Friday, November 29, 2013
How Should You Listen To Your Customers?
1:04 pm est
brands today understand that it is important to gather feedback from their customers. Be it through customer
satisfaction surveys, NPS questions, website comment boards, customer service tracking systems, old-fashioned paper comment
cards, or monitoring the social media, companies are listening. That’s smart.
But All Customers Are Not Equal
At the same time we must realize that all those customers
are not equal in importance to the brand. Based on a combination of factors including volume, longevity
and frequency of purchase, price, service demands, etc. the mix of customers for every brand includes:
· Costly customers
Does It Really Make Sense?
some of us have even learned how to differentiate and identify individual customers by profitability type, virtually every
brand continues to treat the feedback of all customers equally. Should the opinions of customers that you
shouldn’t even want to keep (those costly customers who typically represent 20% of the total) really have equal weight
(or any vote whatsoever) on the direction you take in modifying the customer experience and in the setting of improvement
priorities future of your brand?
We don’t think
A Small Step With Big Impact
While the word of mouth circulating about your brand, and therefore your image and reputation are
at stake, you can’t ignore what is being said by any unhappy customers -- Especially when it is being announced through
public social media. But every effort should be made to limit the voice of the unprofitable customers
in the broader setting of priorities for improvement and to magnify the voice of the type of customers you want to keep and
win more of in the future.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Do Your Customers Have to Tweet to Get Your Attention?
Every day the
marketing community seems to be talking more and more about social-media-powered customer service. While it sometimes
feels like the practice has been with us forever, in reality it dates back only five or six years. We first sat in a
conference room at Comcast back in 2008 and listened as Frank Eliason (now Director Global Social Media at Citi, but then one of the first advocate-practitioners
of social media customer service [smediaCS]) explained to us how he and his team were using the social media: to: monitor
comments/complaints about Comcast; reach out to individual, complaining customers; respond to general questions; and solve
service problems. Now five years later, smediaCS appears a broadly accepted/expected business practice. How quickly
1:28 pm edt
If you believe all the hype surrounding smediaCS you might be convinced that customers have given
up using phone and email channels to seek answers to their questions and concerns. That’s not true, and we believe
that’s an opportunity.
Better Quality? At What Cost?
Part of the story being
told is that smediaCS improves response times, delivers higher quality interactions, and is a more cost-effective way of offering
customer service. But is that really true? After all, rather than (passively) waiting for customers to contact customer
service reps (the ‘model’ of traditional customer service), good smediaCS requires (actively) searching out unhappy
customers from posted comments and then contacting the posting-customers. Let’s take score:
- It still requires trained service reps responding
to individual customers (most companies have reassigned their best reps from the traditional CSC (phone and email) to
- Forcing unhappy customers to use the social media results in a public
display of one’s ‘dirty laundry’.
- In addition, because complaints
are communicated via social media, the expectations are that responses will be received very quickly - within minutes
of the posting of the problem or question.
- Companies may learn about product
and service failures faster because of the immediacy of the social media.
When all these factors are considered it’s no surprise that costs aren’t necessarily reduced.
The truth is, smediaCS comes with a considerably higher cost structure than more traditional customer
Then Which Approach Should You Take?
You really have no
choice. Like it or not, smediaCS is here to stay because of the evolving behaviors and expectations of customers - there’s
no turning back. But do we really want to encourage even more customers to use that channel? That seems to be
what many companies are doing today. According to a recent study among Call Center Association members, sponsored by KANA
- More than 59% of companies “admit” that it takes over
8 hours for them to respond to a customer email inquiry. If that sounds too slow for consumers who
expect instantaneous tracking, who can get answers from Siri almost as fast as they can click the key on their smartphone,
and who can get overnight delivery of packages from thousands of miles away, it gets worse.
- Another 27% of companies “admit” that they take 24 hours or more to
respond to emails.
Unless you don’t
care about your reputation or don’t mind spending even more money to respond to an ever-increasing proportion of your
customers adopting social media complaining, the time to act is now. Get back to paying attention to
your traditional customer service center and its current performance in handling phone and email customer appeals.
First, improve first-call resolution to phone and email inquiries. Second, be more timely in responding. And, third,
staff your center with better trained and more caring representatives.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Does Your Business Need a Fire Horn?
12:26 pm edt
Like many of you I live in a small town this is protected by a volunteer fire department. Ours
is well-trained, properly equipped, effective, and when the fire horn sounds they have a reputation for responding very quickly.
