Month: December 2021

CX

The citizen as a customer: from customer experience to citizen experience?

I

On 13 December, Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government.

This is a strong signal that the American administration is giving to its citizens and, potentially, a powerful impulse for the development of CX, which until now has evolved from the bottom up, driven by a few companies that have understood its value.

Citizen Experience is for a citizen what Customer Experience is for a company’s customer.

 

However, a customer is not a citizen. Let’s look at the main differences.

The customer makes his choice. The customer pays only for the specific product or service he has chosen. The customer can change his mind and buy from competitors.

The citizen, on the other hand, when interacting with the Public Administration, claims a right that he has already paid for, but the PA acts in a monopoly regime, so the citizen has no alternative choice available to him.

 

What are the legitimate expectations of a citizen towards the PA?

They can be summarized by indicating easy and fast accessibility to services and transparency.

In Italy, we witnessed in November the launch of the ‘online digital registry office’, whereby it is already possible to download certificates from the Internet, whereas previously it was necessary to queue up at the municipal offices.

 

Much remains to be done. Local administrations still have paper archives, credit management is still unknown in the world of social housing (ATER, ALER and the like) and this prevents reinvestment in the maintenance and rehabilitation of new housing for those in need.

The bureaucracy for accessing the various tax bonuses can be greatly simplified; we now have the tools and skills to use them.

All these examples show how much PA can still work to improve and adopt a Citizen Experience model that can guide public administration investments and strategy.

 

A virtuous example comes from the work carried out by the Ater of Potenza, with the support and operational advice of Sagres, on the issue of rents for social housing.

 

Read more by listening to the interview with Domenico Esposito, former CEO of Ater Potenza:

 

Public Administration: Domenico Esposito talks about his experience with Sagres

Pubblica Amministrazione: Domenico Esposito ci parla della sua esperienza con Sagres

Credit Management e Customer Experience

Can Credit Management improve the Customer Experience?

The customer journey begins when potential customers become aware that a brand exist and start searching  for a product or service, continues with its evaluation, buying experience, onboarding, user experience, customer service… and should end with money in the bank!
Let’s face it, how many times customer churn was the direct consequence of a bad experience with a collector? Probably too many.
I think that the solution lies in the difference between Cash Collection and Credit Management.

Cash collection can be brutal. Very often companies outsource very old credit (over 360 days and more) and are more interested in collecting the money than in retaining the customer.
Credit management and CX share the goal to preserve a long term relationship with the customer and this makes a big difference.
Getting the money in the bank and feed the relationship with end customers is possible!
How? Everything starts with active and empathetic listening of the reasons behind the nonpayment.

The collector should be perceived as someone supportive that really cares about finding a solution to the issue. Sometimes customers loose invoices or forget due dates, sometimes the nonpayment is a message to the company that failed somewhere along the Customer Journey.
Sending again the lost invoice, a reminder call or agreeing on a repayment plan can help.
When Voice of the Customer programs are built, surveys or complaints are the main source of information but a deep search among debtors can highlight some of the weaknesses of the company.
I know it by personal experience. In one of my previous lives, I was promoted Branch Manager in a northern region of Italy and the best way to learn about my own company was calling all debtors and solving their problems. This always ended with a payment and a smile. Can you believe that?

cs vs cx

Customer Service vs Customer Experience

Still lot of confusion around the net about Customer Service and Customer Experience, that are often used as if they were synonyms by many CX experts even if they are not.

Let’s start with definitions:
Customer Service is the assistance and advice provided to a customer who buy or use its products or services.

Customer Experience is your customers’ holistic perception of their experience with your brand.

CX includes Customer Service, Price, Product, Employees’ engagement and empowerment and all possible interactions between the customer and the brand.
Customer Service is very important in creating the desired perception of a brand in the customers’ mind, but it’s just a portion of the much broader concept of Customer Experience.
The inconvenient truth is that CX is not the extension of customer service.
Customer Service is Tactics, CX is Strategy!
The Mission of Real CX is to Deliver Brand Promise.
Starting a CX program thinking that Customer Service and Customer Experience are more or less the same thing, can lead to the implementation of a “serve customers better” approach, like if it was a one-size-fits-all solution.
What about all those brands whose brand promise is not based on pure customer service?

