CX leaders secure and retain sponsorship, the buy/own/advocate customer journey, voice of customer (VoC) and survey strategies, customer journey mapping, CX analytics and measurement, the role of social media and word of mouth (WOM) in CX, and persona development.
Mr. Ray helps CX and marketing leaders to launch and manage successful CX programs, gather and use voice of the customer (VoC) data more effectively, align CX metrics to the right leading indicators of success, and improve the use of customer journey maps and personas. He also offers guidance on the “customer experience pyramid,” which helps brands define the experiences that matter more and identify more powerful and innovative experiences.
Barry Dalton is a Customer Experience strategy and CX technology leader with accomplishments in designing and implementing strategy and technology architecture across Marketing, Sales & Service with a particular industry focus on Consumer Products, Pharmaceuticals, Retail, and Technology. After taking on various roles at Deloitte, Strategy, and GSK, he has been serving as the VP of Digital & Analytics Transformation at Genpact since May 2018.
He is currently focused on two areas:
The impact of the digital customer experience disruption, the next wave of emergent customer engagement channels, and the value of unstructured VOC data in understanding customer behavior and demand generation.
The upheaval that digital engagement and collaboration is having on business leadership and organizational communication.
Bill is an award-winning speaker, blogger, and writer in the areas of customer service for front-line associates and leadership for managers.
He has over thirty years of luxury resort/club management experience. Presently the general manager of Marriott Vacation Club Pulse San Diego, he was the general manager of The Inn at Bay Harbor‐A Renaissance Golf Resort, MI, recognized as one of the World’s Best Hotels by Travel+Leisure magazine.
Bill’s personal achievements include receiving the Renaissance Hotels General Manager of the Year, Marriott International Leadership Excellence and Sales Excellence Awards, Petoskey Chamber of Commerce Mission Award, and the American Hotel & Motel Association Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism.
Bill has been recognized for his customer service and customer experience insight with the following accolades: Userlike 11 Gurus of Customer Service, Fonolo Top 10 Tweeters Talking About the Customer Experience, Future Care Today Top Ten Social Customer Service Influencers, and SAP Business Innovation Top 60 Customer Experience Influencers.
Bob Thompson is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. He is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation, an independent research and publishing firm, and founder and editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies.
An author, keynote speaker and international authority on business management trends, he has been a thought leader in customer-centricity since 1998. His new book Hooked on Customers (April 2014) reveals the five habits of leading customer-centric firms. Thompson is also co-author of The Blueprint to CRM Success and author of the groundbreaking report “Customer Experience Management: A Winning Business Strategy for a Flat World.”
Before starting his firm, Thompson worked in the IT industry for fifteen years. He held sales and technical leadership positions at IBM, where he advised companies on the strategic use of information technology to solve business problems and gain a competitive advantage.
Bruce is widely viewed as a leading expert in how large organizations build differentiation with customer experience. During his 12 years with Forrester Research, Bruce led the company’s B2B, financial services, and customer experience practices. As a Vice President & Principal Analyst, he was the most-read analyst for 13 consecutive quarters and was one of the most highly demanded consultants and speakers in the industry. Bruce authored many of Forrester’s most popular research reports. He also led the creation and updating of many of Forrester’s customer experience evaluation methodologies and training workshops.
After leaving Forrester, Bruce founded the Temkin Group, a research and consulting firm. As the Managing Partner, he consulted for leading global companies, served as a keynote speaker at top industry events, researched customer experience trends, and authored Customer Experience Matters – one of the most popular blogs on customer experience. Temkin Group was acquired by Qualtrics in October 2018. The firm is a leading customer experience (CX) research, consulting, and training firm.
Five XM Practices For Accelerating Your Digital Transformation
Chip Bell is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and a prolific writer. His 23rd book, “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles” was released in February 2017 and is an inspirational guide to providing remarkable service. It won a 2017 Best Book Award for business books after winning a silver medal from North American Book Awards. His newest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination, will be released in September 2020.
Chip Bell is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and a prolific writer. His 23rd book, “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles” was released in February 2017 and is an inspirational guide to providing remarkable service. It won a 2017 Best Book Award for business books after winning a silver medal from North American Book Awards. His newest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination, will be released in September 2020.
He is Founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy LLC who helps organizations grow by identifying hidden, unmet needs. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, helps organizations unlock growth by discovering customers’ hidden, unmet needs that drive value ($).They capitalize on this by improving customer experience to meet these needs thereby retaining and acquiring new customers across the market. The Financial Times selected his company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, as one of the best management consultancies
Colin is recognized by Linkedin as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers’. Brand Quarterly readers also voted him one of the ‘top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50’ for two years in a row. A Global Guru poll established him as one of the top ‘Customer Service Gurus’ in the world.
