Tag Archives: customer service

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!”

CX: Realities & Piftfalls

People readily acknowledge that an organization must provide “good” customer experience (CX) in order to maintain their competitive position.

In support of this perspective, here are some interesting statistics that can help quantify the value of allocating time and resources to the customer experience and to effective customer service:

  • 80-90 percent of service problems are leadership related (Deming, Juran, and Crosby)
  • Fewer than half of US executives know who their most loyal customers are (Acxiom & Loyalty 360)
  • A 5% increase in customer retention increases a company’s profits by 25% to 95%, and a 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Bain & Co)
  • Consumers who have stated that they have a strong relationship with a single brand, over 64% said it was because they had a “shared value” with the brand in question (Harvard Business Review)
  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.(McKinsey)
  • It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
  • 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service (Defaqto research)
  • A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy)
  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back (1Financial Training services)
  • 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase. (eConsultancy)
  • 45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. (Forrester)

Common Pitfalls

Beware… while many have recognized the above-listed realities, they have also failed to make effective transitions that truly improve the customer experience or retention levels.

According to a recent McKinsey article, some of the most common pitfalls associated with ineffective customer experience transformations are:

  1. Lack of vision. “Many managers enter a transformation with no real vision for the organization’s future state,” the article explains. “Instead, they have a general desire to improve the customer experience and rush into action very quickly, before defining a more specific vision. Targets are often vague, devoid of aspiration, and lacking in specificity…”
  2. No top-level commitment. If the transformation effort doesn’t become a top priority for the CEO and the executive team, it will likely lose momentum or stall completely as other “priorities” arise, or when various stakeholders resist the “extra work,” or when general apathy materializes.
  3. Failure to quantify potential gains. Without a clear expectation of the anticipated return-on-investment, it can be difficult to secure sufficient resources or the necessary budget.
  4. Misaligned goals. Referenced as “heedlessness” by McKinsey, launching a customer-experience transformations based on assumptions about what matters most to customers can result in little-or-no gain and lots of frustration. “Some organizations set out to boil the ocean,” the article states. Similarly, and despite good intentions, trying to transform all parts of the business at once will seldom result in success.

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…

Satisfied Customers

customer service and retention is a primary responsibility for us allIn a recent article, our associate Alan MacNaughton noted that the primary functions of any business are to get customers and keep them.

While getting customers is primarily the job of sales and marketing personnel, KEEPING those customers is the responsibility of EVERYONE in the organization, from those involved in producing the product or delivering the service, quality assurance, customer service, technical support, credit and collections, right through to the shipping personnel.

All these functions can impact (positively or negatively) how the customers perceive your company. The best (perhaps the only) way to keep customers is to insure that every customer is a SATISFIED customer.

Regardless of the type of business, insuring customer satisfaction has many benefits:

  • A dissatisfied customer is easy prey for your competitors. Conversely satisfied customers resist vendor changes
  • Satisfied customers can be your best and lowest cost sales force. They may recommend your company to others or allow you to use them as references
  • Satisfied customers tend to be less cost sensitive, and may believe that paying a modest price premium for superior service is worth it

Comment…

Lagniappe: Customer Service GLUE

lagniappeWe recently visited marketinglagniappe.com, an intriguing blog that focuses on customer service and the practice of G.L.U.E., or “Giving Little Unexpected Extras” in order to engage customers, promote customer loyalty, and drive word-of-mouth.

As you may know, a lagniappe (pronounced “lan-yap”) is a Creole word. It is a small gift or “extra,” often given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.

The website lists a number of examples, such as a 13th doughnut when buying a “baker’s” dozen, the free peanuts provided by 5 Guys Burgers & Fries, or the free warm chocolate chip cookies given to guests at Doubletree Hotels.

GLUE for Sales Professionals?
As sales professionals, what “little unexpected extras” might we give to our customers or prospects?

I’m thinking these lagniappes need not be products or tangible gifts, but rather extra service, such as:

  • Going the extra mile when assessing needs with which we might help
  • Providing a useful referral to help our customers address needs in other areas
  • Identifying and implementing ways that make it easier for our customers to do business with us… possibly streamlining order processing, more straightforward scheduling, or providing concisely-written post-meeting recaps
  • Presenting proposals versus simply submitting them, so that we help our prospects and customers sift through the boiler-plate and more easily understand the relevant benefits, terms and conditions
  • Consistent post-sale follow-up to ensure satisfaction
  • Added support in implementing our solutions…

 

 

The list could go on… maybe you have an example or an idea to add?