The Race for Customer Service Excellence is On – An Interview with Jim Iyoob

Customers now have the right of way. What used to be a one way street service in the world of business, has become a platform in making sure the customer is placed high on a pedestal.

Companies know that a happy customer is the beating heart of their organization. In the race for success, companies are developing customer service strategies that set them apart from their competitors. So it made us wonder, what strategies are coming out of the woodwork and what makes a customer experience so great?

 

We reached out to Jim Iyoob, Senior Executive of Customer Experience and Operational Excellence for Etech Global Services, to answer some of our questions. Iyoob comes with an impressive background of experience, including click-to-chat sales and service with an impeccable track record of innovation and advanced business intelligence. He was very happy to share some of this expertise and opinions, resulting in a great piece of innovative thinking with insider tips not to be missed.

 

1. Its no secret a customer service plan is needed for any business to survive. Keeping that in mind, what are some key differences you recognize in a successful customer service that others don’t have?

 

Jim Iyoob: Many components must be carefully orchestrated for business success, none of which is more critical than Customer Experience. Customer Experience and Service has evolved over the last couple of years primarily due to digital advancements. To set yourself apart, you need to incorporate the customer service strategy focused on delivering an effortless customer experience, go where your customers are, engage every employee, collect operational insights and gather competitive information.

  • Customer experience – Customer experience is the product of interaction between a customer and an organization over the duration of the relationship. It reflects how the customer feels about the company and its products. To transform your business, generate positives conversations with customers by offering superior products and effortless customer service. Happy and satisfied customers grow from being loyal to becoming brand advocates.
  • Go where your customers are – Customers are no longer contacting you over phone. They use various channels – phone, website, live chat, social media, email. Businesses should be ready to deliver this effortless customer service on any channel, at any time. Creating an omni-channel experience your customers expect is very crucial to success.
  • Engage every employee – Your best designed processes and systems will only be effective if carried out by people with higher engagement. Reward your team.  By creating a culture of success you will find that same success is translated straight to your customers. Creating a winning culture is one thing I have seen over the years that will bring businesses to the next level.
  • Collect operational insights – Use customer interactions to gather operational insights to help improve your internal processes. This will optimize your customer experience approach, lower call volume and reduce repeat calls for similar problems and positively impact your bottom line.
  • Gather competitive information – Gathering competitive insights will help you identify more up-sell, cross-sell opportunities.      

 

2. How would you define superior customer service?

 

JI: As I was thinking about this lately, I looked at the structure and operations of Etech Global Services, what has helped us to keep improving and offering superior quality to our clients?

Understanding your customers is the key so that you deliver the service that they want and expect. If you are to provide a truly great effortless customer experience, you have to develop a definition that your employees can relate to and deliver, and that is really relevant to your customers and your market place.

“Understanding and segmenting your customers so you can be clear about what needs they have from you will help you to exceed their expectations.”

 

 The content you share determines customer perception towards your organization. Do you position yourself as an expert in your field? Does your content help customers understand you and your products? Does it create value? Your content should accomplish these tasks and much more. Businesses must make it a point to keep any promises they make to their customers. Developing a reputation for trustworthy and reliable service keeps customers coming back. 

3. Which innovative trends do you recognize in the customer service industry nowadays?

 

JI: To stay ahead of the competition, it’s important for marketing leaders to have an eye on trends that have the potential to accelerate. Technology will allow companies to communicate with the customer and add value in new ways. However, most companies just aren’t there yet.