Dan’s 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers. He has held leadership positions at three Fortune 300 companies – McDonald’s, Discover and Humana – in customer experience, marketing, social media and customer service.
He is an international keynote speaker who believes that a remarkable customer experience is your best marketing. Dan doesn’t just talk about customer experience; his fast-paced, energetic presentation style creates an experience for the audience that they’ll surely remember.
Dan is the author of the book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, a host of the Experience This! Show podcast and a regular contributor to Forbes. He has been named one of the “Top 100 Digital Marketers of 2019” by both Brand24 and BuzzSumo and a “Top 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Follow” by TopRank.
As one of the most in-demandCustomer Experience Keynote Speakers and Consultants in the world today, David Avrin delivers profound wisdom to clients and audiences around the world. With a surprisingly relatable, conversational and very entertaining style, David delivers profoundly insightful and hard-hitting content to business audiences across a broad range of industries and categories.
His message and timely lessons on creating, delivering and promoting competitive advantages have been enthusiastically received by audiences across America and around the world.
A former CEO group leader, and executive coach with the world’s largest chief executive organization, David has worked with thousands of CEOs and business leaders on their business brand, customer experience, and competitive advantages.
David Avrin is the author of five books including the celebrated marketing books: It’s Not Who You Know It’s Who Knows You! andVisibility Marketing!, His latest Customer Experience book: Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back) was singled out in Forbes as “One of the 7 Business Books Entrepreneurs Need to Read” and one of the “Top-Ten Business Books of 2019″
Through her expertise and personal approach, Denise has become an in-demand keynote speaker inspiring business leaders around the world to build great brands and exceptional organizations. Her keynote presentations have captivated international audiences at conferences including TEDx, the Consumer Electronics Show, The Art of Marketing, among others, and at corporate events for Facebook, Lexus, NFL, and more.
Denise has written several books including the bestseller What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest. She is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Forbes and has been a sought-after writer for publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Knowledge@Wharton, ChangeThis, Seeking Alpha, QSR Magazine, among others.
Denise served as lead strategist at advertising agencies for Burger King, Land Rover, and Unilever and as the marketing leader and analyst for Jack in the Box restaurants and Spiegel catalogs. Denise went on to head Sony Electronic Inc.’s first-ever brand office, where she garnered major corporate awards as the vice president/general manager of brand and strategy. She has served clients as an independent consulting partner since 2004.
Dennis is an innovative Customer Experience evangelist with a deep understanding of consumer engagement, digital media, and reporting analytics.
As a well-known CX subject matter expert, he teaches CX for safaribooksonline.com / Orielly Media as well as CX Marketing classes at SMU. He regularly contributes topical posts on digital media and consumer experience for sites like brandwatch. Most recently, he was named one of Campaign US’ Digital 40 over 40.
Today Dennis and his team at Integer Group deliver integrated engagement programs that improve brand reputation and drive strategic integrated success for clients like FedEx Office, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, and See’s Candies.
Evan is currently focused on Client Experience Strategy for BNY Mellon by removing unnecessary complexity and processes to become more nimble and able to rethink how they help clients deliver and maximize value.
Previously, he founded Ogilvy & Mather’s strategy practice (sales enablement, service design and employee experience) charged with “making brands more human”. Evan has completed assignments for marquee clients such as American Express, Southwest Airlines, FM Global, IBM, Dupont, BlackRock, E*Trade, etc. He is an expert in transforming how employees work with customers through multiple digital marketing strategies. He empowers employees with actionable data and user interfaces to help increase customer engagement.
Flavio is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise SSL Certificate Management and PKI technology for security in the Internet of Things. DigiCert is trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations.
Flavio has a B.S. in Information Technology from Utah Valley University and M.S. in Technology Management from Denver University. His focus is on helping teams leverage technology with the special human factor to create exceptional and memorable customer experiences.
Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage and win customer loyalty.
Frank Eliason is an American corporate executive and author. Referred to as “the most famous customer service manager in the US, possibly the world” by BusinessWeek,Eliason is best known for developing the use of social media in the practice of customer relations.
He joined Comcast as executive support manager in 2007 during a period of high-profile public relations issues. In 2008, Eliason, as part of the team selected to address the issues, created the Twitter account @ComcastCares and began directly responding to customer complaints. Eliason, who interacted with more than 10,000 Comcast customers via Twitter,was the subject of significant press attention; he was featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Wired, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Forbes, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications.
