Thursday, May 29, 2008

Disconnects between C-Level Execs and Customer Service

This article on Marketing Charts displays the latest result from this customer service survey compiled by Genesys Telecommunications Lab. According to this survey, there is a disconnect between what C-level executives promise and what customer service can actually deliver.

Here are some common misconceptions CEO’s have as stated my Marketing Charts:
Most C-level executives underestimate the emphasis their organization places on efficiency, and overestimate how easy their organization makes it for customers to purchase during interactions.
There is a major (16 percentage point) gap between C-level execs who believe they are capturing important customer feedback, and the views of customer service professionals.
Some of the cures mentioned include adding a “click for a call back” capability and improving existing systems to provide real-time customer data across the entire enterprise infrasctruture.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Customer Service Innovation: How to get there

In a recent blog post at Creativity At Work, they highlight ten ways to stay in the game when it comes to service innovation and keeping your customers at the center of the customer service strategy.

The ten reasons listed were:

1. Approach Service as if you were the customer -- See what part of your business customers are having the most trouble relating to, or the most difficult part of the shopping process you put them through. Fix those parts of the process.

2. Create a process map and identify service bottle necks – What are the steps, processes and people that a customer comes to your business? If you see the whole process, and identify the troubled points, the whole company can see what they can adjust to make the service better.

3. Work backwards from the ideal state to a solution. Find where you want to be, and work from that solution down to fix the service in your company. If you start a beginning point, it’s very easy to get off track and not end at that solution.

4. Benchmark to establish standards and reference points. See what other companies are doing to measure and make their service better throughout the company. Strive to be like those best companies.

5. Copy the innovations of industry leaders: Customers look for consistency when shopping with companies. See how other companies are finding and keeping customers through the consistency with their services.

6. Measure and monitor current levels of service: Survey the customers to find their levels of satisfaction, and this will also show where the company is not pulling their weight in certain categories of service.

7. Solicit ideas from employees: Brainstorm with your employees to find out what they know the customers to want. They’re in constant contact with the customers and could have a potential solution to that one thing you’re having trouble with.

8. Solicit ideas from your customers: It’s your customers you’re trying to please, so find out what you could do to make them happy through market research, customer surveys and other means.

9. Seek an outside perspective: Look to other who have no idea of the situations your dealing with. Their clear view could help you find the solution.

10. Employ performance tools like a Balanced Score Card: Find a way to link your service measurement to your company strategy. This process needs to be measured in order to know if you’re making progress.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Zappos Take on Customer Care

In a recent post at the Mavericks at Work blog, Bill Taylor sheds light on the customer strategy that the growing Internet shoe brand has to keep its customers. Tony Hsien, the president of Zappos, took time to explain the procedures that were taken to ensure customers were the first priority of the brand. Currently, Zappos ships over four million pairs of shoes a year and is expected to reach $1 billion in revenue this 2008 year.

Since this is an internet company, Zappos focuses on allowing the customer have a good customer experience while never having an actual store, so they focus on the call centers. Contrary to most other internet sites, they have their 1-800 number on every page. When you pick up the phone and call, you’ll be greeted by a living, breathing, customer service employee. Zappos a different approach to training these customer service representatives. They are trained for four weeks while being paid a full salary. Two weeks into the process, every employee is offered what they’ve made the last two weeks as well as a $1000. Hsieh believes that those who turn down this truly show the characteristics of the employees Zappos wants to have behind their name.

Zappos is a company that focuses on it’s relations with the customer. It also belives it’s employees happiness and availability to please the customer. As a result, in the call centers, there are no scripts and the employees can take any action in order to please the customer.

The blog concludes with this thought:

It’s a small practice with big implications: Companies don’t engage emotionally with their customers—people do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Customer Experience

In a recent blog post at Customer Think, Mei Lin Fung tells a story about her friend’s customer service experience at Whole Foods. The outstanding customer service will gain Whole Foods more business through the customers word of mouth communication than any advertisement for the store ever will.

It is very important that a company always pays attention to customer at every touch point. With this story of the manager helping the customer personally find a recipe not available in the store, and then finding all of the ingredients, it shows that the manager truly cares about the customer. It is important to have employees who have respect for the customer, other employees, and have a genuine belief in the product.

A customer will come back into your store because of the treatment they receive from the employees. It’s critical to know that you have this touch point taken care of.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Build Trust with Your Customers

In a recent blog at Think Customers, they list four key ways to build trust with customers. Communication must bet constant between your employees and your customers. It is essential to capitalize on every touch point with customers to build their trust.

