What You Should Know About AI and Customer Service

What You Should Know About AI and Customer Service

In our technologically driven world, we are continuing to see an increase in use of artificial intelligence in the customer service arena.  From chatbots, to self-serve checkouts, to online shopping and much more, AI is really taking over when it comes to the service sphere, and it’s only getting stronger and more personalized.

Why Do Customers Want AI Service?

Customers want fast, friendly and hassle-free service.  Many customers choose AI service options because it is available more conveniently for them.  For instance, the chatbot services online are often available 24/7 and you can get through to a AI service rep immediately versus waiting for sometimes hours on the phone to speak with a human rep.

That brings me to another reason why customers might choose AI service over a human interaction and that is, faster service.  AI customer service can often provide speedier answers to customer inquiries and problems.

Why Do Employers Want To Use AI?

Employers are also jumping on the AI bandwagon for several reasons.  Having AI service can often prove to be cheaper than paying a human body to be available.  The fact that AI service is ‘running in the background’ all the time, regardless of if it’s being use every moment, frees up the time of human agents making them much more efficient and productive.

Organizations are realizing more and more that having an omni-channel experience for their customers is critical.  And consistency among those channels is paramount.  Your organization might use a combination of AI and human customer service in order to provide an omni channel experience for your customers.  For instance, your human front-line workers might represent your company in your brick and mortar stores, whereas your AI reps fulfil online service inquiries.

Is AI Going To Take My Job?

If you could interact with a fast, friendly, hassle-free human OR a robot, which would you choose?  If they knew for sure that their customer service experience with the human would be exceptional, most people would probably choose the human.

With human to human interaction there are a lot of nuances and ability to provide personalized service that a robot can’t provide.  Of course, as technology is getting smarter, robots can automate to create personalized solutions for customers.  However, with robots there are many variables that we can’t control.

From an employer perspective, there is a place and time when AI should be used to increase productivity and efficiency and save costs.  But there are so many things that a robot cannot do that a human can provide.

The best solution for employees who find them in a precarious place when it comes to technology taking over their jobs, is to be constantly learning and growing to stay relevant.  Read more about how you can stay relevant in the age of AI by Re-Skilling the Workforce to Prepare for Technology.

Millennials and Motivation at Work

Millennials and Motivation at Work

There’s a generation in the workforce that will soon play a very important role in leading your organization into the future.  In fact, Forbes reported that by 2030, Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce. 

There has been a slew of articles lately about millennials ‘killing off’ various industries.  This attests to their immense buying power and control in the markets.  And, it is another reason why it is very important for you to treat your millennial employees well – because what is being felt on the inside of your organization can be felt on the outside by your customers.

All generations of talent want to feel valued in the workplace.  Millennials have reported several things that help to motivate and engage them in the workplace and turn them into loyal employees (and customers).

Here are some of things millennials look for in an organization to keep them motivated and engaged:

Flexibility.  This comes at the top of the list for many millennials. Many would even forgo a pay increase or bonus in lieu of more remote work, flexible hours, vacation time and a better work life balance.

Mentorship.  Millennials want to receive feedback and one on one coaching with their managers.  They want to have a good relationship with their direct supervisor and learn from them so they can move up in the organization.

Autonomy. Along with flexibility, millennials want to have some autonomy and say in how they execute their role. They don’t want a supervisor who micromanages them.  Some examples of ways they can get autonomy include, working remotely or flexibility, and having authority over making certain decisions within their scope of practice.

Transparency. Millennials want to know what is going on in the business and how they can contribute to the growth. They want you to be clear about what your business goals and objectives are and to communicate that with them.

Impact.  Millennials want to feel like they are contributing to the betterment of the organization.  This could be with a special project, by supporting their colleagues, or by serving their customers on the front line.  Whatever way they serve your organization, they want to know how their contribution is making an impact in order to feel valuable.

Skills. Millennials are a generation that are very dedicated to continuing their education and learning new skills that make them more marketable.  They want to know that you are investing in their future by providing them will skills and development that will make them more marketable and allow them to grow in the organization.

