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Are You Talking to Your Customers?

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Talking to your customers is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how this crazy economy is impacting their business, their customers, and the implications of all of this on how they work with you.

By reaching out to proactively talk to your customers, you can learn a lot about the pressures they are dealing with which may include:

- their customers are pushing to get more for less
- cutting expenses
- attempts from your competitors to get their business
- and more!

If you show an interest in understanding their pressures/challenges, you could gain their undying loyalty which is ultra-important in times like these.

Talking to your customers can be as simple as just picking up the phone.  Once you are clear that your intent isn’t to sell them anything, but to just talk and understand where they are coming from and what has changed for them, your clients will be grateful for the opportunity to vent.

Who should talk to your customers?  The higher level the person making the call, the better—nothing impresses a customer more, or makes them feel more important, than a call from a senior exec.  Obviously senior execs can’t connect with all of your customers, but you could develop a strategy for assigning some of your key/highest stakes customers to each of them…and coordinate a plan for salespeople and/or support staff to reach out to others.

It’s quite simple…and something that can have a very high return on the investment of time… a simple phone call can differentiate you in a huge way from your competitors…and that’s a good thing for ANY business!


Benchmarking Surveys – A Strategic Content Marketing Tool

Monday, July 17th, 2017


Benchmarking



Annual benchmarking studies are a secret weapon that some organizations are using to provide fuel for their content marketing efforts.

Benefits:

I’ve managed several annual benchmarking projects for clients and have seen them benefit in the following ways:

  • Establish themselves/their organization as a ‘go to’ expert in their field
  • Generate proprietary statistics/news that they can use as marketing and social media content
  • Keep customers by providing them with information about what their peers are doing

The ‘juice’ you can get from conducting a benchmarking study can drive content for a full year…and then it’s time to refresh your learnings and do it again!



Examples:



Here are some examples of how some of my clients have promoted the results of their benchmarking studies:

 

Keys to Success:

I recently did a short podcast with Linda Popky of Leverage to Markets where we explored some of the details of what a benchmarking study is and what the keys are to a successful one.  Some of the key things to know:

  • The study is based on a survey about best practices, challenges, and upcoming trends that is promoted to both customers and non-customers to ensure that you have a broad number of viewpoints that are considered statistically segment.
  • The main incentive for participation is a full report of the findings after the survey is closed.
  • The most interesting benchmarking reports include a look at some key verticals that you serve so people can compare themselves to others like them.

If you’re interested in talking more about how to do your own benchmark study, let’s talk!


Win Loss Analysis: Your Secret Weapon for Success

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

secret weapon

In my years as a research consultant, I’ve never found a tool with as much bang for the buck as win/loss analysis.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, win/loss studies work like this:

  • Get information from your sales team or contact database to identify accounts that you ‘won’ and those that you ‘lost’ (aka didn’t WIN) in a given period (monthly or quarterly is most common)
  • Have a conversation with the key contact(s) at each account to understand the following:
    • - Who they consider your competition
    • - What their key criteria were for evaluating their choices
    • - How you measured up against your competitors on their key criteria
    • - Their perception of the sales process

These efforts don’t require a huge investment of time or money: these conversations can be brief and you don’t need to talk to a lot of people—you can pick a random sample of people who bought or didn’t buy your product/service.

The rewards for collecting this information are huge! To have a regular, ongoing perspective on these items will help you make sure that you have a finger on the pulse of your marketplace and that you anticipate issues before they become huge problems. To understand how your customers/prospects perceive you and the marketplace, is extremely valuable…and in some cases, the side benefit is that you make a great impression on a lost prospect which may turn their impression of your company around and change their mind (I’ve seen it happen!).

Think about how win/loss analysis could help you or your clients…it could be the perfect tool to get insights that you need in order to make some key business decisions with your customers’ needs/wants in mind.

 


Tips to Engaging Millennials – in Research and Beyond

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

millennials

My clients and my peers are all trying to learn as much as they can about how to engage the new workforce as employees and as customers.

It seems as if no other generation has generated such mystique…sure, you can say that the Boomers found the X’ers perplexing and the same with X’ers and Y’s.  But I venture to say that this newest, LARGEST generation is causing much more head scratching than the ones before.

