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Improve the Customer Experience (#CX) by "Checking In"

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 02, 2014 @ 00:12 AM

customer experience satisfaction and improvement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you or your company has made a sale of a product or service to a customer what do you do next?

 

Do you know if the customer was satisfied with their purchase?

 

Did they find value in what they bought?

 

What's working or not working for them?

 

What are they telling others about you and your product or service?

 

Customer experience management and customer satisfaction and retention are still woefully underfunded and underemphasized relative to demand creation, lead generation and sales even though an existing customer is more likely to buy from you again than a new customer is for the first time.

 

Once a sale is made, let the customer support team know so they can send the new customer a satisfaction survey to learn how the buying process went.

 

When the company engages with the customer after a transaction, it makes the interaction feel more personal, like a relationship is being formed, rather than a one-time experience.

 

The insights you gather by interacting with customers will be invaluable.

 

Get sales, marketing and customer service to sit down and map the customer engagement experience you would like customers to have and then use you marketing automation platform or customer service reps to implement the multiple touch-point program.

 

Don't stop there. Ask your customers about what they think of your plan.

 

This will vary depending on the type of product or service being sold, as well as what the customer defines as a positive, or better yet, outstanding customer engagement experience.

 

Learn when to send a Net Promoter Score survey and how to follow-up on the results of the survey. Have a closed-loop process for handling feedback and resolving all detractor comments.

 

Determine how many times you should touch a customer who has bought an annual subscription/contract so that they're not just hearing from you in month 11 when it's time to renew.

 

Mapping the customer experience journey, measuring customer satisfaction and then committing to improve it is a great way to generate more revenue from the same customers and have customers for life.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, consumer insights, customer experience, net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, customer retention, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement

One Thing EVERY Company Can Do To Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 17, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

free wifi > customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just attended the Internet Summit (#isum14) at the Raleigh Convention Center.

 

I heard plenty of speakers sharing statistics about the growth of the internet, the growth of mobile and how to use the Internet to improve customer experience.

 

Ironically, internet access at the Raleigh Convention Center became limited as the attendance reached 2,000 people.

 

The one thing every business can do to improve the customer experience is to provide an always on, high-speed internet connection.

 

We're all using mobile devices, or laptops, to do business, research, stay in touch and stay informed.

 

By providing always-on, high-speed internet access, you're making your customers', and employees', lives simpler and easier.

 

Making customers' lives simpler and easier gives you a better chance of having a "customer for life."

 

Making your employees' lives simpler and easier gives you more empowered and engaged employees that are more likely to provide your customers an outstanding customer experience.

 

Conferences will have happier attendees.

 

Hotels will have happier guests.

 

Airlines/airports will have passengers that are able to get work done, or stay connected with their loved ones, even if their flight is delayed.

 

Restaurants and coffee shops will provide a valuable service to guests whether they're there on business or pleasure.

 

Businesses will ensure their clients, customers or guests are able to say connected while they're in their offices or stores.

 

How would high-speed internet access differentiate your business from your competition?

 

How would making your customers' lives simpler and easier change their impression of, and willingness to continuing doing business with, you?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, customer experience, customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer retention, satisfied customers, customer centric, employee engagement, employee empowerment, customer service

6 Steps to Enhance the Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jun, 24, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

Nordstrom Customer Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great webinar by Robert Spector, author of The Nordstrom Way.

 

The Nordstrom organization chart differs from other companies in that customers are at the top, followed by sales and support, department managers, store managers, buyers, merchandise managers and, lastly, the Board of Directors.

 

There's a prominent statement in the Nordstrom annual report, "Good things happen when we let customers be our guide."

 

Robert provided six steps which Nordstrom follows to provide an outstanding customer experience:

 

  1. Tell your story. Who founded the company? What does the company stand for? Why was the company founded? How has the company overcome adversity? How has the company evolved? Where is your company today? Create a culture of storytelling that exemplify the vision, mission and values of the firm.

    Stories that exemplify the Nordstrom commitment to providing an outstanding customer experience include that fact that Nordstrom did refund a customer's money for a set of tires from a company that Nordstrom had bought event though they no longer sold tires.

    In addition, Nordstrom would happily sell one shoe to amputees at half of the price of the full pair since that person would provide Nordstrom with referrals and word-of-mouth advertising.

