no-image

Are Digital Marketers Missing A Trick?

The top three obstacles that marketers face in 2015 are apparently;

  1. New business development
  2. Quality of leads
  3. Keeping up to date with current marketing technology and trends

This is according to research conducted globally across 5000 marketing professionals and published in the 2015 State of Marketing by salesforce.com Marketing Cloud.

The report is interesting and you can find a copy here via the fierce website. Below is the full list of 20 challenges that were articulated;

Most pressing business challenges_2015

The report goes on to further confirm the focus on digital platforms for marketing and that this year is the ‘definitive’ year for mobile.

The report also talks about ‘using technology to craft the customer journey’ and goes on to state;

“For the past 10 years, digital channels and data points have been accumulating at breakneck speed. Every industry has been disrupted. The customer now rules, and speed is the new currency of business. Marketers have scarcely had a moment to make sense of it all with a single big idea that ties everything together. Enter the customer journey. A growing number of marketers today are envisioning their entire marketing strategy under the umbrella of a cohesive customer journey, which we define as all of the interactions a customer has with brands, products, or services across all touchpoints and channels.
According to recent research, 86% of senior-level marketers say that it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey. Another 11% view the customer journey as moderately important.

Technology is the essential glue that connects various moments along the customer journey to create one-to-one experiences. From analytics that help marketers create personalized interactions, to mobile applications that create personal brand experiences for every interaction, to CRM tools that let marketers track the span of a customer relationship, the customer journey relies completely on its technological elements.”

The article goes on to chart exactly which technologies are priority to creating a cohesive customer journey, which is as equally important to start ups as it is to established businesses;

Technologies for cohesive customer journey_Sept15

The top 3 being;

  1. Mobile applications
  2. Marketing analytics
  3. CRM tools

So it was at this point that the penny dropped. What about customer retention? Why isn’t this a business challenge?

Are 5000 global marketers saying that customer retention is really not a challenge? Arguably, it could sit outside of the top 20 or it could sit within the ‘other’ category at 1% but to me this doesn’t feel right.

Now I’m not a marketer I must confess, but this feels like marketing are trying to do what they’ve always done. That is to focus pretty much exclusively on front end customer acquisition, with a sprinkling of a focus on ‘in life’ customer interaction but with little or no focus on customer retention, advocacy and loyalty throughout the customer journey. They’re currently trying to do this by moving away from more traditional marketing tools and instead using lots of sparkly new digital toys without truly understanding new digital, personalised customer habits and trends. As a result, there’s no paradigm shift to a new marketing mind set that sees the total customer lifetime as their responsibility beyond mere acquisition.

Now it might be that these 5000 marketers have in their business, someone else responsible for customer retention but surely if this is the case, these should be symbiotically related and so as to share the responsibility of customer retention beyond mere acquisition? It’s more costly just to shovel new customers in at the front end without the opportunity to retain and grow those same customers for life.

To further substantiate this point, looking at the top 10 technologies to create a cohesive customer journey, there’s no mention of any Voice of Customer (VoC) technology to provide customer insight into the journey at critical touch points as a way to further inform and improve the customer experience and subsequently the marketing process.

VoC Hub Dashboard

VoC systems such as SandSIV’s VoC Hub are as much an asset to marketing as they are to any other part of the business and marketing are missing a trick if they’re not ‘plugged in’ to, or even considering tools like this to complete the holistic picture of the end to end customer experience.

Whilst it shows an increased willingness for marketers to communicate with customers across multiple channels and touch points, the rationale for this is still based on what’s most important to the business first (new customer acquisition), rather than what’s most important to customers.

‘Listen hard and act fast’ as SandSIV would say and include VoC within the marketing mind set and on the technology wish if you want to stay ahead.

 

 

no-image

Brevado – “Creating Products Synonymous with Better Customer Experience”

Like all great products or services, they solve a fundamental problem that meets a customer need, making lives simpler and easier in the process and in doing so creating better customer experiences. The Brevado team has done just that.