But despite that record, their operation is not above occasional controversy. You see, residents
who have had baby’s awoken in tears mid nap, and those who feel that such a signal system is just
too unsophisticated and old-fashioned, and those who have had their own needed sleep interrupted when the fire horn shrilled
at 2 o’clock in the morning, , have questioned whether such sirens are really needed in an era of cellphones and pagers.
What do you think?
Triggering the desired action
In his book Contagious,
Wharton’s Jonah Berger discusses the triggers that stimulate conversation and cause word of
mouth to be spread. He uses examples like how many of us know what kind of car our next door neighbors
drive compared to how many know what brand of toothpaste they use – and how that influences word of mouth and consideration.
He points to data demonstrating increased sales of Mars bar (the candy) being stimulated by a spike in
news reports about NASA’s Pathfinder mission to Mars (the planet). He further presents research regarding
the influence of French music playing in a restaurant increasing the purchase of - you guessed it - French wines.
Finishing the job with Managed Evidence
We agree with Berger. We are convinced that huge
opportunities to generate awareness and purchase consideration are being missed as marketers as they fail to manage
evidence about their products, services, company ethics, and their people. We see
too many brands assume that their customers understand their value and how they differ from their competition.
We see a failure of companies to prepare their loyal customers with the content and motivation to communicate about
a brand. We watch as opportunities to provide Conversation Catalysts fail to
be funded while less cost-efficient efforts continue year in and year out.
this got to do with your business?
But getting back to the original question, should the fire horns keep sounding? As long as those
same volunteer fire companies are going to need to raise funds from residents to continue their operations, the answer is
obvious. When that fund raising mailer arrives in local homes the fire department needs to trigger residents’
memories of the number of times they heard the fire signal and could roll over in their nice warm beds, while volunteers rushed
out into the cold to save life and property. Potential contributors must have be continually provided with
evidence of calls answered, lives saved, hours of training, etc. – and not just at the time of the fundraising effort.
Brands that want to increase recommendations, generate more word of mouth, and win new customers need to create
their own kind of fire horns and stream of managed evidence as well.
that want to increase recommendations, generate more word of mouth, and win new customers need to create their own kind of
fire horns and stream of managed evidence as well.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
But What REALLY Differentiates Ritz-Carlton?
9:48 pm edt
Discussions of managing the customer experience and achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction
often come down to brands like Ritz-Carlton. Few would deny it’s a luxury brand providing the highest
quality of amenities and service. Further we have all heard tales of their empowerment
of staff, charging each team member with taking responsibility to solve any guest’s problem once
they are encounter it, and the their focus on acting as “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”.
sounds great, but surely that can be duplicated. So we have to ask, what really sets them apart from other
hotels and luxury service providers? In an interview Ric Dragon conducted with
Allison Sitch, Vice President of Global Public relations
for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (Presented on SocialMediaToday on Sept. 3, 2013) we learn that the hotel chain views it
strategy as a commitment to deepening the engagement with current guests.
“We're in the business of creating indelible memories that last a lifetime. It's not about heads-in-beds and fine linens."
And because they want the guests to share those experiences beyond word of mouth they also provide social media tools.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they all have a role to play in sharing the experience.
Interesting to note: The goal isn’t aimed at getting a message to go viral.
It’s not a system to spiff loyal guests for recommending Ritz-Carlton to friends. It’s
not primarily about loyalty points. It’s all about giving guests: 1) deeper engagement, 2) stories
to share, 3) emotional ties, and then 4) providing tools to enable sharing.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
What should a Like really mean to us?
9:49 pm edt
Most of us, be as consumer or marketing professional, can’t
help but be impressed when we visit a Facebook page that has a million likes. We probably have
the same reaction to a Tweeter who has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. We assume they are immensely popular people
or brands with incredibly important news, offers, or entertainment value. And that might be true.
But a couple of stories have appeared recently that cause us to at the least
question our trust in such measures. According to research announced by Mr.
Ilya Vedrashko, SVP, director-consumer intelligence at Boston-based ad agency , Hill Holliday “for every one tweet posted by a user that we categorized as human, we counted two tweets posted by either a bot --
such as an automated account broadcasting news -- or an organization".
That might sound crazy and impossible except that per The Guardian (August 2,
2013) fake likes and followers are in fact being churned out every day, by the tens of thousands, on every day, on what are
known as “click farms”. The article cited one such facility in Bangladesh
that reports charging just $15 per thousand "likes". The owner of the company claimed to have workers punching the
keys for three-shift per day, and be paid as little as $120 a year.
this is true, it’s very sad. It makes you wonder what or who you can/should trust in the world of