Category Archives: Guest Post

What Is Proactive Customer Service And How To Implement It In Your Organization

Companies today cannot function without a robust customer services department. Most people believe that customer service is a response mechanism dealt by professionals to deal with problems or back office support.

Image Credit: FreshDesk/Youtube screencap

The expectation is that the back office support professional should figure out a solution in real time. In a simple speech, customer case is considered to be reactive in nature. Today firms are able to implement a proactive approach in customer support by following these steps that will bring huge profits for the company.

Problem Solving Issues
If there is a glitch with a certain product or service, sorting it out before the company launches the item is a preventive step. By attending to the hiccup with the product or the service prior to the launch makes a huge difference. When customers expect a product/ to be available at a particular date and it is delayed for reasons best known to the company, keeping the target posted will win laurels with the target. As an exercise in customer relationship building, it establishes trust. By alerting customers through a public relations exercise is half the battle won. In fact, if customers have made an advance payment and placed orders for the product/service, by providing a discount for the product or an additional freebie helps a great deal. Alternatively, if there is no solution available at the time, offering a refund to the customer says a lot about a brand. Fixing the issue before selling the product is the objective. This proactive measure will ensure that the brand will grow in leaps and bounds through the years.

Questions and Feedback is Healthy
For a brand to be ahead in the game and attain a footprint in the market space feedback from the target is essential. In the realm of being proactive, it definitely works as it provides immense commitment on both sides – the customer and the brand owner. This exercise is quite a powerful tool whereby the company can figure out if there are better ways to improvise the business. By identifying the areas that need improvement, based on customer feedback, the brand can expect happy customers for years on end. In fact, as a routine exercise, employees move out of their comfort zone and change the course instead of the same old story. Regular surveys help to keep the firm aware of what is the expectation of the customer. While it can be a nuisance for customers, it improvises a huge brand building exercise. The objective is to reach out to the usual customer base, along with prospective ones. Naturally during this exercise customer service skills must be top of the line especially during a telephonic conversation. If by any chance the executive is not polite or uses the right tools, you can bet that the firm will get negative feedback even if the product/service is being lauded in the market.

Social Media Presence
Practically everyone has an online presence in the 21st century. A company will improve its lackluster performance if know what the dynamic is talking about. The customer care department is therefore through social media provided with a wide angled lens as they analyze the comments. As they take stock and make a note of the chatter, they can change the course rather well. Many people take to Twitter, Facebook and other mediums to vent their frustrations about a brand if they are unhappy. Customers are also known to speak in glowing terms if they are pleased with the product/service. While one may consider this to be a marketing exercise, from the point of view of the proactive customer service department it helps to take the company to the next level as dialoguing with people helps the brand to figure out how to get out of the doldrums. If the idea meets the needs of the dynamic, the brand will benefit for years on end.

Open a Live Chat Session 
Stipulate a time when the company will be holding a live session on a social networking site. This is the best time where airing grievances by customers help retain a brand’s lost glory. It also lets on that there is something constructive in the pipeline for the customer. This ensures brand loyalty with customers as the narrative is changed. A live session is just that – conversations happening in real time. By building a rapport with the customer base by the customer service representative it actually works to satisfy the customer and the firm in totality. When customers hover visit a website and hover over it, the company can interact with the visitor and get to understand or sell the product/service to the prospective customer.

When you look at the basis of proactive service for a brand, in the domain of customer care, the objective is to consider various options where the firm and the customer benefits. At the end of the day, to move ahead in the organizational structure, the basis is to think out of the box to ensure that the implementation is on point. The dialogue between customer and brand can continue for a long time with a proactive mechanism in place.

Guest Post by Vaishali Gopi, FreshWorks Inc.

Vaishali Gopi
Digital Marketing Associate

ITSM Basics: How to Do Configuration Management

One of the biggest challenges in IT Service Management (ITSM), is the outcome from the absence of a well-defined configuration management process. Properly implemented configuration management helps you resolve incidents by identifying what is broken. It can also prevent them by assisting change owners to assess their changes properly.

The IT service architecture can be extensive and complex. If not properly understood, you put your organization to risk. Configuration management is essential to maintain order and keep all hardware, software, and IT services perform at optimum levels.

The Importance of Configuration Management
Senior managers might avoid implementing Configuration Management Systems (CMSs), due to its cost. But they don’t notice the money being consumed by delays in restoring business and IT services; implementing changes without knowing its impact on the services and the potential for business; managing and optimization; the IT estate costs; and managing complex releases without understanding the complete impact.

There might be an additional loss on downtime, as a result of failed changes/releases; fines resulting from failed software license audits, service credit offered to irate customers; and customer churn. Effective configuration management can take care of changes without adversely affecting the business.

It is extremely important to create awareness about configuration management and its usage, for everyone who has a vested interest, including network owners, system managers, etc. The configuration management team must be capable of supplying the accurate current status to the teams solving problems, and those planning changes. Similarly, whenever the team makes changes to production, it should be communicated to the configuration team, in order to update the CMS or configuration management database (CMDB). Communication is all that matters.