    Nordstrom employees pride themselves of providing real life examples of people going above and beyond to serve their customers.

  2. Hire with care. Hire people with a sense of customer service; willing to work hard; that are self-motivated; that are creative; that are team players; and, that are results-driven. "Hire a smile and train the skill."

    Encourage each member of the team to know their role in the team setting and drive home the importance of being a team player so they every member of the team has the opportunity to meet every customers' needs.

  3. Empower entrepreneurs to own the customer experience. Does empowerment exist in your firm? Are employees comfortable sharing their areas of concern or ideas for innovation? Does management stand behind the best judgment of its employees? Are your employees willing/allowed to go above and beyond their job description to enhance the customer experience?

    The Nordstrom employee handbook is a 3"x5" card with one rule, "Use good judgment in all situations." Implicit in this is to go above and beyond for every customer.

  4. Nuture your employees. Do your employees feel their work has greater meaning than just being a job? How does your company help employees develop their talents and enhance their personal growth? Are your employees trained to understand empathy and the impact it has on your customers? Instead of asking, "What can we sell customers?," ask, "What can we do to improve the customer experience?"

  5. Communications and teamwork. Do you honor and award team achievement? Does every member of your team share the unified purpose of satisfying the customer? Do your employees feel their work has greater meaning than just being a job? How does your company help employees develop their talent?

  6. The sale is never over. Know how the customer found your company and leverage that knowledge. Reward vendors and suppliers for loyalty. Sell relationships, not products. Train employees on ways to develop relationships with customers. Determine how you can make customers feel better about your firm in their moment of need.
Have customers for life by making a commitment to provide a consistently outstanding level of customer service.
Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer retention, satisfied customers, customer centric, customer engagement

10 Reasons Customer Experience (#cx) is a Marketing Investment

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 27, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

treat customer service as a marketing investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Wolansky, president Consumer Direct and CMO of Yankee Candle, was the keynote speaker at a recent eTail West event.

He made some interesting points about why companies need to treat customer service, and ultimately providing a great customer experience, as a marketing investment.

  1. Price isn't the only differentiator. People will pay more for excellent customer service and a great customer experience (e.g., Nordstrom and Disney).

  2. The current sales tax advantage for online retailers will go away. You would be wise to differentiate on customer service rather than price and commit to providing an excellent customer experience.

  3. It's not that hard to improve the level of customer service your provide and improve the customer experience of your customers. It does take commitment, focus, determination and measurement.

  4. Happy customers are good customers. They buy more, they buy more frequently and they tell their family, friends and colleagues about your products, service and their customer experience.

  5. It doesn't require leading edge software. However, it does require a good customer relationship management (CRM) software and a commitment by everyone in the firm to use it.

  6. It's cheaper to retain current customers than acquire new customers. Some studies suggest by a factor of 7.

  7. Any company of any size can provide consistently excellent customer service and "wow" customer experiences. It's a customer-centric attitude that starts at the c-level and cascades down to everyone in the organization.

  8. Happy customers find new customers for you. They provide referrals, testimonials, they share their positive thoughts and experiences with family, friends and colleagues, they post on social media sites.

  9. It pays for itself. Think of providing good customer service as a marketing investment.

  10. Most companies provide lousy customer service and a negative customer experience. This is a great way to differentiate your firm from your competition.

A customer who has an issue that is resolved is more likely to become a long-term customer, and spend more with you over time, than the customer that doesn't complain.

 

Providing great customer service and a "wow" customer experience can help create "raving fans" that will sing your praises to family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers via the internet and social media.

 

A dissatisfied customer leaves and tells their friends, and possibly many others, about what a poor job you did.

 

You're much better off resolving the issue to the customer's satisfaction.

 

Use simple math to convince the CEO to bring marketing and customer service together.

 

Listen intensely to learn customers' needs and expectations.

 

Empower everyone in the company to have a role in providing outstanding customer service.

 

Attitude is everything. When every employee considers themselves part of the customer service team, your company is able to deliver a level of customer service that's a competitive differentiator for your firm.

 

Pay back customers for their business with excellent customer service. Raving fans will evangelize your brand.

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book  

Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer retention, customer centric, customer engagement, raving fans, referrals

Customer Service = Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Mar, 26, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

customer service drives customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Invesp (#invesp) for the following statistics.

