Actioning Customer Feedback: The Secret to Turning Difficult Customers into Loyal Advocates

Difficult customers!

Every business has them, and no one likes to get customer feedback that is challenging to handle. So what’s the secret to turning difficult customers into loyal advocates?

The most important thing to remember is not to think of customers as difficult but merely as angry, frustrated or disappointed with the product or service they bought from us.

You may never have considered this, but customer complaints are actually a gift! Research shows that for every customer who complains, there are 20 or more who don’t complain and just switch to your competitor!

Wouldn’t you prefer to have the chance to retain their loyalty? That’s why you should do everything possible to respond quickly and positively to every complaint.

 

The Gift of Customer Complaints

When a customer reaches out with a complaint, they are offering you the chance to improve and strengthen your business in several ways:

  1. You get the chance to put things right and make them happy.
  2. You get the chance to stop them churning/leaving for the competition.
  3. You get the chance to delight them so they share their experience with others and build your positive image.

Let’s look at these in more detail, using recent examples to demonstrate best practices:

Correcting Mistakes:

  • Netflix: Netflix is known for actively monitoring customer complaints and using advanced data analytics to identify and correct issues. When they encountered streaming problems in the past, they quickly addressed them by upgrading their infrastructure, leading to improved service quality. This is a great example of exceeding the customer’s expectations, creating even greater delight.
  • Toyota: Toyota has a history of addressing product quality concerns promptly. In the case of the 2010 recall, due to accelerator pedal issues, Toyota swiftly communicated with affected customers, provided fixes, and introduced enhanced safety measures.
  • Samsung: Samsung’s handling of the Galaxy Note 7 battery issue is another prime example. They recalled and replaced the faulty devices, prioritizing customer safety and satisfaction. This transparent and rapid response helped mitigate the impact on their brand reputation.

Customers expect you to put things right. They don’t expect more than that in most cases. So going above and beyond will immediately change a negative into a positive event that the customer will share with their friends and family.

 

Preventing Churn:

  • Comcast: Comcast has made efforts to reduce customer churn by offering flexible plans and improved customer service. They introduced “Xfinity Mobile” to bundle mobile services with cable and internet, aiming to keep customers within their ecosystem.
  • Adobe: Adobe’s transition to a subscription-based model for Creative Cloud faced initial resistance. However, they addressed customer concerns and objections by continuously improving the platform, leading to higher customer retention rates.
  • Spotify: Spotify uses personalized playlists and recommendations to engage users. By analyzing user data and preferences, they reduce churn by providing a tailored experience that keeps users coming back for more.

This last example shows how a company quite often has the data it needs to better … Click to continue reading

Top Posts of 2023 on Customer Centricity

Here at C3Centricity, we publish books (Winning Customer Centricity), articles and training on customer centricity, because we’re passionate about helping companies to successfully adopt a customer-first strategy.

Since we founded C3Centricity in early 2011, one of our traditions has been to share the most popular posts on customer experience at the beginning of each new year. 

This past year has been particularly successful for C3Centricity, with many of our newest posts getting the top scores globally! This is quite tough for a blog that has been running for almost 13 years and highlights the quality of the content we share with you each month.

Of course, there are also a few perennials that have been appearing in our top 10 list for years, like insight development and customer observation. Since no brand is successful without a foundational insight, and customer understanding is its major essential element, these two will always be popular – they also are on Google’s first page, which certainly helps and confirms the quality of their content.

So let’s have a look at the Top 10 list in 2023, and see if your own favourites are there. If not, then please let us know in the comments. Thanks.  

#1. Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost Your Insight Development

Boost your insight developmentThis post regularly appears in the top three posts on C3Centricity. This shows the quality of its recommendations and content. And the importance of business insights. 

Ever wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights? This post shares some of the main reasons why even large companies sometimes fail at this essential art. Then, it offers some suggested solutions to help you.

Insights are the foundation on which every single successful brand is built. If your brands are lacking strong positive growth, they are probably missing that insight that will make them powerhouses.

So it is vital that you learn how to develop them and then how to action them in your communications and innovation. Again, if you struggle to action your insights, you’re most certainly missing one of the steps covered in this post.

To stimulate your thinking, the article includes many real-world examples of how great insights can be turned into powerful ad campaigns that connect with customers and motivate them to buy.

If you’re ready to finally learn how to develop actionable business insights, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

#2. Five Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Success

Measure your company image

This post has also been among the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is a cornerstone post that is regularly updated to remain highly relevant in today’s marketplace.

Its popularity clearly shows the need we all have to understand how to get up close and personal with our customers – the right way.

