CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

Financial institutions: Are you leveraging benchmarking data?

July 12, 2017

An example of benchmarking categories

When a financial institution evaluates itself to identify opportunities for improvement, key performance standards, also known as benchmarks, are essential. Benchmarks paint a clear picture of a bank’s performance. More importantly, benchmarking sets up a long-term framework the bank can use to consistently measure its performance against key performance standards over time. This feedback, gained directly from customers, is invaluable for managers.

In 2017, benchmarking is a practice every financial institution should undertake. Key performance metrics are centered around impacting the bottom line, and improving benchmarking scores results in improved revenue. Things like overall customer satisfaction, customer evaluation of employee performance and wait times for help from call centers influence customer decisions. Happy customers are likely to open new accounts, develop more comprehensive relationships and vocally advocate for their financial institutions.

One of the most effective ways customer experience researchers and performance managers help their clients is by not only executing benchmarking programs, but by giving their financial service provider clients context around the benchmarking. Which metrics are being measured? How does customer experience vary across different channels? How does one financial institution’s performance compare to its closest competitors? The context of these answers brings benchmarking to life for managers.

Metrics

One of the ways managers learn about their overall customer experience is through a variety of metrics. Different metrics about specific performance indicators give managers perspective on their financial institution’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, a financial institution may have highly competent individuals in its call centers, but have a long wait time. As a result, customer satisfaction may be low with their call centers. Without standalone benchmarks for “call center employee performance” and “call center wait time,” managers wouldn’t have a clear understanding of why customers feel dissatisfied. A manager may falsely identify irritable employees as the issue, instead of the wait time. By having clear benchmarking obtained through feedback, financial institution managers can properly diagnose their underlying business issues.

Channel

Another source of context for managers of financial institutions to learn about their customer satisfaction is through various banking channels. Lending (consumer, mortgage, business/commercial), online, mobile, branches and call centers all offer unique challenges and opportunities. Mobile, self-service banking apps need to be optimized for a simplistic user experience. On the other hand, branch employees need wear many hats as trusted advisors, and need to be able to answer a multitude of diverse topics for customers. Benchmarking not only these different channels, but the most important elements within each channel, helps clarify financial institutions’ strengths and weaknesses. Then, leadership and financial officers can work together to decide where to best invest their time and resources to drive improvement.

Competition

One of the most valuable uses of banking for financial institutions is to reference against their competitors. This can be delineated in ways like portfolio makeup, asset size and geographic region. By gauging against competitors, financial institutions discover their own relative strengths and weaknesses. Strength areas can be promoted to customers as a competitive advantage, while weakness areas can be targets for resources and enhancement. Working with customer experience researchers and performance managers helps to assess the risks and benefits of each category strength and weakness to further specify a financial institution’s biggest opportunities.

Benchmarking offers a multitude of valuable insights financial institutions can’t afford to pass up. By developing key performance metrics and making consistent efforts to improve benchmarking scores, financial institutions can stand on firm ground knowing the resources they invest in today will enhance their revenue and business goals tomorrow.

Want better employee performance? Use benchmarks.

June 27, 2017

What should a manager do when an employee’s performance falls short? Consider the following scenario: An employee isn’t reaching his personal performance requirements. Maybe his sales are low, his ability to open new accounts is subpar or he receives weaker customer satisfaction scores than his colleagues. During a performance review, the employee is informed of his low performance, and feels pressure to improve. He worries about his job security and thinks if he simply tries harder, he’ll achieve better results. However, two weeks later, his willpower is drained and he resorts to the same ineffective behaviors.

In this scenario, the employee gets lost in a cloud of ambiguity and stress. Employees want to perform well, and when they don’t, managers need to treat the moment as an opportunity to teach, rather than to scold. Benchmarking makes this teaching moment possible.

Benchmarking is the process companies use to identify and establish key performance standards, or benchmarks, and measure their performance against those standards over time. These standards are usually achieved by quantifying performance based on customer feedback scores. Coaching employees to achieve benchmarks is highly effective for a few reasons:

Non-accusatory feedback

When a manager discusses poor performance with an employee, the conversation feels highly personal. However, the ability to look at a benchmarking score as an external performance metric helps things feel less personal, and shifts the conversation in a positive way. Rather than the manager telling the employee he’s underperforming, the manager speaks in terms of improving customer relationships through specific behaviors. The result of a non-personal conversation leaves the employee feeling supported, rather than attacked.

