Tag: customer loyalty

27 Apr 2017
intelligent customer service in travel and tourism

How Important is Customer Service in Travel and Tourism?

As the winter slips away and the days start getting longer and warmer, your customers start thinking about summer. Whether their ideal destination involves discovering the back streets of a new city, or sipping a cocktail by the pool, ‘Are you going away this year?’ is the first question on everyone’s lips this time of year.

Travel and tourism can be difficult areas for retaining customer loyalty, with websites set up exclusively to pit brands against one another on the best deals for hotels and rock-bottom prices on flights. But is it really all about the dollars and sense? The Qubit Future of Travel Report 2016 shows that investing in customer satisfaction can be equally as important as competing on price points.

Inspiring Real Loyalty, No Cards in Sight

Many businesses in the travel industry have tried out loyalty schemes and reward programs with varied success. But did you know that 77% of these schemes fail within the first two years?

E-consultancy believe that the success of your relationship with a customer depends upon the human loyalty you can create, rather than the corporate loyalty that these schemes often engender. The way we feel about our friends, family, even our favorite baseball team or our pets, is more than points being racked up on a card.

Take a look at JetBlue. Time and time again they top the list of airlines to which customers feel loyal. And when you look at their rewards scheme, it’s all about seeing the customers as individuals.

One great example is how frequent fliers with elite status on other airlines can make the jump to JetBlue and start reaping the rewards of the premium Mosaic status immediately. JetBlue also allows for customers to donate points to a charity they feel connected to or passionately about, a great personal touch to show they understand it’s not all about dollars and cents.

With the average American signed up to 29 loyalty programs and only active in 12, this human element is more essential than ever.
When it comes to the personal side of things, big data ensures that the sky really is the limit to dazzle your visitors and create enviable customer service in travel and tourism. However, businesses need to be able to pinpoint the exact information that is both relevant and actionable from a sea of content.

The right analytics does this for you, adding to the knowledge base of information with every interaction your customers have with your business, grouping questions by trends, and extracting what you need to know and act upon from your own pre-defined business goals.
This can then be used to glean insights from, answer key business questions with, and build loyalty programs that do more than simply rack up unused points in a metaphorical drawer for your most loyal customers. You may even figure out how to build loyalty programs that your customers would actually want to be part of, that would actually (gasp!) engender loyalty!

How Can You Build Human Loyalty to Beat the Competition?

According to a recent Google report, 65% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travellers head online to research and plan their travel itinerary.
As travel is something which customers enjoy researching, creating a seamless experience on all channels is essential to encourage this human loyalty. More than half of browsing is done by mobile, so the importance of integration can’t be undervalued.

Flights and accommodation are not usually impulse buys, so it follows that customers will want to be able to pick up and put down ideas and possibilities for travel while they consider their options. This might take days or even weeks to finalize, and as a business, you want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to pick up where they left off.

Group Head of Operations at Thomas Cook, Graham Cook comments to The Guardian that their omnichannel strategy is to “make sure our customers can be served in a seamless way through whatever channel they wish – online through mobile, tablet, desktop or offline in a store or over the phone.” Customer service in travel and tourism clearly needs to follow your customer wherever they might be.

Customer Service Travel and Tourism… So, Where Were We?

Support bots are an effortless way to encourage this seamless customer experience as well as provide opportunities to grow this human loyalty which can feel so elusive to large travel or tourism companies.

Intelligent support bots can interact with your customers on every channel, from mobile website to app, and from desktop to social media. They can simultaneously handle thousands of bookings and inquiries, and have all the information at their fingertips to make customers feel heard and valued.

Not only this, but the channels on and through which bots interact with your customers are well proven to be the most successful to build lasting customer engagement. In fact, live chat has a 92% satisfaction rate for customers, while Facebook messenger comes in just below at 84%.
We don’t have to tell you that in 2017 travel agents are almost obsolete, which creates a huge opportunity, with millennials 23% more likely to travel abroad than previous generations, and expected to spend $1.4 trillion on travel by 2020. More than 80% of holidays are now booked online.