Brevado is a relatively new and small tech start-up company born in the New York area in the Eastern United States. It was the brain child of three long-time friends, Nick Zafiropoulos, Steve Garofalo and Mike Perna. Prior to joining forces in business, Nick loved ‘fixing computers’ with his own IT services company, and Steve and Mike worked for a web design company. By their own admission, none were really aware of customer experience practice and design until they had an epiphany moment.

logo-trans-bg

Steve and Mike’s employer was all about the numbers and volume, an approach that didn’t really sit comfortably with either of them. The focus was on looking for and converting qualified leads into customers, ‘shovelling’ new clients in at the front end. Churning out websites with little focus on the customer experience and communication which resulted in a lot of customer confusion.

Conversely, Nick didn’t have the budget to go out looking for new business in volume. He focused heavily on delivering a great customer service to his existing clients; Nick provided on time delivery and sharing project milestones regularly. He would come to find later that sharing progress was a key component to his clients’ satisfaction. In this way, Nick successfully got his existing clients to refer him to others. New clients started actively seeking him out from the positive word of mouth he was getting. His clients loved his approach and more than anything, being kept in the loop on projects was a refreshing way to do business for them.

The 3 friends shared a life-business conversation, as they did from time to time, realizing that the web design company model created problems. Customers weren’t being kept updated and as a result of the poor experience, customers weren’t referring or even returning for repeat business. This compounded the conveyor belt approach where more and more customers were needed at the front end to compensate for losing customers after just one sale.  screenshot brevado timeline

The guys quickly identified that this was a problem that needed a solution and one that would work for creative professionals (like web designers), small businesses and freelancers. It needed to be simple for people who didn’t have huge time to invest, and work in a way that would complement existing work flows so as to not overly disrupt how people currently operated.

The first idea was to create a customer portal for businesses to collaborate and share progress, but this didn’t completely solve the problem yet. It was with the addition of the timeline that they knew they were on to something. This ‘thing’ was the future way for creative professionals to share progress with their customers and create a better customer experience. They were so convinced that they quit their jobs to work on development full time.

Their lean approach had them reaching out to all creative professionals they had ever met, even those they had not known before. Early feedback was positive along with a stream of new ideas and functions that people felt they would like to see. From this, a prototype was born. The prototype enabled the team to get accepted into a growth accelerator program in North Carolina for both funding and business mentoring. Within 3 short weeks, the guys packed their belongings and headed south.

During this time, they released their public beta version for testing where anyone in the world could sign up. A well timed simultaneous press release was picked up by a series of blogs and over the course of a weekend, 700 people came on board. This further confirmed that they were onto something good and that this was addressing a significant problem that people had.

Moreover, people had stopped requesting new features and were now requesting refinements to existing elements which pointed to the fact that the beta feature set was on track. In fact users were already starting to switch from a competitor product which they used for collaboration on their own projects. Brevado’s competitors are good for internal team use, but overly complex and opaque when using with external clients; this was the problem the guys had originally identified and set out to solve. Customers wanted transparency and shared progress on projects, whether they would last one month or a year and this is what Mike, Steve and Nick had built. Brevado was born.

For anyone who’s ever managed a project, whether for internal or external customers, you know how important it is to keep customers updated and engaged to ensure the project actually gets completed. You also know there are always tasks for the clients which often don’t get completed on time despite the best intentions.

As part of the project management functionality, Brevado allows you to assign tasks directly to clients and automatically suggests updated timescales if they miss a deadline. You can also assign team members in order to collaborate on multiple timelines. Customers can see what you’re currently working on, when it’s due to be complete and what’s coming up afterwards. With a future Google integration, you will also be able to sync deadline dates with Google Calendar with a link to Google Drive documents.

Brevado customers range from artists and video producers to legal and consultant service providers who all have a need to share their iterative work and progress with clients. Curiously, Brevado has had more impact from outside the U.S with interest in the UK, Spain, Jordan, Italy, South and Central America, Columbia, Brazil, Australia and Canada. One Brevado client based in Denmark has customers in the U.S and so use of the tool gets around awkward scheduling conflicts with different time zones. This adds value for both the client and the end customer.

Brevado seeks continuous feedback from clients on their experience and usage and the theme they continue to hear is not only do clients really like it but their clients like it as well, so everyone wins. In addition to progress and updates, it also creates an inclusive client experience that adds to higher levels of engagement and advocacy through usage. Simply logging in and checking progress has solved the panic of ‘oh my god, where’s my project up to?’

