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Tagged: customer experience

Superior Customer Service Requires More than Just ‘Checking the Boxes’

April 1, 2015

You’re doing all the right things. You have a Voice of the Customer program in place. You’re capturing, measuring, and evaluating both customer sentiment and employee performance. Your customer-facing staff is vetted and well trained. A superior customer experience is a priority at all levels of your organization.

But when the VOC results come in, there’s still a gap between performance and satisfaction. What’s going on here?

The missing piece of the puzzle could be authenticity.

A satisfying customer service experience hinges on the interaction between the customer and your business. First impressions happen every day and go a long way. So do the little things like using a customer’s name, making sure they are served promptly and efficiently, maintaining a pleasant attitude and tone, making eye contact, and saying Thank You.

These elements make up the basic checklist of Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts. But even if your staff is consistently checking every box on that list, customers can still feel unwelcome, challenged, or dissatisfied with their experience if they sense a lack of authenticity from a representative or from your business as a whole.

It takes more than checking the boxes to win a customer over.

checklist

 

Plainly stated, customers can tell when a business is just going through the motions.

They know, for instance, if the representative they’re speaking with on the phone is just reading from a script or repeating a routine they’ve already performed 100 times that day. The result? They feel unimportant and dehumanized. (This is one reason many customers dislike automated phone systems.)

customer service employee

Customers can tell when your employees are having a bad day.

They can tell when an employee is in a rush – to get home, to serve other customers, to hand them off to the next person in line. The result? They feel like an unwelcome nuisance.

They will pick up on all sorts of little cues like tone of voice, body language, and the level of surrounding stress. If any of those things strike them as being off, it doesn’t matter how many times they heard their name used or made eye contact – their experience has already been negatively impacted, and once that happens, it’s hard to erase.

The same applies for digital and text interactions, too. If you’ve ever written a letter to your Senator only to get a form letter in response, you know how frustrating the “copy/paste” effect can be.

Automation has its place. For example, no one expects every “Forgot password?” request to connect them to someone who can personally help them track it down or reset it.

But it’s still worth being aware that canned messages can convey a different message entirely than the one you want to send. We’re only half-listening to you. We can’t give you our full attention. You are not unique – we have plenty of other customers just like you, and you don’t deserve special treatment.

On the other side of that coin, you have everything to gain by going out of your way to make an authentic, personal connection to a customer – to remember not just their name but something personal about them, to make small talk while you pull their information up on your computer, to pay them a genuine compliment, ask them a question, or offer (if needed) a sincere apology.

Your standard customer service checklist serves as a Pass/Fail measurement of an experience, but authentic effort and personal gestures are the invisible final box that, once checked, pushes an experience from ‘good enough’ to ‘exceptional!’

So if you are seeing a gap between performance and satisfaction in your customer feedback, it may reflect that customers are expecting a little more from you than the bare minimum effort to keep their business. The good news is, this opens an opportunity for growth and innovation in how you meet customers’ needs and provide an outstanding experience.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

Release the Customer Intelligence Trapped Within Data Silos

February 25, 2015

Big Data is a big topic. In all the conversation about the potential for data to reveal key customer insights, broad statements and big promises are far more common than specific examples of the real-world answers a business might hope to gain.

There’s a reason that the word “data” is plural. An individual datum reveals very little on its own; it’s the connections, intersections, and overlaps of data that form the actionable patterns and trends.

Yet customer data is often still “siloed” into separate sources: direct customer feedback, employee performance measurements, web and mobile analytics, customer service interactions, standardized reports and evaluations, and social media impressions, to name a few.

Together, all of these data points can shed an entirely new light on the customer experience, but businesses are still learning how to effectively and efficiently connect the dots. Customer data is hardly self-explanatory, and legacy systems weren’t designed with this kind of interconnectivity in mind, leaving those insights trapped in silos.

transaction dataFor an example, consider financial service institutions. An article in BAI’s online edition rightly points out how these businesses are flush with transaction data generated by customers using credit cards, debit cards, checking accounts, ATMs, and mobile payments on a day-to-day basis.

This resource alone can tell the institution the number, types, locations, and frequency of transactions; the devices being used to complete these transactions; the breakdown of service and card types; and withdrawal/deposit amounts on a real-time basis.

