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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.

Self-Service Customer Support: How Companies Help Customers Help Themselves

September 9, 2016

Customer self-service continues to rise in popularity as companies adapt to customers’ demand for convenience and independence. Customer service experts agree that self-service is one of the biggest developments for 2016.

In 2015, Microsoft’s annual Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report surveyed 4,000 consumers. When asked what they expected from customer service, 90% of those consumers stated the importance of self-service options. 2015 was also the first year that respondents in the Forrester Consumer Survey reportedly used the FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than talking to an agent over the phone.

Online support: FAQ and Search

post-it-1547588_1280The Forrester study shows that online information is a great example of an area where self-service is booming. 72% of consumers call self-service support a fast and easy way to handle support issues. Examples of successful online methods include the use of dynamic Frequently Asked Questions forms: support forms that respond to the specific needs of each customer, rather than stating a list of fixed answers.

Design and content go hand-in-hand. You can support customer self-service by simply moving the Search box on your website, and optimizing content for frequent customer searches. While 92% of people use search engines to find solutions, over two-thirds of them say they get frustrated with the placement of search bars on company websites, or can’t find the information they need and call customer service after all. Online support systems can be economical, but they need to be smart and flexible in order to work.

Self-service banking

Although online services have affected customers’ need to physically visit branches, a significant number of customers still visit their bank regularly. While most simple transactions can be completed online, more complex transactions almost always take place in branches. In order to cater to a variety of service demands, most modern banks are now shifting to the concept of full-service locations that integrate digital and personal customer service.

Some banks, including Chase, have experimented with self-service kiosks at their branches. These kiosks can handle many of the same transactions as an ATM, with additional capabilities like issuing cashier’s checks and debit cards, printing statements, and transferring funds between accounts. Not only does this free up tellers to perform higher-value tasks, it also gives banks the opportunity to cross-sell their products and services.

Self-service kiosks began gaining attention in 2015, so it’s still early to tell whether customers are showing a distinct preference for kiosks over human tellers. But it seems likely that some degree of in-branch self-service that’s more sophisticated than a traditional ATM will be part of the banking customer experience in the future.

Call centers are another service touchpoint with potential for automation. Alongside call center employees, some banks are using interactive voice response (IVR). This system allows customers to “talk to” an automated menu of options and guide themselves to a solution. Much like kiosks, this frees up call center reps to handle the more complex callers, and increases the bank’s capacity to take a high volume of calls at once. IVR systems have grown more sophisticated, too, enough to greet customers by name and better understand what customers are asking on the first try, even when they stray from the expected script.

Retail self-service checkouts

One of the most common and visible examples of the changing nature of customer service is self-service checkout lanes at retailers; from big DIY stores like IKEA to supermarkets and drugstores.  To customers, the appeal of the self-service checkout is the option to move at their own pace and zip to the end of the line. To retailers, these lanes also help reduce the cost of staff.

However, self-service checkouts come with their own set of challenges. Theft is a big issue, for example: a recent study by the University of Leicester found that self-service checkouts criminalized normally-honest shoppers, who “resort to theft because it is so easy and the technology so frustrating.”

Help your customers help themselves

Self-service customer support provides companies with exciting opportunities, but it can’t be done half-heartedly, and it’s not a matter of set-and-forget. In order to realize its full potential, self-service solutions need to integrate smoothly with other customer service channels. As they are implemented, it’s essential to continue monitoring your customers’ experience by collecting feedback. Help your customers help themselves. In the end, it will help you.

Are CMOs Ready to Take Responsibility for the Customer Experience?

June 22, 2016

Should Chief Marketing Officers be customer experience experts? Looking at the increasing trend of CMOs becoming the chief managers of customer experience (or CX) for their brands, the answer is a resounding yes.