1529915_10201420286494190_444336894_o

When Mike, Steve and Nick set out on their journey, they didn’t realize the importance of the customer experience in business. It was mostly about the bottom line. Once they discovered the problem and did some research they discovered that customer experience is the most important aspect of business and this is what Brevado is focussed on.

This article was originally written for The Customer Experience Magazine, July 2014.

no-image

6 ways of using customer feedback to improve financial performance

In January’s edition of CXM, I interviewed Guy Letts, Founder and Managing Director of CustomerSure – the all in one customer feedback system.

By way of a follow up, I spoke to Guy again to understand more about his approach, his philosophy and his underlying principles upon which both the Customer Sure software and Guy’s perspective on measuring and applying customer feedback has been created to meet customer and business needs. Below are 6 tenets to collecting, measuring and applying customer feedback that have been forged out of the heat of experience and applied with successful outcomes.

1. Link customer feedback and/or satisfaction to revenue Stack of coins

One of the first lessons that Guy articulates from his time at Sage is this; “Job #1 is that you have to link customer feedback and or satisfaction to revenue. I don’t mean this in a mercenary way as in the numbers are everything, but neither do I mean it in an altruistic way either. The important point here is that unless people are convinced there is a link, improvements just won’t get done.”

Maybe not a startling revelation, but interestingly this link seems to quite quickly get forgotten, once customer feedback data starts to enter an organisation. Suddenly the data become the focus, rather than the customer, service recovery or process improvement that will ultimately make customers’ lives better.

“Once this link is established, everything gets easier because everyone is used to being measured on job #1 being financial performance. People can then relate collecting and acting on customer feedback directly to improving financial performance.”

2. Attracting customers is nothing without retention

Guy went on to expand on job #2;   Please come back sign

“Good marketers know how to attract customers. Great marketers know how to attract and keep customers. The link here is that keeping customers delivers the 2Rs (recommendations and repeat business). If you’re not working at these then marketing is much more difficult as you have to substitute new customers to replace the never ending attrition of less than satisfied customers who leave. This is smart marketing. This should be one of the main reasons, and drivers of action rather than simply having the knowledge that the organisation needs to improve often for improvements sake. Again, being able to clearly link input to outcome, gets things done”

So if we were to construct a working model from these lessons so far that could be applied successfully within any organisation, then it would be;

 

  • Get customer feedback
  • Act on it first and foremost (and immediately)
  • Thirdly learn from it and continuously improve

Clear and simple, a theme that runs through Guy’s approach and also though the CustomerSure Software itself as we’ll see.

3. Transactional surveys not relationship surveys

Gathering customer feedback after a service interaction or an event is referred to as transactional surveying. This is in contrast to a once a year survey irrespective of recent events, often referred to as a relationship survey. So why this approach and what’s the advantage over relationship surveying – say on an annual basis as a lot of organisations practise?

“Timely customer feedback allows for almost immediate service recovery and if done well, is a great way to create customer advocates rather than trying to use and apply across the board ‘vanilla’ type improvements (from a relationship survey) that may or may not improve overall customer satisfaction, but which often don’t allow for very rapid and reactive service recovery opportunities.”

It’s a fair point and an often articulated advantage of transactional surveying over the relationship approach. It’s well proven in research in that customers who have had an issue and have had it resolved to their satisfaction in a timely fashion, are much more satisfied and as such much more likely to recommend than customers who have never had an issue in the first place.

Transactional surveying though isn’t for everyone and it’s mainly dependent upon the pattern of business transactions i.e. suitable more for high volume rather than low volume customer interactions. If you’re in a business to business service delivery environment with a relatively small number of high value customers, then transactional surveying may not be best for you.

As a point to add, Guy went on to say “If you gather customer feedback on a transactional basis, then you need to build it (both the feedback and action) into ‘business as usual’. If an unreturned call to a customer happens today, there’s little point in trying to catch and correct that in an annual relationship survey. It’s way too late at that point. The service recovery opportunity has been missed and in all likelihood, the customer has already left by the time you get round to reviewing their feedback, if indeed they are bothered to actually give it in the first place.”

“This is what works from a CustomerSure approach as this is what we see customers doing and getting the benefit from. We simply want to bring this approach and technique to others so that they can benefit too.”