For example let’s give a look to IKEA.
IKEA’s brand promise is ‘to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.’
Customer Service is not part of it.
The truth is that whoever enters an IKEA store, knows already that they make you sweat.
The shop layout force you to make a round tour, making difficult to get directly to the desired area.
Availability of staff for on-site support is very poor.
Queuing time at check-out counter is way too long.
By the way, IKEA achieves Customer Success by keeping the Brand Promise that is about Design, Quality and Price, not Customer Service.
This is a clear case in which an holistic approach to CX, keeping focus on the Brand Promise delivery, is much more powerful than focusing on Customer Service only.

Thanks to Sampson Lee for having written the book PIG (Pain Is Good), from where I took the concepts of this post and that I encourage all CX professionals to read.

alperia

Alperia

Alperia, the leading provider of energy services in Alto Adige, also operates in Veneto and Piedmont. Nationwide, the company is the fifth largest multi-utility by sales, as well as one of most Italian important operators in terms of sustainable energy. The energy generated by Alperia comes from renewable sources: in particular, the company holds majority interests in 34 hydroelectric stations, 7 photovoltaic installations and 1 field, 5 remote heating plants and 1 biomass power station in Ottana, Sardinia, managing in total a grid extending 8,951 kilometres. Alperia is active in the sale and distribution of power, remote heating systems, energy efficiency improvements and the development of electric mobility. Thanks to its hydroelectric stations, the company plans to turn its home territory into a fully-fledged smart region, promoting a technology and energy development model that respects the environment and gifts a sustainable future to new generations. In view of this, Alperia develops innovative technological solutions that facilitate the improved management of resources, working in a manner respectful of its territories and communities. The business paths of Alperia and Sagres crossed in 2018 on the completion of institutional procedures. In particular, the collaboration commenced when Sagres won a bidding competition for the provision of credit collection services. Working on this project involved the joint creation of a dedicated team together with Alperia, providing comprehensive support for all credit collection activities and services. Drawing on their experience, Sagres professionals both offered and guaranteed the provision of rapid and effective services. Collaboration between the two companies has broadened into other sectors. In this context, Sagres has devised and implemented a customised telesales solution: the management, with a view to conversion, of hot leads generated by Alperia marketing campaigns. This project, marked by osmotic collaboration between the two teams, has resulted in achievement of the established objectives. Over time, Sagres has also supported Alperia in the management of chats on its social media channels, with the implementation and administration of a business chat system using proprietary software. Most recently, Sagres professional have begun to manage an inbound service with qualitative SLAs that stimulate improvements and an outbound commercial service applying ARERA parameters.

Sales Account

La risorsa opererà in un contesto fortemente orientato ai risultati e al miglioramento continuo.

Le attività che la risorsa dovrà svolgere saranno:

  • Sviluppare la rete commerciale con i lead indicati dall’Azienda e con lead già appartenenti al proprio portafoglio;
  • Gestire la rete occupandosi della soddisfazione del cliente e delle eventuali attività di upselling e cross-selling di concerto con le altre figure aziendali della funzione commerciale;
  • Raggiungere gli obiettivi di ruolo e concertare con il responsabile le migliori strategie di fulfillment.

Il candidato ideale con cui vorremo entrare in contatto, possiede le seguenti soft skills e conoscenze:

Reputiamo fondamentale la presenza di un portafoglio clienti o di una rete commerciale già esistente costituita da avvocati e consulenti aziendali;

  • Capacità di automotivarsi;
  • Gestione dello stress, del tempo e capacità di pianificazione delle proprie attività;
  • Orientamento al risultato e all’obiettivo;
  • Ottima capacità relazionale.

