Chatbots and Customer Service

Every entrepreneur and business owner knows that customer service is key to a lasting and successful project, initiative, or company. Being the department that possibly interacts the most with your audience, it’s highly likely that you have spent countless hours looking for the best customer service employees and tools to elevate your service to the next level. When the digital age arrived, however, the rules with customer service began to change. No longer were you greeted with a, “Hello, how can I help you?” from a real live person, but instead with a, “Please press 1 for more options” message coming from a robotic voice. While both methods are efficient, it’s important to note that the customer service rules have changed, and programs like chatbots will soon become the norm.

 

Chatbots were born out of a necessity to more efficiently police and traffic calls in high volumes. Quite frankly, it would be nearly impossible for a small office of people to handle transferring incoming calls for a large company such as Wells Fargo or Apple in a timely manner. And with the technology available, companies are able to save money by no longer needing to hire that team of switch-board experts. Chatbots are also attractive to businesses because they allow the customer to have total control of the direction of the call, instead of relying on who is on the other end to understand what they need.

 

At first, chatbots were not very sophisticated and often served as a point of frustration for customers. Since they work off of keywords and not actual context, customers had to readjust their own customer service visions and learn how to interact with the new technology. Chatbots have come a long way since then, and have been integrated with machine learning technology that allows for an easier experience thanks to advancements within artificial intelligence.

 

Chatbots are able to do more than just get a customer from one complaint to a solution, however. They also can yield valuable data and metrics that show where the majority of customer complaints come from. Further even from this, because of the real-time nature of chatbots replacing employees live-chatting with customers to troubleshoot, they’re able to point customers in the direction of other services on your site that they may be interested in as well, all from the keywords that you used during your chatbot inquiry. This will drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

 

The bottom line behind chatbots and customer service is to not be afraid of the growing technology. There is a healthy balance between an in-person customer service rep and chatbots, and by learning about the best practice for both services, you can create a custom service platform that will serve your customers in the best way possible. And as technology continues to advance, look to chatbots to become even more capable of driving your business towards success in more areas than just customer service.

Pepper Rutland, MMR President & CEO, on the Company Being Named One of the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

On Monday our team announced that MMR was recognized as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.  MMR was impressively ranked third out of thirty companies who made the list in the “Large Company: 250 or more U.S. Employees” category.

The competitive Best Places to Work Program identifies, recognizes and honors the best places of employment in Baton Rouge. MMR initially completed an extensive questionnaire about its workplace policies, practices and demographics. Additionally, employees completed an anonymous survey about their engagement and satisfaction at the workplace. Survey questions covered areas such as corporate culture, training and development. The employer and employee surveys were then combined to form a set of data which enabled the analysts to determine the strengths and opportunities of the participating companies.

I am extremely humbled by this honor. One statistical fact that has always stuck with me is that people spend 80 percent of their waking life at work, so if you don’t like what you are doing or the job that you are in, you need to find a new career. At MMR, our employees are the heart of our company, and we strive to promote a culture that fosters personal development and professional growth while offering both tangible and intangible rewards to those with the drive to succeed.

How To Keep Growing As A Business

pexels-photo-largeMMR Group continues to grow. Last month, the company proudly announced the purchase of assets and operations of Vector Electric and Controls, Inc. In our 20 plus years as a company, we’ve learned a lot about progress, expansion, and growth as a business. We’re of the belief that there is always room for growth and opportunities to be more impactful. As such, I want to share with you a few tips about how to do just that, regardless of the type of company you manage or lead.

  1. Hire the right people
    Your human assets are the most valuable part of your company. Even if you have the greatest ideas or the largest budget, without the proper talent to manage and execute each of those, the business is nil. Hence, hiring is the most foundational tip for growth and long term success. Look out for people who understand your company’s objectives, its strengths and weakness, and the details of their role. Invest both your time and money in attracting great employees; doing so sets a positive precedent for everything to come.
  2. Have Clear Goals
    The next step is to define what success is for your business and how you want to get there. Perhaps, for your company that means reaching a certain number of customers, opening a second location,  or earning a set amount of revenue. Regardless of what it is, every business needs a list of clearly defined goals and a plan for realizing them. Overtime, as those goals are reached and as your company evolves, your goals should as well. It’s also important to prioritize these objectives and ensure that the rest of your team is on the same page.
  3. Be Strategic
    This step requires a greater level of perception and calls for realizing opportunities that were not previously mapped out, but make sense based on the position of the business itself. With very calculated marketing, mergers, or other business strategies, companies can build an enterprise that is not limited only to rigid goals, but that moves based on what is expedient for the business. Always be sensible about your choices and alert to the possibilities which surround you.
  4. Learn From Mistakes
    Every choice or strategy will be not an immediate hit. In fact, some can be an outright failure; that’s a normal part of business. The best way to recover is to learn from the mistake. Ask yourself which part or parts of the process went wrong and why. Only then can your and your company create more successful outcomes going forward, rather failing multiple times over an avoidable issue. There is no guarantee that all things will work, so don’t be afraid of risk. Even the largest companies from Apple to Google frequently have major failures. As a company, however, your power is in controlling the controllable.