In July 2010, Eliason left Comcast to become the global director of social media at Citi. After receiving numerous recognitions in his role at Citi, Eliason was named Executive VP, US Digital, and Customer Experience for Zeno Group in October 2015. He serves on the BoD for the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals.
You won’t find Hilary on too many “Customer Service Thought Leaders” lists, but she has one of the most extensive articles on customer service you’ll find on the internet. Hilary is a New York City-based freelance journalist. She writes (mostly) about fashion, culture, retail, and technology for publications including Vox, Glamour, CNN, Racked, Refinery29, Fashionista, i-D, Vice News, Curbed, and TheAtlantic.com. She is also a regular contributor to Footwear News covering the retail industry. You can find those stories here.
Prior to going freelance, Hilary worked for Stylecaster, Lucky magazine (RIP), Styleite (ditto), and Harper’s Bazaar. She graduated from New York University and Columbia Journalism School, and she is originally from Toronto, Canada. If Hilary continues to write about customer service, we’ll continue to read.
A highly influential freelance Customer Experience consultant, Ian advises leading companies on Customer Experience strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked across multiple industries and has deployed customer experience tools and methodologies all over the world. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of customer experience (ijgolding.com/blog), Ian also served on the inaugural board of Directors of the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association).
In 2014, Ian officially became a Certified Customer Experience Professional. CCXP designation is for practitioners who want to be recognized for their expertise and skills while defining standards and best practices for the industry. It is the first global professional qualification for Customer Experience.
Ian is also Chairman of the judging panel at the UK Customer Experience Awards and the Gulf Customer Experience Awards and is an Advisor and featured columnist for CustomerThink.
Ian’s first book, ‘Customer What, the honest and practical guide to customer experience’ was published in April 2018.
Jake Perez is a Peabody & Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist with more than two decades of TV writing and producing experience.
For the last two years, Jake has worked as an editor for LinkedIn News. His curations often include news related to customer experience across the business world. Before joining LinkedIn News, Jake spent 18 years as a writer and segment producer for CNN. We honor him in this list because of the growing influence he and LinkedIn have on the news we consume.
Jay Baer, CSP, CPAE has spent 25 years in digital marketing and customer experience, consulting for more than 700 companies during that period, including 34 of the FORTUNE 500. His current firm – Convince &Convert – provides word of mouth, digital marketing, and customer experience advice and counsel to some of the world’s most important brands.
His new book, Talk Triggers, is the complete guide to creating customers using strategic, operational differentiators that compel word of mouth. Talk Triggers is the instruction manual for making businesses grow with customer conversation.
Jay’s Convince & Convert blog was named the world’s #1 content marketing blog by the Content Marketing Institute and is visited by more than 250,000 marketers each month. Jay also hosts and produces the Social Pros podcast, which is downloaded 65,000 times monthly and was named 2015’s best marketing podcast by the Content Marketing Awards.
A fixture in social media, Jay has been named a top influencer of CMOs, B2B marketers, small business owners, and digital marketers. He’s also one of the world’s top Global Gurus in customer service and customer experience.
Jeanne Bliss guides the achievement of business growth through leadership bravery and elevated business practices. She is known globally for transforming businesses to earn customer-driven growth. A 5-time Chief Customer Officer and coach to over 20,000 leaders, her practices are field-tested and proven. Bliss’ 5-Competencies for customer-driven growth have been adopted around the world, and her 4 best selling books on customer experience and leadership are the guidebooks of the CX Profession. Jeanne Bliss has delivered over 1,500 transformative keynotes globally, has coached over 20,000 leaders on leading to elevate their company in the marketplace, with sustainable growth. Jeanne Bliss is the cofounder of the customer experience professionals association and is fondly known as the “godmother” of customer experience.
Jeff is a dynamic keynote speaker whose presentations are always highly interactive, practical, and engaging. Over 140,000 people have taken one of his video-based training courses on LinkedIn Learning, including Leading a Customer-Centric Culture, Customer Service Foundations, and Working with Upset Customers.
Jeremy has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.
Jill Raff, founder and the driving force behind The Jill Raff Group, is a highly experienced CX Strategist (Customer Experience) and published author. For over 30 years, she has been delivering world-class customer service and experiences.