Non è richiesta una specifica esperienza, ma la volontà di apprendere nuove competenze.

La remunerazione è commisurata su un preciso piano provvigionale che verrà condiviso in fase di start-up.

La ricerca è rivolta a candidati di entrambi i sessi. Gli interessati sono invitati a prendere visione dell’informativa sul trattamento dei dati personali ai sensi della normativa applicabile, in particolare ai sensi dell’art. 13 del Regolamento (UE) n. 2016/679 (GDPR).

NPS

Net Promoter System: from analysis to action in a multinational

All organised businesses interview their customers and all claim to be Customer Centric, but the real challenge is how to pass from data analysis to action capable of improving the Customer Experience (CX) of not one, but thousands of customers. This case study describes how a multinational operating in the service sector – specifically the maintenance of installations – managed to transform 140,000 interviews with its B2B customers into three concrete actions, implemented globally.

THE CONTEXT

The client is a leading multinational in the design, production, installation and maintenance of electromechanical installations used in the construction sector. The largest revenues and the greatest number of customers are associated with its installation maintenance and repair activities. These customers – over 400,000 around the world, are typically building, facility or property managers, airports, train stations, hospitals and hotels. Each year, the multinational interviews about 30% of its customer base in the local language e.g. English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Chinese etc., using the Net Promoter System (NPS) methodology and asking essentially just two questions:

  1. How much would you recommend [company name], from 0 to 10, to a friend or colleague?
  2. What is the main reason for giving this score?

The problem we had to tackle was how to manage 140,000 answers to an open-ended question or, in other words, how to find a common denominator within an enormous mass of unstructured data? Historically, the multinational had always used manual classification to analyse this customer feedback, but the process was very slow, subjective, costly and ineffective in identifying key drivers with a positive impact on Customer Experience at a global level. The problem we had to tackle is typical of Big Data Analysis i.e. how to manage 140,000 answers to an open-ended question and find a common denominator within an enormous mass of unstructured data? Historically, the multinational had always used manual classification for this feedback analysis, but the process was very slow, subjective, costly and ineffective in identifying key drivers with a positive impact on Customer Experience at a global level. The multinational wanted:

  • To be able to identify and improve the key drivers of customer satisfaction in a systematic manner
  • To implement an analytical methodology consistently in all countries and branches around the world
  • To define quickly an effective action plan that could maintain its competitive advantage, reduce the number of critics and, therefore, lower the churn rate (customer loss rate)

We immediately identified manual data analysis as the principal weakness in the entire process and introduced the use of powerful AI software, whose algorithm – based on the enormous progress made in the field of NLP (Natural Language Processing) – has the great advantage of consistency. This eliminated at a stroke all the inconsistencies in the analyses carried out in each country, enabling our team to focus on the definition of action plans for the resolution of problems and avoid having to justify, in never-ending discussions, the methodology underlying the interpretations that caused it to focus on certain issues rather than others. The introduction of AI to the text analysis process had another tremendous advantage: the creation of powerful visual reports that are easy to read and available at many levels, from the macro-zones to the smallest branch. This granularity and the consistency of the analytical model adopted were, without doubt, the trump cards of the new methodology. Consequently, management was able to “buy in” and, critically, transition smoothly from presentation of the results obtained from measuring the Customer Experience, to implementation and monitoring of the actions identified in order to ensure their effectiveness.

