Friday, October 31, 2008

What Makes YOU Feel Good at Work?

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

According to my informal research people who feel good at work are more productive, like their jobs more, have better performance, are more likely to be creative, enjoy "going the extra mile," and have more energy at the end of the day when they go home to be with their families or pursue hobbies and outside activities.

Help me with my research - every body has their own "Feel Good At Work Factor" and Amanda Levy and I are writing about it. Please help us understand more about yours.

Please go to our comments section after this blog entry and finish this sentence. "I feel good at work when....."

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, and comment on this post, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are employees customers?

Satisfied customers are more loyal, spend more, refer other customers, and are overall more profitable than the average customer. But where does the satisfaction come from? Probably from a good interaction (experience) with an employee who was able to handle that encounter in a professional, accurate, and timely manner. So why is it that some companies don't invest enough time and money in employee satisfaction? Aren't all employees customers as well?

Employees have to be committed to the organization in order to deliver great service; they need to buy into the culture to sound authentic and share this authenticity with the end customers. Customer satisfaction does not happen by chance or simply because a manager tells his/her employees to treat customers well. Great customer service is a matter of attitude and this behavior is a direct result of how satisfied employees are with the organization they work for.

Keeping the workforce well informed of what's going on, providing timely and accurate feedback, and rewarding & recognizing superior performance are a few things that organizations can do to maintain a high level of employee satisfaction. At a deeper level employees must have meaningful and challenging work; a continuing learning environment and opportunities for growth will also go a long way in maintaining a healthy level of satisfaction.

Next time you get a customer survey showing that the satisfaction level is low or dropped from a previous high, don't go too far looking for answers. Look within your workforce and more often than not, you will understand what happened...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Using Social Media to Grow Customer Loyalty

If you have customers that are actively using social media, there is a potential to use that communication channel to deepen customer relationships. Social media tools are especially effective at building two-way conversations with customers, either consumers or businesses. There is certainly a lot of talk about marketing with social media!

I teach a class at UC San Diego called Marketing via New Media. We discussed the top reasons that businesses should consider using social media; I have summarized two of them for you here.

* Social media marketing strengthens customer relationships. Customers don’t want a relationship with a company or organization. They have relationships with the people that work for that company or organization. Social media tools such as blogs and Twitter allow customers to get to know the people inside the company. They get to see real people with real personalities. Tara de Nicolas from the Washington Humane Society shared with me that the most popular part of their website is the link to their Flickr photo stream! Their clients and donors love to see the faces behind the operations, and they seek them out when given a chance to attend a face-to-face event with them (such as a fundraising dinner). Friendships are formed online and brought into the offline arena! Customers that have positive interactions with the people in the company feel a stronger sense of trust with that organization, a key factor in building customer loyalty.

* Social media marketing is great at keeping customers informed and involved. While traditional media is also good at keeping customers informed, social media excels at getting customers involved. Nearly one year ago, we had devastating wildfires here in San Diego. One of my students this quarter works for the San Diego Zoo, and she shared that zoo members and other San Diegans greatly appreciated the zoo blog updates on how the fire had impacted the park. It allowed them a “look inside” to see how animals had been affected, and people’s passion for the animals drove additional public involvement to support the zoo’s efforts in caring for the wildlife. Customers that are more involved and engaged tend to have longer and stronger relationships with organizations.

Bottom line: In order to cement customer relationships, companies need to interact with them in more ways than simply advertising! If your customers are using social media, go and find out where they are interacting, listen to them there, then join the conversation!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Customer Service Basics

Have companies forgotten about how simple and effective thanking customers can be? This post on Get Elastic discusses how appreciated Philip Mikal felt after he received a hand-written thank you note from Rackspace hosting. He even mentions, “A handwritten note and cow bell to celebrate their recent IPO; Rackspace understands that customer service is the new marketing.”

Businesses will have to revert to basic principles this holiday season in order to keep customer loyalty high, especially because of our current economic situation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Using Twitter for Customer Service

We’ve posted a while ago about how Twitter has made “customer service proactive rather than reactive.” This morning I came across this post from Search Engine Guide in which Paul Jahn reminds us that businesses, especially those who have e-commerce sites, should be using Twitter as a customer service tool.

