Social media contains a wealth of information about the customer experience, and savvy managers are paying attention. In my interview with Sean McDonald, fomer director of Dell’s online community, he points out that the social Web is full of customer comments, and engaging customers in conversations enables opportunities for:
– Building brand reputation: turn negative sentiment into positive word-of-mouth.
– Customer service: delight and retain customers for additional growth.
– Competitor analysis: see how they are viewed by customers.
– Sales leads: find customers who are researching your brand category.
– Employee engagement: channel relevant data to all functional areas.
– New product development: augment focus groups with private community inputs.
Transition to Conversations
“Typically customer conversations occur on a need-only basis, which is unfortunate,” he says. “Companies are aligned by departments to facilitate the ease of their production: Finance keeps the books, HR manages people policies, etc. — and most departments are inward facing. Customers’ conversations used to be at barbecues, around water coolers, and in back halls. The social Web has unleashed a billion users with an appetite to share and learn from people like themselves.The Web has become more social and given literally everyone a voice.”
“Companies can engage in conversations both online and offline about customers’ passions and interests to build Continue reading
Social media introduces excellent tools and customer feedback data streams for companies to monitor perceptions and trends. Best practices in customer experience management:
– Use social media listening first to determine how best to interact with customers.
– Recognize the importance of making emotional connections with customers via social media.
– Blend social media with other voice of the customer sources to create a holistic view of customer priorities.
– Leverage customer stories from social media to energize employees enterprise-wide in continual improvement of customer experience.
Emotional Connection with Customers
In my online interview with Kimarie Matthews, vice president of customer advocacy and loyalty at Wells Fargo Bank, she explained: “We look at customer loyalty as a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid, you need to meet customer expectations consistently — mastering the basics. If you do that right, your customers will be satisfied. The next step up is: how to delight customers by meeting un-met needs, innovating new products, services, features and functions. The result is that they recommend you to their friends and family. The tip of the pyramid is: customers will step up and defend you when they hear a negative comment about your brand. How do you get there? By connecting with the customer on an emotional level, showing you care and appreciate them. When we Continue reading
One out of two companies (44%) acknowledge that high-profile negative customer experiences have at some time compromised their brand, yet only 29% have high ability to handle and resolve customer complaints.1 Do you proactively embrace customers’ constructive feedback? While surveys have long been in place for most companies, only 31% of marketing executives report that their company takes customer listening seriously, and just 38% of companies are gathering customer insight from customer engagement situations.2 Many customer satisfaction managers emphasize the positive and de-emphasize the negative responses. A lack of processes and comfort levels for digesting and acting on constructive feedback can leave a company vulnerable to severe consequences.
Make it safe for executives and employees to receive less than stellar results – as long as they diligently improve. A motto such as this one may be useful in establishing curiosity rather than fear: Good news is no news; no news is bad news; bad news is good news.3 Make it part of your culture to look at negative feedback from customers as early warning signals, and, as the old saying goes, turn lemons into lemonade.
Virgin Mobile measures Continue reading
“More companies are getting to the point of putting the customer at the central part of their data collection systems, and managing from outside-in. That’s when you know you’re working to optimize customer experience.”
This theme emerged in my recent online interview with Theresa Kushner, Director of Strategic Marketing Customer Intelligence at Cisco Systems. Theresa is co-author of the book, Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence. Her team at Cisco received the National Council for Database Marketing Award for Analytics and Modeling, as well as The Data Warehouse Institute Best Practice Award, for Cisco’s new customer intelligence center initiative that integrates customer data for sales, marketing and financial applications. This initiative assisted in correlating over $500 million in customer bookings.
Theresa explained how to go after the gold in your customer data, avoid fool’s gold, and refine your customer data gold to make a difference in your business growth and profitability. Untapped opportunities exist in:
*Making use of unstructured data, such as customer inquiries
*Connecting data systems such as order-entry and sales
*Helping Sales, Service, Finance, and the whole company see the customer in totality
*Allowing customer-facing people easy access to combined customer/company data
*Enabling customers to define their profile and why they’re interested in the company
*Demonstrating to customers you can move with them as a partner
*Avoiding pitfalls of fools’ gold, such as Continue reading
Why do sales and service representatives feel compelled to tell customers how to answer a survey? Does the company want to know what the customers really think, or is the company trying to build positive publicity by claiming superior ratings?
