Posted in Customer Service

You are not as good as you think you are when it comes to…

… implementing customer experience strategies.

There is a massive disconnect between what business executives day and do when it comes to creating and managing the customer experience.

While 80% of executives say they want to use customer experience management (CXM) as a form of differentiation in 2010, only 11% would call their CXM approach “very disciplined”.

For example, most companies (44%) acknowledge that high-profile negative customer experiences have at some time compromised their brand, yet only 29% have high ability to handle and resolve customer complaints.

It is not that they don’t get it. On the contrary, experienced CEOs universally get the importance and the need for optimising customer experience. All the CEOs/ GMs/ MDs I know/ have met understand and appreciate the importance of creating and managing the customer value chain. (Over a lifetime that is a significant sample across 3 continents.)

The reasons for not doing anything about it are:

Reason #1: The view from the executive suite is somewhat distorted.

Only 12% of customers judge specific leading suppliers as extremely customer-centric (CMO Council Customer Affinity study), while 56% of those same suppliers think of themselves as extremely customer-centric.

That is, executives THINK they are doing something about but the customers don’t agree.

Reason #2: In the absence of a viable action plan, they persevere with status quo.

The only viable action for executives is maintaining the operational status quo (and maybe seeking small, incremental improvements) – because CXM vendors fail to put forward a convincing case. These vendors:

  • Rely on hype
  • Keep telling anecdotes about Disney
  • Rarely address the risk factors
  • Lack operational experien

The reasons conjured up above are a matter of opinion. I would really like to elicit YOUR view on this question. Instead of comments, please write your opinion HERE – and I will consolidate and give feedback next week with the result. (Thank you.)

In conclusion:

The big picture questions for all executives (that you should resolve in your organisation are:

  • Are these two reasons mentioned above legitimate reasons NOT to make the creation and delivery of your customer value proposition the major priority?
  • If these reasons do NOT apply to you, are you being honest with yourself and your stakeholders about the strategic business priorities?

Dennis

PS: Most statistics quoted are from publications sourced from Clear Action consultancy based in the US, but I believe they are relatively universal.

 

PPS: Please remember the 1-question quiz.

 

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Posted in Customer Service, Future, Research, Strategy

What type of person are you?

At Ganador it is business as usual, and it is quite usual for us to tinker with our business model. (Regular readers knwo that I do not believe in a business plan (as most people know it), but that does not mean we don’t have a strategy and that we measure our progress accordingly.

As part of this process we are going to to intorduce some changes – but it is too early to talk about those.

In the meantime, we are following a process of innovation – applying ‘design thinking’ to our organisation (a service business) the same as brand creators (say Apple) would do for physical products.

This video links back to the source article that informs some of our intellectual property development. (Astute readers may start picking up where we are heading to, but that is OK 😉

The video expores 4 different types ‘learners’ or participants to the innovation process. As a smaller organisation, the same people must play different roles (not easy given natural preferences) but it helps being conscious of the stages and the various requirements.

Enjoy…

We thought it is interesting

Innovation as a Learning Process from Roger Shealy on Vimeo.

Posted in Customer Service, Management, People

Do you know your a#@se from your CXD?

Customer Experience is NOT what you think

There are three compelling reasons why (bricks & mortar) retailers should conquer the science and the art of delivering customer experiences.

ONE: Declining manufacturing as a % of GDP.

Even in Australia there has been the increasing reliance on services. According to Wikipedia, the 2010 estimates are as follows:

•           AU GDP by sector: agriculture (4%); industry (24.8%); services (71.2%)

TWO: Consumers will pay more for experiences than they will pay for stuff.

In 1970 spend on services exceeded spend on products for the first time – and in 2009 we spent 2x on services: (66%) of retail spend in the US is on services:

DIY has become DIFM (Do IT For Me).

The challenge you face is to add a service dimension to whatever you sell (product or service.

THREE: Delivering an experience is the single most important, sustainable differentiator.

