Friday, October 30, 2009

NACCM 2009 Kicks off on Monday!

We hope that you'll be joining us next week in sunny Phoenix for the 2009 NACCM Customer 1st event. We'll be LIVE on-site as we blog, Tweet and record all that NACCM has to offer.

Follow us right here for our coverage of the conference. Also, be sure to follow along on Twitter and join in the conversation with #NACCM.

Check below for a glimpse of what's in store for us next week.

Take a look at all we have to offer:

• 40+ insightful presenters focused on delivering real world case studies showcasing new innovative approaches for delivering customer-centricity.
• 7 Exciting new keynote sessions: fresh sources of motivation and inspiration to help you make an impact. Keynote themes include Authentic Leadership, CCO Perspectives, WOW Experiences, Customer Trends, Human Factors, Customer Service and more!
• More networking activities than ever - including a Mexican Fiesta Dinner, Wild West Party and dinners with peers around the resort to ensure you're making the right connections and getting the right face-time with your industry counterparts.
• New Programs added to ensure your investment delivers the value you need and expect... including the ROA (Return on Attendance) tool, event mentorship program, post-event executive summary and participant key takeaways report.

• Outdoor sessions and activities bringing the insights and knowledge sharing into an open-air environment.

• Event Concierge offering personalized attention aimed at helping you with all your planning needs.

• All New Tracks & Summits, the value of 5 conferences for the price of one: Customer-Centric Social Media, Next Generation Loyalty & Retention Strategies, Strategic Leadership & Customer-Centric Culture, Organizational & Operational Excellence, Innovating the Customer Experience

Plus - Connect, Engage and Learn from your is a list of companies who've already signed on to attend:

Affinion Loyalty Group
ALSAC St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Arizona Public Service
Baxter Healthcare Corporation
Blueocean Market Intelligence
BrightSight Group
Burke Inc.
CACI International Inc.
Canadian Blood Services
CIGNA Healthcare
Comcast Corporation
Compassion Canada
Conway Freight
Customers Rock!
Data Development Worldwide
Dell Inc.
Enumclaw Insurance Group
First Data Merchant Services
GFK Custom Research
Hallmark Insights
Helzberg Diamonds
Hewlett Packard Company
Home Nursing Agency
Homestead Technologies
Intel Corporation
Intercontinental Hotels Group
JetBlue Airways
LaCrosse Footwear Inc.
Lexis Nexis
Marriott International
Mastercard Worldwide Medallia Inc.
NCO Group
Norwegian Cruise Line
OnCURE Medical Corp.
Powerhouse Consulting
Predictive Consulting Group Inc.
Quest Diagnostics
Research In Motion
San Diego Gas Electric
Scottsdale Insurance Company
Sensory Logic
Sony Electronics
Southern California Edison
Southwest Airlines
The Disney Institute
The Forum Corporation
The Hartford
Thomson Reuters
Towerbank International
Ubercool LLC
Union Bank & Trust Co.
Union Bank of California
United States Olympic Committee
Verizon Wireless
Walk the Walk
Wyndham Hotel Group
YMCA of the USA

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What if we only offered online customer service?

I came across this interesting thread on the UK Business Labs Forum in which a business owner was thinking about switching their online and phone service for customer service to strictly online only, eliminating the phone element. Many customers though still feel the need to physically speak to representatives on the phone right off the bat and when things aren't being explained well online through instant messaging. Do you think this is a wise decision to remove phone service from their customer service initiatives?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Improve Customer Service -- Or Else

Ed Wallace of writes that Baby boomers aren't just reducing their debt and watching their spending, they are also re-evaluating the types of products they would buy in the future -- everything from luxury cars to their homes. Wallace warns, "Attention CEOs: Now, more than ever you can't afford to let sloppiness, misinformation, or poor service cost you any more customers."

Wallace continues, because it is becoming harder than ever to separate customers from their dollars, customer care and the buying experience are more important than ever. The problem is that, at least if my experiences this year are anything to go by, that experience is so unrewarding that I, and many other consumers, may keep right on sitting on our wallets.