Finally, every business starts somewhere; many with just a simple idea and the work of a single individual. Nevertheless, no one goes into business with small aspirations. Every entrepreneur’s goal is to bring their skills, product or resource to as many customers or supporters as possible. Following these simple practices and words of advice can make the likelihood of such a reality.

The Truth About Why Employees Stay And What It Means For You

startup-photos-largeRecent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, as of 2012, the average length of time an individual remains in a given job is just under four and a half years. Over the course of a lifetime, the number of jobs a person may have on his or her resume is about 11 (more specifically, 11.4 for men and 10.7 for women). Furthermore, the studies show that the decision to leave is not particular to any one career or industry. These numbers are true for bankers and musicians alike, resulting in turnover anxiety for companies and HR professionals everywhere. Yet, the factors determining why employees leave are equally true for why they stay. Examining such could save companies the estimated $40,000 it costs to replace staff member..

With regard to those who stay, MMR Group recently honored a number of employees which have been with the company for over a decade, some of them almost two. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to say that we have people on our team who have worked with us for so long, who’ve watched our company grow, and likewise, have had a hand in our success in the time they’ve been with us. Other than being amazing people, as all of our employees are, based on this research, I wonder what makes them an anomaly.

According to an older issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), employees stay at a company for two reasons. The first is they enjoy the work they do/their job description is aligned with their passion. This concept was confirmed more recently by a poll in TIME magazine, which shows that over 67% of people surveyed remained at a job because they enjoy the work, making it the number one influence for retention. Secondly, people stay because of what the HBR called a good “company environment” or what we call workplace culture, today. It means that employees feel connected to companies with which they share values, ideals and ways of living (or working, in this instance).

However, the latter is usually more ambiguous. What defines a workplace culture, really? It could be a number of things from how you communicate with employees, whether via email or face to face. And with that, are employees required to make a meeting or can they in whenever? Also, does the office go out for drinks after work or do most people at the company abstain from alcohol? Is the office quiet? Is there vacation time? Do most people use that time for vacation? All of these questions help better define what the culture of your workplace is–from simple to more complex results. Everyone has a company culture/environment, and no particular one is better than the other. Unless, of course, it isn’t a proper fit for the people you hire.

Thus, it’s important for companies to be aware of both factors. Make sure that job descriptions are expressed clearly and comprehensively. In interviews, get to know prospective employees on a deeper level than credentials and job history. Finding out someone’s true passion and how they work on a daily basis can make a world of difference in losing an employee and keeping a great one for life.

Understanding The Importance of Employee Wellness

Pepper Rutlands exercise equipmentInterest in health has become a major focus for many Americans. Now, more than in recent decades, individuals are concerned about getting healthier and adopting wellness as a lifestyle, as seen in the incredible popularity of FitBit and other wearables which monitor activity and quality of sleep, as well as the consumer trend toward juicing, smoothies, and organic or Non-GMO foods. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that U.S. News & World Report’s #1 trend in employee benefits to watch for in 2016 is wellness programs. As a consistent leader in our industry, the MMR Group had already begun investing in our employees, and this month, we’re proud to announce that our very own employee wellness center is open for all staff, at our in company headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA.

At MMR, we’ve taken notice of studies with regard to stress as a growing problem in America, and how it affects overall health. Research shows that stress can lead to significant, deadly illnesses when left untreated or exacerbated, such as heart disease, migraines, obesity, and accelerated aging. It is worth noting the role work plays into or sometimes causes stressful situations as well. According to a Carnegie Mellon University study, workplace stress has increased between 1983 and 2009, by a startling 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. While employers cannot control stressful situations outside of the workplace, it is our duty to alleviate any issues resulting from work, and one of the best ways to do that is through well programs.

Most entities, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to private companies like Altitude in Massachusetts, agree that wellness programs and centers like ours are imperative, with the CDC going as far as to declare that such is a “vital piece of a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, nearly 28 percent of employees who participate in wellness programs offered by Aetna experienced less stress and 20 percent sleep better. That was early last year and just one study, as more services are offered, that number may likely increase.

Additionally, the benefit of giving employees access to sports and exercise equipment leads to an increase in productivity. According to that same study, healthier, better rested, and less stressed employees produce, on average, about 62 minutes more of quality work per week. Financially, that is about $3,000 per employee every year. Likewise, a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that companies which invest in employee health perform better in the stock market than those who do not. Thus, such contributions are equally beneficial to all involved, and should be implemented on a larger scale.

Our 10,000-square-foot facility houses a weight training and exercise room, a basketball court, and will offer instructor-led boot camp classes. Active home office personnel and MMR staff employees can utilize the facility free of charge Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM. Click here to find out out more from our company website.