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4 “Free” Ways to Connect with Customers for World-Class Understanding

Last week I spoke about five of the most important actions you can take when starting your journey to improved customer centricity. If you missed it, you can read the post  here; it will be good background information to build from for this week’s ideas and suggestions.

In this post, I would like to continue to support your efforts with some suggestions on an area that many struggle with, that of connecting with and underst anding your customers.

I believe that one of the main reasons for this, is that the target customer segment has been poorly defined. Perhaps it is too wide, such as all category users, or only superficially described just in terms of demographics. C³Centricity’s 4W™ Template, free to download in the members area, will provide a simple way for you to complete a more detailed description of your customer. Once you have that, you can then start to connect with them to deepen your underst anding of them.

1. Retail connections

There are numerous ways that an organisation can connect with its customers. If you have a retail presence, then this is as simple as going to a few of them  and then talking to the customers present. If you yourself don’t own the outlet then you will need to ask permission of the owner, but since retailers are also interested in getting to know their customers better, they will usually accept in exchange for your sharing any learnings with them. (>>Tweet this<<) Customers are more sensitive to value than price

Another opportunity to connect with your customers in retail is through promotions, demonstrations and sampling activities. These have the added benefit of being able to speak with customers who are already interested in what you have to offer, because they have stopped beside your st and. They also are generally more willing to take the time to talk to you even if they are busy, something which can be a struggle if you are just walking up to customers in the store. (>>Tweet this<<)

In addition, I have found that both these exercises can be a great way to improve your image with the retailer and may even warrant special treatment for your br and.

2. Secondary connections

If you don’t have the luxury of meeting your customers in person, then there are still ways to learn more about them. If you have a call centre, then why not listen in or even spend time answering calls? It is both a rewarding and useful exercise to do. This is why many organisations such as Zappos, make their new employees do just that in their first few weeks after being hired.

Market research can make you more customer centricMarket research projects are also another easy way to observe and listen to your customers, although in general you will be a silent observer behind the interviewer, who is asking the questions. Some people prefer to follow focus groups or in-depth interviews, even from behind the two-way mirror, since they will have the opportunity to impact the discussions by feeding questions to the moderator.

A third way for you to make these less direct connections is by following social media discussions. These can either be on the major platforms such as Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest and Instagram, or your company’s own panel if you are lucky enough to have one. In either case, I would encourage you to observe and not get actively involved in the conversations. There have been many infamous embarrassments caused by under-qualified people responding to heated customer conversations on social media. DiGiorno (Nestle) and Progressive are just two of the more recent examples; this post gives many others that can heed as a useful warning should you be tempted to get personally involved.

3. Website connections

Today, most organisations rely on some form of online presence, to be available wherever and whenever their customers would like to connect with them. Understanding why your customers need to contact you is important to providing them with the best experience. 

Understanding why your customers need to contact you is important to providing them with the best experience. Click To Tweet

The first place to ensure you are supplying the right information is on your contact page. Are you requesting customers to complete an online form where you request many details from them? If so, it is definitely worth checking if everything you are dem anding is really necessary for that first connection. Name, email address and perhaps telephone number if you plan to call them back, should be sufficient, together with the reason they are wanting to contact you.

Connect with customersSecondly check that you are giving your customers multiple ways for them to contact you. (>>Tweet this<<) The form mentioned above is a rather anonymous connection, since there is no way for the customer to follow up, other than by sending a second completed form. The vast majority of consumers hate such forms with a vengeance and prefer to chat directly, or at least to be given alternative contact choices. Therefore you should provide your email address, telephone number and ideally a postal address. How many times have you been interested in a company only to find that you don’t know in which country they are based? Frontiers today are more linguistic than geographical, so your customers have the right to know whether or not they can visit your offices in person.

One area where this becomes vital is in online purchasing. Ensure that you make it as easy for customers as possible to shop your website. Enable them to check-out as a guest if they want, rather than imposing the completion of a long form of their details. Kissmetrics wrote a great post on this topic, with good and bad examples, which is worth a read if you are selling online.

