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  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

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

5 Obstacles to Employee Engagement and 5 Steps to Overcome Them

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 10, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

describe the image







Thanks to research provided by Bruce Temkin and the Temkin Group.


Only 28% of employees are highly engaged with executives being the most highly engaged and those being employed at small companies being the most highly engaged employees.


The top five obstacles to improving employee engagement:


  1. Lack of a clear employee engagement strategy.

  2. Inconsistent buy-in among middle managers who may, themselves, not be engaged.

  3. No clear owner leading the effort.

  4. Limited funding to support employee engagement efforts.

  5. Senior management has not identified employee engagement as a priority.


Given the focus on sales and monthly/quarterly earnings, it's not a big surprise that neither employees, or customer, engagement is a high priority for many companies.


They do not see the correlation between engaged employees and engaged customers and the long-term benefits satisfied customers can provide the firm relative to new prospects.


The five "I's" of employee engagement:


  1. Inform -- provide employees with the information they need to understand what is expected of them.

  2. Inspire -- connect employees to the company's vision and mission.

  3. Interact -- support employees with training, coaching and feedback. Understand what drives your employees. Hint, it will vary by individual.

  4. Involve -- take action with employees to improve processes and solve problems. Your customer-facing employees have a good idea of where your products and services are, and are not, meeting your customers' needs and expectations.

  5. Incent -- deploy appropriate systems to measure, reward and reinforce desired behaviors. Do you really want to reduce the time a CSR spends on the phone with a customer if spending more time will result in greater customer satisfaction?

Is your firm taking any steps to enhance employee engagement?


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: vision, mission, employee engagement, employee empowerment, corporate culture

Empower and Engage Employees to Share Content

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 04, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

empower employees to share content







Great webinar from Natanya Anderson (@natanyap) from Whole Foods, Denise Holt (@deniseholt1) and Nicole Alvino (@nalvino) of Social Chorus entitled, "From Employee to Advocate: Mobile Your Team to Share Your Brand Content."


According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 52% of consumers trust an "average employee." Content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement of content on brand channels.


At Whole Foods, employees are empowered and encouraged to share the brand's story online.


Whole Foods actively recruits passionate team members to voluntarily share their offline stories online.


This has resulted in:

  • 300 active team members sharing.

  • 10,000+ social shares.

  • $35,000 in advocate market value.


According to Natanya, the five keys to successs are:


  1. Align the program to business objectives. Their metrics are engagement, awareness, employee engagement, thought leadership and morale.

  2. Start with a social media policy. This includes: mitigate risk, ensure FTC compliance, avoid marketing jargon, make sure participation is voluntary, provide resources and best practices for employees.

  3. Get leadership buy-in. Have a brand champion at every location. The leaders will drive program awareness and adoption.

  4. Create a content and engagement plan. Provide a variety of content and opportunities to share. Monitor and optimize content performance. Identify a method for ongoing communication.

  5. Identify social team members and encourage more participation. Start with the most active team members already involved with social media. Identify team members and leaders to champion the program in each store.
For companies with less engaged and empowered employees, Denise suggests an employee-brand relationship program that addresses the employees' emotional journey:
  1. Hesitation -- overcome fear of saying the wrong thing through training and role plays.

  2. Empowerment -- give employees a voice and examples of what you consider to be appropriate and relevant content to share.

  3. Stake in the company's success -- help employees see where they are making a difference sharing content and engaging with consumers in social media channels.

  4. Loyalty -- engaged employees have a desire to contribute to the company's success.

  5. Satisfaction -- examples of how employees' efforts have built, or improved, the business.
Are you and your company empowering your employees to share content and help disseminate your company's message?
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: trust, authenticity, content, employee engagement, social media, employee empowerment

Does Your Corporate Culture Drive Repeat Business or just Sales?

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jun, 12, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

corporate culture affects customer experience







General Motors knew about their faulty transmissions 11 years before they did anything about them.


Target knew they had data security issues six months before they were hacked.


The largest privately-held software company in the world has significant customer satisfaction issues that result in them refunding their clients millions for years.


A friend who works for a local health insurance company tells me I should be grateful I didn't get a job with her employer.