4. Don’t give customer feedback to marketing or the analysts

Well not initially anyway. In line with the model mentioned above and based on his experience, Guy advocates using the feedback first and only then learning from it to continuously improve.

“The lesson I learned at Sage was to get lots of responses going to the front line teams first as these are the people who need to stay in tune with customer’s needs and invariably can fix the issues that the customers have. There’s little advantage if service recovery is the objective, in giving customer feedback data to the marketing department or the analysts first, who will pore over it at their leisure before disseminating it around the organisation for everyone else to review. This process takes weeks, if not months and misses the service recovery opportunities. Of course, let marketing and the analysts have the data, but only after the frontline teams have acted on it first”.

5. Make software simple.

Another big lesson Guy learnt which he brought to the CustomerSure approach is in learning how software is changing. “People now want business software to be simple.” Seems obvious, but you’ve not got to look far in order to see an example which embodies the opposite of this simple approach;

“Take Microsoft Outlook for example. There are now so many configurations in how to make it work in one way or another, options to choose from to turn on or off to customise it to your heart’s content. What you’re actually left with though is on overly complex piece of business software. All the configurations are individually valid and presumably they’ve all been asked for at some point along the way as upgrades or improvements. However, simply adding on additional choice upon choice, only goes to create a paralysing plethora of options that adds to our confusion and anxiety rather than clarifying, simplifying, or eliminating it completely”. This choice paradox (where we think we want more choice, but where ultimately more choice makes us more confused or makes us avoid choosing altogether) is a common and very real problem. Simplicity then (and positive limited choice), is the solution and foundation upon which CustomerSure is founded.

Guy refers to the software as a satisfaction system rather than a research tool which is a simple but important difference. “We built the software to do satisfaction surveys whilst learning along the way, reinforcing simplicity and adding the obvious next steps as we went”.

Thus, CustomerSure was born. A simple, elegant solution combining a customer feedback and case management solution, giving you less choice overall but delivering exactly what both businesses and customers need. Indeed, initial customer feedback showed that customers were prepared to trade off getting 100% of the functionality fit that they thought they wanted, for low hassle, ease of usage, robustness and reliability, a low training requirement and an intuitive user interface.

Easy and simple to follow up features allow organisations to do the best job possible in collecting and acting on customer feedback whilst also allowing categorisation of issues and root cause analysis. In addition, through capturing and identifying positive customer feedback, this also opens up the possibilities of both up-sell and cross-sell opportunities with customers at the right point in time, maximising the feel good factor rather than trying to convert cold or luke warm customers after an event.

Whilst the software was originally put together for SMEs, it has attracted large companies primarily because they appreciate the simplicity of the software. Guy adds, “Our guiding principle is that if you can buy from Amazon then you can use our software!’

6. Who’s benefitting from the feedback – the research department or the customer?

This is a great example of how products and services should be designed. Whether it be software, call routing technology or a delivery process they should all be designed from the lens of the customer rather than the lens of the organisation.  Again this latter point is interesting as some early requests for upgrades on CustomerSure were for the addition of various types of rating scales in addition to conditional logic questions “which are all very good” Guy Commented “but these requests are more important to researchers and marketers rather than customers. What’s most important to customers is being able to give feedback that’s acted on straight away”.

Everyone has their preferred way of working and clearly there are benefits of working in this way and using this approach as Guy has demonstrated. Whichever way you decide to work, organisations and customers alike can benefit from greater simplicity and a re-focus on the objectives for collecting customer feedback in the first place; to deliver a better customer experience with key business benefits.  With this in mind, the customer, the company and the bottom line can win every time.

For your free trial of Customer Sure go to www.customersure.com

Article originally written for the February edition of Customer Experience Magazine.

no-image

Finding the missing million

I recently met Guy Letts, Founder and Managing Director of CustomerSure which is an all in one customer feedback system.

Apart from what I learnt about the product itself, I also learnt about  Guy’s journey, his experience and his ‘battle scars’ of being tasked with finding a missing million in revenue that took him ultimately to start the Customer Sure business after turning round the operations centre he managed.

Before founding CustomerSure, Guy was Head of Customer Services at Sage, the market leading business software company based in Newcastle and Guy was responsible for running a medium sized services operation with 120 staff, which was a business unit within the larger Sage organisation.

His customers were small and medium sized companies and, together with his experience prior to Sage, he’s been fortunate to learn by working with people at both ends of the corporate spectrum.

