Your Friday Inspiration

Well opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one: Harry Callahan -The Dead Pool

This is one of my favourite movie quotes of all time. All you have to do is open up Twitter or Facebook to see how true this is. No matter the topic everyone has an opinion, and even if they know nothing about that topic, they will still have an opinion. Don't believe me, just look ahead to the Olympics in August, how many of your friends and family will suddenly become experts in Badmintion or Water Polo or Volleyball, despite having never watched these sports before.

We all know that "Customer Feedback" are your customer's opinion of your product or service. Yet it is these opinions that  can either make or break you as a business. So why is it that companies feel that when customer's offer feedback they can ignore it.

In 2011 research from Maritz and Evolve24 showed that from 1,298 Twitter complainants found that only 29% of those tweet gripes were replied to by the companies in question.

However, as bad as no response is to a customer complaint. Some companies can may the matter worse when they do respond. Those of that use Twitter on a regular basis know that companies have been trying to use bots to respond to questions from customers, since at least 2013. Yet it never seems to end well, just ask British Airways and Bank of America both of whom experienced gaffes when they tried this approach. Even Microsoft fell victim to this when they decided to make an "AI" Twitter bot. The creation was designed to learn from its users through conversation. Needless to say, trolls made the bot, named Tay, turn into a huge racist in less than a day.

As a result, Microsoft's research team quickly deleted the tweets and put the project on pause

Now we have established that it’s inevitable. You’re going to at some point receive a negative customer review. Even if you’ve done everything by the book, it only takes that one bad experience to ruin your flawless record of positive feedback. Of course, you may be thinking that just because one person has nothing better to do than nitpick, it won’t really affect business, right? Wrong.

Research has proven that “80% of people have changed a purchase decision due to a bad review they saw.” That’s a fairly significant stat, and that’s putting it lightly. So what can you do to ensure when a customer decides to offer you their opinion that they feel their voice has been heard.

The 7 Best Ways to Gather Customer Feedback: A recent blog post from Gregory Ciotti at Help Scout discusses 7 ways you can gather feedback from your customers; these include everything from the traditional survey to your On-Site Activity. In the article Gregory asks us to examine why we want to collect feedback
from our customers and shows which channels is works best to help us complete our goals.

How you ask customers for feedback is as important as why you are asking them for feedback. But how can you be sure that they will take the time out of their day to offer it to you. In a recent article for Customer Guru Sonal Jaiswal shares 11 Excellent Tips to get Customers to COMPLETE Your Feedback Form.

When you ask your customers for feedback it can be often be difficult to get everyone to respond. Sonal's tips will help ensure that both you and your customer's get most of this experience every time.

Now that you have collected you feedback, what are you going to do with it.  However, not all feedback is equal. Some is aspirational, hypothetical or third party statements. Even when you have managed to weed those types out the feedback what remains is unlikely to be all of equal value. In a recent blog post for Intercom Sian Townsend discusses what filters you should apply to your feedback to help you decide which feedback is most important. Sian goes on to discuss how you can analyse the open ended feedback you have gathered. Unfortunately there is no perfect tool that can automate this job for you. Analysing open ended feedback is just pretty hard and time intensive. Read Sian's article Making sense of customer feedback to see how you can take open ended customer feedback and turn it into an actionable list of issues your team can address.

As you gather your feedback and turn it into actionable tasks to improve your product or service, the key to realise is you don't really close the loop but rather start the cycle again. This way your customers can tell you if have actually made any improvements to your business that matters to them.

Further Reading

StatusHub for Universities

As Universities embrace the power of mobility, and  make more student and faculty resources available as an online service, the quandary for them becomes one of not just maintaining availability for what are now critical applications and data repositories, but one of managing communications around that. has been proud to have been working closely with Universities around the world on this problem.

StatusHub is one of our favourite services ever created. We don't just say that because we own it, but because we used it before we acquired it. We love the simplicity and power of the service, and the empowerment of communications management and control it puts into your hands when you operate online services.