Clarity

Benchmarking helps managers give specific feedback and learn about their employee’s personality traits. Different personality types yield different performance strengths and weaknesses. For example, an extroverted, persuasive personality may do well to promote add-on purchases, but rub certain customers the wrong way by being too abrasive. Conversely, a perceptive and introverted personality may do well at highly analytical tasks for high-maintenance customers. Benchmarking illustrates performance strengths and weaknesses in clear terms the manager and employee can look at together. Additionally, this process gives an opportunity to talk about the employee’s highest scores. The manager learns about the behaviors which achieve stand-out scores, and the behaviors are taught across the company as a best practice.

Tangible goals

Benchmarking is done using scales, such as a numeric 1-10 scale. Seemingly small differences, like a customer giving a “7” versus an “8” in overall experience, have major implications in terms of the loyalty of the customer and the customer’s likelihood to recommend the brand to others. Therefore, employees should be encouraged with realistic and specific targets. When an employee is told he isn’t doing well enough, he might feel discouraged. A good manager offers specific strategies to employ, and encourages the individual to see if he can improve his score marginally over the next three months, maybe from a score of 7.5 to 7.8. Presented in this context, the goal feels realistic and achievable, easing the anxiety of the employee and inspiring hope that the strategies recommended by the manager will work.

Good managers should always consider the emotional impact of the feedback they give their employees, make sure their feedback is precise and give the employee a clearly defined path to success. CSP’s Manager Development and Training uses Voice of the Customer data to coach managers and employees on the specific behaviors that improve key drivers of both employees’ engagement and customers’ satisfaction.

Millennials Want Universal Bankers

June 14, 2017

Millennials expect better customer service than past generations, and universal bankers offer a unique and valuable perspective of their needs and wants.

 

The universal banker, or a multi-functional, jack-of-all-trades combination of a traditional teller and a personal banker, helps retain and solicit millennial customers. As highlighted in this Forbes article, millennials seek out convenience and personalization in the brands and companies they do business with, and the universal banker addresses these deeply embedded preferences for financial service providers.

Customer experience.

Millennials expect better customer service than past generations, and they consider good customer service a form of reciprocity for their choice to do business with the brand. They know they are valuable to a business, and they want to see that value reflected in the service they receive. Furthermore, they are highly aware of competitor options, and are more likely to be deliberate about the brand they choose to support, especially for major, ongoing relationships, like their bank or credit union.

A universal banker satiates millennials’ thirst for quality customer experience by providing a single human touchpoint during an interaction with their financial institution. Working with a single representative prevents millennials from repeating information or restating their wants and needs to multiple representatives. It reassures the millennial of their financial institution’s competence when the sole representative they interact with shows expertise on a variety of topics and questions. Additionally, millennials are exceedingly informal, and like to avoid navigating an impersonal hierarchy of different financial services departments.

Personalization.

Universal bankers offer a unique and valuable perspective of the millennial customer by having a holistic view of their needs and wants. Consider the following scenario: A millennial goes to her financial institution and explains she needs to open several savings accounts for different savings goals. Traditionally, she may have been redirected to a new accounts specialist, and would have to explain her needs all over again. The universal banker addresses her needs without redundancy, and answers her questions in a consultative way. Are there any other accounts she should open for long-term savings goals? What are the minimums required for each account? Instead of the client restating her need and getting frustrated, the universal banker provides expertise and make recommendations. For more complex requests, the universal banker quickly establishes rapport and understands the client’s whole financial picture, rather than being isolated to specific services.

Why are universal bankers valuable to financial services providers?

The universal banker is a product of the increasing demand for customer fluency and one-stop financial solutions. With more banking occurring online and being conducted by customers via apps, the moments of interpersonal interaction with millennials are unique chances to delight them with a seamless experience. Universal banking requires minimal preparation on the part of the client, and creates a chance for the financial institution to address their needs/problems quickly and painlessly. Additionally, the opportunity for one representative to become an expert on the individual customer enables the universal banker to recommend additional services or accounts the customer hadn’t considered. When all goes well, these customers leave a branch, phone call or chat window having worked with one representative and feeling happy they reached out to their financial institution. Clients become enthusiastic advocates for the brand, and remain loyal to the institution that values their business.