When he first took on the role there was a challenging revenue target in a less than favourable business environment.  He was tasked with growing a £20m ($30m) revenue line by 10%. This was before he discovered the customer attrition problem, which was running at 9% which made tackling the growth target even harder.

Guy set about the challenge by starting to improve customer satisfaction to both stem the attrition rate and to try and make headway into the challenging financial growth target he was tasked with.

In the period of time that he was in the role, he tried what all the customer service books typically tell you to do;

  • Train frontline staff
  • Use mystery shopping to provide feedback
  • Standardise processes
  • Answer the phone quickly
  • Audit people and process
  • Benchmark
  • Introduce a VoC programme
  • Conduct an annual measure of customer satisfaction

However in reality he soon realised that all these aspect didn’t work for him and his team. His experience in implementing them, showed that whilst most of the practices were good things to do, for him and his department at the time, they were not effective in moving the needle on their customer satisfaction dial. They didn’t deliver a return on the effort they were investing because they weren’t the things that were most important to customers.

All they succeeded in doing was to make a bunch of committed people even busier and more exhausted than they already were. 

Training the ‘front line’

This is of course important but it’s nothing like the whole story. Of course it’s vital to make sure that people who are in frequent contact with customers know how to listen carefully, deal with people appropriately to all the circumstances and reach an outcome that leaves the customer completely satisfied. Training also helps people deal with the often stressful demands of their roles.

The mistaken belief that organisations often have is that the ‘front line’ are the only people who influence customer satisfaction, and that training them solves the problem.

In fact, people who do that job generally enjoy dealing with people and are often good at it. Where it falls down is how they themselves are treated, the policies they have to defend, the systems and data they have to work with and the support that’s available for solving customer problems that are not mainstream or that need attention from someone elsewhere in the business.

A bad environment can grind down even the most motivated and talented people, and no amount of training will counter that. Furthermore, it ignores the fact that everyone in every role in a company has an impact on customers in some way. The people who set the policies, who deal with recruitment, deal with suppliers, drive the vans…everyone influences customers and potential customers one way or another.

Mystery shopping

“We found it told us what we already knew or could have worked out for ourselves.”

Clearly there’s some value in having a fresh perspective, and it’s sometimes easier for a third party to share uncomfortable truths, but however skilled are the proxy customers, they’re not real customers.

Guy’s view is that “I’ve found that customers are won or lost one at a time, according to their own specific preferences, circumstances and experiences of dealing with the company. It’s impossible to second guess the critical factors for a particular real customer. So again, we found this method can produce interesting results, but it didn’t improve conversion, retention or average spend.”

Standard processes

One of the common tenets of customer experience is that customers like consistency and people do, in general. Some restaurant chains, for example, go to extraordinary lengths to make experience the same no matter which restaurant you visit. Menus laid at the right angle, chairs neatly aligned and a precise number of pepperoni slices on the pizza. It’s all designed to make us feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety. Even in offices all over the world, brand consistency rules: colours and margins must comply for the sake of a consistent customer experience.

“Consistency does not beat quality” Guy explained. “Consistent presentation does not overcome a sub-standard deliverable, or an unhelpful attitude, or a call that’s not returned, or a deadline that’s missed without warning or a promise that’s not kept. So while there are benefits in standards, we had to make sure that we didn’t risk hitting the standard but missing the point, and disappointing the customer.”

Fast phone pick-up

This point Guy confessed, was an initiative that they were supposed to comply with at the time but they kept their heads down on this.

“Customers want a fast response and that is the key to customer satisfaction. Three rings to answer a call was the maximum at the time, and one ring the gold standard.”

However speed of answering the phone became a crusade and they saw other areas decline as response times improved dramatically. The result was that customer satisfaction actually dropped rather than improved.

This highlighted to Guy the danger of setting the wrong targets. Of course as customers ourselves, we all want a fast response. But customers prized more highly a call in which they would receive a sympathetic hearing, a friendly approach and a competent and caring first-time resolution. This was the new target that Guy subsequently adopted for his team.

Auditing

Guy is a big fan of peer reviews in helping to improve customer satisfaction. Having a competent ‘second pair of eyes’ observe and make constructive suggestions to his team was one of the biggest contributors to quality that he says he’s come across and used, and it can be applied to most tasks.