Web-designers spend a lot of time on (UXD – user experience design) because they understand that if you lose the browser for a split-second it they are gone with a single click. Retailers have the opportunity and the ability to create an experience that counts (CXD) – but few do.

What is a ‘customer experience’?

  • It is NOT customer service.

A clean store, friendly and helpful staff and user-friendly return policies – for example – is customer service not customer experience.

The great unspoken assumption is that you have the base right: great products or services at the right price, presented well and great customer service that meets expectations. Customer service is not longer a differentiator, it is cost of entry.

  • It is NOT shoppertainment.

It is not singing and dancing, it is not plasma screens and things that fall out of the roof – that is shoppertainment, not customer experience.

Customer experience comprises all of the above, but above all customer experience has an emotional dimension.

How do you create the emotional connections?

This is of course quite complicated because human being are complicated – and their emotions especially so.

My favourite new consumer is NewNowLo and she is not Chinese: She is the person that moved from wanting new à demanding new, now at low prices.

The world is changing and people are moving from:

  • Needing stuff >>> Demanding experiences
  • Conformity >>> Customisation
  • Plutocracy >>> Democracy
  • Self >>> Community

Consider just two emotions and a few retailers that do a reasonably good job of delivering that emotional connection.

AROUSAL OF THE SENSES

 

  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Starbucks

 

EXCITEMENT/TENSION FROM NOVELTY

 

  • Zara
  • Daily Deals
  • Anthropologie

 

Delivering the customer experience is reliant on the H-Factor. That was the basis of the talk I delivered recently at the Melbourne Retail Expo and Conference.

I have publised the latest newsletter (ReadThinkLearnLaugh). SUBSCRIBE HERE and receive access to the latest issue which contains a series of screencasts exploring how you create and deliver a customer experience. (HINT: customer experience is NOT customer service.) I have based on the presentation menioned above – and there is a special offer for readers ðŸ˜‰

 

Posted in Customer Service

Customer Service: A new definition for a new era

I have an admission to make: Just like you, I am sick of hearing about customer service. And to make matters worse, we are retail trainers, and yes, customer service trainers.

Delivering great customer service is hard – possibly the hardest thing to achieve in an organisation. Great customer service is therefore also one of the best differentiators a retailer can have because it is so hard to copy. Great customer service is therefore still the holy grail of a retail organisation. You can copy someone’s marketing. You can copy their range and assortment. You can even open up right next door. But you can’t copy a service culture.

Ready for the big insight?

You don’t TRAIN for customer service, you BREED it.

If you consider that key difference carefully, then quite a few differences emerge from the traditional view of customer service. Let’s consider what the process might be like if you thought about breeding customer service. (I will use plant breeding as the analogy here)

PLANT

The first step in the process is to plant the seeds of customer service. A vision. A customer service charter. (Of course planting assumes planter – and it is a prerequisite that the planter is made of the right stuff.) It helps if the first seed is a strong seed that will eventually sprout the other seeds that will spread the culture.

Many employees will have been exposed to other customer service cultures and will have been trained in other organisations. Transplanting them is a dicey proposition. Sometimes it will take and sometimes not.

NURTURE

Water and fertisliser. Not everything is easy or pleasant to do. Nurturing is hard work – ask any farmer. And it is relentless.

The fuel that will deliver your success (maybe this is the fertiliser) is your passion. You have to absolutely stir your passion into the soil and spread it around generously.

PROTECT

Make heroes of the people who deliver. When it comes to cutting staff, are your frontline people first to go and the hierarchy in management the last? Or does it always boil down to managers looking after themselves.

If the CEO does not take a pay cut when things are tight, you can be sure the soil for customer service is not fertile.

If someone makes a legitimate mistake, with the customers’ best interests at heart, and they are fired anyway; you can be sure that seeds of service will not grow. If punishment is the outcome, then making yourself small and invisible is the natural response.

Small and invisible people cannot do great things.

PRUNE

I have written elsewhere about what it takes to create happy workplaces. One of the hardest things you must do is to fire the people who don’t fit in. Those who are unhappy and those who mock customers or serve with a heavy heart must be let go. 