  • Contact centers will become engagement centers – Today’s contact centers are seamless extensions of brands, and a place for constant feedback between your business and your customers  a place where you can build personal relationships and transform customers into brand advocates.
  • Customer experience – Per Forrester, 7 out of 10 business leaders claim that customer experience is now critical to their success.  Offering an exceptional customer service experience will win you some loyal customers. A string of loyal customers who rave about your brand is one of the key things you need to beat the competition. Exceptional customer service is making the customer feel they are the most important for the few minutes you are interacting with them. You assure them that you will do that you can to make their day better.
  • Intelligent Self Service options – Gartner predicted by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Machine learning and simple contextual support content can improve the customer experience, reduce costs and increase revenue. For more complex questions and sales support, however, real people will still be crucial because machine learning can never replace the human element.
  • Live Chat – We see brands proactively start to initiate chat interactions where a customer is detected fumbling through their online support environment. Chat has emerged as the most natural channel for customers to interact though as it gives customers all-important privacy, as well as the freedom to drop and pick up conversations later.
  • Social Support – Technology has made it easier for brands to provide a more compelling customer experience on social. provide options to seamlessly take interactions off social media to a private phone call with an agent. The company’s Twitter account can tweet back to the customer with a custom link that works only for that customer. But in considering these emerging technologies, many brands are still very behind when it comes to social.

4. How does an organization choose the right people for their customer service teams?

 

JI: Having the right people on board to handle the customer service job is the first step towards delivering an outstanding customer service at your business. 

 

The most important thing is to know what to look for in your potential candidates and keep that in mind during the interview while asking your questions and analyzing their answers. The key is to understand who they really are. Check for customer support team attributes such as good communication, active listening, problem solvers and the right attitude. Hire people that fit into your company culture.

 

To effectively serve your customers, a person needs to have a mind-set of effortless customer service, which is not only being ready to serve others but a willingness to go the extra mile for creating a truly positive and memorable customer experience and making customers happy.

 

Hiring deliberate, detail-oriented people will go a long way in meeting the needs of your customers. Hire leaders; leaders are not only great examples for other team members to follow, they are also excellent problem solvers, responsibility takers and decision makers. Leadership skills are critical in complicated situations when a customer expects someone to take the wheel and offer them a quick and efficient solution.

 

5. We are flooded with new AI technologies for customer service like chat bots and automation tools, do you think these software will eventually replace the people who provide service nowadays?

 

JI: As we deploy AI technologies to make our world more efficient, human work will take on more of a “problem solving” role; overseeing processes and recommendations to help drive business insights.  When the idea of artificial intelligence comes to mind, everyone conjures up a different image.

 

For example, some think of fully-automated robots that can function in human society. Others think of programs and software’s that can mimic one specific form of human intelligence. What qualifies as artificial intelligence versus a super smart computer is hard to establish when everyone has a varying definition of AI.

 

When we refer to artificial intelligence, we will be referring to the ability of a machine to perform human intelligence tasks equal to or better than humans. I expect to see a service human and AI work together to tackle the problem at lightning speed.  People will always be a very essential part of the process, regardless what these machine learning and AI companies tout.

 

Think about delivering services to a client. Most customer challenges are routine, but humans play a very important role in addressing new issues, solving them the first time they appear and then consolidating the process into the system. Managing the unpredictable is where people work gets the most interesting, and that’s the future we’re moving into along with machine learning.

 

6. It’s so interesting to get your point of view within Etech Global. What inspires you in your line of work? Do you think it takes a certain person to provide customer care?

 

JI: Being the Executive Vice President of Customer Experience, I believe a properly developed brand can be worth billions! Creating the right experience will make us a market leader.

 

Every once and awhile I hear a story about a brand delivering an incredible customer experience. Sometimes the experience described is carefully planned, orchestrated and executed. Inspiring experiences are personal, compelling and empowering. Your customers are the reason you’re still in business, and your job is to serve your customers to the best of your ability.

 

In my opinion it does not only takes a certain person to provide customer care but most importantly a culture that a company builds delivers exceptional customer experience.  Customer Service Should Be Everyone’s Job. Excellent customer service must become a natural part of the company’s personality. 

 

As a business leader, it’s up to you to create a service culture, and to show (by your behavior) what it means to serve. Act as if your employees are your customers; then treat them that way. They will learn from your example; so whether you set a good or bad example, this is what your staff members will mirror. You are communicating to your employees what you value, and what you expect.

 

Jim Iyoob is EVP, Customer Experience and Operational Excellence for Etech Global Services.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimiyoob

https://twitter.com/jiyoob

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Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.
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