Positive customer feedback matters

May 24, 2017

Passionate customers tell you what makes your brand exceptional

Often, customer experience research focuses too heavily on business shortcomings.  Managers want to know when customers are dissatisfied, what caused their dissatisfaction, and how to fix the problem.  As a result, decision makers overlook positive customer feedback.  Managers expect positive feedback, and when it’s received, they don’t celebrate the occasion. Instead, managers continue to search for shortcomings in their businesses – they don’t want to be complacent, even if their customers are happy.  However, this oversight misses an opportunity: a chance to understand what drives customer passion and excitement.

Word-of-mouth advocacy is a powerful driver of new business, and positive customer testimonials received during customer experience research help highlight the topics brand advocates are most likely to talk about with friends and family.  To maximize the value of this feedback, businesses should ask customers the following questions about their experiences:

  • How does our service/product/interaction make you feel?  When a customer describes a positive experience, asking them about their feelings helps businesses understand the type of value their services bring.  Are customers relieved? Excited?  Do they feel in-control?  Understanding the specific emotions they feel helps businesses understand why a service/product/interaction is important, and what emotions are driving the customer’s behavior.
  • How is our business different from others?  When it comes to positive customer experiences, unique positive experiences are true brand differentiators.  Identifying those unique positive experiences allows businesses to replicate that experiences across their customer base.  Once the experience is consistent, that unique positive experience is a brand differentiator, which can be used to solicit new customers.
  • How does our business make a difference in your life, even if it is small?  Asking customers to relate a business’s services to their lives helps communicate those services in the customers’ language.  For example, customers might not care about the UX testing, which guided development of a bank’s mobile app; but they DO care that the app is easy to use and saves them time.  Managers and directors are prone to talk about the services they provide in their own terms – from the behind-the-scenes perspective, talking about the nuanced details of the services they provide.  Conversely, customer feedback vocalizes positive experiences in ways mangers struggle to verbalize, and their feedback provides a template for how managers should talk about the services they provide.

Beyond the benefits of analyzing positive customer feedback, the process provides a venue to build morale among employees and recognize their hard work.  By addressing positive feedback, employees are incentivized to continue (and increase) positive behaviors, which lead to positive customer experiences, because they know their good deeds are noticed and valued.

In 2017 and beyond, managers continue to look at positive customer experiences to identify, replicate and reinforce aspects of their businesses leading to positive feedback.  Once reinforced, branding/marketing managers use these competitive advantages to drive new business, while customers drive business on their own through brand advocacy.

Responding to negative customer feedback is important, but most organizations already do a good job at identifying their own shortcomings.  Many managers overlook positive feedback at their own detriment, and those who utilize feedback to create a model for consistent positive experiences will come out on top.

3 Tips for a Positive Workplace & Positive Customer Relationships

April 26, 2017

While you’re hard at work trying to maintain lifelong customer relationships, it can be easy to overlook the relationships among your staff. It seems obvious that a friendly work environment leads to greater productivity, decreased stress, less turnover and increased satisfaction—and in fact, research shows that this assumption is true. Happier employees lead to a more positive customer experience, as well.

A positive workplace starts with a strong manager. Start by surveying your employees to gauge their satisfaction. What do they really think about their job? Then try to build in the tips found below.

Boundaries

Clearly communicating your ideas and expectations at the beginning of a project save you from a conflict later in the process.

  • Try replacing open-ended questions like, “Do you want to start or shall I?” with “I’d like to start with x and then get your opinion.”
  • Create a space or time wherein employees can feel free to express their ideas and concerns safely. If confidentiality is important, consider using a comment box and then reading entries anonymously at meetings.

Customers benefit from companies that enforce clear boundaries, because they know what to expect.  Consistent results from a well-communicated plan of action go a long way to build relationships with your customers, too.

Gratitude

Everyone likes to know that they’re valued and appreciated.  Cultivating an atmosphere of gratitude can encourage employees and help them understand their integral role in the office.

  • Begin conversations by recognizing something positive your employee has done recently. They’ll likely be more receptive to suggestions or critique if they know you’re aware of their successes too.
  • Make sure your praise is specific and/or spontaneous. Let your employees know you’re paying attention to their work.

Have you ever walked into a bank and the teller was clearly miserable?  Your customers associate the positive and negative emotions they experience with the brand itself.  By ensuring your employees have a smile on their face, your customers will be smiling too.

