I am speaking at ‘WomenTech Global Conference’

I am super excited to share that I have been invited to speak at the upcoming WomenTech Global Conference – The Largest Conference for Women in Tech!

Scheduled for June 7-11 2021, this virtual conference will bring women in tech, minorities and allies from all over the world together through an interactive platform platform featuring live ceremonies, keynotes, engaging panels, breakout rooms, country & chapter leader sessions, technical workshops, and networking with face-to-face sessions. Bringing together +100000 women in tech from 181 countries hosting 500+ speakers and mentors! https://www.womentech.net/women-tech-conference

My session will be on “The Power of Tech Communities”

Check out my speaker page and session details here :

In my talk, I will discuss how we can leverage the power of tech communities in our career and personal growth? And since nothing drives a brand forward more than its community! So, how can companies create and leverage such tech communities to their product’s advantage and to delight their users.

Interested? Register now at – https://shop.womentech.net/

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 5

To Get Control, You have to Give Control

For the company and its strategic financial interest, a lot is riding on the skills and abilities of each and every rep in the front.

So, the most common people-management strategy is to minimize the risk by keeping a very tight rein on everything, including companies mandating the exact words each rep must use in all interactions, looking at Average Handle Time(AHT), employing checklists for Quality Assurance (QA) and dictating their every move.

But these strategies of yesterday’s successful companies are fast becoming antiquated and are. no longer sufficient and even actively harmful.

The fourth pillar in creating a world-class customer experience is that low-effort service organisations run their operations very differently and manage their people very differently.

In a low-effort service org, reps determine for themselves how best to handle the unique issue being experienced by this unique person.

80.5% of service orgs say their rep performance has not improved noticeably over the past couple of years. The main questions here are-

  • How can companies position their reps for success in today’s world?
  • If we want to deliver a low-effort experience, what skills matter most?

The List of skills clustered into four statistically defined categories –

IQ
Advanced Problem Solving

Curious
Creative
Capable of Critical Thinking
Experimental
3.6 % improvement in CSAT or in Net Promoter Score
Basic Skills and Behaviors
Demonstrates Product Knowledge
Demonstrates Technological experience
Communicates confidently, clearly
Asks good questions
Capable of multi-tasking
5.1% better performance
EQ
Emotional Intelligence

Has customer service ethic
Extroverted
Advocates for the customer
Persuasive
5.4% performance boost
CQ
Control Quotient

Resilient
Able to handle high-pressure situations
Takes responsibility of own actions
Responds well to constructive criticism by managers
Able to concentrate on tasks over extended periods of time
11.2% increase in Rep’s performance!
Performance Impact of Rep Skill Categories

The impact of CQ is abundantly clear. It is what it takes not just to engage with one customer, but to be able to disengage immediately afterward to be fully effective with the next person. Quit Taking It Personally!

Boosting CQ

It’s not the training. It’s not the people. It’s the work environment those people are subjected to on a daily basis that enables higher rep performance, a lower-effort customer experience, and ultimately loyalty benefits for the company.

3 distinct keys to unlocking CQ

Trust in rep judgement

This has 14% impact on CQ.

Do your employees feel trusted?

Customers have different personalities, needs and expectations. When a company mandates that every customer call include standard, company-imposed criteria or questions, it eliminates the natural, spontaneous, human level interaction and replaces with a mechanical, rote exchange.

So, instead we need to

a) Eliminate the Checklist Mentality

b) Remove the Pressure of Time

Rep understanding and alignment with company goals

Employees are more likely to exhibit ‘discretionary effort’ if they understand the connection between their everyday work and the overall big-picture mission of the organisation.

Reps who understand exactly how customer service ties directly to customer loyalty, which ties directly to strategic and financial outcomes are more likely to take control over their own individual interactions.

A strong rep peer support network

This has a 17% impact on CQ but is also the hardest to achieve.

3 conditions for maximum benefits of peer support to be realised:

  1. Adequate time – Make it easy. to help & support each other. It is a part of job and not a burden.
  2. True Best-practice sharing – Share how best to serve customers in complex situations, not suboptimal shortcuts or work arounds
  3. Receptive reps – Enable reps to help each other without being controlled by management to ensure better receptivity.

