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

Use NPS to Improve Customer Experience NOT to Disempower Employees

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 04, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

use NPS to deliver an outstanding customer experience








I received a disturbing response to a blog post about companies with outstanding Net Promoter Scores (NPS) from a young man who works for a company that is using the scores to hammer employees.


This is NOT the purpose of NPS.


Happy, engaged employees = happy engaged customers.


If you penalize employees for a poor NPS you have a much bigger problem on your hands.


Use an employee NPS survey to determine how you're doing as an employer.


If your employee NPS score is significantly lower than your NPS score, you need to be doing more to empower and engage your employees -- not increasing throughput with reduced numbers.


My wife is a fan of Panera and I'm a raving fan of Chipotle. These are supposed to be two of the best quick serve restaurants (QSR) in which to work.


I've recently written to both companies as I see the stress on the faces of customer-facing employees, who are my friends, trying to meet the increased demands of corporate to drive throughput and efficiency higher and higher to make Wall Street happy.


While investors are your customers, they're not going to keep you in business.


If you aren't treating your employees well, then your employees probably aren't treating your customers well.


And if your customers start leaving, so will investors.


Use NPS and eNPS to understand where you're already strong with regards to customer and employee engagement and what you need to work on.


Don't use it to punish your workers.


That's short-sighted and ultimately bad for business.


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


Tags: customer experience, empower employees, net promoter score, customer engagement, raving fans, employee engagement, NPS

Happy Employees = Happy Customers

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 06, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

Tony Hsieh

Photo Credit: Charles Henry, Flickr – Altered with Quote

Thanks to Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness, for the following thoughts.
Happiness continues to be elusive in the workplace as headcounts are kept low and leaders remain focused on driving higher rates of productivity and profits.
Morale is low and employees are clueless about the vision, mission and values of the firm as they get no, or conflicting, information from management.
Studies show that employees who are happy and engaged in their work are more successful and more likely to deliver great customer service.
It all starts with the vision, mission and values of your company and ensuring that everyone in the firm is in alignment.
Once you've identified the greater good their everyone is working for, have champions to hold everyone, including the management team, accountable.
While Jack Welch liked to fire the 10 to 20% of underperformers, Zappos has been successful by letting go the 10 to 20% of employees who weren't in alignment with brand values. 
There are clear levers to increase a person's happiness:
  • Sense of progress – “is a person developing in their role or in their life?”
  • Sense of control – “is a person making decisions and are those decisions being executed on or at least considered?”
  • Connectedness – “the depth and breadth of relationships in your work and life.”
  • Having passion and flow – “flow is a psychological term that describes something you are so engaged in that it feels like minutes have gone by but in reality it’s actually been hours. How you create that sense of flow in the workplace is basically when you have the level of challenge meeting your level of skill.” We should think about how we can work together and “group teams of people to have that sense of flow so they really want to be engaged in their work.” 
  • Sense of higher purpose and meaning (ultimately the most important element) – “what are you doing that is greater than yourself? What is your personal higher purpose and is that aligned with your company higher purpose?”
  • Recent studies from the Harvard Business Review and The Economist show that business results of happiness are 10 to 30% increases in profitability and 10 to 20% increase in sales.
  • One top-20 ecommerce company increased monthly sales 39% and reduced monthly absences by 96%.
Is your company ensuring its employees are happy?
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: customer satisfaction, empower employees, vision, mission, values, employee engagement

Drive Adoption and Engagement with Employee Advocacy

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 03, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

employee advocates








Thanks to Susan Emerick (@sfemerick), CEO and founder of Brands Rising, Lori Grey (@lsgrey) of Deloitte and Alex Cramer (@cramer1000) of Dynamic Signal for an informative presentation on empowering and engaging employees to help drive customer adoption and engagement.


I've written before about how loyal employees = loyal customers.


More and more brands are empowering their employees to support the goals of the brand by using content and employee-owned social media expertise and contacts.


When you consider the number of social media contacts and followers your brand has versus that of all of your employees, you have a tremendous opportunity to increase the reach of your message by asking your employees to share your messages and information of value with their social networks as well as your customers and prospects.


Besides, employees generate more trust than companies:

  • 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know while only 15% trust recommendations from brands (Gartner).

  • 70% of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people (Market Leader).

  • Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7X more than other leads (IBM).

  • People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Employees humanize your brand. 


There are several steps to building an employee advocacy program:

  1. Determine the "best fit" candidates.

  2. Provide training, remove doubt.

  3. Personalize. 
  4. Reward and recognize.

Determining "best fit" candidates depends on the vision, mission and values of your organization and finding the people who are already in alignment and equipped to share their knowledge and expertise.
Characteristics of "best fit" candidates are:
  1. Already have a strong social media footprint.

