Friday, May 13, 2016

Delivering Insanely Helpful Customer Service

By Ed Ariel

Vice President
Customer Service


Customer acquisition and customer retention are two sides of a coin that, if done properly, can lead to organizational success. Traditionally, customer acquisition has been the domain of the marketing and sales departments. Customer retention can live anywhere from that same marketing group, a churn department, the revenue retention team, or even a small team within the customer service department.

To show true retention results and to reduce costs, successful companies need to use customer retention tactics in every customer service experience.

At ezCater, we define customer service as successfully anticipating the customer's needs and making their lives easier. That’s right. The goal is not to make only their experience with ezCater easier. The goal is to make their actual lives easier.  You will notice I didn’t say that we “Wow the Customer” or that ezCater’s goal is to offer “World Class Customer Service.”  These industry buzzwords sound great, but do not offer enough specifics to drive the right action.

At ezCater, we take two primary approaches to create a lasting relationship with our customers:

  • We use automation to replace activities that were previously the responsibility of the customer
  • Or, when automation doesn’t work, we encourage our team to be “insanely helpful” in everything they do

Using Automation to Replace Customer Activities

ezCater is the only nationwide marketplace for business catering.  When our customers are looking for catering options for their business meetings, training sessions, or business events, ezCater provides nationwide choices through our website.

Previously, if a business had a catering need, they were faced with a time-consuming process: try to find a caterer, place the order, contact the caterer for any changes, confirm the order the day before or day of, and then work with the caterer on any issues that arise.

ezCater automates most of that process.  A little under half of orders placed through our website are 100% automated. As ezCater has grown, we have been able to increase the percentage of orders that are 100% automated.

We’ve managed to automate many elements of the ordering process, including sending the order to the caterer, getting confirmation of order acceptance, making changes to the order, and receiving a confirmation the day of the order.  This saves time and makes the ordering process easier for both the customer AND the caterer.

Being “Insanely Helpful” When Automation Doesn’t Work

When manual customer service intervention is needed, we keep our core principles in mind.  The actions we take at this point must anticipate the customers’ needs and make their lives easier.  If a caterer tells us that they can’t fulfill a specific item, we get the available replacement options and call the customer with those choices.  If a caterer tells us the delivery truck has broken down and they can’t deliver an order at all, we find two or three different caterers, confirm they can do a last minute order, and contact the customer with the alternative options. Without ezCater, the customer would need to take time to research these issues themselves. ezCater anticipates the customers’ needs and makes their lives easier.

In these non-automated cases, we take the opportunity to build the relationship with the customer.  Our customer service agents are the best in their field and they are comfortable spending a brief portion of the call establishing a relationship with the customer.  We are there to help the customer, we love doing it, and we want the customer to know.

Does Transforming the Customer’s Journey Give ezCater A Competitive Advantage?

Does it ever!

Once a customer experiences our refined and improved customer journey, he’s hooked. Among customers that have used our service at least three times, the re-order rate is well above the industry average.

We encourage our customers to rate and review the caterer after every order and then use this data as part of our caterer rankings on the website.

We also ask our customers to rate ezCater on Trustpilot, a third-party review site.

Almost 87% of the ezCater Trustpilot reviews are five stars and 98% of our Trustpilot reviews are four or five stars. Many of these reviews point to our “insanely helpful” customer service as a differentiator.

ezCater has created a competitive advantage in the area of customer satisfaction and customer retention by ensuring that every feature we introduce, every change we make, and every employee we hire is focused on maintaining our core values. We keep our focus on building the customer relationship, using automation whenever possible, and delivering “insanely helpful” customer service. Everything we do is in service of making our customers’ daily jobs easier and improving their lives—and that has given us a huge competitive advantage as we continue to rapidly grow.

Ed is a Customer Service Expert with over 20 years of success driving profits, quality and customer satisfaction to record levels.  His background includes customer focused leadership roles at Fidelity Investments and AT&T overseeing multiple teams and projects designed to improve efficiencies and add value to customers.

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