5 Ways to Better Understand Your Customers

Every company’s success depends on understanding customers’ desires. In our modern era of big data and artificial intelligence, it may seem that technology holds the key to determining the best ways to engage customers. However, while these tools offer compelling statistics about behaviors and preferences, they do not necessarily provide a global view of how customers feel. Just as customers report greater satisfaction when service has a human touch, companies gain greater insight when they engage with customers personally. Here are five ways to better understand your customers and give them great experiences using both technology and personal contact.

Ask customers for direct feedback

Sometimes, the best way to solicit raw feedback is by asking direct questions. Don’t afraid of asking customers how they feel about your brand—critical response can only help your company become stronger. On social media channels, for example, you may ask customers how they feel about a new product or service. Agents working on these channels should carefully monitor all comments, engaging with customers naturally and asking further questions if customers are critical in any way. Traditional surveys should also include free-response sections that invite the customer to provide additional comments. Lastly, companies with retail locations should always ask for feedback in person. For example, an employee might ask customers upon leaving the store how they rate their visit. Another strategy is to demonstrate new products in-store, offering customers an opportunity to engage with employees and leave their feedback regarding the product.

Conduct focus groups and events

Focus groups are an excellent way to build rapport with current and potential customers and hear honest feedback. Your company may choose to organize focus groups to test a new product, for example. In addition, you may hold events at retail locations or participate in trade shows for further engagement. Your brand may unveil new products and services at these events and offer free gifts to attendees. Focus groups and events are excellent for meeting prospective customers, satisfying current ones, and collecting valuable information about customer profiles and preferences that your marketing team can use for targeted communications.

Create customer profiles

When collecting information on your customers, always pay close attention to all demographics and ethnographic data. This may include customer ages, median income, geographic location, and even cultural identity. These statistics can offer tremendous insights into your target audience and help your brand create specific customer profiles. By defining a few key customer profiles, for example, your brand can create a customer journey map for each and determine the best ways to satisfy each person’s preferences. Be certain to clearly outline each customer’s likes, dislikes, and reasons for purchase when creating their journey maps.

Study social media habits and comments

Social media offers a wealth of information about your customers. Study their habits to determine which channels they use most frequently and at which times. Agents should work on these channels proactively, engaging customers in discussions while also responding to questions in a timely manner. Your brand should take note of all the comments on your social media channels, and listening tools can reveal other mentions of your brand across social platforms and the web. 

Analyze all data sources

Analyzing all data meticulously is essential to having a global view of your customer’s needs. Be sure to consider all kinds of data you have collected. For example, customer comments on review websites and blogs should not be neglected. Analytics regarding browsing habits on your website and keywords used to search for products on the site are especially useful for determining which webpages garner the most interest. Surveys and call transcripts likewise offer valuable information about your customers’ experiences with your company. When collecting information about your customers, analyze both data and direct feedback. A combination of engaging with them personally and studying their habits is key to understanding how to serve them best.

Deliver on brand promises

Once your company understands what your customers want, always meet—and even surpass—their expectations. It’s especially important to deliver on your brand promises. For example, product information should be clear, and any prices or promotional events that are advertised should be accurate. If customers ever experience any problems with your brand, take immediate action and appease unhappy clients with goodwill gestures and follow-up contact to make sure the problem does not occur again.

Assess customer feedback to improve service

To improve customer experiences continuously, look at all sources of feedback. Your surveys are an excellent place to start, as well as customer satisfaction scores. However, be sure to pay attention to customer emotions as well. Use speech and text analytics on all your brand channels to get a better sense of how people feel about your company. In addition, reach out to customers on social media and form focus groups to understand how your brand might improve.

Engage employees when designing experiences

Your employees can provide valuable insights regarding the best ways to improve your brand. Customer service agents may offer input about recurring issues on specific channels, for example, whereas sales agents may suggest ways to make the purchasing process more seamless. Employees may also discuss ways in which communications and practices may be improved internally, creating a better work environment that translates into better service.


When your brand is committed to improving its practices, it pays off. According to Dimension Data, 84% of companies working to improve customer service increased revenue. By taking a global look at your customers’ needs, creating the products and services they want, and involving your employees, your company can design the experiences that turn customers into advocates.

5 Customer Expectations Your Brand Needs to Meet

What do customers really want? As technology changes the ways in which they interact with brands, expectations continue to shift. While many companies are embracing tools such as artificial intelligence to drive better experiences, customers still seek a human touch and the assurance that any technology used is truly for their benefit. Here are five expectations your brand needs to meet to satisfy all customers.