Jill developed her customer-first philosophy growing up in the “McDonald’s family.” In 1959, her family opened store #150 in Ocala, Florida. From age seven, while shadowing her father and working her way around every station in the restaurant, she experienced first-hand the results of founder Ray Kroc’s philosophy of QSC & V (Quality, Services, Cleanliness & Value). Jill was raised with a robust understanding of a strong work ethic and knowing what good customer service can ultimately do for a business.
Jill has made a name for herself by empowering businesses to create company cultures that deliver extraordinary customer experiences so that customers will become obsessed with doing business with them. This work has been led by the creation of her proprietary Inside-Out Framework™.
With a lifelong passion for customer experiences, Jim founded Heart of the Customer to help companies of all sizes increase customer engagement. Before launching the company, Jim led customer engagement initiatives at Best Buy, Gallup and UnitedHealth Group. In the process, he became an expert in using Voice of the Customer research to identify unmet needs, develop new products and improve customer service. His Heart of the Customer Customer Experience Model™ is a powerful tool designed with one simple goal: customer loyalty. Customers ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies use his maps to visualize their way to improved performance.
His fascination with customer experience led him to test himself by becoming a Certified Customer Experience Professional, only the second in the world to earn such a designation. Jim is a frequent keynote speaker, helping employees to engage customers through a personal connection. Jim teaches that true customer engagement only happens when you solve a problem and create a personal connection while doing so. He is a dynamic speaker, passionate about building a world-class customer experience that results in engaged customers who come back time and again.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ and founder/president CAS, Inc. is a former techie turned people skills guru who turns interaction obstacles into business success.
For 30 years Fortune 500 leaders have tapped Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ to create dynamic inspirational leadership, high performance teamwork, and superior customer experiences. In all of her keynotes and workshops, Kate’s insights will teach you how to lead morale, engage employees like never before, and wow the customer with personal comfort.
Kate Nasser is also the founder/host of the long-running weekly Twitter Global People Skills Chat (hashtag #PeopleSkillsChat) every Sunday 10am Eastern Time. She is often quoted in industry journals on leading morale, employee engagement, customer experience, and teamwork. Kate was named to Huffington Posts’ Top 100 Customer Service Pros, to Simplr’s list of top customer experience superstars in 2018, and to ICMI’s Top 50 Customer Experience Thought Leaders of 2017.
Kate serves Application Development & Delivery Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service strategies, maturity, benchmarking, governance, and ROI. She is an accomplished public speaker and frequently presents at industry events such as CRM Evolution. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, and industry publications such as CRM Magazine, KM World, and Destination CRM.
Kate has extensive industry experience, with more than 10 years of leadership at CRM and customer service software companies, where she held senior product marketing and product management roles. She is also a published author on customer service trends and best practices.
Leslie has delivered writing courses for support center staff, customer service agents, and social media managers, helping thousands of professionals hone their customer-focused writing skills. She helps support organizations train agents to write well in all service channels, measure the quality of their writing, and revise and maintain their entire library of canned answers. Leslie is the co-author of Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents.
Lincoln Murphy is a Growth Consultant focused on customer-centric growth. For over a decade, he has helped hundreds of companies accelerate growth by optimizing the Customer Lifecycle, from customer acquisition to retention to account expansion and advocacy.
He authored the Customer Success book for Wiley! He helps SaaS companies grow by taking full advantage of the SaaS business model and unique distribution methods this model allows.
He has spoken at events and conferences around the world, from Poland to Brazil, and Ireland to Canada, including SaaS University, Freemium Summit, SIIA On-Demand, HostingCon, Pulse, RD Summit, Revenue Summit, #FlipMyFunnel, and TSIA’s TSW World.
Lynn Hunsaker is Chief Customer Officer of ClearAction Continuum where she co-founded its flagship ClearAction Value Exchange as a 24×7 silo-bridging mentor for marketing, CS and CX roles. During 11 years at Applied Materials (semiconductor equipment manufacturer) and 3 years at Sonoco, Lynn’s roles included Director of Marketing & Business Development, Director of Marketing Communications, Head of Global Quality, Customer Satisfaction Improvement Manager, Strategic Information Manager and Voice of the Customer Manager.
Lynn has taught 20+ university courses at UC Berkeley Extension, San Jose State University, Mission College and UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension. As a CXPA Recognized Training Provider, her Customer Experience Excellence online course has benefited people in 50+ countries. For 5 years, Lynn led the world’s first global study of B2B CX practices. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and is past president of Silicon Valley American Marketing Association. Lynn is a top author on CustomerThink.com where she is one of five Hall of Fame award recipients. Lynn authored 3 handbooks available on Amazon Kindle, including Metrics You Can Manage for Success, Customer Experience Improvement Momentum, and Innovating Superior Customer Experience.