ACTIONS IDENTIFIED

By contrast with the expectations of management, the principal problem – common to all business units – found via analysis of the Big Data was not the speedy or effective resolution of the faults reported by customers, but rather “COMMUNICATIONS”. The identification of communications as a principal element on which to focus was an important step, but in order to define an action plan it was necessary to drill down further to the operational details. Fortunately, customers know everything about supplier behaviour and their voices are clear and unequivocal: we only have to listen with the tools to understand. The generic “communications” problem was therefore broken down into three areas:

  1. Communications with the customer when a fault is reported
  2. Communications with the sales person responsible for the customer immediately after the satisfaction interview, in order to improve the effectiveness of the subsequent closed-loop meeting
  3. Communications with the technician, who often interacts directly with the customer without being informed about all the non-technical aspects influencing the company/customer relationship

SOLUTION 1: COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE CUSTOMER IN THE EVENT OF A FAULT

The process of resolving faults in the installation maintenance sector has not changed since the early 1900s:

  1. The customer reports the fault by telephone, using the toll-free number
  2. The call centre operator takes note and promises to send out a technician
  3. The technician, after a variable amount of time, range from 30 minutes to several days, visits the installation, identifies the fault and, after a variable amount of time – ranging from immediately to days – repairs it.
  4. The technician notifies the company that the fault has been resolved and, based on the contractual conditions, the company invoices (or not) the work and any spare parts used

The entire process OMITS communications with the customer who reported the fault, who remains in the dark about the work performed – whether easy or difficult – and who may well receive an invoice for work about which nothing is known. The new analytical methodology highlighted this evident communications gap and the above process was modified accordingly, introducing the concept of ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) that the technician is required to send the customer, via a text message generated automatically by the system, on accepting notification of the work to be performed. Specifically, we added a mandatory ETA field to the application already developed by the multinational, requiring the technician to input the estimated time of arrival at the installation. Not content with this, we also also added another two text messages containing essential information for the customer. In the first case, the technician now confirms arrival on site with a click in the internal application, which generates another automatic text message for the customer; in the second, another text message is sent when the technician departs, stating either “problem resolved at time xx.yy” or “problem not resolved due to xxx, next steps TBA”.

SOLUTION 2: COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE SALES PERSON AFTER THE SATISFACTION INTERVIEW (NPS)

In accordance with the internal procedure that implemented the NET PROMOTER SYSTEM, the sales person responsible for the customer received a somewhat cryptic, SAP-generated message following the interview, notifying the score given by the customer together with some comments typed by the operator who conducted the interview. This message contained a link to the management software (SAP) used by the multinational, where – in principle – it was possible to read the full interview, as typed in by the operator. This SAP link only worked if the sales person was in front of the computer and already logged into SAP with username and password. As sales persons live on the road, dedicating their time to visiting customers, it took them several days to read the interview and contact the customer again (CLOSED LOOP), thus extending the time taken to discuss the results of the interview with the customer by more than one week. Management recognised the importance of prompt, good quality responses by the company to the feedback given by customers during their interviews. This specific problem was addressed by two main actions. NPS interviews are now recorded and a notification e-mail is sent to the mobile phones of the sales persons concerned. This message specifies the score, details of the customer and the installations with maintenance contracts, as well as their value, and allows the recorded interview to be played back in real time. This solution is much appreciated by customers and the entire sales team, providing an additional tool to demonstrate proactive professionalism by contacting the customer promptly and in a fully informed manner, having already listened to the recorded interview. This attention repays the time dedicated by the customer to respond to the satisfaction survey.

SOLUTION 3: COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE TECHNICIAN

Whenever technicians visit an installation for any reason – maintenance, repairs or action following a reported fault – internal procedures REQUIRE them to contact the local customer both on arrival and on departure. This is known internally as the Check-in, Check-out process. At that time, after having responded to a satisfaction survey, customers frequently asked visiting technicians what the company was doing about the matters discussed during the interview. Of course, they had no idea. This was unsatisfactory for the customers concerned, who often thought that the technicians were there to resolve the problems explained during the telephone interview. To solve this problem, we made the entire text of each interview – score, questions and the answers given by customers – available on the mobile phones of the technicians concerned. We then asked the technicians to checks if the customer had been interviewed recently by accessing, as usual, the information available about the installation and reading the text of the interview. Here too, customer appreciation was unanimous and, no less important, so was that of the technicians, who demonstrated how much they care for their customers and who were happy to be able to show their professionalism and interest, thanks to the new information that was readily available.

