Friday, October 29, 2010
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“People can come up with statistics to prove anything. Fourteen percent of people know that.”
~ Homer Simpson’s response to a TV news interview question in which the local anchor cited an inconvenient statistic
With Halloween so close, I thought we might all be up for a good, scary story.
What you are about to read is confidential and may get me in trouble, so please don’t share it with anyone…not a soul! (Beware: even weaker Halloween puns ahead.)
A closed-door meeting of my condo association’s board of directors took an amusing and slightly alarming detour the other night into the realm of statistics.
We five had gathered to finalize the 2011 budget and – more importantly – to review bids from several cable and satellite TV providers.
(I stress that the latter is more important because while I do not enjoy budgeting, I do enjoy what little television I have time to watch and I am dissatisfied with our current bulk services provider.)
The budget discussion was relatively uneventful. But the cable conversation was a bit more…spirited. (I warned you.) Apparently I am not the only person with strong emotional ties to the tube.
First, we needed to be able to justify the switch, because any option other than staying with our current provider would nearly triple everyone’s monthly cable bill. With more than 260 units, that’s a lot of rotten produce being thrown our way at the next homeowner’s assoc meeting if our call turned out to be dead wrong.
Now, we’re confident that most of our residents are unhappy enough with our current provider to accept the increase; however, beyond anecdotal evidence and a two-year-old survey with a lukewarm response rate, we really didn’t have much else upon which to stake our decision.
So you can imagine my reaction when one of my board colleagues – who is much smarter and more accomplished than I, and by whom I will likely be sued if he reads this – suggested that the vast majority of residents are probably open to accepting a new cable/satellite services provider at triple the price in a recession BECAUSE – drum roll – conventional wisdom in political polling dictates that for every person who bothers to make their opinion known, there are one or two others who feel the same way, but do not say so.
So, one vote equals two, maybe three? Based on our two-year-old survey results, that would constitute a sizable majority of residents (most of whom did not bother to respond to the survey).
Interesting stat, no? And, by the way, let’s hear it for self-selection error!
It gets better…
In response, another of my board colleagues – again someone much smarter than I, with outstanding credentials – leaned in and said, “‘Joe,’ this is not a political poll.”
Re-read that last line, just for laughs.
So, board member number two’s issue was not with the accuracy of board member number one’s math, but with the nature of the topic being polled. Apparently, the 1=2-or-maybe-3 rule indeed applies to political polls, but not to non-probability sampling in matters regarding cable television services.
Now, I am by no means a statistician and I did not dispute this line of reasoning (the meeting was already running long, and it was a harmless point well taken), but I believe both of my colleagues were slightly mistaken.
Isn’t the correct rule of thumb that for every one person who voices a complaint, there are 27 others who feel the same way but don’t complain? Or should we defer to the ole adage: “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells everyone”? It’s all so confusing…
I relate this tale all in good fun, and I mean no disrespect to my wonderful condo board colleagues, none of whom – I trust – will call for my resignation if they happen to read this.
At the end of the day, my point is that the blasé tossing about of questionable stats is frighteningly commonplace – and educated, intelligent people routinely and willingly accept them without question.
Which reminds me: we have an election coming up!
I’ll keep my politics to myself, but I’ve already seen enough push polls and suspicious numbers to sustain me through the next four election cycles. And while it’s easy to point the finger at politicians (I have a special finger for that), the worst offenders are the journalists who lack the background and/or inclination to verify the validity and reliability of the numbers they so eagerly push out into the echo chamber as fact.
This sentiment was echoed in IIR’s recent podcast interview with NBC’s SVP strategic insights and innovation, Horst Stipp, who had some pretty strong things to say about the irresponsible use of research, and who noted that journalists and politicians are not the only offenders: Researchers, too, occasionally lapse.
Bottom line: I think we can all agree that the misuse and manipulation of statistics – in journalism, politics, commercially and even by condo boards…for whatever end – is totally out of control, with grave implications for research credibility.
So what’s your scary stats story? We each have one, so I’m interested in hearing all three of yours.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
NACCM 2010: How Leaders Must Empower Employees: CareerBuilder.com Focuses on People, Process and Culture
-Millennials are 2-3x more accepting to new technologies
-Millennials prefer structure for their day
-Millennials would rather work as a group than as individuals
How do you retain Millennials? Trust, balance and structure
Career builder only keeps people in their call center for 24-36 months, otherwise they get burnt out. Create a fun environment with degrees in psychology, philosophy, then go on and invest in their training. They do at least 3 events a year to build leadership, such as “Extreme Events”. They reward by creating videos. Employees share these videos, and it makes it easy to attract the right type of people to your company.
They’ve created an App to refer candidates on Facebook. By sharing content, they were able to successfully communicate to more people
Tune in tomorrow for the last part of this four-part interview!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Hartford’s Advance 50 team is comprised of 5,000 highly credentialed reps with advanced degrees in an aging-related field. The obvious gap is that the customers being served average an age of 65, while the reps are 24 years old. Therefore hiring for attitude is critical, with training, individual coaching, enabling systems, metrics, and rewards to do the rest.
Their training is very deliberate and lasts 11 weeks, 6 weeks of which is live work with customers. New hires are on the phone side-by-side with their mentor as soon as day 8, which enables the employee to learn, apply the knowledge, and be coached.
Empathy and patience are critical for these 24-year olds, since many of their AARP customers are recently widowed, have suffered a stroke, or have hearing loss. They task the rep with working on their own improvement plans where opportunities are discovered. And they maintain the “best call” library contest that serves as both a recognition vehicle and also provide examples as an excellent resource.
Helping you is the most important thing we have to do today.
As the world’s largest retail cooperative, Ace has 4600 independent stores served by 4,200 direct employees. Their challenge has always been to create a support environment that emphasizes quality while scaling the business.
To that end they implemented the Ace Care Center project, which focused on improving service by utilizing the resources from 85 people in 7 different helpdesks that served retailers, consumers, vendors, and employees. Starting with unifying contact processes and rationalizing service hours, they were then able to improve service levels and drive quality. Since they had little budget, they were able to implement a call recording system using $100 devices from Radio Shack and provide robust agent scorecards using Excel-based tools, using the budget for bonus compensation that rewards agent performance.
