Use Mobile to Make an Emotional Connection with Your Customer

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 21, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

use mobile to make an emotional connection








Great presentation by Tim Hayden (@TheTimHayden) author of The Mobile Commerce Revolution at yesterday's Triangle American Marketing Association's (#triama) monthly luncheon.


Tim's presentation on "Mobile Marketing: How B2B and B2C Marketers Can Stay Ahead" reiterated several points I have made in earlier blog posts about the power of SoLoMo (social/local/mobile) to drive revenue and relationships.



Mobile offers a very unique opportunity to establish a 1:1 relationship with customers and prospects -- the one that Peppers and Rogers starting promoting more than 20 years ago.


Mobile gives you the opportunity to be connected and personal.


I saw statistics at the Internet Summit (#isum14) that said we check out smart phones an average of 150 times a day. The person who presented that statistic admitted that she checked her phone more often than that.


According to Business Insider, 90% of 18 to 29 year olds, sleep with their smart phone. I know I use mine as an alarm clock -- what about you?


Tim showed how Dell has been placing a QR code on every server so that systems operators could access the "Quick Resource Locator" on their smart phone whenever there was an issue with that particular server. The Quick Resource Locator enables users to get immediate access to extensive system information and detailed how-to videos using their smartphone.


Unfortunately Dell did this in response to all of the "Dell Hell" feedback they were getting for their poor customer support. Imagine what Dell's reputation, and revenue, would be if they'd come up with the "Quick Resource Locator" as part of a proactive customer satisfaction and retention program in advance of all the hate on social media.


Sadly, most companies are more interested in making the near-term sale than ensuring they have a satisfied customer that will generate more revenue over the long term.


Starbucks has a mobile app that now accounts for 10% of their sales and is responsible for anywhere from 5 to 40% incremental revenue depending on the store.


If you remove friction to buy, people will buy more and more frequently.


If you save people time, if you make their lives simpler and easier, you're on your way to having a customer for life.


The opportunity to make people's lives simpler and easier with a smart phone is everywhere.


CVS Heath has expanded their digital marketing team from 6 to 200 in the last two years. They plan to expand from 200 to 400 in the next two years.


Do you think CVS Health can help address the chronic adoption and adherence problems with regards to people taking their medication thereby improving health outcomes and reducing medical expense? I sure do and I applaud them for taking the lead.


Sadly, most of the companies with whom I meet do not have CRM systems that provide a 360-degree view of the customer required to provide this level of service; however, the early adopters do and are taking advantage of it.


The more you show your customers and prospects you're committed to making their lives simpler and easier, the more likely you are to have that customer for life and not lose them to a competitor.


Chipotle, Healthtrax and Whole Foods are missing huge opportunities to connect with me and use the information they have about me to improve my customer experience.


It will be interesting to see if any of their competitors begin focusing on delivering an exceptional customer experience through smart CRM, beacons and mobile to get me to switch.


Have you thought about how you can use mobile to make an emotional connection with your customer and provide an outstanding customer experience?


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


Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement

Improve Customer Experience (#cx) to Accelerates Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Aug, 26, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

customer experience










In a white paper, "The Business Impact of Customer Experience 2011," Forrester showed the potential results of an improved customer experience in 11 industries.


The research was conducted among 7,728 US consumers about their interactions with brands in a range of different industries.  The data was used to model the effect that providing an improved customer experience may have on companies in 11 industries.


Analysis showed a high positive correlation between customer experience and loyalty with people willing to buy from the company again (R2 = 0.66), likelihood to recommend the company (0.70) and likelihood to defect (-0.40).


The strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty means that companies with higher customer experience scores tend to have more customers who:

  • Will buy from them again;
  • Will not take their business elsewhere; and,
  • Will recommend their products or services to a friend.


All of this generates more revenue.  In fact, here is how much incremental revenue Forrester projects for each industry based on their projections:

  1. Wireless service providers = $1,574 million
  2. Hotels = $1,068 million
  3. Airlines = $784 million
  4. Insurance providers = $260 million
  5. Credit card providers = $245 million
  6. Banks = $217 million
  7. Investment firms = $149 million
  8. TV service providers = $81 million
  9. Health plans = $70 million
  10. Internet service providers = $70 million
  11. Retailers = $27 million


I worked on a customer satisfaction measurement and improvement program for a wireless service provider several years ago.  By reducing churn by 29% we saved $16.2 million in potentially lost revenue.