 

Fun

Dale Carnegie, a famous thought leader in corporate thinking, said “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

American culture often does not include “fun” as a regular component of the work day.  Work shouldn’t be fun, right?  In fact, incorporating fun into the workplace used to be more common with company picnics, birthday parties, and friendly office wagers.

  • You can maintain a professional atmosphere while still having fun. The key is to designate a time and a place.  Scheduling a regular happy hour can give employees something to look forward to after a long day at the office.
  • Assign “birthday cake duty” to one of your employees to make sure birthdays are recognized and everyone can take a sugary break in the afternoon for a slice.

Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re a burden to your employees.  Let people know that you’re working hard and playing hard on their behalf.  This gesture also goes a long way in humanizing your brand and service, further cementing lifelong, loyal relationships with customers.

If you’re interested in reading a little more on this topic, check out our articles on how to boost employee morale:

https://www.csp.com/encouraging-cross-departmental-collaboration/#.WP9ysYgrJPY

https://www.csp.com/10-examples-of-employee-engagement-in-action/#.WP91oIgrJPY

4 Questions to Ask When Appealing to Millennial Customers

April 10, 2017

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials are taking over the world—literally. As of April 2016, Millennials have edged out Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. That means Millennials are a driving force behind modern evolutions in customer experience.

The largest, most diverse, most educated generation of Americans to date have incredible spending power. Their familiarity with and reliance on technology defines the Millennial experience and means major changes for businesses and brands looking to court their loyalty.

So how can you become a favorite among Millennial customers?

Millennials still want reliability, friendliness, responsiveness, and quality – they just want even more of it than previous generations were satisfied to have.

No generation before has seen such a rapid progression and diversification of technology. While older Millennials still remember the dial-up days, the younger set are coming of age in a time of ubiquitous and instant availability of favorite resources and channels. Millennials see technology as a lifestyle, not a toolbox.  

If you’re looking to strengthen your appeal to Millennials, your business should embrace a similar mindset. Your business already uses technology to communicate quickly and efficiently. The next step is to embrace the wide variety of apps, devices, and networks that make your brand easy to access and share. The following questions are a good way to gauge if your business is ready to attract Millennial consumers.

IS IT FAST?

Millennials know what they want, and they want it now. Influenced by their always-available, multi-tasking, multi-device lifestyles, their attention span is rather short. Millennials have little patience for clumsy user interfaces or apps that struggle to load. They don’t want to wait for answers! They make decisions quickly and will gravitate to businesses that help them accelerate their progress.

IS IT SOCIAL?

Millennials are always connected to the Internet and therefore, always connected to each other. Businesses quickly realized that the key to engaging Millennial markets is to connect via social media.

Millennials begrudgingly accept the presence of brands and businesses in their social networks, but they expect businesses to behave socially. Personal interactions with businesses make them feel heard and valued.

Rather than picking up a phone, Millennials favor direct Tweets, Yelp reviews, and Facebook posts to describe their experience with a business. An active social media presence demonstrates your business’ willingness to personally connect with customers and keeps your brand fresh in someone’s news feed. 

IS IT MEANINGFUL?

Millennials maintain a heightened awareness of social issues and causes. They’re not interested in money for the sake of money—they want their dollar to mean something when they spend it. Consequently, businesses that include an element of social justice in their work are more likely to successfully engage Millennials.

IS IT AUTONOMOUS?

Millennials are self-starters. They want to feel empowered by their business interactions. Many customer experience disruptions come from Millennials as they initiated their own startups to fill niches not served by the existing market. They’re not content to say: “This is the way things have always been done.” 

This generation saw the birth of “crowdsourcing and online reviews as a significant influencer on purchasing decisions. Conversely, Millennials also value the availability of self-service options, especially those that get them to their destination faster by cutting out the middleman. They’re not opposed to picking up the phone or having a face-to-face customer service interaction, but it’s usually not their first choice. In fact, they may snub a business that doesn’t give them enough opportunity to help themselves.  

Brands Millennials Love

Venmo and other P2P (person to person) payment apps are a recent example of the way Millennials prefer to handle their finances. Venmo provides a slick, no-hassle interface, connects users directly to social networks, and is completely autonomous. Venmo has also partnered with GiveDirectly to make it easier than ever for users to donate to their favorite charity. 

TOMS Shoes is another good example of a brand that successfully engages Millennial markets. Their “One for One” campaign elevated an ordinary purchase of new shoes to an act of goodwill. TOMS also has a strong social media presence. They encourage customers to share stories and make them feel like they’re a part of the TOMS mission to improve the lives of others. 