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Why Do Some Companies Avoid Research Like the Plague?

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

In a recent discussion about obstacles to win loss research, we talked the fact that some companies just don’t do ANY research.

Some of the reasons that companies don’t do research:

  • Don’t trust their customers’ perspectives: Some companies are skeptical about their customers’ ability to be objective/overcome their biases.  Other companies consider their technology/concepts to be beyond their customers’ limited imagination.  Even the most innovative product companies have something to learn from their customers that will ensure that their products/services are delivered in a way that appeals to their target market (packaging, messaging, and more…).
  •  Think that research will take too much time: Research that is done over time vs. at one specific point in time can help ensure that no product launch or critical business decision has to wait for a project to be complete.  ANY insights you can inject into business decisions can improve the success of those decisions.
    •  Think that research will cost too much money: There are many ways to do research on a shoestring.  The simplest, least expensive research involves just picking up the phone and talking to your customers about how things are going, what their biggest problems are, and how you could continue to meet their needs.  Outside research resources definitely have their place when the research is large in scope and difficult to manage using in-house resources or when it’s important to have statistical levels of confidence in the data and/or an objective view of the data.

Companies who DO use research to gather insights about their customers are able to provide solutions that are targeted directly to a real market need and are more likely to win over their competition based on having the best understanding of what their market cares about and what messages will appeal most to them when positioning their products and services.

Companies of all sizes, from high tech to no tech can all benefit from listening to their customers and exploring the best type of research for addressing their immediate and long-term needs.

What obstacles have you seen stand in the way of companies doing research?  How has that worked for them?


Overcoming Obstacles to Market Research

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

customer research

At the end of last year, The Insight Advantage conducted research to understand how market research is being used in organizations.

We heard back from participants that there are three primary obstacles to doing market research.

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Lack of Internal Resources

It’s important for companies to find ways to overcome these obstacles so they can ensure they are integrating updated market research into their businesses before making key business decisions.  Decisions about product development, marketing, sales, and other key initiatives must include current knowledge about customer needs, wants and overall mindset.

I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.

-Bill Gates

See below for our tips on how to overcome the three biggest obstacles to conducting essential market research.

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The Center of the Universe for B2B Prospecting

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Submitted by guest blogger, Scott Hornstein of B2P Partners

Every champion of a product or service believes in their heart that their target is the CEO. They need to find a way into CEOs’ consciousness. That the illumination of their message will pierce the maelstrom like a lightning bolt and all, from there, will be smooth sailing. Scales will fall from eyes and money will rain from the heavens.

To them I offer a cold shower:

  • This is not the way CEO’s learn
  • This is not the way corporate purchase decisions are made

We’ve just completed Prospect Persona research that involved talking to CEOs worldwide. We learned two things about their information behavior:

  1. Their number one source of new concepts and ideas is their peer network
  2. They look to the buying center to vet and recommend in all purchase decisions

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Focus More to Shorten Sales Cycles

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

focus-e1432751428726

According to a recent Oracle study, 50% of forecasted sales never close.  That's mega frustrating for all sales teams who want to shorten sales cycles!

Long sales cycles are a major headache for most companies that are selling B2B solutions.  Customers have complicated evaluation and approval processes, spend significant time evaluating multiple solutions to reduce their risk, and sometimes just go ‘dark’ midway through the process.  This phenomenon drives higher selling costs and can also result in lower win rates.

I was recently working on a win loss analysis project where we were analyzing the win rate of various segments of my client’s business to create a definition of their most viable target market.

In the process, we realized that, based on the highest win rate, the segment that made the most sense to focus on had the following characteristics:

  • The fewest number of competitors serving/focusing on them
  • Some common demographics (company size, type of implementation, # of users)
  • Least likely to require steep discounts to attract the business
  • Most satisfied customer segment after implementation

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Service Desks Aren’t Just for IT Help Anymore…

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

service desk

I follow DailyInfographic to get inspiration for blogging, sharing information with my clients, and also just to see cool infographics.  Yesterday’s infographic was about how and why service desks are used around the world.

The study shown there was interesting to me since I interview a lot of HR and Sales customers as part of the win/loss research work I do for my clients who are selling software solutions to these audiences.  These two groups are among those that are most likely to use service desks beyond IT support purposes.