Companies I've consulted with most recently, are more concerned with generating sales than increasing customer satisfaction, maintaining renewal rates and reducing churn.


They are adding to their sales team and doing nothing for their current customers.


While these companies are owned by private equity companies, your would think the private equity firms would see the value in having satisfied customers since they spend more, buy more frequently are are more likely to share their positive experience with family, friends and colleagues in person and with followers via social media.


Why do companies spend more money to generate new leads and customers than they do providing an outstanding customer experience and adopting a "customers for life" philosophy?


How much are you investing to provide a better customer experience?


How does the ROI of providing a better customer experience compare to the ROI of the rest of your marketing efforts?

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

Tags: customers for life, accelerate sales performance, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales

Evolve Customer Service to Enhance the Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 14, 2014 @ 11:05 AM


exceptional customer service









My mother passed away acouple of weeks ago and I went to the bank with my 81 year-old father to help him make some changes to their accounts.


Since he was switching accounts to which his social security check would be automatically deposited, his banker told him he needed to call social security to change the routing and account number.


We called the social security office, his banker knew the codes to get through the phone tree. We still ended up waiting to talk to someone for 45 minutes before my father's banker needed to go to another appointment.


On the way home, my father talked about the sad state of customer service in the U.S. and how the bar must be at an all-time low with regards to companies and government entities providing customer service.


Having studied this for the better part of my career, I couldn't disagree.


When we got to his house, I fired up my computer and secure, mobile hotspot and got on the social security administration website.


My father doesn't use a computer and the wifi-network in his retirement community isn't secure so he wouldn't want to conduct business on it.


I was able to set up is account with the social security administration and change the account to which his monthly check is sent in under 10 minutes.


My father was ecstatic that he didn't have to spend hours waiting to speak to someone at the social security office but was equally dismayed that this is yet another example of where all the jobs have gone.


I'm on the board of a credit union. While we have an online banking app as sophisticated as any large financial institution, we use Intuit, we still have branches to serve customers who want to come into a branch because they're not online or they're not comfortable dealing with an ATM.


If all your customers and prospects are millennials, you may be able to get away with having only a mobile app and a website.


However, if you still have baby boomers and beyond, think about how they want to be served as well.


Serve customers in the channel where they are most comfortable buying from, and interacting with, you.


While many customers are comfortable dealing with customer service issues online. A lot still want to talk to a real person. This real person gives you the opportunity to make an emotional connection with your customer.


While older customers may not call you out for poor customer service on social media, they'll sure tell their friends and family.


In this day and age, we all need all the "promoters" we can get.


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Tags: trust, customer experience, dialog, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, customer service

Be Responsive: Adjust Your Strategy to Market Conditions

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Apr, 09, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

Execution is the strategy resized 600








Great webinar by Laura Stack, author of Execution IS The Strategy: How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time.


As three and five-year business plans have gone the way of cold-calling, the internet and social media have changed the way we market and interact with prospects and customers.


Laura suggests four premises of strategic planning today:

  1. Interdependency -- Strategy and tactics are part of the same overarching process with an inherent relationship. Your strategy is only as good as how well you execute the tactics of the strategy.

  2. Fluidity -- Strategy must be more flexible in its tactics now than in the past making real-time course corrections based on information from the voice of the customer (VoC) that's gathered in real-time.

  3. Speed -- Strategy must be executed more quickly to be effective. The Internet and social media enable you to get real-time feedback on product concepts, service innovations and user experience (#ux).

  4. Validity -- Strategy must still be appropriate and strong or none of the first three premises matter. How does your strategy positively differentiate your brand, make you "different and better," in the eyes of your target persona?


There are no shortage of good ideas. It's not about the best ideas. It's about who executes their ideas the best.


This is why every B2B and B2C company needs to be focused on delivering excellent customer service.


Excellent customer service should be "table stakes" for any business, just like clean restrooms are for restaurants. However, it's not.