 

These new insights into Millennial habits in combination with your own Voice of the Customer research will create a customer experience tailored to Millennial demands. In Part Two of this series, we review the areas of the experience to prioritize and provide examples of specific actions to take and offerings to consider when engaging this desirable demographic.

Localizing Customer Service & Customer Experience

February 22, 2017

Brand standardization used to be a priority, but retail businesses are increasingly foregoing out-of-the-box functionality and appeal in favor of individual touches based on location – a practice referred to as localization. There’s even a name for the niche branch of customer research that enables localization. Geodemography is defined by the Business Dictionary as the “process of analyzing survey data of a specific geographical area to profile economic and demographic characteristics of [the] population living there.”

Localization might mean using existing architecture instead of building another replica of your standard store model. (Some communities even enforce this in an effort to preserve local culture and history.) It might mean offering special discounts to employees of some of the area’s largest employers. Local sports team sponsorships, neighborhood events, and even high-tech tactics for garnering positive reviews for Google Maps and Yelp are all part of localized strategies.

Localization is not just applicable to marketing, though. Or really, it is, so long as you realize that the customer experience is a critical component of marketing.

localizing the customer experience
Why does localization matter? Shouldn’t we be guaranteeing the same customer experience no matter which of our locations customers walk into or call?

Well, yes and no. Yes, you should be guaranteeing the same quality of customer service. And a standard of familiarity is customer-friendly, too. You don’t want customers who are confused about where to find things or whom to talk to.

But providing a superior customer service is often about going the extra mile. That means anticipating customers’ needs and wants before they make contact with you. It requires knowing your customers well enough that you can tailor their experience specifically to them.

Geography is as much part of customers’ identity as other vital demographic statistics like age, sex, and income. It’s intrinsically linked to other identifiers, from socioeconomic status to school spirit, but it can also transcend those identifiers as a unifying factor. We are all in this (town) together.

Locality lends itself to in-jokes – you’re clearly not from around here if you don’t know that _____ serves the best pizza/wings/happy-hour nachos, or if you’ve never taken a date to _____. Whether it’s through hometown pride or well-intentioned humor, when local businesses participate in the customs of their surrounding communities, patrons and passerby alike will notice.

So when you’re designing your customer experience down to the last detail, that should include details specific to the locations of your branches. When you combine local knowledge with Voice of the Customer research, you create a customer experience that, literally, can’t be duplicated.


You may also want to read:

How to Impress an Off-the-Clock Customer Experience Expert

January 12, 2017

omaha gas station/food shop

Welcome to my favorite gas station / food shop in Omaha.

It only makes sense that as specialists in customer experience and service, CSP staffers are especially attuned to their own interactions with businesses. Here, Brittni Redding, Director of Client Education, describes one business that has earned her loyalty and what others can learn by this example.  

You can really tell quite a bit about the culture of an establishment by assessing the “climate,” or the feel when you walk in the door as a customer.

I have a uniquely memorable experience when I get my daily coffee at a gas station near our offices here in Omaha, Nebraska.  When I walk in the door, the first thing I notice is that all eyes are up from the task at hand, and I’m greeted warmly.  I also notice that the environment is clean and well stocked – if a customer walks through with wet or muddy shoes, it’s mopped up immediately. These may seem like bare-minimum details, but they already set the tone for what kind of service I can expect from this business.

brittni redding with coffee

Starting my day off right!

Keeping the coffee urns full is clearly a top priority in the morning.  You can observe every single employee checking and checking and checking.  One time, (and I mean only once) the original roast ran out for me mid-pour.  I chose another brew and politely notified the cashier during check-out.  His response? “We didn’t get you what you wanted today, so that coffee is on the house.”  Score one for me and another for this business!

My favorite part of this daily visit might be one of the regular cashiers. Chuck dresses up various days of the week in a loud flowered shirt and straw hat (or as Uncle Sam on Election Day) and always says to me “Hey, hey!  How are we doing today?” I can’t recall a time when I didn’t see a smile on his face.  He also always notices if I stray from my normal purchase of a large coffee and granola bar and asks about how the additional snacks fit into my day.  “No time for lunch today?” he’ll say, and we’ll go on from there until he closes by wishing me the best day ever.  He is SO happy!  Every. Single. Day. 

This is how you make customers smile!