We even use it for our own services such as PointDNS, StillAlive, Smasher, Twist and even for StatusHub itself (we won't bore you with how we use StatusHub for StatusHub - but safe to say, its pretty darn cool!). When we took notice of how many colleges around the world, or education institutes were using it in particular, we started talking with them about their experiences, and what we learned was incredible about how some were using it - even for things we never thought of like T.A. and lecturer availability. It was just so cool to see StatusHub used for this.

With some of our team having been involved in the mobility enablement space in education in previous businesses, we got the issues facing them. We understood the pressures that were now on top of them to deliver radically different I.T. needs on campus, and off campus for students and faculty alike.

Mobility Empowerment

With this demand for mobility and more online learning and campus management resources, came the issue of keeping people pro-actively informed about what was going on. Some educational institutes had on-campus status notifications systems, but many of these were unmaintained in-house built services that to bring them up to spec for what they needed was a big investment in time and resources for coding/testing not to mention maintenance. 

The great strength of things like StatusHub is that it removes the focus on building/maintaining these kind of systems, which often is not core to what the I.T. team in an educational institute does, to allow them to provide the service levels they need while benefitting from what StatusHub can do.

With these great conversations with some of our customers, it led us to create StatusHub for Universities. Recognising that the I.T. teams needs at larger educational institutes are very often more involved than what alot of our regular StatusHub users need, we've created something that reflects those needs.


It is hugely satisfying for our team to work within the education space, as this is where the next wave of founders, dreamers and 'crazy ones' will come from who will bring their visions and ideas to the world, and helping their University of choice to deliver services to make that happen is just exciting. 

We love to see not just evolution in technology use, but real revolution to allow more people to make better use of their time to do amazing things, creating engaging customer/user experiences and to reshape the perception of technology from it being a mysterious 'art' to it being a functional, attainable, usable tool to be put into the hands of as many people as possible to use to achieve their goals.

Working with Universities for us is a massive pleasure, and honour. Some of us were in University doing I.T., and we remember the early pushes to online resources within campus Intranets. Their availability was crucial to us. With Universities almost 20 years later being better equipped, with some kick-ass learning toolsets and resources, these services are even more crucial for today's students. These are the tools that also help shape future business leaders, entrepreneurs and those who will be vital employees to companies they go into when they embark on their professional careers.

It's a great and exciting time to be a part of the education digital revolution. This revolution is about helping people work smarter not harder in pursuit of their goals, which is a foundation ethos of our 'simplicity revolution'.

Check out our website - StatusHub for Universities. Try it out for yourself and bring the revolution to your college campus.

Your Friday Inspiration

Bots: Do they really have place in customer service.

Until the rise of social media companies could very easily get away with offering poor customer service. CEO's could devise ways of ensuring when customers complained that they got as little as possible. For a long time this poor approach to customer service worked.

But then social media platform's like Facebook and Twitter gave everyone a soapbox from which they could tell the world whenever they experienced an issue with a company. Within a matter of minutes of minutes they can have shared their story with hundreds if not thousands of potential customers. However, if a company is not using these platforms, their concerns and issues often go unheard. Worse still when companies do use these channels but refuse to listen to customer's issues and discuss them on that channel, it can often call us to question why they are even using the platform at all.

Imagine this query could have been solved in the same thread and future customers with the same question would also have a solution. Yet, now the customer faces the dreaded contact form from which he may not receive a response.  But nothing is worse than the dreaded call centre even Amy Schumer agrees.

Another tool that has also gained in popularity has been chat windows. Often this can be a better medium than the phone because answers to problems can often be communicated with minutes even seconds. However, this channel is not without its problems either. As it relies on communication via text, meanings can easily be misunderstood which can leave the customer fustrated. It also assumes that a rep will always be online at the same time as the customer and that they both speak the same language with the same level of fluency.

Yet in spite of these challenges, this truly is one of the most exciting times to be involved with customer service. One of the most new and exciting advancements has been chatbots. In a recent article, The Guardian described chatbots as:

“Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.”
In recent months we’ve seen Facebook, Kik, and  Apple all discuss bot platforms  that will sit on top of their messengers, since then everyone and anyone has been declaring our bot filled future.

