Customer service basics are virtually free. Ask employees to be polite to customers when providing telephone support, even if customers are not in the most rational state. Make it a requirement for small business employees to provide service with a smile. It’s not a big deal unless it’s done wrong. I’ve seen numerous customers bail after a single bad experience with a rude employee. However, awesome customer service can cost a company hundreds of dollars.
I would suggest you ask yourself a simple question before always adhering to strict policies.
Is it worth more to offer a refund when it’s the right thing to do or not and risk the customer spreading the bad word through social media?
How to Address Customer Support Challenges in Difficult Industries
The service industry is notoriously challenging for customer service representatives. Often, businesses with tight margins want employees to stick to the protocol, no matter what. Death? Who cares. You need to pay the cancellation fee. Terminal illness? It happens all the time, take a number. Flat tire before the road trip of a lifetime? That will cost $600 and take seven hours.
Promoting empathy and honesty among employees is an integral step to providing great customer support, even though it can cost hundreds. The right online custom support software is only one cost associated with turning a small business into a thriving brand.
My Personal Battle With the Local Automotive Repair Industry
Just to clear a few things up, I’m not a gearhead, but I know when something is broken. I also have access to the Internet and a healthy dose of common sense. After seemingly endless arguments over unnecessary repairs and unresponsive mechanics at the dealership, I lost it. I took my car to a local mechanic with an average reputation.
The mechanic called later that day with a laundry list of minor repairs. I gave the thumbs up, and we made arrangements for the pickup that evening. I got another phone call a few hours later and cringed when I saw the number. He reported that he had forgotten to mention a $160 repair, and he would happily complete it for free. Additionally, he would stay late to ensure that everything was done properly.
Needless to say, he gained my trust, my respect, and my business for life.
Doing the Right Thing Turns Irate Customers Into Customers for Life
Every customer request is not reasonable. When there is a blizzard and a standby list of 45 passengers, getting on the next plane out might not happen. Similarly, I still had to pay for a new radiator cap, an oil change, and a new air filter, which I was happy to do.
Empower employees to determine when something is simply the right thing to do. Bump a customer in a unique jamb up in line, and resist the urge to interrogate customers that request a discount on travel expenses due to a death in the family. Follow the golden rule, and turn first-time customers into customers for life by spending a little extra on awesome customer service.
Trying to make a quick buck is just that, trying to make a quick buck. You can amp things up with free customer support initiatives, but it might not have the lasting impact your business needs. Instead of thinking about treating customers well as something businesses have to do, think about it as a long-term investment. Like numerous other types of investments, the payout does not happen the next day or the next week. It takes some time for customer service to drive ROI.
Almost every business owner knows that help desk software can help make customer support initiatives more effective. However, small things can go a long way. Online custom support software is only one tool that allows customer service representatives to do their jobs. A great example is a business owner who won the undying admiration of a chatty and influential customer. She just happens to be my wife.
How My Wife Sent Throngs of New Customers to the Local Tailor
Almost nothing is as irritating as a stuck zipper. One day, my wife went to the local tailor to replace a stuck zipper on her coat. He told her that the repair would cost $22, and the zipper would need to be replaced entirely. She agreed to the price, and did not think much of it.
He called her a few days later to tell her that her coat was ready to be picked up, and the zipper worked perfectly. When she arrived, he told her that the repair was not as difficult as he originally thought. He was able to repair the existing zipper without having to replace it. He could have stuck to the original price of $22, but he only charged her $8. She would have been fine with the $22 bill. However, she was thrilled with the $8 bill, and to this day she continues to tell this story about the upstanding local tailor.
Would You Pay $14 for Dozens of New Customers?
This is word of mouth marketing at its best. Other community members were interested by her great experience. Additionally, she loves telling the story to her large circle of friends. Some of her friends who had already been to the tailor were reminded to go back, and a number of her friends became new customers. It wasn’t the $14 discount that mattered so much. It was the fact that the business owner really cared about his customers and showed it through his honesty. The discount was a gesture that showed he truly cared.