Recognition & rewards.  Millennials (and other generations of talent) want to feel like their great work is being acknowledged. Recognition and rewards can come in many forms including non-monetary recognition such as praise and thanks, or monetary rewards and recognition such as bonuses, time off, gift cards, and total recognition points that can be redeemed for merchandise, travel and many other rewards.

For more information on how to support millennials at work read What Millennials Want in the Workplace.

5 Effective Ways to Motivate and Engage Your Remote Employees

5 Effective Ways to Motivate and Engage Your Remote Employees

With the rise of virtual and remote workers, organizations are paying more and more attention to how they can utilize this great opportunity to offer their employees more flexibility.  However, just as important is keeping those same employees motivated and engaged as if they were in the office daily having one on one face time with their colleagues and managers.

As a remote worker myself, I can attest to the fact that the tips below work to keep me motivated and engaged during my workday.  I should mention though that not everyone is cut out for remote or virtual work.

When I tell people I work from home, I’ve had countless people tell me “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”  I think it’s true that some people are just not cut out for remote work.  You do have to be self-motivated and disciplined enough to cut out the distractions.  Additionally, it’s important to make sure you allow yourself the time to step away from work to take short breaks — perhaps get outside for a walk – as it will help you to reinvigorate your energy for the rest of your workday.  If you just plop down in front of your computer screen for 8+ hours straight you’re going to drain yourself both mentally and physically.

Here are some of the top ways that you can motivate and engage your remote and virtual workers:

1. Establish Your Company Culture.

Be sure to communicate your expectations and company culture up front with your remote workers.  You want to make sure that they’re a good fit for your organization and that they will be committed and competent to perform their duties.  If you find that an employee isn’t cut out for remote work, give them opportunities to connect in person with their colleagues and leaders.  For example, when I first started at GES I would go into the office so I could get to know who I was working with.  It was important to establish those in person connections and get to know a little bit more about the company and culture before I began working remotely.

 

2. Keep in Touch Often.

It is so important to communicate often with your remote workers.  Establish a meeting frequency that is best for your team and be sure to touch base on activities, deadlines and updates that they might require in order to perform their job best.  Keep in touch daily via email and be sure to communicate very clearly and efficiently what your expectations are for work completion.  Establish deadlines together and come up with an action plan on how they will execute their duties.

 

3. Opportunities to Grow.

Make sure to offer your remote employees the opportunity to learn and grow within your organization.  If they stay sedentary for too long and aren’t developing new skills, they are likely to find somewhere else where they will.  This can include formal learning opportunities such as eLearning, one on one training and coaching or work related courses/certifications that will teach them new skills.  You can also send them to industry conferences where they will have the opportunity to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and bring back relevant opportunities to implement in your workplace.

 

4. Give Them Challenging Projects.

Keep your employees motivated by giving them new and challenging projects.  It will give them the opportunity to learn new things, and exercise their problem-solving skills in a new way.  This will also help them to develop a new set of skills that they may be able to transfer into other parts of their role in your organization.

 

5. Recognize their Achievements.

It is so important for you to recognize and reward your remote workers for their great work!  Recognition can take on many forms such as non-monetary recognition such as a verbal thank you or acknowledgement, or a peer to peer recognition note, etc.  You can also recognize them with monetary rewards such as points to redeem in your total reward program, monetary bonuses or paid time off.  It is important to recognize your remote workers in a personalized way that is unique to how they want to be recognized.  For example, some employees would prefer to have extra vacation time over a bonus, or vice versa.  Get to know your employees so you can personalize their recognition experience.

 

To learn more about what your employees want to keep them motivated and engaged check out the Top Company Perks to Consider for Your Talent.

Is Microlearning a Good Fit for My Organization?

Is Microlearning a Good Fit for My Organization?

You may have heard the term micorolearning being tossed around the learning and development world for the last couple years, and for good reason. Microlearning is essentially a method of teaching and delivering content in small, specific doses. In this type of learning, the learner is in better control of when and what they are learning.

The Benefits of Microlearning

In our high-tech society, it has been said that the attention spans of most people are dwindling. However, as an organization, learning is still so important for the growth and development of your employees, your business and your customer service. Learning providers face the challenge of delivering learning in a way that is accessible, digestible and most importantly translatable to a real-world environment.

