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Tagged: customer experience

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:

The Future of Banking in 2017 – and What it Means for the Customer Experience

January 26, 2017

2017 outlook and predictionsIn this season of annual meetings and strategic planning, those with a 30,000-foot view on banks and credit unions are predicting what the year will bring. Some of these predictions are fueled by polls and studies, while others come from the informed instinct of seasoned experts. Having served the financial services industry with quality customer research for 30 years, CSP is interested in how these predictions could impact the customer.

So let’s review some of what the experts foresee for banks and for customer experience trends across industries, through our own unique lens:

“Banks will open 1,000 new branches, with an emphasis on the right location.”
– David Kerstein, BAI Banking Strategies

Our Take: The influx of digital channels has had banks questioning the relevance of the branch for years now. As banks reassess and update their branch placement, they will need to look to their customer data to evaluate how the new locations are serving the customers, both new and current, now using those branches. Brick-and-mortar branches aren’t dead, but the successful banks will be the ones who optimize the in-branch experience around customer needs.

“CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth.”
– Forrester’s
2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer

Our Take: As we’ve reported before, more and more CMOs are finding themselves saddled with the responsibility for the customer experience. While not a traditional marketing function, new research unequivocally proves customer experience to be not only a decisive factor in brand identity, but also in differentiation within the marketplace. An alternative would be the fairly novel position of CXO – Chief Experience Officer – but the point remains that this person would need the left-brain/right-brain balance of data analysis and experience design expertise.

Consumers will take more control of their financial relationships and will look for digital tools for advice and insight. Banks will come to realize that fintech is not a threat, but rather an opportunity.”
– Bryan Clagett, CMO at Geezeo (
as reported by Jim Marous at the Financial Brand)

and

“One product that will likely receive greater attention in the next year is digital personal financial management (PFM). As customers develop higher expectations of their banks, reporting basic account data is no longer enough. Today’s banking customers are in greater need of financial advice than ever, and internal data silos prevent banks from providing effective and personalized guidance.”
Rob Guilfoyle of Abe, a customer service AI for financial institutions

Our Take: Customer loyalty is all about that relationship-building.  Digital tools and advances in artificial intelligence add convenience and responsiveness to daily transactions. That said, customers still like to talk to real live people when it comes to more complex money matters. That means understanding both the uses and the limits of automation and AI. Fintech-enabled solutions should seek to bridge the gap between software and staff, providing customers a direct and convenient channel to a trusted advisor.

And let’s not forget that a great customer experience starts with the employee experience:

Creating a culture of continuous feedback will be top priority for organisations and is being driven by millennials’ expectations for regular, ongoing feedback and the increasingly fast-paced business environment.  Adopting tools that enable people to receive regular feedback from different sources, such as peers, customers or multiple managers for instance, will therefore become more and more important for boosting engagement among the growing millennial workforce and improving overall productivity.”
– Sylvia VorhauserSmith of PAGEUP, an HR solutions provider

Our Take: Regardless of what generation the majority of your employees were born into, transparency and trust are essential to a healthy workplace environment. Any manager who is charged with giving employees feedback on their performance must be willing to take feedback, too, and to use it constructively for the benefit of the whole team. That’s the kind of leadership that builds a healthy and productive company culture. Smart employers will have structured systems in place to allow for this multi-directional feedback, as well as training and development programs to foster leadership. (Hey, we know a thing or two about that…)  


You might 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:

A Message from Our President: What Will Customer Experience Mean in 2017?

January 4, 2017

from Steve Kutilek, President & CEO of CSP

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This often-quoted bit of irony seems appropriate as I reflect on the customer experience lessons of 2016 and look ahead to 2017. The details of customer experience management continue to change – technological innovations, new channels of communication, and evolving customer expectations, just to name a few. But the big picture of customer experience is what it always has been: relationships.

That theme is at the core of what CSP does for our clients. Sure, we’re a customer experience insights firm, but so much of the value of what we do is really about relationships. In 2016, we’ve debuted new solutions that not only deepen our relationships with our clients, but are designed around understanding the influence of inter-office relationships on the customer experience.