 

Poor customer service almost guarantees that your customer will not be giving you additional business.

 

Helping customers is critical if you want to deliver the type of experience that positively engages your customers and creates a mutually-beneficial, long-term relationship.

 

10 takeaways:

 

  1. 83% of online shoppers need support to complete a purchase.

  2. 89% of consumers have stopped shopping at online stores after experiencing poor customer service.

  3. It cost seven times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer, yet marketing budgets tend to be allocated in just the opposite proportion.

  4. 31% of online customers expect to be helped immediately; 40% within five minutes; 11% within 30 minutes; 5% within an hour; and, 10% within a day. How quickly do you help your customers?

  5. Consumers are two times more likely to share their bad customer service experience than they are to talk about positive experiences.

  6. It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.

  7. The top elements of a great customer experience are: quick issue resolution (82%); issue resolution in a single interaction (56%); friendly CSRs (45%); follow-up by the same service rep (37%); ability to save a copy of the interaction (28%); post-enquiry follow-up (27%); custom offers and discounts after resolution (27%); ability to proceed with other things while the issue is resolved (21%); issue resolution without speaking to a rep (17%); a personalized experience (17%); and, access to help via social media sites (4%).

  8. 55% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.

  9. A customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor after experiencing a service-related issue as opposed to a price or product-related issue.

  10. A 10% increase in customer retention results in a 30% increase in perceived company value. 

 

The top customer support channels customers would like to see are:

 

  1. Telephone number = 61%

  2. Customer support email address = 60%

  3. Live chat = 57%

  4. FAQ section = 51%

  5. Click to call = 34%

  6. Online customer forums = 17%

  7. Help videos = 12%

  8. Video chat = 7%

  9. None of the above = 16%

 

Customers are becoming more comfortable helping themselves; however, you must make the information easy to find of they'll need help from a CSR.

 

How are you improving customer service to improve the customer experience?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

 

 

 

Sources: Salesforce.com; SocialMediaToday.com; eConsultancy.com

Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, be responsive, customer retention, customer service

Empowered and Engaged Employees Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 10, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

empower employees to provide excellent customer service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology has been a great enabler of improved customer service allowing small teams to support large groups of B2B or B2C customers across a growing number of channels.

 

However, with all of the technology available on both the agent and customer side, the human touch is what reasonates with the customer, keeps them loyal and causes them to make an emotional connection to the brand.

 

CSRs show customers they care with the little things they do: having a polite demeanor, providing words of understanding and empathy, sending a handwritten note or providing an exceptional customer service effort on behalf of a customer.

 

I had an experience yesterday. I am on a long-term consulting engagement three hours from my home. I dropped my glasses and a lens popped out. I went to Google and found an eye care center betweeen my office and hotel. I stopped in to My Eye Dr (www.myeyedr.com) on Arrowood Road in Charlotte and they fixed my glasses at no charge. 

 

They didn't have to do that but they did and I've recognized them for doing so on their Facebook page and in this blog post. And, you better believe that's where I'd go if I had any eyecare needs while in Charlotte.

 

While customer engagement (#cx) center technology continues to evolve, the importance of the individual using it, and sometimes going above and beyond will make all the difference.

 

Four thoughts on empowering employees to provide a exceelent customer experience:

 

  1. Social CRM is now just CRM. Ensure your employees know what your customers are saying online and what their colleagues have said to customers in past interactions.

  2. Use big data to personalize all communications and interactions. The more you know about your customer, the better service you are able to provide and the better you can anticipate their needs and wants.

  3. Dive into your data to help identify needs, wants, product and service improvement opportunities.

  4. Remember, the human touch still trumps all. Your customer facing employees have a greater impact on customer satisfaction than anyone else in your firm.

Are you using data to empower your employees so they are able to provide an outstanding customer experience? 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book  

Tags: customer satisfaction, earn your customers trust, empower employees, customer retention, satisfied customers

6 Ways to Turn Customers into Brand Advocates that Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 03, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

empower customers to provide referrals via social media

 

 

 

 

Here are just six ways to turn loyal, satisfied customers into brand advocates that will help accelerate sales by sharing their positive feelings about you, your products and services with their families, friends and colleagues.

