Top 10 "Insights From Analytics" Blog Posts of 2014

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 30, 2014 @ 10:12 AM


Following are the most read blog posts during 2014.


Thank you for reading and sharing with others you think would be interested.


Please let me know if I can assist you, or your firm, in any way.


  1. Top 10 U.S. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for 2013

  2. The Importance of Face to Face Communications

Happy New Year, have a great 2015!

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Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, integrity, accelerate sales, net promoter score, NPS, face to face communications

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

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

customer experience satisfaction and improvement









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


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


Did they find value in what they bought?


What's working or not working for them?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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.


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

Use Voice of the Customer (#VOC) to Reduce Churn

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 22, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

voice of the customer resized 600









Do you know what your customers think about the products and services you and your firm are providing?


Are they likely to buy from you again?


Will they renew their contract?


If you don't know, you should ask them.


The insights you receive from a proactive voice of the customer program will let you know what is, and is not, working for your customers.


A customer who complains, and whose complaint is resolved, is more likely to be a long-term customer than the one who never provides you any feedback at all.


Customers that take the time to share their thoughts with you are engaged with you and your brand.


Don't you want to know the level of engagement your customers have with you?


Ask your customers about your transactions, as well as your relationships.


I prefer using a three-question Net Promoter survey. I find this to be an quick and easy way for the customer to let us know how we're doing and what we can do to improve.


Surveying heavy cell phone customers enabled us to learn how they wanted to be rewarded for their loyalty. By learning that customers wanted the lastet and greatest technology, we ensured they did and subsequently reduced churn by 9% and prevented $16 million in lost revenue.


For a swimming pool OEM, we surveyed 3,289 pool and spa distributors to learn what we could do to positively differentiate our products and sevices from the market leader. The insights provided by these B2B customers enabled us to make changes to our products and services that enabled our client to move from third-place to first-place in the industry.


As you can see, VOC can be used in both B2C and B2B markets.


After all, we're still people selling to people. It's important to understand what's on our customers' minds rather than assuming we know.


Consider spending time and money to prevent customer attrition rather than focusing all of your effforts on getting new customers. 


How have you used voice of the customer to reduce churn and improve the customer experience in your business?


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Tags: consumer insights, VoC, voice of the customer, net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, NPS

The Keys to Customer Loyalty

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 29, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

Warmth + Competence = Loyalty







Great presentation by Chris Malone (@hcmalone), author of The Human Brand at a recent Triangle American Marketing Association meeting.


Chris and his colleague, social psychologist Susan Fiske, conducted 10 studies across 45 companies to understand that consumers relate to companies, brands, and products the same way we perceive, judge and behave towards people.


Keys to customer loyalty are to be warm and competent.


It works like this:


  • If you're warm but not competent, you'll be seen with sympathy and neglect (e.g., VA Hospitals and the U.S. Postal Service).


  • If you're neither warm, nor competent, you'll be seen with contempt and rejection (e.g., Walmart and Bank of America).


  • If you're competent and warm, you'll be seen with admiration and loyalty (e.g., Honda and Zappos).


  • If you're competent, but not warm, you'll be seen with envy and distrust (e.g., Mercedes and Cartier)


Four elements generate more than 50% of customer loyalty:

  1. Warmth

  2. Trust

  3. Competent

  4. Capable


If you and your employees can focus on improving your performance in these four areas, you can increase customer loyalty dramatically. 


We are in a relationship renaissance today. As we do more online via the internet, our interactions with people become more important.


Customers may say they don't want a relationship with a company or a brand, but they do value relationships with people. 


As such, your customer-facing employees become the face of your business and brand.


Starbucks produced the "Little Green Apron Book" to help remind their employees to be:

  • Welcoming

  • Genuine

  • Considerate

  • Knowledgeable

  • Involved


If you can make a difference in the life of another person, so they know you care, save them time, simplify their life, you'll increase the opportunity to having a loyal customer, if not a customer for life.


If you, or your company, are focused on the short-term versus customers, you will not be trusted by customers. No trust means no customers.


You, or your boss, may ask, "Does focusing on the customer pay?" According to Domino's Pizza, they attribute focusing on the customer to a 350% return on investment.


Satmetrix has a lot of data on the superior financial performance of companies that have industry-leading Net Promoter Scores (NPS).


Three steps to improving the customer experience:


  1. Become more self-aware.

  2. Embrace significant change throughout the organization.

  3. Rebalance priorities whereby you're more focused on current customers than new customers. 

What steps are you and your firm taking to improve the customer experience and improve customer loyalty?


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, earn your customers trust, net promoter score, customer centric, customer engagement

5 Reasons to Provide an Outstanding Customer Experience

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

Outstanding customer experience




















The Temkin Group (#btemkin) just published the results of its research, the ROI of Customer Experience, 2014.