Technology that simplifies the customer experience 

Customers are not afraid of using technology to find answers or complete tasks. According to Location World, 40% of adults now use a virtual assistant such as Siri or Alexa once per day. These habits also extend to their interactions with businesses. Chatbots Magazine states that 67% of people expect to use messaging apps when engaging with a brand. When implementing any kind of technology, always ask if it will serve the customer well. Your chatbots should be able to answer questions promptly or complete a purchase without difficulty. IVR menus should route customers seamlessly to qualified agents. A live chat invitation must be well-timed and assist the customer when he needs help the most. Use technology to simplify your customers’ lives.

The option to speak to an agent 

Self-service options are excellent for saving customer’s effort. However, there are times when customers simply want to speak to humans. According to Glance, 67% of customers hang up the phone when they are unable to reach a service representative. For this reason, your customers need to know that there is always someone available to help them. If you are using chatbots to provide service, make sure that human agents work alongside them. When placing customers on hold,keep the waiting time to a minimum. Lastly, make sure that IVR menus direct customers to the correct departments, and always offer the option of speaking directly to an agent if there is a problem navigating the menu.

Seamless interactions

The best omnichannel experiences are seamless ones. When customers experience difficulty finding information or switching channels, your brand image suffers. Accenture states that 89% of customers become frustrated when they need to repeat information to multiple agents. Kampyle further cites that 87% of customers think brands need to offer more consistent experiences. Ensure that your brand offers quality content and accurate information across all channels, and be sure to optimize your mobile site as well.

A relationship built on trust 

Is your brand worthy of your customers’ trust? These days, it’s critical to comply with laws that protect customer data. In addition to keeping customers informed about when and how their data is used, take steps to empower them. For example, always follow up a purchase with a detailed order confirmation summary. When communicating on a public channel such as Twitter or Facebook, make sure that agents do not share personal details and are quick to move customers to a private channel. Sending a consistent brand message is also important for building trust. If your company offers a promotion on its website, other channels must offer the same information. If your brand statement mentions a commitment to eco-friendly practices, your products should reflect that principle. Customers must be able to identify your purpose and feel confident in your practices no matter which channel they use.

Personalized experiences

Customers seek personalized experiences that match their tastes. Offering them products and services based on their preferences is one way to do so. Marketing materials should be tailored to their individual needs and communications should take place on their preferred channels. According to Salesforce, 75% of customers will want to shop with companies that offer personalized experiences by 2020.

Every customer relationship needs to be nurtured. Take the time to understand what your customers want, and tailor your practices to meet their needs. When you listen closely to their expectations and deliver great service consistently, you will earn their confidence and win their long-term support.

6 Customer Survey Mistakes to Avoid

Customer surveys are a time-tested method for gaining valuable feedback. However, the quality of a survey, as well as its timing, make all the difference. If customers feel inconvenienced or fail to remember the details of an experience with your brand, they are not likely to give you the insights you need. With so many customers using multiple digital channels these days, it is especially important to design the best surveys that can be delivered efficiently on customers’ preferred channels. Here are six customer survey mistakes to avoid in order to get the most meaningful feedback for brand improvements.

Lack of incentive for the customer

If customers do not understand the immediate benefits of taking a survey, they simply will not participate. Surveys take time, and skeptical customers might believe that their answers will not matter. Be sure to communicate how you plan to use their feedback, and give short examples of how past feedback has led to direct brand improvements. You may also consider offering some kind of reward, such as loyalty points or a discount upon survey completion.

Confusing content

If your questions are not precise, customers will only be frustrated or give you inaccurate answers. Make your questions as specific as possible, and ensure that the response scale is easy to understand. It’s also important to remember that generic questions—while easier to comprehend—fail to give your brand the deep insights you need. Consider dividing your survey into sections that clearly correspond to different steps in the customer journey. For example, in three distinct sections, you may ask if the brand website was easy to navigate pre-purchase if the checkout process wasseamless, and if order confirmation information was received quickly post-purchase

Lack of a free-response section

Many times, customers will have additional input to offer, but the survey questions limit their responses. For this reason, it’s critical to offer a free-response section at the end that invites customers to elaborate on the points they find most pertinent. If a customer leaves particularly critical comments, your brand must follow up individually to reassure the customer that his opinions are being taken seriously. Customer comments can provide valuable information that your questions may not cover.