CQ isn’t learned, it is enabled.

Most reps already have moderate to high CQ potential. The problem is that most companies inhibit it due to an environment of strict adherence- Judgement and Control are not welcomed in these environments.

“Give control to get control of the front line.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 4

“Just because there’s Nothing You can Do Doesn’t Mean there’s Nothing you can Do”

The customer’s perception of the experience actually accounts for fully two-thirds of the overall effort equation. Means that how the customer perceives / feels about the interaction matters twice as much as what they actually have to do during the interaction!

A lot of interactions that don’t require a lot of exertion still feel like a lot of effort to customers.

Service orgs might be handling “easy” situations in the wrong way far too often.

Effort – is one-third “do” and two-thirds “feels”

Don’t over-invest in streamlining the physical side of the service experience. Instead, focus on the interpretation or “feel” side of the effort!

Soft Skills

Definition – A code of behavior created to consistently handle customer issues in a friendly, personable, and professional manner that reflects positively on the representative and the company.

They are not a choice or an option – to be applied with every caller, every time.

But Soft skills alone are not enough to move the needle on effort reduction.

In comes –

Experience Engineering

Definition- An approach to actively guide a customer through an interaction that is designed to anticipate the emotional response and preemptively offer solutions that create a mutually beneficial resolution.

‘Experience Engineering’ – means managing a conversation with carefully selected language designed to improve how the customer interprets what they’re being told.

So, sound experience engineering is designed to

  • Anticipate the emotional response of the customer.
  • Preemptively offer solutions that the customer will find agreeable.
  • Finding a mutually beneficial resolution to customer issues.
  • Mainly – when the customer is going to be told they cannot have exactly what they are asking for – easing them into the answer.
  • Arriving at true win-win outcome instead of paying customers with lavish givebacks!

Most companies’ initial forays into effort reduction are aimed at reducing customer exertion.

Can experience engineering be taught ? – Many companies are teaching their reps to do this in ways that are simple to understand and easy even for relatively inexperienced staff to use.

Reframing “No”

Using positive Language. Be truthful, but in a way that doesn’t trigger negative emotional reaction.

“Don’t tell the customers what you can’t do, tell them what you can do”

Positioning Alternatives with Customer benefits

Ask more questions. Do not put them on hold. Find the real motivations of the customer beyond the explicitly stated need. Work with them to present alternates.

  • Don’t be so fast with the “no”
  • Don’t encourage reps to try to explain their way out of a high effort situation.
  • Don’t take the customer’s request quite so literally.

Of those customers whose first request cannot be fulfilled, approximately 10% simply refuse to engage further. The rep does their best to suggest potential alternates using positive language skills. But if they don’t engage, it is the customer’s loss.

Among the remaining requests, a very high percentage of customers are willing to at least consider and even accept a different solution. And it can be achieved by a rep willing to keep the positive momentum going – buying time to learn more about the customer and not going straight to a ‘no’.

Personality-Based Issue Resolution

identify the basic personality characteristics of each customer in the moment, and tailor the interaction to that customer.

Personality Type
ProfileCharacteristic Traits
Actions to do
Feeler
Leads with emotional needs
“I need to feel good about my next steps”
Cooperative
Sensitive
Loyal
Invite their opinion
Provide Assurance
Show personal involvement
EntertainerLoves to talk and show-off their personality.
“Let’s have some fun”
Outgoing
Enthusiastic
Spontaneous
Maintain informal tone
Mention personal information
Focus on the ‘big picture’
ThinkerNeeds to analyse and understand
Take the time to fully explain the what and the why
Analytical
Thorough
Serious
Do not interrupt
Explain processes
Slow down conversation
ControllerJust wants what they want, when they want it
“Let’s cut to the chase”
Independent
Candid
Determined
Directly address issue
Speed up the pace of conversation
Provide clear timeline for result
Bradford & Bingley’s Personality framework

Introduction to ERP Testing and its Importance

<This is a guest post by Sohaib Zaidi>

In this era of cut-throat competition, global enterprises are facing tremendous pressure to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, increase sales and profitability. For this, more and more enterprises are embracing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. Apart from enabling enterprises to make accurate, informed and strategic decisions, ERP also helps them to stay compliant. Though the benefits of introducing cloud ERP solutions to your business are countless, yet these benefits come with several challenges.