    Some of the benefits of microlearning include:

  • Shorter lessons are easier for learner to complete with busy schedules
  • Succinct content makes the information more digestible
  • Reduced amount of time spent on training
  • Increased retention because the learner isn’t getting too much information too fast
  • Accessible content when and where it’s convenient, on any device

Is Microlearning Right for my Organization?

With busy schedules it’s getting harder and harder to take people off of the job for in person learning, not to mention the added cost and travel time. People want their learning content when and where it is convenient for them. Microlearning adds the element of time convenience in a high-tech, yet interactive environment that so many people desire.

By utilizing eLearning, your organization can provide a clear and consistent message to all employees across the organization. This can offer a high impact way to align your culture and messaging internally.

Global Engagement Solutions offers microlearning solutions utilizing our Layered Learning approach. Click here to learn more about our learning solutions and see them for yourself in action.

Why Action Planning is the Key for Successful Learning

Why Action Planning is the Key for Successful Learning

Your organization can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on training and developing your employees, but if you don’t put that learning into action, then your efforts will be in vain. 

It is critically important that 10x the amount of time, energy and resources is spent following up and reinforcing learning and development, as is spent designing and delivering it. 

What is Action Planning in Learning?

Action Planning is an application focused exercise for you to implement and discuss during your leadership meetings. Upon completing a learning session, the learner would develop an action plan on how to implement that learning in their workplace.  The action plan would be sent to their direct supervisor and they would work together to create a plan and methods of accountability to put that plan into action.

How to Activate Change with Your Learning Program

Action planning is important to the development process because It creates momentum and motivation to put the learning into action.  It creates accountability for both the learner and their supervisor because it’s a guide to how to implement the learning in your organization.

To successfully transfer learning from the learning environment to a real-life scenario, your focus must be on repetition and reinforcement.

Your learners must fully understand the content and competencies they have learned by repeating the content, practicing, drilling and rehearsing it in a safe environment.

We believe the key to great learning is retrieval. Being able to retrieve the content or the competency when you need it to make a difference with a colleague or a customer.

Once your learner is confident in their ability to retain and retrieve the content and competencies they have learned, create an action plan of how to implement that learning in the organization. It’s important for the supervisor to be directly involved with the action planning step.  This gives the learner someone to be accountable to, while also making the supervisor accountable for putting the learning into action.

Here is an example of an action oriented microlearning program:

As you can see from the design above, each learning suite is developed to create repetition, follow up and reinforcement as well as accountability, tracking and measurement.

If you would like to learn more about how to implement a microlearning program in your organization with a focus on action planning, get in touch here.

How To Enable Employees with Learning

How To Enable Employees with Learning

Talent today aren’t going to stick around your organization and give you their discretionary energy and loyalty unless they feel they are being engaged, empowered and enabled in their role.

Most employees don’t want to just put in x number of hours a day in the same monotonous job.  They want skills that make them more marketable NOW and in the future.  They want to feel like they are learning and growing in their current role, and they want to feel like they have the skills and competencies to do a good job with their colleagues and customers.

We have observed that the new work order has changed, and talent is no longer trading job security for job loyalty. However, when you give them skills and development now and opportunities for growth in the future, they feel visible and valued, which translates into giving their discretionary energy and loyalty.  Plus, when you develop your employees they are better enabled to serve both your internal and external customers and provide a better experience which can translate into more productivity and profits for your organization.

Millennials and Learning

Millennials especially are known for moving from job to job in order to expand their growth, salary and opportunities in their careers.  A recent Gallup poll found that, “Millennials are more likely than both Gen Xers and baby boomers to say a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them (45% of millennials vs. 31% of Gen Xers and 18% of baby boomers).” (Gallup, 2017).

Read more about What Millennials Want in the Workplace here.

Enable your Employees with Learning and Development

Hire for personalization, then train for hard skills.  There is lack of soft skills now in the workplace, and yet these skills are ones that help to create exceptional experiences for your customers.  Often times the hard skills that an employee needs to execute their role are trainable. Soft skills that focus on creating personalized experiences for your employees and customers include: being authentic, hospitality, empathy, competency, commitment, friendliness and fun!  If you hire your employees for these sort of skills, you can usually train them for the specific tasks they will need to know on the job.