Service Desks have traditionally been defined as:

- a service providing information and support to computer users, especially within a company

Things have changed as other departments have seen a model that works to help THEM disseminate information, respond to inquiries, etc. to employees.

The three most popular ways to get service outside of IT (and examples of how they use service desks):

HR Finance Sales
 New employee onboarding  Accounting  Account Information
 Benefits  Procurement  Competitive Intelligence
 Relocation  Payroll  Customer Feedback

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B2B Customer Experience Best Practices

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Customer Experience

Are you interested in understanding what the customer experience (CE) movement is all about?

As the dynamics in the customer's world are constantly evolving, an insatiable curiosity about customers is a key to success. Company-wide alignment with customers prevents waste (improves profit) and prevents customer hassles (improves organic revenue growth).

Check out the 2014 ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Benchmarking Study. As the first global B2B analysis of best practices in customer experience management (CEM), this study provides insights on the growing role of customer experience in corporations.

Some key tidbits:

  • Investment in customer experience management has increased or remained stable since 2005 for 88% of business-to-business companies
  • Four out of five B2B firms assign overall responsibility for customer experience initiatives to a vice president or director-level executive
  • One in five companies treats customer experience inputs as a determinant of corporate strategy.

The study equally represents both large (more than 10,000 employees) and medium-sized companies (between 1,000 and 10,000 employees) headquartered in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Industries represented include equipment, financial services, insurance, legal, medical, manufacturing, publishing, telecommunications, technology, and transportation.


Sifting Through Social Media Noise Requires Good Analysis

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Businesses across the world are realizing that they need to figure out how to sift through the megatons of information that is being shared about them via social media amongst customers, ex-customers, prospective customers and more.

It’s extremely important to pay attention to the information being posted online about the impressions that people have of your products and your company.  This information can complement the work you may already be doing to collect customer feedback via customer satisfaction questionnaires or any other research you do to understand how to better meet your customers’ needs.

There are many social media monitoring tools available to collect information from public areas of the Internet.  Most of them automatically classify each comment using natural language processing technology (NLP) to help assess whether they are positive or negative.  This approach can help take a broad sweep at assessing what the sentiment is out there about your company and your products.  Monitoring these metrics over time and seeing what variations occur in conjunction with new product launches or organizational changes is very important, however this just tells you ‘what’ people are saying and doesn’t tell you ‘why’ people feel that way about your company/your products.

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Why CRM Implementations Fail: The Top Ten Killers

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Submitted by guest blogger, Reuven Shelef, President of OUT OF THE BOX Consulting

CRM solutions make big promises. Implement one well, and you’ll increase sales, improve support, and create loyal customers almost overnight. As a Salesforce Cloud Alliance Partner, I know that’s not universally the case. Over the years, I’ve become familiar with what can cause a deployment to work well, or fall short of expectations.

Here’s my take on the top 10 problems that can derail a CRM system implementation. Please note that this list is in no particular order of importance, though I think that “poorly defined requirements” should be at or near the top of any list. Your knowledge of your organization will dictate what surfaces first.

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Peter Shankman’s New Passion: Listen to Your Customers…or Else!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Today I had a great 1:1 with Peter Shankman, the uber social networking guru, who has been spouting radically new ways of thinking about social media, PR, marketing, advertising, and customer service for years.

What led to our conversation is his newest focus on getting companies to understand the bottom-line benefits of listening to their customers and delivering what customers want. I’m thrilled to see someone with such a voice and worldwide audience talking about something that has been my own passion and driving force since entering this world (when you think of Peter, think of the old commercial “When E.F. Hutton talks…”!).

What I learned in our whirlwind 10 minutes together:

  • Companies who give customers what they want can increase revenues by 30-40%.
  • We live in a “sharing economy” and if you are NOT giving customers what they want, they will tell the world.
  • If you make your employees and customers love you, they will do your PR and handle your customer service for you.