Enterprises that have already embraced cloud are struggling to keep pace with the frequency of ERP software updates. ERP vendors like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc are rolling out new releases and patches on monthly, quarterly, or biannually. Since cloud updates are rolled out at quick succession, enterprises are finding it hard to quickly test the updates and deploy these to production. Here arises the need of ERP testing

Why is it necessary to test ERP updates before deployment to production?

ERP updates bring new features and functionality, customer enhancement requests, and patches from previous releases. These updates need to be tested regressively since there are chances that they can impact a variety of functions that may cause disruption to business continuity. So, it is always recommended that before rolling out the ERP updates, QA teams should test critical business processes, validate reports, key workflows and test critical integrations with other applications.

Though manual application testing approach is still prevalent but it cannot be considered as a reliable solution in case of ERP testing. To understand this better, let us discuss an example of Oracle ERP. Oracle rolls out quarterly updates. These updates are first introduced to non-production environments. Oracle offers two weeks’ time to test these updates and raise issues. After two weeks, these get applied to the production environment. So, performing Oracle testing manually for these updates is non-feasible. Apart from time-consuming, manual testing is error prone, fragile and costly. Another disadvantage associated with manual testing is that it can adversely impact business continuity due to limited test coverage and its inability to identify change impact.

Embrace Automation Testing for seamless cloud adoption

Test automation not only reduces testing time of complex ERP systems but also ensures robust software quality. The biggest perks associated with test automation are maximum accuracy with minimum efforts, quick feedback, accelerated results, lower costs, and maximum coverage. Most of the test automation tools perform post release impact analysis to identify the impacted areas. Based on the impact assessment, QA teams can generate most relevant tests to execute validation. This not only defines the accurate testing scope but also delivers wider coverage which is not possible while performing manual testing.

When enterprises use test automation for security testing and constant maintenance, they get the opportunity to easily recognize defects. This approach significantly reduces vulnerabilities, helping enterprises to keep huge losses at bay. Automated testing also helps enterprises to overcome challenges of drowsy routine procedures crop up due to manual testing. Leveraging test automation tools, enterprises can accelerate routine procedures that consume time and cost to ensure a quick turnaround and superior ROI.

Author – Sohaib Zaidi – in his own words-
 
I am a technology enthusiast and professional writer with experience across niches like digital transformation, AI, IoT, & test automation. I love to write technology in simple tone so that readers can easily understand how embracing technology can deliver greater outcomes.    

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 3

“The Worst Question a Service Rep can ask”

Repeat contacts are the single biggest driver of customer effort.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is used to help assess performance. CCompanies regularly boast FCR rates of 70-8-% or higher. But when you ask customers how well companies are doing, you get a completely different answer (about 40% resolution in the first contact)

So, it turns out that the concept of FCR fails to account for the host of other related issues that cause customers to call back.

Implicit issues transcend the original customer-stated need. These repeat contacts happen fir two main reasons-

Adjacent Issues – downstream issues that might seem unrelated at first, but are ultimately connected to the main issue.

Experience Issues – emotional triggers that cause a customer to second-guess the answer given, or double check to see if another answer exists.

Going Beyond First Contact Resolution

Next issue Avoidance – Companies need to arm reps with shareper diagnostic skills and tools that can help them “forward-resolve” the next likely customer issue.

Companies trying to improve next issue avoidance (not just FCR) should track callbacks- any repeat contact by the customer, within a specified time period.

Rules – to balance the simplicity of forward resolution with effectiveness and avoiding confusion that forward resolution of adjacent issues might create-

Rule #1: Down One, Not Two – Trying to forward-resolve more than one step at a time might overwhelm the customer. Stick to one – only the immediate adjacent issue.

Rule #2: Pick Winners – Adjacent issues have to occur at least 20% of the time to qualify for forward resolution.

Rule #3: Don’t forward-resolve complex issues on the phone – For more complex issues, instead of confusing customers trying to explain over a phone call, follow up over a simple e-mail with details.

Measuring Next Issue Avoidance

Simple Metric – Track repeat calls from any customer within a seven-day period.