Poor timing

In customer service, timing is everything. This is why surveys should be sent post-purchase in a timely manner before a customer forgets the details of an experience simply has no time to communicate. A couple of days post-purchase is ideal, allowing customers to reflect and offer honest responses without feeling too rushed. Sending surveys too frequently can also be problematic, as the customer should not feel bothered. Constant requests for information might lead your customers to unsubscribe from newsletters or otherwise leave your brand.

Long surveys

No one wants to spend more time on a survey than they have to, and some do not want to answer at all. This is why you should take great care in designing surveys, length can be a major turn-off. Make your surveys concise and to the point, and be sure to format them in a way that is easy to read. Your customers will be far more likely to respond.

Ignoring the customer’s preferred channel

If your brand is always sending surveys on a single channel such as email, you are making a big mistake. Email may be convenient for some people, but each customer has his own preferences. The best strategy is to send surveys on customer’s preferred channels. Customers prefer convenience, and receiving communications on channels they already use makes engagement much easier.

Survey Monkey estimates that it collects more than 2 million responses per day for companies, demonstrating that customers are indeed willing to engage further with brands. However, as these consumers are constantly approached by the numerous brands they support, it’s important to make your surveys stand out so that customers actually feel compelled to answer. To deliver the very best customer experiences, learn about Contact Center Live, a leader in-powered contact center software solutions and premium omnichannel customer interaction platform.

5 Tips for Managing Customer Data

Customer data has long been a sensitive issue. Given recent stories in the news about companies mishandling data, it’s no wonder that consumer confidence has been impacted. A Pew Research Center study found that 64% of Americans had personally experienced a data breach, and nearly half of all Americans do not trust the federal government or social media sites to protect their data. With the recent enactment of GDPR, the European Union is further putting pressure on companies to protect customers’ personal information and be more transparent about how it is used. In addition to following new privacy laws, here are five general tips your brand should follow when handling customer data.

Communicate your data privacy policy

Customers need to understand exactly how their data will be used. Using clear and simple language builds their trust in your company and can help you avoid any issues or sanctions at a later time. In addition, it’s important to keep your customers updated about their privacy rights. For example, customer newsletters and marketing communications should make references to your data privacy policy.

Allow customers to opt-out

Whenever your brand uses data for marketing purposes, always give customers the right to opt-out. Even if your customers have given you permission to use their data, they need to feel empowered to make decisions regarding its use. For example, allow them to unsubscribe to email communications or request less frequent notifications.

Take measures to protect customer data

Your company can take many measures to protect customer data. Consider limiting data access to just the employees who have direct customer contact. Another way to build customer confidence is by collecting the minimum data your company needs. In this manner, customers will not feel that you are asking for too much personal information, and your company will not be overwhelmed by excessive data that can not be used efficiently.

Provide secure experiences

Encryption technologies are essential to protecting sensitive information. Be sure to protect passwords, credit card numbers, and other important data, and make sure customers know that you are using such technologies. When they make a purchase, for example, indicate that the process is secure and post an icon that represents the technology you are using. In addition, make sure that employees never exchange sensitive information over social media platforms. Conversations should be moved toa private channel whenever a customer needs to discuss a specific case or make a purchase.

Use data to give customers better experiences

You may be collecting customer data to grow your business, but are you also improving the customer experience? Brand growth is only possible when you give your customers what they really want. For example, use data to recommend more relevant products on customers’ preferred channels, offer better service across all touchpoints, and provide a more seamless experience when customers navigate your website. Respecting data privacy laws wins customer confidence, and using data to create better experiences wins loyalty. As your company navigates the sometimes complex rules of data management, remember that the ultimate goal is to use data to provide secure and seamless experiences that win customer trust.

6 Tips for building a thriving help center

Customers want to help themselves. They are more technically savvy than ever and have come to prefer the DIY approach to solving their issues and answering their own questions. In a recent survey, 67% of respondents said they prefer self-service over speaking with a representative. And a whopping 91% said they would use a company’s online knowledge base to meet their customer service needs.

The goal of this paper is simple: we want to help you build an all-in-one knowledge base, community, and customer portal. All of which can be accomplished with Help Center.

Why you need a Help Center right now!

  • Increase customer satisfaction by providing better service and meeting the needs of customers who prefer self-service
  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency by eliminating repetitive costs so agents can focus on more strategic tasks
  • Grow your business community and build deeper connections between your company and customers

1. Planning: Start with goals

Whether you are just starting to think about launching a Help Center or simply looking to improve what you have, the first and most vital step is to define what it is you hope to achieve. Is your purpose to reduce the number of support tickets being submitted to your staff? Or is it simply to foster relationships and engagements amongst your customers and employees? These are some ideas to think about, but the important thing is to identify the right goals for your business and work to get consensus up front amongst key stakeholders.