Not only does this summarize the customer experience, there’s a direct connection to daily operations like cash inventory and technical support for digital tools (think: error code reports from a malfunctioning ATM).

Without systems in place to gather all of this customer data and deliver it in a digestible and useful format, to the correct teams, and in real time, valuable customer intelligence stays trapped in the Transaction Data silo.

Data is a living organism.

It consumes, it grows, it morphs and takes on new shapes, dimensions, and patterns. Each source of data depends on the others; by keeping customer data in silos dictated by their sources, a business risks starving itself of the vital information it seeks to gain by gathering data in the first place.

At CSP, we believe in the indispensable value of customized data delivery solutions designed around each business’s unique goals and customer experience. Don’t miss out on trapped data – talk to our customer intelligence experts today.

CSP can be reached by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles.

When It Comes to Customer Loyalty, Think Little

February 11, 2015

customer loyalty measurementIt’s a customer experience manager’s job to keep an eye on the big picture of satisfaction: the various programs in place, the ever-updating customer data and information, and the overall strategies to attract and retain customer loyalty.

But when any given customer walks through your doors, calls up your customer service, or engages with you online, what they’ll notice is all the little things your business does to make the customer experience better.

And when those customers talk to their friends and family, they won’t be waxing poetic about strategy and data, or using words like attrition and retention. Instead, they’ll be highlighting all those little things they’ve noticed as compelling reasons to choose your business.

Think of it like this: you can buy your spouse the most expensive gifts, lavish them with compliments, and profess your undying love with a big romantic gesture, but it’s the little day-to-day effort and attention that keep the romance alive and serve as proof of how much you value them.

You can probably think of a few little things your preferred businesses and brands have done to earn your repeat business. Here are some examples of small but significant actions your business and staff can take to drive customer loyalty:

  • Adopt an attentive attitude.
    It doesn’t matter how stressed, fatigued, bored, or otherwise distracted a customer service representative may be – a genuinely friendly greeting and undivided attention go a long way in making the customer feel valued. If the rep has to interact with a computer or device to provide service, eye contact becomes even more important to reassuring the customer that they have your attention. No customer likes being made to feel like an inconvenience.
  • Be prompt and personal.
    Customer service requests come in from all directions – in-person, by phone, by e-mail, by web form or chat service, and even via social media. Customers expect you to reply promptly on all of these channels. An automatically-generated “We have received your request and will get back to you shortly” message is the digital equivalent of being put on hold, but even that is better than a customer sending an email into a black hole “info@company” inbox and never getting a reply.
  • whale-311478_640Surprise them.
    The previous two items on this list represent customers’ baseline expectations of service, but to really earn points with them, go above and beyond the basics. At one hotel, a customer called to reserve a room for a visit during which she’d be undergoing cancer treatment, and mentioned in passing that she’d always wanted to go whale watching. Imagine her surprise and delight to find a stuffed whale on her bed at check-in!
  • Give ground.
    A customer who brings an issue, complaint, or concern to a rep’s attention wants to walk away feeling like they’ve won, even if the concession is small. This might mean issuing a discount or coupon, cutting a unique deal or waiving a fee, or delivering a heartfelt and personal apology if the issue simply can’t be addressed or was unavoidable. These gestures show customers that you care about keeping their business and will do what it takes to stay in their good graces.
  • Make every customer feel like a regular.
    Through customer data, you likely know who your most and least valuable customers are. But the customers themselves want to feel equally valued from the outset, rather than feeling they have to earn your attention and care. First-class or coach, regular, intermittent, or first-time customer, “rewards” member or not, they deserve the best service you have to offer.

Remember, customer loyalty starts at home, within your own walls. It’s hard to create a memorable experience that influences customer loyalty without a company culture that supports it with engaged, enthusiastic employees. Give them a scratch behind the ears, too, while you’re at it, and watch the goodwill spread to your customers.

How do you know what’s working? Listen to the Voice of the Customer. The open-ended options on customer feedback tools are the perfect place to look for comments on these little things that customers appreciate (or find lacking). A strategic VoC program empowers you with knowledge of the key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction.