Service Sabbatical is an innovative program from BCBS-Mass that improves quality, reduces attrition, and generates goodwill in the community, driving hard ROI.
The initial objective they had in mind was to provide the ability for associates to grow professionally, not just job training, and also be able to provide stronger ties to the communities they serve. The thinking was that this approach could improve quality and attrition metrics, paying for itself.
The week-long curriculum focuses on
• Big-picture call-center operations
• Business challenges that the center faces
• Team building through development of solutions to those problems, including interviewing executives to gain context and knowledge while gaining more exposure
• and a community event that “gives back”
They run the program regularly, accepting 10-12 associates into the program each quarter from a pool of approximately 50 applicants. Senior management believes in this and attends the sessions as well, both participating and encouraging. They even now have a wait-list from senior executives that all want to participate.
Feedback from the associates has been incredible – survey responses are tremendously positive. But beyond that, BCBS quality metrics have increased for all participants, many have been promoted and attrition has decreased. The program has even expanded into Claims and Provider Services areas, further facilitating cross-functional collaboration and teamwork.
It’s hard to do one thing 100% better than everyone, but you can do 100 things 1% better. It all adds up.
Blinds.Com is the largest provider of window treatments on-line, and has revenue per employee equal to Amazon and Facebook. Their mission is to create an experience that makes buying complex and customizable products surprisingly easy and exciting.
To accomplish this Jay runs the business by the numbers, with a critical number KPI being Gross Margin per visit since this reflects conversion rates and sales growth, and provides a leads into where to dig deeper. But repeat business and referral rates, and Net Promoter Scores are also extremely important, and Jay uses those to make sure they can get customer needs addressed with the right priority.
Jay spent many years driving to customers’ homes before going on-line , and believes in the power of customer feedback at the individual level. In that regard, Blinds.Com establishes Net Promoter Scores around the organization, even down to the individual agent level, calculating NPS for each agent. Driving some internal competition, Blinds.Com believes in the effectiveness of transparency and publishes all scores out to everyone. This rather unique practice drives other great behaviors, including better information sharing between departments, better collaboration between teams.
Those interactions with customers have shaped their core values: improve continually, and experiment without fear. Jay hires people that are aligned with these beliefs, asking prospective employees during the interview how they have strived to improve themselves within the last 6 months, and what they did to change for the better. As a result Blinds.Com has a team of people that works together and strives to do better, especially when it comes to improving the customer experience.
Jay attributes their incredible growth over the years to those core values. In fact, the business didn’t really take off until those values were formally established and became part of the business’ DNA.
Some examples of how this manifests itself in some simple practices:
• All employees have the opportunity to present at regular all-hands meetings
• Teams maintain open whiteboards showing the things they are working on with facilitated areas for new ideas.
Jay writes a regular column on BNet called the No-nonsense Boss. Sounds more than worth checking out.
[This blog provided by Steve Bernstein of Waypoint Group, and cross-posted at the Customer Insight = Revenue blog]
Leadership Details from Disney:
-Attention to detail – Humana has no meetings between 8:00-9:00 and 4:00-5:00 so they can meet with their employees and say good morning/good evening
-As leaders, you must listen to your employees. They can provide insights as little things you can do to improve your employees interactions with customers.
-When someone is asking a question, figure out what they’re really asking.
Expect resistance – Great leaders must listen. Managers must listen. Most people have problems with change. Have you ever been taught how to deal with change? People have resistance because they don’t know how.
Make people your brand. Is it common practice in your organization? People aren’t often in the most conventional places. Leaders can pick out talent in individuals even though they may not have had previous experience. Hire for your organization with emotional intelligence.
-How do you teach leaders to teach others?
-“Burn the free fuel” – do the free things – recognize your employees, show up to the employee birthday parties, recognize your employees and their spouses
-Train for leaders, not just skill
NACCM 2010: Leadership Means Enabling Success for All Associates: How ADT's Employee Engagement Impacts the Bottom Line
The Customer Monitoring Center – take calls for customers at times of emergency, answering calls for over 90,000 alarms a day. They also serve as the security for all WalMart products.
Employee engagement at ADT: IT’s critical to their success.
Four ways to link engagement to high performance with employees:
1) Build a line of sight
2) Increase involvement
3) Share of accurate decision making decisions
4) Reward and recognition
When evaluating individuals, the information goes to the direct manager’s boss. Every quarter, there is a meeting with the director a level above their manager. In addition, each quarter, one team from each center collects the information, collaborate across call centers, and then develop a report and share it on the company’s portal. It’s an easy way to get employee engagement and views from the front line.
What does customer management mean? Identify and undsteradn what they really want and look at what your business really is. They need to have a good business strategy with balance.
Manage five things for their customers:
They had to unite their brands under across many different cultures. They chose to use CHarleze Theron as a brand ambassador, as she represented many of the ideals of South Africa. They then created a strategy to communicate their new vision across their properties world wide. How did they implement this? They started in one hotel then moved to many others. Their projects just continued into the World Cup.
How do you deliver an experience? Map out all customer touch points. The Middle Manager became the coach. They coached the employees as to their new goals and initiatives. They created videos that showcased the bad experience then the good experience and discussed the attitudes between the two.
She challenged all Middle Managers, and explained that they were the customer service and they had to lead by action.
How do you differentiate from the competitor? Focus on great customer experience.
The core function of customer service is to deal with customers. Customer centricity is not a single department or function, but something that needs to persist across the organization. Everyone has to be able to understand customers: both their needs and their wants.
We have to understand customers, and how their perceive the issues. We should not only understand our customers, but understand who they are talking to and what they know. What does evidence play in making decisions?
Customer loyalty. They’re loyal to you, but how loyal are you to them? Is it easy to engage with your customers? Within Hilton, 5% Loyalty increase resulted in a 1.1% revenue increase.