A novice who observes an experienced gardener will sometimes wonder why the best-looking, healthy branches seem to be the ones that are cut. But the experienced I can see which shoots are growing in the wrong direction and sapping the energy of the whole plant.

REAP

Not much to say here of course. This is why we do it: to reap the fruits. And as the biblical analogy goes (and I paraphrase) we all know that bad trees don’t bear good fruit.

RE-SEED

Put back. Re-invest. Use the best performers as your mentors for the new people coming through. To reap does not mean stripping the cupboard bare – it means you allow enough to reinvest in next year’s crop. Leaving some money on the table, the old gamblers knew, would allow you to walk away from the game alive.

REST

Reward the ‘soil’ with a break. Plant a different plant. Don’t train in customer service only. Add some variety. Allow people to develop themselves and their other interests too.

So much for the process of ‘breeding’a customer service culture.

There are other dynamics at play too, and it is worth considering a few other salient facts and facets before rushing out to start the process.

PERPETUAL

You can never stop. If you lose focus because you want to implement something else (another buzzword platform) and you lose sight of this process, it will wither on the vine.

UNPREDICTABLE

You are working with people some results may surprise you – and not always in a bad way. You are bound to experience and gain some delightful interactions and outcomes. And you are bound to come across a customer that is hard to please no matter what.

In conclusion, we should then consider what the role of customer service training is, if there is one.

Breeding your customer service culture is not something that can be outsourced to a trainer. Consultants and trainers have a role to play, and the role WE play is:

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DESIGN

We have adopted a structured approach to help our clients step through the whole customer experience. It is easy to SAY that we should walk in the shoes of the customers; and it is easy to TALK about Moments of Truth. But institutionalising those the experience is another matter altogether. Customer Experience Design (CXD in our shorthand) in corporate several frameworks that constitute a comprehensive

CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS

The skills employees need to have to deliver great customer service are either communication based: How to ask questions. Listening with intent. Responding with empathy. Solving problems efficiently.

And great customer service also needs product- and organisational knowledge. Product knowledge supports the sales process and is rather obvious. But organisational knowledge in is equally (if not more) important. And by this I don’t only mean knowledge of policies and procedures, but:

  • What are the limits of authority? (And when is it OK to break it.)
  • What is our vision and what is my role in growing towards that vision?

The caveat, going back full circle, is of course that these skills are only viable in the right culture. And creating the ‘right’ culture can be done, and you can even use consultants to get it right, but change management is not a simple skills training exercise that is sold to the cheapest bidder.

Dennis

PS: I programmed this post some time ago before some R&R in New Zealand. Upon my return I will work on the next newsletter – and the topic will be customer experience (which is not customer service).

  Subscribe to the newsletter now… and be sure not miss out.

 

Posted in Customer Service, Shopper Marketing

The science of losing customers

Why do dissatisfied customers stay and satisfied customers go?

 

This is a partial cross-post from my Inside Retailing column. But I add a few additional insights that would not be appropriate in that forum: here I can say whatever I like…

Have you ever vowed not to shop a certain store – only to return some time later, hoping no one notices or asks?

Have you ever wondered why satisfied customers really hang around? Or, conversely have you wondered why dissatisfied customers don’t always leave?

Seiders et al conducted research (Journal of Marketing paper, Vol 69, 2005) into customer satisfaction, including a longitudinal study (over a long period of time) and established a few major drivers of customer visitation behaviour.

They distinguished between actual behaviours as well as reported intent. (And yes, customers don’t always do what they say they will do.)

They determined that there were four factors that influenced actual behaviour:

  1. Convenience
  2. Competition
  3. Cash (Household Income)
  4. Customer involvement

If you study this list of factors carefully, you will note that there is only one of these factors that are fully in your control on a day to day basis.

Can you spot which one it is?