My co-workers, who have been patrons of this particular gas station for many years before I joined the team, told me about it when I first started.  Clearly the service has an impact on referrals!  The turnover is minimal, given they have seen the same workers there for years – a good sign that the internal climate for employees is as good as the external impression I get as a customer.

Some key elements that I see at play at this gas station/food shop:
  • a clear picture of their main purpose (the customer), which is shared by all employees, not just one or two “top performers,” as evidenced by their genuine and authentic approach to ALL customers
  • autonomy and empowerment at the shop level to allow employees to make customer-centric decisions, which could correlate to a trust-based internal culture
  • openness to new ideas and willingness to progress through fun social media promotions and crazy outfits. The company itself runs fun promotions via social media every Friday.  Telling employees a chosen phrase, like “Go Big Red” (in honor of the Huskers) earns you a 25-cent coffee.
What really blows me away is that this is a gas station we’re talking about. 

You can go anywhere for gas and food, right?  Yet many times I have gone out of my way to give this particular station my business. Stepping back into my professional shoes for a moment, I’m measuring their “culture” as a result of how I feel as a consumer during my interactions with the business.  My colleague Jeff Dahms (CSP’s Vice President of Research and Development) would undoubtedly prefer some hard numbers related to turnover, business performance, sales, etc. – but the point remains, when the culture of a place is right, the customer feels it.


You may also want to read:

The 4 Pillars of a Customer-Engaging Email Marketing Strategy

November 30, 2016

4 pillars of customer engaging email marketing strategyOf the many communications channels that weave together to form an omnichannel customer experience strategy, email continues to be relevant and valuable. Email marketing isn’t just about marketing; it’s a way of maintaining your customer relationships in between more direct touchpoints, like transactions and customer service calls. Like social media, email reaches people where they already spend time – in their inboxes.

But just like any other tool, it all comes down to how you use it. Email marketing is a blank canvas, and there are many ways to go about creating campaigns that help you meet your goals. These four fundamental practices will create the foundation for engaging customers with email content.

1 – Great engagement comes from great content.

Content is hands-down the most important factor in getting customers to engage. In the email marketing world, “engagement” translates to Opens and Click-throughs. Great content is what compels each behavior, followed by the design and presentation of the content. So if you’re going to have an email marketing campaign in play, build it on a foundation of excellent content.

Content is an umbrella term that describes a variety of media that can populate emails. Blog posts, articles, whitepapers, e-books, infographics, video, audio, Tweets, copy/text, and photos are all different kinds of content at your disposal. And it’s a good idea to use as many as you can, especially those that are visual: content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images [source]. 

2 – Prioritize content that is mobile-friendly.

More and more of the digital world is revolving around mobile devices, and email is no exception. At the time of this writing, two thirds of emails are being opened on mobile devices (emphasis on smartphones), compared to desktop email usage. But on the back end, most email campaigns are being designed and run from desktop computers. Template design, list management, and campaign delivery are all easier to achieve on a full-screen device.

Don’t become mobile-blind. When you’re ready to test an email template, make sure you’re viewing it on a mobile phone as well as your computer. You can recruit others in the office who have different devices (for example, Apple vs. Android operating systems) to make sure your content and template design translates well across platforms. And make sure the content you are linking to from your emails is also mobile-friendly. A sales landing page, a blog post, or a document download have no value to a customer who can’t view them easily and clearly.

3 – Try to balance predictability and surprise with your content.

It’s a good idea to be consistent with your email delivery: consistent timing, consistent quality, and consistent design. Customers should have some idea of what they can expect when a new email from you lands in their inbox. If you create an expectation of content that provides value, not purchase pressure, customers will continue to open your messages and engage with that content. Regular quality content also means they’ll be more accepting of the occasional hard sell or special offer, and not feel they’re being spammed or pressured.

But within this context of consistency, there’s also room to try new things or mix up your approach.

  • Vary your header images. Put unique imagery at the top of each message, along with a compelling headline, to grab customers’ attention.
  • Vary your format. Are you delivering a monthly newsletter featuring several recent blog posts? Next time, try just featuring one meaty, valuable post and letting it be the star of the show. Or try different things with your subject lines, like questions, humor, provocative statements.
  • Vary your timing. If you regularly deliver your campaigns at the same time every week or month, try throwing in a one-time message that lands on a Sunday evening, for example. Ideally this message should look a little different than your usual content (see above). The break in routine can catch the attention of readers who have gotten used to a certain pattern.
4 – Make sure you are complying with spam regulations.

