Category Archives: Experience Innovation

Customer Experience Optimization Course Helps Firms Retain Customers in Slow Economy

As economic cycles change, customer care strategies must adapt to evolving customer expectations. A new professional training course explains how to survive the downturn by extending customer relationship management (CRM) into cost-saving customer experience management (CEM).

Sunnyvale, CA (PRWEB) December 9, 2008 — As economic cycles change, customer care strategies must adapt to evolving customer expectations, competitive forces and financial realities. Addressing these needs, a Customer Experience Optimization professional training course, organized by Jacob Fleming Group, will be taught by Lynn Hunsaker of ClearAction LLC in Budapest, Hungary on February 12-13, 2009. Customer experience management, or CEM, is an expanded outlook on customer satisfaction and customer relationship management, creatively using existing data and processes to propel customer experience improvement without a big budget.

The customer experience is broader than Continue reading

Customer Service: ‘Wow’ Versus ‘Ow’

What's the difference between "wow" and "ow" (as in "ouch") service? Willingness to check for understanding. It's doing the whole job, with the customer sensing your overriding wish for his or her well-being. When you check for understanding, the customer's woes dissolve, they appreciate your wisdom, and they deem your company worthy of wonderful word-of-mouth.

Check Your Understanding of the Customer's Plight
By the time customers contact a service professional, they've typically endured a substantial amount of time and frustration seeking a solution on their own. Scrutinize your systems, processes and habits to ensure they demonstrate you're on the customer’s side. Verify your assumptions and avoid jumping to conclusions by checking for understanding:

  • Minimize repetitive data requests of the customer.
  • Listen carefully to the customer's problem.
  • Find out what has been attempted so far.
  • Record what you find out.
  • Empathize with the customer's viewpoint.
  • Double-check your understanding of the customer’s situation:
    — Are they a novice to this type of process or technology?
    — Are they new to your company's way of doing business?
  • Demonstrate patience and advocacy for the customer's plight.

Check Your Customer's Understanding of Your Solution
Whether your solution consists of setting up a new account, solving a technical problem, resolving a misunderstanding, educating the customer, or making arrangements on the customer's behalf, once your service call is over the customer must move forward with the solution you provided. Verify the customer's assumptions by checking for understanding:

  • Does the customer know what to do next?
  • Does the customer understand the duration of what's next?
  • Would it help to walk the customer through the next steps?
  • Is the customer interpreting jargon correctly?
  • If there's another technology or entity involved in next steps, what advice do you have?

Worthy of Winning Repeat Business
When customers jump to conclusions — or when they've been served by a professional who jumped to conclusions — the result is "ow" service. Their already emotionally-charged state may escalate to wild accusations or wrapping up their business with you altogether.

On the other hand, when assumptions are verified among both parties, the result is "wow" service. Willingness to check for understanding gives your customer a secure feeling that you're his or her advocate. By doing the whole job, with patience and the customer's well-being as your uppermost goal, "wow" service gives you wonderful wins in word-of-mouth and ongoing waves of revenue.

This article was published in The Great Customer Experience by The Association of Support Professionals. Thought leadership contributors include:

  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Blackbaud
  • ClearAction
  • Driva Solutions
  • Handango
  • Intuit
  • Nokia
  • Palm
  • RWK Enterprises
  • University of Washington

Click here to see customer experience definitions.

Contact the author, Lynn Hunsaker, to find out how to customize these tips to your situation.

Click here for podcast version: Customer Service: "Wow" Versus "Ow" (3:32)
Click here for print version: Customer Service: "Wow" Versus "Ow"

Related training: Customer-Focused Communication

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Customer Experience Management Balances Giving & Getting

Who benefits most from customer programs in place today?

  • New customers?
  • Existing customers?
  • The company itself?
  • All of the above equally?

I'd venture to say it's rare to find customer programs that benefit all of the above equally — or that truly benefit existing customers. In these economic times particularly, it certainly pays to keep customers coming back! Existing customers are the natural source for good word-of-mouth and referrals, and for expanding share-of-wallet with your brand.

Getting & Giving
Many customer programs are aimed at getting ideas for new product development, getting new customers, getting help for the sales force to convince prospects, getting excitement about the brand, and getting revenue. With all this getting by companies, how about scrutinizing these customer programs for how much giving they provide to customers?

Request this complimentary worksheet to rate the customer-centricity of your company’s programs. (Specify "centric" to let us know what you are requesting.)

Are the benefits to customers:

  • Long-term, from the customer's perspective?
  • Reflective of the value they bring to the company, from the customer's perspective?
  • Applicable only if the customer shells out money to buy the next model — or can customers reap improved experiences with the model they’ve already invested in?

Even with economic pressures, buyers switch brands mostly because of disappointment or annoyance, and much less often due to a more attractive offer. What's needed to improve customers' lot overall (and likewise improve your company's lot), is more attention to preventing hassles.

CEM: An Economical Strategy
While a focus on attracting and converting new customers is obviously tied to revenue, it doesn't guarantee higher profit or sustained market share. One of the great Continue reading

Innovating the Customer Experience

What's the difference between user experience design and customer experience design? Although the phrasing is similar, there's a real gap between the two concepts. User experience typically focuses on product-specific ease-of-use, ergonomics, and ethnography — participative observation of the product-in-use. Customer experience design is broader. It encompasses the full customer experience spectrum.

Your Recent Experience
Just think of your own experience in buying something recently. First, you must have concluded
that you had a need, and then you sought a solution.

  • What was your experience in those two steps? Was it easy to outline your requirements for said need?
  • Did you find anything in your search that guided your thinking or helped you realize your decision criteria?
  • Did you come across anything that made it quicker or easier to access a solution?

Next, you must have decided to Continue reading

Customer Complaints: Love Those Lemons to Improve Customer Experience

Negative customer feedback is a lot like biting into a lemon — the bitterness is hard to love — unless you give the lemon a good squeeze and some sugar, and transform it into refreshing and healthy lemonade. You're only as strong as your weakest link, so those lemons — complaints and low survey ratings — are indeed essential ingredients to improving customer experiences.

To squeeze your voice of the customer lemons into useful juice, you'll want to:

  1. make it easy for customers to give you early warnings of their dissatisfaction
  2. strive to see the whole picture of the customers’ experience
  3. analyze root causes

To add sugar, you'll want to put a positive spin on your your new-found knowledge of dissatisfiers and their root causes. After all, what better warnings could you have for ways to manage and nurture your weakest links? Working on the root causes of dissatisfiers is the best way of: Continue reading