Marsha Collier is an author, radio personality, podcast host, and educator specializing in technology, Internet marketing, and E-commerce.
Before her online career began, Collier owned and operated her own marketing and advertising firm, The Collier Company, and won numerous awards including “Small Businessperson of the Year” accolades from several organizations.
In 2003, her book Starting an eBay Business For Dummies appeared on the BusinessWeek list of best-selling paperback business books.In December 2011, her book Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: How to Connect with Your Customers to Sell More ranked #4 among “What Corporate America Is Reading.” By 2013, her book eBay For Dummies was one of the best sellers on the topic.As of 2016, with over 1 million copies of her books in print, she was the all-time best selling eBay author. She hosts the Computer and TechnologyRadio podcast with broadcaster Mark Cohen.
To apply a science-based approach to improving the customer experience, Martha Brooke founded Interaction Metrics in 2004. Martha is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and holds a Blackbelt in Six Sigma.
Martha brings objectivity and a sense of curiosity to a variety of Customer Listening methods. Working with her team of Analysts, she measures customer experience successes, gaps and friction points—and pinpoints the details of how to improve.
To spur critical thinking about customer feedback and customer service, Martha leads nationally recognized conference sessions and workshops. She also shares analysis of customer experience and surveys through her blog which is syndicated by CustomerThink and other portals.
Prior to Interaction Metrics, Martha worked for two dotcoms, Lucy.com and Food.com, and consulted for Nike and Adidas.
Some of the organizations where Martha Brooke has spoken include Project Management Institute (PMI), American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), HDI, The Score Conference, Customer Solutions Expo, American Marketing Association (AMA), and NICSA at the Harvard Club.
Martin Hill-Wilson, an independent consultant with a long-standing track record in customer engagement strategy and implementation.
He was involved in the very first wave of contact centre implementation during the 1980’s with the Merchants Group, one of the first BPOs and transformation consultancies and ended up as CEO. Martin is a well known international keynote speaker, trainer, strategist and facilitator.
Martin runs masterclasses and redesigns customer engagement for organizations under his Brainfood brand. He is also a global authority on social customer service and co-author of ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’.
Matt Dixon is the Chief Product & Research Officer of the Austin-based AI venture, Tethr. Prior to his role with Tethr, he was the Global Head of Sales Force Effectiveness Solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group and, before that, held numerous global leadership roles in research, product development and management for CEB, now Gartner. An accomplished business researcher and writer, Matt is known for his frame-breaking and provocative work in the areas of sales, customer service and customer experience. He is the author of three Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestsellers—The Challenger Sale, The Effortless Experience and The Challenger Customer—and he is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review with more than 20 print and online articles to his credit. He is a sought-after speaker and advisor to management teams around world, having presented his findings and insights at a wide range of industry conferences as well as to hundreds of senior executive teams, including those of many Fortune 500 companies.
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer service speaker, keynote speaker, author, Senior Contributor to Forbes.com, customer experience consultant, and influencer on customer service, the customer experience, and corporate culture. He is the bestselling author of four books.
As a senior contributor to Forbes.com, Micah specializes in customer service, customer experience, company culture, and hospitality.
He is a best-selling author for three books: Exceptional Service: Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization, High-Tech, High Touch Customer Service, and Your Customer is the Star. His latest book is The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets.
Over three decades, Mike Wittenstein has successfully guided leaders and their teams through times of immense change. His robust story-driven process helps to bring clarity to ideas, commitment towards outcomes, and growth via strategic thinking. Mike has presented to countless audiences in 24 countries and 100+ cities around the world. Meeting planners, event organizers, and corporate trainers recognize him for his approachable, understandable, and positive presence in front of audiences, online, in videos, and with the press.
Mike’s results-driven approach has helped companies such as Chick-fil-A, Delta Airlines, Holiday Inn, IBM, the University of Phoenix, Piedmont Hospital, Transitions Optical, and hundreds of others. Together, Mike’s clients have created almost $2 billion in value by applying his ideas and proven process for the articulation, execution, and adoption of their strategies, and the design of stories and experiences.
Mike co-led Galileo, one of the world’s first digital agencies, then joined IBM Global Services in the role of eVisionary. Now the founder and managing partner at Storyminers, Mike shepherds mid-market companies to higher operating results and profitable exits using Storyminers’ unique combination of Story, Strategy, Experience Design, and Technology.
Myra Golden is the founder of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC. She is a long time speaker and training partner to many Fortune 500 companies across the nation. She creates fun and engaging classes to teach her clients to give their customers the best possible experience.