What does this have to do with customer engagement? Well, if you run an email program that isn’t compliant with regulations, you soon won’t have an email program to run. Customers can and do report unwanted, bothersome, or low-value emails as spam. These complaints have weight: email service providers use the reports to hone their spam filtering software. Bad behavior can get you “blacklisted,” and there’s little you can do about that once it happens.

The regulations you need to be familiar with are covered by the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which oversees commercial email communications. Technology makes it very easy, and thus very tempting, to do the exact things that CAN-SPAM prohibits – intentionally or accidentally. However, if you are found to be in violation of these rules, the penalties are hefty: you can be fined per email that you send, so the bigger your list, the more you risk.

 

These tips cover the “Before” and “During” stages of running an email marketing program. The “After” stage – how to make sense of, and make use of, your email marketing analytics – is covered in detail here. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates, or visit the CSP.com homepage (and scroll down just a little) to sign up for our monthly email newsletter!


You may also want to read:

4 Critical Warning Signs of Customer Attrition

October 10, 2016

Think customer attrition deserves less of your attention than customer attraction? Think again.

Much of any company’s focus is channeled into attracting new customers and procuring large and sustainable accounts. These are the fuel sources for successful growth. It makes sense to spend time and effort into maintaining these gateways and developing them as wide as possible. But in the meantime, retention is usually a secondary discussion – a priority mishap that can lead to customer attrition.

The last place you want to be is in a conference room full of executives, all discussing the sudden departure of some of your best customers. In order to avoid this, you need to be tuned in to the warning signs.

4 Factors that Can Influence Customer Attrition

attention-303861_6401. Your rewards program targets new customers only.

Rewards and loyalty programs are a top-trending commodity that nearly every type of business has established. If your program gives cash-back, large discounts or giveaways to new customers, while providing much smaller rewards to long-term customers, you need to reevaluate. Yes, draw in the new fish, but keep the water sweet so he doesn’t jump the bowl. Loyalty programs should grow in strength in correlation with the customers’ loyalty.

2. There’s a lack of transparency to your customers.

With the growing popularity of reality shows and social media, people believe they have a right to see what’s happening behind the big curtain. Take time to share your work through media platforms, marketing, newsletters, blog posts and the like. This will add a level of authenticity to your brand. The big secrets don’t have to be revealed; instead, try to showcase the little things that help customers humanize your company while getting them excited and chatty about what’s next.

3. A weak online presence or interface can break the deal.

It’s likely that more than half of your clients are using their smartphones to access their accounts with you. When they log in, they need to be able to do nearly everything that they could do if they visited a branch or sat down face-to-face with you. For example, they need to have quick views of account balances, ability to deposit checks, access to reports, and complementing app and online or software capabilities. That means you can’t have an app that does 10 percent and a website that does another 60 percent. It all needs to be in one place. Offer periodic updates to fix bugs and give more of what the customer wants to see. Surveys, ratings and feedback of your online presence and an equipped tech team will keep this in check. Be sure to use the apps and website yourself.

4. A customer cancels or closes an account.

When a customer threatens to take business elsewhere, think of it as a cry for help. They want you to do something about their unhappiness. Are you able to have a conversation with the person about why they want to leave, and furthermore, are you able to make adjustments to keep their business? Even if a client does walk, have them take an exit survey or call them to follow up to understand where things went wrong. To prevent cancellations, keep an eye out for these additional warning signs:

  • Lack of engagement. You can see how often (or not) a customer is logging in and using services, or how quickly the customer approaches benchmarks.
  • Issue of complaint. If the customer is using your “help” services or seeking a further understanding of your services, initiate a line of communication and set follow-ups.
  • Stacking up fees. If possible, set up a way to monitor the amount and frequency of fees a customer acquires. Fees are a nuisance to any account holder, and it will add frustration to the pot. Perhaps there is a better-suited account level or specific service features this client could benefit from in order to avoid accumulating fees.

 

Despite the things you can control, there is still an outer lying cyber threat: Financial institutions are slower to streamline the digital experience due to privacy and security issues. At the same time, the demand increases. Remind customers of safe online practices and consider boosting breach sensitivity to protect all current accounts.

A Voice of the Customer program, along with complementary resources to support superior service, is your first line of defense against customer attrition. Find out more about CSP’s customer experience management solutions.


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