Innovation is a challenge. Know what customers need, even if they don’t know what they need. Previously, Lego has been innovating, but not in a way that makes sense to their customer. They must understand their consumers, because the majority of their sales each year are on products that didn’t exist the year before. They started to focus on their core customers, and they see results in their sales.
Best Buy’s social strategy has really taken flight over the past three years. Here are a few of the key points from her roundtable:
- -Her team creates videos on a biweekly basis. It is all done in house by her employees. They produce videos that often see the highest call volumes and questions to their call center, which often reduces their incoming calls.
- -Through all of their platforms, they continue to engage with their customers and answer customer service questions first.
- -With all of their social media platforms, they have to cater the voice that is used on the platform. Messaging and conversations aren’t’ the same from Facebook to Twitter to their online message boards.
Best Buy’s Social Media policy can be found at bestbuysocialmediapolicy.com.
Tune in tomorrow for part 3 of the podcast!
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
What did you learn at NACCM on Day One? Would you like to share your findings on Day Two? Find New Media and share!
Moving from as tech support oriented community with forums into a more engaging business community required Verizon to realize that social media isn’t a campaign; it is a strategy to build relationships. Viral activities are fleeting – customer evangelism lasts.
Communities allow companies to listen in to conversations and benefit from the insight. And customers have the opportunity to get answers to broader questions beyond Verizon offerings. They have 12 individual customers that lead their communities (not employees), doing this work out of sheer love and passion, and selected from their contribution to the community every 6 months.
As part of the effort, Verizon also monitors and engages via Twitter, via their “Idea Exchange” site, and provides educational and lifestyle content through “Room to Learn.” These activities provide other channels for communication, since customers have different needs and not all use the forums.
And if you think this is all too expensive to do, note that Verizon has only a team of 3 plus their community software vendor. Lean and mean!
The Verizon community is open to everyone, not just customers. As a vehicle to grow their business, the communities also enable Verizon can also get closer to the customer, gain new insights, and drive improvements in customer retention. And for customers, they now are able to self-serve, learn, and have a place to be heard.
Becky recommends starting within your own community: Go into your company’s forums and see what people are saying, passing along the insight in customer-speak. You can then go to external social sites like Twitter and Facebook, using that “customer-speak” from your own forums to find the things that are the best opportunities for engaging customers on your own site.
[Posted by Steve Bernstein of Waypoint Group, and cross-posted at Customer Insight = Revenue blog]
95% of Microsoft’s business comes through more than 640,000 partners. And with 88,000 employees worldwide, Microsoft has created a very challenging environment to manage.
They maintain a simple execution model based on 3 pillars:
1. Listening Systems: Windows 7 is based on millions of customer opinions and exemplifies what can be done when they listen to customers. Microsoft conducts a bi-annual customer relationship survey, transactional surveys, website surveys, submitted feedback, and even in-product submissions. All are followed-up where issues are uncovered, both individually and in the aggregate for ongoing improvement. As an example, the in-product window that appears when a Windows system issue occurs gathers critical data that is used in prioritizing fixes, establishing service packs, and communications.
Presented by Andre Harris, Westfield’s VP Brand and Employee Communications, NACCM 2010
Connect with employees to create the customer experience.
Westfield isn’t just a landlord or owner of shopping malls: they manage all aspects of the shopping experience for the properties they own, and want to make sure they deliver a differentiated experience. Westfield’s “WOW” used to be a program, and Andre has now been able to transform it into the overall culture, which includes their partners and vendors:
Way beyond the expected.
Own it personally.
Win over their hearts.
Andre shared their -steps to create a Culture of WOW:
1. HEAR the voice-of-the customer: Know what customers want, expect, and value. They respond to 100% of complaints, since satisfied customers tell 3 friends but angry customers tell 3,000, and a complaint is an opportunity to WOW.
A great example: A hiring manager wanted to give candidates gift bags. The thinking is that even though they aren’t hiring all these people, they are still a Westfield customer and should be treated well.
3. TRAIN: They have a clear understanding of their purpose, so everyone, including outsourced employees and executives, go through WOW Training. The training details 7 critical areas, including “Make their Day” and “Represent.” Empowerment, recognition, and reward are critical success factors. Telling success stories not only makes it more real and memorable, but also provides real solutions and answers to the questions that employees bring from their daily interactions with customers.
4. MEASURE: Customer, Retailer, and Employee satisfaction surveys are all part of the process. Employee turnover is a key measure as an indicator of customer experience, and of course also adds to the bottom-line.
"Customer Experience” starts with Marketing, not after Sales.
For GE Healthcare, excellent service means that customers are more likely to buy another $1M piece of equipment. Service and Customer Experience has to start with the Marketing and Sales process.
Marketers often want to get information from prospects, but you have to give something back first before the customer is ready to give more. Classic lead-generation criteria include Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing, but the customer may just want to speak with someone to get more information. So starting with a definition of “sales ready” leads then brought them to defining what needed to be developed.
Starting with content first, every page has a “Contact Us” area that allows the customer to engage if they are ready. Make sure that the organization is ready and able to follow-up when the customer request live contact.
Metrics are where it’s at: GE Healthcare can see the amount of spend on each campaign, and how it’s generated incremental revenue through the funnel. Since each touch has a campaign ID, they can now track the movement of the prospect through the marketing funnel, ultimately up to a sales-ready lead and establishing the value of the opportunity.
Every part of the organization brings a different perspective to the customer experience. It usually takes all perspectives to get to the optimal experience, so engage those different points of view around the organization to meet the company goals.
[This post provided by Steve Bernstein of Waypoint Group, and cross-posted on the Customer Insight = Revenue blog]
NACCM 2010: It’s Not About Smiling More: Creating a Measureable Customer Experience Culture at Thomson Reuters
Use right-brain techniques to strengthen relationships with customers.
It’s not enough to be better than your competitors: Expectations are set by experiences all around us. So in 2007 Barbara went to the board and recommended service innovation. It took 3 tries to get it to stick: the language that eventually worked was around increasing profitability and revenue.