How are you serving your baby boomer customer base? Have you made any changes to your customer service strategy in order to retain and earn new customers within this demographic?

Warning: Improve Customer Service -- Or Else

Monday, October 26, 2009

7 Tips to Improving Customer Service

I came across this post on that highlights 7 tips for offering "better" customer service. Every company plans on offering better customer service but it's time to actually buckle down and go through with it. Here are the 7 tips the post includes:

1. Offer online chat - customers want to be able to chat immediately especially if they are having a technical glitch or problem

2. Use Twitter - Comcast and Southwest Airlines are just a few examples of great companies that are being proactive and not reactive to customer complaints by using twitter

3. Have a FAQ section - this can reduce a lot of calls to customer service by simply having a webpage with dedicated answers

4. Include a search function - make your website more friendly by allowing consumers to search for specifics

5. Post contact info on every page - don't make it difficult for customers to get in contact with you

6. Increase response time to emails - make sure to answer all emails at least within 24 hours

7. Ask how you can improve customer service - constantly ask what are more ways to improve your service

Customers 1st 2009 Podcasts: A Conversation with Dan Hill, Author, Emotionomics

As we get gear up for the 2009 NACCM: Customers 1st Event this year, we're going to be interviewing and getting to know the speakers and sponsors who will bring their perspectives on customer service to you. We recently sat down with Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics. He will be participating in the keynote speech, “Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotion Brand Equity” at this year's conference. Download the NACCM:Customers 1st Brochure to find out more about the program this year.

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Dan Hill is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc., founded in 1998 as a scientific consumer insights firm that specializes in gauging both verbal and nonverbal, subconscious reactions to advertising, store environments, and product design, packaging and presentation. He has also provides executive coaching for sales force training relating to interpersonal communication skills.

Dan will be presenting the keynote speech “Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotional Brand Equity” at this year’s NACCM: Customers 1st Conference this November 2-5 at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona.

What is a company’s emotional equity and how can this affect consumer perceptions?
Dan: Well, we often talk about equity from an advertising perspective, and what they often mean is the awareness of the brand. That you’re aware of a brand, and you find it relevant. What I think it means when you get to customer service, what’s the experience you’ve had with a brand, is it meaningful, is it distinct and above all is it positive and it’s emotional because our emotions drive our decision making process and reflect the memories that we’ve had, and that’s why they’re so powerful and drive customer perceptions. If you have a positive feeling, it’s relent, it can drive you back toward the brand.

How important is it to customer service to be able to read what your customers are feeling when they are doing business with you?
Dan: It’s crucial because the breakthroughs in brain science confirm that people are largely emotional decision makers, the emotional part of the brain sends about 10x as many signals as the rational brain and vice versa, so everybody feels before they think, and the important thing about customer service is you’re in the moment, you’re interacting with another human being, it’s probably the single most emotional moment in the business world, and if you can engender positive feelings, and read as you’re creating those vibes with the other person, that’s really when you’re going to build brand equity.

How can being able to read facial expressions of candidates help during the hiring process?
Dan: Well, we all know that these days, people don’t disclose much in references, and obviously the person doing the interview is going to put on their best face possible, and the important thing you need to know is once you hire the person, and they are at the crucial touch point where brand equity is built so much, you really want someone was a good brand ambassador. Someone who has an agreeable personality, and I really think you can pick that up in an interview. Much more in just the words, after all in a stressful situation, it’s really a chance to get past the lip services. There are studies that show 55% of crucial communication is through the face and only 7% through the words. Reading someone’s temperament, seeing how they handle the stress of the interview, seeing how positive they can be and stay away from the negatives, those same qualities will be very valuable in someone who’s helping a customer.