Commit to your employee’s development and be accountable for their learning. Have a plan for developing your employees.  Communicate and discuss with them openly about their opportunities for growth and commit to a plan of action.  Ask yourself, what specific efforts have been made to improve my employee’s personal and professional skills?  The best organizations, the ones who have high retention, high recruitment and employee loyalty, engage and enable their talent with learning and development throughout their careers.

For more information on how to implement a custom learning program in your organization click here.

Got Service? How Your Employees Impact the Customer Experience and Loyalty

Got Service? How Your Employees Impact the Customer Experience and Loyalty

Each and every person in your organization has an impact on your customer experience and therefore your bottom line. Even those employees who don’t work on the front lines directly with your customers are serving your employees internally and providing them with the means necessary to perform their job.

“Customers don’t interact with an organization. They interact with you and your co-workers. It is that experience whether they buy or not, whether they become loyal customers or a lost opportunity.” – Peter Psichogios

Your Customer Service if Only as Great as Your Internal Service

It takes great internal service cooperation to provide seamless, flexible, hassle-free customer service. Whatever is happening on the inside of a company can be felt on the outside by the customers. If your talent is not fast, flexible and hassle-free with each other, how can they behave differently for your customers?

There are many ways that your internal employees might help serve your front-line employees to improve the customer experience. Leaders can serve your customers by providing front-line employees with the training, skills and competencies needed to do their best work. They can also remove obstacles that get in the way of providing the best experience to your customers.

Other internal colleagues might be involved in supporting those front-line workers with administrative work, stocking products, accounting and many other tasks that all contribute to a smooth customer experience. Read more about why if Your Internal Sucks, Your External Experience is Doomed.

Earning Customer Loyalty

Earning your customers’ loyalty starts with creating exceptional customer experiences at every touch point. The first step is having great internal service cooperation, and providing your employees with learning and development to enable them to better serve your customers as discussed above.

Earning customer loyalty is simple, but it’s not always easy. It takes dedication from your leaders, continuous effort from employees, and a commitment from your organization to align your organization on all levels.

Here are a few simple things you can do to earn your customer’s loyalty:

  • · Personalize your interactions and treat each customer uniquely as they want to be treated.
  • · Be authentic with every customer.
  • · Be friendly!
  • · Communicate clearly and effectively to set realistic expectations.
  • · Exceed customer expectations every time. Always go the extra mile for your customers!
  • · Honor your commitments. Follow through and do what you say you will.
  • · Provide them with fast, hassle-free service.
  • · Reward them with incentives to return and recommend!

It takes commitment and focus to understand that each interaction with your customers is an opportunity to create delight. But when you create exceptional experiences at every touch point, you will earn decades of loyalty.

EGOless Leadership: Serve Your Way to Success

EGOless Leadership: Serve Your Way to Success

Gone are the days where leaders can rule with an iron fist and expect their employee to respond with their loyalty and productivity. Talent nowadays feel a lot less like they owe their organizations something, when they don’t get something in return. Talent want to feel empowered and enabled to do a good job to the best of their ability. They want to feel like they have the skills and competencies to help their colleagues and customers.

Leave Your Ego at the Door

What would it look like in your organization if your leaders were egoless? Think about it, if you’re a leader who leaves their ego at the door, you’re going to have a more pleasant, less confrontational work environment. You’re going to have better, more open communication because your talent won’t be afraid to tell you about problems that get in the way of their service. You’re going to have more employee engagement because they want to serve a leader who cares about them and not just him/herself.

There are many reason why being an egoless leader will have benefits for your organization and it’s bottom line including, increased productivity, better safety, improved morale, and improved word of mouth from both your employees and customers.

How to Serve Your Way to Success

If you are truly committed to leaving your ego at the door and serving your way to success in business, there are some helpful things that will help you to get there:

Focus on your employees needs and wants. Get to know your people beyond the job they do and find out what motivates them. Do they want opportunities to learn and grow in a certain position? Provide them with development and they will be more engaged, energized and committed to your company’s success.

Recognize your employees for a job well done. This is not a one size fits all approach, and you absolutely cannot pollute the winner’s circle with losers. But recognize each individual employee for their personal contribution to your company’s success. When you do so, others will see these behaviors being recognized and will follow suit. Plus, it reinforces a positive, reward driven work environment where your employees will be acknowledged for doing good work.