Barbara’s division was hearing that customers wanted more from them: Customers wanted broader solutions that solved business needs, delivered easily and empathetically. The issue wasn’t price. Leading indicators of client behaviors were measured: How fast does the client return phone calls? Do they invite you to critical meetings?
Presenting what would happen if they did mothering compared to what would happen if they took action, the division decided to take action. The first step was to define the gaps against what they wanted the customer experience to be. Next, a 100-day pilot was planned that would work with a limited number of customers requiring specific cross-functional issues.
A limited number of customers were selected to participate in this early program that spanned different aspects of the business. They consistently found that customers wanted “Right brain” service – “gift wrapping” products and services in friendly interactions that are hassle-free. The gap was that as a company they were more geared to “Left brain” – delivering products and services and measuring specific results. It’s the “soft side” that customers remember and value.
Internal education and awareness of “left brain” ensued. The strategy was one of “Yes if…”, and NOT “No but…” They trained staff around responding to customers with, “Yes. if [conditions could be met].” Clients are people, not organizations, and the emotional engagement proved to be very valuable.
At a structural level, the division innovated around specific customer pain points, including a new customer welcome packet that included photos, key bios, and other relevant materials. As a result the client now feels more connected with the account team.
In surveying the employees that went through the pilot in addition to their managers (which wasn’t part of the pilot), they found that managers were consistently providing higher scores and thinking they were performing better than the employees felt. Addressing these gaps helped fill in some of the mentoring opportunities for managers.
All this work resulted in both “soft” results, such as
- An increase in general excitement levels
- Recognition from customers that w=as passed around the company
And also “hard” metrics that increased across the board:
- Client engagement
- Employee engagement
- Customer renewal rates
[This blog posted by Steve Bernstein of Waypoint Group, and cross-posted on the Customer Insight = Revenue blog]
Presented by Jasmine Green, Chief Customer Advocate, Office of Customer Advocacy, at NACCM 2010
Empower the front-line with empathy.
Initially born out of the CEO being tired of getting customer complaints, Nationwide started their journey by creating a single place to resolve customer issues. They were getting so much data, but being excellent at handling individual complaints wasn’t enough – Nationwide needed to get to root cause and something with this wealth of information. Some of the specific initiatives include:
o A “Top 5” report that is reviewed regularly at the executive level, providing the ability to drill into the major improvement opportunities.
o Nationwide now looks both at the Kudos and the Complaints, and also tie to employee feedback to be able to recognize employee performance and prioritize the right opportunities.
o They pass exactly what the customer says on to others in the organization: No filtering. Nationwide has found that the verbatim is critical – don’t water it down, making it more real.
o Jasmine has rolled out a comprehensive training program across all 32,000 associates for service recovery, and have shifted culture to one of respect internally that then is passed on to the customer. Empathy is emphasized – treat customers like your friend and make them feel special.
They recognize that their front-line associates are critical to providing an excellent customer experience, and therefore Jasmine view her responsibility as being on the job 24×7, not 9:00a to 5:00p. Measuring employee engagement is a big part of making it work, and correspondingly they also increased accountability of the front-line and further empowerment.
Key to their success has been the ability to tie improvements to the bottom line and show the business benefit (ROI) for various initiatives. Focusing on retention has made them able to establish the ROI for everything they do.
NACCM 2010: The Business Behind the Magic of Disney's Chain of Excellence: Leadership, People Management, Quality Service, and Loyalty
What is the business model behind Disney? They made sure they could verify it. They have a chain of excellence: Leadership Excellence, Cast Excellence, Guest Satisfaction, Financial Results/Repeat Business. Key metrics: metrics to return and intent to tell others. If you don’t start out with great leaders, you’ll never achieve the great results your companies capable of.
Two keys to creativity at Disney:
-Everyone is creative
-Keep identities separate from idea
Keep creativity open. Why? You never know what’s going to come of them. What do cruise lines and Disney have to do with each other? Nothing. But give families a reason to travel. They are doubling the size of their fleet in the current economy. They expanded their “box” and made their realm bigger.
Pirates of the Caribbean started as a ride. They then turned it into a movie, premiered it in a park. Everyone went to the ride looking for Jack Sparrow. Since then, Disney has updated and added Jack to the ride and expanded it to include more from the Caribbean.
The leader and relationships at Disney: responsibility, commitment, and inspiration. Every leader is telling a story about what he/she values. We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.
Walt sold his vision from moving the movies to an interactive theme park. He told his story, and set up his organization for success. True leaders are collaborators. Leaders look for reasons to change.
NACCM 2010: The Power of Customer Advocacy in Business-to-Business Markets – Market Probe’s Research Approach to Leveraging the Power of Word-of-Mouth
Customer retention is important, but the name of the game is how you use touchpoints and experiences to cross sell and upsell.
Touch points and methods that individuals have a standing contact. That will create the positive relationships and outcomes you’re looking for. We currently focus on what monetizes. Advocacy focuses on this. It is critical to this is on/offline word of mouth.
Advocates will do your marketing for you. Leverage the people who already love your brand. Word of mouth is a factor that can’t be looked beyond. Loyalty is a passive state. What do people trust? Word of mouth is a source for making business decisions. Individuals don’t trust organizations and what they have to say. People believe they can trust other people. It doesn’t matter where word of mouth comes from, but what companies have to pay attention to that information says.
Real-time customer feedback: Contrasting real time feed back against laitency issues that are common with customer feedback reports. The internet and social media are providing customers with new expectations. Social Media has conditioned most US consumers to expect to be able to give feedback. SmartPhones allow customers to comment on the spot, or on the way to the car after they’ve had a bad customer experience.
The biggest growing demographic on social media is women ages 35-55. They’re also the largest purchasing demographic. The pure amount of data now available is providing customer feedback is causing companies to have to take notice. American Express finding – 61% of Americans will pay a premium of 9% for better customer experience.
Text analytics tools can help pull in feedback and analyze it when it comes to complaints on the internet. These can allow you to quantify all of the feedback, not just “positive” feedback and “negative” feedback.