So let’s look at the connections that are and will continue to be important in the coming year:
  • The relationship between data and the customer experience, which is at the foundation of everything we do. Like most relationships, it’s a two-way street: you need data to inform your strategies and actions, while the data alone doesn’t mean much unless it’s followed by action. CSP prides ourselves on not just doing the research and issuing reports, but guiding our clients on concrete ways to use that information to their benefit.
  • The relationships between banking customers and their branches: This has been an ongoing conversation in the financial services industry for many years. Online banking, mobile banking, and virtual customer service have contributed significant changes to the way banks do business. But it’s clear that customers still value brick-and-mortar branches and the people who staff them. Their needs are evolving, but they still have needs. This evolution is largely fueled by the need for their bank to be the resident expert on any and all financial advice and direction.
  • The relationships between people and their devices. Smartphones, tablets, and even plain old computers are at the center of many consumers’ professional and personal lives. The rapid pace of innovation in this sphere has created immense pressure within other industries to keep up with their customers’ demands and expectations. But as this relates to Point 2 above, there are still plenty of folks who don’t use (or don’t have access to) the latest and greatest pieces of technology, or simply prefer the traditional ways of doing things. The continuing challenge to banks in 2017 will involve figuring out how to straddle both worlds.
  • The relationships between managers and employees. No matter your suite of products, solutions, and strategies for keeping customers happy, a healthy customer experience relies on healthy relationships behind the scenes. More companies are realizing and prioritizing the importance of manager development, coaching and training, and providing a well-balanced employee experience. All of these elements together create the infrastructure to support exceptional customer service and satisfaction. The more that managers understand what is truly driving the customer experience, the better they can coach and train their staffs to execute on those drivers.

Customer experience has always been about relationships, but no relationship exists in a vacuum. As the context and influencers continue to change, so too will our strategies – without ever losing sight of that core truth.

We at CSP are ready and eager to support you in the New Year and beyond. So as the calendar flips over this month, I invite you to take a moment and reflect on these relationships. How did they affect things for your business in 2016? Where do you see them going in 2017? And how can we help?

4 Lessons in Employee Empowerment, Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

November 2, 2016

chick-fil-a official logoMost consumer-facing businesses could stand to learn a few things about customer experience and employee engagement from Chick-fil-A. I recently connected with a friend and colleague of mine, T.J. Hammond, who works in learning and development at Chick-fil-A. I’ve enjoyed a knowledge-sharing relationship with T.J. for several years based on our shared beliefs in what makes a superior customer experience, especially as it relates to a company’s culture.

So I was thrilled when he arranged for me to take a few tours behind the scenes of their Support Center operation and share with me the strategies this quick-service restaurant (QSR) has in place to support their franchisees. To say I was impressed by what I learned would be an understatement. If I were going to get into the QSR business, I’d seriously consider Chick-fil-A, because of their attention to detail. No wonder this brand often gets referred to as an example of great customer service. They leave nothing to chance.

Here are just a few things Chick-fil-A gets right about employee engagement and customer experience:

1 – They Put Control of the Experience in the Owners’ Hands

Chick-fil-A franchise owners are responsible for everything that happens under their roof, including the service climate unique to that restaurant. Owners hire and train their employees and are in charge of their engagement. And most importantly, each owner has the freedom to do different things for their own staff to make sure they’re engaged and motivated. Instead of “we can’t/don’t do this or that because it’s not Our Way,” Chick-fil-A Corporate asks their franchisees, “What do you think will work, and how can we support you?” Figuring out how to address your own challenges is part of their culture.

Chick-fil-A trusts the people on the ground doing the work, and empowers them to make decisions and try new things based on their own observations. For example, some owners offer tuition assistance as an employee benefit, to help attract the best hires. It’s not an organizational mandate, or even a suggestion from on high; it originates with the owners, and the organization makes it happen.

2 – They Encourage Collaboration & Transparency between Franchisees

Chick-fil-A is very transparent with their customer experience data – which they track, across multiple channels, on a daily basis. Rather than pit stores against each other to encourage competition, Chick-fil-A wants its franchisees to feel as though they are all on the same team. They’re more than willing to support those efforts with data and enable owners to learn from each other.

For example, let’s say a store in one part of the country is struggling with breakfast sales and unsure of how to turn the tide. Chick-fil-A will gladly fly one of its top breakfast performers out to that location to give the owners face time and allow them to coach each other. They’ll invest in these mentor/mentee relationships because they know they’ll see a return.

3 – They Have the Training Chops to Support Employee Excellence

Chick-fil-A’s employee training is thorough, customizable, and designed around the behaviors and operational aspects that really matter to customers. Individual owners are encouraged to put their own touches on how they train their teams. At the same time, the materials, resources, and methods supplied by the organization are top notch. For example, they hire actors and run simulations of all kinds of different customer scenarios and challenges. Their employees are ready for anything, from cleaning the coffee filter to building the perfect sandwich to handling customer grievances. They also have an excellent New Employee Onboarding process, as well as supporting new franchise owners with a “grand opening” team for weeks to help them get off the ground.

4 – They Value Their Employees

Unusual perks like tuition assistance are just one way that Chick-fil-A treats their employees like people, not just worker bees. One of the most striking things I noticed during my tour is something I’m not even sure Chick-fil-A realizes is so powerful. Rather than calling people “managers” and “customer service representatives” and other generic job titles, they use titles like Leader, Influencer, and Stakeholder. These aren’t just empty titles handed down through a memo: their practices demonstrate that they really believe in these titles and take them seriously.