It is customer involvement, of course; because all the other elements are ‘external factors’ and therefore by definition not controllable. (Initial choice of location is one element of convenience, but it is relatively difficult to change anyway.)

 

This would mean different things in different businesses.

So it stands to reason that we have two simple choices to make:

  1. Rely on our luck (a competitor closes down, a bus stop in front of the store) and hope for the best.
  2. We can figure out how to create an engaging customer experience.

What will it be for you?

Of course, customers want different degrees of involvement. It is worth noting that none of the following qualify as customer involvement:

  • Smiling very brightly,
  • Greeting the customers in the friendliest possible way
  • Giving the customer a bag for their purchases
  • Giving the customer a discount for buying
  • Asking the customer to join your loyalty club

Most retailers (and even consultants) think that the answer is better customer service.

It is NOT.

Customer service is a cost of entry. Many retailers who are currently being punished in the perfect storm of global financial hardships, growth in eCommerce and changing consumer habits deserve to be punished.

It is sad. It gives me no pleasure to say it. But really, how long can you expect the customers to hang in there when your service sucks?

Good service won’t win them back.

The game has changed. Forever.

Yuu now have to figure out how you change your business model to deliver a customer experience that will win over customers again.

If you are interested in understanding the difference between customer service and customer experience, you can go to town HERE. (Normally it’s reserved for subscribers only, but this is too important to keep behind the wall.)

 

 

Posted in Customer Service, Future, Shopper Marketing

A retail experience: old way vs. new way

This is an extract from our previous newsletter on 3D Retailing.

(Apologies to those who subscribe. If you don’t, drop your email in the box, and I will give you access.)

The OLD way (two-dimensional)

  • You arrive a few minutes early, but they have the table ready anyway.
  • The waiter acknowledges you, greets you, introduces himself and takes you to your table where they hand you your menu
  • The waiter comes around within a few minutes to take orders
  • They even suggest a few specials and make a recommendation for the wine
  • They place the order at the kitchen and return with water & crockery
  • They bring the food out and serve it the proper way.
  • Everyone gets the meal they ordered, and it is presented well and it tastes exactly how you expected.
  • During the course of the meal there are a few ‘table checks’ and they top up the wine/ water.
  • They bring the desert menu, take the order and serve the desert in good time.
  • The waiter is alert and you catch their eye easily and you signal for the bill.
  • Your credit card is approved and you leave a healthy tip.
  • You are greeted when you depart.

The NEW way (three dimensional)

  • You arrive at the restaurant and you are greeted by name by the host.
  • He accompanies you to the foyer where other guests are mingling.
  • The host enquires about your last business trip and compliments your companion on her earrings.
  • As the host introduces you to a few other guests, the sommelier brings you a pre-dinner drink (based on knowledge of your preferences. But it is a new flavour, and they share a few titbits about the new process/grape/brand whilst serving you.
  • One of the hosts is telling a story to a few people gathered around her, and you join the half-circle to watch the ‘performance’.
  • A few minutes later the door to kitchen opens and the host invites everyone in. There are long bench tables arranged around the kitchen island, which is manned by 8 chefs.
  • The lighting changes and the head chef introduces the crew. Each of the four long tables will be serving different range of dishes based on your recorded preference. You had indicated ‘seafood’ and your companion take your seat at that table.
  • Your seafood chef greets you by name (they had the seating plan indicated on their side of the table, and they have learned something about every customer.)
  • He then proceeds to run through the menu planned for the night.
  • As they start the preparations, they engage you in conversation, telling you what they are doing giving some tips as they go.
  • The courses are placed in front of you by your chef throughout the night.
  • When you are ready to leave, you simply get up and excuse yourself.
  • The chef comes around and gives you a hug and your companion a kiss on both cheeks.
  • They insist you take the half bottle of wine with you as you leave.
  • At the door, the doorman opens the door to the waiting taxi.
  • At the end of the month, your credit card is charged the usual monthly membership fee.