Support bots are the travel agents of the future, with the data on hand to create and manage flights and hotels, as well as entertainment and dining, or even currency and local transport. In short- they hold everything your traveler might need to bask in the five-star treatment, through the channels they want to interact on the most.

A Digital Future for Customer Service in Travel and Tourism

There have been huge digital leaps forward in customer service and travel and tourism industries in recent years. From e-passports and online check in, to Airbnb, online travel guides and tourism apps alike. But digital is more than just marketing and technology. Inspiring your customer to feel a connection to your brand starts with your digital presence and the face of your company through your technology.

If keeping on top of your big data through powerful actionable analytics, and creating a unique voice for your brand with omnichannel support bots aren’t top of your to do list-they should be.

This is keeping up with the competition on a more innate level than simply beating price points. These are measures to ensure that your organizational structure is aligned towards specific business goals for both customer engagement and bottom line success.

In short? We’re putting your business firmly back on the map.

08 Dec 2016
customer-retention-strategy-for-happy-customers

Six customer retention strategies that will grow your business

A funny thing happened when researchers asked consumers and marketers associated with the travel industry how they viewed the industry’s well-known loyalty programs. Both camps gave the concept a thumbs up, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean they saw eye to eye. Far from it. Still, it turns out that there’s an important lesson to be learned from what proved to be the sharply diverging perceptions of the buyers and the sellers.

For the marketers – 66 percent of them – the programs were seen as a good way for customers to show loyalty to the brand. Seventy-three percent of the consumers, however, flipped the perception, looking at the programs as a great way for companies to show loyalty to customers.

Oops!

The study, reported in the Harvard Business Review, says a lot about how customer retention strategies can go awry when customer-centric principles get turned inside out.

How to retain these customers? Look at the brand through the consumers’ eyes

That’s not to say that loyalty programs are not an important element in the retention strategies toolkit. They are. The trick, though, is keeping the focus on the customer through proven customer retention strategies such as these:

  • Yes, consider a customer loyalty program. Just keep in mind that loyalty is a two-way street, and the way to actually engender loyalty is to make an emotional connection with a person. Today’s analytics and CRM solutions make it easy to truly get to know your customers and leverage that technology to reach out proactively to demonstrate your loyalty to your customer, with a reward, a special offer, a personally tailored email, or a follow-up to a transaction.
  • Appreciate the value of regular newsletters. They not only put your brand in front of your customers consistently, but they are still at least twice as likely to convert as social media traffic (2.5% vs. 1.3%), according to a report from Monetate.
  • Don’t put all of your energy – and marketing budget – into chasing after elusive new customers when your best prospects may be right before your eyes. A large portion of your inactive customers may be responsive to your targeted outreach to bring them back into the fold. Comprehensive customer retention strategies should recognize that lapsed customers are potential returning customers, with the right approach at the right time. Offer them an incentive to return.
  • Your customers are likely to be active on social media, and that means you should be, too. Chances are good that the people who “like” or “follow” your brand feel an attachment to it. That gives you a golden opportunity to further build the relationship, and perhaps build a committed brand ambassador along the way. Perhaps unexpectedly, one company that is showing the way on social media has its roots in the nineteenth century. General Electric has established an award-winning presence on Vine, Instagram, and Twitter, turning its tech products into compelling human stories.
  • Get in touch and keep in touch, with the help of scheduled and automated emails, social media and blog posts, newsletters, coupons, and personal outreach like a birthday greeting or a thank you email. Remember, too, that all contact from a customer is good contact – even the complaints. Be glad they are telling you what went wrong, because that gives you the opportunity to make it right, turning a bad situation into one that actually increases trust and loyalty.
  • Provide exceptional customer experiences. No matter how many special programs and personal touches you include in your customer retention strategies – that is the one factor that will always be at the heart of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Take care to monitor customer experience at every touchpoint on the customer journey, and to make improvement an ongoing process rather than a one-time fix.

