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Tagged: customer relationships

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

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?

Email Analytics: Dig Deeper to Uncover Customer Insights

December 7, 2016

email analytics reporting tells you more than just opens and clicks.The line between customer experience management (CEM or CXM) and traditional marketing responsibilities has been blurred, and email is a great example. Email campaigns need not be just about generating business or converting sales. They’re also a useful platform for building and continuing customer relationships. Email analytics tell you a lot about how customers are receiving and reacting to your messages.

Email analytics 101: The basic measures of the success of an email marketing campaign include Opens, Clicks, Bounces, and Unsubscribes. Email marketing software records these types of reader behavior within a customer relationship management (CRM) database. The level of detail of the data collected will vary from provider to provider – for example, what device or operating system your readers are using. From within that CRM tool, you can generate reports and track trends in each rate over time. That said…

Email analytics tell you more about your customers than their email reading habits.

You just have to know where to look.

What links are customers clicking on?

What topics, subjects, or messages are getting the most attention? Where are they positioned within your template design? How were they presented – as text, as images or icons (e.g. a button)? These small but significant factors can all have an impact on engagement.

With this information, you can: tailor the content and/or design of future campaigns to best match your customers’ interests and visual preferences.

Who are your most frequent openers and clickers?

Are they current customers, or prospects? How did they get on your list? Did they sign up voluntarily, or were they added automatically through another process? Pay attention to infrequent engagement, too – whose name is new since last time you sent a campaign? And who never opens or clicks – do they belong on this list, or is their information out of date?

With this information, you can: follow up with more personalized messages targeted at your most engaged subscribers, and make adjustments to your list-building strategy, including cleaning outdated or inactive subscribers.

When are your customers reading and engaging?

Typically, open and click engagement rates spike in the first few hours after a campaign is delivered. Some internet users still jump at every incoming notification or try to keep their inboxes clear of unread messages. But if you are varying your delivery times (as you should be), you may see that timing makes a difference. Review the timestamps on opens and clicks to see when your readers are most likely to open, and whether they click through immediately, or come back to the message later.

With this information, you can: optimize the timing of your regular campaigns for when users are most likely to engage. You may even be surprised by what you find; it may seem counterintuitive to send emails on a Sunday night, but if the analytics support it, go for it!

Was there a sudden spike in a given metric?

Outliers – campaigns that defy your typical averages or medians – are worth your attention. A spike in Opens could indicate that you hit the sweet spot with your subject line. Spikes in Clicks can reveal a hot topic or an effective graphic. A bump in Bounces is a red flag that your list needs some cleaning up, while high Unsubscribes warn that something you did got under your customers’ skin.

With this information, you can: optimize future subject lines and inside content in favor of the tactics that produced the spike – unless you’re talking Unsubscribes – and clean your list so that the next delivery only goes to valid subscribers.

PRO TIP: Some email marketing providers ask Unsubscribers to indicate the reason they’re opting out before their contact information is deactivated. Use this information!

Have you tried an A/B split test?

A split test is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of different email techniques. This involves splitting your list into two (or more) groups, each of which gets a different version of the same message.

With this information, you can: learn which variables – subject lines, template design, inside content, special offers – get your subscribers’ attention, and apply that learning to future campaigns.

PRO TIP: This works best with very large lists; if you have fewer than 500 contacts, it’s harder to get statistically significant results.

Where did customers go after clicking through?

Click-throughs might be the most valuable action a customer can take from an email, but that’s just the start. Ideally, the content they landed on will keep them engaged for a while. After a campaign is delivered, check your website analytics and follow the trail of breadcrumbs. (Again, your mileage will vary depending on the sophistication of your website analytic tools.)  

With this information, you can: make improvements to the landing spots linked to from your emails to pull customers further down the funnel or encourage them to take a desired action.

Bottom line: Email marketing is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor.

There’s a time and a place for automation in your customer communications. But if you are running email campaigns, why not use the email analytics they produce to learn more about your customers?