According to a recent Gartner study, a considerable number of CMOs say the most-increased expectation their CEOs have of them, is that they lead customer experience. A corroborating report by Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and Deloitte, titled Bridging the Digital Divide: How CMOs Can Rise to Meet Five Expanding Expectations,” names customer acquisition, personal experiences and customer engagement as the top three external marketing priorities of a CMO. Sanjay Dholakia, CMO at Marketo, even goes so far as to say that by 2020, CMOs will have become responsible for the entire customer journey.

While CX may not traditionally be regarded as a marketing function, new research unequivocally proves it to be not only a decisive factor in brand identity, but also in differentiation within the marketplace. Customer expectations have evolved: a 2015 study found that 42% of Americans would turn away from a branQuote to support CMOs involvement in CXd after just two negative experiences.

Positive customer experiences, on the other hand, not only influence the way a bank is perceived, but also play an active role in retention and repeat business through customer loyalty, and eventually in increased revenue. According to the Gartner study, 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016. Whereas the quality of customer service was once seen as a separate, ‘internal’ issue, nowadays it’s an inextricable and decisive factor in a bank’s advertising and marketing strategy.

That said, the question is not whether CMOs should become the stewards of their bank’s CX. The question is: are they up to the task? “It’s a new expectation and it’s a difficult expectation,” says Laura McLellan, VP-Marketing Strategies at Gartner.

When the study asked CMOs about the areas in which they’d made the most progress, customer experience came in last.

Clearly it’s not just customers who are on a journey; a lot of CMOs have journeys of their own ahead of them. Challenges include tying together web, commerce, and mobile technologies to not leave any gaps in quality; centralizing customer data; and providing customers with the best possible interactions with every part of the bank, down to each branch.

This may sound daunting, but like every journey, building up great CX starts with a single step. There is no need for CMOs to reinvent the wheel: the expertise to research customers’ experiences and help enhance them is already at hand. CSP has nearly 30 years of experience with customer satisfaction research and improvement, specializing in financial services. Our seasoned experts and proprietary tools can help you along your individual journey.

One thing is certain: as marketers invest more in improving customer experience, and banks adopt CX as one of their most important strategies for staying ahead of the competition, no CMO can afford to stay behind. In order to be prepared for the future, take the first step now.

8 Do’s and Don’ts for Recovering from a Customer Experience Mishap

February 10, 2016

bad customer service


Sometimes, bad customer experiences happen to good companies. In the worst cases, they happen to good customers whose loyalty you’ve already worked to earn and keep.

It could be a customer service email that went into a black hole and was never returned. Long lines, long hold times, or shipping delays could test a customer’s patience. When a mobile app doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, or an email marketing campaign floods a person’s inbox, the Unsubscribe button is never far away.

Unsatisfying experiences like these can happen at any point in the customer journey. Prior to onboarding or to a purchase decision, a bad experience can stop the journey in its tracks. After the sale has been made or the account created, customers are even more unforgiving, especially if they feel the problem could have been prevented. Failure to deliver on customer service at this stage feels less like a simple shortcoming and more like a personal betrayal.  

[Related reading: How to Extend the Customer Experience Past Purchase]

Not only are dissatisfied customers likely to take their business elsewhere, they are more likely to bad-mouth your brand to their friends and family. Thanks to social media, that negative word of mouth can ripple across a far broader audience than it could have before. Twitter is awash with complaints – just peep the #customerservicefails feed for examples.

So what can be done to limit customer churn and control potential damage to your brand?

How to Win Back a Customer After an Unsatisfactory Experience

DO: Own up to your mistake
Customers reward businesses who display authenticity in their communications. If an error or oversight was made, acknowledge that fact earnestly. If the problem was more circumstantial than directly in your control, you should still acknowledge the seriousness of the inconvenience to your customer and thank them for bringing it to your attention.

DON’T: Get defensive or over-explain
A customer service rep dealing with an unhappy customer may feel tempted to try to excuse themselves from blame. If the customer is angry and lobbing insults or threats, it’s only human nature to get defensive. But customers by and large don’t care about the explanation for the perceived failure, and responding defensively is a rookie mistake that only escalates tensions.