Can you tell us a little about what you’ll be presenting at this year’s NACCM: Customers 1st?
Dan: [I will ]Probably two or three things most of all. One is to try to introduce people to the importance of the emotional element in people’s decision making process. As I said breakthroughs in brain science have confirmed that people are overwhelmingly emotional decision makers. That’s one part. The other part is indeed about hiring. We are linking how people emote and how they feel to their core personality. That’s how someone over time reveals themselves. And the third point will be specific practical applications to what the customer experience and customer service situation is and how you can make it better.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rating the Carriers: Customer Service Showdown

Laptop magazine recently released their own study about the quality of customer service among cell phone carriers within the USA. They found that overall, T-Mobile offered the best customer service based on customer service within the store, web, phone and overall satisfaction.

Do you agree?

Rating the Carriers: Customer Service Showdown

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NACCM Customers 1st Conference in 2 Weeks – Plus – Enjoy Complimentary White Paper and NYT Article Download

We’re excited to be heading to NACCM Customers 1st in just 2 weeks, November 2-5 in Phoenix, AZ. Hundreds of executives will be assembling to explore next steps to re-focus and rebuild in 2010 using customer-centricity as their key catalyst for business growth.

B2B and B2C Professionals from these outstanding companies will be present to exchange new ideas and strategies in areas of loyalty, customer-centric innovation, operational excellence, culture, the customer experience and strategic leadership:

AAA Arizona, Affinion Loyalty Group, Alliance Global Services, ALSAC/ St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Family Insurance, Arizona Public Service, Availity LLC, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Bridgewater Bank, BrightSight Group, Burke Inc, Cablevision Systems Corporation, CACI International Inc
Carolina Biological Supply Company, CIGNA Healthcare, Cogeco Cable, Comcast Corporation, Compassion Canada, Conway Freight, Customers Rock!, CVS Caremark, Data Development Worldwide, Dell, ELCA Board of Pensions, Enumclaw Insurance Group, First Data Merchant Services, Freeman, Georgia Pacific, GFK, GlaxoSmithKline, Helzberg Diamonds, Hewlett Packard Company, Home Nursing Agency, Homestead Technologies, HSN, Intel Corporation, JC Penney Company, JetBlue Airways, LaCrosse Footwear, Landscape Forms, Level 3 Communications, LexisNexis, Martins Point Health Care, Methodist Hospital, NCO Group Inc, Nokia Inc, Norwegian Cruise Line, OnCURE Medical Corp, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Powerhouse Consulting, Pyramid, Quest Diagnostics, Regence, Results Companies, Rice University, RIM, San Diego Gas Electric, Sanofi Aventis, Sara Lee, Scotiabank, Scottsdale Insurance Company, SDN Communications, Sensory Logic, Setar, Sony Electronics, Southern California Edison, Southwest Airlines,, Tell Us About Us, TELUS, Thomson Reuters, Tobyhanna Army Depot, Towerbank International, Travelers, Travelocity, Ubercool LLC, Union Bank & Trust Co, Union Bank of California, United States Olympic Committee, Verizon Wireless, Wyndham Hotel Group, YMCA of the USA,

• Event Page:
• Brochure:
• Registration:

Want to network with customer-minded professionals from these companies? You can, register today and remember, as a member of our LinkedIn group, you’ll receive an exclusive 20% discount off your registration.

NY Times Article:
In a recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research and referenced in a NY Times article "No Fury Like a Customer Mistreated" - found that keeping your customer happy is now more critical than ever. It will take a lot to win over customers who are unhappy with the service they receive, not to mention the rippled effect of damage that can be inflicted through negative emails, blog postings, tweets and word-of-mouth comments if not handled well.

Do you feel 100% confident that your company is doing everything it can to keep its customers happy, provide exceptional service and communicate true value?

New York Times Article, "No Fury Like a Customer Mistreated" :

We'd also like to direct to you a complimentary white paper from Forum. This piece, "Creating a Positive Organizational Climate in a Negative Economic One: Improving Organizational Climate to Transform Performance" by Tom Atkinson, Ph.D. and Henry Frechette, Ph.D. identifies six dimensions of climate3 that influence the work environment and employee motivation.