Beasley starts by asking: Do you know whether or not the service in your business is good? Will your agents break a policy when they need to to keep a customer? The gaming industry is shifting to a free-to-play online, which is costing quite a bit of time.
2 Wins in Customer Service at EA this year:
-COO agreed to reach target service level
-They received a budget that can support the staff for the standards level
If you are not talking to your call center employees on a regular basis, then you don’t know what your customers are asking for. Beasley wonders whether we’re looking at employees measurements for things that don’t matter such as call handle time. How should that be managed against first time resolutions? Talk to your employees about what’s going on in the company? They can share what is working and not working for your company.
NACCM 2010: AutoTrader.com Drives Sales, Retains Business, and Shapes Key Company Objectives with Their Client Loyalty Program
Autotrader created a customer satisfaction program for their customers in 2005. Through this, over 40,000 customers are surveyed a year. The 16% completion rate. The goal is for the findings from this program to be intergraded into the business.
They’ve created an actionable customer service program that surveys:
1) Newly acquired customers – with the company for 2 months
2) Ongoing customers – twice a year to understand retention
3) Canceled customers – Understand retention and formulate win back strategies
Conclusions: Measure satisfaction throughout the customer lifecycle, as it often changes. Move beyond measuring satisfaction. Integrate customer satisfaction results into the organization, it must be a part of the business. Link satisfaction data to others, like profitability, to really understand how it affects the bottom line.
It’s all about teamwork. Nothing can be done alone. Customer contact and care is circular at Xerox. Interaction with the customer is discussed frequently at Xerox. Contact frequency is important, they share with their sales team how often they should be connecting with their customers. This includes social media, Xerox is still working, but they’ve come a long way in incorporating blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other tools.
There should be standards for customer service set, expected behaviors for your employees as to how they treat their client. The employees also need to be held to those standards. Hardie can be pulled out of a meeting at any time to deal with a client issue, as they are the most import ones for a company. Employees must see and understand how they are to treat customers at all times.
Hardie states a customer who I likely to recommend a company represents 2 ½ times revenue than one who does not. This goes up as the customer has successfully resolved issues.
Have a clear resolution service, has a closed loop to resolve the customer’s issues. There must be a consistent theme of the top priority is the customer across the organization. Team work is very important.
CVS Call Centers focus more on PBM Members. This is unique because their employer has provided the benefit. The users of PBM are captive audiences, as their contracts connect them to CVS. They look at the client and the users of the products and services (the client’s employees).
Why is CVS different? They focus on their hiring profile. Seasonality is a major focus in their call center customer care, as health insurance is a usually renewed at these times. They’ve put in place a reserves system. They need their workers to make an emotional connection with their customers. In training, they begin with the call centers. They like to hire people who can connect with their parents, I.E. those who have cared for individuals before: healthcare workers, parents, work in the class room, etc.
Training is a key to educating their employees at CVS. They are educated in a classroom for two weeks, then to the call center, and back to the classroom. This is an evolving model to stay in-tuned with the customer.
The Voice of Your Customer must come through the Voice of your Employees. Continuing from this morning's Stew Leonard's session: For a customer, it can’t be a great place to shop/work with unless the employees are happy.
“There was a time when owning a television network was like printing money,” recalls Horst Stipp, senior vice president of strategic insights and innovation at NBC Universal.
The days of one-stop shopping are long gone. An explosion of channels; time-shift viewing via DVRs; the Internet; mobility; new devices; ubiquitous connectivity… The media landscape is radically, rapidly changing, and so is the media consumer.
Media research is changing, too: It is more complicated, more sophisticated and more important than ever.
Enter NBC’s research innovation team, whose mission sounds deceptively simple: keep pace with change.
In this special four-part interview installment of “The Research Insider,” the man responsible for helping a network – and perhaps even an industry – navigate flux shares his approach to continuous transition in the face of disruptive innovation.
Tune in for a new episode every day!
Listen to Part One
Part One Transcript
Horst Stipp will present “New Insights on Today’s Media Consumer” in two parts at The Market Research Event with Dan Zigmond of Google TV – first on Monday, November 8th and again on a separate, but related component, on Wednesday the 10th.
For more information, please visit http://www.iirusa.com/research/event-home.xml
Rule 1: The customer is always right. Stew Leonard’s strives to have their customer leaving happy. The customer is not always right, but they should leave happy. Figure out what they want and let them leave the story happy.
At the entrance of the story, there is a rock that says “The Customer is always right.” A customer wanted to purchase one, so Leonard had them produced. They didn’t do their research, and found out that not many of their customers wanted them either.
Opportunity with customer service: No way to monetize it, but if they are happy, customers will keep giving back to your store.
Goal: Get the person who is paying to walk out with a smile.
Start something in a small part of your business and let it grow. This goes for the new ideas and customer service. A customer suggested that their fish weren’t prepackaged, so they did so and their fish sales tripled. The same happened when they allowed loose strawberry sales.
Teamwork is a very important part of great customer service. It can’t be a great place to shop unless it’s a great place to work. This involves listening to your employees. It’s important to build a respect for the management within your organization to improve upon your customer service. Growth from within is also key. By promoting from within, the employees understand the values that Stew Leonard’s is based on.
Presentation from Trish Cotter – SVP Worldwide Service Operations (Owns Manufacturing & Support) — NACCM, 2010
“You can’t do everything, so make sure the things you do are done right. Small things add up.”
Netezza is a provider of an Analytics Appliance, a highly technical product combining hardware and software. With 300 customers, 400 employees, and $250MM in sales, Netezza focuses on being very easy to do business with. Trish’s advice is to start with a great product, be innovative, and then make everything easy starting with simple pricing and contracts, and then regular and consistent personalized outreach to their customers.
The first opportunity to create loyalty is through the product delivery and installation experience. But then it is critical to invest in getting customers up to speed so they will be more productive, less costly to serve, and more loyal. Some practices that Netezza employs include:
- -Turnkey installs – make the data center installation process very easy. Make sure everything is ready before arriving to do the installation, and then get in and out within one day.