In it, they share the five benefits of providing an outstanding customer experience:


  1. Loyalty

  2. Repurchasing

  3. Willingness to try new products

  4. Forgiving mistakes

  5. Recommending your product or service to a friend or colleague (a.k.a., referrals)

Based on a study of companies in 19 industries, companies that provide an outstanding customer experience have a net promoter score (NPS) that's an average of 22 points higher than those companies that do not provide an outstanding customer experience.


In addition, by modeling the revenue of the companies with their NPS score, The Temkin Group projected that companies that continue to provide an outstanding customer experience will see significant greater revenue growth, than their competitors, in these three industries:


  • Hotels = 46%
  • Fast food = 44%
  • Retail = 43% 


Are you and your company committed to providing an outstanding customer experience?


Are you using net promoter score (NPS) to measure loyalty and increase revenue?


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

Tags: outstanding customer experience, loyalty, net promoter score, referrals, NPS

Supplement Quantitative VOC with Qualitative for Consumer Insights

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jun, 17, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

listen intensely for consumer insights










I just completed two dozen one-on-one interviews for a client who had fielded a quantitative customer satisfaction survey based on Net Promoter Score (NPS).


The client received very positive feedback, and a correspondingly strong NPS; however, they felt like they may be missing something so they provided me with the names of 40 respondents to reach out to and engage in a one-on-one dialog about what the company did well and what it could do better.


I learned that their customers were very engaged given that 60% responded to my call or email within a week.


I also learned several things the company does well (i.e., makes their clients' jobs easier, very objective) and what they could do better (i.e., have more client contacts across the company, ensure the lead client contact stays in touch more frequently).


These are insights my client did not get from quantitative research. 


Quantitative tells you what people are doing or what they think.


Qualitative tells you why and what you can do to improve.


Have a dialog with your customers to get to know them, their needs and their wants better.


Better yet, have an independent third party have a dialog with your customers since your customers will be more willing to give the third party some "bad news," or suggestions for improvement, than they'll give the supplier directly.


The insights you get will help you improve your products, service, communications and the customer experience.


All of which will help you generate more revenue and have more satisfied customers.


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

Tags: customer satisfaction, VoC, voice of the customer, net promoter score, consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights

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

10 Customer Service Tips to Drive Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Mar, 12, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

drive customer satisfaction across all channels








Execellent article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Management magazine by Leonard Klie reminding us of the basics of providing customer service across multiple channels.


Telephone and email still make up 85% of customer service interactions; however, this will change with greater use of social media channels.


The high-profile, and exposure, of social media, and the possible negative comments, means that social media is being viewed as being far more important than traditional channels.


According to ContactBabel, and many other research firms, expect social media customer contact to double by 2015.


The rising importance of customer engagement as well as the recognition of the value of sharing ideas in real time are driving the growth of social customer care.


There are four business advantages:

  1. Increased transparency

  2. Better communication of ideas and information

  3. Flexibility

  4. Performance

Social media is the primary customer service channel for 36% of Gen Y consumers, only slightly behind email and text messaging among Gen X.


Most companies are not fully integrated to provide customer service via social media with the same quality as they are via telephone or even email.


Here are the 10 steps Leonard suggests taking:

  1. Choose the right channels. Ask customers which channels they want to use and become proficient in those channels. Customers are growing increasingly more sophisticated in seeking help themselves, with many preferring to look for solutions to their problems on their own before contacting the company. Support customers with up-to-date knowledge bases that are readily available on your website. Consider putting product demos and tutorials on YouTube. Your customers, and prospects, will be grateful for the information and you will earn awareness and trust.

  2. Define your company's rules of engagement. Empower your CSRs to handle all incoming issues from customers. Form dedicated teams whose sole purpose is to manage social media. Social-customer care teams should be trained and knowledgeable customer service employees. Everyone on the social media response team should be following the same protocols and providing the same answers to the same questions for consistency and efficiency. Build a library of responses and create an ongoing list of frequently asked questions. The answer to each question is also a potential topic for a blog post.

  3. Listen intensely. Monitor social media channels to learn what customers and prospects are saying about your brand -- what it delivers and where it fails to deliver. You can also use social media to ask for feedback about your brand.

  4. Be responsive. Respond in a timely manner. The faster you respond, the more impressed your customer will be. According to Oracle, Twitter users expect a response within two hours. According to Zendesk, 55% of consumers will follow-up with a phone call when their social media inquiries reamain unanswered. Posts to Twitter should be answered in 30 minutes, a response within 15 minutes is even better. For Facebook, a 24-hour response is minimally acceptable; ideally, a response should be made in 25 minutes. For LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Yelp, responses should be posted in no more than 24 hours, though same-day response is preferred.