Data is at the core of CSP’s services, practices, and philosophy. We can’t emphasize this enough: analytics are only as powerful as what you do with them. In this age of Big Data, knowing how to use the infinite information at your fingertips makes all the difference.


You may also want to read:

The 4 Pillars of a Customer-Engaging Email Marketing Strategy

November 30, 2016

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

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

1 – Great engagement comes from great content.

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

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

2 – Prioritize content that is mobile-friendly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


You may also want to read:

Customer Experience After the Sale: Are You Missing These Opportunities?

February 3, 2016

Google introduced the idea of the Zero Moment of Truth back in 2011, and has invested a lot of effort into getting companies to buy into it. The idea is that the pre-purchase phase of the customer journey, in which a customer researches, comparison-shops, asks for recommendations, and reads reviews, is essentially a countdown to moment Zero. That’s when the customer pulls the trigger and makes a purchase decision. 

We’re not claiming that Google is wrong. The Decision Point is inarguably one of the key destinations on the customer journey. But is this really where the journey ends? Hardly. In fact, it is a pivot point: the countdown becomes a “count-up,” comprised of every touchpoint that happens after the sale. What we’re counting up to: customer loyalty, satisfaction, and eventually, ideally, ambassadorship. In other words, retention.

As it stands, though, most businesses invest far more effort into customer acquisition than retention, doubling down on the notion that their job is essentially done when a prospect becomes a customer. Not only is this short-sighted, study after study has shown that acquisition is more expensive than retention and relationship marketing. (In fact, we couldn’t locate even one that argued the opposite.) The article by eConsultancy linked to above also included some head-turning statistics on this phenomenon:

  • Attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one.
  • Globally, the average value of a lost customer is $243.
  • 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service. 
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
Shifting Focus: How to Extend the Customer Experience Past Purchase

Customer experience fact - 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service Source KISSMetricsMake memorable post-purchase moments.
For instance, take a look at your onboarding materials, like “Thank You” pages and auto-generated emails when a customer creates an account on your site. Do they just say Thank You, or do they invite further opportunities to engage with your brand, tips for using your product or service, or incentives like coupons or discount codes? Any touchpoint that can be automated can also be enhanced to build the relationship.

Be helpful, even when there isn’t a problem.
Periodically check in with your customer to ask how things are going and if they have any questions. There could easily be something confusing or bothering them that they either don’t think is a big enough deal to bother you with, or haven’t gotten around to contacting you about yet. Here again, automation can help: reminders, thank-you’s, and Frequently Asked Questions guides can be scheduled at intervals in advance.

Pay attention to the details.
Nothing makes a customer raise an eyebrow like businesses that can talk about their product till the cows come home, yet don’t seem to understand its actual role in day-to-day life, as if they’ve never used it themselves. Imagine how your customer uses or experiences your product or service at home, after hours – not just the obvious, as-prescribed applications, but how it is related to their overall life and priorities.  

Leverage your social & direct marketing channels.
This may be the only area where the acquisition/retention formula gets turned on its head: acquiring followers and subscribers is cheap, but engaging them is where the real effort comes in. Not only do customers treat social media and emails as additional customer service channels (and expect you to meet them there), they assume they will get something in return for following you, such as exclusive offers, informative videos and graphics, or even shareable entertainment.

Listen to the Voice of the Customer.
You had to know this was coming, right? At CSP, we believe that Voice of the Customer tools and measurements are the lifeblood of a healthy customer experience. Relationships, after all, work both ways, so successful customer relationship management means handing the microphone over to the customer to make sure they have their chance to tell you what is working for them and what’s getting in their way.

The Takeaway

Customer experience that treats the sale as the endpoint is an unclosed circle: all the brand equity, sentiment, and trust you nurtured to encourage the sale, are liable to leak out through this gap. Selling to existing customers is easier than converting new ones. It is worth your while to envision the customer journey as a lifetime relationship, not a finite transaction.

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.