Points to Remember:

  • Don’t just solve the current issue, head off the next issue.
  • Measure callbacks, not just first contact resolution (FCR). The best companies also assess whether the rep solved the stated customer issue, as well as forward-resolved adjacent and experience-related follow-up issues.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 2

“Why your customers don’t want to talk to you”

  • 58% of call volume comes from customers who were on your website first, but still ended up having to call.
  • Customers who attempt to self-serve but are forced to pick up the phone are 10 % more disloyal than the ones who were able to resolve their issue on the portal of their choice.
  • The challenge is not getting the customers to self-serve , but to avoid channel-switching from self-service to phone call.
  • Companies believe that their customers want some kind of personal relationship with them. But the reality is that the customers already value the web as much if not more than the phone!

Self service places the customer in control, particularly when information that is confidential or potentially embarrassing might be exchanged.

The balance in favor of phone service even on the older age groups is far close to 60:40, rather than 90:10 or 80:20 ratio as many of us would have guessed. So, even customers who are the last to adopt self-service are much further along than most of us would have imagined.

The Channel Stickiness Opportunity

When it comes to how information is presented on the web, simplicity matters a lot.

It all starts with a simple question.

Examining three big channel-switching categories and ways to overcome those:

Category #1: Customers Couldn’t Find the Information they needed

Too many options put in front of customers exacerbate the channel-switching problems.

Customers are best-served by being directed to the lowest-effort channel and options to resolve their issue, even if that channel would not have been their first choice.

Ways to guide customers-

Ways to guide customers

Category #2 The Customer found the Information, but it was unclear

When customers who are trying to solve a problem don’t understand what they’re reading on a web site, they click the “contact us” button and end up calling.

Make sure your website and the content makes sense to the people on the outside as much as on the inside of your company.

Gunning Fog Index

Introduced in the 1950s, it is a benchmark for language simplicity. The scoring represents the years of education a person would need to comprehend a piece of text.

Use an online version to calculate the index for content on your website http://gunning-fog-index.com/

Rules to improve your website-

Rule 1 – Simplify Language

Rule 2 – Eliminate null search results

Rule 3 – Chunk related information

Rule 4 – Avoid jargon

Rule 5 – Use active voice

Category #3 The Customer was simply looking for a phone number

For customers who visit the website just to obtain a phone number, there are some subtle things that can be done to productively engage them.

  • Feature prominent links to the most common questions asked.
  • Move the contact us from th etop to th ebottom right of the screen.
  • Add to your knowledge base with words lie “simple”, “step-by-step” and “tips” to engage the newbies.

However, it is far better to incentivise self-service than to overtly discourage live service usage, or trying to hide the phone number.

The key to mitigating channel switching is simplifying the self-service experience.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 1

The New Battleground for Customer Loyalty

Defining Loyalty

in three specific behaviors

  • Repurchase – Customers continue to buy from your company
  • Share of Wallet – Customers buy more from you over time
  • Advocacy – Customers say good things about your product

Perceived vs Actual Impact of Customer Service on Loyalty

Companies grossly underestimate the benefit of simply meeting customer expectations.

Companies massively overestimate the loyalty returns from exceeding customer expectations.

Delight is Expensive

Delight is Rare

Delight is a tough target to hit with any regularity. However, basic competence, professional service and getting the fundamentals right are easier to achieve – and they matter more than we believe.

Findings from the Survey conducted by the authors on 97,000 customers of varying domains –

Finding #1 – A strategy of Delight does not work

Finding #2 – Satisfaction is not a predictor of Loyalty

Finding #3 – Customer Service interactions tend to drive disloyalty, not loyalty

Finding #4 – the key to mitigating disloyalty is reducing customer effort

“If you are really serious about creating the loyalty outcomes that matter most to the performance of the customer service department and ultimately the success of your company, reducing customer effort must become the new centrepiece of your service strategy”

Wrong Loyalty Goal –> ‘You exceeded my expectations’

Correct Loyalty Goal –> ‘You made it easy’

The Four Principles of Low-Effort Service

  • Minimize channel switching by boosting the ‘stickiness’ of self-service channels, thereby keeping the customers from having to call in the first place.
  • When customers have to call – arm the reps to head off the potential for subsequent calls
  • Equip reps to succeed on the ’emotional’ side of the service interaction by using advanced experience engineering tactics.
  • Value the Quality of the experience over the speed and efficiency

