Feedback Scheme founder Jamie Snape undertakes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in News and Media | 1 comment

Feedback Scheme founder Jamie Snape today undertook the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but wanting to go above and beyond just “the call” decided to add a little extra by insisting his nominees (after himself of course) undertake a new Ice Bucket Challenge ‘Executive Edition’, and so be wearing their suits when taking their dousing.

Having now undertaken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge following his nomination by his brother Paul Snape, he awaits the response from his three nominees; The Business Desk Director David Parkin, Charlie Haywood of Hotfoot Design, and of course his older brother Andrew Snape.

Finally please remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is in a good cause, and to donate in the UK to the MND Association at www.mndassociation.org

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Profit In The Service

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Customer Service | 0 comments

For the majority involved in running an organisation of any size, if they are completely honest a customer can find the same product they sell or the service they provide elsewhere, this is just a painful truth and there are very few exceptions to this. As such differentiating a business and generating repeat custom is probably in the main achieved through one of five factors; price, convenience of geographic location, high switching costs, loyalty from existing relationships or customer service levels.

Of these five factors, we take the focus off high switching costs as these are specific only to existing customers and only to certain sectors, and this can be overcome with planning and/or timing. Convenience of location again can be overcome by competitors, this time through logistics or by opening a presence within close geographic proximity. Loyalty from existing relationships can only really be generated on mass by nurturing through good customer service over a period of time, and so can’t be separated from customer service. So from five we are left with just the two key factors in differentiating from competitors and achieving repeat business, which are price and customer service levels.

There are those that may argue that customers wanting to align themselves or their business with certain brands constitutes a sixth factor, but then the greatest example of this kind of magnetic brand attraction for our generation is probably Apple Inc., certainly within a B2C marketplace. Whilst having a unique hardware range, Apple have also achieved their status by way of exceptional customer service for which people are willing to pay a premium for both product and customer service, and the iconic brand status they have now couldn’t have been achieved to the same degree without the latter.

So between price and customer service levels, differentiating by price is certainly the easiest route for any business to take, as fractionally undercutting the competition (by reducing profit margins) won’t take much effort at all. It won’t take much work in terms of staff training either, minus one or two percent on competitor rates or prices is actually something most people could undertake without training, and so a few ‘Price Promise’ graphics at the POS for a retailer for example and the task of differentiating with the competition is complete. The only problem with the price route is some competitors will surely take the same path, and the reduction in profit margins quickly then becomes the slashing of margins.

A further downside to differentiating by price is on a human level, since this generates little in terms of personal career satisfaction for executives and indeed for the staff on the frontline too. With less profit margin you need more customers, and so can spend less time on servicing each. That warm feeling when you get home from a job well done are feelings you mostly gain after providing a great service and are striving to be the best at what you do.

Whilst providing exceptional customer service and building relationships with customers takes time and isn’t something that’s easy, it’s certainly something you can put a tangible margin on as people will in the main pay at least a little extra for good customer service and support. In short customer service is probably the only factor in business where you can truly provide something unique, that cannot be copied, and being the top for customer service also builds loyalty and can retain or increase profit margins. If you decide not to be at the top for exceptional customer service, then you probably have little choice but join a terminal race to the bottom in terms of price.  At the bottom though I expect you will find very little loyalty, and even less profit, and when a competitor arrives that enjoys greater economies of scale and/or purchasing power, then at that moment your business will complete its decline to failure.

Race to the bottom

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Customer Experience Management (CXM / CEM)

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Customer Experience Management (the acronym for which is CXM or confusingly also CEM) is relatively young, and really has only recently been fully embraced by organisations.

So what is CXM?

CXM seeks to refocus an organisation towards customer service, and provide each customer with a tailored experience. It manages an organisation’s relationships with their customers, and monitors what the customer or client expects to experience in terms of service and/or a product, and sets this against what they actually experience, which are often two very different things in reality, CXM then seeks to rectify any difference between the two.

So what in tangible terms is CXM?

At the centre of all CXM systems is the critical component which is closed loop feedback. This involves gathering data from all existing customer touchpoints, but often also involves being more pro-active with Voice of the Customer (VoC) solutions such as Incentivised Feedback Surveys.

With a closed loop feedback scheme in place, taking feedback from surveys and indeed all customer touchpoints, negative feedback then triggers intervention where necessary, sometimes referred to as ‘customer rescue’, which is then followed by obtaining further feedback and intervention where necessary throughout the customer lifecycle.

CXM should ideally be seen as a pro-active approach to customer service and sales, marrying the two, initiating anticipatory contact with customer when appropriate to do so, and then reacting to feedback often on an individual basis.

