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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

Empower Advocates to Build Your Brand via Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 20, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

raving fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Jason Hibbets (@jhibbets), Red Hat's community manager of Opensource.com.

 

Jason, his team at Red Hat and 10 non-Red Hat "moderators" are generating 600+ articles per year consistent with their goal of building the world's premier open source story telling platform.

 

They do this by following the same principles of open source:

 

  1. Transparency -- in participation and passion

  2. Collaboration -- enables rapid prototyping and meritocracy

  3. Methodology -- lean, get stuff done

  4. Strategy -- daily heartbeat, content is king, 50% user generated content, SEO while writing naturally

 

Opensource.com monitors its writers and gives them awards and badges creating a win-win for Red Hat, opensource.com and its supporters.

 

It holds voluntary meetings with moderators every Monday to discuss potential topics of interests for the coming week.

 

According to Jason, the magic, and the success of opensource.com, is in the community.

 

As such, it makes sense to invest in, promote and facilitate your community of advocates.

 

I have been a raving fan of Chipotle for seven years and have written a number of blog posts promoting their products, service and personnel.

 

I believe Chipotle, and every other major brand, is missing a tremendous opportunity by failing to engage their promoters to share information of value in their social media channels of influence.

 

If you have loyal customers who are willing and able to sing your praises, do everything you can to facilitate and encourage them.

 

As a matter of fact, here's a great infographic from Matt Banner that will help you and your advocates know everythingy you need to know to master a particular social channel.

 

Why would you not want free marketing and to recognize, and reward, your best customers?

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Tags: information of value, raving fans, content, social media, advocates

Referral Marketing is More Important with Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 17, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

referral marketing

 

 

 

 

I’ve done a lot of work in and around referral marketing both before and after the growth of the Internet and social media.

 

Referral marketing continues to be the most powerful, effective and cost efficient marketing you can have.

 

This is particularly true for high-priced products and services and high net-worth individuals.

 

I’m talking about personal referrals as opposed to providing feedback online to a group of people you don’t know.

 

However, this is also important since 92% of people trust what they hear from a family member or friend, 75% trust what they hear from a stranger on the Internet, while fewer than 20% trust what they hear from a company.

 

I don’t think most people like making referrals unless they are asked for a referral by a friend. Then they are pleased to share their positive experience on a particular product, manufacturer, service or service provider.

 

If asked for a referral, then the person is proud to have been asked and sees it as an opportunity to help their friend by providing information of value.

 

There are a couple of reasons people are not comfortable making referrals unless asked: 1) they don’t want to seem like they’re a sales person, and 2) referrals are inherently risky.

 

If the product or service being recommended does not live up to the expectations of the buyer, then the referrer’s credibility is questioned.

 

Every time a referral is made, there is an implied endorsement also being made.

 

As such, if you are the recipient of a referral, I suggest you over-deliver so your new customer, and the referrer are both pleased with the outcome.

 

This also enhances your chances of obtaining additional referrals from both customers.

 

What also enhances your chances of obtaining referrals is to create “raving fans.” I’m a raving fan of a national quick service restaurant (QSR) chain (Chipotle), a local auto tire and maintenance provider (Atlantic Avenue Tire) and an online book seller (Amazon).

 

I have personally brought all three businesses at least 100 new customers because these companies have never let me down. They consistently provide excellent service, good value and are ultimately reliable.

 

Regardless of your business, if you can provide consistently excellent service, product quality and value for your customers, you can build your business with referral marketing.

 

That is even more true today since your raving fans will tell others about you via their social media channels -- especially if you ask them to, or better yet, provide an outstanding customer experience.

 

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Tags: loyal customers, customer experience, raving fans, referrals, promoters, referral marketing

Use Social Media to Do More with Less

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 22, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits (@ncnonprofits) for allowing me to serve as a "curbside consultant" for two of their member organizations yesterday.

 

The question I received from both organizations was "how can I do more with less?"

 

I am a strong believer that the internet and social media has leveled the playing field for small-medium sized businesses as well as not-for-profits.

 

You have a tremendous opportunity to tell your story, and make an emotional connection, by using the resources you already have.

 

Here are five suggestions:

 

  1. Ensure that everyone in your organization is in alignment with regards to the vision, mission and values of the organization. If there is misalignment, or lack of agreement, you won't be able to deliver a clear, consistent and effective message. The less consistent your message, the less trust you and your organization will have.