  1. Trust converts noise to dialogs. Those leaders or companies who listen to their customers, and turn around an implement what customers want are often the most trusted ones.
  2. Empower the people behind the brand. It’s the people behind the brand that are going to foster this trust. Empower your employees and let them know they’re doing a good job.
  3. High trust equals high innovation and speed. With good employees, they’ll be able to collaborate and work together in order to bring innovation to your company faster.
  4. Remove generational issues, diversity and retention. It is essential to build this trust between generations. Communicate with everyone, and let them know you’re listening.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What’s your customer strategy?

In a recent post at Customers Rock!, Becky Carroll discusses how companies word out their customer strategy. The most companies have product strategies and marketing strategies, but most fail to have customer strategies. But in order to best appeal to the customer it is essential to be customer centric. This should consist of a way acquire, retain, and grow a customer base.

This strategy should determine how we interact with those customers, and specify how customers are treated at every touch point possible. In order to have the best customer centric strategy, a company must agree to all points as well as show consistency in performing the tasks.

So how do you approach your customer strategy?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Best Advice

In a recent article at Fortune, the sit down with 25 of today’s powerful people in the business world and ask them for the best advice the ever got. Here is some of the advice that I found interesting:

Michael Bloomberg is the Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP.

The advice was, first, always ask for the order, and second, when the customer says yes, stop talking.

Charlene Begley, President and CEO, GE Enterprise Solutions

Spend a ton of time with your customers. Especially when you're new, the first thing you should do is go out to customers and ask them how you compare with competitors, how your service is, what they think of your products.

Alan Mulally, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company

The best advice I ever received was to have a point of view about the future that focuses on the customer. Have a point of view. Focus on the customer.

The customer is such an important part of every business. Every action must be taken into consideration, and all should focus on how your customer will like your latest move, action or product. You’re doing business for the customer. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received on appealing to your customers?

Friday, May 16, 2008

5 Crucial Steps in Reaching the Teen Customer

I came across an interesting post on Ypulse that highlights Gary Rudman’s 5 tips on what marketers should consider when they are trying to reach teens. Here they are:

  1. Teens are so used to getting everything with a touch of a button, so the message must also be clear and simple. If the message is too hard to understand, then teens will not be able to digest the information and you might lose them altogether.
  2. We live in a technology based world, and so new products must excite and dazzle the youth. You can count the number of teens who do not own an iPod on one hand. Items like jeans, skateboards, and other non-technology based items do not excite teens anymore.
  3. Not only is technology important, but the appearance of the item is important as well. Gary mentions that a sixteen year old boy in a focus group once said, You don't want a girl to see you using a lame, old, ugly-ass cell phone."
  4. Customization is a must-have in reaching teens. MySpace, Facebook, Xbox360 all provide a platform for teens to customize features and skins personally tailored to their individual style.
  5. Portability is king for these tech-crazy teens. Teens want to be able to call, text, listen to music, watch videos, take pictures, and surf the web in all in product. This is the exact reason why the iPhone is a hit amongst teens, not to mention it also is extremely fashionable and appealing.

Hope you enjoy this info!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How about some good old fashioned customer service?

In a post on The Marketing Minute, the discussion of customer service came up. Are they bored with your service? As customers, we are used to ok service as a standard. Even bad service has been accepted into our society. So as marketers, why do we let it slide? Always trying to find a way to keep the customers coming back is the perfect example of why customer service should be more of a priority. Once someone innovates a little and sees that all good customer service takes is being genuine and generally caring about the people who buy your product, the value of your product will go beyond why the customer is buying it, they will keep coming back because of what you’ve done for them in the store.

A current industry dealing with customer services issues is the airline industry. The New York Times wrote an article on this. With most airlines cutting back on leg room, food on board, and even free entertainment options, one airline is striving to be different. Midwest Airlines’ tagline is “The Best Care in the Air.” It’s not hard to see why when according to their website, they were ranked #1 in a variety of categories in the Condé Nast Business Traveler Awards of 2007: #1 Domestic Airline, 2007 (Single Class), #1 Seat Comfort/Legroom, 2007, #1 Food, 2007, #1 Cabin Service, 2007. In a struggling industry, they’re finding a way to give the customers the service they want. Good customer service goes a long way when it comes to attracting and retaining your customers.