DO: Extend a personal apology
A form letter or auto-responder has nothing on the personal touch. In one study by Accenture, nearly a quarter of respondents who returned to a business after a bad experience said that a personal apology was responsible for reeling them back in. This jumps back to our first point: authenticity in all things.

DON’T: Delay or let the problem go ignored
The longer a customer has to wait for a resolution, the less chance you have to persuade them to stay. Even if a complaint comes in at 4:58 p.m. on a Friday, there’s no reason to kick the can down the road when it can be addressed immediately. An ignored customer is…well, not a customer anymore, for all intents and purposes.

DO: Sweeten the deal
It may seem like a slick trick, but customers will be more likely to bring issues to your attention if they feel they can get a little special treatment in return. That might include coupons, vouchers, discounts or freebies, depending on the severity of the complaint. It may seem counterintuitive, but would you rather field more customer complaints, or silently lose customers without any indication why they left?

DON’T: Rely on perks alone
A coupon is not a Band-Aid. Without the other elements on this list – authenticity, apology, and responsiveness – special offers can only go so far. At best, they might temporarily placate an unhappy customer; at worst, they can send the message that you think the customer’s loyalty can be bought off, whether or not their original problem was addressed to their satisfaction.

DO: Get down to the root of the problem
Every customer complaint is an opportunity to highlight and examine a potential weak link in the chain of customer service. Maybe it’s something that can be addressed with more training, or by updating processes and policies to meet customers’ evolving needs. Customers like to see you take direct action beyond just a promise that “we’re looking into it.”

DON’T: Treat each mistake as an isolated case
Hopefully, you are keeping track of customer feedback through Voice of the Customer programs and tools. While some bad experiences truly are anomalies, it’s more likely that the experience has been shared and reported by more than one person and can point you to an opportunity for overall improvement.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need much of the advice above, because you’d already have the systems and training in place to support excellent customer service at every touchpoint. In the real world, batting 1.000 isn’t always going to be possible, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your stance and skip practice. Most customers won’t give you three strikes before switching their allegiance to another team. So strive to prevent customer experience mishaps from happening in the first place, and use the data at your disposal to address any chronic underlying problems.

Improving the Customer Experience Through Benchmarking

August 11, 2015

Benchmarking is the process companies use to identify and establish key performance standards, or benchmarks, and measure their performance against those standards over time. With a benchmark analysis, a company can compare its current scores in critical areas against its own past performance, as well as against its competitors.

NewBAR

Done in-house from the ground up, benchmarking can be a dauntingly complex process. Benchmarks must be agreed upon, measurement tools and strategies implemented, research assigned and completed (which, in some cases, means navigating security and permission concerns), and reports compiled. The information in the final analysis can be invaluable, if the right resources, attention, and talent are invested in it.

What’s more, benchmarking is not a one-time exercise, but a living process that depends on continuing collection and interpretation of current data. The shelf life of a single analysis report is fairly short, but properly maintained, a benchmarking strategy can be a gift that keeps giving.

Where does benchmarking fit into improving the customer experience?

Often used to determine how a company is faring against its peers financially, benchmark analysis also has a qualitative application. This includes measuring the critical metrics of customer service and experience that carry the most weight with overall customer satisfaction – what CSP calls key drivers.

Responses to Voice of the Customer initiatives like surveys can be translated into scores and percentages, which then get used to identify the top, bottom, and average range of responses to those metrics. Comparing the most current available scores against these ranges gives an indication of whether the customer experience is excelling, lagging, or falling behind.

Benchmarking is a way for managers to reality-check their perception of how their strategies and employees are performing against what the customers are actually saying.

Benchmarking provides a competitive advantage

The quality of a business’s customer service is often a make-or-break factor in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood to promote that company to others. In many ways, customer experience is the marketing that keeps happening even after you’ve initially earned the customer’s business.