Whilst you may argue that you would not like the ‘new’ restaurant experience, that is not quite the point. This is just one example aimed at people who do this for the food experience. I am sure you can imagine a few other ‘themes’ or experiential outcomes that would suit your tastes better – and if there us a market for it, some restauranteer will cater for it.

The point of this exercise is to imagine how a ‘traditional’ concept might be transformed in an experience. You may think a restaurant is an easy option, but the same can be done for a travel agent, a hair dresser or a shoe shop – quite easily.

Dreaming up the experience is the easy part.

Translating it into a physical experience (staff, systems, procedures etc.) is the hard part.

And of course doing so at a profit is harder still.

Posted in Customer Service

Why I don’t buy

I have recently relocated to a small coastal town with relatively limited local shopping options. (And no, I am not retiring, even though place feels like a retirement village some days.) I n the process we have been re-setting our shopping habits and the shopping experience has been more ‘conscious’ than usual.

I have been able to list quite a few distinct reasons which have influenced (our) shopping choices. Hopefully it helps other retailers think about whether it may apply to them.

The title should probably be amended to the reasons I (personally) don’t buy. (It is always dangerous to extrapolate from one experience and one opinion, but let’s live dangerously – so here goes…)

There is a single menswear retailer. The name, the shopfront just makes me think that way – so I have never even entered the store.

Reason for not shopping: Proposition. The place just does not look like my kinda place.

There are a few coffee shops (or places that sell coffee). Some I have never been into, others I have entered but will never buy the coffee.

 

Reason for not shopping: Perception: The machine is too small. A place that sells good coffee is likely to be popular and makes a lot of coffee so they will have a bigger machine.

There is only one supermarket. (Woolworths.) I do shop there but only if I have to. (There is a bigger town about 15 minutes up the road, which we frequent often.)

Reason for not shopping: Service. The service absolutely sucks – the worst I have ever come across in a supermarket anywhere in Australia. I feel the staff take us for granted because there is no competition. This is reinforced by the fact that the prices at the other supermarkets are lower.

There is only one service station. Actually more like a convenience store with a few pumps. The price per litre is often 10c dearer than anywhere else. I make a habit of stopping on the highway to fill up as I head home. (Fuel is a grudge purchase, so even if you can afford the extra few dollars, most people avoid it if they can.)

Reason for not shopping: Price. But especially because they blatantly rip you off. The fact that they actually come out and fill your car for you does not warrant the price.

There is an iconic restaurant with the best possible views anywhere on the coast. I had heard at eh local chamber that the owner is (ahem) not a very nice guy.

Reason for not shopping: Word-of-mouth. I don’t want to give my money to someone who will probably not give me a great experience. Word-of-mouth works like this.

There is a chocolate shop that also sells coffee. (A bad Max Brenner knock-off.) This shop simply never enters my mind as an option. I am not sure why. All I can

Reason for not shopping: Habit. All I can think is that the shopfront is so bland that the place did not register – and my coffee habits became entrenched; so they have missed out. (And they aren’t doing anything to change this.)

There is a bookshop – and I am an avid reader, buying on average 2 non-fiction books a month and I use the library for fiction. I have browsed but I have never bought. I tend to buy on impulse when a topic catches my fancy. It is just so much easier on the internet…

Reason for not shopping: Apathy. When I browsed there was not even an attempt to connect/ interact/ sell. Amazon (not Dymocks) is the default purchase option – and the habit is becoming more entrenched. (I still prefer the physical book, but not sure for how long.)

Would love to hear the reasons why YOU don’t buy at a specific place…

 

Posted in Customer Service, Selling & Persuasion

Selling ain’t what it used to be

We are doing some background research on the notion of three-dimensional retailing – as opposed to eTailing – which is two dimensional.

As part of that process we are thinking about the difference between the OLD and the NEW approach to selling. Or maybe the distinction is between the COMMON and the RARE approach to selling? Of course this ‘new’ approach is the one we advocate and train. (Learn more here.)

  • The OLD way (arguably the wrong, but still most common way) is to train and encourage your staff to SELL.
  • The NEW way (and, IMHO, the correct way) is to train your staff to help the customer to buy.