The five rules it includes are easy to follow and will make every occasion to watch and listen to your customers so much more interesting and valuable.

And if you want to learn how to watch

Click to continue reading

Using AI to Delight Your Customers With More AI (Authentic Interactions)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of our daily lives and has revolutionized how we interact with technology and businesses. This post discusses how to use AI to enhance customer experience with another AI, authentic interactions.

Over the past year, the AI landscape has witnessed a significant shift from AI versus AI competitions to AI working in collaboration with AI. Although AI-driven interactions have made significant progress, it is time to take them to the next level by integrating authentic interactions with AI to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Let’s examine how AI has evolved in customer relations and explore ten ways in which businesses can integrate authentic interactions with AI to enhance customer experiences.

Get ready to delve into a world where technology meets humanity, where the future of customer engagement is not AI versus AI, but AI working in tandem with AI.

 

The Evolution of AI in Authentic Interactions with Customers

Over the years, AI has greatly evolved in customer interactions. Initially, AI was used to automate monotonous tasks and to provide quick and efficient responses to customer inquiries. However, the early AI systems were often inflexible and could not understand and adapt to the subtleties of human communication.

With the advances in AI technology, we have seen the emergence of chatbots and virtual assistants that can engage in more natural and context-aware conversations.

This development has led to a shift from the traditional AI versus AI approach, where AI tries to outsmart or outperform other AIs, to a more collaborative approach known as AI + AI.

 

AI + AI: The Future of Customer Engagements

The combination of AI and AI marks a significant change in how businesses utilize AI technologies for authentic customer interactions. Instead of setting one AI system against another, businesses are now concentrating on integrating multiple AI components to function together fluidly, ultimately improving customer experiences.

Here are ten methods to integrate authentic interactions with AI to achieve this goal:

1. Embracing Emotional Intelligence (EI) is crucial for AI. It involves training algorithms to recognize and respond to human emotions by understanding cues such as tone of voice, choice of words, and facial expressions.

This helps AI to gauge a customer’s emotional state and respond appropriately with empathy and support. When AI acknowledges their feelings, customers feel heard and valued and offer personalized solutions.

I believe pre-programmed responses should be banned as they are easily recognized and do more harm than good. Call centre representatives should be given the autonomy to do what’s best for the customer within certain guidelines. If you’d like to read more about delivering best-in-class customer service, read the post: “7 Ways to Deliver Awesome Customer Service & Build Loyal Advocates”

2. Human-AI hybrid teams combine the best of both worlds by utilizing the strengths of humans and AI systems. AI is highly efficient in handling routine tasks and queries, allowing for quick and seamless responses to customers.

However, when complex issues arise or when human empathy

Click to continue reading

Maximising Customer Value: Answering Your Top Questions About Customer Centricity

As a customer-first strategist, I am frequently asked about customer centricity and the value it brings to a business when they adopt the strategy.

I, therefore, thought it would be useful to share the topics my clients ask me about most frequently and my responses to them. If you, too, have questions about customer centricity, I’m sure you will find the answers you’re looking for below. And if not, you can always DM me.

 

So you have questions about customer centricity?

Good to know! Let me start by saying that adopting a customer-first strategy can be daunting for any organization. You should, therefore, not dwell upon your reticence in the past. However, in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it is more important than ever for you to prioritize customer centricity.

 

What is a customer-first strategy?

A customer-first strategy is an approach to business that prioritizes the needs and preferences of the customer. It means putting the customer at the centre of every decision an organisation makes, from product development to marketing and sales. Put simply, it involves a shift away from traditional product-focused strategies to a more customer-centric approach.

This means that it’s not just about providing good customer service; it’s about understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points, and then designing your products, services, and marketing strategies to meet those needs.

 

Why is a customer-first strategy important?

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, focusing on your customers is more important than ever before. You can no longer hesitate. Nor can you not make it a top objective for your organisation.

A customer-first strategy can help you build stronger customer relationships, increase customer loyalty and retention, and ultimately drive revenue growth.

By focusing on your customers’ needs and preferences, you can differentiate your brand from your competitors and create a sustainable competitive advantage. Isn’t that what we’re all searching to do?

A customer-first strategy is important because it can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. When customers feel that a business truly understands their needs and is committed to meeting them, they are more likely to remain loyal to that business and recommend it to others.

In addition, a customer-first strategy can help businesses identify new opportunities for growth and innovation. By focusing on the customer, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their market, and create products and services that truly meet the needs of their customers.

 

How do you implement a customer-first strategy?

To implement a customer-first strategy, you must start by understanding your customers. For me, this starts with simply watching and listening to them. I say “simply”, but this is one of the most powerful ways to not only know, but truly understand your customers and how your product or service fits into their lives.