More Than Just a Program, Voice of the Customer is a Promise

February 4, 2015

Instating a Voice of the Customer program to capture customer experience insights has many practical benefits:

  • It takes something vague and subjective, like customer experience, and turns it into quantifiable metrics.
  • It clearly identifies the key drivers of customer satisfaction that are unique to each business and each customer base.
  • It shows trends, progress, and declines over time, allowing you to adapt to changes as you go, and see warning signs ahead of time if something is awry.
  • It plays an informative role in employee training, performance review, and shaping a company’s internal culture.

And that’s just naming a few.

But while all of those reasons are worthwhile, to the customer, they’re just corporate jargon that has little to do with the reality of their lives and their relationships with your business.

Looking at the notion of customer experience from their perspective, Voice of the Customer isn’t a toolbox, it’s a promise.

voice of the customer is a promise

By actively listening to customers, you promise to value their opinions just as much as those of the shareholders or owners who are profiting from their business.

rio bank newsletter voice of the customerThis newsletter produced by Rio Bank for its customers puts that promise front and center by telling customers what steps this Texas institution is taking to look out for their interests, and transparently discloses exactly what goals will be satisfied through Voice of the Customer measurements and initiatives.

Customer loyalty starts with accountability to your promises. Accountability starts with a Voice of the Customer program.

A guarantee to put customers front and center in business decisions can inspire confidence, especially if they see enough direct action to prove they’re not just empty words. It also gives them an invitation to raise their own voices and participate, knowing those voices won’t fall on deaf ears.

While it’s still true that the squeaky wheel tends to get the grease, for any vehicle to move forward, all of the wheels must get enough attention and care to roll along smoothly.

Voice of the Customer keeps the customer-facing side of any business running like a well-oiled machine, lubricating relationships between employees and customers, customers and products, managers and staff.

Are you delivering on your promises? CSP is passionate about improving the customer experience, and can show you how you measure up against your customers’ expectations. Contact us today to find out more.

What is Customer Intelligence?

January 21, 2015

what is customer intelligence

 

Customer Intelligence (CI) is a discipline within Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that relies on the collection of customer information to gain insights into behavior.

Using Customer Intelligence methodologies, companies can assemble and examine data to uncover customers’ preferences, motivations, patterns, wants and needs, and ground their strategy in that information to deliver a better customer experience.

Measurement & Analytics

Customers reveal things about themselves in their daily actions and inactions. Customer experience research, Voice of the Customer programs, and market research create a detailed and specific picture of the customer journey.

Integration & Context

The value of Customer Intelligence is in the scalability of the knowledge it confers. Within the cloud of data, you can find valuable insights about macro trends across your customer base and micro variations from customer to customer.

Prediction & Personalization

Let your customers know you value the quality of their experience by using customer intelligence to optimize their journey, target your messaging and efforts, and adapt proactively.

Conversion & Retention

By continuously striving to improve the customer experience, expect to have an impact on customer satisfaction, referrals, and opportunities to cross-sell.

 

Move from thinking you know your customers to really knowing them. Find out what kind of customer intelligence you could be missing when you talk to an expert at CSP today.

Welcoming the Era of the Universal Banker

January 14, 2015

Innovations in mobile and digital platforms have influenced significant paradigm changes in how bank and credit union customers interact with their institutions in the virtual space. Now that wave of change is bleeding over into the physical world, with the invention and adoption of the universal banker.

The future and function of the brick-and-mortar branch continues to be a subject of debate, especially as digital solutions have taken their toll on teller transactions and branch foot traffic. Universal bankers are one response to this, with the potential to not only affect the customer experience, but address some of the challenges of staffing and workforce management across bank networks.

The title “Universal Banker” first started catching the industry’s attention in 2015. That year, BAI named increased implementation of universal bankers as one of the most anticipated trends in retail banking. Job listings seeking universal bankers spread rapidly across online platforms among banks big and small.

What is a universal banker?
universal banker

In a nutshell, the universal banker role is a hybrid of the traditional teller and the personal banker. Their specialty is being unspecialized – or, maybe more accurately, specializing in everything – and they can be found everywhere on the sales floor, rather than chained to a desk or booth.