Why customer retention strategies are key to growing a business

Just do the math. For one thing, it costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one – the actual number varies by industry, of course, but a good rule of thumb is that a acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as making a new sale to an existing one. And that’s not all. Famously, Bain & Co. calculated that just a five percent increase in a business’s customer retention rate results in increased profits of between 25 percent, nothing to sneeze at, to as much as a whopping 95 percent.

Add to that the fact that a company that retains about 80 percent of its customers over the course of the year, and manages to acquire about 20 percent new customers (both figures are in the average range) is just treading water. On the other hand, if that company can increase its customer retention rate to 90 percent, the same 20 percent acquisition rate will result in a doubling of the customer base in seven years.

The very best way to develop and retain a loyal customer base

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the best customers you’ll ever have are the ones you have today. Yet businesses commonly pour their marketing resources into courting new prospects who are far less likely to make a purchase than existing customers, or even lapsed ones – and far less likely to become the loyal customers every company hopes for.

Maybe the psychology behind it is as simple as familiarity breeds contempt. Once we have acquired a customer we begin to take them for granted. We forget, as those travel industry marketers did, that the brand needs to be loyal to them if we want them to be loyal to the brand.

24 Nov 2016
Thanksgiving Is Here And It’s Time To Give Back: The Importance Of Customer Satisfaction And Retention

Thanksgiving is here and it’s time to give back: the importance of customer satisfaction and retention

Our ancestors knew it, and they turned it into the proverb we’ve all heard a million times: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Intuitively, we all know that’s true, and chances are any one of us can point to numerous examples from our daily lives when we have acted upon the maxim. So why does that pearl of ancient wisdom fly out the window as soon as most companies sit down to draw up their marketing budgets?

Nine times out of ten, to put it very conservatively, the focus is on consumer acquisition at the expense of customer retention. That’s understandable on some levels, both because businesses obviously do need to attract new customers, and because acquisition offers an immediate and readily quantified ROI on marketing expenditures.

But how much is a bird in the hand worth?

The evidence is piling up to show that what our ancestors knew about life applies to marketing as well. If anything, the old proverb understates the importance of customer retention – it costs up to five times as much to acquire a new consumer as it does to keep and nurture an existing one, according to research from Kapow. And that’s not all. Just a five percent increase in consumer retention can increase profits by as much as 125 percent, the studies show, and a two percent increase has the same impact on the bottom line as cutting costs by ten percent. On the flip side, the impact of customer churn due to poor service can be devastating, with 68 percent of departing customers saying they were driven away from a brand by indifference and impersonal service.

In a similar vein, as an article in Forbes reported, 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of its existing customers. Yet online retailers are still pouring 80 percent of their marketing dollars into acquiring new customers.

In the face of numbers like those, it’s hard to overemphasize the importance of customer satisfaction and retention.

Putting the focus on customer retention

It’s no mystery that customer satisfaction and retention are the direct result of a committed and consistent focus on putting the customer first. It’s only human for any of us to expect to be treated as a valued individual any time we enter into a business transaction, and it’s the brands that do that consistently that keep us coming back. In fact, yet another study shows that 81 percent of customers will pay more for such personalized service. What’s more elusive is knowing how to turn that knowledge into customer-centric practices that reflect and honor the importance of customer satisfaction and retention in day-to-day operations.

The good news is that today’s state-of-the-art tech tools can provide the data and analytics to give businesses an unprecedented understanding of what the customer wants, expects, and demands from a brand, information that lays the foundation for exceptional customer service and exceptional customer retention.

To put the value of customer retention in further perspective, the White House Office of Consumer Affairs pegs the Customer Lifetime Value of a loyal customer at ten times the value of their initial purchase. When you balance that against the expense of trying to reel in a new customer, it’s easy to see that customer retention is the key to building a stable business for the long-run.