  1. Invest in your customers. Have a customer bonding program that reaches out to your customers on a regular basis to ensure they are happy with the products and services you are providing and to let them know how much you appreciate their business. Failing to follow-up, and stay in touch, with your customers after they buy your product or service essentially tells the customer you only care about making the sale. You don't care about them as individuals. An ongoing, well thought out, customer bonding program will help you have customers for life.

  2. Wow customers with unusual customer experiences. Not everytime, sometime. Find out what you can do to simplify your customer's life and do it. They'll remember you for it and share what you've done with their family, friends and colleagues. Zappos has raised the bar with next day delivery. You should be creative about what you provide customers based on your knowledge of what's important to them.

  3. Provide customers with information about your brand. Loyal customers are interested in your success. Give them a "behind the scenes" look at how things work and how you do what you do.The information you provide will help them generate referrals for you as well as enable them to educate less educated customers. Chipotle recently did this with their Farm Team and is taking a more activist stance with their latest series of "Farmed and Dangerous" videos.

  4. Invite vocal customers to become advocates. You can identify vocal customers by those that provided in-depth answers to open-ended questions in your Net Promoter Score (NPS) or customer satisfaction survey. Their responses give you the opportunity to engage with them more deeply and have a better understanding of what they like, don't like, and how you can improve your service.

  5. Transform negative experiences into positive ones. Listen to the customer's concern. Let them vent. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. Fix it to the customer's satisfaction. By doing so, that customer is likely to be with you longer than a customer who never complains. 

  6. Use all social media channels. Find out where your customers are active in social media and strive to be in the same places. Empower your employees to help you engage with customers across all the different channels. Your employees likely know the various social media channels better than you do.

 

Empower your employees to empower your customers. 

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: loyal customers, dialog, connecting emotionally with customers, customer retention, customer engagement, referrals, social media

8 Benefits of Customer Relationship Management Software

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Feb, 19, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

 customer relationship management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Management magazine entitled, "Law Firms Make the Case for CRM."

 

I have touted the benefits of a sound, current and accurate customer relationship management software for any business concerned about providing a consistently superior customer experience in past posts.

 

In a survey conducted by LexisNexis, makers of the CRM software Interaction, and managed by my friend Ted Seward (#tedseward) they find that 63% of law firms plan additional CRM investments in 2014.

 

The benefits of doing so include:

  1. Better client relationships. The more you know, and remember, about clients (or customers) the more your clients know you care about them. This enables you to forge a much stronger connection and a deeper relationship with your clients.

  2. Improved ability to cross-sell. The more you know about your clients' needs and wants the better able you are to provide the solution to their next problem. 

  3. Increased team colloration. This is where many firms who fail to require their executives to use the CRM fail to reap the benefits of the CRM. I know this from having managed the implementation of CRM software where the management team thought it was a good idea but would not learn, or use, the tool themselves. 

  4. Improved efficiency in serving clients. Again, the more you know about clients, the better able you are to serve them. If everyone is using the CRM to record their customer interactions, EVERY client interaction, then others' are able to serve the client with the knowledge of what has been previously discussed with the client.

  5. Greater staff satisfaction. The more knowledge your employees have the more empowered and engaged they are. Having an accurate and up-to-date CRM that everyone uses and has acces to helps employees solve client problems. Doing so makes employees and clients happy.

  6. Increased revenue and profitability. Once everyone learns, and uses, the CRM productivity increases, sales cycles decrease, you have the ability to provide additional products and services to clients and client satisfaction increases.

  7. Cost savings. While the start-up of a CRM software is expensive and time-consuming, over time the benefits far outweigh the costs. Memebers of the sales team are able to better schedule meetings with prospects in the same geographic area. Client-service reps are better able to resolve a client's concern. You now have a central client and prospect database that everyone can access rather than everyone keeping a separate spreadsheet or contact database on their computer. 

  8. Less client attrition. When a client is engaged with only one member of a professional services firm, the risk of attrition is 40%. When five or more partners are involved in a client relationship, the risk of attrition falls to less than 5%. 
Tomorrow I'll share five reasons CRM software implementations may fail.
Hopefully your management team, and your company, have a desire to, and a culture of, developing client relationships based on the ever-growing knowledge you have of the client.
Whether you're in a sales or client-centric organization, the more you know about your prospects and clients, the more successful you will be. 
You need a CRM system that everyone uses to execute your strategy.
Let me know if you'd like to discuss how to evaluate different CRM solutions or the keys to implementation.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book

Tags: customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer retention, employee engagement, customer relationship management

10 Reasons to Use Social CRM to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Dec, 04, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

Social CRM 2 resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great webinar presented by Zero2Ten on the benefits of using social media to enrich your CRM database.