The answer to the second question exposes the company’s culture and customer experience management motives — whether they are striving to be customer centric (eager to know and act on what customers really think), or happy to be self centric (eager for positive publicity). Maybe the motive behind the satisfaction survey depends on the sponsoring organization; perhaps a Marketing-sponsored satisfaction survey will naturally lean toward PR objectives, while a Quality-sponsored satisfaction survey will naturally lean toward continual improvement. Regardless of the sponsor, here’s why it’s best to pursue a customer centric survey strategy:
1) Investment: Surveys are an investment of customer time and of company funds, manpower and time – aren’t there more straightforward (honest) and cost-effective Continue reading
What’s the difference between the way customers volunteer feedback versus the way they’re requested to give feedback? One revolves around outcomes in the customer’s world, whereas the other revolves around customer satisfaction enablers in the company’s world. True customer-centricity requires primary focus and decision motivations be centered on the customer’s world, rather than the company’s.
What Are “Outcomes” in the Customer’s World?
The concept of customers’ desired outcomes throughout the customer experience originated in innovation literature when Clayton Christensen wrote his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, explaining that customers “hire” a product or service to get something done for them. When we understand the circumstances motivating the customer to hire a product or service, then we gain insight into the customer’s jobs-to-be-done.
A great way to identify customers’ desired outcomes throughout the customer experience is to Continue reading
If the “customers’ jobs-to-be-done” concept is becoming embraced as essential for successful innovation, why is it largely ignored for monitoring of customer experience and satisfaction? Customers’ jobs-to-be-done (desired outcomes) are the customer’s viewpoint of functional and emotional needs to be fulfilled. Hence, the solution a firm sells is a means-to-an-end, simply a tool meant to enable the customer’s desired outcome from the points of need awareness through need extinction.
“For any given job, customers collectively apply 50 to 150 metrics to measure how well the job is getting done”, says Anthony Ulwick in his book What Customers Want. “Only when all the metrics for a given job are well satisfied are customers able to execute the job perfectly. Figure out which of the 50 to 150 outcomes Continue reading
By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Berkley, Founder & Owner of The Insight Advantage
Talking to your customers is a key strategy to weathering bad times. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how loyal your customers are and to increase their loyalty to you — a very critical factor in times like these. It’s much harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Now, more than ever, you cannot afford a mass exodus — or even a slow leak — of your current customer base.
Why Do You Need to Stay in Touch?
- To stay relevant. You need to ensure that you are keeping updated on what is changing for your customers. You can’t expect that what you knew about your customers and their needs last year still applies.
- To avoid making big mistakes. Getting ongoing input from your customers about what is most important to them is a good way to make sure that you are not cutting Continue reading
Customers automatically use 50 or more metrics for any customer experience, according to author Anthony Ulwick, in his book What Customers Want. We may be re-inventing the wheel as we strive to come up with customer metrics that spell success. Looking at things from the customer viewpoint we've got to admit that customers really do know what outcomes they want.
"It's easy to portray customers as emotional, illogical individuals who are incapable of knowing or communicating what they want", says Ulwick. "This is a convenient way to avoid taking actions that are inconsistent with one's own thinking, intuition and personal motivations." Despite financial pressures to take our focus off direct inputs from customers, it’s essential to avoid Continue reading
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
We monitor customer experience, net promoter scores and business results as barometers of success. These indicators are important in reading the tea leaves of evolving customer expectations and competitive scenarios. Yet, because these measures are things which stakeholders (i.e. investors and customers) have already experienced, they are in fact lagging indicators of success.
Lagging indicators are necessary and important but insufficient. They give us a sense of the big picture, but they are not actionable. To move the needle for these big-picture metrics we need to monitor correlated actionable metrics that allow us time to make fundamental changes. If we monitor the right actionable metrics, their progress — or lack thereof — can be predictive of progress in the big-picture metrics.
To leapfrog this lagging paradigm, we've got to peel the onion to identify root causes. Multidimensional statistical analysis, data mining, predictive analytics, and modeling offer precious insights to key drivers of big-picture metrics. Have you ever noticed that an onion will sprout new growth from its center? Similarly, new growth in big-picture metrics Continue reading
Customers are typically motivated to give companies feedback by hopes that their opinions will be valued, make a difference in their near-future experiences, or spare others any grief they've endured. Anytime customers share feedback — whether solicited via survey or unsolicited via complaint or casual comments to front-line employees — it's important to acknowledge the customers; view and thank them, with assurance you're working on solutions. Don't let them feel like they're hanging on a cliff waiting for advice they offered to make a difference!
