Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Jawbone Uses Customer Forums to Improve Products

The Challenge: Ongoing feedback from customers is essential. Have you integrated Forums into your Voice of Customer, (VoC) feedback process?
As businesses including AmEx and Pinterest have recently demonstrated, socially engaged customers are the most valuable customers. But driving revenue isn't the only advantage of engaging your customers. Engaged customers are an essential source of VoC feedback, and product forums are an ideal way to engage them on a continual basis.
Engaging in Social Media
Product forums have been around for years. But mobile product designer Jawbone has pioneered innovative ways to use forums for 24/7 VoC research. In recent years, they had extraordinary success with their Bluetooth headsets and speakers. Unfortunately, Jawbone had much more difficulty last year when they launched UP, a wristband that tracked steps, meals and sleep patterns, and synced with user iPhones. It was a revolutionary idea, but it didn't work.
Jawbone offered refunds to customers who purchased the UP band, and they conducted a thorough survey of everybody who requested a refund. More importantly, they invited customers who took their survey to join an exclusive product development forum. By doing so, they ensured that their new forum would be populated by customers who were eager to engage.
Jawbone Insiders is an exclusive forum that allows customers to provide continual feedback into product development and design. It includes directed activities like surveys and polls, as well as forums where customers can freely contribute ideas and feedback.
Important new workshop Customer Experience Marketing: 5 Steps to Ensure Success developed by the DMA & Ernan Roman. Click to learn more.
Forums like Jawbone Insiders can give all marketers an instant snapshot of their customers’ desires and needs, as well as indicating areas that require more in-depth VoC research.
» Reward Engaged Customers with Exclusive Offers
Not all customers are or will be highly engaged with your company. When you find ones who are, make sure they know that you find them special. Reward them special offers, including exclusive access to in-depth product development forums like Jawbone Insiders.
» Create Incentives for Customer Engagement
Jawbone Insiders incentivizes nearly every survey and poll with drawings and prizes. The possibility of winning a free product drives customer participation—and it’s an inexpensive proposition for most businesses.
» Communicate How Customer Feedback Drives Product Development
To maintain long-term engagement, make sure your customers know how their feedback is impacting your product development. When you release new products, tell customers which features you owe to their feedback. And don't forget to say "Thank You"!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is Your Customer Service Multichannel?

The Challenge: Just as businesses must provide customers with a wide variety of marketing channels to choose from, they must allow a choice of multiple service channels.

Engaging in Social Media As we've discussed previously, multichannel marketing enables delivery of messages per an individual's media preferences. Some customers want to engage businesses on social media, others want to receive email, and significant percentages still prefer direct mail.

If you focus on a single channel at the expense of others, you're neglecting a significant portion of your customer base. The same holds true for customer service.


American Express has recently demonstrated the amazing value of high-quality phone service. Outstanding service leads to increased revenue and shareholder value. But not every business can enable 24/7 phone support, and not all customers want to engage on the phone.

Service operations shouldn't try getting customers off the phone as quickly as possible, but customers should have the option to handle issues without much engagement on their part. In those cases, the most popular alternative to phone support is email.

Important new workshop Customer Experience Marketing: 5 Steps to Ensure Success developed by the DMA & Ernan Roman. Click to learn more.

Live Chat
SMS text and online chat are a part of nearly all your customers' lives. Implementing Live Chat integrates this convenient customer option. Be sure your customer service team learns from the valuable Voice of Customer (VoC) data in the form of session logs.

Social Media
Regardless whether your business is on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, your customers are—and they're talking about you. Don't lose control of that conversation. Lead it.

Product Guides and F.A.Q.'s
Sometimes customers simply want to help themselves. For their sake, make sure that your online documentation is current and comprehensive.


Let Customers Prioritize Their Channel Preferences
Many businesses enable multichannel service, only to bury their phone number while placing a link to their F.A.Q.'s on every page. This should be the customer's decision, not yours. Give customers their choice of service channel by prominently displaying every option on every page of your site.

Enable 24/7 Customer Service
For many businesses, the marginal value of 24/7 phone support may be too low to justify the additional cost. But, customers should be able to engage your service team any time of the day—even by just sending a question. Enabling multichannel service allows them to do so.

Be Clear and Accurate About Response Times
Effective call center operations include wait time estimates, a form of transparency that significantly reduces customer frustration. The same should be true of all your service channels: immediately send customers an automatic response from all channels, and include a clear and accurate statement of when they'll get an answer to their question.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Failure to Engage with Social Media Will Reduce Revenue and Increase Risk

The Challenge: Social media platforms are crucial to building customer engagement, but the vast majority of marketers haven’t incorporated that reality into their daily workflow—with outsize consequences to their bottom lines.