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Has LinkedIn Killed the Value of References?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Submitted by guest blogger, Maeve Naughton - Senior Manager, Field Marketing at Fluke Networks and Customer Reference Expert

In my younger years, if you were endorsed by someone, it meant that you were being recommended by them. Someone valued and approved of your services or work and were willing to stand up and say, "Yes, Maeve is a good bet! I'd hire her." It was almost like a badge of honor. You wouldn't endorse the guy you bought an apple from because you shared an email or even a phone call to find out where his apple stand is located. That would just be silly. You don't really know anything about them. You might, however, endorse their ability to grow great apples, after you have tried some. Maybe you found value in the price of the apple, maybe it was the greenest one on the block, offered the most crunch, lasted a week without going bad. I think you get the point.

Things have changed, and change isn't necessarily a good thing. LinkedIn's endorsement feature is such a thing.

According to the LinkedIn blog from Dec. 18, 2012, "Endorsements are a valuable way to enhance your professional identity and is an even simpler way to help build the professional brands of your connections. And we’re seeing great reception, with more than 550 million endorsements given out since launch."

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Understanding “Big Data”: What About Good Old Fashioned Customer Research?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Big-Data-smaller

‘Big data’ is another one of those buzzwords that had reached the tipping point and is a topic that any business person worth their salt needs to be somewhat conversant on.

My clients have been asking me how big data fits in with their focus on understanding their customers using traditional tools like surveys and interviewing. As perplexing as the concept can appear to be, it’s really quite simple. Traditional tools still have a place in this new ‘big data’ world…

Understanding your customers’ needs and wants and getting inside their heads about what challenges they face so you can figure out how to be invaluable to them is hugely important to business success. This information is data, regardless of how you GET that data. Conducting your own surveys, interviewing your customers, or buying syndicated market data. Plain and simple, it’s just data.

Likewise, the information that can be collected about the transactions your customers conduct with your company is also data. Whether you mine your own databases for that information or ask your customers directly. It’s data.

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Top Obstacles to Win Loss Research

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a session at the inaugural Marketing Camp Silicon Valley and we explored win loss analysis: what is it, why do it, what are the obstacles, how to overcome them, and more.

Win loss analysis is one of the lowest hanging fruit for organizations, providing a relatively easy and quick way to get invaluable insights that have implications across the organization.  But very few organizations are doing win loss analysis…why IS that?

We came up with this list of obstacles…I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks about ways to overcome many of these.

First, there are the functional areas that can serve as obstacles:

Sales – doesn’t want to give access to their contacts, skeptical and even paranoid about the information that will be collected

Marketing – bandwidth

Product Managers – “we’re already done with the product so can’t do anything with the input”

Then there are the perceptions/mindsets that get in the way:

  • Companies that just don’t do ANY research
  • “It takes too long to implement win/loss programs.”
  • “We won’t get any good, deep insights.”
  • “It’s hard to quantify the results.”
  • “We’ll just get self-fulfilling results…the person who does the interview will hear what they WANT to hear.”
  • “No one will want to talk to us…they’ve moved on.”
  • “It will take too much training to do it well and make sure the interviewers do a good job.”

What obstacles have you seen that get in the way of companies talking to customers they have won and those they have lost?  How have you overcome these obstacles?


Technology Is Revolutionizing Customer Service

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

From guest blogger, Lance Overbay – Lance studied engineering and minored in English. He has a love for all things Android.

Today's entrepreneur and startup business owner is born into a world of digital communication. Mobile phones are often used for texting rather than talking. Requests for information now involve finger-walking the Internet rather than physical journeys backed by research in yellow pages, the print newspaper or word-of-mouth testimonies.

It seems that many prefer the anonymity of computerized contact over the visual or verbal upfront requirements of a personal meeting or phone call. To compete in this digital society, business owners must learn how to apply current technology to all matters involving customer support. The power of live chat software, social media programs, and email can help promote quicker response times, fulfill customer expectations and save money in the process.

A Swelling Population Demands New Methods of Customer Support

CUSTOMER-SUPPORT-solo-blonde-rep
There was a time when society consisted of small communities, mom-&-pop businesses, and a local economy based on friends serving friends. One-on-one customer support was easy to maintain, desirable and satisfying to both the business owner and the customer.

Even small communities consist of many groups of strangers among friends. The demand for service exceeds the capacity of upfront visual and verbal customer support.