  5. Be reliable. Companies can turn complaints or concerns into opportunities to showcase their responsiveness and their customer service values. By acknowledging and apologizing for mistakes, companies can turn uncomfortable, and potentially damaging, situations into opportunities to show their followers they truly care. You can generate positive sentiment by acknowledging the customer, apologizing when appropriate and thanking them for bringing the matter to your attention. A complaint handled properly is an opportunity to solve the same problem for customers who may be following the conversation. Do you what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.

  6. Be real. Have a personality. Do not gloss over customer posts with generic responses. Personalized, unique interactions on social media create stronger customer relationships with the brand. Let CSRs use their names or initials in responses to let customers know they are dealing with real people. Always be professional and courteous. A little empathy goes a long way. Customers don't expect a company to be perfect all of the time, but they do expect empathy, professionalism, honesty and transparency. Be honest and fully transparent at all times.

  7. Know your customers. Link your CRM system to social media engagement platforms so you know who is saying what. Companies need to track and record each customer's social interaction history to give agents insights into previous issues, sentiment level, interaction frequency and previous agent replies.

  8. Stay on the customer's preferred channel. Be prepared to move a conversation to a private and secure channel, such as phone, web chat or email, when you need to keep some information out of the public domain. I recentlly did this with Dell and KitchenAid, they suggested we take the conversation off Facebook to email. I was perfectly comfortable doing that as long as the issues were resolved, which they were. I went back to Facebook and thanked both companies for addressing the issues.

  9. Be relevant. Posting information of value like product updates, tips to improve usability and links to knowledgebase articles keep followers engaged and knowledgeable about your company and all you have to offer. Use social media to build awareness of your brand and trust.

  10. Make performance a priority. Measure, report on and take action on service level agreements, key performance indicators and supervisory data to ensure customer service remains at the center of social customer care efforts. The best way for a company to measure the effect of social efforts is to look at overall customer sentiment. I recommend a three-question Net Promoter Score survey.

Today, companies need a cohesive and integrated customer contract strategy that goes across all channels, for all purposes as well as all customers and prospects.

Also, check out Hubspot's Ultimate Guide to Customer Support. I've been a Hubspot customer for a number of years and they do a great job.

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

Tags: transparency, customer satisfaction, be reliable, be responsive, be real, earn your customers trust, net promoter score, honesty, be relevant

Use Net Promoter Score Surveys to Determine Employee Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Feb, 13, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

employee Net Promoter Score







As you are aware, I am a big proponent of using Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys with customers to determine their level of satisfaction with the company, as well as their willingness to recommend the company to their friends family and colleagues.

I also think it's a great way to start a dialog with a customer.


Ever since introducing Net Promoter Score (NPS) at my previous employer for both customer and employer surveys, I've been pleased with several different aspects of the methodology:

  • Ease of implementation
  • Ease and speed of response
  • Insights provided
  • Dialog promoted with customers
  • Education provided employees


I also think it's a great way to determine employee satisfaction and engagement using the same three questions, with a slight variation, that I use with customers.

The three questions are very simple and can be answered in less than five minutes, unless someone has a lot to say.
Here are the three questions I ask employees:
  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being "extremely likely," what is the likelihood you would recommend working at ________ to a family member, friend or colleague?
  2. Why did you give us that score?
  3. What would it take to earn a 10?
By putting "Employee Satisfaction Survey -- Less than 5 minutes of Your Time" in the subject line of the email, we received excellent response rates.
Everyone who responds to the survey receives a personal "thank you" from me acknowledging their response to our request. I'm also a strong believer in saying "thank you" whenever someone gives you feedback.
Promoters, those who gave us a 9 or 10, are engaged and willing to go the extra mile for the company and their colleagues.
Detractors, those who gave us a 6 or lower, are disengaged. You need to have a one-on-one talk about these employees' concerns and agree on whther or not they can be addressed. If not, it's in everyone's best interest for these employees to find a place to work that a better fit for them. 
Passives, those who gave us a  7 or 8, are not engaged, as such you need to reach out and have a face-to-face meeting to determine what their concerns are and put a plan in place for addressing those issues.
Our goal for the emplyee satisfaction survey was three-fold:
  1. Provide a benchmark against which we can measure employee satisfaction over time;
  2. Facilitate a dialog with emplyees so we better understand their needs and wants and we develop an employee engagement program that will increase the eNPS score over time; and,
  3. Let employees see what we're asking our customers so they can gain a perspective on how customers are evaluating us.
By responding to every employee, we let them know we cared about what they had to say.  
By addressing the specific concerns of "detractors" and "passives," they know we are committed to addressing their concerns and providing a better work experience for them in the long-term.
Plenty of research validates the positive effect empowered employees and satisfied customers have on the revenue and profitability of companies.
These three questions are a great way to positively impact customers, employees, revenue and profitability.
If you need any help implementing a Net Promoter Score employee satisfaction program at your firm, please let me know.

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

Tags: net promoter score, promoters, passives, detractors, employee engagement