  2. Identify your organization's story and make sure it makes an emotional connection with those you are trying to reach. Ensure everyone in the organization is telling the same story in the same way. Look for situations your organizations have facilitated to reinforce the message of the story.

  3. Share information of value -- don't sell, don't ask for money. Educate people on what your organization is doing and it accomplishments. Get testimonials, quotes and video clips from those you have helped. Ask them to tell their story.

  4. Identify your promoters and raving fans and ask you to help them spread message, and information of value, on the social media channels where they are most comfortable.

  5. Have a content marketing mindset. Look for content and then opportunities to use the content multiple times (on your website, in an email, on social media channels, in a slideshare). All of this content will help your grassroots SEO and generate more awareness and visits from people who are interested in helping your cause.

How are you and your team using social media to do more with less?
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Tags: consistent messaging, raving fans, content, emotional connection, social media

Empower Influencers and Raving Fans to Grow Your Business

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 03, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

influencers and raving fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great webinar by David Amerland (@davidamerland), Linda West of Act-On, and Carly Tatum (@carlyjeane) at Dell entitled, "Influencers 2.0: ROI of the Influencer" presented by Social Media Today (#smtlive).

 

The key takeaway from the webinar -- provide a great customer experience (#cx) to engage your influencers (a.k.a., raving fans).

 

We live in an age of advocacy. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing grows more powerful as social media grows.

 

An increase in brand advocacy is one of the most important benefits of social media. Content is shared, comments are made and awareness and attention is gained. You just want to ensure that what's being said about you, and your brand, is positive not negative.

 

Do this by being relevant, being reliable, being responsive and being real.

 

Fail to do any of the four and you'll be called out in social media and lose the trust of influencers, customers and prospects.

 

Marketing induced customer-to-customer word-of-mouth generates more than two times the sales of paid advertising.

 

Why do consumers write about brands online?

 

  • 64% offer advice

  • 61% praise a brand

  • 52% criticize a brand

  • 51% share contents produced by a brand

 

Influencers and raving fans can seriously drive a brand message.

 

Influencers and raving fans are gatekeepers for information of value.

 

They help increase visibility in social media and search thereby saving time, effort and directing the attention of prospective customers.

 

Reach out to influencers to gain their trust, ensure alignment of values, goals and aspirations.

 

This is part of the personalization of business. Social media is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships with people. Use it to establish a relationship with influencers and raving fans.

 

Reach out to build trust through dialog.

 

Encourage and empower your employees to engage with influencers and raving fans. The more people within your firm that an influencer or raving fan has positive connections with, the more trust is gained.

 

Social influencers help attract visitors to your website.

 

You can track revenue by looking at referred social traffic and then seeing which ones convert to leads and sales.

 

Dell identifies an influencer as an individual, trendsetter or tastemaker with a signficant following among their target. Someone who's often quoted in the media. Someone who's statements result in action. A thought-leader in an industry vertical.

 

Dell works to:

 

  1. Identify influencers

  2. Engage with them at events so they have an in-person connection.

  3. Give them early access to products ("product seeding") as well as access to company executives.

  4. Maintain an ongoing relationship.

  5. Track the amount of advocacy the influencer provides over the course of the relationship.

 

Dell strives to have sufficient transparency for a customer to interact with the company on a personal versus corporate level by identifying the people within Dell who will be able to provide the most value to the customer.

 

Carly recommends engaging influencers from the outside in using customer feedback and from the inside out using influencer dialog.

 

The key is empowering employees to engage with influencers, customers and raving fans as real people rather than corporate spokespersons.

 

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Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, authenticity, be relevant, raving fans, referrals

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

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

treat customer service as a marketing investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Listen intensely to learn customers' needs and expectations.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

10 Ways To Enhance Customer Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 20, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

raving fans referrals and word-of-mouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As many of you know, I'm a raving fan of Chipotle. I've been eating there every day for more seven years. I've written a number of blogs about them and brought them a lot of new customers by introducing friends, family, colleagues and business associates.

 

If someone wants to meet with me at lunch, they know the best place to do so is at Chipotle. Any Chipotle, I'm not picky. In fact I like seeing the different restaurants.

 

When I travel, I know where the nearest Chipotle is to where I'm staying and where I'm working.

 

However, Chipotle, and many other firms, are missing the boat on keeping their loyal customers, promoters and raving fans engaged the way companies like Zappos, Apple, USAA, Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom do.

