Often, the key to a company’s success is about prioritizing customer satisfaction over income. Our interview with Kenny Lim, VP of Customer Success at Ingram Micro, makes that especially clear. Lim helps Ingram thrive by seeking insight into customers’ frontline experiences.
“At the end of the day it’s passion for the customer,” Lim says. After starting his career in account managing, Lim hit a stride focusing on customer success. “I look at my career trajectory, [and] you can see the journey when you look back. Luck would have it that my first job out of college was with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Of course it’s a rental car company, but they’ll tell you that at the end of the day they’re a customer service company.”
Enterprise’s focus on customer service above all else made a strong impression on Lim. It helped shape how he manages his career today. “I was always amazed at how from the top down, every promotion and recognition was all based on your customer service score.”
“You think of In-N-Out, you think of Southwest Airlines, and now Zappos as well, where customer service is in their DNA. It really is a differentiator for businesses that are in competitive industries. And just taking that over to what we’re doing in logistics [with Ingram Micro], that’s the challenge. That’s the goal.”
Why is feedback so important to customer service?
Feedback provides vital insight, even when it makes us uncomfortable.
As Lim points out, it’s human nature to feel awkward when receiving feedback. But once we get past any knee-jerk feelings, feedback becomes key in creating a better experience. Both customers and employees stand to benefit greatly from the process.
Sacrificing customer service for efficiency can have negative results.
In the early 2000s, many companies viewed customer service through the lens of efficiency and lower costs. “The trend then seemed to be everyone getting excited about automation, and saving resource costs, and you had all these automated robotic phone and email inquiries about experiences,” Lim explains. He says that today, companies’ priorities are now moving back to personal service. This is because customer experience is a major differentiator when it comes to company success in a competitive market.
Major corporations are catching onto feedback’s relationship to success.
Today, companies often seek individual feedback as quickly as possible. For example, Delta airlines sends emails to customers almost immediately after their flight seeking their feedback. Many companies are also implementing machines that ask customers to rate their satisfaction with the help of colorful buttons.
Net Promoter Scores can make all the difference
Net Promoter Score (NPS), is key in getting quality feedback from your customers. “If you work with anyone in the industry of tech, NPS is commonly known,” Lim says. NPS is determined by asking customers to rate on a scale how likely they would be to recommend the product or service to a friend or colleague.
“Depending on where they rank it, there’s a mathematic formula that gets you a score that compares you to everyone else,” Lim explains. “Because now you’re doing it the same across the board. Whereas if you didn’t have the NPS and everyone wasn’t on board with it, you’d need to have different variations—and you can’t really compare apples to apples. So it helps you understand your reputation in the industry.” In Lim’s view, the popularity of the NPS points to just how conscious companies have become about their reputations. In fact, NPS is so important that it’s included in every single Praiseworthy survey.
How can real time feedback make a difference for a company?
Real time quality feedback from your customers can help your company cultivate actionable data to make consumers happier.
More feedback equates to more growth opportunities
An important part of gathering customer satisfaction data is ensuring you have enough responses to begin with. The aha moment for Ingram Micro was in the midst of a feedback analysis trial with Praiseworthy. “The number of results that we got were double what we were getting in probably half or maybe a quarter of the time,” Lim said. “Usually, we were comparing monthly numbers, and in one week we’ve got more than double that.”
The data Ingram gathered with Praiseworthy helped its frontline support center thrive. “This was a way we could actually get valuable data to make conclusions on, to train upon, and to really understand where the holes and opportunities are for our team.”
Feedback empowers companies to make better choices going forward
It’s up to a company to decide how they’d like to process the feedback they get. However, without any feedback to begin with, it’s hard to know where to start. “You have to know what the customers are saying,” Lim says. “It’s up to you to decide what to do with it. And without it, you don’t have that choice. So that’s why it’s so important to us, because we do have that choice now and it’s an empowered situation rather than just throwing darts out there about what you think the customer might want.”
Channeling feedback into company improvement is all about communication
For Lim, customer feedback data has translated into helping his team improve step by step. It’s also helped them decide on a few key priorities to measure customers’ opinions on. Now, the team focuses on processing their customer feedback in groups of three. They focus on three things that are positive and three things that could be improved.
“We like to bring out the comment, and you don’t even have to [label it as] good or bad, feedback is just feedback,” Lim explains. “Take the emotional charge away from it, and really look at it break it down, almost as if you’re looking at sports game tape. We like to look at it in threes and say three things that work and three things that didn’t work quite as well.”
Every situation is different, so it’s all about breaking down the context. “It might not be three all the time, sometimes if you do a perfect job, there’s maybe nothing,” Lim says. “Maybe you made sure to respond quickly because you noticed it was a time-sensitive situation, so that’s one thing that worked. Maybe you were empathetic because maybe it was a situation where something unfortunate happened, and that worked.”
For Lim, another key to this experience is staying humble and on your toes so you can improve. For his team, focusing on three improvement opportunities always helps to make that happen. Distilling the data and into a few clear factors also helps the team to bring intention and mindfulness to specific aspects of the customer experience.
Culture is key
Lim’s rich experience has taught him that creating a culture focused on customer satisfaction is important to success, but it can be hard to reward team members for great customer service if there’s no way to track what’s going well. That’s where Praiseworthy comes in.
“You have to reward and recognize based on [customer service], but how can you do it if you don’t have the scoreboard, or the metrics, or a system that you can reliably go to?” He needed a way to create accountability and measure the company’s service success. “Then [employees] can have it, point to it tangibly, and start building a culture saying we’re pointing at this, and if this isn’t in the right place and the performance isn’t there, well, it’s not going to work. It enables us to start building that culture of who we are.”
This podcast is brought to you by Praiseworthy, where we give employees purpose in their everyday work by allowing them to learn and feel their recognition through customer interactions. To learn more and subscribe to this podcast, visit blog.praiseworthy.co.