Configuration Management
Getting started:
Configuration management starts with a plan. You need to focus on the following areas:

Configuration management will be the basis of services and service delivery. We need a plan to get that right.
1. Scope of the plan: There are different levels to consider the scope of the plan.
Configuration Items (CIs)– These are the building blocks critical for your services. They include routers, servers, software platforms, and their underpinning systems. It involves a lot of time, money and effort to manage these effectively. Focus on the key services to prevent your CMS or CMDB from getting updated.
Asset Items– These cover Laptops, PCs, anything that helps you keep track of for financial reasons.
Inventory Items– Small and peripheral stuff such as mice, keyboards, etc.

2. Consistency: Your plan has to set out naming conventions that are unique for the CIs. Each CI may be generated by the CMDB, an asset tag, or by a site. For example, MSserver-Manchester-Level3, helps a service desk analyst understand that a Windows server at Manchester site was unavailable and it needs support from the 3rd line support team. This level of information helps the service desk analyst notify the server of the issue to all its users. It also assigns the ticket directly to the correct support team, saving certain functional escalations along the way.

3. Scalability: Whenever you map out your key services, document only the critical details needed to provide support and management. You can add more details later when you expand your infrastructure.

Identification/ Baselining: 
Baselining is like taking a snapshot of your infrastructure, to understand what you have and where it lies at a certain point in time. When you are baselining, begin with one service and map all of its components. Centrally store the information within your ITSM tool, having an integrated CMS or CMDB. Consider and agree upon the person who can update your CMS/CMDB during baselining. It may be your configuration manager or the technical teams.

Change Control:
Configuration management functions hand-in-hand with change management. In terms of ITSM software/ toolsets and records, ensure that your configuration items (CIs) are linked to services. This makes it easy for the person who raises a request for a change to select a service, to carry all the underpinning CIs into the request. Configuration management personnel should attend change advisory board (CAB) meetings if necessary, to ensure that the CMS/CMDB is updated to reflect all change activity. It is even better to include a change ticket to ensure a successful update of CMS/CMDB before the change gets closed.

Status Accounting:
This part pinpoints the status of the CI in terms of its lifecycle against the previous baseline. You must ensure that you have an acceptable list of lifecycle statuses in your configuration management policy. This ensures that each stage that the CIs go through is documented, agreed and understood. These stages include:
● Planned
● Order raised
● Delivered
● Test environment
● Live environment
● Retired
● Disposal

Verification and Auditing:
This stage is also called “trust but verify”. This audit process is required to ensure whether whatever we have in our CMS/CMDB matches whatever we have in real life. Use a tool, carry out physical checks, and audit for regulatory requirements, certifications, or legal requirements. Several spot checks are carried out monthly for critical services, while a full internal audit is taken every year.
Configuration audits should ensure that:
● All CIs in production match number-wise and in specifications to that entered in the CMS/CMDB
● Support documentation to describe the CIs accurately
● All change requests linked to CI are approved and closed, and all CMS/CMDB updates captured
● Naming conventions are consistent
Proper implementation of CMS capability can save your money, time and resources. Its speeds up resolution of problems as well as prevent them, change-wise.

Guest Post by Vaishali Gopi, FreshWorks Inc.

Vaishali Gopi
Digital Marketing Associate

How to adopt a customer service mindset in school operations

In order to understand how to adopt a customer service mindset in school operations, it is important that it is first understood what is a customer service mindset.

What is a customer service mindset?

A customer support mindset is when you realize that the customers need assistance in understanding the product or service that you are selling and they need to be handheld through the entire process. You need to understand that they will need assistance and hand-holding until they get familiar with the product or the service and will have several queries which need to be answered over a period of time. In order help your customers you need to put in place various processes which need to resolve the problems of the customer and will be focused on helping the customer on a regular basis. A customer service mindset takes into account the fact that the job is not done or complete with the sale of the product. Much more of the job involve after sale services which the customer is used to, as it is being delivered by almost all the enterprises.

How to adopt a customer service mindset?

There are many ways that one can adopt a customer service mindset in school operations.

1. Establish a customer service cell
In order to adopt a customer service mindset in school, it is important that a customer service cell is established in the school and it is run with utmost professionalism and care so as to satisfy the parents and their queries at the earliest. Many parents might have a lot of queries regarding the fee structure, the systems and processes of the school and all these questions need to be answered in detail to the parents. If there is a customer service cell or a help desk the parents will feel assisted and confident that they can easily approach the school in case of any queries that they might have. A customer service representative is the face of the school and needs to be able to help the parents at any given point in time.

2. Make sure that it is working and easily accessible
Hiring personnel and establishing a desk which can help parents is not the only work when it comes to adopting a customer service mindset. It is very important that the customer service cell is working and is armed with the processes and the skillset which is required to run the operations in order to help the parents. It is also important that this desk is easily accessible to parents and they know how and when to approach the customer service representative if they have any queries or doubts regarding their child’s performance or the school.