Finally you should check the performance of your website; how many visitors do you have, where do they come from and what are they looking for in terms of information? This underst anding could be a whole post topic on its own, but since there are many already available, suffice it to say that if your website is getting few visits or your customers are bouncing away quickly, then it is not serving its purpose of building a relationship with your customers. (>>Tweet this<<)

4. Sharing connections

Meeting and getting to know your customers is probably one of the most enriching and inspiring experiences an organisation can have. (>>Tweet this<<) There is so much you can underst and about your current category and br and users by talking to them, that everyone should find ways to do so on a regular basis. As already mentioned, this could be by speaking with them directly whilst shopping, during a market research project, or over the internet. Share experiences when you connect with customers

You won’t be able to speak to everyone, so you will also rely on your colleagues to make such connections, or even external hostesses. This is why it is important that you get a full debrief, ideally in person, whenever you can.

It amazes me every time I speak to demonstrators, that they just go home at the end of the day with rarely any sort of debrief back to the client. On the rare occasions when they do tell their supervisors something of interest that they discovered, they are generally met with a lack of interest and enthusiasm. What a waste of intimate knowledge about the customer, their likes, dislikes and unmet needs and desires! Therefore share whatever you learn with your colleagues and ask them to do the same.

These are four ways for you to get a deeper underst anding of your customers  and which are probably already available to you today. How many are you using on a regular basis? Which have you found to be the most useful or inspiring. Please share your experiences below; it would be great to hear about your own successes.

Winning Customer Centricity BookThis post has been inspired by the first chapters of Winning Customer Centricity and includes images from the same book. You can buy it in Hardback, Paperback or EBook format in the members area, where you will usually find a discount code. It is also available on Amazon, andnoble.com/w/winning-customer-centricity-denyse-drummond-dunn/1121802409?ean=9782970099802″ target=”_blank”>Barnes and Noble, iBook and all good bookstores. If you prefer an Audiobook version, or even integrated with Kindle with Amazon’s new Whispersync service, you’ll have to be patient a little longer.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? Satisfaction, Surprise & Delight

There’s been a lot of rather liberal use of the word LOVE recently in connection with br ands and their customers. Perhaps this was partly due to the lead up to Valentine’s Day last week.

But ever since Lovemarks was published in 2004, followed by The Lovemarks Effect and more recently Loveworks, companies have talked about how much br ands are loved by their customers. Sorry Mr Roberts et al, I personally don’t think consumers love br ands. Consumers may say they love you but I think that they really just love themselves! (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Whilst I agree with the premise that traditional br anding practices were (still are?) generally dull, boring and rather predictable, digital has certainly livened things up in the last ten years. With greater real-time visibility, br ands are constantly trying to out-do each other and luckily the customer has everything to gain from this. After all, surprise and delight are the fundamental dem ands of consumers today and the holy grail of br ands. However from attracting interest to inspiring love, that’s one heck of a jump!

Wikipedia defines love in many different ways, because the English language doesn’t distinguish between the levels of love that other languages do. The closest I could find to the emotional connection Kevin Roberts was referring to, was impersonal love described as “People can “love” material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things”. This definition points out a very important element of br and love, that of personal investment. As I already mentioned, I believe that customers love themselves first and will only invest in br ands if they get something out of the relationship in return. That is the part of the bonding that too many br ands seem to forget when developing online advertising, fan pages and social media exchanges. It’s as if they publish and then say “Love (Like) me I’m great”, when they should be saying “We love you, you’re great”.

In 2004 Kevin Roberts introduced the notion of emotions to br anding and I believe everyone today agrees that purchasing involves an emotional response, often even stronger than rational based decision making. This is the one essential element that some br ands struggle to incorporate into their online presence in a meaningful way, so let’s see how the top br ands do it.

TwitterFirst, taking a look at Twitter’s list of the Top 20 most followed br ands for 2013 we can see that involvement (in this case following) is triggered by one of four simple customer needs:

  • Entertainment: YouTube, Instagram, TwitPic, Funny Or Die, MTV, Ramalan Indonesia, funnyordie, UberSocial
  • Keeping up with your friends: Twitter, Facebook
  • Keeping up with the world: CNN Breaking News , CNN, The New York Times, BBC Breaking News, Google
  • Keeping up with your team: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid F.C., NBA, ESPN

Interestingly, the br ands in this top 20 all provide a service to people, rather than blatantly looking for love, although they have been successful in bonding with their followers. Also, the only consumer br and to make it onto the list came in at number 20, namely Samsung Mobile. However their tweets are actually more like those of the news channels than a manufacturer promoting their br and, although of course they do include their product names when relevant.