Universal bankers take staff roles out of their silos to function across multiple tasks: basic transactions, new accounts, loan applications, and general customer service, to name a few. The degree of universal function will likely vary from bank to bank, but cross-training is the common theme.

How does a universal banker make a difference to customers?

No one likes being given the run-around, whether it’s for a simple transaction or a more complex situation. Handing off a customer from one specialized-but-limited employee to another is not only frustrating for the customer, but has implications for productivity and resource utilization behind the desk.

Universal bankers can handle a customer request from start to finish. Certain sensitive or complex tasks, like mortgages and business loans, may eventually require involving someone higher up the chain, but the average customer can expect a universal banker to take them all the way through the interaction.

In a way, you might consider the universal banker as an accessible middle ground between the convenience and flexibility of automation and the nuance and additional context of personal customer service.

What are some of the challenges of introducing the universal banker?

The universal banker may be agile and adaptable, but that doesn’t mean this model will be appropriate to every institution and every branch.

Implementing universal bankers is not a silver bullet to increase branch traffic, but rather serves to better meet the needs of those customers already coming through those doors. Banks considering this model will need to closely examine just how appropriate it is for each branch.

The other major hurdle is getting employee buy-in. The daily routine at the branch may not be so routine anymore. Training programs and resources will need to be updated, most likely on an ongoing basis, to accommodate this role and its demands. Some long-standing employees may feel threatened by this new breed of coworker.

This isn’t just another position at the bank; it’s a paradigm shift within both customer experience and employee qualifications. The implications for the internal culture cannot be downplayed or dismissed.

What will be the impact of universal bankers?

As banks begin experimenting with universal bankers, ongoing measurement of their internal and external impact will be critical.

That’s why this new trend in retail banking interests us at CSP – we’re passionate about improving the customer experience, and the first step to that improvement is measurement. Voice of the Customer programs like ours can be customized and optimized to capture insights into the effectiveness of universal bankers.

For more information on our VoC and Customer Intelligence solutions, explore our website or contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter@csprofiles – for regular updates and insights on customer experience management.

How Voice of the Customer Insights Can Improve Employee Training

December 22, 2014

The frontlines of customer service and sales are where the most direct and personal customer experiences happen. It’s also an area where customers tend to be more vocal about their satisfaction, or lack thereof. A good experience can make someone’s day, and a bad one can ruin it – and humans are just predisposed to complain more than compliment.

Positive and negative customer experiences also influence retention and attrition; a good experience can keep a customer coming back for years, but one bad interaction and they might write you off forever.

And in the days of social media, one customer’s bad experience can easily spread to others and affect public perception of your brand.

Training ClassroomWith all of this at stake, no business can afford to deprioritize employee training and coaching. Training builds bridges between customers and customer-facing employees.

Creating, maintaining, and delivering an effective training program is no simple feat, but your customers will thank you for the effort.

One size never fits all.

As convenient as it would be, a one-size-fits-all approach to training is likely to miss the mark in more ways than one.

Every customer base is different, as is every workforce. Employee training initiatives must take into account not only the unique customers’ expectations, but the internal culture of the company. The better aligned these two conditions are, the better experience customers are likely to get, and the more productive employees can be.

Education is always evolving.

Customer expectations change with time, influenced not only by their relationship with your business, but trends and innovations in the marketplace as a whole. What was satisfactory last year may be insufficient today.

Static, standardized training is not sustainable. Regular evaluations of your materials, curriculum, and methods will keep your program responsive and current.

Mind the gaps.

So how do you optimize your employee training? Listen to the voice of the customer. VOC research and insights highlight gaps in employee performance and customer sentiment. This creates the opportunity to customize your training initiatives to focus on the attributes picked up within the research.

Knowledge is power – as long as you act on it. Measurements alone don’t do anything for anyone. At the end of the day, a customized, optimized, VOC-informed training program creates the opportunities for conversations that lead to loyalty and sales.

 

Customized training solutions based on VOC insights are part of the package of services CSP provides our clients. To find out more, visit our Coaching & Training page, or contact us directly with your questions.

Mobile is the Land of Opportunity for Banks

November 24, 2014

eMarketer (@eMarketer) recently hosted an informative webinar on the outlook for the financial services industry in 2015 and beyond, based on data collected this year.