Old methods of live customer support can be:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to monitor
  • Time consuming
  • And employee intensive.

On the occasions when staff overload results in 45 minutes of recorded messages, menu phone trees and customer frustration, the customer can develop a negative attitude toward the business, its products and its customer support policies. By applying the features of a chat application and other various social media tools, an aggressive business can use this focus on technology and anonymity to help connect users to the proper support networks in a manner that is less expensive to manage and still customer-preferred.

Social Media and Live Chat Software Uses Technology to Improve Customer Support

Current technology promotes the opportunity for every business to provide instant access to real-time customer support. Unlike call waiting, customers who make contact via digital devices are not forced to endure the monopoly that accompanies dial-tone silence and recorded messages. Even in the event that a particular online customer support session involves a customer wait, working from a computer or the likes of an iPhone gives that customer an opportunity to fill the lag time with personal research, a review of currently posted online answers or any other type of online interest. So your customers can research, chat with a friend, update your status on Facebook, Tweet, or check your email while you wait for your customer support specialist to assist you. Embracing new technology in your customer service model can help your customers to connect and might improve your profits overall.

So...do you see this as a positive trend?  Or are there trade-offs?


The Chief Customer Officer (CCO) Movement…a Good Sign for Customers

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

We’re all familiar with a wide variety of CXO positions, but how many of you have run into a CCO lately?  Well it’s becoming more and more likely that you WILL run into one in organizations worldwide as the creation of Chief Customer Officer roles become a strategic move for organizations according to a recent Inc. Magazine article.

What IS a CCO?  The Chief Customer Officer is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers.  This position is intended to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact.  The strategic importance of CCOs has gradually grown since the 1990’s when the role was created and in some cases was just a symbolic way for organizations to say that they were customer-focused.  Today, the CCO typically reports to the chief executive officer, and is potentially a member of the board of directors.

According to Curtis Bingham of the CCO Council, there are now over 500 CCO’s worldwide and the role is rapidly evolving.

CCOs are often responsible for influencing corporate activities of customer relations in the call center, sales, marketing, user interface, finance/billing. fulfillment and post-sale support.  Sometimes they even may head up one of these functional areas, but still maintain a cross-functional focus.

One interesting example of this is a client of mine, Vendavo, where their new Sr. VP of Global Sales, Jennifer Maul, previously held the CCO role in the organization.   Jennifer’s new role is “responsible for lifetime customer relationships, customer success, and growing the customer base”.   As a result of the close relationship between those goals and the sales team, she now has a different title, but is still responsible for customer relationships as well as the sales function.  This would indicate that customer retention and satisfaction is fundamental to Vendavo's sales/growth strategy…that’s a good thing!

I'm encouraged by the increasing number of CCOs and the increased focus of organizations on how important customer relationships are to the bottom line.  If you aren't delivering/supporting your product or communicating with your customers in a way that meets their needs/expectations, it doesn't matter how cool your product is...they will find someone else who is willing to make their experience easier and less painful.

To learn more about this evolving role, explore the CCO Council site.  There are many tools there to help determine whether the time is right for your organization to create a CCO role and the success factors for doing so.

If you consult with organizations, you should understand more about this role and realize the important message your clients are sending if they have a CCO…it is a huge clue about their strategic focus and will give you insights about what is most important to them.

Please share any insights you have about this role and the challenges that companies may be having in implementing such a position.


Payoff for Coordinating Customer Experience Management

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

From guest blogger, Lynn Hunsaker, of Clear Action - Customer Experience Optimization Consulting

Connect your customer experience management efforts across the company, and enjoy exponential benefits, according to the 2011 Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Benchmarking Study.

Customer Experience Management Collaboration

Companies with managers (of their top five methods to achieve CEM goals) who meet together quarterly or more often for coordination purposes, or have dotted-line reporting to a single executive or committee tend to enjoy advantages* in the following areas:

  • Role of CEM: Top management’s day-to-day activities indicating that customer experience is a competitive differentiator, CEM is a formal business process, and CEM is an influencer of major business decisions.
  • Voice of Customer: Identify and collect voice of the customer form all the influencers on the buying decision (i.e. initiators, approvers, users, buyers, influencers, gatekeepers, decision-makers). And involve executives in listening to customers, capture front-line employees’ observations of customer sentiment, and capture customer complaints anytime anywhere.

