February 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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Can you (Re) Gain Trust?

Over the last few months we have heard many sc andals based upon the disappointing discovery of unfounded consumer loyalty and trust. Rigged football matches, numerous athletes taking illegal drugs and more recently the horse meat sc andal. Have you ever been faced with a loss of your customers’ trust in business? If so, or you believe that it could happen in the future, then this post is for you.

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer report, published last month, concluded that there are clear signs of a leadership crisis in both business and government. In fact in many recent sc andals, leaders have not helped the situation when speaking out.

For instance, in the current horsemeat sc andal, several food manufacturers confirmed that their beef products did not contain horse-meat, only to withdraw their statements a few days later. What did they think they were doing? Trust is one of the most important elements of purchase and loyalty; it is difficult to win but so much easier to lose, as many companies have recently realised. In the end it comes down to being truly customer centric. Wouldn’t a customer prefer to hear a “We don’t know but we’re checking” rather than a categorical “No” that is replaced by an equally categorical but rather feeble “Yes” a few days, or even hours later.

As Donald Porter, V.P. at British Airways once said:

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong”

So why do so many companies have such problems with telling the truth? If you make a mistake, then own up and correct it: your customers will forgive you and forget it. And more importantly, your owning up to the event will confirm their belief that they can trust you in the future. They will continue to buy your products and services with confidence, trusting that they will live up to your promises.

If you pretend that things are OK when they are really not, you are more than likely to get found out eventually. An employee will talk, a government or industry association will run tests and you will be discovered lacking.

With all these sc andals of what one might call dishonesty, touching so many different industries, this seems to be a good time to talk about building, keeping and regaining your customers’ trust. Here is my starter list of five areas to review, but please add your own to the comments below:

#1. Prepare

Have you already identified the worst possible scenarios that could happen to your industry, your business, your br and? Do you know precisely how you would react in each and every case? When an incident happens it is already too late and the damage has started. By identifying upfront what may happen in each possible event, you have sufficient time to identify potential risks before issues reach dangerous levels.

#2. Measure

Another factor of preparedness is to identify and to follow metrics that will provide you with an early warning system. When levels of certain critical elements get close to precise limits, you again have time to react before damage is done. Think about customer complaints, quality rejects, machine down-time, industry legal cases, whether yours or your competitors.

#3. Assign

For each critical incident identified, assign jobs to people in all relevant departments. Who will communicate, both internally and externally? Who will adapt and replace sub-optimal products and services? Who will develop and launch new ones?

#4. Practice

As with fire drills, exercises of disaster recovery can identify missing elements, whether time, money, or people. These can then be addressed well before they may be needed. No point in wishing you’d bought that extinguisher when the fire breaks out!

#5. Engage

As with measurement, engaging your customers, partners, employees and even competitors in building industry trust will ensure that it will survive any crisis. However, at a company and br and level, customer and employee engagement becomes particularly important, since competition is often secretly hoping you will badly manage a negative situation, from which they might then benefit. By keeping communication open 24/7 you are much more likely to be able to respond without delay and in many cases even prevent issues from escalating into a full blown crisis.

If football and cycle team managers had kept to their jobs of management, and trying to be the best they could be without resorting to bribes, drugs or other illegal practices, then the sports would not be where they are today. If food manufacturers had chosen to make food that they would happily give to their families instead of cutting costs to a maximum, then they too would not be facing the current sc andal. Unfortunately, these events damage not only those concerned, but the wider industries at large.

Sports sponsorship will be under much tighter scrutiny and perhaps some br ands will decide to move to other sports or forms of promotions in the future. Sales of prepared dishes containing beef are significantly down in Europe already and this will result in lower prices for wholesalers and eventually also for the farmers. According to Reuters, a recent poll run by Consumer Intelligence in the UK, showed that more than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of the recent incident, so in fact the whole food industry has been impacted.

Luckily, not every industry or company has been doing their business without regard for honesty and living up to their customers’ trust in them. Some companies underst and the importance of winning and then keeping this trust. Ford recently issued a booklet about the Top 2013 Trends of importance to them and their number one trend was trust, or as they quoted it “Trust is the new Black”. In their description of it, they mention that “Correlation of trust to br and equity increased by 35% in three years since the (economic) crisis”. If that isn’t a reason to build trust, I don’t know what is!

For more information about building trust and increasing br and equity, check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

Or why not give us a call to see how we can support your own initiatives in (re) gaining your customers’ trust. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

 

Listen Up! I’ve Got a Story for You

It has been a few weeks since we last had a guest post on our site. For this reason, it was a pleasure for us to receive the following article from Angelo Ponzi, who is Director at C3Centricity partner PhaseOne. His suggestions on storytelling are a must-read for all those in marketing.

Storytelling can be found throughout history and in every culture around the world.  The art of storytelling is certainly not new and has been used to recite the tales of great heroes or villains.  Storytelling has been used to shape and redefine events in order to persuade and change possible outcomes in history.

 

Who’s your audience?

When you think about storytelling, don’t think in terms of “once upon a time” but instead what story you’re trying to communicate. When you think about presenting your br and to the marketplace or the 110-page report you just developed after weeks of research, you need to think about your audience and how your presentation, whether it’s a TV commercial or PowerPoint, will persuade and motivate them.  Persuasion requires that we distinguish our message from other messages to which our audience is being exposed, provide them with information they are unable to get elsewhere and do it in a meaningful way.