3. Have regular email interactions with the parents and customers
When you make a conscious effort to have regular email interactions with the parents or customers, you are automatically paving the way to a two-way channel of communication. Your emails to parents will generate interest, queries and some of them would also like to suggest improvements. It is important that you welcome all sorts of constructive suggestions and improvements. It is also important to answer queries to the best of your ability and you should be able to address grievances and negative feedback in the most professional and calm manner. The primary role of a customer service representative is to address positive and negative feedback in the most professional and practical manner and never shy away from negative feedback.

4. Provide all the necessary information and tools to the customer service representative
Adoptive a customer service approach and mindset is truly in the mind. Processes can help you set up the desk and plan ahead, but you need to remember that the mindset needs you to open up to your customer and share certain facts and figures which you might not be comfortable in sharing and opening up. It is truly adopting and getting comfortable with the fact that the customer needs to know and has the right to know about some details.

This also makes you more vulnerable and you need to get ready to face brickbats and negative criticism but at no point can you lose your cool and react badly to negative feedback. One of the primary skills of a customer service representative is to be professional and practical in times of distress or when a customer is giving her negative feedback. This is what her craft teaches and expects of her.

If you want the customer service representative to be on top of her game, you need to supply her with all the facts and figures pertaining to her job, so that she is always ready with answers and can be one step ahead of the customers who will throw negative feedback to her.

Thus these are some of the ways that you can adopt a customer service mindset and prepare for a more interactive and organized way to communicate with the customers at school. This will definitely require skilled customer service personnel and a help desk which is ever ready to answer the queries of the customer.

Guest Post by Vaishali Gopi, FreshWorks Inc.

Vaishali Gopi
Digital Marketing Associate

Current And The Future State of IoT (Internet of Things):

Internet of Things (IoT) is a smart way of interconnecting the physical devices such as home appliances, vehicles, traffic lights, android or IoS devices with the other embedded sensors and software emerging a wireless connectivity among them. It reduces consumption of time, energy and the effort needed for the manual and mental work just by providing the required data to us accessible anywhere.

Current scenario:
The growth of IoT in the market has been tremendous until today. Around 17 Billion users across the world are in touch with IoT devices excluding past smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other Android, Windows or IoS devices. Some of the recently developed devices are prayer beads, customized light bulbs, smart water system, ring alarm, etc. These devices are completely automated by the sensors and electronics embedded to them. The connection to our smartphones gives access to the data and allows to control them.

Future of IoT:
IoT in the next decade gives birth to Li-fi, smart homes, smart cities, autonomous cars, wireless energy transfer, wearable devices and usage of sensors for automation in all industries.

Li-fi (Light fidelity and visible light communications): 
Utilization of light as a mode to transmit data due to its extraordinary transmission speed. In comparison to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi has proven to be faster and secure for data transmission. Interconnecting Li-fi with IoT opens up abundant solutions for technological advancements.

For Instance: Controlling the IoT enabled light emitting devices through your phone for altering colors, brightness, and timers.

Smart Homes, Cities & Autonomous Cars
Smart homes and cities will be ruling the future due to its high tech capabilities to automate machines through the technology of interconnecting devices. It will enable us to control home appliances and access data, record weather data, beware of the weather forecast, crisis and emergency situations and keep track of environmental cleanliness.

Some of the features of IoT are already popular in the cars manufactured today. Complete automation of a vehicle without a driver is estimated to reach the market by 2045. The IoT enabled car can handle all controls from driving in all kinds of roads, obstacle avoidance, speed control, GPS locations with shortest routes and lowest traffic. This reduces the need to hire drivers.

Wireless Charging:
Wireless energy transfer was first initiated by Nikola Tesla from the concept of electromagnetic induction. All the battery operated devices utilizing wireless charging techniques comply with Qi standards. This allows multiple devices to charge in a single station. Wireless charging is mandatory for IoT due to the operation of wireless connectivity over devices. This ability to transfer energy will expand giving opportunities to connect all our devices to solar satellites that collect solar power and direct the beams back to earth for charging our devices.

Wearable devices:
Wearable devices have reached the market and are inconsistent demand from the tech-savvy customers. Medical devices, smart wrist-wear, and smart clothes function with the IoT integration in it. Users can keep track of the health statistics, be aware of the daily nutrients intake, a reminder to consumption of medicines or food at the required time and share data with many other devices.

Other industries: 
IoT is beneficial to almost all the industries due to their dependency towards technological devices. Some of the miscellaneous examples include monitoring the farming land, looking after the elderly and your properties. The sensors attached to the IoT enabled devices to provide data to soil and weather conditions, health statistics of the elderly and the IP enabled connection to the security cameras at home.

Thenceforth, from the constant support and demand from the tech-savvy customers and ongoing successful researches, the advancements in technology are expanding. IoT is a thriving sector which can assist all the industries in the future on implementing the inventions.

Guest Post by Lakshmi Gayatri, Blogger and author Joy of Sharing