Chatting for customer service connectionThe relationship between br ands and their followers is one of need (>>Click to Tweet<<); the Tweets provide customers with information they can use or share with their friends. In addition, for many, Twitter has become the modern day customer service line, since they are assured a more rapid response and usually a more positive conclusion than through a simple telephone based connection. Whilst excellent customer service should be the delivery no matter which medium customers choose to use, we have all now understood that they are not created equally. We know that telephone-based customer service still exists, but we just don’t get the fast, efficient level of assistance that we desire anymore, and are moving away from its usage.

As a result organisations are very keen to improve the service they give via Twitter and use it not only to respond to customer comments, but also to involve their customers in improving their products and services, as well as to keep them abreast of launches, new campaigns and promotions.

FacebookAnother platform that br ands use to connect with their customers is Facebook. Br ands create pages and encourage “Likes” for their postings, which seem to have similar purposes to Twitter, albeit with a more generous allowance than the 140 characters of a Tweet.

Looking at the pages with the most fans, we find a similarity to Twitter in terms of content and also a few of the same companies (NBA, MTV) but there are more consumer br ands present amongst the most popular. These br ands are promoting themselves through similar types of content, entertainment and news, but the biggest difference is the possibility for customers to reap direct benefit through coupons, promotions, store information and free games. In addition, customers can usually provide content too, by uploading their own photos, videos and stories.

So coming back to my original question, br ands should underst and that customers’ love can be as short lived as a holiday romance. As with marriage, it takes consistent effort to maintain the connection, providing satisfaction, surprise and delight in almost equal proportions. The br ands which succeed online are without exception those that offer all of these, as the following table shows:

Br and

Content

10 NBA videos, commentary, photos, merch andise
9 McDonald’s games, prizes, promotions, news,
8 Monster Energy extreme-sports clips, news, events
7 Victoria’s Secret exclusive updates, videos, screen wallpaper doubled its talking about me score when it started giving away 100k gift cards to fans, electronic gift cards
6 Converse photos of unique shoes
5 Red Bull mix of humour, extreme sports, events, images, games & apps
4 Starbucks photos, store locator, electronic gift cards, manage rewards, challenges
3 MTV sneak peeks of trailers, clips, humour, questions, photos, quizzes, information about pop stars
2 Disney facts, film screenshots, cartoons, videos, quotes, photo & story sharing
1 Coca-Cola encourages donations, local & global events & promotions, videos

In conclusion, let me say that I am not suggesting that we forget love, but rather that we take off our rose-tinted spectacles and underst and that our customers don’t really love us; as with my two cats it’s just a matter of “cupboard love”!

Did you know that C³Centricity measures EMOTIONAL REACTIONS to advertising, packaging, new br and concepts, products and just about anything else a customer can see, hear, taste or feel? Interested in learning more? Then why not CONTACT US today for an informal chat about your needs? We’re sure we can help.  

How to Lose Customers & What you Need to Do if you Don’t Want this to Happen!

I’ve had a frustrating week, and you? If you too are happy that this week is coming to an end, feel free to add your own personal rants at the end!

I was reviewing SaaS (software as a service) companies and was amazed at the different levels of customer service between the suppliers. With service in their industry name you would have thought that they would excel at customer service, but from my own experience it was non-existent in many cases, which prompted this post.

If you want to ensure that your potential, or even current customers, never buy from you (again) here are a few things to remember:

Your website:

  • Make your website load really slowly so that customers will have to wait in excited anticipation before appreciating the beauty and complexity of everything you have on offer.

    Customers lost online
    Customers lost in your website
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

FACT: According to  Kissmetrics 40% of people ab andon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

  • Don’t make your website mobile friendly; that’s only for the younger generation and you’re sure your customers are older – although to be honest you don’t really know.

FACTMobile already accounts for 15% of global internet traffic

  • Create loops within your website so the customer never actually gets to the information page they really want. Keep them looking, which increases your stats of time-on-site, and that looks great in your stat report.