Quotable Quotes

  • Loyalty is now primarily driven by a company’s interactions with its customers.
  • Customer loyalty is an ongoing relationship and the key, of course, is customer support.
  • Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are not the same, and are not even co-related!
  • Make things as easy as possible for your customers

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Introduction

This is my first time reading a book on this topic – or anything related to customer experience at all. So I did not know what to expect. What wow’ed me the most was the first story in the Introduction part of the book itself – i.e. the story of ‘Joshie – the stuffed girraffe’

The story is about Joshie – a stuffed giraffe that gets left behind in a hotel room by a little kid who is later distraught about losing his favorite pal. The hotel Ritz Carlton not only reaches out to the family and ensures the safe return of the giraffe home, but also adds a bunch of ‘extended vacation’ pictures of Joshie enjoying his extended stay lounging around the hotel pool, taking a golf cart ride, having a massage, making friends with other stuffed animals and even helping the staff by manning a security room – much to the delight of the little boy and his worried parents!

This story has now set the bar for customer service in all industries the world over! You can read this story of customer delight in various posts on the internet like here or here or read the blog post below –

Reading this story makes you wonder – How do I get my people to go above and beyond like that? Why can’t our company be known for that kind of delightful service?

Well, this Introduction also sets a beautiful tone and level-sets us for what lies ahead in the book!

I sure hope we reach the answers to these questions by the end 🙂

Happy Reading!

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’

I started the ‘Read Along’ section on my blog last year with my series on the book ‘Agile Testing’ – a much coveted book for all testers. It was a fun way to learn, get back to my reading and also share it with my readers!

2021 started with me finding myself in a new job, an exciting new role in a brand new domain! So, I am taking the Read Along series forward this year by beginning a new book that not only is relevant to my current role and is a recommended read for the ‘Customers for Life (C4L)’ team that I am a part of, but is also super relevant to every software team working on developing software that not only satisfies but wows their customers!

The book is “The Effortless Experience” by – Mathhew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delsi

I will be reading the book and will post about learnings, things to remember & quotable quotes from each chapter as I progress. This is to hold myself accountable, as well as to help people looking for good reads or learnings. Hope this helps you. Have you read this book? Do share your thoughts & learnings too!

Here is a link to get your own copy if you would like to read along-

Here are the Chapter-wise posts on the book

Hope this series provides a useful overview and a fun learning experience for the readers!

Cheers

Nishi

Ways to Generate Quick Test Ideas

As testers, we look at everything with a critical eye. As soon as something comes up for testing, our instinct is to get down to examining it and looking for problem areas. After getting a written test script, a new tester would be tempted to begin executing scripted tests right away.

But stopping to gather our thoughts about possible test ideas first is a smarter approach that leads to better, more unbiased test coverage. However, we don’t always have a lot of time to imagine scenarios and different paths. Luckily, there is always some planning we can do beforehand.

In my article published at Gurock Testrail blog I shared some tips for generating test ideas in a time crunch.

Revisit classic test techniques

Our old, trusted test design techniques like boundary value analysis, equivalence class partitions, decision tables, and state flow diagrams are always a help when thinking about test cases. Although most of them are ingrained in the thought process of a tester and are mostly common sense, giving them a revisit, however informal, may still give us some more test ideas.

For example, creating a quick decision table for the interaction of two or more variables to observe the behavior of the system may reveal some unique combination that we might have missed. Or a quick boundary value analysis for the age field in our we form may show us a special case we might have missed.

Similarly, using state transition diagrams to draw end-to-end flows can help not only the testers, but also the developers in imagining the overall system flow and revealing problem areas.

Look at the history

The history of the project or the system can give us many insights into what we are dealing with, where the common defect clusters are, and the most problematic components.

If you are new to the test team, start by having a look at the defect tracking from past sprints or releases. You can then define and think of more test cases based on past defects and the components that have had the greatest number of defects.

If you’ve been part of the team for a while, you are probably intuitively bound to focus on these areas. But even then, it will help to consciously make an effort to list the most common types of bugs encountered and most problematic areas based on your experience. This will help not only you, but also your new and junior team members. Read full post->

Read More »