2. Measure for improvement

It is important to begin measuring the performance of your Help Center from day one. Keeping track of things like:

  • Community analytics stats
  • Resolution times
  • Percentage of issues resolved by staff vs. those solved via the Help Center

will help you understand if your Help Center is effective and what areas need to be improved.

It’s also extremely important to track the kinds of content that are being utilized by your customers. Knowing this will help you decide what content you need more of, such as specific topics or FAQs.

3. Mobile is not an “option”

It is important to provide a seamless experience so your customers have the same level of service whether they’re visiting your Help Center on a laptop, tablet, or phone.

As noted by the Zendesk Benchmark, the rise of the mobile consumer is clear. Everyone has heard about the consumer shift to mobile with the rise of smartphones and tablets; these trends are apparent in consumer preferences for engaging with brands through forums and help centers.

4. Employee participation and moderation

Self-service doesn’t mean setting up a site and not getting involved. Your employees should take an active role. It shows that you are listening to and care about customer behavior and feedback.

And by employees, we don’t just mean your customer service team, we mean everyone:

  • Marketing: see how customers interact with each other and help foster those relationships. The Help Center is also a great way to find and become familiar with your customer evangelists.
  • Product and support: help answer questions and respond to comments. These departments working together can take what they learn from the community and use it to speed up the feedback cycle. They can also use this opportunity to listen to ideas from customers and collect feedback.
  • Sales: being active in the Help Center connects your sales, the front-line of your business, with your customers. Also, the Help Center gives excellent insight for an ongoing sales cycle.

5. Focus on the user experience

User experience is incredibly important. You might have done everything right in terms of getting people to your site, but if you don’t provide a great experience, they won’t stay long and won’t return.

It is extremely important to provide easy navigation to the things that matter most. For example, search is an important feature that your customers will be looking for. Make sure it’s easy to find and use. Ask yourself: Can I provide and promote the things that matter most to my customers? Can I organize all my content in an effective way?

It’s also important to create something visually appealing — to give customers a place where they will want to spend their time. Consider adding rich media options. Many customers have come to expect things like videos, webinars, and images alongside text. Look for expertise on your web or design team for best practices, and test, test, test! Your Help Center is always a work in progress, so look at what works and doesn’t work and adjust accordingly.

One of the best ways to get customer feedback is to ask for it: Did they find what they were looking for? Do they have suggestions for improvement? A short survey can take you a long way toward creating an engaging user experience.

6. Put on your marketing hat!

What’s the use of a Help Center if no one is using it? Once you have selected your technology, set your goals, and built out your site, you need to drive users there. With this step, it is important to involve your marketing team, or at least to start thinking like a marketer. How are you going to invite and attract visitors? How are you going to promote the site or even particular aspects of the site? And, are there ways to leverage the community to help support other marketing programs?

5 must-haves in B2C customer support

Comparing the differences in customer service for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) means understanding the scope of each method. Both approaches are designed to accommodate a large and varied customer base, but the behaviors of those customers are what really distinguishes them.

For B2C in particular, helping out everyday consumers is quite different than targeting and customizing support for business-related needs. B2C companies need to invest in features that account for their consumers’ behaviors; notably the “when”, “how”, and “why” they shop for your products and services. Lest a B2C business wants to see just how frustrated their customers can become (and in very large quantities), they’ll need to be proactive about how to best help them.

5 must-haves for B2C customer support

Table of contents

  1. Case management
  2. Self-service/Knowledge management
  3. Digital engagement channels
  4. Mobile support
  5. Integrations

1. Case management

The foundation of all effective customer service is case management: a system that can distinguish and optimize customer support on a case-by-case basis.

For B2C, a case management system must be capable of:

  • Accommodating a large and diverse array of tickets: Marketing and selling products to everyday consumers means that customers will have different backgrounds, educations, and familiarity with your products. This will be reflective in their tickets, meaning similar questions will be asked in different ways.
  • Including a client information database: Having easy access to client information builds rapport with customers. It also keeps agents informed if returning customers come back with new or unresolved issues.
  • Providing consumer-oriented problem resolution: Multiple points of contact and streamlined workflows generate the fast resolutions needed for B2C support. Business-oriented case management can be too complex and time consuming to effectively help consumers.
  • Supporting workflows for various touchpoints and communication channels: Consumers will reach out on whatever channel is most convenient for them: email, SMS, social media, etc. Bringing those into an omnichannel solution ensures that every customer can be heard.
  • Assigning, routing, and escalating cases based on the client and complexity: You’ll need ticket management and internal routing that can adapt to your team as it grows unless you want to find a new system down the line. Plan for a system that’s dynamic enough to scale with the growth you hope to achieve.