FACTTime on site does matter but only if customers are interested in the content. Adding pictures and videos is a better way to keep them engaged.

  • Don’t provide contact information choices; make every potential client call you, especially if they live on the other side of the planet.

FACTForrester research reveals that “75% of consumers seeking customer service online turned to another channel when a firm’s website let them down.”

  • Provide online chat but just automate a first response and then leave the client waiting for a live customer service person to come online.

FACT: 65% of American online shoppers have engaged in  online chat

  • Make your clients wait between their chat messages and your response, by having your customer care people respond to at least five people at the same time. This is great for helping them to get the names and issues mixed up too, and avoids them getting too personal.

FACT: According to Cisco 69% of U.S. consumers would provide more  private information in exchange for more personalized service.

 

Call Centers

  • Customer online
    Your customer is active online
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Don’t answer when your potential, or current, client calls; just put them on automatic hold. Or you can give them a recorded message with opening hours when they should call you, which will be a time that is acceptable to you, not when they need you.

FACT: 67% of customers have  hung up the phoneout of frustration they could not talk to a real person.

  • To keep your clients amused when they call you, provide multiple self-service  key options, the more the better. When they finally get to the topic they want, play hold music, then interrupt at regular intervals so they think there is someone coming on the line and then just give a short message and start the hold music again. Never give an idea of how long they will have to wait; keeping them guessing is half the fun! Great for calming your customers’ nerves too.

FACT: By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, according to  Gartner.

  • Never return the calls of clients who dared to leave a voice message for you; they’ll call you back if they really need you. If they don’t then they’ve probably solved their problem themselves and shouldn’t have called you for help in the first place!

FACT: Oracle research found that 49% of executives believe customers will switch br ands due to a  bad experience but 89% already have!

 

 

Emails:

  • Customer Email iconNever reply to emails within the same day, unless it is an automated response to say you will get back in the next  2-3 days.

FACT204 million emails are sent every minute, but that’s no excuse.

  • Wait before responding to customer emails for at least 4 days and then make sure it is really friendly and explains that you’re waiting for their call.

FACT: Forrester found that  41% of consumers expect an e-mail response within six hours.

  • Even better, reply to say that most answers can be found on your website and provide a helpful link to your FAQs. And never reference their email or mention a topic relevant to the content of it.

 

 

Social Media:

  • Customer Social media choices
    Social media for CRM
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Monitor posts on social media and only respond when you need to point out why a person’s negative comments are wrong.

FACT: According to Edison Research 42 Percent of  consumers complaining on Social Media expect a response within the hour.

  • Don’t bother reading comments online; you know better than your customers what they need.

FACT: 24% of American adults have  posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy.

  • People use Twitter only for personal informatio; with only 140 characters, it can’t be relevant for businesses can it?

FACT: one million people view tweets related to customer service every week and more than 80% of those tweets are of a critical or negative nature.

If you got this far in the post then thanks for reading my rant. Many of the above actually happened to me this week when trying to buy a SaaS  platform! It is sad that despite all the articles written and research conducted, so many companies still get customer service so terribly wrong.

Hopefully in reading this post you have garnered some new facts and figures about customer service and what today’s customers are expecting from us. Or perhaps you got some ideas on how you can improve your own service and responses to your customers. 

Do you have your own fascinating facts about customers and what they expect in terms of service today? If so then please comment below and share them with everyone.

Would you like to know more about connecting and engaging with your customers? We can help. Contact us today and let’s discuss your challenges, but also check our website for more ideas: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Microsoft and Kozzi.com

Here’s how other Marketers make Social Media more Customer Centric

There is so much buzz around the uses and benefits of social media today that everyone is doing it; but are they doing it right? 

DreamGrow recently announced the Top 10 US Social Media sites, which showed huge gains for YouTube and LinkedIn and falls for Facebook and Twitter. Whilst these results are for the USA, when was the last time you looked at the latest statistics of the usage in your own market?

If your customers have changed their habits, then wouldn’t it make sense for you to do the same?

With that in mind, I came up with four steps to consider, for the continued improvement of your business from br and-centered to a more customer-centric one.

The success of most businesses depends upon building lasting relationships with their customers. Show them that you really value them; Connect regularly with them; Satisfy their needs and excite them with solutions to their problems. Social media is taking over many aspects of this from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) by offering more people more ways to voice their opinion, good or bad, about the products and services they have tried.