  2. Comfortable collaborating online.

  3. Find value in creating and nurturing relationships via social media.

  4. Demonstrate a long-term commitment to sustained engagement.

  5. Open to coaching, guidance and learning from data. 


There are several steps you can take to provide training and remove doubt given that people and companies have concerns about employees posting on social media on behalf of the company:

  1. Provide education and training on social media best practices, as well as any restrictions the company may have based on industry requirements.

  2. Have peer mentoring or teammates you can bounce questions off of.

  3. Provide an online source of content that's preapproved -- prewritten, preapproved share text that employees can customize. This ensures consistent messaging and eliminates the need for employees to develop information of value from scratch.


Personalize the content you are asking your employees to share:

  1. Employees will be much more comfortable with, and likely to share, content that's relevant to them personally and professionally. They'll also be more comfortable personalizing for the channel or the audience.

  2. Use sign-up forms to create groups to know which topics or industries interest which people.

  3. Use groups to tag and distribute content.  


Reward and recognize those employees that are helping spread the company message via social media:

  1. Professional recognition is having contributors recognized by their peers and executive management about what they are doing, as well as their accomplishments.

  2. External recognition is showcasing individuals as industry thought-leaders giving them an opportunity to represent, or speak on behalf of, the company at industry functions. 


Do you have an employee advocacy program in place?


How are your employees' activities benefitting the company?


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

Tags: transparency, empower employees, connecting emotionally with customers, customer engagement, employee engagement, loyal employees

How To Improve the Customer Experience (#CX)

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Sep, 24, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

improve customer experience









Talk to your customers.


Ask them how you are doing.


Listen intensely to what they have to say.


Ask follow-up questions to let your customer know you're really concerned with what they have to say.


I am consistently surprised by the lack of contact with customers that top management has at some of the companies with which I've worked.


If you're wondering how to get started, use the three-question Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey:


  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is "definitely," what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a family, friend or colleague?

  2. Why did you give us that score?

  3. If we have not done so, what can we do to earn a 10? 


NPS surveys are a great way to begin a dialogue with your customers.


If you're going to ask your customers what you can do to improve the customer experience, be prepared to address their suggestions. And, thank them for their feedback.


Improving customer service may mean focusing your effort on interacting with customers via social media.


When you have an actual dialogue with your customers, ask them what you can do that's best, easiest and most convenient for them.


Anything you can do to save your customers time and make their lives easier will be remembered, appreciated and shared by your customers. You will also increase the likelihood that they'll be repeat customers.


There's no substitute for asking questions and listening intensely to your customers.


It makes them feel invested in the company improving customer loyalty and retention.


It also gives you the opportunity to get insights into the consumer that has never occurred to you or your team. For example, have you ever asked your customers who they consider to be your competition? Do it, you might be surprised by their answers.


Empower your employees to engage your customers as well. The more your customers know you and your employees care about them, the more likely they are to develop an emotional connection with your brand. 

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

Tags: dialogue, customer experience, voice of the customer, empower employees, emotional connection, listen intensely, customer service

Engage Employee Advocates to Accelerate Sales via Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Aug, 28, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Engaged employees accelerate sales








Great webinar by Nicole Alvino (@nalvino) of Social Chorus, Susan Emerick (@sfemerick) of Brands Rising, and Jenn Meiner Roumian (@jroumian) of EA on "Engaging Employee Advocates: How Electronic Arts is Activating Employees to Amplify the Brand's Message."


Nicole started the presentation by sharing how companies can "turn social media inside out" by engaging the thousands of insiders a company or brand has -- their best employees, customers, partners and influencers. 


People like to help people they know like and trust. They want to see them succeed. If you let them know that sharing something about your product or service on social media will help your business, your brand advocates are willing to do so to help you.


And, based on several studies, the help of advocates is invaluable:


  • An everyday employee is trusted twice as much as the CEO (Edelman Trust Barometer).

  • 92% of an employee's Twitter followers are new to the brand (Cisco).

  • 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service when they hear about it from someone they trust (Nielsen).

  • Employees have 10 times more followers than corporate accounts (Cisco). 

People build relationships with people, not companies. Brand advocates are great ambassadors for your company.

Employee advocacy impacts all facets of a business:

  • Reputation (Communications and P.R.) -- corporate reputation, awareness, internal communications, thought leadership.

  • Demand (Marketing) -- awareness, reach, buzz, leads, cost savings as the result of social word-of-mouth.

  • Recruting (Human Resources) -- provides an inside view of the company, builds the corporate reputation among potential employees, cost savings from recruiting expense. You have people knocking on your door who want to work for you based on what they've learned about you on social media from your advocates.

  • Close rate (Sales) -- leads, both marketing qualified and sales qualified, thought leadership, local sales, customer stories and testimonials, relationship building.

  • Awareness (Product Group) -- buzz, trusted expertise, demand, awarenss and leads.