The projections point strongly in the direction of mobile banking and payment options gaining broader favor and driving demand. While the Millennial generation has motivated much of the digital advances of the last decade, adoption is projected to increase among the 55-64 and 65+ demographics in the coming years as they become more familiar and comfortable with the new wave of mobile technology.

emarketer_mobiletrends

Mobile share is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Trends in the mobile technology industry have a distinct ripple effect on financial institutions and consumer expectations. At the beginning of the Millennium it seemed like every new device was smaller than the last; the public’s imagination was captured by the mindblowing amount of information, space and capabilities that we could now fit on something smaller than our thumbs.

But the early part of this decade has seen a demonstrated shift to larger screen sizes and lighter devices. The iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note, Kindle series and the new category of “phablet” would indicate that the tech industry and consumers might be moving towards a happy medium of size and functionality.

The good news for banks getting into the app game is that a larger screen poses fewer limits on what you can do with that app. Cross-device compatibility is still a thorn in your side in such a fragmented marketplace, but if the eMarketer projections are any indication, sharpening the mobile experience should be a priority and worth the investment.

What’s important to keep in mind is that mobile may be the land of opportunity right now, but we’re still in an omnichannel world, and one channel can’t be emphasized at the expense of others without hurting the customer experience.

Some other interesting takeaways from the eMarketer webinar:

  • Security and privacy concerns, including one’s device getting lost or stolen, remain primary inhibitors to greater mobile banking usage.
  • Between now and 2018, consumers will start making larger purchases on mobile devices (compared to lower-priced purchases like lunch or taxi fare that are gaining traction right now).
  • Proximity payments and near field communication (NFC) are drawing a lot of attention from innovators like Apple and Google, as well as major national retailers.
  • Mobile ad spending will outpace desktop spending in 2016. Financial service advertisers are dedicating more budget to video, which has proved to be an effective engagement tool on digital platforms.

And we especially liked this one, from Vinoo Vijay, CMO at TD Bank:

Our most effective marketing channel is the actual moment when the customer experiences us in our store or on our website. We put a lot of emphasis into the experience that the customer has because, at the end of the day, that experience is far more powerful than anything we can say.

Thanks to Bryan Yeager (@bryanyeager) at eMarketer for leading the webinar. We look forward to helping our financial services clients navigate the evolving customer experience of the next several years.

The Rise of Predictive Analytics in Customer Experience Management

September 17, 2014

The emergence of Big Data has been one of the most disruptive events of the new millennium, impacting practically every industry.

Technology has leapt forward again and again over the last decade, and brought us new tools for accessing, collecting and delivering data with mind-boggling volume and velocity. With the floodgates open, businesses large and small are still looking for the best way to turn this vast ocean of disparate information into valuable insights, action steps and outcomes.

One new tool enabled by Big Data fits comfortably into the customer experience manager’s tool belt: predictive analytics. By streamlining internal and external sources of customer information, this method of data-mining is applied to anticipate an individual customer’s needs and wants with greater speed and reliability than has ever been possible.

Finding Shapes in the Cloud

Predictive analytics, in a nutshell, means identifying patterns in an existing data set and extrapolating those patterns to deduce what is most likely to occur next. Businesses were already doing this before the Information Age, but by largely outsourcing the task to algorithms, we’re now able to crunch much larger data sets in much less time and come out with much more nuanced portraits of customers.

Another advantage of predictive analytics is the ability to quickly and easily drill down to the individual level. A single customer produces a wealth of data on a daily basis by simply going through the motions of his/her life. By applying resources to examine just that customer (rather than the general demographic or profile he/she fits), a business can design a tailor-made experience with the best likelihood of producing the desired outcome – be that sales, loyalty, or resolution of a complaint.

Export that ability across every individual in your customer base, and you can see how the lines between responsive and proactive are blurring. For example, Wells Fargo rolled out ATMs that deliver a unique display of buttons and options each time a customer signs in, reflecting how that particular customer has used ATMs in the past and will likely use it this time.

