Book of the Month: Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by Ted Kinni

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Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials in December 1954. Photo courtesy Orange County Archives.

In the Disney Institute’s Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, author Ted Kinni reveals the secrets to delivering magic to your customers the Walt Disney way.

The Walt Disney World resort enjoys a 70% return customer rate, and the Disney Approach to service has led to three decades of providing professional development programs through its Disney Institute. But just how does a company that was “all started by a mouse” and now employs 175,000 cast members worldwide ensure that its customers’ expectations are consistently being exceeded on such a grand scale? The Disney Magic, as you’ll read in Be Our Guest, is part art and part science — and Kinni details how the company approaches raising the bar at every customer touchpoint.

We think this book makes for a great read regardless of your industry or job title, …

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StellaService Study: Are Your Contact Center Agents Ignoring Questions From Customers?

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Operating a contact center, or paying a third party to manage it for your business, is an expensive endeavor. One of the key factors that drives up costs is contact volume, or the number of inbound inquiries being handled by agents.

So, if you know that reducing inbound inquiries reduces costs, the goal is to find a way to eliminate a customer’s need to pick up the phone or send an email. To achieve this goal, there are several factors to consider. A good place to start is making sure your agents are answering every question posed by the customer.

As part of StellaService’s normal operations, StellaService Analysts include two questions in every email to customer service departments. This metric helps retailers to determine if their agents are being thorough, eliminating the need for another contact.

For example, in one interaction from this study, the agent was asked: “If I’ve already placed an order, can I get a faster shipping method? Can I change the shipping …

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7 Customer Service Quotes for Your Company to Live By

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Here at Happy Customer we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to regularly interview customer service experts, speakers, consultants, authors and more. In some cases these experts work within online retail, in others, their expertise spans multiple industries.

We’ve selected some of our top quotes from interviews and hope they provide you inspiration and guidance along the path to delivering great customer service.

1) “Providing great customer service in our technologically altered world isn’t a fundamentally different proposition than it was a decade ago, but it’s faster. More transparent. More twitchy. Unforgiving. Viral. Magnified. But still created by, and for, people. People are central on both sides of the service interaction.”

-Micah Solomon, Customer Experience Consultant and Speaker
Read our review of Micah Solomon’s latest book, High-tech, High-touch Customer Service, here.

2) “One of the struggles service has had is proving its value, but …

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The Difference in Creating Companies and Categories

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This column is by Jordy Leiser, CEO and Co-founder of StellaService.

Starting a new company is difficult. The numbers say that 75 percent of startups fail, but that doesn’t change the fact that lots of people do it every day.

Inventing a new category, however, is downright herculean. It’s the most challenging path an entrepreneur may take, because it requires the greatest risk and elicits a tsunami of doubters.

But, when it works, it is capable of having profound impact on the world. And that’s one reason why I’m always inspired and surprised by category creators.

I often think of Henry Ford’s famous quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

There were dozens of other aspiring automaker-entrepreneurs in the early 20th century, but Henry Ford is the one we remember and recognize. He started mass-producing the Model A and the Model T at a time when there was no mainstream market for automobiles.

Henry Ford invented a new …

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Will Zulily’s Customer Service Scale With Its Rapid Growth?

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Image courtesy Yahoo! Finance

Ecommerce startup Zulily is on a tear. The Seattle-based company announced fourth quarter earnings earlier this week, and the market responded enthusiastically.

The stock surged 40% post-earnings announcement, the company’s first since its IPO in November.

CNBC financial commentator Jim Cramer speculated on his show Tuesday night that Zulily could beat Amazon in the race for online shopping dollars, citing the company’s mobile-centric strategy.

“This is the first company that has said ‘we can beat Amazon,’ and I believe them. I think they can beat Amazon. Why? Because they are a technology company in the women’s apparel business. It’s a revolutionary company. I urge everyone to take a look at ZU.”