What Banks (and Others) Can Learn from the Chick-fil-A Model

Chick-fil-A clearly understands the connection between building a customer-centric culture and what that takes from a support standpoint. What can you do today to be more like them?

  • Empower your branch leaders to innovate. There is a time and a place for brand consistency. That ends when policies and procedures become so inflexible that branch managers feel their hands are tied, or like they can’t make suggestions for improvement or change. You’ll see a return on innovation if you actively support your managers to think for themselves.
  • Encourage collaboration over competition. Pool your resources – there’s more than enough to go around. Whether within a particular branch or between branches, managers and employees can all stand to benefit from mutual coaching and mentor/mentee relationships.
  • Keep your training engaging and current. Don’t be afraid to stray from the typical corporate training models. Be bold, be memorable, try new things. Be proactive, not reactive, and update your materials and resources regularly. Let employees make suggestions and lead initiatives instead of always handing things down from the top.
  • Give your employees what they want and deserve. There’s more to employee engagement than health insurance and retirement plans. Much more. If you want to attract and retain the top talent, and not just fill empty positions, go above and beyond the bare minimum that employees expect to find anywhere.

Not coincidentally, these are many of the same values and strategies we endorse at CSP. We’re proud to support our clients in creating and fostering a superior customer experience based on comprehensive, current customer data. Change isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, either, with the right support and resources.

Jeff Dahms is Vice President of Research & Development at Customer Service Profiles. Jeff has over 12 years of experience managing and consulting to data for both internal and external clients, and has extensive experience in helping Executives focus on key indicators in order to achieve maximum results.


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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CXcellence: 3 Companies Customers Love

October 3, 2016

In a competitive business climate that increasingly revolves around customer experience (CX), there is much to be learned from companies who have made a name for themselves based on quality of customer service. Below is an overview of some of the most prominent industry leaders and what makes them excel.

USAA: Maintaining trust through technology

In 2015, Forrester published its annual Customer Experience Index, a survey of nearly 46,000 consumers. USAA is one of the highest ranking companies in terms of customer experience, and has maintained this reputation for years. The Index indicates that over half of USAA customers are “highly engaged.” Just to compare: AAA, the next highest ranking insurance company, can only call 34.7% of its insurance customers “highly engaged.”

One of the things USAA excels at is maintaining trust. When asked if their insurance company was “always there when I need them,” 45% of USAA customers strongly agreed, compared to a 28% score for insurance companies in general. What gives USAA their cutting edge is the way they have implemented this trust factor into their technology. As USAA has no walk-in locations, the fact that their customers deem them “easy to do business with” is mostly due to the way they use technology. USAA makes it a point to only implement technology that has been demonstrated to improve member experience.

A good example is the Deposit@Mobile® technology, which lets customers take a picture of their check and immediately (and securely) deposit it into their USAA account. While this functionality is no longer unique to USAA, it still shows a commitment to a modern and responsive customer experience. As Greg Schwartz, former CIO, put it: “Whatever devices the members have, we’re going to be there for them.”

Ally Bank: Approachability is key

Ally Bank is another company that scores high on the Forrester CX Index. Compared to the traditional banking industry, this all-digital bank’s customers give it a higher than average score on all three aspects of customer experience quality: effectiveness, ease, and emotions. Nearly 75% of customers would recommend the company to a family member or friend.

What sets Ally Bank apart from many other banks is their direct approach to banking. They have no minimum deposits and no monthly maintenance fees, but do provide 24/7 live customer service. They not only offer a wide range of services, but also terms varying from three months to five years on most of their financial products. Prioritizing accessibility and service makes Ally Bank approachable to nearly everybody, from the most modest saver to the biggest spender.

Amazon: Customer obsessed
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: "Our focus is on customer obsession, not competitor obsession."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “Our focus is on customer obsession, not competitor obsession.”

It’s not surprising that a company that was recently inducted into the Customer Service Hall of Fame, and found to be one of the most relevant brands to U.S. consumers in the 2016 Forbes Brand Relevance Index, would spend a lot of its effort improving CX. For Amazon, it’s all about the customer. Or, as founder Jeff Bezos puts it: “Our focus is on customer obsession rather than competitor obsession.”

This obsession with the customer and his or her needs translates into Amazon’s uniquely tailored services. The Prime membership – providing free shipping to loyal customers, among many other extras – is already a household name. More recent innovations include the in-home wireless speaker Echo and its voice-activated service Alexa. As Alexa’s artificial intelligence learns more about customers’ preferences, she is able to provide a personal experience that makes them feel heard and understood – while simultaneously influencing their shopping behavior.

These three businesses have all found successful ways to put their customers first – and reap the benefits. Remember: while customer experience is evolving, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Pay attention to what your peers and other industry leaders are doing, and invest in Voice of the Customer solutions, to fuel continuous improvement for your customers.


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