On the other hand though, he hated prescriptive checklists which just rewarded people for going through the motions and distracted focus from the quality of the deliverable. Audit is good for maintaining quality and developing people, and he adds “I’d say there’s always a place for it, but by itself it’s not the answer – it can improve quality and consistency, but it doesn’t guarantee the customer will be happy.”

Benchmarking

Guy’s got an interesting view point on this subject which won’t sit comfortably with some people.

“Benchmarking customer satisfaction is a waste of time. There is no RoI because the activity does not benefit customers.”

“You might benchmark some other things, perhaps the specifications of your product or service – that could be helpful, especially in a competitive market. Certainly you should measure customer satisfaction. But the only thing you should compare against is the reasonable expectations of your customers. If you score highly on that, you’re good. If you don’t, you have work to do – and one by one they are the (only) people who can tell you what that work is. It really doesn’t matter how other companies are doing. At least not in my experience.

If you still want to try, then benchmark yourself against somebody impressive, not your competitors.

Voice of the Customer (VoC)

The challenge here is that most VoC projects are not done in a way that actually benefits individual customers. On the contrary, the problem is that they can often leave individual customers feeling that they have been ignored.

Here’s the issue as Guy sees it:

“If you ask customers for their views, you need to be prepared to respond immediately if they use that opportunity to report a problem.

A problem may not be the type of feedback you were looking for. But if you ignore the ‘wrong’ type of feedback, how do you think a customer will feel when that happens?

Of course it’s not the feedback you wanted. You were looking for feedback that helps you plan the future shape of your business. What are the deep insights that you can get from customers to make your company even more popular and so even more profitable? Well, you may well get some responses like that.

But because I’ve done this, and read all the responses, I’ve found that you’ll get far more reports about things that need fixing for customers now – not in a month or two when the feedback has wound its way round to every stakeholder in the business and then a team has decided what to prioritise.

In our experience, we realised that we needed to deal with issues and problem within 24 hours (although preferably within an hour). Once we started to deliver against that, we started to blow customers’ socks off!”

The foundation to put in place first and foremost then for a VoC program to be successful, is to prepare staff and systems to respond quickly to whatever comes back from customers.

Annual satisfaction surveys

Again, Guy’s view on this typical and often traditional approach that many organisation follow could be viewed as counter intuitive or even down right heretical!

“These provide great sentiment, but I’ve never seen these deliver good results for customers nor, therefore, for a business.”

In his role in which he first learnt all these lessons he inherited two annual surveys from prior years.

“The background was that I needed to deliver 10% growth, but I’d just learnt that we had 9% attrition – so in reality we needed nearly 20% growth because we first needed to replace the revenue we’d lost.  I was therefore very anxious to read what all these customers had said.”

He described the feeling as his heart sank though when he read line after line of cries for help in the customer feedback, all of which had not even been read, let alone actioned.

“I counted that we could have saved 6 in every 10 customers that we had lost…if only the surveys had been read and the customers’ issues resolved.”

The light bulb moment came for guy when he realised that these initiatives weren’t exactly wrong, they just weren’t enough. He recounts;

“I spent many months trying things like these, visiting other companies, reading the literature and listening to people who’d achieved some success.  It did feel like we were making progress, but we were only inching forward.”

His breakthrough came when he and his team set up a basic customer feedback system.  After the painstaking, incremental improvements in customer satisfaction he’d seen before, this one system started delivering remarkable results.

With hindsight it’s easy to see why but when you’re in the thick of it and under pressure it’s much more difficult. “Looking back it’s obvious why it worked” he says.

“When we did something for a customer, we just asked them simply and politely whether they were completely satisfied or not, rather than leaving it to chance.

If customers were happy, they appreciated that we were concerned to check.  We also got some positive feedback to encourage the teams or to display as a review.  If on the other hand there was a problem, we made it dead simple for customers to get it fixed.”

The customer feedback system delivered dramatic benefits from the outset and Guy and the team carried on working hard to get the process right for customers so that they could continue getting the maximum benefit for the business.

“The main thing we learnt was that customer satisfaction doesn’t depend on what you do, it depends on how the customer feels.” Something that’s easy to forget in a busy and fast past business focussed on delivering on its financial commitments.