Customer service reps can simply do a quick search on Twitter for their company to see what people are saying about them. The result, reps will find either good feedback or bad feedback. Representatives can go above and beyond by thanking happy customers and help unhappy customers using Twitter as a medium. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Frank at Comcast, and many others are just a few examples of people who have used Twitter to improve customer service practices within their company.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Customer Satisfaction at Verizon

In a recent study from J.D. Power and Associates, they announced that Verizon wireless ranked the highest in terms of retail customer satisfaction, as well as customer loyalty in comparison to the other top 5 wireless carriers. As reported here, the metrics for measurement included: sales staff, store display, store facility, and price along with promotion. In a statement from Jack Plating, COO of Verizon, he stated:

"Our leadership in retail customer satisfaction sets us apart from other wireless providers. At our 2,400 company-owned and -operated retail locations, our sales and service representatives are committed to delivering a rewarding retail experience for all who visit our stores looking for the latest phones on the nation's most reliable wireless network. This is especially important as we approach the holiday buying season since so many shoppers put Verizon Wireless at the top of their list."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Customer Training and Customer Satisfaction

MarketWatch reported here that Expertus in conjunction with Training Industry Inc. released an August 2008 report that suggests the top reason for organizations to have customer training was to improve customer satisfaction. The report titled "Optimizing Customer Training" found that 82% of organizations expected customer satisfaction to improve, and 93% said that they had results from training. In addition 53% stated they had "strong benefits" with 40% reporting moderate benefits. As Ramesh Ramani, CEO of Expertus said:

"Historically, customer satisfaction was viewed as an intangible activity that just happened when you delivered good products or services. It's a positive sign that so many organizations are realizing that there are immense customer satisfaction benefits from having well informed and well educated customers."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Customer Service Expectations conducted a survey on customer expectations regarding customer support as reported here. One interesting point that the survey found, is that 60% of customers "expect" responses within 4 hours of initial contact. While many consumers complain frequently about a lack of customer service, it is apparent, that the expected level they set is still quite high. The full report can be found at Make sure to post any comments on interesting findings here!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Call Centers and Pop Culture

Washington Post recently discussed the lighthearted side of call centers. India is known for their call centers, which are outsourced from the U.S. and is estimated to be an approximately $64 billion dollar Industry. In a new movie from Bollywood titled "Hello", the makers of the film define in pop culture terms what it means to be one of the 2 million call center workers in a comedic light. As this editor from India Today eloquently stated:

"It was bound to happen. The glitz of globalization provides its own cultural cliches. The call center is the most widely shared temptation among the chroniclers of new India. For the metaphor hunters of Indian popular culture and fiction, the call center has replaced the old snake charmer."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Outsourcing Call Center Operations

I came across this article that explains how the outsourcing of customer service functions is not only seen as a short term cost cutting tool, but it is also a strategy for long term competitive advantage.

In order to get closer to your customers, you must engage a fully functional center that supports telephone, e-mail, the web, and social media (which was not mentioned by the article). Companies are always looking to reduce costs to increase revenue, but the reduction of costs should not affect the quality of customer service.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Social Media Wake-Up Call

I came across this post on ReadWriteWeb that discusses how a recent study published by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone shows us that contrary to popular belief that social media is simply a fad, 85% of Americans who use social media believe that companies should have a presence in the social media environment. Also, the findings show that users want companies to interact with them via social media.

Here’s some interesting data provided by the study:

This desire for business-to-consumer interaction goes beyond simply offering customer service via Twitter. Although 43% would like to see companies offering customer service through social media, 41% would like companies to solicit feedback and 37% would like companies to provide new ways to interact with the brand via social media. These numbers could not be more clear: these consumers are practically begging for businesses to get involved in social media.