In addition to a 100% rise in fourth quarter sales, the company also reported that it doubled its active customers in 2013 to 3.2 million. Additionally, the CEO noted on the call that the majority of its business …

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7 Steps for Handling Distraught Customers

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This guest post is written by Salil Gupta, Managing Partner at Vcare Technology, a provider of contact center services to online retailers. 

Did you know that 48% of customers who have had a negative customer service experience are likely to tell 10 or more people about it? On the other hand, just 25% of customers who had a good experience are likely to say something positive about your company, according to Harvard Business Review.

Given the fact that customers who have had a bad experience won’t hesitate to get on a megaphone (See: social networks) to tell others, it is important to make every effort to convert distraught customers into happy customers. After all, your customers are the reason you’re in business, right?

Examples of distraught shoppers in online retail can vary from a customer who is experiencing problems logging into a site to a customer who didn’t receive an gift order in time for Christmas despite placing it by the retailer’s stated …

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Online Retailers: Here’s How to Empower Your Frontline Reps

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Do you impose time limits on call lengths for your customer service agents? Do your reps have access to the appropriate order management systems, allowing them to provide customers with order information in real-time?

These are just two areas where operational changes can significantly impact the experiences your agents are delivering to your valued customers.

StellaService Client Development Manager Chris Vodola has experience managing contact centers for major beauty brands and online retailers, and in a recent post for Multichannel Merchant he outlines five ways to empower frontline customer service reps. Here are the first two:

1) Give them the luxury of time.
When agents feel pressured to end calls within a certain time limit, or pick up the phone as quickly as humanly possible, they’re putting more priority on putting out fires and less emphasis on actually getting to the root of the customer’s problem by doing proper research on the issue and potential solutions. It’s not …

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Google Trends Shows Increase in Popularity of ‘Customer Service’ as a Search Term

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Over the last 10 years, Google Trends shows an increase in popularity for the search term “customer service.”

Top searches related to “customer service” suggest that the rise in popularity could be in part due to the increase of smartphone ownership — most searched topics alongside this query include Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

For those not familiar, Google Trends is a free tool that allows users to explore trending search queries and compare search terms by interest over time. You can also dive into geographic trends, trends by category (Shopping or Beauty & Fitness, for example), and trends by product (Web Search, Image Search, News Search, Google Shopping and YouTube Search).

Google notes that the Trends Graphs do not represent absolute search volume numbers because the data is normalized and presented on a scale of 1 to 100.

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of …

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Stella Monthly Benchmarks: JCrew.com Shines in January

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JCrew.com started the year right.

Thanks to a fantastic performance by its contact center staff, the retailer provided the best customer service in January, according to Stella Monthly Benchmarks.

JCrew.com’s performance was second among all retailers in both Phone and Email support. And the retailer’s Email performance was best among Apparel/Accessories retailers. JCrew.com topped the Email category with the best Issue Resolution in the group of top performers and was also the only retailer in the group to score 100% in Product Knowledge and Policy Knowledge.

JCrew.com’s service was consistent across channels. The retailer achieved a Top 10 performance in three of four areas — Phone, Email and Returns.

LLBean.com was also a strong performer in January, particularly in Phone support, in which it was the best among all retailers.

“During a month that tends to be busy with post-holiday inquiries, JCrew.com’s contact center performance was …

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L.L.Bean Shoppers Get a Peek at the Post-Order Process

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What happens after pressing the “Submit Order” button can be somewhat of a mystery for online shoppers.

In its order confirmation email to shoppers, StellaService Elite-rated L.L.Bean takes the opportunity to shed some light on the post-order process.

“Ever wonder what happens after you place your order? Watch the video” the email teaser reads, linking to a 70-second video on LLBean.com.

The video narrator begins, “From the moment you place your order with L.L.Bean, our goal is to give you the best customer service possible.”

Each order placed on LLBean.com is hand-packed, by a real human, in the Freeport, Maine fulfillment center, and the video features shots of workers preparing orders and agents taking calls in the contact center. This bit of transparency helps to establish trust with customers, puts a human face to the ecommerce operations, and gives the retailer the opportunity to reinforce its customer-centric philosophy — one that dates …

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