How to Stop Customer Satisfaction Drip, Dripping Away

I recently spent a few days in a condo that I have rented before in Miami Beach. It is a wonderful penthouse suite with panoramic views of the sea to the east and Miami city and port to the west. I rent it because I am always delighted to spend a few days of vacation in such a perfect place.

However, this last time I wasn’t happy. What has changed? Very little really but enough to make me feel disappointed. That made me reflect on how quickly our customers can move from delighted to dissatisfied because of some small detail we might have overlooked or which we ourselves see as irrelevant. Let me explain.

  1. I arrived at the condo building, but the usual doorman with whom I had built a good relationship has been replaced by a new person. Just as efficient but not “my” doorman; he didn’t know me so he came across as less welcoming and friendly. In the business world our customers like to be recognized for their loyalty.
  2. The condo was as perfect as ever, but had obviously been cleaned in a rush in time for my arrival. It smelt wonderful of course, but I didn’t notice the high-sheen tiled floor was this time wet and I went skidding onto my backside as soon as I entered. Customers notice when things are wrong more than when everything is right.
  3. The usual paper products were supplied, but only four sheets of kitchen roll and not many more of toilet paper! No big deal but it meant I had to immediately go out and buy them first thing the following morning instead of lazing at the beach. Customers will sometimes buy a competitive product rather than go searching when yours is out-of-stock.
  4. I went to bed early upon arrival because I was tired from the sixteen hour trip and the six hour time difference. I had never noticed before but neither the blinds nor the (too short) curtains cut out the daylight, so I tossed and turned for hours before sleep finally took over. Small issues with your product or service may go unnoticed – at least until there are many more “small issues.”

I am explaining these details to demonstrate how little things can build upon one another to create dissatisfaction. The same can happen to your customers. So ask yourself, what little changes have you been making that your customers haven’t (yet) noticed?

  • Reducing pack content just a little
  • Reducing the cardboard quality of packaging
  • Making the flavouring just a little more cheaply
  • Increasing the price just a few cents
  • Shipping just a few days later than usual
  • Call centres being not quite as friendly as they used to be
  • Response time to queries and requests a little slower than before

These adaptations are unlikely to be noticed by your customers at the time they are implemented, unless they are already unhappy with your product or service. The minor changes you have been making over the past months or years will have gone by without any impact on sales. Therefore you decide to make a few more. Each will save you a little more money, which adds up to big savings for you.

However, one day your customers will notice and question their original choice (>>Tweet this>>). To avoid this slow drain on your customers’ satisfaction and delight, here are a few ways to avoid this situation arising in the first place:

  1. When you run product tests, compare not only to the current product and your major competitors but also to the previous product. (or its ratings if the product is no longer available)
  2. Run a PSM (price sensitivity meter) or similar test to check levels of price perceptions and acceptable ranges.
  3. Measure br and image on a regular basis and review trends not only the current levels.
  4. Check that call centres are judged on customer satisfaction and not (just) on the number of calls answered per hour.
  5. Offer occasional surprise gifts or premium services to thank your customers for buying.
  6. Aim to make continuous improvements in response times both online and in call centres.

Perhaps surprisingly, in many categories, customer satisfaction, loyalty and delight come from the small differences and not the big basics (>>Tweet this<<). For example:

  • Consumers are delighted by the perfume of a shampoo more than by the fact that it cleans their hair.
  • Amazon surprises and delights its customers by occasionally offering premium delivery for the price of st andard.
  • Kids will choose one fastfood restaurant over another because of the “free” gifts offered.
  • Women love to buy their underwear from Victoria’s Secrets because they walk out with a pretty pink carrier bag overflowing with delicate pink tissue paper.
  • Men buy their girlfriends, wives and mistresses jewellery from Tiffany because they know that the little aqua box they present to their loved one already says it all, even before it is opened.
  • A car is judged on its quality and safety by the “clunk” of the door closing, more than its safety rating.

In today’s world of dwindling product / service differentiation and an overload of choice, which I already spoke about in the last post entitled “Do your Shoppers face a purchasing dilemma? How to give the right customer choice every time”, your customers want to be made to feel cared-for, not cheated. Find new ways to surprise and delight them and they will remain loyal, even if you have to increase your prices. As L’Oreal continues to remind its consumers every time they buy one of their products, “They’re worth it”.

If you would like to review your br and building and learn new ways to catalyse your own customers to greater loyalty and delight, then contact us for an informal discussion of your needs. I know we can help.

Winning Customer Centricity Book

Don’t forget to check out my latest book Winning Customer Centricity. It’s available in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats on Amazon and″ target=”_blank”>Barnes & Nobles, as well as in all good bookstores. And if you haven’t yet joined, sign up for free to become a C³Centricity Member  and get a DISCOUNT CODE as well as many free downloads, templates, case studies and much more.

C³Centricity used an image from Miami andBeaches in this post.


Four Steps to Building Br and Affinity

This week’s guest post is from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne. Terry Villines, their senior vice-president shares some of the learnings from their proprietary research, which identify the characteristics of br and communications that successfully elicit emotional responses. See how your communication compares.

There’s no question that the role br and-sponsored communications play in building br ands has changed drastically.  Remember when we were held to a benchmark of quant testing and getting a high Persuasion score or high Br and Linkage score on an advertisement?

Today, with the influx of channels, and having our customers and prospects in control of how and when they receive our messages, we have to think beyond the persuasiveness of any one message.  We have to build a relationship with our targets, participate in the conversation, elicit an emotional response, and ultimately build affinity for our br and.  Persuasion and motivation are so much more than any one communication.

But how do br ands build that affinity?  How do they elicit emotional responses?  It was only a year or so ago that br ands felt that if they could get their web-posted video to go viral that they were in some way building affinity for their br and.  But how many videos that you received or forwarded made you consciously aware they were br and sponsored?  In fact, one of the key attributes of a successful viral video is that it appears to be amateur and not sponsored.  Affinity is so much more than passing a video from one person to the next.  It’s about building an emotional connection, and there is a specific role your communications can play in building that connection.

In a recent study of 70 different advertisements covering 21 br ands and 7 product categories, PhaseOne identified 4 key characteristics of br and communications that were successful in eliciting emotional responses (getting consumers to say that they “liked” or were “engaged” by the communication).

1)      Entertainment – So what we always thought played a role in eliciting an emotional response holds true… the Entertainment value of the communication is the foundation.  Yet, entertainment on its own is not enough.

2)      Br and Integration – Believe it or not, building affinity for your br and requires your br and to be integrated into the entertainment; woven in like fibers of a rope.

3)      Meaningful Differentiation – giving your target a way to think about your br and in a way that sets it apart from other options they have is critical.  Just think about it: people become most engaged with messages that provide them with meaningful information.  Yes, it should be wrapped in an entertaining context, but without an underlying meaningful message, it is likely to go the way of so many messages our targets are exposed to – into the ether of our overcrowded minds.

4)      Absence of Issues – Because each and every one of us is bombarded with marketing messages day in and day out, the presence of any kind of issue (clutter, boring, unclear) gives us permission to drop out, not pay attention, and move on.

So the next time you see a br and-sponsored communication that you like (not just an ad that entertained you, but an ad that truly resonated with you), ask yourself if it contained these four criteria.  The same could be said for those advertisements or messages you simply can’t st and – where did they fall apart?  We know these principles hold true across platforms – do you see it when you engage with a br and online or out of home?

For more on communicating effectively with your target audience, don’t forget to check out C3Centricity’s website and contact us for an informal chat on how we can support the optimisation of your own communications.

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