 

Following are 10 things any company can do to recognize their loyal customers and convert them into raving fans and more active promoters:

 

  1. Give them branded clothing. Ask them what they want. Some people like hats, others shirts. I've asked for a Chipotle dri-fit polo. I'm told they're only for managers -- really? You don't want me wearing my Chipotle polo when I go to the NCAA Tournament? Colleges and universities do a great job of getting alumni and fans to promote their brands, and paying Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Rawlings a lot of money to do so. Why don't all companies with loyal followings do the same?

  2. Give them a behind the scenes look at how things run. Again, some people may like this, others may not. I'd love to see how Chipotle prepares for the day. Others might like to be in one of your daily team meetings. Imagine how much your customers would learn and be able to inform others about your company and what you'd learn from your customer. I look forward to going on a tour of Zappos when I'm in Las Vegas for a conference. They're even picking me up at my hotel for the tour.

  3. Let your best customers speak to employees and tell them why they like your brand so much. Let your employees ask the customer questions and let the customer ask the employees questions. Again, think of what you'll learn from the exchange and how much of an emotional connection the customer will now have with your brand when they get to know the people that are your brand.

  4. Recognize loyal customers, promoters and raving fans -- publicly in your place of business and on social media. A free drink, putting their name on the welcome sign, using their name will go a long way to making a long-term positive impression on the customer.

  5. Handwritten thank you notes. In today's world of emails, a handwritten thank you note speaks volumes about how much you really care about the person as an individual. After my wife was in an auto accident she went to Panera for her daily coffee, she received a "get well" card signed by all of the employees. That card is still atop our kitchen counter nine months after the accident.

  6. Tchotchkes. Give them little gifts every now and then to remind them of how much you value their business. Think about what's relevant to your customer and will associate your business to them. An accounting firm may use a letter opener, a law firm or optometrist a screen cleaner. Brainstorm with your employees what your best customers might like to have from you.

  7. Discounts/gift cards. When I first started eating at Chipotle everyday, I'd get comped, once every 10 or times so I visited. Not any more. They know I'm going to be there every day, regardless. Don't ever take your customer for granted. Let them know you value their business and think of other things you can do to simplify their lives.

  8. Invite them to your annual meeting. What would you and your three biggest customers gain if your customers came to your annual meeting? Both parties would end up with a lot of insights. Since you would have more employees interacting with your three largest customers, you would be coming away with even greater insights and your employees would have a better understanding of your customers. A "win-win." 

  9. One-on-one's with managers, executives and researchers. Do you think your best customers might have some ideas on ways you could serve them, and others like them, better? Your best customers want to see you be successful. Ask them what you can do. They may also ask you what they can do to help you. Be prepared to tell them how they can best help you.

  10. Rewards. What is the ultimate reward you could give your best customers? A trip? A laptop case with your logo on it? A simple thank you? Ask your best customers what you can do for them to show them you value and appreciate their business.

Twenty percent of your customers account for 80% of your revenue and profit.

 

If you look more closely, I would bet that 4% of your customers account for about 64% of your revenue and profit (the 20:80 of the 20:80).

 

Do you know who those 4% are? You need to.

 

Also, have you identified the influencers that are passionate about your brand?

 

These customers do more marketing for your brand via word-of-mouth and social media than you are aware of.

 

Make it easy for them to do so and give them awesome experiences to share with their family, friends and colleagues.

 

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Tags: dialog, connecting emotionally with customers, customer engagement, raving fans, referrals

10 Reasons to Focus on Improving Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Dec, 30, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

improve customer experience to create customers for life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies spend millions of dollars every year generating leads, creating demand, collecting and tracking data.

However, only 4% of Americans trust advertising the most as a source for product or service information.

How much of the marketing budget is spent on ensuring customers have an outstanding customer experience?

Based on my experience with clients and employers, typically there is four times more spent on getting new customers versus keeping current customers by improving their experience.