Knowing what they want is the key to customer satisfaction and retention

Most of all, customers want to know, however many layers of technology are involved in a transaction, that they’re making a human connection. They want to be treated with courtesy and respect, and in today’s marketplace in which their options to go elsewhere are virtually unlimited, they are not likely to settle for anything less. They want consistent and reliable efficiency, accuracy, and responsiveness at every touchpoint of their customer journey.

It’s a tall order for businesses to deliver on those human values in the tech-based online marketplace. But (inescapably, if ironically) it is technology that can humanize the relationship between company and customer and build the loyalty that increases customer retention.

With the right tools, it’s possible to map the customer journey, glean important information along the way, and gain the insights necessary to optimize and personalize customer service. Armed with that knowledge, businesses can not only identify and prioritize loyal customers, but also anticipate their next steps and reach out to them with a relevant and timely email, for example. Similarly, they can detect the early warning signs of an established customer growing dissatisfied, and take steps to address their concerns.

This type of personalized attention pays dividends in two ways, both by enhancing the lifetime value of the customer retained and by potentially turning them into a brand advocate, a priceless resource for your company. As Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” We know we are doing our job when we are not the only ones working to spread the worth of our brand, but it is these loyal customers that are giving thanks alongside us.

04 Aug 2016
Enhance Your In-Store Retail Experience by Bridging Off Line and On-Line

Enhance Your In-Store Retail Experience by Bridging Off Line and On-Line

You know that iconic image, the one of the triumphant female shopper, bouncing down the city street with her hands clutching her purchases, in brightly colored, luxurious paper shopping bags? Surely, with all those packages in hand she clearly had the shopping trip we all dream about. But today, with the proliferation of e-commerce and especially since mobile apps have taken over, leaving one’s house to shop is almost becoming a quaint memory, a thing of the past like cameras that aren’t part of a mobile device and fax machines. The hard truth is that if there exists a digital option that makes any given action easier and more intuitive, people will stick with that option and leave their old ways behind.

But fear not, if you’re a brick and mortar store owner in 2016, there are lots of engaging ways to bridge the gap between online and instore experiences that will keep customers coming through your door and to your website . Let’s take a look at some innovative ways different brands are bridging technology and the classic in-store experience to keep your brand relevant and your customers connected.

In Store Mobile Apps Enhance the customer Retail Experience

With the fact that two thirds of shoppers are coming in to your store armed with their mobile devices, it goes without saying that mobile is the most important way to reach your shoppers today. Most future-conscious brands already have websites and an app running alongside their brick and mortar operations, but some brands use their apps to drive shoppers to stores as well.

Innovative brands like Target are working to create specific in-store apps, ones that enhance the IRL shopping experience from the shopper’s mobile device. Their in store app, Cartwheelhelps shoppers start their shopping at the comfort of their couch and later on snag in-store-only deals. By selecting in-app deals beforehand, users scan items in store and watch the savings roll in at checkout. Push notifications help keep users in the know about deals they might be interested in and since Cartwheel users have to sign up for the app though their Facebook accounts, all deals snagged are posted to the user’s Facebook page, in a unique social twist.

In-Store Touch screens not Only for High End Retail

Fashion retailer Rebecca Minkoff has given glam shopping a cutting edge makeover. A visit to anyone of her four luxury shops in the US is a tour de force of the confluence of haute couture and digitization. One specific aspect of their plan to keep shoppers engaged in the in-store experience is the strategic placement of touch-screens throughout the stores. Walls are not merely walls, but rather gigantic touch screens that allow the user to scroll through items and then request their chosen items to be sent to fitting rooms across the store. The mirror also makes suggestions about what items to pair with the ones already in the fitting room and can remember what sizes and colors customers prefer.

Calling themselves “The Store of the Future”, Minkoff’s vision is what they call “retail 3.0” – One that’s reinventing both the online and in store shopping experience. They want to take the best aspects of e-commerce and leverage those experiences
in-store to tackle in-store shopper’s most pressing pain points by way of technology.