ROI Strategy That Can Make or Break Small Businesses
Understandably, customers want to work with a business that cares about their needs. Help desk software like Cayzu can help employees address customer concerns promptly. However, investing in customer service goes beyond investing in the tools that make it viable. Even a small business with a tight budget can invest in customer support initiatives by doing the right thing. The tailor could have replaced the zipper and gotten an extra $14. Instead, he got returns from repairs that likely totaled 10 times that much in the following months. Like other investment strategies, customer refunds can be a bit of a gamble that can pay off later on many times over.
At Cayzu, we understand what it’s like to start a new business. Personally, I often think of small businesses as fish in a pond full of hooks. Numerous service providers and vendors will to hook you with a free product, reel you in, club you over the head, and fry your lifeless business in a pan. Suddenly, you’re the catch of the day.
We don’t work like that at Cayzu. That is why we offer our SOLO plan, which is free forever for up to 3 agents. No strings, lines, or hooks attached. We’ve been there, and we know what it’s like to need a break. We do not only provide free help desk software to small businesses, we provide the best help desk software.
Are All Entrepreneurs Crazy or is it Just Us?
All entrepreneurs are probably as crazy as we are at Cayzu. We’ve been exactly where you are today, and we get it. You have a tight budget, but you don’t want to get the raw end of the deal in the long-run. It would be great if you could get what you needed free of charge to start building your brand. You would love to have access to things that make your life easier and your customers happier, but it’s not in the budget. Think about how much the following would benefit your business:
- Free support software with automated rules and SLA
- An online branded knowledge base portal that’s open 24/7
- An indexed search feature that allows agents to find what they need quickly
- A fully functional ticketing system
- And much more
We know that you have to fake it until you make it. You have to do everything you can to look professional from day one. After all, many startups get caught in a Catch-22. Often, people want to do business with an existing enterprise to mitigate risk. Any small discrepancy with a startup can arouse suspicion from a savvy target audience. We want your business to thrive, and we offer all of the above features free of charge.
Free? There Has to Be a Catch
When we say free, we mean it. There is no catch. We will not take our help desk software back out of the blue. We will not have fees associated with continual use of our free help desk software. We will not request your first born if you continue to use our software. Over 10 years of research and development have allowed us to create the kind of help desk software we are proud to give to business owners who are just getting started, just like you.
We Want Your Small Business to Succeed
We’re not giving away the best help desk software just because we can. At Cayzu, we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit. We want to help your business thrive because we believe that the little guy should be given a chance. After all, we were exactly where you are today at one point in time. Take your business to the next tier with free help desk software by Cayzu.
First and foremost, I am an advocate of good, old-fashioned customer service and customer support. I think brands should interact with customers on a personal level for numerous reasons. Other businesses are starting to get the message one way or another. New Canadian regulations reduce spam and force companies to rethink effective brand to consumer communication strategies.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) regulates the ability for companies to send emails, text messages, and messages through social networks to customers that did not give consent to receive the messages. To some small business owners, it might not be a surprise that customers sign up for an email list for a fiscal incentive. The emails go straight from the inbox into the trash or the spam folder. Instead of lamenting about lost opportunities to send emails to customers, it might be time to invest less in social media blasts and more in genuine customer service initiatives.
Canada’s Anti Spam Law (CASL) Basics
The new law is fairly straightforward. It is exactly what it sounds like. A few highlights include:
- CASL applies to all businesses and individuals that send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) for commercial purposes.
- Consent is required before CEMs are sent to individuals.
- Individuals must be provided with an easy option to unsubscribe from lists at any time.
I don’t think CASL should be a deal-breaker for businesses with solid marketing strategies. In fact, CASL has brought how ineffective mass CEMs can be to the forefront of numerous Canadian small businesses and large enterprises.
Are Companies Losing Anything by Losing Subscribers?
A large accounting firm in Canada reported that 90 percent of subscribers opted to bail when given the opportunity. In addition, a recent study by TechCrunch suggests only 6.5 percent of Facebook followers actually view posts from brands. An important question has to be answered:
Did the 90 percent of subscribers who unsubscribed when given the opportunity actually care about the emails?
Losing practically all of a subscriber base could be seen as a loss, or it could be seen as a reality check, especially since it is estimated only 10-25 percent of a subscriber base actually reads emails from email marketing campaigns. If customers do not want emails, what do they want? Businesses essentially have three options.