Benchmarking not only demonstrates a company’s performance against itself, but against a defined peer group of its competitors, measured by uniform standards. While a direct Company A vs. Company B comparison may not reveal much of use, there is valuable insight in identifying one’s overall standing among the rest of the pack.

For instance, let’s say a manager has grown concerned about how long customers are kept waiting before they speak to a representative. Maybe she has noticed longer lines on the sales floor, or customers looking frustrated or impatient while in line.

Through benchmarking, she has been tracking “wait time” as a key driver for six months, and sees that this month, customers have indeed indicated a drop in satisfaction against this metric. She then reviews the wait time satisfaction scores of her peer competitors and determines that they have seen a slight increase in the same period of time, dropping her company back in the ratings from the “top” to “average” category. Now there is a risk she may start to lose customers to the better-performing competitors.

This intelligence informs the manager of an opportunity to improve the customer experience by implementing new strategies to affect the wait time at her location. Continued benchmarking will help her track progress against that goal, and identify any new opportunities for improvement that may come along.

It doesn’t end with the report

Benchmarking is one step in the process – a critical one, but nonetheless, just one. As with all Voice of the Customer data, its ultimate value depends on how the information is used to improve the customer experience with well-informed training, continued evaluation, and timely reporting.

That’s why CSP’s new Benchmark Analytics Reporting Dashboard pairs so nicely with our training and employee support, such as the STARS library available to our clients, to create a balanced ecosystem of process, performance, and progress. The dashboard takes much of the rigorous research and reporting aspects of benchmarking and delivers an easy-to-read analysis that can tell you, at a glance, where you fall among your peer group.

To learn more about benchmarking, the new dashboard, STARS, or any other component of customer experience management, contact us with your questions.

What Baby Boomer & Millennial Banking Customers Have in Common

July 30, 2015

Though born decades apart and into very different circumstances, Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) and Millennial (born 1980-2000) customers show a surprising amount of overlap in their preferences and priorities for the customer experience at their banks.

Baby Boomers are Aging Youthfully

baby-boomer-motorcycle-442244_640

Baby Boomers came of age during the wild 1960s and 70s, and while they might not be able to rock’n’roll all night and party every day anymore, they’re not ready to resign to their rocking chairs just yet.

Here you can begin to see some of the commonalities between Boomers and Millennials. Both generations entered adulthood against the backdrop of oversea war, economic depression, and social unrest. The 2008 recession hit their wallets hard: Boomers watched their retirement funds wither, and Millennials worry if they’ll earn enough to pay off their immense student loans. To varying degrees, both groups know the value of doing more with less and balancing their desire to make purchases against the risks of running out.

It’s Not Just About Retirement

Sure, retirement is a pressing issue for Boomers exiting the workforce and preparing for a new phase of life, but it’s not the only thing they’re doing with their money.

Despite the setbacks of the recession, Baby Boomers earn about 47% of all income in the United States, totaling $4 trillion. [Source] With their adult children leaving home and establishing their own families, instead of settling in, Boomers are active and adventurous. They want to be able to keep up with their grandkids and are using their spending power to catch up with all the dreams they may have put off during their parenting years.

That might mean new car purchases, home renovations or relocations, or even starting a business – all things they’ll be looking to their banks to help them finance and navigate. These products aren’t just the territory of young adults getting established.

As we’ve reported previously, Millennials, too, are entrepreneurial adventurers who tend to value experiences over material goods. So while they may be renting a while longer before they purchase a house and putting off traditional milestones like marriage and child-rearing, they see that as freeing up capital to pursue their dreams while they still have youth on their side.

They’ve also absorbed their parents’ concerns about funding their retirements and, according to the Transamerica Retirement Survey, 74% of Millennials have begun saving for retirement a full 13 years earlier in life than Baby Boomers.

This knowledge should lead banks to carefully consider how and to whom they are promoting their small business, retirement, and home equity products and services.