QR Codes are Not a Thing of the Past

Think about it – why do shoppers prefer to shop from the comfort of their home to going to stores? We all know that part of the reason is that shopping in stores means wading through piles of stuff we don’t want until we find what we do want. To solve this issue Hointer Jeans, a specialty denim shop in Seattle (that eventually developed into a successful e-commerce software platform based on the success of their implementation of innovative digital tools) started adding QR codes to their jeans to make them scannable.

Customers, after downloading the stores app who loathe the idea of hunting for the perfect item find the pair they like, simply walk though the store and scan the QR code of items they like and add in size information, to find it all delivered to their fitting room. Via the app they can request different items to be brought to their firing rooms once they are inside and can pay for the jeans they want right from the or mobile, streamlining the entire experience.

Using QR codes also allows users to scan codes for more information and to find the best prices on similar items. Use QR codes to unlock coupons and deals on products as well.

In-store Mobile Beacons Lets Your Customers Know What on Right Now

Also called Proximity Technology, mobile beacons are the hottest way to say “you are here” at the moment. By way of stickers attached to items that emit BLE, or Bluetooth low energy signals, they send out messages to customers who have downloaded a store’s app to let them know about trending discount and specials when they are close by. Nationwide makeup shop Sephora, aiming at the millennial crowd is using beacons to let their shoppers who have opted to get notifications know about deals on products they are currently looking at or are nearby in their stores.

Click&Collect – Controlled Convenience

We all love to shop from our proverbial couches, but we hate the wait – you know the two to seven day lag between placing an order and delivery. Click and collect, already a big concept in the UK and Australia, allows shoppers to place their orders and then pick up their items from the closest store, all packaged and ready to go. Picking up their own items on their own terms frees customers from that annoying lag time and saves on delivery costs.

Click and collect is a great way to draw customers back into stores after online purchase and a great opportunity to cross sell related items. Retailers like IKEA, Kmart and the UK’s Tesco all use click and collect to provide an innovative blend of the convenience of online shopping and the IRL experience.

Burberry, Taking In-store Retail Experience to New Levels

Then there is Burberry’s.

One of Britain’s biggest retailers, once primarily known for its staid signature brown and red plaid check box pattern, Burberry’s has reinvented itself as the ultimate in combining the IRL and digital experience. A peek into their flagship store in London is like peering into a futuristic catwalk with the notable inclusion of clothing racks and customer associates. Alive with pulsing music, floor to ceiling digital walls that display anything from clothing, to models wearing that clothing to virtual rain streaming down them, and mirrors that relay product information and show other items that match the ones you’ve got in your hands, the store is a digital Mecca, a real life and virtual experience bursting with ways to engage and enthrall customers from the moment they step inside.

From those digital walls and mirrors to the associates armed with iPads for instant information to integration with their social media platforms and campaigns, Burberrys intention is clearly to fuse the in-store and digital experience. And they have it down to a perfectly artful science. Looking for a top to match that tailored jacket? Just touch the mirror, it will give you back ideas for matching items and have them sent to your fitting room. RFID tags on items means that everything is searchable and can even activate those mirrored walls to display those same items in other colors and styles. It’s fully immersive, spanning most senses including sound, touch, sight and smell, all to create an incredibly rich and integrated experience, one that could never be matched online or in app.

Once thought to be on its way down, Burberrys has proven that by embracing digital, any brand can make itself relevant and engage their customers. According to CEO Angela Ahrendt “I grew up in a physical world; and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world; and they speak social.”

What can you do to keep customers coming in your doors?

Digital is transforming the way people shop, online and off. In today’s digitally inclined world, it’s no longer a question of whether or not to bridge the online and instore experience. Brand who want to remain relevant know that they must incorporate digital to keep their customers coming back.

28 Jun 2016
4 Examples of Successful Businesses Following a Customer-Centric Model

4 Examples of Successful Businesses Following a Customer-Centric Model

Guess what top companies worldwide all have in common?