There are three critical steps to execute a successful employee advocate social media program:


  1. Executive support -- buy-in, financial support, support of the mission, involvement and encouragement.

  2. Training and onboarding -- must be ongoing and sustainable. Employees must know what is, and is not, acceptable as representatives of the company without diluting their voice or integrity.

  3. Activation and results -- define the program, the strategy and how participants will be recognized, and, if appropriate, rewarded.


Susan Emerick shared three three steps necessary to build a compelling business case for an employee advocate social media program:


  1. Value realization -- how will the program impact revenue, costs, efficiency and productivity? Have the steps in place to measure so you are able to share the results with the management team.

  2. Securing investment -- sell the benefits to the internal stakeholders so they are willing to make the investment, whether it's time or money, to insure the program's success.

  3. Understanding motivations -- how social employees can have a positive impact on metrics: cost/lead, share of voice, sentiment, costs, sales, market share, productivity, efficiency, talent acquisition, retention.

Jenn Meiners Roumain is the Global Brand Manager, Talent Acquisition at Electronic Arts, a leading developer, marketer and distributor of video games with more than 9,000 employees.


Jenn created the EA Insiders as the firm's employee advocate social media team based on the vision, mission and values of the firm. 


The characteristics of an EA Insider are:


  1. A champion and evangelist of all things EA.

  2. A collaborator and partner with Talent Acquisition, Corporate Communications, senior leadership, Public Relations and Human Resources.

  3. A promoter and engager of EA events.

  4. A social media maven. Once EA Insider has 15,000 followers.

  5. An inspirer of, and an inspiration to, Talent Acquisition and employer branding initiatives.


Jenn laid out the six steps to activating the group:


  1. Align the goals to the mission and philosophy of the firm: increase awareness and engagement; influence talent acquisition; engage; provide thought leadership; and, enhance morale.

  2. Identify internal business partners and get leadership involved from Talent Acquisition, Corporate Communications, H.R., Marketing/P.R.

  3. Choose a pilot group -- by region, by department and by social media knowledge.

  4. Define how to measure success. Engagement might be the number of shares or the amount of content generated. Advocacy can include participation and activation. Impact can be measured by audience engagement and increase in job applications.

  5. Create a plan for long-term engagement by providing a diverse mix of content, encouraging employees to recommend new content, and create a thank you and recognition plan.

  6. Scale and grow the program. EA Currently has 60 EA Insiders with a goal of having 100 by the end of the year, 500 to 1,000 after two years and, ultimately, everyone in the company.


After the first few months, the EA Insiders have made 9,300 personal engagements worth more than $25,000 in media value.


How much value can your employees provide you by engaging customers and prospects via social media?   


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

Tags: trust, empower employees, customer engagement, employee engagement, social media

Empower Employees to Create Content and Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Aug, 06, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Create authentic content to build trust








Thanks to Jancey Keeton (@justjancey) of Fossil, Nicole Alvono (@nalvino) of Social Chorus and Ann Handley (@marketingprofs) for sharing their thoughts and suggestions on the webinar, "Fill The Content Gap: Activate Advocates to Create Authentic Content" presented by Social Media Today (@smtlive).


Some statistics to consider:

  • 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know.
  • 77% of customers are more likely to buy a product when they hear about it from someone they trust.
  • Advocate created content is engaged with 10-times more than paid content.
  • Content is engaged with seven-times more frequently when on a personal channel versus a company's channel.
Jancey shared that Fossil's advocate generated media generated five million impressions, $70 million in media value and an ROI of 350%.
Five "best practices" to consider were suggested by Ann Handley:
  1. Recognize that advocates are customers, employees and "influencers."

  2. Build a network of content creators and influencers before you need it.

  3. Make the content creators your hero -- not your product or service.

  4. Have a specific and measurable goal.

  5. Generously define, and recognize, who's who.

Don't think transactions, think relationships.
Provide information of value to build awareness and trust, then the prospect will call on your when your products or services are needed.
Empower and encourage your employees to engage with customers, this will enhance the customer experience, as well as create an emotional connection between the customer, your employees and the brand.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 


Tags: trust, customer experience, information of value, empower employees, customer relationship management

Social Media + Social Business Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 01, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Use social media to improve customer experience








An affirming webinar by Shannon Sullivan Duffy, Marketing Director at Facebook, Doug Chavez, CMO at Kenshoo, Jeanette Gibson, V.P. of Customer Experience at HootSuite and Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics.

They provided the following affirmations we need to remember in order to empower our employees to help us market our businesses and provide an outstanding customer experience:

  1. Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Encourage them to engage prospects and customers in conversation to learn their needs and wants in order to simplify their lives.

  2. Be clear about the roll of social in your business. Do you want to drive awareness and leads or simply monitor what others' are saying about you and your brand? Identify channels on which you are committed to serving customers and prospects -- providing information of value, answering questions and addressing concerns.