Read More:

See you in Phoenix!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Customer service and the holidays of Pittsburgh, Kansas recently looked at how companies can take the dismal customer service situations that arise during the holiday and make them manageable. They can begin by ensuring that they have a service quality system in place before the holidays begin. The most prevalent reasons customers are dissatisfied during the holidays are out-of-stock items, discontinued items, returns and shipping charges. Retail stores should make sure their employees are trained with how to respond to customers should these four things arise.

What do you do to prepare your employees for the holiday season?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A New Flight Pattern: Customer Service and Twitter

Customers with issues during their travel can tweet their respective airlines and within minutes their issues can be resolved, reports the Associated Press. Now that customer service representatives are using Twitter, fliers of low-cost airlines have another level of contact with the airline. The Associated Press article writes, discount airlines have traditionally outflanked the big network carriers in customer service and low fares, and it appears they're extending their advantage to social media. The discounters often respond with quick feedback to travelers' concerns on social networking sites, while traditional network carriers peddle last-minute fare deals but seem slow to embrace Twitter and Facebook to beef up customer service.

If you're interested in learning more about airline customer service, join Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airlines at NACCM 2009.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Facebook and it's customer service

We've heard many great thing about how online communities can strengthen and increase the value of customer service, but what happens with the online communities themselves have poor customer service? According to Caroline McCarty, many Facebook profiles have suffered from a recent outage. They've contacted both her and Facebook for a response, but little has come from Facebook in terms of customer support. After contacting Facebook, users only got back minimal responses that stated that their information was in no way compromised.

Is this acceptable? As one of the most highly trafficked web pages, should they work to support their customers better? I think so. Because to stay on top of the social networking world, they must continue to connect and listen to their customers, instead of leaving their questions about their accounts to go unanswered for days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Call for Bloggers: Attend NACCM Customers 1st 2009 on Us!

That’s right, we’re offering a few exclusive all-access complimentary passes to NACCM Customers 1st 2009 – November 2-5 in Phoenix, AZ - and you could attend the conference – on us ($3,000+ value). We’re looking for experienced bloggers who are well-versed in customer management to begin blogging now and also at this year’s event. In return for your posts, you’ll be able to attend educational sessions and training seminars delivered by industry thought-leaders and corporate practitioners on the content areas of customer centric leadership, social media, loyalty, operational excellence, customer experience and more. Network and engage with speakers from JetBlue Airways, Disney, Dell, Cigna, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, and so many more at this exciting customer strategy event.

To apply to be a guest blogger, simply send your name, title, company and a few writing samples (a link to your blog is recommended) to our conference producer, Amanda Powers at no later than Oct. 15th. We will review the submissions and contact all winners directly with more details. This opportunity doesn’t come often and we encourage you to apply and join us next month in Phoenix.

For more information about the event, please follow the links below:

For more on the NACCM event, visit the website:

Download the Brochure:

Remember, as a member of our NACCM Customers 1st LinkedIn group, you’re eligible for a 20% discount off the standard conference rate.

NACCM 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Building a loyal customer base

At, they look at ways small businesses can build value and create loyalty for their customers. While this is critical for businesses just starting, companies should always have their customers in mind.

Many companies want to continue to sell their products, however, forget that they need to keep their customers after they draw them in the door the first time. An easy way to do this is to thank customers after their purchases, which will also add value to a product when you sell it. Also, all customer touch points need to be operated with a customer in mind.

What do you think? How do you ensure your customer is taken care of at every touch point to ensure their future loyalty?

NACCM: Customers 1st will be holding a one day summit focusing on creating loyalty. "Creating Uber Loyalists: Cracking The Code On Next Gen Loyalty, Engagement and Advocacy." Jet Blue, Sony Electronics and Norwegian Cruise Lines will be among the presenters. Find out more about the full day symposium here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Customers 1st 2009 Podcasts: A Conversation with Curtis Bingham, Predictive Consulting Group

As we get gear up for the 2009 NACCM: Customers 1st Event this year, we're going to be interviewing and getting to know the speakers and sponsors who will bring their perspectives on customer service to you. We recently sat down with Curtis Bingham, President of the Predictive Consulting Group. He will be participating in the keynote panel discussion, “The Ultimate in Customer Centricity: Chief Customer Officers Describe How Everyone Can be a Loyalty Leader” at this year's conference. Download the NACCM:Customers 1st Brochure to find out more about the program this year.