Big Data vs. Big Brother

In a way, predictive analytics has taken us back to the Main Street General Store model of doing business, where the proprietor not only knows your name but has your shopping cart all but ready to go when you set foot inside the door. This kind of personal attention is what customers want and what keeps them coming back, right? Yes – to an extent. But it’s deceptively easy to cross the line.

You may recall this headline from 2012: Target figured out one of its customers, a teen girl, was pregnant before her father did. The retailer relied on patterns in her customer data to reach this conclusion and ‘congratulated’ the young woman with personalized coupons for maternity and baby gear. Her father intercepted the mail, leading to a very irate confrontation with an oblivious store manager who had nothing to do with the decision to target (no pun intended) this customer with maternity messaging.

As it turned out, the data didn’t lie, but the damage was done and not limited to just that household. The story spread rapidly across the Internet and became part of the growing narrative of distrustful consumers and intrusive, creepy companies who know just a little too much. Brands want relationships with customers, and customers do respond well to the personal touch, but they sure don’t want to be stalked.

That’s why, even as the technology continues to leap forward, there’s still no real substitute for the kind of expertise that comes from years of hands-on customer experience management. With great power comes great responsibility, and as a discipline, predictive analytics is still maturing. Leaving all decision-making to the algorithms may be accurate, but wisdom doesn’t translate well to automated code.

By integrating CSP’s Voice of the Customer research with actual sales results, our Predictive Sales Analysis (PSA) brings together the best of both worlds. We produce a unique set of key drivers determined by employee behaviors that have the greatest correlation to sales metrics, and coach clients to focus on the areas that are most important to their business strategy. Learn more about PSA.

Master of Your Domain: The Omnichannel Approach to Customer Experience Management

August 27, 2014

“Omnichannel” is a buzzword that’s emerged in recent years to replace “multi-channel” as a way of describing how customers interact with a business.

While multi-channel indicated that there are a number of distinct touchpoints, both physical and digital, that matter to a customer’s experience, omnichannel goes a step further to reflect that customers are using all of these channels and moving fluidly between them as they see fit.

What this means for the enterprise: the customer experience must be optimized to facilitate that mobility by providing the seamless consistency customers have come to expect. Anything short of that is a recipe for dissatisfaction.

Omnichannel as a philosophy also reflects the changing world around us. We’re seeing the rise of the Internet of Things – a world where all our devices, from the cell phone to the car stereo to the refrigerator to the dog’s food dish, are wirelessly interconnected and constantly speaking to each other to best meet our needs, without asking us to jump through any hoops ourselves.

That concept is what’s driving technological innovation today, which is, in turn, driving significant changes in customer experience management.

As technology enables new options like thumbprint identification or person-to-person electronic funds transfer, customers won’t wait around for businesses to catch up – if it can be done, it should have already happened. By the time it does happen, they’re on to the next flashy new thing.

Is this fair? It might not feel that way, but it underscores the importance of staying current, because all it takes is one disruptive innovation to suddenly put you behind the times.

Practice What You Preach

Employing the omnichannel approach from the enterprise point of view gives your leadership a 360-degree view of the customer experience across all touchpoints and channels.

The goal is not to find out which touchpoint matters most, because what matters most is that all touchpoints fit neatly into the same picture. The omnichannel view illuminates the gaps and mismatched pieces to that puzzle.

The ability to understand and have data for each channel empowers the enterprise to integrate and align those channels. Solid data for each channel goes a long way towards identifying the influential behaviors that drive a great customer experience.

For example, there might be plenty of success stories and high scores for on-the-floor personal interactions between customers and employees, and customers then walk out the door satisfied with the experience.

But once out those doors, they don’t bother engaging with the business’s digital platforms because the experience there is clunky and unhelpful, or they opt not to connect with the brand on social media because from what they can see, there’s no obvious incentive or benefit to subscribing.

When even one channel is lagging, the entire experience is affected, which has a direct impact on attrition and revenue.

Of course, designing an optimal omnichannel customer experience is only possible when you have the best information at your disposal. You’re only as good as your research.

Omnichannel is a big idea to wrap your head around – and with the wealth of new customer data now available, seasoned experts like the team at CSP are an invaluable resource for bringing everything into alignment. We’re passionate about improving the customer experience. Contact us today to learn more.