2. Self-service/Knowledge Management

Consumer-oriented issues are often more indiscriminate and less specialized than what’s seen in B2B. They usually result in first contact resolution and are generally far less technical.
But that doesn’t mean B2C support is easier. Ticket backlogs may suddenly be overwhelmed if an alarming issue occurs, like if a major e-commerce site was suddenly unable to process orders.
To mitigate how many tickets reach an agent, B2C companies should help customers help themselves through self-service. Here are a few tools that can help keep ticket volumes down:

  • Custom-branded help portals: Here’s where customers can figure out how to best help themselves. Portals provide a collection of contact points (your Help Center, support addresses, social media channels, etc.). that’s true to your brand and customer-facing identity. Companies with numerous products benefit from multiple distinctively-branded portals. Zendesk calls this Multibrand, and has been used by customers like Aurora Fashions, Cotton On Group, and Big Fish Games.
  • Help guides or knowledge bases: A help guide, or often referred to as a knowledge base, is a collection of articles providing educational information for self-service. This includes how-to’s, step-by-step processes, and other clear-cut details about a product or service.
  • Community forums: Want to offer a space to host customer conversations? Community forums are where consumers can help each other without contacting support. Additionally, they can highlight what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be difficult with your product(s). That feedback can be useful for optimizing self-service efforts.

Issues resolved through self-service are usually “how-to’s” like password resets, changing account details, and managing basic settings.

Additionally, how your help information is structured is equally important. Your knowledge management must be centralized and formatted with an information architecture that makes sense to your consumers (i.e. everyone). Understanding how your customers seek self-help might involve some user experience (UX) research and testing.

3. Digital engagement channels

The customer experience is interwoven through various engagement channels. For customer service, that includes your support provided over the phone, through email, and interactions via social media.
B2C support is designed to be more generalized for a wider audience while still being capable of personalization for uncommon inquiries. The engagement channels that B2C companies should focus on are:

  • Live chat: an agent-operated interaction or discussion is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to resolve a consumer issue. Chat sessions are able to get to the heart of the matter by offering complimentary interactions like collaborative browsing, screen sharing, or help with completing forms.
  • Email management with automated answers: Email support is still the most common form of customer service, but when it comes to consumer needs, the fastest email support will use automated answers. This allows B2C businesses to provide instantaneous responses and maintain a competitive advantage while they invest in other communication channels.
  • Virtual customer assistants: Virtual customer assistants (VCA) simulate human conversations to deliver information or perform transactions on behalf of the customer. Many are powered by AI-algorithms like machine learning and deep learning, making them increasingly capable of assisting a wide range of customers. Dollar Shave Club, for example, utilizes Answer Bot, our own AI-powered VCA designed for ticket deflection.

4. Mobile support

Mobile support isn’t only expected of B2C businesses; it’s imperative for long-term success. A lacking mobile experience can lead to customers unwilling to resolve their issues, which is doubly concerning when 90% of consumers have reported a poor customer experience while seeking mobile support.

Extra care must be taken to ensure that a support strategy translates to a mobile experience. For B2C, this can be accomplished by investing in mobile engagement channels, like SMS or Facebook Messenger. If your business offers a mobile app, it may be worthwhile to embed your customer support within the app (to discourage customers from switching from mobile to a PC browser) as Le Tote did.


B2C mobile support is more widespread in industries with high customer expectations (like hospitality, air travel, banking, and telecommunications), but it’s increasingly necessary for all B2C companies as consumers become more well-versed with their smartphones and tablets.

5. Integrations

Your case management system might not be a perfect fit in your organization right away. Luckily, integrations can fill in the gaps.


The right system will offer integrations that will streamline B2C workflows and enhance customer engagement. For a B2C organization, that generally pertains to better self-service and mobile support. Rovio and Swiftkey accomplished both by using Zendesk’s Mobile SDK.


Integrations are often tailored to meet the needs of specific industries, like a Shopify app that displays customer and order details in tickets for eCommerce companies. But there are many industry-agnostic integrations that can help with time-tracking, analytical insights, and even employee training.


The most capable solutions include an API for a variety of third-party integrations or, should a company feel bold enough, an internally-created integration designed to handle a company’s specific B2C needs. Gaming studio Riot Games is a great example: they created their own AI-powered virtual customer assistant to swiftly answer their customers’ inquiries.