- -Once installed you have the opportunity to wow the next group of people (beyond the data center personnel in their case). Netezza provides a customer health check, which periodically ensures everything is running right. They also proactively reach out to low-utilization customers to make sure everything is ok. These practices improve cost of service for Netezza and also provide good-will for the customer.
- -A new program called NZ Launch has significantly reduced call volume, saving over $1M. The account teams proactively reach out to deliver best practices to individual customers, providing customers with not only good information but also enabling the customer to have a point of contact that welcomes the customer.
- -Technical account managers form individual relationships with the customer. Expensive? Yes. But imagine the cost without it. Huge differentiator.
While these areas are customer-facing, there are also several areas of Netezza’s operations that are critical to making it all work:
- -A team-oriented culture is critical. The account team that services the customer overall has to hit 4.0 out of 5 in order to achieve minimum bonus, and can receive a quarterly additional bonus for exceeding targets. Their focus is on the quarter – not annual – to make it more real and more focused on individual customers, not aggregated data.
- -New Product Introduction process: The Support organization works closely with the product engineering teams to make sure things work better for the customer. Using technology wisely, they can now easily search all support tickets, and aggregate them together for the engineering team to be able to easily help the product improve. It is critical that they work well with Engineering to eliminate duplicate issues and provide as much information as possible to improve.
- -Employees are critical. Attrition is very low and they make it easy for people to move around within the company. One interesting area on Netezza’s employee survey is that they make sure to find out if the employees think the company can get to the next major revenue milestone ($500M). In Netezza’s case employees believe. And their growth rate is projected at 30-40% for next year.
Netezza calls their strategy, “Look Left, Move Right.” Keep moving forward. They know they can’t do everything, so they have decided that it is better to choose the things that they will do, do them very well, and communicate the right expectations to the customer.
Bottom line: Focus on items that increase your footprint and raise renewals. Don’t try to actively sell 2 weeks before renewal: this is an ongoing experience, and customers do come back for more of what they enjoy.
This blog was written by Steve Bernstein and is co-posted with the Customer Insight = Revenue blog.
Presented by Lewis Goldman, New Media Consulting, NACCM 2010
There is a lot of hype around social media. The key is that this is 2-way communication.
Fewer and fewer people are contributing, and so the rate of new content development is declining. For example, 90% of Twitter content is produced by 10% of users. Therefore, influencers are so critical because there are many more voyeurs than contributors.
Lewis shared some important statistics that illustrate the impact of engaged customers:
- -Ratings and reviews lift conversion rates by 56%
- -71% of people take a friend’s recommendation
- -Facebook is the 2nd largest referral site after Google
- -Coupon sites, which are really social sharing sites, are becoming much more prominent
There are 3 unique elements of social media:
- Ability to find out exactly what the customer wants: Customers are very explicit with their preferences. For example, Pop Tart is growing tremendously – reinventing the brand through social media and being relevant to teens again. 1-800Flowers introduces new products and services through social media, getting feedback and tuning the offering to hit customer expectations. So the lesson is to create a platform that allows you to easily market to your audience. Surveys can be done quickly and easily, accelerating pace of change, by getting feedback from your loyal customers, and build a place for your customers to go to get that feedback.
- Advocacy and pass-along are facilitated: 100’s of Influencers can be much more important than thousands of Facebook fans. Nurture them so they can advocate for your brand. March of Dimes enables mothers to share stories. Zappos product reviews are growing every day.
- Ability to get real-time feedback: This is a double-edged sword, as the expectations to change based on that feedback have also accelerated. When there is a problem, people have the ability to tell thousands and thousands of people. 1-800Flowers uses Twitter to monitor customer satisfaction, and as a result 2/3 of Tweets are positive, whereas for their primary competitor 2/3 of tweets are negative. When 1-800Flowers resolves the issue there is frequently an updated tweet that indicates the problem was solved. Customer Service needs to be engaged here. Can provide different channels for example on Twitter, for service, offers, and company news.
The process highlights the need for authenticity: Be honest and transparent.
Monitoring the conversation (“buzz”) is becoming easier through resources such as Tagcrowd.Com, which helps this process by visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text. Remember that the conversation changes, so it is important to do this on a regular basis. Don’t just provide snapshots: Trend the information, so you can see over time how you are being perceived on-line, especially against competitors.
Loyalty programs need to reward advocates in the same way they reward repeat purchases. For example, your best customers get a survey panel that rewards them with points, asking about user interface changes, positioning, product development, promotional offers, and competitive feedback.
Example: 1-800Flowers monitored the blogosphere to find influential bloggers that they wanted to engage. They found about 100 “Mommy Bloggers” that had a large following, and exposed them to the message and offers in advance of Mother’s Day, specifically creating a campaign called “Spot a Mom”, which was highly promoted and easy to share. As a result, sales expectations were exceeded by 9%.
Another example is from Starbucks: www.mystarbucksidea.com has significantly supplemented their own product R&D. A growing area called pCommerce (participatory commerce) is the next wave beyond eCommerce. Community members can comment on each other’s ideas, which facilitate the process for Starbucks R&D to filter through the most valuable contributions.
This blog was written by Steve Bernstein and is co-posted with the Customer Insight = Revenue blog.
Focus first on what customer’s value; not on customer value.
Wyndham has 12 diverse brands under its umbrella, and Jill was the architect of Wyndham Rewards, potentially the most successful Loyalty Rewards program in their industry.
Consumers are reluctant to spend, and they are getting bombarded with messages. Customers seek meaningful engagement, and there are 3 basic principles:
1. Focus on what the customer values: “customer value” is more about the corporation, and companies should focus on what the customer cares about to drive profitable growth. After all, the more value the customer finds, the more they are willing to pay. So listen and iterate, establishing a service and “listening” culture at the start in order to make this work.
2. Set clear goals: Be clear on what you want to achieve in business (money) terms. Traditional call center metrics like ASA (Average Speed of Answer) and AHT (Average Handle Time) probably won’t apply. Instead, set goals around customer treatment. Specifically,
- How will this program be deemed a success or failure? Get consensus from stakeholders so they share the goal.