Linked In with Technology

A major slice of shared territory between these two generations can be found online, and in particular, on mobile.

Millennials and Boomers alike are early adopters of new tech products and are comfortable navigating the world through the lens of their smartphone or tablet. 71% of Boomers bank online at least once per week, and their use of mobile is expected grow exponentially over the next few years.

So by prioritizing a streamlined, personalized, and mobile-optimized experience, banks can satisfy both sets of customers.

Where they differ, though, is in their concern about the security of their financial information. Millennials, who have largely grown up with tech, tend to be more trusting; Boomers are willing to adapt and learn, but remain suspicious about the trustworthiness of devices, networks, and data banks.

61% of Boomers believe the risk of their financial data being compromised will rise within the next three years, compared to 45% of Millennials. [Source] Adults who are not already using online banking options are even more suspicious and unlikely to be converted, no matter how slick the user experience. Nothing will send customers of any age on the hunt for a new bank like finding that their personal information is at risk, for which they unforgivingly hold the institution responsible.

With data breaches making headlines on a regular basis, banks who want to promote their online and mobile services must communicate a strong message of security, not just convenience.

Want to know more about the demands of different demographics within your target market? CSP can deliver all the intelligence you need and offer solutions to meet your specific goals. Contact us today with your questions and concerns.

4 Ways to Engage the Millennial Banking Customer

June 17, 2015

millennial customer engagement

Millennials want businesses to meet them where they are, and that includes their financial institutions. So how does a bank go about satisfying this demanding demographic?

In Part One of this series, we got into Millennials’ heads to see the world through their own lenses. Knowing what they value and prioritize can help you shape the customer experience to meet their ever-evolving expectations.

Appeal to their impatience.

Speed of service, whether online or human-to-human, is a must.

If a customer needs to get in touch with you to ask a question or resolve a problem, he’d rather open up a web chat or send a Tweet than be put on hold with a call center or wait for a response from the Contact Us form on your website. And if he does Tweet you a question, he expects you to answer it as promptly as he expects a friend to reply to his text.

He doesn’t want to be beholden to “business hours,” either – in his world, answers are always a click away, day or night. If 24/7 customer service is not something you can promise, at the very least, he should have the option to find his own answers through the resources you make available to him online, like FAQ pages, blogs and articles, or forums.

He’ll also appreciate a degree of automation to processes that would otherwise be tedious or require multiple steps and the intervention of a human employee. Take, for instance, mobile check deposit, or peer-to-peer payment, two innovations that streamline simple financial interactions into a matter of clicks, no middleman required.

Give them control.

Automation and self-service aren’t just about getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible; they allow customers to self-determine their customer journey and customize it to meet their own unique needs, rather than be lumped in with the generalized population of your customer base.

Personalization is important to this highly individualistic customer. Jane Q. Millennial doesn’t just want the Fifth Third experience, she wants Jane’s Fifth Third experience. Each channel she uses, digital or human, should greet her by name and anticipate her needs before she even has to state them.

Millennials personify the omnichannel customer experience. Take advantage of the Voice of the Customer insights and transactional data you’ve collected on them to craft personalized and intuitive experiences.

Participate, and invite participation.

Tap into the Millennial customer’s social side by engaging with him, not just broadcasting to him. We won’t claim that it’s easy, but you’ll have to reconcile traditional customer service language and behavior with his native tongue. Show personality in your communications, demonstrate social values that align with his own, and he’ll find you more approachable than the out-of-the box Customer Service Rep™.

Give him opportunities to engage with you beyond the standard problem/solution model of service. Social media is an excellent platform for conducting (completely non-scientific) surveys or hosting contests. You can blend information and entertainment with things like “Did You Know?” trivia or “Caption This” contests for funny images. The prize might be as simple as public recognition of the winner’s cleverness, but that’s still more than he was likely expecting to get when he logged on today.

Be their entrepreneurial ally.