Myra’s engaging approach to customer service training is loved by her clients. Many of her clients rave about her workshops.
Her impressive resume includes many of the world’s biggest companies, like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Walmart, Verizon Business, and many more…Before the start of Myra Golden Seminars—which came to be in 1999—Myra worked at Thrifty Car Rental as the Global Head of Consumer Affairs. Travel Agent Magazine hailed Myra a Top 100 Rising Star for leading her team to unprecedented customer recovery and customer loyalty in the hospitality industry.
Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience 2015. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019, and a top CX thought leader by TruRating, Qminder, ProcedureFlow, LifeHelpNow, ICMI, and Exceeders. As a passion project, Nate recently created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate currently serves as the Chief Experience Officer for Officium Labs and can be found at a variety of conferences speaking and training on the CX topics he loves.
As the CEO of Gainsight, Nick is working with 700 “Gainsters” to create the customer success category that’s currently taking over the SaaS business model worldwide. Gainsight’s industry-leading platform, the Customer Cloud, helps businesses including Adobe, GE, Workday, and ADP to improve customer retention, accelerate expansion revenue, and increase client advocacy.
Gainsight has been the main flag-bearer of the customer success movement, organizing a global network of events under the Pulse banner. In addition, Nick and his colleagues wrote two books on customer success; Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue, and The Customer Success Economy: Why Every Aspect of Your Business Model Needs A Paradigm Shift.
Under Nick’s leadership, Gainsight has built an award-winning company culture. In just this past year, Gainsight has been recognized with numerous best workplace awards, including “Best Company Culture in 2018,” and “Best Company Outlook in 2019” by Comparably, Inc.
Nick has been named one of the Top SaaS CEOs by the Software report three years in a row, one of the Top CEOs of 2018 by Comparably, was a finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
Puneet is CEO and Founder of Netomi, an artificial intelligence platform for conversational commerce. He spent much of his career as a tech executive on Wall Street, building predictive platforms to power large-scale trading systems. In 2010, he Co-Founded MyCityWay, an award-winning, context-aware urban mobility platform and in 2013 he Co-Founded MobileROI, a mobile marketing software.
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950)is a British business magnate, investor, author and former philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which controls more than 400 companies in various fields.
In March 2000, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for “services to entrepreneurship”] For his work in retail, music and transport (with interests in land, air, sea and space travel), his taste for adventure, and for his humanitarian work, he has become a prominent global figure. In 2007, he was placed in the Time 100 Most Influential People in The World list.
In June 2020, Forbes listed Branson’s estimated net worth at US$4.1 billion.
Ron Shevlin is the Managing Director of Fintech Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Author of the Fintech Snark Tank on Forbes and the book Smarter Bank, Ron is ranked among the top fintech influencers globally and is a frequent keynote speaker at banking and fintech industry events (when there were still events).
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.
Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, Be Amazing or Go Home and The Convenience Revolution. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. (Now available as an online/web-based training program!)
Stacy is a Customer Experience Leader, Strategist, Practitioner, and Digital Marketer, known for humanizing business and differentiating brands beyond price.
Currently, Stacy works at Schindler Elevator Corporation as Director of Customer Experience and Employee Engagement. She is building and leading a talented CX team, implementing profitable programs, and partnering with 60 sales offices to deliver customer excellence.
Stacy’s journey to CX began in 2013 due to a fortuitous reorganization at Verizon. Her role expanded to increase customer satisfaction and brand advocacy by infusing customer and employee feedback in new product development, website design, marketing, and pricing strategies. Prior to that, she worked for 12+ years in sales and marketing at diverse companies and advertising agencies. As she gained expertise in CX best practices and methodologies, Stacy dedicated herself to combine her business expertise with a passion to provide real authentic experiences for customers and employees.
Steve has 20 years of experience between hotel operations, sales and marketing, training and development, and customer service roles working for Marriott International, one of the premiere customer-focused companies in the world.
As the Area Director of Training for the New York City market, Steve organized the training efforts at more than a dozen area hotels to successfully coordinate corporate-wide training initiatives. While at the NY Marriott Marquis, Steve worked with a team of Marriott executives to implement training that resulted in dramatic increases in employee and customer satisfaction survey scores. One such initiative titled The Basics was adapted from the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards in 1998 and branded by Marriott headquarters to become a company-wide initiative involving more than 3,000 hotels.
Since 1992, Steve has delivered interactive and engaging presentations on three continents, in six countries, and 26 states. Steve has delivered over 600 presentations to more than 20,000 people.