- How do we know how we’re tracking? For example, look at retention and customer survey results.
- Can we make ongoing strategic adjustments? Be able to iterate.
3. Personalize communication: More than just addressing the customer by name, you need to know what they care about: have great customer data, and put it to good use. Collect the information in drips, being careful about what you ask (because you’ll just annoy customers if you ask about things that you don’t put to use!). “Personalization” doesn’t have to be hard, just put the information in the context of what the customer cares about. For example, when sending customer statements Wyndham doesn’t just show points balance, they show customers how far they are in realizing their next reward.
Bottom line: Every interaction builds on the relationship. Keep customers coming back by showing that you’ve taken the time to get to know your customers and what they need.
Focus first on what customer’s value; not on customer value.
Valerie Foxman, GE Capital Retail Consumer Finance (RCF)
“We’re all in this together.”
Valerie manages First Call Resolution (FCR) and Voice of the Customer (VoC) for GE Capital RCF. With over 45MM accounts and $30B in assets, they handle payment processing, billing statements, and card embossing for many notable retailers. And between the 11 call centers and the customer account handling, they have over 1 billion touchpoints to manage.
- Listen: use Voice of the Customer surveys, letters, blogs, Call Monitoring, and Web Tracking. They use an IVR-based survey system to ask 3 questions and remove agent bias: Overall satisfaction, information provided, and agent’s attitude. Since FCR is clearly a win for both the business and the customer, they then correlate those to problem resolution and FCR and have powerful data.
- Act: Deliver agent empowerment and training, process improvement, system enhancements, and customer self-service. Incorporate call quality recordings with the customer survey results to get the full view and deliver improvements in FCR, and leverage 3 main pillars:
- Associate (“call-center agent”) Development: Associate-level metrics, coaching skills, knowledge tools, recognition and reward
- Process Opportunities: Robust analytics that enable deep-dives into inquiry types that drive defects and create opportunities for system enhancements.
- Cardholder behaviors: Enable customer self-service and automated alerts
- Measure: Trend customer satisfaction, FCR, Call quality, IVR usage, and other vital center metrics – don’t just report static numbers. GE Capital has seen enormous increases in FCR and reduction in call expenses – worth well over $1M – by delivering information at 3 levels:
- Real-time reporting around individual calls is important as well, since the manager is expected to call the customer back when poor scores result.
- Managers can review and segment their own data through user-friendly pivot tables
- Scores and project updates are reported to senior leaders on a weekly basis.
Their Customer Experience Council (CEC) is a critical part of their governance process. Meeting every month, the team reviews specific issues that arise and creates an action plan for how it will be dealt with. To make it work, senior management consistently reinforces the critical theme, “We’re all in this together.”
To build loyalty it’s critical to understand what’s behind customer questions, and not just answer the specific question. If a customer asks about account balance, it’s usually not enough to just answer that question. Why did they want to know their balance? GE Capital anticipates customer needs and proactively provides solutions for the associates on the front-line to appropriately handle such situations.
This blog was written by Steve Bernstein and is co-posted with the Customer Insight = Revenue blog.
Listen to be proactive.
Josée oversees service strategy and customer loyalty for Rogers’ Fido brand, which is perceived as the most caring brand in Canada’s telecom industry.
Customers consistently tell them that they want to be respected and treated nicely – as nice as a new prospective customer. To that end, every offer is considered to be provided to both new and existing customers, and the profitability analysis is important.
As a service strategy, being proactive is the key element, avoiding problems in the first place or at least informing customer proactively when issues do occur. And when customers do contact Fido they treat each customer as an individual and personalize communications, starting with thanking them for how long that individual has been a customer.
It’s no surprise then that Fido listens to their customers in pursuit of anticipating future needs. In one example, they found that customers over age 45 want to talk on the phone, while under age 45 wanted technical interfaces. So Fido is implementing interfaces that can best serve both groups, which has the benefit of reducing cost to serve while also improving customer loyalty.
There are 5 areas in which Fido listens:
- Suggestion Box: Through their on-line site, “Throw Fido a Bone,”customers can not only submit suggestions, but also see status and vote on others. Customers want to be listened to, and companies must show that customers are part of the feedback loop.
- Focus Groups: an ongoing part of Fido’s operations, from everything from products to billing statements. And while the perception was that customers wanted “bigger” solutions that could be more complex, they often find that customers want simpler solutions that do less.
- Survey Results: All agents know their own scores, the team’s scores, and overall scores. Sharing the data is critical, even if the feedback is bad. They’ve implemented a program called Fido Bravo in which agents are recognized, and they allow agents to select calls on which they are coached.
- Continuous Improvements / Quality: Josée’s process team maintains an internal site of all policies and processes, complete with a “seal of approval” that indicates that the submission has not only been received, but addressed and implemented.
- Special Projects: Since they talk to so many customers every day, front-line agents have tons of ideas and the ability to find the best solutions. Fido temporarily assigns agents to such special projects that can engage their expertise and drive employee retention.
Bottom line: There are many ways to listen. Use them – and most importantly—act.
Note: This presentation by Kunal Gupta of Burke at NACCM 2010 echoes the sentiment you’ll often read here on the Waypoint blog. Followers of this blog know that everything we do is linked to profitable growth (money!), so I especially enjoyed Kunal’s presenation. Read on for a summary of what everyone should be doing in their VoC program:
Show me the money.
If you think of yourself as a CFO, where should you invest? It is critical to measure success in business terms: metrics aren’t sufficient as executives speak the language of business.
The Good: Marketers have had it good for a long time! Customer-centric initiatives haven’t really been questioned. But – the Bad – because the metrics weren’t linked to the bottom line, marketers rarely got a seat at the table. This results in the Ugly: credibility is likely to erode. Executives want you show them the money. So any metric you present needs to articulate a “return on marketing” as a financial metric.