1. They can ignore the new regulations until they are forced to comply.
2. They can revamp email marketing strategies.
3. They can ditch email marketing efforts and put funds toward more lucrative prospects.
Take Funds From Ineffective Email Marketing Campaigns and Invest in New Initiatives
I know that exceptional customer support is almost never free. However, help desk software can make it easy for real people to interact with customers on a personal level. The right online custom support software can allow real people to build lasting brand and customer relationships with people that with love your business. Customer service does not have to be about doing damage control and mitigating losses. Instead, investing in customer service can allow companies to invest in continual branding and PR initiatives.
It might be time to reevaluate how funds meant to improve brand image and customer engagement are spent. New forms of promoting emerging brands and promoting engagement with existing ones can build powerful businesses. Brands can actually email customers instead of spamming them. It makes sense, right?
Everyone knows the old cliché that all great start-ups begin in someone’s garage. My story is a bit different as it all began in my parent’s basement. The year was 2001 and I had just got kicked out of my first year at the University of Windsor for having poor grades (yes, kicked out) and I was devastated.
I’ve always been a smart kid and I skated by in high school without ever really trying. University was very different as they gave you so much more freedom… you didn’t even have to go to class! Of course being a know it all 18 year old I took advantage of this and to make a long story short, the university gave me my pink slip after my second semester.
After receiving the dreadful letter from the grim reaper (the dean of the University), I simply moped around the house wallowing in my own misery. I didn’t even want to eat, which is rare for an Italian guy, because all I wanted to do was feel sorry for myself. “How could have I been so stupid”, is what kept ringing in my ears over and over again.
Then on one thankful day, while I was laying on my parent’s couch feeling sorry for myself, my mother came downstairs and sat next to me. I was expecting a scolding, which I deserved because my parents had paid for my school and I had just let it sink down the drain, but instead my mother spoke words to me that I’ll never forgot. “Ben, you f*$#!$ up but it’s not the end of the world. You have two choices, you can keep crying about it or you can get up and try again”. Ok, she might not have sworn, but it’s what I needed to hear to get myself motivated again! So I went back to college for a year (required to get back into University), scored a 3.6 out of 4 grade point average and then went back to University where I completed my Honours in Business Administration degree in 2005.
The proverbial light bulb went off in my head during a conversation that I was having with a friend about his computer in my first week of college in 2002 (this was a typical occurrence because if you know anything about computers, everyone that doesn’t thinks you’re an expert). “If this guy needs computer help, wouldn’t there be others?” My epiphany was correct and so with the help of my brother Rob Puzzuoli, the actual computer genius, Intermania Computers was born in my parents basement (again not the garage but close enough). Business picked up quickly and within the first year, we were doing over $500,000 in sales while we were both still in school!
By the year 2003, margins on computers were getting slim, and so we decided to move into computer software. After partnering with our other genius best friend, Brian R. Bondy, we started writing our software, it was called Vision Backup and we incorporated under VisionWorks Solutions Inc. Vision Backup was a local backup and restore application created for small and medium sized businesses. We mainly sold it through our web site with the help of resellers and Google pay per click ads.
We soon ran into a problem with our backup software not being able to backup open and locked files, and after trying to license an open file driver (a piece of software that would give Vision Backup access to open files), we realized we couldn’t afford it due to steep licensing costs. So like most entrepreneurs, we underestimated the timeline and decided to build our own as we saw an opportunity to fill a gap. After a few failed test runs, File Access Manager, FAM for short, was born. It was our answer to being able to backup locked files, and without knowing it at the time, was one of the key pieces of technology that would eventually help us sell our company.
At its peak, FAM was licensed by over 30 separate backup companies and had a staggering 100,000+ installations worldwide. At the same time of us introducing FAM, another shift in the market was happening and we knew we wanted a part of it. It was the infancy of cloud backup, which at the time was called remote or offsite backup, because the term “cloud” wasn’t even yet born. By 2005 we had branched off our Vision Backup code to create a new product called ROBOBAK.
ROBOBAK was a cloud based backup and recovery solution designed for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that wanted to start their own cloud backup offering by installing our software in their own data centres. At its peak, ROBOBAK was installed on over 100 MSP’s which then distributed the backup agent to thousands of their own customers.