Voice of Customer

  • How We View Customers: Integrate customer feedback sources, analyze integrated customer data, establish a single view of each customer across divisions and regions, use customer metrics to evaluate organizational performance, and include customer metrics in the company’s balanced scorecard.

Customer Experience Data

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Using Social Media to Manage Your Customers’ Journey

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

I came across an interesting blog post in Forbes today about the importance of using social media to help not only get involved in, but manage, your customers’ journey. 

Customers begin their buying process way before they contact vendors that they are interested in.  Think about the amount of research you personally have done before deciding which vendor to contact about any product or service you purchased recently.  Personally, I’ve sent inquiries out to email lists for groups I belong to as well as put out inquiries on Facebook to get recommendations from like-minded people in my community who can recommend solutions to my problems. 

Customers are also using web search to become more educated before deciding who to contact.  Web search provides access not only to vendor websites and product/service information, but also community board, blog posts, and rating sites.

Being armed with all of the above information can help short circuit the qualification process as a buyer and your buyers know that.

By understanding what your customers are looking for at each step of their research process, and providing it, you can ensure that you are included in their short list of providers they will contact. 

And the best way to get a deep understanding of how your customers are navigating their buying process is to talk to both customers you have won as well as those you lost.  By conducting ongoing win-loss analysis, you can ensure that you understand the various points in their research and purchase process, what information that were looking for and what criteria they used to qualify vendors. All of this information is vitally important to making sure that your marketing efforts are hitting the target.

What do you know about the information your customers is looking for, and where?  You may be surprised…


Have You Thanked a Customer Lately?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

It’s that time of year for giving thanks…but I suggest that this should only serve as a simple reminder of a mindset we should have all year long, especially when it comes to our customers.

Keeping customers happy and preventing them from being lured away by your competitors is a key strategy to having a stable customer base and healthy revenues. Part of a successful customer retention strategy is ensuring that customers know that they are valued and not viewed as a commodity that you can replenish as needed.

And when it comes to making your customers feel valued, a simple message of ‘Thanks for your business!’ does the job perfectly. Have you ever been on an American Airlines flight when they say “We know you have other choices and we appreciate that you chose to fly with us…”. I know it’s a script that the flight attendants are given, but obviously, it had an impact on THIS customer. It’s a great message…for all of us!

But words alone can only have so much of an impact. I just looked back at the July 2011 email I received from Netflix which was their first announcement of the debacle that led to a plummet in customer numbers and their stock price. “We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business.” And now we are going to raise prices on you and ‘encourage’ you to stop ordering DVD’s…what?! I felt ANYthing but valued after reading that email. And will never feel the same about Netflix, a company that I had been a raving fan of up until then.

An example of how ‘actions speak louder than words’: Yesterday a San Francisco gas station owner lowered gas prices by 50 cents per gallon for 8 hours as a way of thanking his customers and helping make their holiday travel a bit less expensive. WOW! No advertising of this offer ahead of time to get MORE business, just a concrete (and unexpected) thank you to his customers. And, how cool that his actions made the local news, but that wasn’t his objective. It was a pure token of thanks. Side benefits: extremely loyal customers who hopefully won’t be tempted by saving a few cents per gallon at a competing station and who will spread the word about this station to others.

Here are a few ideas for how you can say thank you to your customers, not only during the holiday season, but ANY time during the year (or ALL year!):

  • Send an insert with all orders (or orders over a certain amount) that provide a discount on future orders...with a message saying "Thanks for your business!'
  • Create a culture in your organization for anyone who interfaces with your customers (sales reps, support staff, cashiers, customer service reps, etc.) to make sure they say a sincere “Thank you for your business” after each interaction.
  • Have executives proactively call key customers for the express purpose of saying “Thank you”…no selling involved.

Those are just a few deas to get your juices flowing…let us know what you have done, or are thinking of doing, to let your customers know how much you appreciate their continued business!

And thank YOU for taking the time to read our blog! We’d love to hear your comments…


Employee Satisfaction = Customer Satisfaction

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

 

The evidence continues to accumulate: happy, satisfied, highly engaged employees help increase customer satisfaction.  And vice versa.