Customer service is generally poor. As such, it's an easy way for your firm to positively differentiate itself from the competition.


Listen to the people executing your tactics and see what you can do to remove barriers that will enable them to execute more quickly.


Laura identifies four conditions for successful execution:

  1. Leverage -- How to use leaders, team members and resources most effectively.

  2. Environment -- Having an agile organizational culture with engaged employees.

  3. Alignment -- Having the right people, the right leader, everyone on the same page with regards to the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm.

  4. Drive -- High levels of productivity. Commitment to accelerating change. Removing all obstacles to doing so.

 Break problems into one of four categories to prioritize:


  1. Life or death -- we need to discuss.

  2. Can become a crisis as time passes -- make sure it's addressed this week.

  3. Might become a problem if untreated but will never kill you -- monitor to see if it's getting worse or having a negative impact on the business.

  4. Pain -- minor issues, acknowledge them but don't spend time or resources on them.

New ways of thinking to set boundaries with others:

  • Refusing to do something doesn't mean you're not "nice."

  • Putting your instant message on do not disturb does not mean you're not a "team player."

  • Understand the true need. Do not break your own boundaries.

  • Understand what your customer wants.

  • Educate others on where to go to help themselves.

  • Stop being a professional volunteer.

Have you taken any of these steps to have a more responsive strategy to positively differentiate your firm versus the competition?


What's worked? What hasn't?


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

Tags: consumer insights, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, be responsive, customer centric, listen intensely

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





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

Improve the Customer Experience to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Feb, 04, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

improve customer experience to accelerate sales










Customer experience is the collective value of all interactions with a company's employees, products and services.


Customer experience begins with the first exposure to the brand -- advertising, earned media (P.R.), social media, website, employees.


We all know the power of first impressions. A customer's first exposure to your brand will create their initial perception of your brand and the perception of the customer experience you will receive.


Make a bad first impression, you may not get the opportunity to make another.


If the consumer doesn't feel like they'll have a good customer experience with your brand, they'll go elsewhere. I know I'll go online and find another option in a heartbeat. Life's too short to deal with poor customer service.


Likewise, there is pre-sale, out of the box and post-sale customer experiences as well.


Pre-sale includes product and service information. Provide information the prospect is looking for before they ever contact you. This is why it's critical to anticipate and answer questions by sharing information of value.


Out of the box includes ease of installation and use. While my iPhone provided a great out of the box experience, it failed to educate me on how to turn the phone off. Luckily my seat mate on my first flight after getting my iPhone knew how.


Lastly, post-sale service and support is how you get and keep customers for life. Listen for, and respond to your customers' needs and wants. If something goes wrong, fix it. If a customer complains, thank them and fix the problem. A customer who complains, and whose complaint is rectified, is more likely to be a long-term customer than someone who never complains.


In the age of the internet and social media, if you fail to provide a satisfactory experience, pre sale, out of the box or post sale, your customer will let you, their family, friends and colleagues know about it.


It is critical for you to monitor social media channels to know what's being said about you in the event you fail to live up to customer expectations, as well as in the event that you fail to do what you said you would do when you said you would do it. 


I highly recommend using a three-question Net Promoter Score survey to monitor customer satisfaction levels, customers' willingness to recommend you and to create a dialog with your customers. 


There is a strong positive correlation between customer satisfaction and revenue, profitability, brand loyalty, likelihood to repurchase and likelihood to recommend (a.k.a., provide referrals).


In what ways are you, and your employees, improving the customer experience 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, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, earn your customers trust, referrals

8 Traits of Customer-Centric Companies

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jan, 21, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Customer love resized 600







Do customers come first in your company?

Do you view all of your product offerings and communications from your customers' perspective?

Do you talk to you customers about what they like about your products and services, and more importantly, what they don't like?

Do you know why your customers buy from you rather than your competitor?

Do you and your customers agree on who your competitors are?

According to a recent research report from Ovum, 90% of organizations are at risk of becoming irrelevant to their customers unless they learn to adapt their practices much faster in ways that customers value.

The fundamental issue is a lack of visionary leadership, consumer insight and the ability to translate those insights into a fully engaged and connected enterprise that is committed to delivering an outstanding customer experience.