Example: In 2009 the Manufactures Alliance – companies > $1B – found that less than half their members have linked customer satisfaction to business results. Those that did measure this found higher profits (22%) higher sales (22%), and increased assortment of products purchased (9%).
Traditional customer satisfaction starts with the customer and measures satisfaction. But Kunal contends that it is more important to improve the satisfaction of your profitable customers. He recommends reversing the causality: segment customers into profitable vs. unprofitable, and then focusing satisfaction improvements accordingly.
Since this makes sense to most, why do companies not establish this financial linkage? Excuses include:
- -Scarcity of organizational data to support the effort: More and more data is being collected every year. If you cannot put it to use then stop collecting it.
- -Inconclusive past evidence: ACSI has found that a 1% increase in satisfaction, shareholder value improves by an equal amount (1.02%). Reichheld found that a 12% increase in NPS doubles growth rate. Etc etc…The point is there has been quite a significant body of work published that proves the case.
- -Lack of leadership support: Churn is inevitable, but you can minimize churn by keeping customers happy. The cost of acquisition of a new customer varies by industry, but is much larger tan retaining an existing customer. Executives care about customer centricity.
- -Organizational aversion: It’s not about the math – get some c-level support by sharing some alarming statistics (internal or external) for not being customer centric. Then enumerate the benefits, including the ability to compute ROI. Cross-functional participation is critical.
So where to begin?
- -Start small. Success breed momentum.
- -No black box – make it transparent and focused on business, not statistics
- -Remember that the “art” is as important as the “science” – make sure the message is supported by the data.
Some example data to present
- -Average customer revenue by level of loyalty: “High Loyalty” customers often buy more.
- -Contribution of Customer Loyalty to higher cross-sell rates
- -Analysis of projects that require investment against the projected revenue impact
The bottom-line: If you believe that happy customers are worth more, go out and prove it.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Summary of Scottrade community:
-Scottrade needed to educate people on how to better use their tools in order to make their experiences better than they currently were
-Reached out to achieve a voice of the customer for this
-Community Members engaging in the group logged in more than the control group, as well as increased the number of trades they were performing compared to the control group, Community members were 4x more profitable than non community members on Scottrade.
-Lurkers are just as important, because they’re the ones observing and getting their questions answered because they are finding their questions online
Not every lurker will be a contributor, not every lurker will contribute. How do we engage them?
- Scottrade works on individually reaching out to customers based on their profiles, build culture of caring. This builds the loyalty for your brand
To increase participation, they engage more VIPs, who will in contribute to the Scotrade groups
-How? They celebrate with your top contributors. Share new innovations, and collect their feedback.
-Example: launched new Mobile site, but consumers wanted an App. VIPs also turned into ambassadors when regulation sets into the way the online webpage works.
When interacting, make sure that you always end in a question to encourage more participation.
Companies shouldn’t avoid conflicts online. Hit them head on, control those conversations. VIPs know they are VIPs, but the community around them does not know. It’s a private community group. This helps increase their participation
Maritz found that the voice of the customer is getting lost, because:
-All listen and no action
-Siloed and uninsightful
-Ad-hoc and unresponsive
-Costly and time consuming
Maritz has found:
-Customers want more flexibility, control, simplicity, reciprocity, and transparency
-Martiz customer service survey found that 68% of companies feel that their organizations are not doing very well at integrating customer feedback to how they are treating their customers
-VoC action – many companies feel that it is not a priority
-Front line managers want more information on their location and customers, not just an overall summary of the brand, they would like to be more involved
How can we fix all of these issues going forward?
-Look at report from Bruce Temkin, Voice of the Customer: The Next Generation
-Text and speech data are going to be filling in the blanks to the regular customer experience
-Integration between social media and traditional methods will become key
Changes for Voice of the Customer:
-Make it more friendly for customers to use
-Connect VOC data to other data – linkage analysis
-Translate VOC into action
What does customer centricity look like?
-They tell their story, less “painful” than they typically have been in the past
-We’re going to have to go to where they provide their feedback freely: The Social Web (Twitter, YouTube, Yelp), as well as frontline employee feedback, inbound customer calls. Then integrate the data into one source and analyze it in one place.
VOC capturing that worked in the past will not work in the future. They need to be more agile, flexible and timely.
Friday, October 22, 2010
In order to enter you need to submit the following information to Anastasia Ioannou – firstname.lastname@example.org with Future MR Leaders Contest in the Subject Line.
Winners will be selected next week. Enter today for your chance to win.
Presenter: Jim Dator, Professor, University of Hawaii & Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies
Jim Dator begins his keynote presentation by mentioning that this is a great time for transformation in market research, and that the economy will bring forth new opportunities that were not available before.
To be truly effective in future studies, forecasting has to be done continuously instead of one-shot only.
Jim explains the way the Three “components” of the future used to be
1. Continuations – 80%
2. Cycles – 15%
3. Novelties – 5%
Then he goes on to explain the three “complements” as it may be now
1. Continuations – 5%
2. Cycles – 15%
3. Novelties – 80%
In order to make predictions and assumptions on the future you must be ready to sound ridiculous, to be laughed at, and even to be wrong at times. The definition of Future studies does not mean studying the future but instead images, ideas, theories, and methods of the future. Jim has discovered that billions of images of the future can be categorized into 4 alternatives.
- Disciplined Society
- Transformational Society
Jim Dator mentions, “Humans are able to do things they could not do before and thus develop new ideas, new values, and new social institutions.”
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
ODYSEA @ Hilton San Diego Bayfront
1 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA
Are you attending The Market Research Event? Are you a market researcher in the San Diego area? Join us Sunday, November 7, to kick off TMRE with your fellow Tweeps and the TMRE Event Team!
Click here to RSVP.
Rob discussed his interest in the NACCM event, "There are a number of companies that I'm working with today that are really focused on this space of understanding the most effective way to retain customers and provide exceptional satisfaction at the same time." This focus brought him to NACCM this year and we know that he'll takeaway great resources and ideas from our amazing speaking faculty.
It's not too late to join us in Orlando! Download the brochure for details.