Once you have done this, you can supplement your knowledge, if you have found gaps in it, by conducting market research surveys, collecting customer feedback, and analyzing customer data.

All the information you gather can be used to … Click to continue reading

How Leaders can Successfully Lead a Customer-first Strategy Adoption

As a leader, you know that customer centricity is critical to the success of your business. However, it is not enough to pay lip service to this concept; you must make it an integral part of your company’s culture and business strategy.

In this post, we will explore what customer centricity means, why it is essential, and how you, as a leader, can successfully lead a customer-first strategy adoption in your organization.

 

Defining Customer Centricity

Customer centricity is a business strategy that puts the customer at the heart of everything the company does. It involves understanding the needs and desires of your customers and then tailoring your products and services to meet them.

Customer centricity is not just about providing excellent customer service; it’s about creating a culture of customer obsession that permeates every aspect of the business. This is why it must be a company objective.

 

Why is a Customer-first Strategy Important?

There are several reasons why a customer-first strategy is crucial for the success of your business. First and foremost, it helps you build a loyal customer base.

When customers feel that a company truly understands their needs and is committed to meeting them, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend the company to others. This can help you increase revenue and grow your business.

Customer centricity can also help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. In today’s highly competitive business environment, standing out from the crowd can be challenging.

However, suppose you can demonstrate that you are genuinely committed to meeting your customers’ needs. That’s a great way to distinguish yourself from other companies that are just going through the motions.

Finally, customer centricity can help you stay ahead of the curve regarding new product and service development. By constantly seeking customer feedback, you can identify emerging trends and stay ahead of the competition. This can help you develop new offers that meet your customer’s needs today and tomorrow.

 

Leading a Customer-first Strategy in Your Organization

Implementing a customer-first strategy in your organization requires a significant shift in mindset and culture. Here are the steps you can take to make customer-centricity a reality in your business:

 

1. Start with the CEO

As a business leader, you need to lead by example.

Make it clear to your employees that customer centricity is a top priority for the company.

Set measurable goals and hold your team accountable for achieving them.

This sends a strong message to everyone in the organization that customer-centricity is not just a buzzword but a fundamental part of the business strategy.

 

2. Understand Your Customers

To be truly customer-centric, you need to understand your customers deeply.

This means going beyond demographic data and understanding their motivations, pain points, and desires.

Watch and listen to your customers frequently. Conduct customer research, including surveys and focus groups, to gain insights into what your customers want and need.

Collect the information in a customer persona/avatar template. If you don’t have

Click to continue reading

Post Covid People are Searching for More Meaningful Connection & Engagement

I know, you probably don’t want to read yet another article about the post-pandemic era. But bear with me; this is about customer connection and engagement.

Since covid, people have changed their perspective on many categories. They have also adapted their purchasing behaviour following lockdown. So this seems to be the perfect time to reconsider our customer-first strategies, doesn’t it?

Up until the covid-19 virus infected the globe, almost every single organisation, big or small, recognised the importance of satisfying their customers. However, most of them were only giving lip service to customer-centricity. Very few were actually going beyond voicing their opinions.

So I have some bad news if you are in this first group and it’s this. Not actioning a customer-first approach in everything you do is no longer an option. You were be called out, most probably very publically online. Customers are sharing their experiences of companies and brands far more than they were doing before the pandemic.

It makes sense. What else did we have to do than surf the internet all day long? And this habit seems to have remained. According to the latest global statistics, back in 2020, the average consumer spent 474 minutes a day on digital media. By 2023, that number is predicted to rise, according to the experts, to 500 minutes on digital media.

Taking a closer look at social media use trends, business owners and marketers can learn a great deal about opportunities to boost engagement and business impact as the new norm continues to evolve.

The article by Business.com lists four things consumers are looking for:

  1. They want to be entertained – understandable when you consider how much time they are spending online.
  2. Unlocking creativity – they are not only consuming content, but they are also creating it in larger quantities than ever before.
  3. They want connection and comfort – people are desperate to overcome their isolation and connect with others, so online multiplayer gaming and chat have surged.
  4. They seek positive content to cheer them up – it’s a natural human response to seek uplifting, inspirational content during difficult times.

If I were to sum up these four desires, I would say that people are looking for more connection and engagement. Exactly what a customer-first strategy provides! But there are things to avoid.

[bctt tweet=”Customers have four desires when online, that can be summarised as simply a desire for more connection and engagement. Exactly what a customer-first strategy provides! #CEX #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity #CMO” username=”Denysech”]

When an organisation decides to become more customer centric, there are many mistakes that are commonly made. This article “7 Reasons for Failure When Adopting a Customer First Strategy” gives the main ones and makes a complementary read to this post.