Gigi Peccolo of Customer Thinks has compiled 5 Reasons Why Your Customer Service Should Include Chatbots. In his article he sets out 5 reasons why company's should include bot's as part of their customer service and how bot's can benefit both the company and their customers. He concludes by saying while we all may be open to the idea of bots in our B2C communications. That it is still early days in the chatbot wave the future does look promising.

 of Venture Beat also complied a similar list of benefits of how bots could benefits customers. They list is based around information Lisa gather after speaking with a dozen executives to learn what bot implementations hold the most promise. The executives are at the front lines of bot adoption and, across the board, they pointed to customer service as the starting point. The article discusses 10 ways bots can surprise and delight your customers. Concluding Lisa states that these chatbot's are only the beginning and that in  future bots may soon address a wider range of consumer needs — by anticipating them through service integration and personalization. For example a retailer bot may suggest birthday gifts for your loved ones weeks in advance.

However, it would seem that not everyone is as enthused about bots. Paul Adams VP of Product @Intercom states that while everyone may be talking about the rise of chatbots; we should not forget that humans are pretty good too.  His article BOTS VERSUS HUMANS he takes a serious look at what bots are, their limitations where and when they should be used. He concludes by saying;

When you walk into a store you can have your pick of people to talk to for help. When you open your favorite apps there isn’t a human to be found anywhere. Pretending that bots are humans is impersonal. If customers are in conversation with an entity who they think is a person, but then realise through inevitable technical limitations that it is in fact a bot, how do you imagine they will feel? And how could that feeling ever be good for business?
Bots will augment conversations between humans. They will help answer simple questions in win-win scenarios. But thankfully for everyone, they won’t replace humans any time soon.
Whatever your view on chatbots. Only time will tell how they can truly benefit customer service.  I for one look forward to seeing how we at Cogneto, may be able to use such bots to benefit our customers.

Technology alone is not enough.

Like any company progressing what it does, you start looking at how you go about growing the business further. Whether it's sales and or marketing strategies, funding options, grants or loans there's a point where you start filling out forms and making plans. Nothing has been starker to me as a founder of Cogneto than the definition of what we are. It's easy to just mark 'software company'. And while to a degree, we do software development on our services. But it's never really the full sum of our story, and frankly a trite if not under-selling declaration.

Your Friday Inspiration

woman lying on a couch reading a book

War and Peace: - a book that everyone claims to have read but even fewer actually have. Perhaps its this same behaviour that has companies clamouring over each other to get their share of revenue from new and existing customers, while the delta between what brands say they do for customers and what actually happens has never been larger.

With 90% of executives saying that customer experience is central to their strategies, yet a whopping 86% don’t expect to see a significant uplift in business results from it. See the problem here is too much company-centred thinking and not enough customer-centric business management.

With the mentality of "what's in it for me" it's not hard to see why we often hear more stories of bad customer experience than good. Even when we do hear of these good stories it often comes at a surprise that good customer experience exists.

With the aim of always trying to improve how the Customer Care Team interacts with our customers. I recently began reading stories around customer experience. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the stories I found to be the most interesting every Friday.

This week the articles are centred around customer experience and how we can benefit from from customers who've had both good and bad experiences.

2% of our customers really hate us 

This post on LinkedIn comes from Shawn Gold Corporate Marketing Officer at JustFab Inc. The post takes a look at Shawn's decision to join JustFab Inc. and what he learned when he asked why do 2% of our customers really hate JustFab Inc

This article comes from Brand Embassy and it takes a look at an app that Starbucks recently released that allows customers to order their food and drinks in advance, so when they get to their local shop, it's all ready for them. However as great it seems it didn't go down to well with their customers. The article takes look at what we can learn when a company assumes what their customers wants.

How Trader Joe's consistently provides excellent customer experience 

Trader Joe’s a grocery chain, recognised for its private-label foods, and has an 800 number that provides customers with a voice recording of store locations only. Seems like rather disastrous customer service, doesn’t it? Yet ask almost any Trader Joe’s customer and you will hear about the attentive employees, swift response times and an amazing retail customer experience. Customer Guru has brought a Case Study that looks at the retail giant and offer 4 key takeaways that can be applied to any business.

I hope you enjoy these articles and would love to hear your thoughts on any topics you would like us to look at in our weekly mailing.