Here are four things to review when improving your customer centric use of social media:

#1 Define the fit with your marketing & communication plans

Social media as part of plansReview all the current forms of connection you have with your customers. Think about the direct contact via call centres, CRM activities, promotions, sponsorship events and websites, or indirect through retailers, advertising and market research. Then think about how social media platforms can be effectively integrated to better engage with your customers to complement these connections.

Platforms like Facebook or Twitter may offer fast and personal ways to get closer to your customers, but they do not have the same impact as your other forms of connection. Therefore identify precise roles for each media within your plan, and don’t add social media just because everyone is talking about it today.

#2 Identify where to engage with your target audience

customer centric Social media channels
Choose the channels that your customer uses

Next choose the most appropriate platform(s) for your target audience. Do they spend most time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube or another social platform? When did you last update the numbers? Have their habits changed? Continue to share valuable content via different social media channels and monitor the results. Which channels generate the most engagement with the content you share? Don’t expect your own br and websites to attract your customers without engagement on social platforms.

A leading CPG company which will remain anonymous but for which I have worked, found that more than two-thirds of their br and pages were being visited by less than 20 people per month! With Alexa, Google analytics and many other measurement sites available, there is no reason to continue to support sites that don’t deliver. Be ruthless and scrap those that don’t meet objectives. (you did set their objectives when you set them up, didn’t you?!)

#3 Listen to what they want to hear

customer centric companies listen to their customers
Learn to Listen to your customers

Every connection you make with your customers provides an opportunity for you to also ask questions or provide information back to them. This is particularly true with social media, where more people are likely to complain or ask questions than elsewhere, at least in developed markets. Although you may not like hearing negative comments about your products and services, it is better to find out and correct the issues quickly, than to discover the problem through falling sales.

To attract your customers to engage with you in social media, there has to be something in it for them. Therefore it is essential to ask yourself “what do they want to hear?” rather than “what do we want to tell them”.

 

#4 Discover when they are most engaged in social media

The right message must also be at the right timeSocial media provides virtually instantaneous contact with your customers, which means that you must always be open and ready to respond; they certainly expect it! (no you can’t continue to offer a 9-5, five days a week service – if in fact you ever really could!)

In addition, you need to discover what time of day your customers are most engaged in social media. That is when you will be posting and publishing your valuable information and suggestions. If you are doing business on a global scale, you’ll need different teams for each region. Gather smart data on a global and local scale to learn which parts of the day best support your engagement and customer centric approach.

These are a few ideas I came up with on adapting and using social media in your marketing and communications strategy. What other points are important to remember? Please share your thoughts and ideas below. 

If you would like to know more about connecting with your target customers, then please check out our website at: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Need help in better using social media? Then let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

This post has been adapted and updated from one first published in July 2011 on MirrorYourself “The Social Media Coach to Launch Your Business”

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Improving Customer Centricity in Hospitality

The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be customer centric as it relies on satisfying its guests, no?

However, it has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG), as I shared recently with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerl and. If you would like to learn what I revealed, then read on.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart. They both are founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer. However, as the world changes, customer dem ands increase and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these dem ands in order to ensure continued growth.

During my short presentation earlier this week, these are some of the points that I covered:

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of talk recently on moving from a return on investment to a return on relationships. Whilst I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement, since honestly, who wants to have a relationship with a br and?! Br ands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back; to the br and, the product, their website, their communications. Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this.

#2. Build Relationships with Strangers

Customer centricity means building relationships with strangersWhilst the hospitality industry has been based on serving and satisfying its guests, in todays connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These might be the friends of current guest, which for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook. This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging these friends, whom one might assume are potential clients since they are probably similar to their current guests.

#3. Value is more Important than Price

Having additional control in their lives today means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their peers influence their decisions more than does traditional marketing. The internet enables them to compare offers, so they are less interested in bundled propositions,preferring to decide what is best value for them personally for each element.

#4. Renovation is more than Buildings

Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner by building on their individual talents and enable them to develop better products and services. For hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; the Art Series Hotels are another. Check out the latter’s recent ad to underst and better how they excel at underst anding their guests: Art Series Overstay Checkout, or why not review the picture posted on MayaKoba Facebook page?

