Tag Archives: customer engagement

Grow Revenue Wtih Strategic Customer Service

There are many components to business development, and many ways to grow revenue; and strategic customer service is definitely one of the often-overlooked pieces of the puzzle

When asked, most people say they do their best to provide good customer service. However, the methods vary significantly and tend to be inconsistent. To maximize the effectiveness of your team’s customer service effort, it’s best to develop and implement a measurable, strategic approach that leverages your organization’s unique benefits and that can become both consistent and cultural.

Simple & Strategic
Creating a plan, setting goals, enhancing communication and monitoring results are the key elements of the process. Here are some specific ideas on how you might get started:

  • The first step is to learn three key things about your customers what they like, what they don’t like and how they feel about your organization
  • Next, identify your organization’s unique offerings from a products and services perspective (what you offer/do) as well as a brand or cultural perspective (how you offer/do it)
  • Note the alignment between these first two items, and then determine the things associated with your brand, culture and unique offerings that your customers value the most the real benefits
  • Develop a communication style that expresses these benefits in terms that are relevant to your customers (rather than to you and your staff), and create a proactive, systematic way of staying in contact with your customers
  • Define action steps that exemplify and reinforce your group’s brand and culture keep in mind, in most cases an organization’s most distinguishable assets are people
  • Create and implement a system in which your organization consistently executes the action steps and communicates in the style noted above Monitor and measure results… continually discuss and refine the process regularly include this topic on staff meeting and sales meeting agendas; find a tool (such as NPS) to continually gather relevant customer feedback, and make use of it when making decisions

Growing a business is not easy work, but it can become easier if we delight, engage, and retain our customers.

Possibly Matthew Tashjian, a Senior VP at Merrill Lynch in Hartford, CT sums it up best as he often says, “One way to make money is to not lose any!”

The Cost of Disengagement?

Employee engagement has been the topic of several posts, including our previous one; and according to recent data, is on the priority list for most organizational leaders.

But it is less common to hear people speak in specific terms about the real, often hidden, costs associated with disengagement.

In a recent blog post, Conway Management Company shared data indicating that “disengaged employees create a negative and expensive ripple effect throughout an organization, and drive-up costs in five specific ways.”

  1. Higher turnover
  2. Lower productivity and profitability
  3. Little or no process improvement
  4. Higher pay
  5. Lost opportunities

Read the full article…

Remind Me?

How often should / must we remind our customers of the value we bring to the table?

Is a once-per-year reminder sufficient? How about twice per year? Three times?

Most people agree that, ideally, they’d like to “remind” their customers many more times each year; in fact, they say they’d like to keep a reminder of some sort in front of their customers as frequently as possible.

This leads us to a couple of critical questions:

  1. How often should we remind our customers of the value we provide?
  2. How should we do it?

Questions about the ideal contact frequency are among the most frequently-asked (see our previous post for some added perspective…) Generally speaking, sales calls and marketing messages become “over-done” when they fail to provide value to the customer or prospect.

This leads nicely to our second question how will we accomplish this value-added approach? Here are three simple and proven best-practices that can help:

Master the practice of pre-call planning. The most successful sales people plan their calls very carefully, based on research and record-keeping (i.e., effective use of a C.R.M. system), thus their calls tend to be more value-added. These sales people are able to accomplish more during each call and have a stronger impact on each customer or prospect. Even better, they use the written pre-call plan as a post-call review tool.

Questions are the answer. If we do plan our sales calls or presentations, many of us tend to focus on our “speaking points.” In other words, the things we plan to say.

When planning and executing sales contacts, it’s better to put an equal amount of focus and thought into the things we will ask.Asking the right questions is how we learn about our customers’ needs, interests, priorities and challenges; it is how we determine what to do and say next; it is how we solidify true selling relationships. As a rule-of-thumb, try to craft questions that focus on what people are trying to accomplish rather than on what they “think they need.”

In addition, a frequent by-product of asking good questions is enhanced listening. It’s much easier to listen if we stop talking! Good listening also sends a strong implied message to our customers: we care!