Between doing the best and the final outcome for the customer all sorts of things can go wrong.  “You think you’ve done a great job, yet the customer can be fuming.  Unless you close the loop and check for satisfaction, you have no idea.  Meanwhile your marketing goes in the bin, your reputation suffers, and your competitors are being asked to quote.

Even when someone has smiled and shaken you warmly by the hand, that’s no guarantee of success.  Nobody likes initiating an awkward conversation…sometimes they just decide to vote with their feet.”

What the team came to realise is that by checking for satisfaction, in a way that’s fast and convenient, for customers and making it clear that honest comments were welcomed, they started to guarantee and realise increased satisfaction, retention and more repeat business with the confidence that there was a firm grasp of all the issues that were important to customers.

“By improving customer satisfaction we met our revenue budgets and then grew it for 3 successive years before I left to set up Customer Sure based on the principles and my experience of what really works.”

This approach can be succinctly summarised by the 3 key principles for a successful customer feedback system which not only made Guy’s operation a success, they also form the basis of the CustomerSure approach;

1. Focus on business benefits

2. Make it easy for customers to have their say

3. Act on customer feedback.  Immediately.  Every time.

Simple. And so it should be because that’s exactly what customers want.

(Article originally written for the January 2014 edition of Customer Experience Magazine)

no-image

Use technology to manage customer expectation

Shopping trolley on button of computer keyboardI’m not a shopping fan at the best of times but internet shopping I can live with because I can browse without being harassed, I can do research into products and then buy when I’m ready and then get my order delivered to the door – perfect.

Web sites vary in terms of customer experience and usability, as does delivery method choices and timescales. When it works, it works very well in my experience and I’ve rarely had an issue with an internet order. Amazon is a great model and is often touted as best in class for customer experience. However, recent experiences with ASOS suggests that there’s another company who’ve mastered delivering a great customer experience from online to front door.

NEW-LOGO_ASOS-1

The event was a family christening and the women of the house, my partner and her daughter absolutely had to have something new to wear.
We went to another christening several month ago that I bought something new for, so being a man I figured this would be perfect for a second outing. Not good enough for the ladies though and in true fashion they’d left choosing right to the last minute. My partner works full time and clearly didn’t have time to actually go shopping so it was a virtual shop. ASOS was picked as the online store of choice and after 24 hours of deliberation, clothes were picked, bought and ordered for delivery next day.

The order confirmation arrived by email fairly instantly and then within the next hour, a text message arrived indicating delivery as requested next day between 7am and 9pm which was fine. A fairly standard experience so far for internet shopping. No one was going to be in on the day of delivery but another recent purchase from ASOS was left with neighbours which I prefer rather than a parcel being returned for a second delivery attempt.

On the morning of delivery however, we received another text indicating a delivery window of 60 minutes between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Impressive both from the accuracy of the timeslot and managing expectation about the delivery itself. In addition, within the text we were given three options, 1-Deliver to neighour 2. Fri 3. Mon

Given we knew we weren’t going to be in we selected option 1 to leave with a neighbour as we’d done previously.

True to their word the package arrived in the time slot they indicated. In the end I was around to take delivery and so could testify for the accuracy of the timescale. Their courier partner is DPD and clearly they’ve got a good relationship. DPD delivered on the ASOS promise.

Now it could be argued that this is how companies should be operating, and clearly for ASOS they are. Reliable, consistent and trustworthy. Do what you say and deliver on your promises. Can you imagine the situation if the goods hadn’t arrived? Albeit the late order was down to my partner and her daughter but that wouldn’t have been a pretty sight and I’m sure heated conversations and tantrums would have ensued and that’s just me!

Fortunately that was all avoided though. Interestingly, ASOS didn’t do anything to ‘wow’ us as customers but everything went to plan, it was effortless and it worked. The upshot is a blog and a significant likelihood to recommend – go on try them!

However, it’s not like this in many instances. Inconsistency is one of the biggest enemies to a good customer experience whether that be online, high street or in a business to business relationships. And what should be expected to be delivered as the basics in a good customer experience often isn’t.

Clearly ASOS have got it right which sets the bar higher for everyone and rightly so. Organisations that can deliver consistently on their promises will keep customers, win new ones and reap the financial benefits this brings with it.