#5. Loyalty is never really Won

One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer dem ands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today. To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.

#6. Dialogue don’t just Communicate

In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want a say in what they buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints. According to a recent Edison Research, 20% expect a company to answer to their social media post within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means 24/7 monitoring for all organisations if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.

These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.

Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information and contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

10 Inspiring Customer Quotes

Need a quote about the customer to start or end a marketing presentation or to bring home an important point to your audience? If so, then this list was created just for you.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my favourite Infographs of the moment. The post received record hits and loads of shares across many social media channels.

It seems you like “best of” lists so this week I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes on the topic of customer centricity. As I did for the Infographs,  included are some ideas of actions to be taken, prompted by each quote. Enjoy.

#1. “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can” Gary Comer

Action: Choose one of your customer segments and decide a few ways to make their experience even better. If you don’t yet have a segmentation, check here for some ideas on simple ways to start.

#2. “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business” Zig Ziglar

Action: Get a list of all the complaints, issues and suggested improvements that customers have given to your care center operators or promotion demonstrators. Do the same from your customer-facing staff if you have your own retail outlets.

#3. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else” Sam Walton

Action: Find out what your customers are spending with your major competitor and more importantly identify why. Then find a way to meet one of their needs that you are currently not satisfying.

#4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers” Ross Perot

Action: Spend a day operating the care center phones or working on the shop floor. Find as many ways as possible to talk to your customers and ask them questions, if they are willing to answer them. Share your learnings with everyone else.

#5. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company” Tony Hsieh

Action: Identify one or two members from each department who are particularly customer centric and form a customer support group. Meet regularly to identify how to ensure everyone in the company underst ands their role in satisfying your customers.

#6. “Every client you keep, is one less that you need to find” Nigel S anders

Action: Review the reasons why your customers leave your product or service, and identify one thing you can do differently to stop that continuing.

#7. “Research is not proof, it just improves the odds” David Soulsby

Action: Review the last five or ten market research studies that have been conducted and the decisions that were taken based upon their results. Did you delegate responsibility for decision-making totally to the customer by simply following the results of the research, or did you take a more balanced approach by considering them as a complement to other business factors and past information gathered? One study should never be the only source of information on which a decision is made

#8. “Customer needs have an unsettling way of not staying satisfied for very long” Karl Albrecht

Action: Review the results of the last five or ten renovations you have made to your products and services. Are they still performing well or do you need to bring further improvements as your customers are already used to the improved offer? Are you following societal trends and building scenarios to be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges. Check here for more information on doing this.

#9. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!” Eleanor Roosevelt

Action: This is easier if you work in a multi-br and or multinational organisation; encourage departmental members to share one of their mistakes and how they would do things differently next time. This will only work in established groups with high trust between its members, so if this is not the case, start by sharing successes to learn from until people feel more comfortable opening up to their mistakes too.

#10. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare” Japanese proverb

Action: Review your company vision and evaluate whether or not you are actioning all parts of it. If not, then update your plans to support your total company vision. Similarly review your business and br and plans and ensure they all fit into the wider company vision; if not update to exclude or replace inappropriate actions.

I hope you found some inspiration both in the quotes and the suggested actions prompted by each one.

If you have a favourite quote that you would like to include in the future, please add a comment below. We will be continuing these lists in coming months and will include yours, duly attributed if you would like to be named personally as a contributor.

Check out our website for hundreds of marketing and customer centric quotes, all segmented by topic: https://www.c3centricity.com/library/

 

Social Customer Service: How to be Responsible, Resourceful & Ready in Real-time

A recent Infographic got me thinking about what has and hasn’t changed in customer service thanks to social media. In fact I should have said what has still not changed and MUST change in the very near future.

If you feel that you haven’t made all the necessary changes to meet the challenges of the new social customers and their dem ands, then read on for four actions you should be taking to improve your customer service.

#1. Responsibility

Marketing, Sales and Customer Service all have contact with customers and therefore also responsibility for them. Today these departments must work more closely together to provide a seamless connection with the customer. They need to build on each other’s efforts to satisfy the customer, so that each customer perceives that there is one company working to delight him and that he is really important to them.