Ovum identifies eight key attributes as central to making a company customer-focused:

  1. Leadership. A customer-focused company starts at the top. If the c-level executives aren't customer-focused, then the customer-facing employees will not be.
  2. Workforce engagement. Loyal employees = loyal customers. If employees are not engaged, they are not going to provide good customer service, let alone an outstanding customer experience. Employees treat customers only as well as management treats them.
  3. Collaboration. Companies must tear down silos to be able to provide customers with outstanding customer service. If everyone doesn't have access to all data about all customers, they will not be able to provide great customer service. Companies who keep data in different silos make it impossible to have a 360-view of the customer.
  4. Sensing capabilities. You must engage with your customers to know what they're thinking. DO NOT assume you know what your customer is thinking. DO NOT rely on analytics to assume you know what your customer is thinking. Have a dialog with them. 
  5. Customer experience. Do you know what the customer experience is? Have you mapped it? Have you shared your map with customers to verify its accuracy?
  6. Innovation. Are you listening to the voice of the customer? While your customers may not know what they want, by listening intensely to your customers you can learn about their needs and desires. This will inform your innovation efforts.
  7. Process integration. Finance, production, operations, sales and marketing need to be focused on the customer experience and committed to providing a consistently outstanding experience.
  8. Enterprise architecture. Again the enterprise infrastructure needs to enable every member of the company, that may have contact with a customer, to have a 360-degree view of the customer.
How important is a particular customer to your business?
How much revenue have they generated?
Are they a new customer, a regular customer, a satisfied customer or a raving fan that brings you many more customers by sharing their outstanding customer experiences with friends, family and colleagues on social media?
How much does it cost to serve the customer?
What is the lifetime value of the customer?
You need to know all of these things to determine how important a particular customer is to your business.
Not all customers have the same value. Consequently, not all customers should receive the same treatment, benefits, offers or communications.
Are your monitoring customer satisfaction using Net Promoter Score, or some other methodology, to ensure you are constantly improving?
Since companies that provide an outstanding customer experience perform better than those that do not, we can expect investors to start looking at companies' ability to engage emotionally with, and engender the trust of, its customers.
Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: outstanding customer experience, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, listen intensely

Customer Experience Is King

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Sep, 04, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Customer Experience resized 600


According to a recent survey from Oracle:

  • 81% of customers are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience.
  • 89% of customers switched brands after a poor customer experience.
  • 20% of annual revenue is lost due to poor customer experiences.
  • 93% of business executives say improving customer experience is one of their top-three business priorities.
  • 18% expect to increase spending on customer experience technology over the next two years.
What is the customer experience at your company?
Have you mapped it?
Have you asked customers about what is was like? What they liked? What could be improved?
If customer experience is so important, why isn't more being done to improve it?
It's not nearly as expensive as getting new customers in the door.
Have a dialogue with customers, and empower employees to do the same, to learn how they view your company and the service they receive.
What do they like? What do you different and better than your competition?
In what areas can you improve? What does your competition do different and better than you?
I'm getting ready to go talk to store managers and customers of a potential client.  I'll be very surprised, and disappointed, if I don't come back with at least a couple of insights that don't surprise my client.
These insights are not necessarily things you should take action on; however, they will give you some thoughts on how you can improve the customer experience.
What actions have you take lately to improve customer experience?
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Tags: dialogue, customer experience, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, empower employees, consumer insights accelerate sales, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement, genuine interest

12-Point Customer Manifesto to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Aug, 21, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

customer service manifesto


Great post from Barry Moltz in a recent edition of SmartBrief Jobs on "How to Make Customer Service Easy for Your Employees."

Offering great customer service is hard. The definition of what it is exactly changes from customer to customer and from situation to situation. This makes it especially difficult for employees who try to apply their company training to a particular situation. In a connected world, customer service has become the new marketing. A dissatisfied customer used to be able to tell seven people. With social media, they now can tell 7 million people!

In focusing on customer service, leaders need to answer these questions first.