Whether they’re service, manufacturing, or merchandising businesses, the most important shared element between them – a customer-centric model.

As companies transition from product-oriented to customer oriented, this process entails complete organizational planning and a long-term commitment to consistency.  The payoffs, which equal profits, often include one or all of the following: an improvement of operations, expanding of the customer base, and a securing and increasing of the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

By developing and executing a complete and effective customer-centric model, businesses are put in a greater position to align all strategic and operational priorities as well as enabling lasting and continuous structural growth.

Successful Companies that Live By a Customer-Centric Model

Many established organizations have come to realize that in order to maximize the customer life-span and CLV, it is not suffice to simply place customers at the top of the priority list.  The priority list itself has to revolve around meeting the needs of their customers.

There are a variety of innovate approaches, methods, and software platforms used for development and execution of customer-centric models across various industries. The following are four examples of organizations that exemplify this customer-first approach and prove the effectiveness of delivering exceptional customer experiences.

  1. Intuit drives customer delight with core principles

    Intuit has long maintained their reputation as a company focused on customer needs. From its earliest days, employees were encouraged to observe customers and look for ways to solve real-life problems for them. Testing and observation would be done to see how customers reacted to products and what problems they ran into. They would even do these product tests beyond the work environment and see how well the product functioned in the home. The company also instituted annual surveys to gather customer insights on an organization-wide level.

    At one point, Intuit launched “Design for Delight,” a major initiative meant to instill a culture of customer centricity using core principles as its basis. As outlined in Harvard Business Review, these principles were as follows:

    “Deep Customer Empathy – Immerse yourself with customers to know them better than they know themselves. To understand what really matters to customers, you should watch them, talk with them, and put yourself in their shoes.

    Go Broad to Go Narrow – Create options before making choices. There are lots of possible answers, so to get one great idea, you need to create lots. The first idea is rarely the best.

    Rapid Experiments with Customers – Get customer feedback early and often to understand the pros and cons of options. Watching customers react to prototypes through trial and error is better than relying on our own opinions.”

    With these principles in place, Intuit has become a leader in customer experience and innovation. These core principles have defined a culture that is constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience, taking on initiatives, and consistently putting the customer first in every regard.

  2. Amazon defines the customer-centric model

    The fact that Amazon is mentioned here shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. They are a model of customer-centricity and maintain practices that keep them leaders in this arena:

    • Did you know that the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, will often leave a seat open at his conference tables to remind all those present that the most important person in the conversation is “the Customer.”
    • Amazon installs practices to maintain excellence in customer experience by rewarding those who “raise the bar” for the organization.
    • From Kindle to FireTV to Echo, Amazon develops products that are meant to address consumer wants and needs. Their   rather than their development team’s opinion.
    • They cultivate a “culture of metrics” where they routinely engage in head-to-head tests of customers’ reactions to different features or site designs.

    Amazon is consistently mentioned in conversations surrounding the most customer-centric companies in the world. This approach has moved beyond just a philosophy, it has become their culture and it is working tremendously well for them.

  3. REI takes a stand and gains a following

    REI has become synonymous with outdoor recreation gear and services. The company is built on a consumers’ cooperative model where the majority of customers have membership that provides discounts and other benefits. The company fell into the annals of customer centricity when they began their #OptOutside campaign in 2015 by announcing that they would be closed for Black Friday. Instead, they erected a mini-site dedicated to providing information on hiking trails that would encourage families to go outside and enjoy the holiday weekend together. While most members of the Seattle based retail chain have been strong advocates of the brand, this move specifically (publicity campaign or not) resonated greatly with customers around the country.

  4. Hilton uses innovation to maintain customer satisfaction

    For almost a century, Hilton Hotels Worldwide have defined the hospitality industry, excelling at maintaining one of the most recognized hotel brands in the world. Hilton Worldwide employs a wide range of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to gather and evaluate customer data from all sources, including: guest feedback, social media, and online review sites. These methods provide insights for achieving their target of continuously catering to the customer, which increases long-term customer loyalty.