  3. Integrate across all channels in which you are communicating to ensure you are delivering a consistent message. Consistency builds trust.

  4. Determine what's most important for you and your business to accomplish online -- no one model works for everyone or for every type of business.

  5. Understand your customer's journey and do what you can to add value and simplify that journey. Everyone is overloaded with content and starved for time. What can you do to simplify your customers' lives and save them time?

  6. Respond quickly and efficiently. Responding to an online query within five minutes increases the probability that person becomes a lead 100X more than if you wait 30 minutes. If you respond within five minutes, the person is likely still at their computer, or on their mobile device, and you're able to reach them.

  7. Think about how to integrate social media into everything you and your business does. Promote a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for content that your customers and prospects will find valuable. Such content will answer previously asked questions or provide new ideas on how your product or service will solve a particular problem.

  8. Having a content marketing mindset helps ensure you are sending an integrated message since all content can be repurposed for social media, earned media, paid media, as well as your website.


What are some ways you, your firm and your employees are using social media to grow your business and provide a better customer experience?


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

Tags: customer experience, dialog, information of value, empower employees, content, social media, integrated marketing

How to Deliver Smart Customer Service for a Great Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 10, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

customer experience = customer engagement










Thanks to Scott Hays of Kana, Ann Ruckstuhl (#annruck), Kai Petzalt of SAP and Tim Pickard of New Voice Media for sharing their thoughts on delivering smart customer service.


Smart customer engagement leads to better customer service and a better customer experience.


An experience is something you have. Engaged is something you, or your customers, are.


To optimize customer engagement, you need to:

  1. enrich customer interactions;

  2. improve processes; and,

  3. optimize and empower your workforce to provide great experiences that will result in an engaged customer.


Customers expect personalized treatment. Personalization requires context -- "know me, work with me."


Customers are constantly connected via smart phones, tablets and PCs. This has resulted in a fragmented customer journey.


Touchpoints are neither integrated, nor leveraged. Each customer interaction lacks the context of an entire journey. There's tremendous dependency on historical data.


26% of a CSR's time is spent looking for relevant data. This results in an inferior customer experience.


The solution is customer journey management whereby you collect, detect and engage with the customer in real time. 


A better CSR experience leads to a better customer experience, which, in turn, leads to greater lifetime value of the customer.


Smart business insights are gained by having actionable insight while engaged with the customer on the phone, via online chat, via email, on social channels. You must integrate all of these channels to provide an outstanding customer experience.


Today's customers have more choices and they are more open to making changes if the level of service is inferior.


Social media is driving awareness of customer service levels and the "wow" customer experiences people are having.


Going forward, we can expect companies to be more proactive and better informed in order to improve the customer experience.


This is especially true for millennials who have grown up with technology and smart phones.


Companies must recognize that for millennials, the customer experience is part of the product/service, as well as the brand.


Key Takeaway: Provide customers with choice and make it simple and easy for them to do business with you digitally. 


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

Tags: trust, customer experience, customer satisfaction, be reliable, be responsive, VoC, voice of the customer, empower employees, CRM, customer service

8 Steps to Form a Corporate Culture of Content Marketers

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 09, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

content accelerates sales










You need to have all of your employees involved in your content marketing initiative in one way or another.


Start by creating a list of relevant content and sharing it with your employees so they can help identify it:

  • What questions are being frequently asked by customers or prospects?

  • Tell my about a "wow" customer experience that was provided.

  • What did you do to solve a customer's problem?


Empower your employees to be the best teachers in the world.


If they need to show a client how to solve a problem, create a video to capture the solution and post it on YouTube.


Following are 8 rules for forming a culture of content marketing:


  1. It starts at the top -- the CEO, and the rest of the c-level executives, must buy-in to the content marketing strategy.

  2. Hold a "why" workshop to teach employees why content is important and what it is. Explain the vision, mission and value of the firm to ensure everyone is in alignment.

  3. The first 100 -- how to get a lot of content fast. What are the exect questions that you hear from customers and prospects everyday?

  4. A Chief Content Officer -- without a catalyst, an organizer and a central leader, you will not sustain the momentum to continue to identify and share information of value.

  5. The editorial calendar -- the process of employees becoming teachers, and sharing information of value, should not be optional.

  6. Content guidelines -- be the same person sharing content as you are when talking to a customer at the coffee shop.

  7. Four types of employees -- 1) writers; 2) actors -- great for videos and on-camera interviews; 3) talkers -- great to interview for content; and, 4) questioners -- know the questions people ask and ask them all the time.

  8. Keep the culture going with newsletters, training, success stories. Keep people informed about the success of their efforts and the fruits of their labor.


You can build awareness, traffic and leads with content marketing; however, it's a long-term commitment.

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

Tags: earn your customers trust, information of value, empower employees, content