But today’s world has accelerated the upward trend of the importance of a customer-first strategy and makes it one of the most, if not the most important one for all organisations.

It is no longer the norm, or even the new norm, of successful … Click to continue reading

13 Most Inspiring Marketing Quotes and Questions to Live By in 2022

Are you like most businesses? Do you have a plan you are following that will (hopefully) enable you to reach your goals?

In order to meet them, we are often looking to make changes, large or small, in our organisation. At times like these I find it useful to motivate with some inspiring quotes from people much wiser than I. If you are looking for ways to motivate and inspire your own team, then I am sure you too will enjoy these.

This is my selection of great quotes from some of the best marketers around, together with a relevant question to ask yourself for each. If your favourite quote is not included, then please add it to the comments below the post.

 

#1.  “Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills” Al Ries 

This quote refers to the Catskills, a province of the Appalachian Mountains, located in southeastern New York and only 1270m high. It compares them to the Himalayas, a range that includes some of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest (8,849m).

It uses this comparison to suggest that to succeed in marketing you have to afront the highest peaks of strategy and timing, and not be satisfied with scaling simple hills. In other words, be in the right place at the right time with the right offer. Simple!

QUESTION: Are you going to upgrade your marketing this year to meet this lofty challenge?

[bctt tweet=”Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills. Al Ries #Strategy #Marketing #Brand” username=”Denysech”]

 

#2.  “In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last” John Romero

I love this quote because it refers to knowing and understanding your customers. The best ones, however you define that, come first and your best prospects come second. If you’d like to know if you’re targeting your very best customers and best prospects, then check out the following post: How Well Do you Know Your Customers? 13 Questions your Boss Expects you to Answer

QUESTION: Do you know who your best customers are and everything you should about them?

[bctt tweet=”In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. John Romero #Marketing #Brand #Customer” username=”Denysech”]

 

#3. “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation”  Milan Kundera

This post shows the often forgotten importance of marketing to business. I know those of you in sales or operations etc will complain, but if customers don’t know and love your brands then you don’t have a business. It really is as simple as that. I also like that innovation is included, because especially today, customers have become so demanding that we need to constantly upgrade our offers to them.… Click to continue reading

What Customer First Strategies Really Are (And What They’re Not!)

Everyone is talking about customer first strategies and why they are important. However walking the talk is a different matter!

An interesting article on NewMR by Ray Poynter prompted this post. He spoke about the differences between customer focus and customer centricity and the often times confusion between the two terms. That is why I tend to speak about customer first rather than customer centricity these days.

In its simplest form a customer first strategy is about thinking customer first in everything you do. Yes I know it sounds easy, but it really isn’t. And it doesn’t come naturally, at least to start with. I believe that’s because it involves a culture change to move the organisation in this direction. But I can assure you it’s worth it; its value is now well proven.

If you would like to see some exciting statistics about the value of making your customers the heart of your business, then CMO.com has a great article. It’s called “15 Mind-Blowing Stats About Customer Centricity” and many of the research results reported are still valid today, so it’s definitely worth a read.

 

 

What Are Not Customer First Strategies

I have seen a customer first strategy defined as

“a strategy by which businesses create their products, content, and marketing campaigns so that they serve their customers first, and their organization second.”

I don’t agree! If you don’t think about your organisation then it will likely fail! That said, I am also a little sensitive to the comments of Sir Richard Branson, who says

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

This may be true for an airline, where the client is primarily basing their opinion on the service on board and the “niceness” of the crew. After all, every airline will get you from A to B.

However for many industries, customers are enjoying (or not!) your product or service without your employees being present. They will remain loyal (or not!) to your brand, based upon their own personal experiences, at least in most cases.

A customer first strategy is therefore not about only thinking about the customer. It is about understanding how best to serve them in such a way as to delight them, while keeping your employees and shareholders happy. This is relatively easy to do because when the business is going well, all stakeholders are happy.

 

What Customer First Strategies Are

Econsultancy asked what effective leadership in the digital age is. Several key leadership qualities were found, including being ruthlessly customer-centric, data-driven, innovative, collaborative and agile. I am thrilled to see customer centricity coming first by a long margin.

 

 

Customer-centric organizational culture characteristics

So the leaders have got the message, but what are they doing about it? Not a lot in many cases. And why? From my experience it is because they just don’t know where to start or what to do. (If that’s your situation, try our Click to continue reading

How Marketers Can Benefit From More Than Technology: Modern Marketing

Just like most entrepreneurs and business people, I go to my fair share of conferences. I believe that marketers can benefit from being regularly challenged by new thinking and ideas.