Why is this?

  • Customers like to do business with people who have good attitudes.

How many times have you done business with a company and gotten the impression that people just don’t like working there?  Their unhappiness/dissatisfaction oozes from their pores and can’t help but impact their interactions with customers.  And it makes you want to shudder to think about how your employees’ negative attitudes about your products/services could impact your customers’ own attitudes…

  • Knowledgeable, experienced employees make it easier to do business with your company.

Employees who have worked at your company for a long period of time and have mastered their jobs, understand procedures, and know when to escalate issues are a huge asset when it comes to providing satisfying customer interactions.  And the only way to retain your employees is through high levels of satisfaction and engagement.  Starbucks makes this a very high priority, knowing that there are bottom-line benefits for them.

  • Your employees are an important tool for understanding your customers.

Your employees who work directly with customers are constantly receiving input about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to doing business with you.  And they also know what other options your customers have and how you measure up.  It’s important that your employees feel engaged and invested enough to share this information with others in the organization, enabling you to ensure that your products, services, and policies are in synch with what your customers want.

 

There are other factors at play which drive the close relationship between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, but these are three of the most important ones.

And if you wonder why good service is hard to find these days, consider this: only about fifty-percent of employees are satisfied with their jobs — and only one in five are passionate about their work.

Some very successful companies have a radical approach: employees first, customers second.  There must be a reason for that thinking.

If you consider customer satisfaction and loyalty an important strategy for your company, be sure to invest some energy in understanding and measuring your employees’ satisfaction/loyalty also.  The results could be enlightening and help you understand why your customer sat/loyalty numbers aren’t quite what you are hoping for.


Good Customer Service: Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It sounds so obvious.

Is there anything more important in your efforts to keep customers happy?

I'm in the middle of a situation with Samsung where my new networked printer isn't working because it requires a new network card.   Samsung handled things great.  After several support calls that didn't fix the situation, they realized that the card needed to be replaced and ordered a new one.  And escalated me to receive in-person support to install the card through a third party company.

This is where things got frustrating.  I was promised that someone would call me to make an appointment to come work on the printer.  No such luck.  After 4 business days, I still haven't received a call from the support company, but have called THEM 6 times to follow up to see when someone is coming out.  Apparently they themselves can't get the local technician to respond to them after many phone calls.

OK, understood.  You have a 'bad' employee.  Good to know.  So, what are you going to DO about it?

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Will You Give Me a Good Satisfaction Rating???

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I’m a huge fan of companies who solicit my feedback after I’ve done business with them…after all, that IS the business I’m in—ensuring that companies have information about how well they are meeting their customers’ needs.  However, I definitely think that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.

How many of you have been asked the following question (or some variation) at the end of an interaction, whether in person or on the phone?

“When you receive our follow-up survey, will you give me a good rating?”

Sure, it’s great that customer service staff who ask this question 1) know that they are being measured based on how satisfied customers and 2) care about the measurement.  But when they ask this question, do they REALLY want to go further to ensure that I’m a satisfied customer?  What will they do when they get a ‘No’ response?

I personally think that referring to ANY post-encounter survey, except to encourage you to take the time to complete it, is just TACKY…certainly there are better ways to ensure that you have fully met a customer’s expectations such as:

  • “Is there anything else I can do to help you today?”
  • “Have we resolved all of the issues you called about?”

These variations still help ensure that you have a satisfied customer on your hands, but don’t come off quite as pushy or needy…but what do you think?


Think Like Your Customer: Aligning Selling to Buying Process

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Guest Blogger, Gary Katz of Marketing Operations Partners.

Earlier this year I read Bill Stinnett's excellent book, Think Like Your Customer, which should be required reading for anyone in Sales and Marketing, especially if you market high-value products and services.

A glaring Marketing Operations disconnect for many companies is our tendency to over-focus on What and How we want to sell, when we really need to develop a deeper understanding of What, Why and How our customers buy. Those of us in MO need to assert leadership in aligning our company's sales process with our customers' buying process.

The healing starts at home. Our collective lack of effectiveness in supporting one of our primary customers, Sales, surely speaks to the growing emphasis today on Sales and Marketing alignment.

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