Having very little prior experience in really any aspect of running a business, we made each and every mistake possible. In hindsight, I’m so glad we did because it truly was the best way to learn, with the lessons still helping me today in both my professional and family life. We were up against hundreds of bigger competitors but still were able to capture part of the market by really caring about our customers and providing awesome support. Going the extra mile for our customers and how we treated them was the key to us growing and retaining our customers (especially in the beginning when the software was buggy). We would do everything from hand holding customer’s hands during installations to providing 24/7 support to all customers. We truly differentiated ourselves with great customer service because that is all we could afford in the beginning and it just stuck and became who we were!
After a lot of ups and downs (and a few sideways) we sold our company to a Toronto Ontario based cloud backup provider in 2011 (who I then worked for as their Director of Sales & Marketing for over 5 years). We had done this before we all turned 30. It was a huge feat and an amazing accomplishment that I’m still very proud of to this day.
When people ask me today what the most important thing that I learned after this amazing 10 year adventure, I would have to say that contrary to school, where they teach you that failing is a bad thing, I firmly believe that failing is actually a great thing. I say fail and fail often (as long as you get back up), because if you’re always scared to fail, you’ll never take a chance at building something great!
This past April, a major American hosting company experienced a meltdown. Numerous dedicated servers were down for over eight hours, which affected tens of thousands of customers, including myself. Naturally, numerous business owners were upset. This was the second or third time the hosting company had unanticipated downtime, and customers were quick to voice their opinions on social media sites.
How could a company with such a stellar reputation get bashed in the form of over 500 social media posts? They never gave me or many of their other customers real, honest answers. Instead, generic answers were given to customers, which only increased the outrage. Instead of actually providing customer support, the company would provide small business owners and enterprises updates on social media sites that went something like the following:
Quick Update: Our team is working through the issues in our data centers, phone systems, and chat systems that our customer support team uses. We promise to keep working until service has been fully restored. Thank you for your patience and support.
Then, they started deleting negative comments from their Facebook page! I have since cancelled my service with the company. They refused to answer customer questions such as the nature of the problem and how it would be avoided in the future. I did not trust a company that avoided answering customer questions, and I cancelled my service. I’m glad I did. There was another major service outage the following month.
Build a Brand Around Honesty and Trust
Your customers aren’t stupid. They know when they’re being given the runaround by a fast-talking customer service representative, or worse, a generic social media post. People appreciate when brands are honest. Additionally, it’s easier to be honest. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to have elaborate schemes or a great memory about past lies and half-truths told. Advanced help desk systems like Cayzu give your employees the tools they need to take care of the rest.
Employee and Brand Limitations That Stem From Dishonesty
Open and honest communication between brands and customers builds lasting loyalty and trust. Instead of trying to conceal internal problems, give customers real answers. After all, your current and prospective customers all have Internet access. Nothing looks worse than numerous complaints written by real people. Additionally, a brand cannot effectively connect with an audience that does not trust it. Customer service initiatives can only do so much for customers that are angry that they cannot get a straight answer.
Dishonesty is one of the most frowned upon traits any small business or brand can acquire. It’s almost impossible to wipe the slate clean after a major fiasco and communication breakdown. You can only delete so many negative posts on social media sites. Interestingly, negative comments can be a chance for your brand to show others that you really do care and your brand is easy to connect with, unlike the faceless hosting provider that will continue to also remain nameless.
Be Honest and Upfront to Grow a Loyal Customer Base
People know that sh*t happens. Admit to incidents on your end, and come up with solutions that will make them right. Address concerns quickly and efficiently, and show your target audience that you offer something better than the competition; you offer genuine outstanding customer service and exceptional communication. Your customers will love you for it!
We have just released Cayzu Help Desk v2.0.1 – a new version of our cloud based help desk solution. There have been several changes to the product and I’d like to show off some of the more important new help desk features and improvements.
A newly beautified dashboard: Our new dashboard and guided tour makes it even easier to quickly get the overall health of your entire support organization.
Time tracking: Need to bill your clients or just want to track time spent on a support request? Not a problem, Cayzu now has built in time tracking.
Track your To Do’s: Agents can now track their honey do lists directly from their main dashboard. Great for keeping both customers and your significant others happy :) .