RESULTS

The definition and implementation of these three actions made it possible to improve the global Net Promoter Score by 8 percentage points, to 64% for Promoters, while reducing the score for detractors to less than 10%. These results were obtained over a three-year period, following implementation in greatly different markets on all continents. The establishment of such an effective and long-lasting application was only possible due to the clarity of the guidelines and immediate understanding of its importance by all stakeholders: customers, sales persons and technicians. Altogether, a somewhat rare outcome for a Customer Experience project in a multinational enterprise.

strawberries cadonga

Strawberries, emotions and artificial intelligence

Planasa is a leading international group of companies in the development of new varieties of berry, satisfying demand in various markets. The group has four R&D centres located in different geographical areas.

With ownership of more than 1,500 hectares of land around the globe, chosen for soil quality and local climatic conditions, Planasa is one of the largest cultivators of berries (especially raspberries and blueberries), asparagus, avocados and endives in the world.

Planasa around the world

The need

Our work focused on the Candonga strawberry, grown in Basilicata. This biological strawberry is 100% sustainable, being the product of good cultivation by its growers, the best climatic conditions and the soil of the Metaponto plain. The Candonga strawberry is the flagship product of Planitalia, the Italian branch of Planasa. In order to increase the value of the Candonga brand, management thought it necessary to update the logo and commissioned a specialist agency to create a new trademark. Internal opinions were divided about the need to change the logo, keep the current version or return to the traditional version, which was even older.

The solution

Sagres was engaged to determine which logo was most suitable for identifying a product as representing Italian excellence. consumer choosing strawberriesWe recognised immediately that the research target was the end consumer and that the critical aspect was the capture of emotions, prompting a customer to buy one product instead of another; accordingly, we recommended a market analysis. The consumer is a person and, as such, decides whether or not to purchase based on personal perceptions, which are greatly influenced by personal emotions and the information available when making the choice. Indeed, when questioned on a specific topic, we all express our personal emotions via the words we use to describe the subject mentioned. Normally, when addressing needs of this type, the methodologies used involve the creation and observation of one or more focus groups. This solution is often very expensive and time consuming. Instead, we created and adopted a methodology based on the recording of interviews with end consumers, enabling us to capture all the words used and then, via special Voice2Text software, transcribe the audio file. This process avoids the partial capture of consumer opinions, as so often happens when operators take note of and summarise the feedback received, thereby losing the genuine reaction and compromising the completeness of the t

houghts expressed. After transcribing the interviews in full, we applied the AI of a specialist text analysis software to explore the reasons for the stated preferences. In this case, the key was not only to understand which logo was preferred but, above all, the reason why. This aspect was absolutely essential in order to give proper input for the restyling, as necessary, of the winning logo. Having defined the sample size and prepared the visuals needed to show the different logos to end consumers, we invited our operators, armed with microphones, to visit the local markets and street stalls where fruit is purchased. Each consumer was first asked whether or not they had heard of Candonga (brand awareness research) and then shown the three logos, requesting a score from zero to ten for each and the reasons for that score, regardless of whether it was high or low. Later, the results were analysed using our established criteria for measuring Customer Experience, applying in particular the Net Promoter System. npsNPS

 

The results

The results of this research, which involved several hundred end consumers, enabled management to make an informed choice. The “Voice of customer” gave clear indications that, importantly, were explained by analysing the words and concepts used (frequency and association with low and high scores), making it possible to decipher the decision-making model that prompted strawberry consumers to choose one punnet rather than another. Additionally, the analysis provided ideas for the restyling of the preferred logo that, as unanimously agreed by the interviewees, needed to be made more immediate: red strawberry with green leaf on a white background, thus suggesting the colours of the Italian flag and associating immediately the logo, the product and the idea of quality inherent in Italian products and “Made in Italy” in general.