Develop a proactive style. This simply means that we end each interaction with a specifically-defined consequential next step a call to action in which we take the proactive position. This helps in several ways.

  • It sets the stage for a higher contact frequency
  • It shows the customer or prospect that we care and that we value their business
  • It often makes things easier for our customer, by helping them to get things done in a timely fashion
  • It shortens the selling cycle
  • It confirms our professionalism

 

Glue X 2…?

Selling is a process, not a one-time event, and it is best to adopt the proper long-term perspective if we’d like to achieve long-term success.

Using the sample circular visual below as a guide, there are two important yet often over-looked fundamentals to consider:

  1. The selling process never ends; once we meet a prospect and go through the cycle once, our goal is to maintain an appropriate contact frequency based on a number of need-based variables, and to both retain the customer and identify a new need at some future point
  2. The ability to move at an optimal pace from one step to the next and to do so in unison with our customers is the key to success

Once we adopt the proper long-term view, the means by which we will move from step to step is follow-up. In fact, we often refer to effective follow-up as the “glue” that keeps the process together and moving forward. If we follow-up diligently, on a value-added basis and with the right frequency, we’ll be able to keep the process (and the customer) moving toward our ultimate goal.

But be advised! If we move too slowly, we run the risk of losing-out to a competitor or to shifting priorities; if we move too quickly, or skip steps, we’re likely to alienate or lose the customer.

Therefore it is imperative that we maintain a keen awareness of the process steps, establish goals for each, continually seek customer feedback, and master the art of value-added follow-up.

You can review a detailed summary of the activities and goals associated with each step on our website.

glueIn addition, and as noted in an earlier post, others have used the “GLUE” analogy with respect to managing customer relationships, and have suggested it is an acronym for Give Little Unexpected Extras!

Please note, these little “extras” need not be material in nature – the simple act of “thinking” of someone and sending or giving them information or recognition can go a long way…

A Glimpse of Data from Orlando Engagement World Conference

EngagementWorldAs you may know,  Engagement World is a conference and expo taking place this week in Orlando, Florida.

The event is “dedicated to highlighting the world of Enterprise Engagement in business and its many strategies and tactics.”

During a few of today’s presentations some simple yet important messages were shared and reinforced:

  • More of the nation’s top organizations are documenting increases in financial performance as a result of increasing employee, partner and customer engagement.
  • Employee engagement begins at the recruiting step – a great case study was presented by Northwell Health (61,000 employees) outlining how they revamped their recruiting and on-boarding practices. To truly engage customers the workforce must be engaged first.
  • Among the key drivers of employee engagement:
    1. Clarity in roles and regular feedback
    2. Two-way communication with leadership
    3. Ability to impact the work environment
    4. Ongoing professional development and training
    5. Sense of connection with the organization’s culture and values

Customer Engagement?

engagement1Customer engagement has become a key objective for many companies and organizations.

The primary goal, according Jon Nace of Rosetta, a global marketing agency, is to not only satisfy clients, but to also “gain a commitment from clients to interact with your brand… make a transaction and, ultimately, to choose your brand repeatedly.

Yet data shows that many B2B companies offer a generic customer experience with few, if any, targeted follow-up actions.

The three recurring challenges to engaging customers are:

  1. Lack of corporate alignment, as departments operate in silos, which leads to an inconsistent user experience and to one department not knowing what customers have done or experienced.
  2. Marketing focus and budget is allocated more to advertising and promotion rather than direct or online customer engagement.
  3. Passive lead management, often involving automated responses rather than customized, value-
    added follow-up.

Is the Customer Always Right?

highroadThe phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s Selfridge’s department store.

It is frequently used by businesses to define or clarify their approach to customer service, hoping, at varying times, to convince both consumers and employees of the high levels of service and satisfaction their customers experience.

But of course, no one is “always” right, and much has been written about why the perspective that “the customer is always right” is, in fact, “wrong.” In fact, a 2014 Huffington Post article lists what author Alexander Kjerulf considers the top five reasons that customers are not always right.