Is your company going above and beyond expectations by using social media? What are some networks, other than Twitter, that your company has used to improve customer service?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live-Blogging at NACCM

Live-blogging is becoming more and more popular at events because of the constant updates bloggers are able to provide the general public. It’s a great way for attendees to recap on sessions and also a great way for those who could not make it to learn a couple of key points from presentations. For this year’s event, Becky Carroll from Customers Rock! will be live-blogging at the NACCM event, bringing us up-to-date information on speakers, presentations, and other gatherings from the event as they occur.

We look forward to reading Becky’s posts in November, and take advantage of the discount being offered to Customers 1st readers. Register for the event and save 15% off the standard pricing. We’ll see you in Disneyland!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do you Create a Remarkable Customer Experience?

Eric Brown founder and Owner of Urbane Apartments recently guest posted on Customers Rock! in which he gives us some perspectives on key ingredients of a Remarkable Customer Experience. He starts off with a definition of the term “remarkable” from none other than the marketing guru Seth Godin:
  • Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it?
  • Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.
Now here are some examples of how this small boutique apartment management company has created remarkable experiences for their residents.
  1. The company does not send out paper leases. They give out all the lease information in a thumb drive in which residents can carry in their pockets and also use to store additional information. This wouldn’t work well with seniors, but because of their demographic it resonates well.
  2. The company has embraced this motto, “Urbane Loves Pets”. Their method of thinking is that great residents will have great pets, and so they own the segment of pet lovers in their locale.
  3. Urbane has created “Freedom Lease” which allows for greater living flexibility. The company has realized that many residents are consultants, and so the standard one year leasing contract does not work for them. This added flexibility creates a greater experience for the resident.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Blessed Vacation

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

I sat down on the flight from West Palm Beach to Atlanta, shortly followed by my seat mates, a lovely couple from Chicago who were just coming from an anniversary celebration trip on Singer Island.

Not expecting much of a response I asked, “How was the vacation?”

Wow. Turns out the vacation was outstanding. “Over the edge.” Apparently The Resort at Singer Island treats its guests quite nicely. With a grin on his face that went from ear to ear my seat buddy went on to recount a customer experience that will remain a fond memory in their lives forever.

Last night, the last of their trip, they returned to their room to find a card and an anniversary gift made of chocolate, but that was just the topper to a stay that was full of special attention. From the front desk personnel, the people that handed out the towels at the pool, to the valets that got the car each day everyone was friendly and took the time to talk. The service, he repeated, was “over the edge.” From the infinity pool overlooking the ocean to their room fully equipped with a kitchen every part of the vacation made them feel “very very special.”

Last night they found a restaurant that kept up the remark-able experiences. They dined at the Capitol Grill. While making the reservation he did mention it was their anniversary. The restaurant responded by offering them a free dessert and delivering it with a fresh flower and a candle. It was a beautiful display. When his wife said she felt badly because she’d forgotten the camera, John, the server went into the back and came back with his. He took the picture and then came back with a printed copy and slipped into an envelope for them to take home.

As I sat in amazement (I usually hear about bad experiences) he smiled and me and said, “I feel like God blessed our anniversary.”

Oh my.

And his wife pointed out, it was so reasonably priced. Here’s where my ears really perked up. That kind of luxury attention for the same price I pay at the courtyard hotel I’m headed to? Double wow ( off season of course. ) Perhaps a possibility for a weekend getaway, I tucked the idea away for the future.

And so before I opened my paper to read the bad news of the day, and it was worse than usual today, I soaked up the joy of their blessed anniversary celebration. Emotions are contagious and I’m really glad I caught some of theirs.

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Customer Service Week with JoAnna Brandi -- Day Three

On day four of customer service week, JoAnna Brandi talks about employee happiness and customer happiness.

Watch the video here:

What can you do to promote happiness within your company? Do you have any activities you do on a daily or weekly basis to promote happiness within your organization?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Customer Service Week with JoAnna Brandi -- Day Three

On day three of customer service week, JoAnna Brandi addresses the return on happiness when your employees are happy.

Check out the video here:

And as a reminder, we have a webinar this week presented by NACCM. Bill Price will be presenting "Outsourcing and offshoring, insourcing and onshoring -- so many choices, so little frank information." It's tomorrow, Thursday, October 9, from 2:30PM to 3:30 PM EDT. We hope you can join us!

