Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Isn’t Your Customer Service Better?

Challenge: At a time when good customer service would be assumed to be a core competency, why are so many companies still not delivering good to excellent customer service? What needs to be done differently?
Make Customer Service Better
Here’s how things went in my own recent experience with a major online movie-viewing service;
Abrupt email from the company:
What is the problem and how would you rate our customer service? 
My Reply:
I entered my credit card information into my account several weeks ago. I still cannot charge a movie.
My original request was on February 25. Today is March 15. No one ever responded to my repeated emails and voice mail messages.
Given the above, how would you rate your customer service?
They never replied.
Based on similar instances we have all experienced, following is a question every company should consistently ask themselves; “Why isn’t our customer service better?”
According to a Forrester study, “Top Trends For Customer Service In 2014” the following are high-value areas for customer service improvement;
• Anticipate the what, when, where and how for customers, and prioritize information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.
• Investigate methods to recommend “next-best actions” during the service resolution process to offer service tailored to the customer’s unique needs.
• Make experiences consistent. Forrester observes that 60% of companies gather feedback about their interactions with a company; however only 33% analyze customer insight across organizational boundaries.
According to a Tempkin Study, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014, it was noted that:
• More than half of the customers who encountered a bad experience… either decreased their spending with the company or stopped altogether.
Data shows that a good service recovery effort can help mitigate a bad experience. Unfortunately, many firms…aren’t very good at service recovery.
After a bad experience, 60% tell a friend directly, 31% share on Facebook, and 20% write a review.
5 Takeaways
1. Understand what customers want in a good customer service experience. How do our customers define good customer service? If you do not fully comprehend what customers want from you, it is impossible to deliver a good experience.
2. Regularly monitor practices to be sure that they are in line with current customer demands. Are your customer service policies outdated? Set a regular interval to monitor your company policies and employee practices to be certain they meet the expectations of customers.
3. Get buy in at all levels for your customer service initiatives. It does not matter how many policies are put in place if these policies are not put into everyday practice at every level and every point of contact within your company. Consistency in customer experience is key.
4. Develop a “listening” strategy to monitor customer conversations. If you do not know what customers are saying about your company it will hurt you. If you do not have a social media team now is the time to start one. Active listening will allow you understand the challenges that customers face and respond quickly.
5. Make contact easy. Are customers able to contact you for service related matters across all channels? If not, then expand your accessibility. Customers do not want to work to find solutions to their problems or get their questions answered.

Monday, April 14, 2014

6 Customer Experience Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Loyalty 360

   Loyalty 360 Feature Story.

Per results from recent Voice of Customer (VoC) research, Customer Experience strategies are failing to deliver the quality of experience customers expect. Notwithstanding today's technology, tools and analytics, it is sobering that customers are not experiencing a significantly improved customer experience.
Following are the top 6 Customer Experience mistakes that emerged from our analysis of thousands of hours of VoC research our firm, ERDM, conducted for clients such as MassMutual, Norton AntiVirus, IBM, HMS National, Songza and others;
1. Customers do not feel that marketers are trying to understand the customer journey from the customer's point of view. To many, it feels like "customer journey" is another term for mapping the sales opportunity journey.
2. It is obvious to customers that companies are doing things piecemeal. Examples cited in the research include;
• Improving multichannel marketing but not fixing customer service.
• Installing CRM systems which only automate bad behaviors but don't improve the quality of communications and experiences.
• Building Preference Centers which don't ask the right preference questions. 
Thought Leader Insight:
Scott Frey, President, PossibleNow;
“Install an enterprise wide preference center. Go beyond preference centers for individual channels such as email and create an easy-to-use portal where customers can create individual profiles, select topics of interest, preferred delivery channels and pace of communications. Preference centers provide the ability for customers to maintain their preferences as their interests change over time. Connect the preference center to all customer touch points”. 
3. Customers want marketers to move from thinking about individual campaigns to a holistic engagement strategy with proactive value added touches at key points important to the customer, not the marketer. High quality experiences must be maintained throughout the relationship and per a quote from a VoC interview, “Not just when you are selling or renewing”. 
Thought Leader Insight:
Eric Nystrom, Dell, Director, Social Media Services Group;
“We need to think in terms of engaging customers at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This causes a shift from one-way communications to conversations and to think about content differently. Customers expect to engage with subject matter experts and empowered employees, not corporate spokespeople. Content needs to be relevant, interesting and engaging…and always on”.
4. Conflicting metrics for measuring success; Marketers are looking at short term sales and ROI from individual campaigns. Customers are judging companies based on the quality of the overall experience, over time.
5. Frustratingly poor data. Customers want marketers to improve the quality of their data and shift from transaction-based information to opt-in preference-based information which will drive truly personalized communications and offers. 
Thought Leader Insight:
Andrew Bailey, Marketing Principal, FedEx;
“FedEx has always valued the customer experience and continues to make strides in providing an optimal one. FedEx works to allow customers to tell us how often they’d like to receive email, and on which specific topics. This helps spark a dialogue that allows us to better serve our customers by meeting their individual needs with information for the right person, containing the right content, in the right place and at the right time”.
6. Viewing Customer Experience as being about a few campaigns, will ensure you’ll fail. Successful companies view Customer Experience as a transformation of their culture, impacting every business process. Culture change is hard but is the longest lasting. Individual campaigns do not result in sustained change. 
MassMutual is an excellent case study of a company which has committed to transforming the customer experience with the goal of creating customers for life. They began by conducting Voice of Customer research to understand how different customer segments define deeper relationships with MassMutual Retirement Services at key points in their lifecycle. 
Thought Leader Insight:
Kris Gates, VP Customer Experience, MassMutual Retirement Services;
"Based on the learnings from the VoC research, we have redesigned the way we look at relationships with customers. Taking a Learn – Pilot – Scale approach to our marketing efforts, we already have several VoC research-based initiatives underway. These range from redefining how we view the customer-focused value of CRM platforms and our data, to campaign targeting and preference based communications. 
One of the findings from our recent VoC research indicated that our customers wanted communications driven by their preferences and interests. We used the rollout of our new educational video series SmartView,to measure the difference in response between mass emails to an entire list versus preference-driven offers to those who had opted in and told us their preferences and interests. Results from customers who opted in to receive information versus the mass email population: 94 percent higher open rates, 1,062 percent higher video views, 100 percent deliverability and Zero unsubscribes".
8 Key Takeaways to Avoid Customer Experience Mistakes
1. “Digital has changed buyer and marketer behavior. Traditional campaigns are definitive…social is about long-term relationships…think about how to drive content streams to improve search, engagement and conversion”.
Eric Nystrom, Director, Social Media Services Group, Dell
2. “Engage your customers to provide their preferences regarding information they want to receive from you; right person, right content, right time, right place and right medium”.
Andrew Bailey, Marketing Principal, FedEx.
3. Help customers at every point of contact with your company; from information gathering, to purchasing, to ongoing engagement. Make every aspect of doing business with your company easy.
4. Communicate a consistent message and brand across all channels, and customer touch points, including customer service.
5. Constantly improve how you communicate your value proposition; this applies to your products and your company, so customers understand why they should continue to do business with you.
6. Learn the customer journey from the customer’s perspective. Know what customers want from you at each stage of their journey with your company and satisfy their needs.
7. Rethink all communications with customers to be personalized, relevant and helpful based on their individual preferences. Don’t just send transaction-based “spray and pray”.
8. Change your culture to be customer centric in all aspects of your company and unite these efforts across all departments.