Another friend of a firm with whom I was consulting told me to be glad I didn't get their director of marketing position -- "just look at what the employees are saying on Glassdoor."


And yet another friend lost his job heading up the VOC (voice of the customer) program for "the world's leading provider of IT training and business training" because they're more interested in sales than customer satisfaction.


Has the success of Amazon, Zappos, Chipotle, Costco and Southwest Airlines, NPS leaders, not taught anyone anything?


Hey Mr. and Ms. C-Level executive, your employees will only treat your customers as well as you treat your employees.


If all you care about, and reward, are sales, don't expect your employees to be concerned with anything other than making sales.


If you don't show concern for your customer satisfaction levels, your NPS or the number of referrals you're getting, don't expect your employees to be.


If you, and your employees, don't care about customer satisfaction, do you really expect your customers to continue doing business with you?


When I talk to senior managers about vision, mission and values, their eyes glaze over. It's clear they either don't understand, or don't value, what I'm talking about.


Well, your employees and your customers do. Perhaps c-level dissonance with vision, mission and values are what's diving the pathetic employee engagement and customer satisfaction levels?


Employees today want to work for a company who has a mission that more than "maximizing shareholder value."


Customers want to support businesses who care about them, their needs, their wants.


Be transparent. Do what's right by customers -- protect their data, if your product has a defect fix it.


Make the customers' life easier, simplify their life, show them you care -- you'll have a customer for life because your competitors aren't doing it.


Amazon will ask if if you're sure you want to buy the same book you bought three months ago before they go ahead and register your purchase of the same book.


Banks, cell phone and internet providers, NPS laggards, all know enough about their customers' usage habits to suggest a plan that provides more value for your money.


Unfortunately, none of these companies, that I'm aware of, will let you know they've got a better offer for you until you call to cancel, or reduce, your service.


Customers do business with people, and companies, they know, like and trust.


What are you doing to earn your customers' trust?


What are you doing to engage and empower your employees to provide an outstanding customer experience?


Or, do you just care about sales?


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life" 

Tags: VoC, voice of the customer, net promoter score, vision, mission, values, employee engagement, employee empowerment, customer service

5 Questions Leaders Can Answer to Empower and Engage Employees

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

employee empowerment, employee engagement









A lot has been written about the high levels of disengaged employees and the reason employees leave their employer.


Do you have an open and on-going dialog with your employees?


You need to if for no other reason than your employees will only treat your customers as well as you, and your managers, treat your employees.


Wondering what to talk to your employees about?


How about sitting down and sharing with them your answers to these five questions:


  1. Which of your life experiences can serve as an inspiration to your employees?

  2. What can you share that makes you vulnerable and relatable?

  3. What mistakes have you made that helped you become a better leader?

  4. What can you share that personally connects you to your company's vision?

  5. What have you learned from your employees that have helped you in your day-to-day activities? 


The more transparent and open you are with employees, the more trust you will earn. 


Having a face-to-face conversation with your employees, one-on-one or in small groups, lets them know you are human and you care about them as people.


The more they know this, the more they'll be engaged and want to do a good job for you, your company and the customers they serve.


As Theodore Roosevelt said, "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."


Getting to know your employees as individuals will let them know you care and will likely make them more empowered and more engaged.


Force yourself, and encourage your managers, to get to know the folks they're managing.


The number one reason an employee leaves a company is a poor relationship with their manager.


As the economy improves, you want to improve your relationships with your best employees to ensure they stay on your team rather than going to a competitor.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: trust, empower employees, employee engagement, empowered employees, employee empowerment, face to face communications

7 Keys to Organizational Empathy to Enhance Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, May, 09, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

organizational empathy improves the customer experience








Great presentation by Bruce Temkin during the VoC (voice of the customer) Fusion Conference (#vocfusion).


Bruce shared his path for organizations to achieve organizational empathy.


Organizational empathy is a commitment by companies that they will work towards developing a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs, and they will use this knowledge to serve those needs better.


Bruce has even started an amplify empathy movement (#amplifyempathy) to encourage individuals to help build stronger empathy for their customers within their organizations.


People are wired to help other people -- be it their colleagues, prospects or customers.


Empathy is the ability to imagine ourselves in another's place and understand their feelings, desires and needs.