Sign up here:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Customer Service Week with JoAnna Brandi -- Day Two

Today, JoAnna Brandi discusses negativity. What can your team avoid that's negative? What are some of the positive things you can do for your costumes?

For more, check out JoAnna Brandi's website, Customer Care Coach.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Customer Service Week -- Day One

For Customer Service Week, NACCM Conference Chair JoAnna Brandi will be sending out a daily message. Here's the message for day one:

Let 'em Feel the Love

The Customer Experience is all about emotion - loyalty is an emotional attachment. The “Experience” is the sum total of the feelings a customer has as a result of interacting with any part of your organization. It's based on THEIR PERCEPTION.

All Fired Up

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

Over the last year I’ve done some things that have some of my friends wondering about me. Maybe it’s that I’m getting better with age. Maybe it’s being afraid to age. Maybe it’s all these happiness coaches I hang out with and study with.

One of the things we learn in happiness training is that positive psychologists have proven that the more time you spend using your strengths the happier you are. That makes sense. When you are doing something you are good at you feel good, and you usually get better at it. When you spend a lot of time doing something you are not good at you usually don’t feel as good.

I can relate.

So it turns out that the psychologists have found – and have evidence to support this – that if you identify your top strengths and spend time each week deliberately working to improve them, you will be happier over time. Certainly happier than if you identify your weaknesses and spend time each week trying to improve them. (Which is basically what I HAD been doing.)

All righty then. Let’s get going.

And so I went to to identify my top strengths. (Warning: don’t go there without a food or at least a beverage – the instrument they use to determine your strengths is long and a tad redundant, you’ll need at least a cup of tea or equivalent to get through it.)

My first strength is creativity – that was fun. I knew that, so it’s always fun to find ways to be more creative. My second strength it turns out is bravery and courage.

What? Me? That was a bit of a shock. And so it was that I began challenging myself in ways I never thought I would. It all began with ziplining last year in Costa Rica. It looked something like this.

Soaring some 120 feet above the ground scared the devil out of me, but in the end, I was thrilled and excited that I had done it – and done it with a good attitude. I chose excitement over fear. I told everyone that would listen about my “SuperCheeka” experience and reveled in the admiration. Me, a perennial scaredy cat, doing something brave and courageous - how cool was that?

So I figured I’d done my brave deed and that would be that.

Until I got that email from Connie and Karen. They are friends of mine from South Florida. They do workshops too. We met about five or six years ago and have a lot in common. Except that when you take one of their empowerment workshops you break things, bend things and end the evening walking on fire.

I swear, I never, never had the desire to walk on fire.

They’d been kind about inviting me to come and see their work, but I’d declined each time, until one day I got an email that said they were filming a corporate video and we asking friends to participate since there would be cameras starting and stopping and bright lights in the night. They invited friends that would be patient and would work with the awkward situation.

It’s tough enough to do the activities in that workshop – and with a cameraman in your face – well!

Well 53 friends showed up! From early afternoon until late in the night we broke boards, bricks and arrows. We bent rebar, walked on glass and then at the end of the night topped it all off with a little walk on fire. Everybody chose to walk (they say that never happens.) Even the cameramen walked (on walked while pointing the camera down on his feet.

Everyone did the firewalk – about 1250 degrees at its hottest – and no one burned their feet. When you walk on fire things change. You learn that your mind is powerful. You get to see your patterns. You think differently about beliefs. There was no hypnosis involved. All choice.

I’m the second one you’ll see on the video – busting through the brick. And now I’m all fired up, because I have this belief that when I put my mind to something (and keep it there) that I can make it happen.

By the way – want a firepower seminar? Call me, I’ll fix you up. We now proudly tell our clients that board breaking and even firewalking are optional add-ons to any of our workshops. Empowered? You bet! Whooooooooooowahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Also, check out JoAnna's first customer service message for Customer Service Week here:

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Going Viral: Campaigning or Complaining?