With 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia uses storytelling to share real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale and provide the experience your customers desire.
As a certified trainer, author & speaker, Steve has been recognized as a three-time “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professional” by Global Gurus.org and a “Top 50 Customer Thought Leader” by ICMI. He is also a featured contributor to the leading hospitality and customer service websites. With a tagline of “Finding Ways to WOW Your Customer”, Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best strategies on customer service, management, and leadership.
Teresa Allen, customer service speaker & customer service trainer, is owner of Common Sense Solutions, a national customer service training and consulting firm focused on bringing common sense customer service and customer experience solutions to business. Teresa has been presenting her highly acclaimed customer service keynote and customer service training programs across the US and abroad for over 25 years.
Customers today demand more. To meet expectations for convenience, companies need to offer omnichannel programs and email support system solutions. While channels like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WeChat gain prominence, email support will dominate as the digital channel of choice for customer service in the foreseeable future.
An email support system is superior in many ways. It’s not asynchronous and therefore is inherently more convenient. A person can send an email to a company and walk away, checking for a response when it’s convenient for them. A person is not committed to engaging in a real-time conversation which can get interrupted or lost due to connectivity issues or by simply clicking to a new Web page. Email also keeps a record. Emails can be stored and accessed later. On a phone call or Webchat interaction, no record exists.
Why Aren’t Traditional Email Support Systems Meeting Expectations?
Email is the most used digital customer service channel according to Forrester 1, but 62% of companies do not respond to customer support emails2. This presents a real risk to customer loyalty and satisfaction.
For the companies that do respond by email, they are not doing so quickly enough. Customers expect businesses to respond to their emails within an hour3. The average response time to a customer service request is 12 hours and 10 minutes2. Furthermore, only 20% of companies are able to completely answer questions on the first reply2.
From these numbers, it’s clear that email customer support needs to be improved. Customers want resolutions in their inbox. Making this worse, customer expectations for service in every channel are increasing; they expect faster response times and better responses. Companies like Amazon and Zappos have set the benchmarks for customer service, and people now demand quick, convenient support from every company they do business with.
How Can Conversational AI Impact Your CSAT?
When launching an AI-powered Agent, email is often forgotten. Most companies start with social channels or live chat. Email, however, offers incredible benefits in terms of training an AI and delivering high customer satisfaction (CSAT).
AI Agents managing email conversations need to be more advanced than those deployed on a website or social channels. This is because email messages are typically longer and contain multiple intents. It’s important that you leverage a conversational AI platform that has the ability to decipher the intent from longer messages within the right context to be able to accurately resolve a ticket and reduce frustration.
When you’re training an AI, it’s important to not focus on how you think people ask a question, i.e., the FAQs listed on your online help center or knowledge base, but how people are actually asking questions. In one example, Comcast found that their customers ask the simple question “I want to see my bill” in 7,500 unique word and phrase combinations.
By training with historic data, you’re able to set the AI Agent up for success by giving it knowledge and confidence to correctly classify intents across a larger number of utterances. The more data that’s available, the more accurate an AI will be. Because email has been used by companies for much longer than other channels, companies tend to have a much larger dataset.
When providing and omnichannel experience, it’s important to note that your customers ask things differently based on the channel in which they are seeking support. Chat is usually succinct. An email might contain multiple questions and additional detail. In a nutshell, people will ask things differently on email than other channels. So using your troves of historic email data will be most useful if you’re using it to train an email-based Conversational AI.
How Can Email Impact Reinforcement Learning?
People don’t expect an answer immediately on email like they do on chat or voice. This allows companies to start leveraging an AI Agent “behind the scenes” and conduct reinforcement learning. In this type of training, an AI Agent has no direct interaction with the customer. Instead, an AI reviews every incoming email and suggests a response to a human agent. The AI learns how the human agent responds in order to build confidence over time. Because the expectation for instantaneous support does not exist with an email support system, you have the leeway to train with real interactions without disrupting the customer experience.
Excited to deploy AI for your email? We can kick start improving your email channel by free analysis of AI fit in your organization. Just ask us how.
To download a copy of the full Customer Service Benchmark report, visit here.
Overview of our 2020 Customer Service Benchmark Report
Results of our inaugural Customer Service Benchmark Report
Findings reveal how the top retail and consumer goods companies deliver against customer service KPIs: availability, responsiveness, resolution time and measuring customer happiness
Analysis of how users of the most popular agent desk platforms perform against industry averages
Customer Service Benchmark
We’re excited to announce the launch of our inaugural Customer Service Benchmark Report. In this edition, we dig deep into the email customer support of retail and consumer goods companies. With top customer service now a differentiator and business driver, the state of email customer support is surprising. Some support teams wowed us with quick resolutions and going above and beyond to create satisfied customers. On average, however, retail and consumer goods companies have a long way to go.