People behave differently whether they are an employee or a customer.


Engaged employees have: high interest, high knowledge, silos of focused messaging, politics and egos.


Customers have needs, desires, interest in your product or service and some level of knowledge.


Silos are not going away because they're an effective way to organize and manage knowledge.


Customer experiences happen between the silos. How can we enhance communication between the silos to enhance the customer experience?


Bruce proposes seven keys to unlock organizational empathy:


  1. Talk about customer emotions. How do they feel about their experience? Angry, adoring or something in between.

  2. Look at the journey, not just interactions.  Ask what happened right before and what they will do right after to understand the context of the request and to determine where you can personalize the experience and add value. USAA probes when someone calls to change their address. If the soldier is being deployed, it might save them money to put their automobile insurance on hold while they are away.

  3. Talk about customers as people. Customers are not statistics. Know that you can't be all things to all people but you can treat people as individuals and help identify the correct solution for their need.

  4. Interact regularly with target customers. Employees that are highly or moderately engaged are more empathetic. Employees want to be part of something bigger than their day-to-day job. Do your employees know your company's mission? Is it bigger than just generating more revenue?

  5. Provide a strong sense of purpose. This sense of purpose provides four intrinsic rewards: 1) meanfulness; 2) choice - don't script everything, empower people to make decisions on their own; 3) competence - build skills and training; 4) progress - growth and learning.

  6. Empower random acts of kindness.  Ritz empowers employees to spend up to $2,000 on a guest to enhance their experience. Disney encourages each of their employees to spend five minutes creating a special moment for a guest.

  7. Personal happiness enhances empathy. Find reasons to be thankful. Hire happy people and keep them happy. Find ways for you to be happy.


More organizational empathy will result in more happy customers.


More happy customers will buy more, more frequently and provide greater lifetime value for the firm.


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, employee empowerment, lifetime customer value, empathy

Talk with Your Employees to Engage and Empower Them

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, May, 08, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

engaged and empowered employees will grow your business







The five key drivers of employee engagement are:

  1. A warm working environment

  2. Ability to help others

  3. Developing friendships

  4. A boss that develops their potential

  5. Developing new skills and responsibilities 
Note, none of these are related to more money.
They are related to making an emotional connection with the people that work for and work with.
Having a conversation with you employees will help make that emotional connection.
You'll get to know their needs, desires and aspirations. And if you're committed to helping them meet their needs, desires and aspirations, you'll have an engaged and empowered employee who wants to help make you and your business successful.
I heard a great story about a call center, a line of work notorious for turnover, who had tremendously loyal and engaged employees who provided outstanding customer experiences.
As part of the interview process, the hiring team determined what an employee wanted to ensure they'd be happy in the position for two to five years.
In one case, a single mom wanted a steady job that would give her the flexibility to support her two kids while going to school to get a degree in psychology.
Once the team learned what the potential employee wanted, they researched the courses the employee would need to get the degree at a local community college and got back to her in a couple of days with an offer that included how she would get her degree.
An employer that goes to those lengths for their employees earns a lot of trust and loyalty, as well as an engaged and empowered workforce that differentiates them from their competition.
Engaged employees:
  1. Stay longer, thereby reducing your training and recruitment expenses

  2. Promote the company to friends, family, prospects and customers
  3. Demonstrate increased productivity and quality to less engaged coworkers

  4. Are passionate about providing an outstanding customer experience
The three components of an engaged employee are: the head, the heart and the actions:
  • Head = "I believe." I believe the products and services we produce and sell are the best for our customers.

  • Heart = "I'm inspired." I'm fully aware of the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm and am excited about the direction of the company.

  • Actions = "I will give discretionary effort." I will recommend our products and services to my firends and family, as well as to our prospects and customers. I will do my best to ensure our customers have an outstanding customer experience.

If you're interested in having an engaged and empowered group of employees, talk with them to find out if they're the right fit for your organization.
If they are, learn what they need to be engaged and empowered.
Engaged and empowered employees will grow your business by producing better quality products and services and providing more outstanding customer experiences.
This will result in more loyal customers who will spend more and be worth more, over time.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: trust, vision, mission, values, emotional connection, employee engagement, employee empowerment

7 Strategies for Maximizing Mission-Driven Leadership

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 31, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

mission-driven leadership







I've written numerous posts on the need for the management team to be aligned with regards to vision, mission, values and strategic positioning.