  1. What does the customer mean to their company mission?
  2. What is their personal attitude toward customers?
  3. What do their employees and customers think they do right and wrong?
  4. How do they personally stay in touch with customers?
  5. What characteristics do they look for in front-line sales and service people?
  6. Have they empowered their employees?
  7. How much process is in place to identify issues and solutions immediately?

Next, to provide great customer service consistently, every leader needs to achieve two things within their organizations.

  1. Establish a customer service manifesto on what customers can expect each time they do business with their company.
  2. Train their employees on this manifesto and how to respond to customers in 99% of the situations, since the biggest complaint people have is being forced to explain their problem over and over again to different employees inside the company.

Here is a sample of what needs to be in that manifesto.

  1. We will deliver on what we promised.
  2. We will listen attentively to all your concerns.
  3. We will be easy to reach especially when things go wrong.
  4. We will resolve your issues in a reasonable time frame.
  5. We will admit when we made a mistake.
  6. We will empower our employees to solve your issue at the point it occurs.
  7. We will not charge separate nuisance fees or surcharges.
  8. We will treat you with respect and dignity at all times.
  9. When we decide to change something, we will tell you in advance.
  10. We will never sell any information about you without your permission.
  11. We will offer you several convenient ways to provide us feedback.
  12. In every situation, we will ask you what it would take to make you feel satisfied.

Studies show that when employees know what is expected of them, are trained well and have control over their work, they are more satisfied in their jobs. Happy employees always treat their customers better. Happy customers always come back and refer their colleagues.

How are you training and empowering your employees to provide better customer service?

Tags: customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, empower employees, accelerate sales

4 Keys to Engaging Customers to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Aug, 15, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

Engage customers to accelerate sales


With the growth of the internet and the advent of social media, the customer is in charge of the relationship with product and service providers more than ever before and their expectations are greater than ever.

Customer service continues to generate greater revenue. 

A 2012 study by American Express showed 66% of customers are willing to spend 13% more with those companies that provide excellent customer service versus 2011 when 70% of customers were willing to spend 13% more.

Seventy-five percent of consumers say they have spent more with a company because of positive customer service experiences versus 73% in 2011.

Here are four keys I see in engaging customers today:

  1. Provide the opportunity for immediate interaction.  I'm in operations and marketing for a small B2B company.  Our hours are 8:30 to 5:30 but I'm typically in the office from 7:30 to 6:30.  We have a policy of responding to all customers or prospects within one business day.  If I'm in the office when the call or email comes in, the customer or prospect will get a response immediately.  People are genuinely surprised and happy to receive such a timely response.  If I'm dealing with a large, online product or service provider, I expect an immediate response because I've got a pretty good idea they have CSRs on call at least from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  If I ask you a question over the weekend, I certainly expect a response no later than Monday.
  2. Interact with the customer via the channel in which they prefer -- email, text, Twitter, telephone, in-person.  I make my initial response this way.  However, email, text and Twitter cannot communicate the emotion of a phone call and a phone call cannot show how much you sincerely care about the customer as much as a face-to-face discussion.  Don't risk miscommunication or misunderstandings by failing to pick up the phone and call someone rather than engaging in an electronic "conversation."
  3. Personalization is important.  A person's name is the most important words they can hear -- use it.  Everyone wants to be, and deserves to be, treated as an individual.  In the interest of efficiency, training and standardization it's fine for your company to have defined processes for how certain situations will be handled, but use this as a guide for you and your employees and don't be afraid to vary the process based on the individual to provide an exceptional customer experience.
  4. Multi-channel integration is key.  Have a good CRM system whereby you can document all of your customer and prospect interactions.  This is especially important with loyal customers.  You need to know their history, their preferences so that you, and everyone in your firm, can directly and indirectly meet their needs and wants by delivering a consistent cross-channel experience and the customer doesn't have to repeat the same information to different people in your company.

Customers expect personalized answers in real-time.  If you delivery an outstanding customer experience they'll tell their friends and followers about their experience.  55% of customers are willing to recommend a product or service if they receive exceptional service.  Service will generate more referrals than price and that will improve margins.

Companies must engage in, or at least monitor, this communication to know what customers are saying and to learn what trends are evolving.

What are your keys to engaging customers today?

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

Tags: customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, accelerate sales, customer retention