Validate Root Causes
Make it easy for front-line employees to pass along feedback to management decision-makers. If practical, act on each customer's feedback. Otherwise, collect feedback broadly for a representative picture of the customers' perspective. Identify key themes and root causes. Then validate your thinking with customers as you Continue reading
If we could "be a fly on the wall" observing customers' experiences what a treasure trove of wisdom we'd have! Surveys, user groups and advisory boards are common tools for understanding customers — but what is their scope? Do we have a comprehensive suite of tools for stepping into our customers' shoes?
Customer Experience Scope
We often short-change our perspective of the customer experience. A panoramic view of the customer's pressures, delights, wishes, and circumstances enables us to step into their shoes. What’s a panoramic view?
- Start: Customer experience begins with the customer's awareness of his/her need or desire for a solution
- End: The experience extends through the customer's full use of the purchased product or service, including use after new models have been released as well as eventual downgrade/upgrade/disposal
- Who: Include all persons influencing Continue reading
By Guest Blogger Michele Goetz
Customer Satisfaction studies have become a mainstay metric in Marketing’s effectiveness dashboard. However, all too often this metric is used as a feel good measure promoting top box results. Leveraging customer experience analysis to also identify drivers of bottom box response can make the difference in shoring up attrition, improving product and offer capabilities, or creating stronger client references.
A leading online retailer noticed sales in certain key segments slowing or remaining flat in North America and Europe. They needed to Continue reading
As prices of fuel and everyday items seem to have recently skyrocketed, most of us are putting more emphasis on metrics. We're concerned with things like just what is my car’s MPG?, what is my department's productivity rate?, and what value are we deriving from customer feedback? There's a trend to rein-in frivolous spending and maximize our return on investment (ROI).
ROI is about the quality and level of the investment itself, and then what you do to reap value from it. Hence, customer data ROI is dependent on (1) data quality and (2) how well you use it.
1) Assess Data. Customer feedback data is abundant in most firms. Sources include surveys, complaints, service and sales call reports, CRM databases, win-loss analyses, blogs, and so forth. Is it timely and relevant? Does it reflect the customer's full experience? Does it adequately represent all of the customer contacts who influence the purchase decision and those who evaluate your brand promise? Are your various customer data sources integrated for simple and easy access? Is feedback data connected with Continue reading
Like radical, man, but everyone tends to talk in metaphors. A picture tells a thousand words, they say. And we all use 5-6 metaphors a minute, according to author Gerald Zeitman in his book How Customers Think. So how much do you know about your customers' metaphors? The ones they use to describe your brand. The analogies they use to explain the customer experience. And different similes used by various market segments. Lots of companies are now exploring the customer experience through metaphors, including BofA, DuPont, Glaxo Wellcome, GM, Hallmark, HP, Immunex, Mercedes, Motorola, P&G and Samsung, among many others.
Everyone knows that most of communication is nonverbal … they say upwards of 80%. Yet most techniques for capturing the voice of the customer tend to focus on verbal mechanisms. We typically measure conscious, verbal aspects of specific product and service elements. It's hard to tap into the 95% of thought, emotion and learning occur in the unconscious mind. And customers’ stated likelihood of Continue reading
Ability to grow a business is what distinguishes a truly great marketer, according to an article by consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton: "In an era of unlimited opportunities but constrained resources, the only marketing metric that matters is growth. Driving growth means stretching the traditional boundaries of the marketing function to encompass activities many companies don’t even think of as marketing — yet."
If growth is the only marketing metric that matters, how can growth best be measured and impacted? Growth is commonly measured as revenue, profit, or market share. Some firms also measure growth as brand equity and customer lifetime value (CLV). As authors such as Peppers & Rogers point out, CLV can be viewed as a composite measure of revenue, profit, market share and brand equity. CLV may be Continue reading
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:
- make it easy for customers to give you early warnings of their dissatisfaction
- strive to see the whole picture of the customers’ experience
- 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