Five new reports: What’s a help desk good for if it doesn’t provide you with the insights that you need to ensure that your customers are being taken care of? The 5 new reports include:
Tickets by Product Report: Displays all associated support tickets by Product.
Tickets by Tag Report: Displays all associated support tickets by Tags.
Top Rated FAQs Report: Displays the top user rated FAQs by vote.
Top Viewed FAQs Report: Displays a count of all individual views per FAQ.
Timesheet Report: Consolidates and displays all time tracking activities.
Customizable ticket grid: Since your support agents stare at this all day, we thought it would be useful for them to be able to choose what they’d like to see on it!
Survey Monkey integration: What’s the easiest way to find out if your customers are happy? Ask them! Automatically send out surveys after a ticket is closed to gauge your teams effectiveness.
Google Analytics integration: View what your customers are looking at in your knowledge base directly from your Google Analytics account.
Knowledge base rating system: What good is a knowledge base if your customers can’t rate it? Well now they can.
Custom ticket views: Need to set up a bunch of different filtered views for your main ticket screen? Now you can with our newly added views!
Want to see it in action? Watch our minute and half live demo here: Cayzu Demo on Youtube
What’s in our next release?
– Ability to add News & Announcements to your end-user portal
– Report: Tickets by Company
– Private Agent FAQs
– Ability to merge tickets
– Ability to split a case
– Bulk ticket delete and / or assign tickets to an agent
– Integration with LogMeIn Rescue
– And more…
Get started today
Cayzu Help Desk is easy to get started with. Just sign up for our no obligation, no credit card trial at www.cayzu.com/register .
We look forward to your feedback as you use Cayzu Help Desk v2.0.1!
As you’re growing your business, don’t forget to make sure that your employees are growing right along with it. Even though Cayzu specializes in streamlining your customer support system, we also want to do what we can to improve other aspects of your business, and your employees are a big part of that. While you may already be aware that empowering your customer service employees is an effective way of boosting your business and customer service strategies, you might not fully understand just how effective employee empowerment is.
The more capable your employees are, the more they’re likely to be satisfied with their job, which can go a long way in improving employee retention as well as customer service. Your employees will feel as though they are vital to the operation of your company and will feel more confident in their job duties. Not only are you sure to notice your employee’s new sense of pride, your customers will as well.
If you take out the time to teach, empower and support your employees, they’re more likely to remain with you and your company longer than employees who don’t feel as empowered and appreciated. Something that you have to realize is that employees have several employers to choose from, but ultimately they decided to work with you. No matter why they decided to accept your job offer, let them know that you appreciate them and what they do for the company by giving back to them. Good employees bring in good business and are more likely to recommend other hard-working and qualified individuals who might be looking for a good job.
Whenever an employee’s main focus is on their pay check rather than their actual job, they’re more likely to only do the bare minimum and nothing else. This is a disservice both to your employees and to you. When your employees feel more accomplished and know that they are a valuable part of your company’s infrastructure, they’re more likely to bring a more creative spirit to their job and employ critical thinking. If you’re trying to find ways to improve on your products or services, turn to your employees. You never know how many great ideas for marketing, improving company worth and process revision might be simmering in the minds of your employees. This new found creativity takes some of the pressure off of your managers who find that their wells of creativity have run dry.
Better Decision Makers
We live in a world where it seems as though new technology crops up every week. You can bet that a majority of your customers are well-aware of these changes and may be expecting them to be implemented in your company. If your employees aren’t taught how to make decisions on their own or the value of making decisions on their own, then they might stumble when it comes to learning new technologies related to your business since they’re so used to their managers essentially feeding them information that they think employees need to know. With independence comes the ability to quickly and efficiently respond to change.
If you’re looking to empower your current customer help desk support system, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Cayzu.
Let’s imagine that three people decide to start a company. Market buzz was slow to grow but before long this up and coming company developed a solid reputation for itself and community support soon followed. While it is tempting to continue implementing the strategies that have proved successful thus far, there is still a question of whether or not additional strategies might generate an even greater level of success. Would implementing an online help desk software make business operations more efficient and improve customer service?