Engaging in Social MediaA recent study by IBM found that while more than 80 percent of CMO’s track traditional information sources, only 26 percent of CMO’s track blogs―to say nothing of newer platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Mila D'Antonio at 1to1 Media described the consequences: "CMO’s who underestimate the impact of more deeply engaging in social media are missing opportunities to grow revenue, expand brand value, and strengthen customer loyalty."

This disconnect costs businesses money.

Last week, American Express released their 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer. They found that consumers who use social media for customer service are significantly more valuable than the general population.

Socially engaged customers:
 • Are almost twice as willing to spend more for excellent service than the general population.
 • Are nearly three times as likely to communicate positive customer service experiences.

But there's also a risk.

The flipside of socially engaged customers:
 • They are over 50 percent more likely to cancel an intended purchase because of poor customer service than the general population.
 • They are over twice as willing to share negative customer service experiences

Register here now.
CMO’s cannot take advantage of the opportunities created by social media – or mitigate the risks – if they are not engaged participants themselves. As D'Antonio wrote, "Today’s CMO’s Should Be Social Media Socialites, not Wallflowers”.


→ Establish Social Media KPIs
For too many CMO’s, tracking social media is an afterthought. To break this pattern, socially engaged marketers need to establish Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) for every social channel they engage, and build an organization that optimizes them.

→ Track the Online Conversation in Real Time
Even if you’re not on the major social media platforms, your customers are—and they’re talking about you. Build a rigorous process to track your online reputation in real time, even on platforms you don’t actively engage.

→ Expand PR Beyond Traditional Platforms
Marketing and PR efforts must be closely aligned, in traditional media and new. Traditional press releases and media blitzes still have their place, but an effective PR organization needs to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and beyond.

Monday, May 7, 2012

AmEx: High Value Customer Service Drives Shareholder Value

The Challenge: Businesses that do not recognize the power of high quality customer service, increase the risk of revenue loss and decreases in market valuation.
American Express Cards Welcome Businesses that treat customer service as a cost center, relegate it to an operations function and focus on manufacturing metrics such as reducing the time per call.

Innovative marketers like QVC treat service as an opportunity to build strong customer loyalty. For them, service isn't a cost;it's a revenue driver.

Jim Bush, Customer Service Czar at American Express, has pushed the envelope even further. For him, service is a major driver of market valuation and shareholder value.

Like many innovative marketers, Bush shifted the focus of his service team from reducing call time to building engagement. He discussed his reasons, and the results, with Fortune Magazine's Geoff Colvin. These are some of his innovations:

Authentic Conversations
Reps too often sound robotic. They need to conduct authentic conversations which are based on empathy and personalized data. According to Bush, "We present the profile of who that customer is and other information relevant to that particular interaction. That allows the care professional to be conversant and pull out their personality and match it to the personal needs of the customer."
Optimize for Customer Loyalty
Dropping "low call time" as your service goal doesn't mean ignoring key performance metrics. Bush's team optimizes for Bain's "Net Promoter Score”. “For every servicing transaction we ask, How can we get the customer to feel better about American Express and recommend it to a friend? That’s a promoter.”
Heed the Voice of Customer
Bush clearly recognizes the importance of the Voice of Customer (VoC): "Think of the power of the voice of customer now. Verizon introduced a $2 fee, the voice of customer screamed loud, and it turned that around 24 hours later. We need to appreciate customer centricity and the value it creates."
The results have been dramatic: According to Bush, "For a promoter who is positive on American Express, we see a 10% to 15% increase in spending and four to five times increased retention, both of which drive shareholder value".
→ Use Customer Service to Drive Personalization
Customers today expect a higher level of personalization than ever before. Bush emphasizes the role of service in personalization: "I thought about the opportunity of capitalizing on every interaction and moving away from being a cost of doing business to being an investment in building relationships. Every one of those moments of truth is an opportunity to make a difference to customers in a personalized way."
→ Train Call Center Employees to Engage with Every Call
Solving customer problems is crucial, but it's not enough. The service team at AmEx focuses on "how you create the relationship and build it through humanity, conversation, and engagement". To do those things effectively, call center employees need the right training.
→ "Serve customers, not transactions."
Bush's quote above should become a mantra for all businesses. Call center employees should serve customer’s desires and needs, and customers should be the ones to determine how long they need to be on the phone.