Following are 10 reasons you should focus on providing an outstanding customer experience:

  1. Good customer experiences generates more loyal customers who will spend more, have greater lifetime value and promote their positive experience with others thereby marketing your products and services for you far more effectively than you can for yourself.
  2. Bad customer experiences cause customers to leave. 
  3. 82% of people have stopped doing business with a company due to a bad experience or poor customer service.
  4. 40% of people began buying a competitive product or service because of a reputation for great customer service.
  5. 55% of people are willing to recommend a company due to outstanding service -- moreso than product or price.
  6. 95% of customers have taken action as a result of a bad experience -- 79% told others about their experience, 85% wanted to warn others about doing business with the company.
  7. 85% of customers would pay 25% more to ensure a superior customer service experience.
  8. Word-of-mouth recommendations from customers, family, friends or colleagues, with good experiences, are more influential than advertising from the company.
  9. It's less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to get a new customer.
  10. Providing an outstanding customer experience increases the opportunity to have "customers for life" which results in more revenue and greater profitability.
What are you and your employees doing to provide an outstanding customer experience and convert more of your satisfied customers to raving fans that will be customers for life?
Sources: Harris Interactive, Right Now, Tech Crunch, Satmetrix and SNL Kagan
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Tags: customers for life, outstanding customer experience, customer satisfaction, raving fans

Trust Your Customers to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Nov, 13, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

trust your customers to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you trust your customers?

Do you ask them what they think of your products or services?

Do you ask them how you can improve your service?

Do you ask them what they consider to be an outstanding customer experience?

Are you comfortable having a dialog with your customer and are they comfortable having a dialog with you?

Your customers know your business better than you do from their perspective. Few companies understand their business from the customers' perspective because they don't ask them about it.

What you think makes you "different and better" may not be what you customer says makes you "different and better" in their eyes.

You need to trust your customers and provide them with opportunities to share their opinions incoporating what you learn into your sales and marketing efforts.

Successful companies have a core group of "raving fans" that share their love for the company with others.

They become "raving fans" because the companies provide a consistently excellent experience for the customer that the customer can count on time after time.

Think about the companies you deal with on a regular basis.  How many provide consistently, outstanding customer experience that you'd be inclined to tell others about?

My guess is it's far fewer than those who provide a poor customer experience that you're not hesitant to tell others about.

Companies that engage in an open dialogue with their customers know when they've done something that hasn't lived up to their customer's expectation because their relationship is such that the customer feels comfortable telling them. This gives the company an opportunity to make it right and regain the customers' trust.

Knowing when and how to say "I'm sorry" is a test for any company in their relationship with customers.

When a company is able to correct what's wrong for a dissatisfied customer, that customer is likely to be with the company longer than the customer who never complains.

In addition, if you've built sufficient positive equity with your customers, they'll forgive you when you don't live up to your promise or their expectation. However, you need to know when those times occur and fix them.

Today, about 61% of consumers read an online review before making a puschase and positive reviews result in an 18% increase in sales.

Isn't it worth your time and energy to engage your customers, identify your "raving fans" and ensure you are delivering a consistently outstanding customer experience for the success of your business?

If you need any help talking to your customers, let me know.

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Tags: dialog, earn your customers trust, connecting emotionally with customers, raving fans

Empower Employees to Enhance Customer Relationships

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 04, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

Empowered employees resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customers today want solutions, experiences and value.

Who in your organization is going to provide those things?

Hopefully your employees.  If not your employees, it's all on you.

With the advent of social media and customers want to have a  some sort of relationship and dialogue with their product and service providers.

It's imperative to empower your employees to enhance relationships and facilitate a dialogue with customers and prospects.

Every customer-facing worker, every marketer, every sales person and every customer service rep has access to technology that enables them to enhance customer relationships and engage in a dialogue.

Because of this, you should be able to address the customer via the channel and manner in which they want to engage with your company.

If you don't, rest assured, someone else will.

Given this, you need to train your employees to be goodwill ambassadors for your firm.

The effort needs to be coordinated and consistent and it needs to be evangelized from the top of the organization -- evangelized, not controlled. You cannot control it. You can model, monitor, assist, coach, teach and reward but you cannot control.

Recognize employees that do an outstanding job fulfilling a customer need, sharing an insight about how the customer experience can be improved, providing an outstanding customer experience.

Your employees who shine at enhancing customer relationships are the future of your organization. Reward them, recognize them have a dialogue with them to ensure they know you care about them as people and you're interested in seeing, and helping, them grow.

Once you've empowered your employees, think about empowering your customers as well the way CDW has engaged customers to provide ongoing customer research or Genzyme has identified 450 customers willing to talk about their experience with artificial joint lubrication.

Who do you think a potential patient would rather hear about artificial joint lubrication from, Genzyme or a patient that's already using it?

If you're able to turn your employees into "raving fans," they're more likely to turn your customers into "raving fans" as well.

What can you do to empower your employees and customers to help grow your business through greater customer satisfaction, testimonials and referrals?

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Tags: outstanding customer experience, empower employees, connecting emotionally with customers, raving fans