Sagres opens a new office in Dublin

Consistent with our growth plans and for greater proximity to our international clients and those intent on internationalisation, Sagres has opened an office in the Irish capital with a view to providing ever better service. The choice of Dublin reflects the ideal mix of advantages that the city has to offer, within a panorama and in an agile and fast-paced environment where highly qualified professionals of every type can be sourced for the services provided by Sagres:

  • credit management,
  • value-added call centres,
  • contact centres,
  • customer care,
  • and the quali-quantitative measurement of Customer Experience.

The contact manager for information and further details is sergio.rossini@sagresgestioni.it SAGRES SRL 1A THE CRANFORD CENTRE MONTROSE DUBLIN 4 Ireland D04 X6H0

Telephone Interviewer Customer Satisfaction Survey

There is an initial training course of 3 days at the Sagres HQ in Caserta. Responsibilities:

  • Conduct telephone surveys for customer satisfaction purposes;
  • Clear and effective communication with a professional telephone manner;
  • The Interviewer will be required to use a computer to type responses into a form or system as the script requires;
  • Check all responses for accuracy, proper spelling, and grammar.

What the position offers:

  • Smart working from any area of Italy;
  • Fixed remuneration guaranteed and further economic incentives based on results;
  • Dedicated coach and ongoing training;
  • 6 or 8 hour shifts (start at 3 p.m.).

Skills and requirements:

  • American English mother tongue;
  • Good ability to use PC/MS Office;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Good customer service skills;
  • Good grammar and spelling skills.

This job is expected to last one month. Technical material useful for the proper and easy performance of the job will be provided by Sagres. To apply, send an e-mail with your resume attached and “USA-Sagres” in the subject line to recruiting@sagresgestioni.it. We are looking for candidates of both genders. Interested persons are invited to read our information on the processing of personal data pursuant to the applicable legislation and, in particular, art. 13 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR).

Sales Account

The recruit will work in a highly results-oriented environment focused on continuous improvement. The job description includes:

  • Development of the commercial network, following leads provided by Sagres and those already identified personally;
  • Management of the network, striving for customer satisfaction and seeking opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling alongside colleagues within the commercial function;
  • Achievement of role objectives, agreeing with management the best fulfilment strategies.

The ideal candidate sought by us possesses the following soft skills and knowledge: Possession of a personal client portfolio or an established commercial network of lawyers and business consultants;

  • Self motivation;
  • Ability to manage stress and time, as well as plan activities on an autonomous basis;
  • Strong results and objective orientation;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.

Specific experience is not required, but a willingness to learn new skills is important. Remuneration is linked to a detailed commissions-based plan that will be explained at a later stage. We are looking for candidates of both genders. Interested persons are invited to read our information on the processing of personal data pursuant to the applicable legislation and, in particular, art. 13 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR).

EXPERT Phone Collectors

A brief initial training period will be followed by constant OTJ updates, with opportunities for professional growth within the team. Skills and requirements:

  • At least one year of experience in this role;
  • Excellent knowledge of Italian;
  • Good interpersonal and communications skills;
  • Good negotiation skills;
  • Good PC skills and knowledge of the MS Office suite;
  • Team spirit and the ability to adapt in new situations.

We are looking for candidates of both genders. Interested persons are invited to read our information on the processing of personal data pursuant to the applicable legislation and, in particular, art. 13 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR).

Telephone Advisors – Smart Working

An initial training period will be followed by constant updates, with opportunities for professional growth within the team. This role offers:

  • Smart working from any location in Italy
  • Collaboration contract
  • Guaranteed fixed remuneration with additional economic incentives based on results
  • Dedicated coach and continuous training
  • Flexible working hours and organisation

Skills and requirements:

  • Good PC skills
  • Excellent communications and selling skills
  • Results driven with strong motivation

Technical material useful for the proper and easy performance of the job will be provided by Sagres. The ideal candidate will already have work experience as an outbound contact centre operator. We are looking for candidates of both genders. Interested persons are invited to read our information on the processing of personal data pursuant to the applicable legislation and, in particular, art. 13 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679

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