Moonyeen came up with a list of 23 distinctions between the old and the new – each of which will take careful consideration in order to be applied operationally. The list below is NOT just wordplay and semantics. It takes a complete mind shift to adopt this approach – and I will prove it to you…

 

Sold

Buy

CRM

Authentic conversation

Discounts

Value

Features

Feelings

Goals

Process

Me

YOU

Merchandise

Story

Products

Solutions

Push

Pull

Talk to

Talk with

 

How do you think you will go at creating this switch? Or are you there already?

It is easy to skim over the list.

And it is easy to convince yourself that you already do it the ‘right’ way.

But, just for fun, watch/listen to this video of an angry customer complaining to a cinema for kicking her out of the theatre for texting during the movie.

What would you have done in your business?

PS

IF want to know more about 3-D retailing, subscribe to our newsletter = the box on the right of the page. In the next few weeks we will issue a special bumper-edition with videos, links, resources and plenty of ideas. For free. And of course it will contain the full list of differences between the OLD and the NEW ways of selling.

 

 

Posted in Customer Service

Angry customer

This voicemail has gone somewhat viral. I will post it here just so that I can find it later. Super training material 🙂

The background is this:

A customer was booted out of cinema theatre for texting duting the movie – despite warnings on screen. She called and left this voicemail afterwards…

 

 

NB: Listen with earphones if you are at work – this is NSFW.

For the record, the cinema in question posted this video on Youtube, and added these comments:

We do not tolerate people that talk or text in the theater. In fact, before every film, we have several warnings on screen to prevent such happenings. Occasionally, someone doesn’t follow the rules, and we do, in fact, kick their asses out of our theater. This video is an actual voicemail from a woman that was kicked out of one of our Austin theaters. Thanks, anonymous woman, for being awesome.

Posted in Customer Service, Marketing

Bee bee dee dee dee bee – human ahead

Last week I related a few bad service experiences in recent times. I suggested that even ‘robotic’ courtesy would be better than what goes for service in most stores. This week, an opposite example, and how ‘robotic’ chains are willing to break the system for a customer.

I like my coffee on the stronger, more flavourful side and I take no sugar. Very often a small coffee (single shot) is too weak, but the double shot (in that size) is too strong and bitter.

I have experimented extensively. Most places, and that even includes McDonalds Australia and Starbuck in New York have been cooperative in trying to ‘customise’ the drink. I have asked for ‘slightly’ stronger, slightly less milk, and even nominated the temperature of the milk.

This week, working in Canberra, Moonyeen and I stopped for coffee at Gloria Jeans in Belconnen. To be perfectly frank, GJs is not my favourite brew, but it is all there was on the way out. I understand that their blends are stronger (tending to bitter) in order to get greater consistency and also to be able to ‘withstand’ the syrups than some customers add to the coffee.

At the GJs counter I asked for a flat white, a bit stronger – maybe half a shot extra. The barista, Chris (picture) heard my dilemma placing the order and engaged in a conversation. (He gave permission for the picture.)

I won’t relate the whole thing, but in the end he made my order AND offered me a complimentary coffee made according his recommendations as to what would suit me. It turns out a double ristretto in the small size is perfect for my taste.

I have since then tried a triple-shot in the medium-sized cup as well, and whilst not exactly the same flavour, it is the closest thing to what I prefer. Where I have previously shunned my local GJs most of the time, this is likely to change even though it turns out to be an expensive exercise.

This was not a once off either. The next customer was engaged with a joke about St Patrick’s Day.

The lesson in all of this is of course that great service is possible, and it does pay.

If you run a coffee shop in Canberra, go and find Chris and offer him a job. If you own the Gloria Jeans, pay him more so that he stays. Whether you are chain or an independent, you can break your own rules if your employees are empowered to do so – even if they are young kids.

Retail is a people business. It is not about margins, merchandise or managers. Train them. Trust them. Treat them. You will be surprised.