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Can you tell us how important it is that customer loyalty is a focus for the entire organization?
Curtis: You know this is a really important point here; because, if you imagine going into a hotel, Jenny, it absolutely beautifully appointed, people greet you by name at the hotel, your check-in is flawless and your room has a spectacular view. However, your TV is broken, the image is snowy. So you call the front desk, they apologies profusely and they promise to send someone right up and you wait, you wait, you wait some more. Finally the repair man bangs loudly on the door, you open the door and he’s standing out there. He is disheveled, smelly and rude. He barges in past you, blames you for having to work late, and complains about hotel management while he’s fixing your TV there. If you think about your experience, the damage is just irreparable. This unprofessional behavior ruined your entire experience. And it may have caused the company to lose revenue. Because research shows that disgruntled customers tell three and thirty people about their bad experiences. And their online ratings and reviews reach thousands or millions more. All of those people who were exceptional at the front end of this particular process; their good work is undone by a single person. We live in an experience economy, where everything is all about the customer experience. Just one person can sabotage the work of 100s. What we learn by this little vignette here, is that customer loyalty needs to be everyone’s job. It cannot be the job of just one person or one group.

How do you ensure that an entire corporation if focused on customer centricity?
Curtis: This is a real challenge, and its one that we are working with right now with the chief customer officer council, one that we are working with a number of chief customer officers from around the world. On resolving this particular issue or addressing this particular issue. I think there are three things that have come out of these discussions.

The first is modeled behavior from the top. The second is peer pressure; the third is rewards and incentives. I’ll talk about each of these for just a second. A couple of months ago I noticed that each of my three children were harrumphing in disgust if something didn’t go their way or they made a mistake. I was trying to figure out where they got it from. And one day I heard the tell-tale “harrumph” but without anyone around and I realized, shockingly, that it came from me. Similarly, employees will model behavior that they see in executives. The work ethic, the communication styles, the way that they run meetings, the way that they deal with difficult employees or difficult situations. And customer attitudes and focus is no different. Executives have to model behavior that shows how valuable customers are to the company.

The second thing that we want to look at is peer pressure. We often look at peer pressure as a bad thing; but it can actually be quite a powerful force for good. One chief customer officer in the council said that culture cannot be changed it can only be adapted. And he has been very successful creating culture change, very dramatic culture change by using positive peer pressure. What he did was this; he made it popular to serve customers better than the person beside you or the person in the next division over. And the results from this person’s culture change have been stellar. He’s taking a very hard charging, hard driving culture that was all about products and sales and turned it into a customer centric culture.

The last thing that is really important in getting everyone focused on loyalty is rewards and incentives. The bottom line is that you improve what you measure. You get what you inspect. And bottom line people are going to react in their rational self interest. If you measure in reward, then behavior changes; however, this type of change that is brought about through money, rewards and what not is not lasting. It should only be used after the previous two that we mentioned, the modeling behavior and then the applying of peer pressure.