Developing Strategies for Anticipated Scenarios
Small businesses are distinguished by their ability to create one-on-one solutions for their clients. Without a corporate structure determining how business ought to be done, owners and managers are able to devise innovative solutions that meet the immediate needs of the customer in front of them.
This face to face way of doing business is one of the greatest advantages that small businesses have, but insightful owners understand that customer service requires planning ahead. Developing customer service solutions before problems arise will prevent internal and external conflicts. Teams can avoid doing duplicate work when a clear protocol is developed. Customer concerns will receive timely and appropriate follow-up when a useful tracking process is implemented.
Even though a small business may not require customer support software immediately upon opening their doors, because the customer experience is a major part of every business’s reputation this topic should be given a thorough consideration before much time has passed.
Professionalism Pays Off
Small businesses are under a lot of pressure to do things well. In some ways they experience a higher level of scrutiny than big businesses because small organizations are perceived to be more personal. Even if a company consists of just a few employees, playing the role of a large professional organization is worthwhile. Taking a professional stance by implementing the same strategies as larger players will give you a more professional reputation and help you stand out from the crowd.
Making Support Easy to Manage
Email has many advantages but it is a poor tool for customer support. A help desk software system makes support easier to achieve in many ways. For example:
- Support software allows users to track cases and mark which have been resolved.
- No spam folders, email filters, or misdirected messages to contend with.
- Streamlined communication prevents conflicting messages, contradictory answers, and repetitive solutions.
- Support programs connect directly with the sales team.
- Integrate company social media accounts with support software for more responsive customer interaction.
Support software is more adaptive, more responsive, and simply better suited to customer service applications than email is.
Other Support Solutions
Another support option is to provide customers with an online knowledge base where they can access and share information with one another. An online end-user portal is a great way to provide very low cost support around the clock. Such a system can reduce the number of support calls logged and can motivate increased involvement on the part of the customer.
A Solution You Cannot Afford to Miss
“The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.” –Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and the richest person in the world.
A Simple Case Study on Employee Empowerment
In my personal experience, customer support employees are usually so restricted that they hit a wall when an out of the norm problem is presented. In my past business, which I sold 3 years ago, there was one memorable instance when I outsourced some of my customer support functions to a third party. I would get dozens of emails from the third party’s customer service staff asking questions about what they were able to do.
- Could they offer a refund?
- Could they extend a line of credit?
- Could they extend a trial?
It went on forever, and my customers were understandably upset by slow response times. This model for customer service was not scalable because of a single person—me.
I was acting as a bottle neck for the entire production. Instead of creating a lengthy manual for the hundreds of possible scenarios staff would run into, I simply empowered my team. I authorized every representative to solve any problem that cost less than $50 without having to ask for my permission. It was a simple solution that went a long way, and the results were spectacular.
Instead of being glued to my email to do damage control, I could respond to emails from happy customers that were pleased with quick turnaround times and effective solutions.
Why Customer Service Rep Is Considered One of the Worst Jobs
Customer service jobs are highly demanding and considered unattractive with high turnover rates. In large part, employees in the industry are not empowered to do more than read a script, read a knowledge base and ultimately ask what they might be able to do from someone else.
Managers Can Offer Solutions That Work
You need to be able to let go. It is important to recognize that employees will make mistakes, but that’s okay. In the big picture, employee empowerment coupled with an online custom support software like Cayzu can turn a disastrous undertaking into a successful endeavour. Employees need to have the knowledge, the authorization, and the resources (help desk software) to succeed. Let’s be honest. A really nice chat will only do so much for customers that have pressing problems.
Turning Customers Into Advocates
Refunds are not a waste of resources. It is important to remember how many businesses turn customers into brand advocates. Happy customers can recommend your businesses to three or four other people. However, angry customers can easily tell 10 people why they would never want to engage in any sort of transaction with your business again. Great customer support promotes turning customers into advocates instead of driving customers away.
A Scalable Model for Customer Support
Employee empowerment combined with the right online custom support software can help you scale your business. Take it from me, acting as a one man army who does it all causes nothing but a giant headache and an increased number of emails from angry customers. Clear out your inbox, and replace hate mail with fan mail by empowering your employees. After all, your customer support team works tirelessly to make things right so make things right for them by giving them the tools they need to succeed.