Challenge: Tis the season for customers to think “sale.” However, while customers are concentrating on transactions, companies need to think beyond the holidays. We hope the following 4 tips will help you move beyond “quickie transactions” for the 2013 holiday season to creating relationships for 2014 and beyond.
1. Understand the journey customers take with your company, from prospect to loyal customer. Know what each customer segment requires and deliver on your brand promise at every stage of their customer journey. See our previous article DM News Spotlight Article, The Sales Funnel is Dead.
2. Be a Holiday Shopping Resource.
Consumers will be receiving hundreds, if not thousands, of sales offers. By asking them to tell you about their needs and then helping with personalized solutions, you will cut through the clutter and create a competitively differentiating shopping experience.
Your customer service actions are all for naught unless you focus on the factors that create real positive customer experience impact for your customers.
Fatigue. Exhaustion. Disappointment. That’s what you’ll find at the end of the day filled with customer service actions that don’t serve real positive customer experience creating purpose for your customers.
You can answer calls, respond to email, and do exactly what customers have requested, but you’ll see little satisfaction and fulfillment unless it all comes together to accomplish something greater.
Everyone offers customer service in some form or another but some companies get it right time and time again while others continue to under-impress. Why does working with certain organizations seem like a delight, while others are painful experiences we try to avoid?
What are the key goals for those organizations that seem to be doing customer service right? I think that they can be summarized in what Mike Myatt talks about in Hacking Leadership. I’ve adapted Mike’s pursuits of leadership in 7 noble pursuits of great customer service leaders.
According to an article in New York Times, Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line . The dominant cost of all this waiting is an emotional one: stress, boredom, that nagging sensation that one’s life is slipping away.
In a recent poll of shoppers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia and Singapore shows British shoppers will do almost half their Christmas shopping in 2013 without stepping into a store, with many saying that the reason is that they want to avoid Christmas queues. The UK figure compares with 35 per cent of international shoppers who are planning to do the same.
So in this age of the customer, why do we wait in line - and why do we hate it so much?
The reason why queues form is quite simple to answer: there are more customers than people to serve them. The more interesting question is how it makes us feel – the emotional side of the coin. David Maister the former Harvard Business School professor wrote an article already in 1985 called the psychology of waiting lines.
He formulated “The First Law of Service”, a simple, but yet powerful formula:
This post was originally posted in August 2012. Since that time I have seen the idea customer experience improvement consistently increase in popularity. That is a good thing, and hopefully, our discussions here at CTS have had some small impact. In that context, however, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this post. Customer experience and customer service are among the most important disciplines in any organization, but they are not all that matters.
Obviously, we focus almost exclusively on the topics of customer service and the customer experience here at Customers That Stick. We believe that a great customer experience and superior follow up are some of the key differentiators between a healthy organization poised for long term success and an unhealthy enterprise bleeding out its potential future.
Such lofty beliefs in the power of great customer service beg a simple question: is great customer service enough?
Professional services firms, like management consulting, financial services, and information technology, are involved in complex projects that engage large on-site staff over an extended period of time. They have extended capabilities to engage in a wide variety of work.
For these types of projects, mining every possible asset for identifying and qualifying leads has significant revenue and profit payoff. This is a case where ever stone must be turned over.
Beyond marketing, there are four major sources for identifying leads:
Technical staff in your company that are working or have worked with the customer
Before reviewing some specifics, let’s highlight one best practice that seems to be common among companies who are getting this right. Companies engaging in this type of work often have Business Developers and very large teams of highly qualified technical experts who are onsite doing the work.
As one Managing Partner of a consulting firm shared – “We have a lot very smart and respected people onsite every day working with client contacts. They work with the clients; they eat lunch with the clients but the problem is they keep their heads down versus up when it comes to identifying leads for future work. We need to change that big time – we don’t need them to sell but we must have them identify leads.”
With that thought in mind, let’s take a closer look at each lead source:
Each week I read a number of customer service articles from various online resources. Here are my top five picks from last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think too.
In a world of standardised anonymous responses, scripted replies and ever increasing automation, as a customer it’s always lovely to get a personalised response. Here’s a heart warming and touching story from my good friend Faye Smith of Keep Your Fork that demonstrates this in a lovely and compassionate way.
Earlier this month, Faye sent a Christmas card to Angeli, the child she and her daughter Gabi have been sponsoring through Compassion, a Christian organisation dedicated to eliminating poverty around the world.
Sadly, Faye had to break the very sad news to Angeli that her 12 year old UK pen pal Gabi had tragically died earlier this year and that it would only be her writing from now on.
A few days later Faye received a lovely card handwritten and signed by the whole Compassion child sponsorship team expressing their sadness about her loss and that they were thinking about her.
It’s a lovely touch, and is a timely reminder that simple, personalised responses can go a long, long way to touch a customer and make them feel valued.
From Loyal to πιστός – Four Differences Between U.S. and European Loyalty Programs
My dollar may be worth just 70 cents in Europe, but my loyalty rewards, and lessons, run in the multiples.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to travel Europe as a guest of the company BrandLoyalty, a Netherlands-based firm in which my company, LoyaltyOne, is acquiring a major stake. BrandLoyalty operates some of the largest grocery loyalty programs in Europe and Asia. Since it was founded in 1995, BrandLoyalty has created hundreds of individual reward plans.
During our eight-country tour of BrandLoyalty’s operations, I’ve noticed a few key differences between American and European programs. Some I was aware of, but some took me by surprise, and I think my domestic neighbors could benefit from knowing and borrowing from them.
So before I jump on the next high-speed train, I am sharing what I think are the four major differences between U.S. and European loyalty programs:
Santa Claus gets much of the credit for spreading Yule cheer and happiness; but, isn’t it really the elves who are most responsible? Several years ago, business consultant Matthew T. Grant interviewed me for his blog site (http://www.matthewtgrant.com) and the subject was how, through their employees, companies can move beyond satisfaction to create real customer loyalty. Almost six years later, much of what we discussed still rings true, like a silver carol bell. Here is some of what was covered.
• Positive customer experience with employees at your company has a far greater impact on loyalty than does satisfaction with a product or service. Indeed, studies have shown that 70 percent of customer behavior is driven not by product quality or efficiency of delivery or advertising, but instead by interactions with your people.
• You cannot create, or sustain, customer loyalty without committed employees. More than commitment to the company or the brand, more than commitment to productivity or innovation or even the organization itself, we are talking about commitment to the customer. The key is to focus on developing and supporting employees so that they, in turn, focus on the customer. Ideally, you want every employee to be an ambassador.
[Recorded Sept 26] Traditional Voice of Customer surveys have a blind spot to real-time feedback on social media and call center interactions. Learn how progressive companies are mining Big Data to improve the customer experience, reduce churn and even boost agent selling.