Thanks to Gallup for the following suggestions to ensure the management team, and the entire organization, is in alignment with regard to the mission of the organization.


Seven strategies for maximizing mission-driven leadership


Mission-driven leaders help all employees and managers understand why an organization exists.


They boldly affirm what the company hopes to achieve and push toward the desired results.


Mission-driven leadership comes from the heart. It requires talent and guts.


Mission-driven leaders teach managers how to align daily operations with the company's mission, and they encourage understanding and passion for that mission among all employees.


So what can you do to maximize mission-driven leadership?


Gallup recommends implementing the following strategies:


  1. Ask your leadership team, "What do you get paid to do?" Listen for statements that reflect mission in their answers. Look for a consistency of answers. Lack of consistency indicates a lack of understanding or agreement which can lead to confusion among the work force and your customers.
  2. Ask colleagues to discuss when they have recently seen the company mission in action. Look for concrete examples and recognize those individuals for modeling the vision of the company.
  3. Coach leaders about how to use their strengths to advance the company mission. In what ways are the company's leaders modeling the company vision? Are one leader's employees doing a better job of "living the mission" than others?
  4. Ask customers if they are aware of your company's purpose. Their responses will shed light on their awareness of your brand, their engagement with your brand and the consistency of the message they are getting with regards to your brand's mission.
  5. Consider how this year's business strategy might affect your mission. For example, a merger on the horizon will require integrating a group of new employees into your culture; teaching them about your mission and purpose is a good place to start that process.
  6. Evaluate strategic objectives for this year, asking why each is a focus. How do they serve your mission? How do they serve your customers, patients, or members?
  7. Assess how your business ranks against others in your industry. Which employees are most engaged with your mission? What's different about them?


Leaders have plenty on their plates, and it's easy to lose sight of a company's ultimate purpose.


Keeping mission front and center for managers, employees, and customers is good for business.


Empowering leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to make mission matter will most certainly improve performance and results.


There are four benefits to having a mission-driven business:


  • Mission fosters customer engagement. A strong mission promotes brand differentiation, consumer passion, and brand engagement. Unfortunately, only about four in 10 employees (41%) know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors'. This lack of brand awareness is not a marketing problem; it is a mission-driven leadership and management problem.
  • Mission improves strategic alignment. Alignment begins with a clear purpose -- the what and why of the organization. Howwhowhen, and where are secondary to the enterprise's reason for existing. Mission can help leaders establish and balance priorities, set performance goals, and align rewards and compensation at all levels. If your company's mission includes a promise to provide world-class customer service, for example, then you should define and measure "world-class" service -- and hire employees who can deliver on that promise.
  • Mission brings clarity. Awareness of mission guides decision making and judgment. A clear sense of what matters most helps leaders determine the best path for the company and helps them set priorities. This clarity inspires conviction and dedication.
  • Mission can be measured. To maximize the value of mission and purpose, leaders need a reliable assessment of employees' attitudes about their work and how it connects with the company's purpose, such as their responses to the "mission and purpose" item in Gallup's Q12 employee engagement survey. Leaders and managers should use this information to guide them as they tackle the challenge of helping employees connect their work behaviors to the company's ultimate purpose.
Here are some additional thoughts on employee engagement from our firends at Nutcache.
Is your management team in alignment regarding the mission of your firm?
Has anyone asked them independently?
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialog, alignment, mission, employee empowerment

5 Reasons Customer Relationship Management SW Implementations Fail

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Feb, 20, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

Reasons why CRM implementations fail








Yesterday I shared the 8 Benefits of Customer Relationship Management software.

Today I have the top five reasons CRM implementations fail:



  1. Lack of employee buy-in. Based on experience, if the CEO is not using, and not mandating the use of, the CRM then the employees will not use it. They'll keep doing what they've been doing because that's what they know and change is hard.

  2. Poor data quality. The old "garbage in, garbage out" rule still applies. If you simply import data from a legacy CRM or spreadsheets without cleaning it and standardizing fields, you're just transferring old problems to a new software. Invest the time and money to clean and standardize your data. 