 

Making a Customer Centric Model of Your Own

Sounds like an over-whelming task – revamping customer relations every step of the journey.  Let there be no mistake, the challenges can be great, but the goal is attainable. Most of the challenges include investing time, money, resources, and manpower. Implementing a customer-centric model requires fundamental changes to every angle and aspect of the business, not just the way it interacts with customers.  Nor is it a one-time project; it involves building trust, relationships, and dedication to customers and services and for the long-term.

23 Jun 2016
7 Things You Need for a Successful Customer-Centric Strategy

7 Things You Need for a Successful Customer-Centric Strategy

It’s easy to talk about customer-centricity, but in today’s transparency obsessed marketplace, it’s going to take a lot more than that to convince your customers that you are in it for them. Your customers today are savvy and connected – and they know the difference between genuine commitment and hopping on a bandwagon.

In 2016 in order to convince your customers that they are your very first priority, you have to actually make them your first priority. To help your brand navigate the waters of building and maintaining the right approach with your customers, here are seven tips to get you pointed in the right direction and develop a strategy that puts your customers front and center.

 

Building Your Customer Centric Strategy

  1. Establish a true dedication and conviction to become a customer-centered brand

    Don’t assume your brand can change overnight. As much as you already know that the key to creating loyal customers who come back for more is letting them know that they are your focus, you have an uphill battle ahead to undo all your past strategies and methodologies.

    This is why you need to establish a true commitment to becoming a customer-centric brand from the get-go. So many brands jump on the customer-first bandwagon only to fall right off because of lack of dedication. So now at the very beginning, solidify your company-wide commitment to becoming a customer-first brand.

  2. Get your employees engaged and excited about implementing a customer-centric model

    “You only design the Customer Experience; your team delivers it” – Colin Shaw, Beyond Philosophy

    Your team of front-facing and internal employees can either be your biggest asset when it comes to your new approach or they can run it into the ground. But just how do you get your employees on board with this new model for the organization?

    By giving your employees the proper tools and training and through lots of communication.

    Be sure to give them the proper access to your current knowledge base so they have the right answers on hand at all times. Make it easy for them to follow each customer’s journey with the help of the knowledge base as well. Provide training on how to deal with all sorts of customers, from the delighted ones to the ones mid-freak out and make sure they can access assistance from higher ups as soon as they need it.

    Communication is essential at this stage as well. Explain why a customer-centered model is beneficial to the whole organization, and let them know that their input is valued (and really value their input!). Encourage them to become active partners and to put their own “stamp” on their interactions with customer, while never veering from your newly set strategy.

  3. Set your sights on excellence

    Now get ready to set some goals. We aren’t looking at KPIs and revenue markers here, but rather goals pertaining to personal and departmental excellence that will help keep your customer centric strategy on path.

    Having a strong goal of excellence provides direction for the future and lets you know how far you have come. Through that ever-important skill of communicating with your teams, figure out what your collective “best” is, and then set your barometer one notch higher.

  4. Use technology to understand who your customers are and what they really want from you.

    Today, we engage in a constant stream of conversation with customers, from well before they purchase to well beyond. And whether it’s through your website, your mobile platform or your social media pages, all of these touchpoints can actually be incredible sources of information if you know how to cull the data therein. Overlooking all that data would be a huge waste but aligning all the data from your fragmented platforms is really quite a nightmare without the proper resources.

    Harnessing the information from your digital touch points into one main knowledge base can provide huge insights into just who your customers are and what they want from you. Use it to track trends on an individual level and segment your customers into groups, for further information on where they are in your brand’s buying cycle and their habits and preferences, even before they know it.

  5. Listen to the voice of your customer

    Now that you are (hopefully!) gathering meaningful customer insights, it’s time to extrapolate the meaning and actualize the messages. According to Digitalistmag.com, lots of companies collect insight via digital knowledge bases and then essentially ditch that data in favor of setting up easy to implement promotions and giveaways. This runs completely contradictory to what the data they collect says but they do it anyway because they assume it’s correct.

