Don’t Fightback, Feedback!

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

In the new era of social media and review sites, customers have power like never before to damage a business and its reputation. Find a fly in your soup at a local restaurant, and a quick witty post about it on TripAdvisor or on Facebook and you’ll soon have the world believing the establishment boasts more insect life than the jungles of Panama.

A question though perhaps we might ask ourselves is, should we in the first instance be posting views on social media or review sites after we leave a premises, potentially inflicting real damage to the business concerned? Alternatively, should we not recognise it’s very difficult to get everything right, especially for every single customer, and so instead feedback to the management quietly, giving them the at least a chance to improve their business and perhaps even make it up to us personally.

Certainly if the business concerned were run by a friend or member of our own family, we wouldn’t dream of publishing negative feedback online as we’d recognise the hard work they put into building the business, and that it would cause them damage. So why do we so readily seek to take this action rather than feedback as we would do if we knew the owner? The English don’t like to make complaints, we prefer to have something to moan about later, but when this negative comment finds its way onto social media and review sites this is no longer harmless chat, it’s broadcasting, and could indeed be seen as malicious since it potentially causes such great harm.

Business owners also need to play a significant part in changing the feedback culture too; management should consider putting in place a feedback scheme / voice of the customer facility. Once received, it is vital any feedback is acted upon quickly, demonstrating to the customer their feedback will result in a positive change and that the business sincerely cares that they are unhappy with their experience. If a customer rescue is achieved and the situation rectified, research shows that these customers will be more loyal than before, and indeed be bigger advocates for the business.

The English don't like to complain2

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The New Age of Customer Care

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Over the last ten years the internet has changed the way most of us do business or indeed are a customer, and we are still very much at an early stage in the evolution of what we currently term the web. It may seem hard to imagine but the next decade will see even greater change, but this time driven as customer service catches up to technology with the advent of Customer Experience Management (CXM) replacing or laying on top of existing CRM systems.

CXM will aid large corporations achieve a high level of customer care that many of which have previously been unknown for, almost anticipating a customer’s needs and listening to their feedback when they have issues by way of VoC, feedback schemes and other contact at customer touchpoints. This is in stark contrast to the first decade of the mass adoption of the internet, when many businesses sought to almost hide behind their websites when customers wanted to make contact. As customers chased purchased products or were seeking to make a complaint, they trawled around websites in vain looking for a telephone number or even just an email address to make a follow-up enquiry. A ridiculous practice when we look back now, akin to a bricks and mortar shopkeeper jumping behind the counter of his store and turning off the lights if he believed a customer might be on their way back to return goods.

If you are running a business in the approaching new age of customer care then the message is simple, now the world has gone online and you no longer see your customers, you better start listening to them. If you don’t listen to your customers your competitors surely will, and would be more than happy to fulfil their needs. For small businesses not able to employ such complex CXM technology they will have to become a beacon of personal service, getting to know their customers like a local shopkeeper might have done fifty years ago. For the customer this is all good news, and marks a welcome shift away from the frustration of dealing with companies that sometimes didn’t even previously pay lip service to customer care.

The New Age of Customer Care

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The Opportunity Is The Problem

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Human nature dictates that we trust and value a friendship more once it’s been tested, and the same is true for customer loyalty after an issue arises and the business proves it truly cares. Having had a problem corrected many studies have shown customers become more loyal than they were previous to the issue, indeed oftentimes they then become the biggest advocates for the business.

Most companies today still see contacts made for customer service reasons as a drain on resources only. If we consider the Call Handling Time key performance indicator used in most contact centres, that statistic really equates to how quickly each Customer Service Advisor can end each call rather then ensure each caller is completely happy, let alone go on to use the opportunity for developing the relationship with the customer.

In an overloaded social media world, having a direct conversation or dialog at length with any customer and building a direct relationship has become far more difficult, especially for larger organisations or companies that primarily do business online. So, now in contrast to most, some forward thinking organisations are embracing this type of customer service contact as a chance to develop a deeper relationship, and differentiating themselves from their competitors by showing a high level of care and value toward the customer.

In time with the advent of Customer Experience Management (CXM), each and every contact either via a feedback scheme, Voice of the Customer channel or direct to a contact centre call will be viewed as critical to every business. Until such a time there remains a huge advantage for the early pioneers into CXM, and those organisations seeing the opportunity in feedback and complaints to really set themselves apart from their competitors, by using this customer initiated contact to actually build stronger relationships.

Once its been tested

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CXM for Small Business

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Often it may seem Customer Experience Management is the preserve of large organisations with vast resources at their disposal, however this isn’t necessarily true and one of it’s key components customer feedback certainly isn’t, indeed some aspects of good CX it could be argued might be easier to achieve within a small businesses environment.

When you stop and consider one of the primary requirement of CX is for closed loop feedback, allowing management to continuously listen to customers by taking feedback at as many customer touchpoints as possible and then responding to this feedback and starting to anticipate their problems and needs, then advantage perhaps could be with the smaller organisations maintaining just a small number of close relationships. CXM is in its infancy and a tight definition yet to be formed, but it would be safe to say it is as much about strategy and a way of viewing your relationship with your customers as it is about technology. Large businesses turn to technology for a solution due to the vast numbers of customer relationships they maintain requiring this, and for these large corporations the systems investment can often be huge and solutions complex to achieve effective CX.

On the face of it this technology will give the large organisation a massive advantage over smaller companies, with software automatically analysing purchase history and feedback responses from customers and responding directly to the latter, but surely that cannot compare to the small business owner responding timely and with a personal touch, or when someone complains for example most people would much sooner have a response from someone of influence within the business, that can empathise and then perhaps bring about change rather than simply pacify.

A further advantage for the small business in terms of CX is if you think of the typical levels of management between the CEO of a large corporation and the end customer facing staff, and then compare that against the proprietor of a sole trader businesses for example who oftentimes themselves is customer facing. Unlike the CEO, the sole trader can get the feedback direct and then tailor the customer rescue response for example rather than have to follow a guideline or be shackled by a limit of authority in terms of what they can do. The small business also isn’t without the assistance of technology and too can now employ simpler low cost feedback schemes for VoC feedback on products and services, and so in conclusion by utilising these and by also taking the time to engage with customers direct as often as possible, it is possible that a small business could be much more successful achieving effective CX than many larger companies.

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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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