‘Canity’ helping overcome bad customer service
A phone call from entrepreneur and customer service guru Kym Illman to his airline carrier recently ended in him providing the unwitting call centre staff member with some on-the-spot training in phone skills.
Messages On Hold and Canity Head, Kym Illman
As founder and head of voice branding company Messages On Hold, it’s something the Adelaide-born former disc jockey is well qualified to provide advice on.
From a one-man business started in the spare room of his two-bedroom apartment, MOH has grown into a global success story, servicing more than 13,000 sites in 20 countries.
“The voice people hear down the phone is very often their first point of contact with a business and you get only one chance to make sure that impression a great one,” the multi-millionaire and father-of-two says.
“I’ve always had that personality of wanting to please someone. In business I think you have to think ‘what’s the extra, what can I give people that will really get their attention and make them come back?’ That is surely what customer service is all about.”
Illman’s 30-year-record in customer service and marketing is the genesis for his latest business offering, Canity, an online staff training platform aimed squarely at SMEs. It’s already gaining attention in the lucrative US market.
“Canity is an online training course with modules made up of short animated video lessons. Once a company subscribes, these videos are delivered straight into the email inboxes of staff,” he explains.
At MOH headquarters in East Perth, a team of graphic designers, animators and writers storyboard ideas for the videos before they are approved, drawing on their combined experience in customer service.
The resulting animations pack a powerful punch in their colorful and easy-to-understand simplicity, which Illman says makes them easy to digest and most importantly, to remember.
These 1 to 5-minute videos, cover all the fundamentals of customer interaction, from phone skills, effective use of email, through to face-to-face dealing, presentation tips, using social media and much more.
“We deal with everything from different customer personality types; to how to cope with happy, anxious or disappointed customers; from retail and sales skills; to employing empathy – there’s not much we miss and we are constantly adding to the library.”
At the completion of each module, staff complete an interactive online quiz and can download further training content. Video lessons can be embedded into existing learning management systems and there’s a ‘Masters Series’ module for business owners and managers who want to change the way they work.
“In the same way that I have great confidence in my staff, I have absolute confidence this product is a winner,” Illman says. “What I like about it is it all happens online allowing the content to be viewed when it’s convenient for the viewer, so we’re not impacting on productivity.
“The Canity back end allows managers to see who’s done the training, how they’ve scored and where they’re falling down; the system does all the work for managers, they love it.”
Illman argues with more traditional training, ‘onboarding’ of new employees and retraining of existing ones is often a time consuming and expensive process.
“Offsite training takes people away from their desks. You lose productivity with days out of the office and at the end of the day how much do employees remember?” he says. “Learning online means staff can be trained without taking too big a bite out of the HR budget and with participants working at their own pace.”
A Canity subscription provides access to more than 250 training videos, and covers unlimited access for the number of employees specified. Various pricing options are available.
Illman says he is constantly amazed that in general, customer service is as bad today as it was 30 years ago.
“You walk into a café and no-one wants to serve you or you ring an airline, a phone company, whoever, and you’re not helped in the way that you want or need to be helped. I remain stunned that so many managers just don’t seem to care,” he says.
“For a company to be truly customer-focused, an employee must understand how important customer service is to the company and the role that he or she plays in that. And that’s in everything from the way someone might speak on the phone to the way they talk to the photocopy repair man,” Illman says.
“I’m always looking for that ‘extra’ factor,” he says. “What is it that sets us apart. No-one is doing what we are doing at MOH and now Canity, and we are going to continue developing this product and extending its reach.”