    As long as you’ve got meaningful data, read it, understand it, look for patterns, get to know your customers in a meaningful way and delight them using insights from that data.

  6. Your customer centric strategy should empower your customers by providing an avenue for feedback

    Listening to what your data is telling you is one part of the equation. The other part simply involves just asking your customers what they feel.

    How do you do that?

    By giving them ways to provide feedback. This could be accomplished by short, polite surveys or by simply asking at the bottom of a page “Was this information helpful?” or though on -page product ratings and reviews.

    We all know that Amazon excels at creating and executing their customer strategy. They combine analytics with surveys and non-intrusive questions like “was this answer helpful” to create an experience that tells the customer that they are the “prime” priority. Regarding Amazon’s incredible success with implementing a customer-centric strategy, myfeedback.com notes “Feedback is placed directly on the product’s page and users are provided with multiples ways to parse the information to their liking.”

  7. Be accessible, be accountable

    Perhaps the most critical aspect of taking on a customer-centric strategy is being there, in the moment, with full attention, ready to drop everything and take responsibility. So be there and be ready to take responsibility for whatever may come, the good the bad and the ugly. At the end of the day, if your brand is really committed to developing and sticking to this strategy, chances are, you’ll be hearing a lot more of the good anyway.

Your customers deserve an experience that puts them front and center, and if they don’t get it from you, they’ll head elsewhere. Before they jump ship, change your course and give them what they want. The time to realign and start designing your customer centric strategy is now.

15 Dec 2014
Thinking is Bad, Drive Customer Loyalty by Simplifying Your Service Experience

VIDEO – Thinking is Bad, Drive Customer Loyalty by Simplifying Your Service Experience

In case you missed out a couple of weeks ago, here is a video of the webinar we hosted with Jim Tincher. Jim is the principal and chief mapper of Heart of the Customer, and frequent keynote speaker, consultant and blogger on customer experience. Jim reviewed case studies from T-Mobile, Jiffy Lube, British Telecom and more.

What is Customer Effort?

Many companies follow the false assumption that by focusing on better training to improve the call center experience they can delight their customers and keep them coming back. This strategy may improve your quality score with customer service, but when it comes to churn, your company will hurt.

“Valuing your customer’s time is the most important factor in good customer service.” – Understand Communication Channel Needs to Craft Your Customer Service Strategy, Forrester Research

The truth is that delighting your customers does not create loyalty, but making them work does drive them away. When your customer calls, the best result for you is to maintain the same level of loyalty. The truth is that you are 4x more likely to drive disloyalty!

It is a fallacy that if someone calls in with an issue and you manage to offer a great call center experience, you’ll actually generate greater loyalty. There are a few instances where this is correct, just a few.

According to CEB, callers go to your website first, but often can’t solve their problems.

  • 58% started out on the website before calling customer support.
  • 59% of customers are annoyed when they can’t solve their problems in their preferred channel

So let’s break it down, those 58% of customers (roughly 3 out of 5) who already went to your website, scoured it looking for answers and eventually had to choose a channel to contact you they didn’t prefer, are annoyed. The likelihood of these customers finding an easy resolution from a customer service call decreases and so does the chance of creating loyalty.

Self-Service is Critical

Ask yourself one question – How hard is it to be your customer?

British Telecom reviewed their customer care efforts by measuring simplicity, ease of use and ease of effort. They found that if their customers rated their experience as “simple” they were 40% less likely to churn. The bottom line if you provide a simple experience to your customers, they will renew.

This is what makes self-service a critical opportunity. Once your customers call you, it may be too late to make it a simple experience for them. By helping your customers serve themselves, you are giving them a simple experience and preventing opportunities to create disloyalty.

Be sure to watch the entire webinar video to learn the 4 steps to target and remove effort from your customer experience.