Similarly, Hal Rosenbluth, founder of Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, wrote a book about their approach called “Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.”

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first; that when you put employees first they will be happy at work, and employees who are happy at work give better customer service.

Regardless of your position on the matter, you might consider that the key words in the well-known phrase may not actually be the words “always right.”

Instead, the key word is “customer,” because when a customer is, in fact, wrong, they will most likely stop being a customer if they are proved to be wrong in a manner that they find offensive — in a manner that brings about loss of dignity or respect.

So maybe the better questions is, what does it mean to “take the high road” when interacting with customers or, to Mr. Rosenbluth’s point, colleagues?

As speaker David Brock once said, “Being right doesn’t mean you win!”

Growth Through Strategic Customer Service & Engagement

nl145quoteWhen asked, most people say they do their best to provide good customer service. However, methods can vary significantly and tend to be inconsistent.

To maximize the effectiveness of your team’s customer service and engagement effort, it’s best to develop and implement a measurable, strategic approach that leverages your organization’s unique benefits and that can become both consistent and cultural.

Creating a plan, setting goals, enhancing communication and monitoring results are the key elements of the process. Here are some specific ideas on how you might get started:

  1. The first step is to learn three key things about your customers what they like, what they don’t like and how they feel about your organization
  2. Next, identify your organization’s unique offerings from a products and services perspective (what you offer/do) as well as a cultural perspective (how you offer/do it). Note the alignment between these first two items, and then determine the things associated with your culture and unique offerings that your customers value the most the real benefits
  3. Develop a communication style that expresses these benefits in terms that are relevant to your customers (rather than to you and your staff)
  4. Define action steps that exemplify and reinforce your group’s culture; keep in mind, in most cases an organization’s most distinguishable assets are people
  5. Create and implement a system in which your organization consistently executes the action steps and communicates in the style noted above
  6. Monitor and measure results… continually discuss and refine the process regularly include this topic on staff meeting and sales meeting agendas

Growing a business or sales territory is not easy work, but it will become easier if we can engage, delight and retain our customers. Possibly Matthew Tashjian, a Senior VP at Merrill Lynch in Hartford, CT sums it up best, as he often says, “One way to make money is to not lose any!”

Read the full article…

Team & Customer Engagement: The ROI?

engagementroiWould you like to increase sales revenue, customer loyalty, and referrals?

How about motivating your channel partners so that they place added focus on your organization?

Would you like to implement and sustain a culture of continuous improvement? Or possibly increase the team’s focus on quality or safety, enhance overall wellness, or help them to work more productively?

All of the above-listed objectives are among the reasons organizations have chosen to proactively focus on engaging people; and all of the above-listed objectives can generate a measureable return on investment!

In fact, research from the Enterprise Engagement Alliance indicates that organizations will get the best results when they systematically:

  •  Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives
  • Create a formal Engagement business plan outlining the desired outcomes, behaviors that lead to outcomes, key program components, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and return on investment.
  • Effectively assess the people and the playing field to identify opportunities and obstacles to success
  • Make sure people have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed
  • Implement an integrated communication plan
  • Foster an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and fun
  • Reward and recognize so that people feel supported in their efforts
  • Measure return on investment

Read more… | Comment…

The ROI of Engaging Employees?

engagement1It can be difficult to know the value of engaging employees as well as the impact higher-levels of workforce engagement has on customer relationships.

As a first step, you might find research from Aon Hewitt of interest, which indicates teams that had high levels of engagement had a 37% net promoter score (NPS) versus 10% NPS for teams with lower engagement.

In addition, Avatar Solutions’ recent research reaffirmed that engaged employees tend to enrich their organizations, have fewer absences, be more innovative and confident in expressing new ideas, and have higher levels of productivity.

We are attending an Enterprise Engagement conference in Denver this week and in upcoming posts we will be sharing additional data on the ROI of engaging colleagues and customers, as well as insights on how to do so!