We'd like to welcome another guest blogger to the NACCM Blog. Becky Carroll is the founder of Petra Consulting Group, a strategic consultancy helping companies grow through lengthening and strengthening customer relationships. Through her work with companies such as HP, Electronic Arts, and Ford, she has spent a lot of time improving customer experiences, driving increases in marketing results, and helping companies re-think their customer service and support. You can read her blog at

It can be easy to get customer service wrong, with the results sometimes splattered all over the Internet. When I hear this in the news, I think about viral campaigning vs. viral complaining. Here is what that looks like:

In Viral Campaigning... customers tell their friends and family how great your company is.
In Viral Complaining... customers tell anyone who will listen how much they dislike your company.

In Viral Campaigning... loyal customers are turned into raving fans.
In Viral Complaining... loyal customers are turned into frustrated screamers.

Viral Campaigning... spreads slowly, but surely, over time.
Viral Complaining... spreads like wildfire.

Success Factors
Which type of customers your company will have depends on several factors. The following are the top tips for building "viral campaigners":

  • Foster a strong sense of community among customers. Social media is a great tool for helping this to happen quickly. Be sure to go to where your customers are already hanging out online; if they don't have a good virtual meeting spot, invite them to your "house"!

  • Put together a proactive customer strategy. Understanding customer needs and differences will help you figure out how to treat them based on their own preferences. This can be a key competitive differentiator when done well.

  • Meet and exceed customer expectations. This doesn't mean "do everything the customers says". It does mean understand what customers expect and do all you can to exceed those expectations. In order to accomplish this, it is important to properly set expectations up front, empower employees to do what's right, and measure employees based on customer expectations.

A company that has been doing a great job of creating viral campaigners is The CEO of, Tony Hsieh (, has been personally using Twitter and blogging (along with many of his employees) to build stronger customer relationships. His customers regularly evangelize to others; you can see many of their testimonials, as well as their ratings and reviews, on the website. They are indeed raving fans!

Taming Complainers
What can you do when viral complaining happens? The first few company reactions to the complaints can stop the negative words from spreading further. Here are a few tips:

  • Act swiftly. Don't let things simmer for too long! It is important to try and contact the complainer directly or, if that is not possible, respond in the forum where the complaining started.

  • Be honest and sincere. Acknowledge what happened, don't be condescending, and show your human side as much as possible. Customers are more understanding when they are dealing with other people rather than corporations.

  • Keep your ears open for further concerns. Best thing to do is always to be listening to your customers; this way, you will be able to keep track of the "temperature" of customer sentiments.

A company that is working hard to do tame the complainers is Comcast. Frank Eliason ( is in charge of customer care and told me he has been successfully turning around the complainers into customers who care not only for him but for each other. He has had them answer each other's questions when personal matters have called him away from his duties. He also takes time to listen to the 'net. For example, whenever someone complains about Comcast on Twitter, Frank responds with "How can I help?"

Putting Customers First

Whether you have viral campaigners, complainers, or both, it is critical to always listen to customers first and then respond to them through their preferred channels of communication. This helps the campaigners feel that they are appreciated, the complainers feel that they have been heard, and your customer team remain focused on the customer.

MarketWatch: An Assessment of the Growing Customer Relationship Management Market - CRM as an Effective Cost Saving Tool ....

Check out this great article on MarketWatch, it discusses how Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Customer Relationship Management Market Assessment 2008" report to their offering.

The article discusses how CRM has seen growth through cell phones, Web 2.0 strategies and new software serving both big and small organizations. It’s a great booster to any CRM professional. I highly suggest that you check it out.

Do you agree that CRM is growing and ever changing industry?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Drew Stevens: Cures for the Customer Service Puzzle

Posted today on, Mr. Stevens outlines the main components to problems businesses have with customer service. Here’s a hint, it’s the businesses who are the culprit. What with a huge gap between 8% of businesses actually providing good customer service and the 80% of businesses who claim to do so; Stevens provides some tough love that business owners big and small should seriously consider.

How do you rate the customer service of your business? Do you find these percentages correct?