  3. Integration challenges. Address this upfront with your CRM provider. How does the CRM integrate with your email client and your ERP system? What will it cost to make this integration happen? Have you done it for other clients? Ask to speak with those clients to find out what their experience was like. How long did it take? How many records did other clients have?

  4. A lack of leadership. If the CEO is not behind the new CRM, it's implementation and use, you're toast. As the person responsible for the implementation, there's not a thing in the world you can do to enforce adoption and use. Be very clear about this since it may cost you your job.

  5. Absence of a long-term strategy. What does your firm want to accomplish with the adoption and implementation of a new CRM system? A sales-focused organization will have very different goals than a customer-centric orgnization that wants to have customers for life. 
Hopefully your management team, and your company, has a desire to, and a culture of, developing customer relationships based on the ever-growing knowledge of the customer.
Whether you're in a sales or customer-centric organization, the more you know about your prospects and customers, 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.
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: customer satisfaction, CRM, employee engagement, customer relationship management, employee empowerment

Employee Engagement and Empowerment Starts at the Top

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jan, 15, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

engaged and empowered employees will accelerate sales








Interesting post by the Gallup Management Journal on the "Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now." 


Only 13% of employees are engaged at work.


If an employee is not engaged, they're not likely to provide an outstanding customer experience.


If an employee doesn't provide an outstanding customer experience, you're not likely to have many satisfied customers.


If you don't have satisfied customers, your business is not going to be successful, at least not as successful as it could be.


Gallup suggests managers can help solve the problem and reap the benefits.


However, none of the five ways to improve employee engagement addresses what I've seen as the most important step to improve employee engagement -- c-level executives need to buy into, and model, the concept.


Much like c-level executives pay lip service to providing outstanding customer service, I have not seen many  executives over the course of my career that believe in engaging or empowering employees.


I have worked for one firm that did a good job. Likewise, I worked for a firm that thought they did but did not. This firm was heavily siloed and missed tremendous opportunities with clients.


I concur with Gallup that increasing employee engagement should be a strategic priority since it affects key business outcomes -- including revenue and profitability.


If employee engagement is a strategic priority, then every member of the management team needs to ensure they are in alignment with regards to the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the company.


Most of the time there is not, and members of the management team are not open to the lack of alignment being exposed.


If the CEO, CFO, COO, CMO and other members of the management team are not in alignment with regards to the firm's vision, mission, values and strategic positioning, there is no way the employees will be aligned.


The lack of alignment results in lack of engagement for employees much like the lack of consistent presentation of the brand to the consumer leads to a lack of trust.


If employees are not receiving a consistent message from the management team, and their manager, they will be confused, lose trust in management and be disengaged.


As such, before a firm takes the five steps to improve employee engagement, they need to:

  1. Agree to make it a strategic priority; and,
  2. Ensure their management team is in complete alignment with regards to the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm.


Here are the five steps Gallup recommends taking to improve employee engagement:

  1. Use the right employee engagement survey. Gallup has a twelve question survey they sell. I prefer a three question eNPS (employee net promoter score) survey, the same one we use with customers, for several reasons.
  2. Focus on engagement at the local and organizational levels. This is where executive buy-in is critical so people in the field are getting a consistent message.
  3. Select the right managers. Do managers understand the value of employee engagement and empowerment and model best practices? Do the c-level executives buy-in? If they don't, no one else will.
  4. Coach managers and hold them accountable for their employees' engagement. This is why it's important to measure employee engagement and reward managers who have engaged and empowered employees.

  5. Define engagement goals in realistic, everyday terms. This is an incentive to keep your vision, mission, values and strategic positioning simple and concise so everyone can remember them and understand their role in bringing them to fruition. 
Is your firm engaging and empowering employees?
I think Zappos and Chipotle do a good job "walking the talk."
I'm also impressed by the message in this post: "How To Engage Your Staff At Each Stage of The Employee Lifecycle" by the folks at Advance Systems.
What firms do you see doing a good job engaging and empowering employees?
Let me know if I can help you determine is your management team is in alignment and how to improve the engagement and empowerment of your employees.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: trust, alignment, vision, mission, values, employee engagement, strategic positioning, employee empowerment