Provide one-on-one coaching to see employees excel. If you give your employees personalized feedback and direction, you will be able to play upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses. It’s important to communicate openly and effectively with them so that they know what your expectations are and how they can meet and exceed them.

Discussion

These are just a few ways that being an egoless leader will help you serve your way to success.

  • Do you have any examples of an egoless leader in your organization? How are their interactions with employees different than other leaders?
  • What are some ways that you have seen improvement in your employees by being an egoless leader?
  • Do you have any guidelines you follow for being an egoless leader? Please share in the comments below!
Your Customer Experiences Are Not Created Inside a Vacuum

Your Customer Experiences Are Not Created Inside a Vacuum

We live in a society now where customers are constantly being bombarded with products in services at every touch point. On their mobile phone, internet browser, social media, television, print, at work, email marketing, billboards and much much more. So, as an organization it is important to remember that your experiences are not created inside a vacuum. What I mean by that is that your customers experience is effected by many aspects and layers of their service interactions.

If you want to excel at being an organization that creates exceptional experiences for their customers at every touch point, be sure that your service is impeccable through every channel. Read more about how to Improve Your Omni-Channel Experience here.

“Service is produced, consumed and evaluated simultaneously.” – Peter Psichogios

Your service is produced, consumed and evaluated simultaneously, which means that your employees much be enabled to provide the best service imaginable. They must be able to provide service that is fast, friendly, and hassle free.

Invest in your Employees for Better Service

So how do you enable your employees to provide this kind of exceptional service? A large part of it is investing in their growth and development from the get go. Many people are worried about spending the time and money on developing their employees, but if you’re not investing in your employees’ future then they’re going to find someone who will.

Learning is one of the key drivers of employee engagement, so it is no surprise that your talent want opportunities to learn and grow in your organization. When you provide your employees with learning they feel acknowledged and they feel connected to your company’s growth and vision. When you invest in your employees, they will want to invest their motivation and energy back in to your organization.

Plus, when you invest in your employees’ skills and competencies, they will be able to provide better service internally with their colleagues and externally with your customers, both of which improve your bottom line with increased productivity, loyalty, and sales. That investment will drive them to provide experiences that make your customers stay longer, buy more and positively refer others.

Discussion

What development initiatives do you have in your organization that help to create better customer experiences?
Have you personally seen a connection with increased employee engagement and improved customer service?
What organizations come to mind when you think of exceptional service? What ways do you see that their employees are enabled to provide you with quality service?

We love to hear your personal stories and suggestions! Please share in the comments below.

Hey Leaders, Have You Experienced Your Experiences?

Hey Leaders, Have You Experienced Your Experiences?

If you’re a leader and you want to improve your employee and customer experience drastically, you should you experience your experience. What I mean by this is, you should experience working on the front lines with your employees. When you do this you not only talk the talk, but you walk the walk. When you lead from the front lines and are on the ground walking around with your employees you will be able to see first-hand what the experience is like for your front-line employees. This will allow you to then address problems and obstacles in the way of your internal service cooperation, which will in turn improve your external experience for your customers! This is a great example of what it is to be a servant leader (Read more about how to be a Servant Leader here).

Lead from the Front Lines

If you experience working on the front lines with your employees, you will build rapport, earn their trust, and receive their discretionary energy and engagement. Being a servant leader and getting in the trenches with them shows that you are dedicated to making their workplace the best environment possible, which will make them want to stay longer, work harder, and have positive things to say about your organization.

What Would Elon Do?

You may have recently read the statement issued by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, whereby he addresses safety concerns for the Tesla front line after reports came out that injuries were about 30% higher than the industry average.

“No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful.

Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.

This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.” (Electrek June 2 2017)

This email is a great example of a servant leader who is dedicated to making the workplace a safe and positive environment for his employees. It is not enough for your product to be exceptional, your experience needs to be exceptional as well. The customer experience starts from the inside out with your employees.

Discussion

What do you think about Elon’s email above?
Do you have any examples of problems you have solved by experiencing your experience and working the front lines?

Share your experiences of servant leadership in the comments below!

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