In the past, banks might have targeted the 18 to 35 demographic with messaging around financing their homes, cars, and children’s college educations. But Millennials are famously delaying typical young-adult milestones like marriage and home ownership in favor of pursuing their dreams, creating the perfect opportunity for financial institutions to step in as allies, coaches, and incubators. Make them aware of both consumer and business products.

Consider hosting workshops for start-ups or the self-employed; offering sponsorships, grant opportunities, or other competitive rewards; or coaching them on career advancement or salary negotiation via your blog (you are blogging, right?). Seek out the places in your community where these young entrepreneurs are gathering, like TED Talks, networking groups, and even street fairs, and make sure you have a visible presence there. Think about it: how cool could it be to have a reputation as THE bank that young self-starters turn to?

While we’re on the topic of business products, consider this: Even if your business customers aren’t run by Millennials, they’re certainly employing them. The person responsible for managing banking interactions at any given business, start-up or established, might be a 28-year-old man or woman, who expects your B2B experience to be as modern, flexible, and streamlined as your consumer-facing experience.

 

So, how does your customer experience measure up against the Millennial mindset? By this point of reading, you’re either patting yourself on the back for a job well done, or you have new insights into potential areas of improvement and innovation.

CSP is passionate about improving the customer experience for customers of all ages. Read about our solutions and services, and contact us when you’re ready to take the next step.

Position Your CEO as a Customer Experience Champion

May 30, 2015

At many businesses, the only time a customer sees or hears from the CEO might be a statement issued to the press, a column in the quarterly newsletter, or in the worst cases, a public scandal for which the company leadership is held accountable.

Otherwise, CEOs, at least from the customer’s perspective, are mythical creatures that operate behind closed doors, where they make the Big Decisions that directly affect their customers.

Customer experience and service have been growing priorities for businesses across many industries in the last decade. Technology – specifically, customer data, social media, and the move towards mobile – has dramatically changed the way businesses and customers interact. This gave rise to the “omnichannel” point-of-view, and that’s the level where most CEOs (and other C-level executives) operate: overseers, analysts, evaluators, strategizers.

But what about champions?

champion of the customerSure, CEOs have a lot to say about the organizational effects and benefits of customer experience management.

  • 97% of executives surveyed in a global study by Oracle say that delivering great customer experiences is essential to their success.
  • In the same study, 81% of executives surveyed say they realize the importance of active social-media processes and culture, although only 65% had actually gone as far as implementing social service and sales.
  • 52% of retail senior executives surveyed by Timetrade stated that the best way to combat showrooming (visiting a store to view an item, but purchasing it later online) is by improving the in-store customer experience.
  • In a 2013 Deloitte survey, 62% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator.

But awareness is not advocacy. Simply knowing where the problems and opportunities are, and what could and should be done to improve the experience, does not a champion make.

CEOs must actively argue for, defend, and clear the path for improvements to the customer experience. In the words of Oracle CEO Mark V. Hurd, they must become “customer experience evangelists.”

This means taking internal actions to prioritize the customer experience, such as allocating enough of the budget to invest in voice of the customer strategies, and rallying employees, from the C-Suite down to the individual customer service representatives, around the cause. It also means maintaining a visible public-facing position of customer advocacy – and not just when crisis strikes.

4 CEOs Who Act As Champions

 Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
So great is Bezos’ customer championship that you practically can’t talk about customer service or experience without his name coming up. As Amazon grew into the retail giant it is today, so did its influence on customer experience across the entire retail landscape, with Bezos himself on the vanguard. He keeps his email address publicly known and available, and is known for not just reading but forwarding customer complaint emails directly to the members of his team responsible for making a fix (which he expects to happen fast).
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Photo by Valery Marchive