Great business leaders such as Steve Jobs or Jack Welch understood how to use stories when talking about their companies or products.  Advertising also embraces the idea and impact of storytelling.  Think of the conquering heroes of the Red Bull “Got Wings” commercials or how an entire generation embraced Pepsi.

There are lots of ways to approach telling your story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, play, book or the presentation to the board — keep it simple and focused.

 

What Does Your Story Say About Your Br and?

Every one of us is impacted by the stories told by br ands.  In fact, we each make br and/product choices hundreds of times each day.  In most cases, we don’t even think about it.  While the reasons we make those choices vary, br and choice is always a part of our decision process.  What does the br and st and for, and what is its story?

Think of Coke, Pepsi, Chevy, Volvo and Virgin America, for example.  I’d be surprised if every one of their stories didn’t pop into your mind, regardless of how you feel about the br and.

The goal for the br ands you represent is for it to become an integral part of your customers’ personal or business lives.  If the story your br and tells fits into their lives and provides them with a solution to their needs, then you have customers for life.

 

Be Relevant

However, a story that is not relevant and means nothing to your audience will lose audience engagement.  Your job is to make sure your audience cares about the story you’re telling.

PhaseOne’s research has defined some guiding principals to help companies deliver key messages in the stories they tell. These concepts can be applied to company, br and, advertising, and of course that important presentation to management.

From the beginning of man to our current digital age, storytelling has been an important aspect of life. As the cave man stood in front of the fire pointing and grunting to tell the story of his hunt, to the executive at the local watering hole after work telling her colleagues about the killer presentation she made to the CEO, storytelling has and will continue to be an important part of who we are.

This post is based upon one that was first published in Alert Magazine’s January 2013 issue. You can read the full article here: http://alert.marketingresearch.org/

For more on how you can improve your organisations use of storytelling and presentations, please check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/ If you would like our support on this topic, then ask about our 1-Day Catalyst sessions; one topic, one day, BIG improvements. Please contact us for an informal discussion about how we can help.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

The 7Ps of Customer Service

As with many Bloggers and Tweeters, my posts are sometimes prompted by something that happens in my daily life. This week, I question whether or not all companies have really taken the customer perspective with their care centres or are just talking the talk of customer service. I conclude with my suggested 7Ps of customer service to help those who are still struggling with this change.

My recent experience that prompted this post concerns Cablecom, a local Swiss cable company, which is desperately trying to correct a long-term deficit in customer care versus their main competitor Swisscom. Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they are renowned for putting their customers first. Cablecom on the other h and had, until recently, been trying to win customers through aggressive price cutting, but that can only work for a certain time. 

Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by Cablecom – my perception at least because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I resorted to Twitter. 

It has been a year or so since Twitter was first called the new call centre of today. Guy Clapperton, author of “This is Social Media”  wrote an interesting post about this at the end of 2011 and interestingly this idea was questioned at the time. What a lot has changed in just a few months! I would argue it is much, much more than that. Today’s call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary experience for customers to endure. In many cases call centres are automated, with an often long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs. Usually the result of all that effort is just a recording that either states that the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line. We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternatives to waiting on the line: going to the website to find a solution, to check their available FAQs or to complete a contact form, send an email. And then of course to add insult to injury, we hear the infamous message about our call being important to them.

Edison recently ran some research showing the patience that we have or rather don’t have today, on social media. Convince & Convert published some of the first results in an interesting article; it showed that companies must react immediately to customers using this means of communication. One in five expect an answer within 15 minutes and 42% within the hour. For reference when Guy Clapperton wrote his post in December 2011 the level was almost half that at just 25% within the hour!

Companies that have understood customers’ frustration with help line queues have found alternative solutions, such as arranging a call back, or providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support.

Today there is no excuse for a CPG company to not be ready to help their users when they need it; for instance:

  • Early morning or late at night for personal care products
  • Breakfast, lunch and evening meal times for food manufacturers.
  • Evenings and weekends for TV and technology products

Whilst in a few cases, there may be customers who use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is a customer’s final call for help before “going under”.

Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company, but should we as customers also take the perspective of the company we are reaching out to, or at least to the poor person who gets our wrath at the end of the email or telephone call?

Jimmy N. from UPC-Cablecom, was one of the very best examples of what a customer service advisor should be, that I have come across in all my years of working on both sides of contact centres. What did he do so well and what might we all learn from him, despite his relatively young age? I summarise it as the new 7 Ps of customer care.

  1. Private: He immediately took the conversation offline, asking for my email address and then calling me to speak in person.
  2. Patient: He let me talk first, just listening until I had finished ranting, or stopped to ask a question.
  3. Polite: He never lost his cool, even when I did!
  4. Perceptive: Empathised, knowing when to push forward with the next topic and when to go back to reiterate what had been agreed.
  5. Professional: He was an expert, knew his topic and more importantly knew how to explain its complex details in simple terms.
  6. Pragmatic: Worked with me to find solutions that worked for us both.
  7. Perseverant: He continued to ask and answer questions until he was sure I was happy with everything.

Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” to mention? Let me know, especially you Jimmy, if you read this.

If you need help in optimising your own care centres or customer connections then we would love to support your plans. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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