Trust is the foundation of:

  • Relationships
  • Brand equity
  • Loyalty

Loyal customers buy more per visit, buy more quickly and buy more frequently. 

They are your most valuable customers on multiple fronts.

Trust equates to ROI. With trust, business gets done more quickly and with less cost.

Your brand proposition must be credible and trustworthy. This is critical to getting and keeping customers.

The new social customer is:

  • Smarter than ever before
  • More trusting of their peers than of companies
  • Controlling the conversation
  • Expecting a company to already know them
  • Interested in an interaction rather than being sold

So how can you use social media and your customer relationship management (CRM) software to do this?

  1. Sales people need to be smarter and more intimate with their prospects and customers. Check out a prospect in your CRM and social media channels before you meet with them.
     
  2. Build relationships. In order to get through to the decision maker, you must do your homework and document what you do in the CRM so you, and  others can refer back to it.
     
  3. Learn what's important to them and how to add value.  Understand their business issues by reading their blog posts, LinkedIn and Facebook updates.
     
  4. Social selling is the new approach:  Listen --> Connect --> Engage.
     
  5. Connect through contacts, not through cold calling.  Build your network on social media and in your CRM so you never make another cold call.
     
  6. Be more targeted and relevant -- again by knowing what's on your prospect's mind right now.
     
  7. Monitor company websites and posting on LinkedIn and Facebook pages.
     
  8. More than 52% of companies say that sales experience drives loyalty.  As such, the more experience your sales force has and shows to customer and prospects, the more likely your sales force is to convert customers and prospects to loyal customers who provide more revenue and greater lifetime value.
     
  9. Customers are leaving clues online. It's up to us to find the clues, integrate them into our CRM and sales processes.
     
  10. "All in one" intelligence is available on the web -- company information, contacts, social networks, news alerts and connections for referrals and introductions.

Are you using social media to populate your CRM and increase the effectiveness of your sales efforts?

If not, you're leaving money, and relationships, on the table.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book

Tags: trust, customer experience, accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, customer retention

Know Lifetime Customer Value to Inform Your Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 08, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

lifetime customer value

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferrellgas offers service you can count on?  Not so much!

I received two pieces of mail from Ferrellgas in the last two weeks. They supplied propane to my in-laws for 40(?) years.

What was their lifetime customer value to Ferrellgas?  Based on the bills, $30,000 to $40,000. I seriously doubt Ferrellgas ever knew what my in-laws lifetime value was to them.  If they did, they sure dind't care.

My in-laws have both passed away and we are selling their home. When I last spoke to Ferrellgas, we needed to have the tank filled so we'd have heat while the inside of the house was being painted, we were told it would be a week and there would be a $100 emergency delivery fee.

We explained the situation but to no avail. As such, we went with a propane provider that was less expensive, would deliver the same day and didn't charge us an emergency delivery fee.

I received a $16.67 bill from Ferrellgas last week with no explanation. This week I received a postcard asking if we were ready for a fill and offering us a special gallon rate if we refilled the tank by a certain date.

Apparently Ferrellgas failed to make a note of our call in their CRM system when we needed their help and they lost our business.

According to the card, Ferrell gas has the "guaranteed lowest price for tank owners" and we can "earn up to $75 for new customer referrals."

Great ideas guys, but not after you've already flushed a 40-year relationship down the toilet with a less than helpful attitude.

Granted, I didn't offer Ferrellgas significant lifetime customer value since we're trying to sell my in-law's house. Nonetheless, you would think a 40-year pre-existing relationship would have generated sufficient revenue to justify some special consideration.

Even if you're only going to have one or two transactions with a customer, treat them as if they'll be customers for life. No telling who they might refer if you do.

No telling who they may dissuade from using your service if you don't. Besides, it's a good habit for you and your employees to have -- especially if you don't have a CRM system to track your relationships and revenue.

Does your company measure lifetime customer value?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, customer retention, referrals, lifetime customer value