Key Findings of the Customer Service Benchmark Report
Zendesk users are 2X faster than other agent desk software to send a response
Salesforce users outperformed other agent desk software by 121%
Only 56% of companies have an easy-to-access email address
70% of companies that have an email address never respond
Customers are 8X more likely to get a response to an email on a weekday than a weekend
The average response time to email requests is 36 hours
Only 1 in 5 retailers respond to an email within 24 hours
Fortune 500 companies respond 1.4x slower to respond to emails than Non-Fortune 500 companies
Only 14% of companies measure CSAT
When given the chance to go above and beyond and fulfill a special request, 83% of companies failed to deliver
To download a copy of the full report, visit here.
Our Customer Service Benchmark Report Says The Agent Desk Matters: Zendesk users provide better-than-average support
Our report found that Zendesk users are 2X faster than other agent desk software to send a response. Salesforce users also outperformed by 121%.
In addition to better response times, Zendesk are 2X more likely to send a CSAT survey to gauge customer satisfaction with an interaction.
Email is preferred but is not often a choice
According to Forrester Research, “54% of customers used email for customer service last year, making it the most used digital channel for customer service.”
This is true even in the wake of companies de-prioritizing email as messaging platforms. Live chat and voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant emerged as ways to engage in 1:1 conversations and resolve issues. According to our consumer research, it’s because email customer support is more convenient. Our research also revealed it is preferred as it’s readily available across all of our devices.
Only 56% of companies have an easy-to-access, readily available email address. Nearly 64% of companies offered a Web form. 37% of companies offered both an email address and a Web form. Surprisingly, 17% of companies did not have either an email address or a web form.
There is a massive divide between response times expectations and reality
Only 20% of companies respond within 24 hours. Nearly 1 in 5 companies do not respond to emails within 48 hours. The average response time is 36 hours. This is 36X slower than customer expectations, as 31% of customers expect responses in one hour or less1.
Of the companies that respond to emails, nearly 56% respond within 12 hours and 46% within 6 hours. On average, eCommerce companies are the quickest to respond, within 11.5 hours on average. With an average response time of 62 hours, personal care and cosmetics companies are the slowest to respond.
In an interesting twist, Fortune 500 companies respond to customer emails 1.5X slower than Non-Fortune 500 companies. The average handle time for Fortune 500 companies was 47 hours to respond, while non-Fortune 500 companies responded, on average, in 34 hours.
Emails are ignored 8X MORE on the weekend
We were shocked to learn that nearly 3 in 4 companies that publish an email address ignore customer service emails.
We found discrepancies among different industry sectors. Home Furnishings is almost twice as likely to respond than other retail companies, responding 55% of the time. They are followed by Apparel (48%), Fitness, Health & Wellness (47%) and Toy & Entertainment (43%) companies. The worst offenders were Food and Beverage Companies (responding 38% of the time) and Consumer Electronics & Tech companies (only 18% of the time).
Companies respond more frequently during the week. Customers are 8X more likely to get a response on a weekday than a weekend.
To download a copy of the Customer Service Benchmark report, visit here.
Support Best Practices: Personalization and CSAT Results
Studies of customer service metrics have shown that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences2. When a customer hits send, though, only 20% will receive a personalized response.
CSAT is one of the most important customer service KPIs. It’s how companies can ensure customers are happy. Only 14% of companies sent a customer satisfaction survey following a resolution.
Customer-obsession is alive and well
We often hear stories about agents going truly above and beyond to delight customers. We wanted to see if agents were empowered to fulfill a simple request, so we asked an agent to send a birthday message to a five-year-old whose birthday party was canceled. 1 in 5 companies go above and beyond to provide great customer service, much to our delight. Some agents went so far as to write poems and attach images and GIFs. Seeing agents empowered to do a small gesture was meaningful and one way to spur long-term loyalty and brand advocacy (the kind that pays off in revenue.
Critical Acclaim for our Customer Service Benchmark Report
The results of this Customer Service Benchmark study have been fact-checked and featured by one of the top retail writers on Forbes.
Retailers and consumer goods companies have a lot of work to do when it comes to closing the gap between customer expectations and the reality of email support. Get your copy of our Customer Service Benchmark Report here.