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Apple wouldn’t be what it is today without its excruciating attention to detail and quality, and Cook has carried that through to his personal involvement in customer service. A perfect example: after a customer e-mailed Cook complaining about the quality of Apple’s music on hold, within 24 hours she got a call from an Apple employee saying Cook had forwarded the email to her and reassuring the customer that the matter would be dealt with. “”I get hundreds, and some days thousands of emails from customers,” Cook has said in prior interviews. “This is a privilege, because they talk to you as if you’re sitting at their kitchen table.”
 John Legere CEO of T-Mobile John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile
By eliminating contract plans and lifting many of the other customer-unfriendly policies common across wireless carriers (like complicated data fee structures and keeping phones ‘locked’ and un-transferrable), Legere made the statement in 2013 that his company was looking out for the customers’ best interests, instead of just protecting tech companies’ grip on the industry. In designing the plans, Legere said he listened to T-Mobile customer service calls every night and had customer complaint emails forwarded to him, as well as making his email address public. “We are going to change the rules,” Legere said. “Not for us … this is about what consumers want and need.”
 Sir Richard Branson Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin
OK, so he’s not a CEO anymore, but Branson might still be one of the world’s most accessible billionaires. Despite his fantastically high profile and net worth, he shakes the unfavorable image of the 1% by remaining in close contact with customers (not just of Virgin, but everywhere). He commands a massive social media following – 2 million on Facebook, 5.6 million on Twitter, nearly 8 million on LinkedIn – and is a regular blogger who frequently advocates for the quality of customer service and relations, and is generous with advice.

 

You might also be interested in these previous posts:

How a Good Customer Experience Trickles Up to Your Employees

May 14, 2015

Employee engagement is a critical component to a satisfying customer experience. Employees who believe in what they’re doing and in the company they’re serving are likely to provide better service, and lead to better relationships with customers and higher satisfaction.

Companies spend millions per year on surveys, programs, and initiatives to support employee engagement. In evaluating this expense, the focus is often on the end results and bottom-line benefits of highly engaged employees:

  • person-621045_640Companies with high engagement see significantly lower absenteeism and turnover than those with low engagement. Those same top performers also showed 22% higher profitability and 10% higher customer ratings. (Gallup, 2012)
  • 91% of highly engaged employees always or almost always try their hardest at work, compared with 67% of disengaged employees (Temkin Group)
  • Engaged companies grow profits up to three times faster than their competitors. (Corporate Leadership Council)

When employees are engaged in the mission of the business and feel they are being treated well, they will put forth more discretionary effort – that is, go above and beyond, stay to finish tasks beyond the end of the workday, and invest more of their talents and energies into helping the company succeed. That investment of discretionary effort is what most employee engagement tools are measuring.

The themes of employee engagement have been the same for years: productivity and the costs of wasted labor, attracting and retaining the top talent in the industry, improving workplace morale and teamwork, and the quality of service to customers. To affect engagement, companies often focus on the benefits and perks they can provide to employees, and a workplace culture that encourages and rewards high-performing workers. It’s an inside-out look at the issue based on the assumption that employee engagement is the source point of positive business outcomes.

But the inverse is also true. Strong business outcomes lead to strong employee engagement.

Businesses charge their employees with carrying forward their vision for customer service and satisfaction, and when they succeed, that positive customer experience trickles back up to the employees, their managers, and even to senior leadership.

Customer service isn’t always easy, fun, or pleasant, but it serves a purpose. And purpose is one of the four key factors to employee engagement, according to a New York Times/Harvard Business Review survey of 12,000 employees in various industries:

Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

A single positive interaction can make a customer’s day, and an overall satisfying experience will increase their likelihood to tell others about your company. The same applies to employees, who are more likely to describe your business as a great place to work and encourage others to apply for a position there, if they’re regularly involved in positive interactions with satisfied customers.

The Takeaway

Serving the customer and striving to improve their experience gives employees a sense of purpose – something we can relate to at CSP, naturally. By investing in the customer experience and integrating the voice of the customer, a company can take advantage of the feedback loop between customers and employees and provide a happier, more productive workplace.