Why do organisations need CXM?

According to various studies, it costs over five times as much to gain a new customer as retain an existing one, and this is why CXM has become the main focus for many organisations. The ultimate goal for CXM being avoidance of customer churn and maximising the customer life cycle, maintaining greater loyalty to a product or service. CXM also seeks to make advocates of their existing customers, gaining new business by increasing word of mouth after providing customers with an exceptional  experience.

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Survey QR Codes

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

In the last couple of years you may have noticed QR codes (Quick Response codes) move their way into the mainstream of marketing, however it may surprise some to learn QR Codes were actually invented in Japan way back in the 1990s initially for use within automotive manufacturing. Following the arrival of mobile devices with inbuilt cameras and internet access, QR codes have been given a new occupation beyond their original perceived usefulness, gaining traction within B2C marketing in particular, as essentially scanable quick links for website pages.

So, should your organisation now be using QR codes to link to your online surveys and in your general marketing materials?

Well, right now at time of writing, the best answer would probably be perhaps, so long as you’re targeting a suitable audience and your expectations of their use are realistic. There is certainly a school of thought, that QR codes seem to be a box ticking exercise for many companies. Perhaps they see them on a competitors marketing materials and feel compelled to use one, indeed inventing a use for them, often a use which makes little or no sense.

A problem with QR codes is that to-date their readers have not been adopted as out-the-box technology in most mobile devices including the current crop of iPhones (at time of writing running iOS7). As such for many scanning a QR code isn’t as simple as just pointing your mobile device’s camera at the code and having the browser open up to the correct URL, its in fact a case of scrolling through your apps to find a QR code reader, selecting that, waiting for it to run and then finally pointing your device at the QR code and then waiting for the scanning process, and finally your browser to open and the intended web page to load…all that of course assuming the user has in advance downloaded a 3rd party QR code reader application.

While these convenience obstacles are in place I can only surmise that QR codes will be used in the main by those technology intrigued audiences, dedicated to using every one of their chosen mobile device’s features, and as such, listing a memorable domain name will surely for the immediate future remain the best way to help people arrive at your online survey.

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Incentivised Feedback Surveys

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

With many large companies currently grappling with the implementation of Customer Experience Management (CXM/CEM) systems, one tool currently being deployed is the Incentivised Feedback Survey.

In the UK, retailers particularly have adopted this tool on mass, with such companies as New Look, Primark, Mountain Warehouse and supermarket giants Morrisons and Tesco all having recently implemented such schemes. Fast-food is another sector in which this tool has also gained popularity, with brands KFC and Pizza Hut leading the way.

Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes themselves are designed in most cases to tempt customers into taking the time to complete a feedback survey with respect services and/or products, with the reward often being in the form of entry to a prize draw or a discount against future goods or services.

Typically Incentivised Feedback Surveys are based online, and utilise a unique URL (sometimes arrived at via a QR code scanned into a mobile device) directing the user to a site separate to that of the company’s main website, or redirecting to 3rd party survey services. In either case this extra site usually functions solely as a bespoke online survey tool that has been tailored to suit the author company.

It is important to recognise that the design of these surveys are currently not always to suit their customers too, often lengthy, there are some poor examples of this tool now in existence which can give rise to a high abort rate. Further to this when analysed, one struggles to find evidence that the data from Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes will be from a full cross-section of a company’s customer base, indeed there is clearly a danger that data will more often come from lower socio-economic groups who will be more motivated to sacrifice their time for entry to a prize draw, or for a relatively small future discount against goods and services.

Despite their drawbacks, Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes certainly do provide extremely valuable data to many organisations as part of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program, but managers tasked with introducing CXM do sometimes make erroneous assumptions that it provides a total closed loop feedback solution which it clearly does not. Indeed the Incentivised Feedback Survey should ideally be used in conjunction with other feedback tools, and the feedback from all customer touchpoints rather than as the only the one instrument within a CXM system.

A touched on a good CXM system does requires as an integral part a closed loop feedback system for which an Incentivised Feedback Survey scheme doesn’t ideally tick the box, though some vendors have sought to adapt their systems to try to with ‘customer rescue’ as an option within the Incentivised Feedback Survey process. In devising feedback schemes as part of CXM systems it is vital to remember that the primary goal is to avoid customer churn, therefore catching real-time opinion by way of closed loop feedback from the customers who are disgruntled (and therefore less likely to fill out long surveys) and who are motivated to imminently change suppliers, is worthy of a greater focus than the general feedback data obtained from Incentivised Feedback Surveys.

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