How have the roles of Chief Customer Officers changed the roles of customer centricity and loyalty today?
Curtis:You know, it used to be, that as I mentioned before that we were in a product culture or product environment, where products were the most important thing. As products became more commoditized, then it became more an issue of service—how great was your service that followed on to a great product. Now service as become event more commoditized and we’re now in an experience economy and going back to our example of modeling behavior from the top -- the chief customer officer does exactly that. He/she sets the standard for the entire organization on how customers need to be treated. And more importantly, going to this experience economy here, they’re the ones that are able to map out the customer experience, from start to finish, cradle to grave. And all of the different touch points and look for these disheveled repairman to make sure that there aren’t any negative experiences, to work with your organization to find where these bad experiences are, these bad influences are and figure out how to change those in such a way that the company is still profitable and yet the customer experience is still stellar. So they can measure the customer experience and refine it across all of the traditional business silos to make sure that experience is very carefully planned executed measured and refined. So the chief customer officer here, in general, is the go to authority on customers. They are the ultimate authority for customer issues; they are ultimately accountable for customer issues. And as their, in their role as the customer executive, they are not only accountable to the customer to the customer but they are able to drive customer-centric change across your organization. So before the chief customer officer, unless you have a very customer centric CEO there is often no one in a position of authority that could take a customer issue that was outside of their division or department or business units and track down other processes that were causing a poor experience in other business units or other groups. So the chief customer officer is this glue that holds all of these different, disparate processes that impact the customers together and the one that can drive the strategy across all of these different processes and make sure that the customer experience is stellar, and needs to be in this experience economy.

Can you tell us a little about the keynote panel you’re participating on at this year’s NACCM: Customers 1st Conference?

Curtis: I am really excited about this panel here, because loyalty, relatively speaking is fairly new. There has been a lot of talk about it; there has been a lot of research done on it. And yet, bottom line is that it’s new. There are a lot of people out there experimenting with loyalty in different programs, different ideas, and different methodologies. For the first time, we’ve got a series of customer centric executives that are at the top of well known corporations that have been doing this for years. And they are sitting with everybody to share what has worked for them, what kinds of things that you need to do as a loyalty leader to get buy in from the executive board for your loyalty programs. What kinds of things do you need to do to ensure that your loyalty programs achieve the desired results? How to you prioritize different loyalty opportunities and possibilities and programs that you could implement? What do you need to measure, how do you measure these loyalty programs and how do you prioritize these so that you get the most out of them from your business results from your customers. There is just a wealth of information here from both a b2b and b2c perspective. Bob Olsen, was mostly recently from Intuit, and he was with GoDaddy, a very well-known internet hosting service. They turned their call centers from a call center from being a cost center to a revenue center. They’ve just done phenomenal things in driving customer loyalty and yet still dramatically increasing profitability. He worked with very closely with Bob Parsons in order to do that. Rudy Videll is a brilliant expert on customer loyalty; it’s a customer loyalty program that he developed while at Panasonic. I had a chance to talk to him in great detail in ways that you can measure and drive customer loyalty and some of the things that he’s talking about leading indicators and lagging indicators are brilliantly simple to execute. So, I’m very excited about that. The other panelist it Tammy McLeod from Arizona Power Systems and she has taken an approach much like Disney, going back to our question earlier, to make sure that loyalty is everyone’s job. She meets personally with every new hire, so that they understand how important customers are, that the customers are the ones who are signing the paychecks. And that whenever the repair people are out in the community, they are the face of Arizona Power, that they are expected to create a good experience, a loyal following from all of their other customers. So we have a broad variety of people that are on the panel and a huge variety of experiences here that I think is just going to be a fantastic combination, and people are just going to walk away from there with some very practical, tangible hands-on approaches. How can you make loyalty everyone’s job? How can you measure it and improve it? How can you make sure that you’re focusing on the right aspects of loyalty? I’m really excited.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Airlines seeing increase in better customer service

According to the LA Times, many airlines are seeing an increase in quality of customer service. Through the first seven months of 2009, 79% of US flights were on time, as opposed to 75% during the same time in 2008. The claims to lost luggage also dropped 1 bag per 1,00o people from 4.87 last year to 3.89 this year. One factor contributing to the increase in customer service could be because there are fewer flights in the skies, which means more fewer customers for the airlines to work with.

What do you think about the increase in customer service? As a frequent flier, customer service may have improved, but has the general experience of flying increased? While fewer bags were lost, how much of an impact did airlines new charges for checking bags decrease the number of checked bags?

JetBlue will be joining us at NACCM: Customers 1st to present the keynote speech "Fueling Loyalty within a Mile High Customer-Centric Culture" on Tuesday, November 3. Find out more about the speech here.