One that stays in my memory for many reasons, was an event I attended in San Jose, California. Some say California is the centre of internet marketing; the San Francisco area for technology and San Diego for marketing. I tend to agree after having recently attended events in both cities.

The conference that changed many of my views on modern marketing was one about how business people, not just marketers, can break through our self-limiting behaviours. It is this idea which prompted today’s post. How we marketers can relinquish our well-established thoughts and actions to make our businesses grow more profitably. If this is of interest to you too, then read on.

 

HEART-CENTERED VERSUS CUSTOMER-CENTRIC

The conference I attended in San Jose was a great opportunity for me to meet many other people from around the world. People who want to make their businesses more heart-centered. You know that I am a champion of customer centricity. I love to support companies that want to put their customers at the heart of their businesses.

So you might be wondering what the difference is between a customer-centric and a heart-centered business. After the conference, I would say that in my opinion, not much. I believe it is difficult to think customer first without it also involving the heart; at least, it should.

As we try to put our customers at the centre of our organisations, it is through a concern to satisfy and delight them. A heart-centred business would probably go even further to ensure that what they do also benefits non-customers, or, at least, doesn’t harm them.

Creating shared value has become a strong commitment of many of the leading global players in the consumer goods market. Reliance Jio, Merck and Bank of America lead the way according to the Fortune “Change the World” List.

If the topic inspires you then you might also be interested in reading an article on “Innovation and Creating Shared Value”, which I was invited to contribute to one of the first issues of the Journal of Creating Value. I will also be speaking at the 2nd Global Conference on Creating Value in New York later this year. So let me know if you too will be attending and we can meet up.

 

CUSTOMER FIRST EXAMPLES

But back to defining the types of business. Which is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric? Or are you not even there yet?

[bctt tweet=”Which type of business is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric? Or are you not even there yet? #CRM #CEX #CustomerCentric #CustomerFirst” username=”Denysech”]

Do you think customer first but forget about those who are not yet your customers? That’s a dangerous thing to do as you may be limiting your brand’s potential. Here are a few current habits that some companies … Click to continue reading

Top 10 Posts on Brand Building Strategies of 2018

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What Consumer Goods Companies Can Learn From Healthcare. 7 Lessons of Customer Service Excellence

If you work in consumer goods you probably think you have nothing to learn from healthcare, right? After all, you have consumers in your industry name and well healthcare’s reputation is not that great.

But think again. I was recently in a clinic for surgery and was surprised by how customer (patient) centric they are.

I remind my clients that exceptional customer service examples can come from anywhere! So they keep their eyes and ears open and find inspiration everywhere. Do you? If not, then these lessons will come as your wake-up call so you start opening your eyes to new possibilities. Do this every day and your business will only get better.

 

Background

Before I give you the lessons I learned, I think I owe you a little background to what led up to this list.

I had been suffering from a bad back for a while. Unfortunately, not so unusual for those of us who spend too many hours at our desks. However, one morning I tried to get out of bed and fainted as an explosive pain shot down my back to my right foot! I was totally immobilised in three seconds flat!

Now living alone I realised that this was serious as I couldn’t move. Luckily my mobile was by my bed so I called the emergency services who immediately sent an ambulance. I ended up spending a night in a local University Hospital for the first time in my adult life.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Two days later I fell down the stairs because my leg had become partially paralysed. Another visit to the emergency room, an ankle brace fitted, a consultant’s assessment, an MRI scan and finally emergency surgery the following day.

All these experiences of hospitals and doctors gave me the superb opportunity to see the health service from the patient’s perspective. I work a lot with the Pharma industry but luckily have never been a patient, at least until now.

As you probably know, actually becoming your customer and seeing the market from their perspective, is one of the exercises I suggest to better understand them. How often do you do it? Ever?!! You really should, because you’re missing out on a valuable – and free – experience.

Perhaps surprisingly, this incident showed me that many of the practices of the nurses and doctors that I witnessed in my heavily sedated state, are easily transferable to any business. This is why I decided to share them with you.

So here are my seven learnings about customer service excellence:

 

1. Introduce yourself

Customer service excellenceEvery time someone came to my room, they introduced themselves and explained why they were there. Over the course of the days I spent at the hospital and then the clinic, I saw many different doctors, nurses. cleaners, waiters etc. I appreciated that they themselves always started by introducing themselves and stating what their responsibility was in caring for me.

How you can apply this idea: In … Click to continue reading

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