Action: Employees from all customer-facing departments need to meet regularly, at least monthly, to exchange and share their latest experiences and learnings. What are customers talking about, complaining about or dreaming of? What new opportunities are there to get ahead of competition in better satisfying these current or latent needs? Organise regular exchanges or “lunch & learn” sessions and if you work in the USA recognise your most active employees by signing them up in the “Most Engaged Employee Contest”.

#2. Resources

Most organisations underst and the importance of their customer, and we all know they are more than ever in control thanks to social media. However, few companies are investing in developing their customer centricity and keeping their customer database current. Business needs to start walking the talk so their customers notice and feel a difference in how they are being treated, listened to and satisfied.

Action: Did you know it costs about 8 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one? Review how you collect and store your customer information. Have you verified their details in the last year? Most companies have upwards of 28% of their database which is out-of-date; when did you last check your own level? Is data stored by br and or business unit? Integrate the information, so the connection with your customer is seamless, more intimate, knowledgeable and fulfilling for you both.

#3. Ready

Social Media connections are growing exponentially but is your organisation staying ahead of the curve?. Recent figures from the latest Burson Marsteller Global Social Media Check-up 2012 suggest there are more than 10 million references to major global companies on social media every month and more than half of these are are on Twitter. Companies need to be following these discussions in addition to responding to customers in the usual way through call centers, email or postal mail.

Action: Review and revise your care center resources and training. Ensure you have a sufficiently growing number of trained staff to be available when the customer most needs to contact you. Provide the customer service agents with the knowledge, information and authority to respond to customers on social media as well as over traditional contact means. Remember that nothing disappears on the web, so written responses need to be accurate, precise and appropriate. If not you may fall into a PR disaster similar to the one Nestlé found itself in on its Facebook page in early 2010.

#4. Real-time

Did you know that customers expect a more rapid response to queries than they are used to getting? This is driving them to non-traditional methods of interacting with customer service agents such as chat and social media. According to the latest State of the Industry report from Acxiom and Digiday 74% of companies cannot respond to customers in real-time. How have you changed your care centres to respond to this dem and?

Action: Review your current customer service practices to ensure you are responding to your customers’ dem ands in real-time or at least offering a short-term solution. Have you made your agents available 24/7 or found a way to propose an alternative solution to customers who might contact outside normal working hours but when they are most likely to need help with your product or service? Customers expect answers within one to four hours these days.

These are the four essential steps that most organisations have still not taken to respond to the new social customer and their increased dem ands. What are you waiting for?

If you have taken other steps to optimise your organisations customer centricity to respond to the dem ands of the social customer then please share them here.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

6 Secrets to Better Customer Relationship Building

Yesterday I read a wonderful post from Ted Rubin about IBM’s recent Global Summit, which used an unusual emotional stimulation to connect with the participants. It also illustrated how emotions can be used for customer relationship building as well as for prompting longer-term memory in potential customers. If that is what you too want to build, read on.

Ted mentioned that when it was first announced, that they were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s Longest H andshake Chain “You can imagine the reaction of the attendees. The first response was one of amazed disbelief. “Really?” And then, “Wow, this will be something to always remember as a group!” This is the sort of thing you naturally tell your kids about… and then tweet, and post to Facebook. The energy in the room and the excitement of the crowd were palpable.”

I still remember the excitement of attending a local cinema morning when I was 5 years old, that was sponsored by a major tea br and. I should mention that I grew up in Cornwall, where tea is the leading day-time beverage and it is served as strong as the women who make it and the men who drink it. Even today, I can sing the song we learnt word-for-word before the film was shown and find myself buying the br and to take back home whenever I go to the UK.

What both these companies got right, was their customer relationship building based upon a group experience of their potential customers at the respective events. In my case I don’t remember what film was shown and I am not sure what IBM services Ted will remember, but we will both surely remember the br and names at the heart of our memorable experiences.

How are you getting into the brain of your own potential customers and are you finding a permanent place in it? Earlier this week I presented to a group of professionals at The Marketing and Communications Loft in Geneva. We discussed the many ways there are to connect with our audiences today, but also the challenge of breaking through the clutter of everyone attempting to do the same. As this Infographic “What happens online in 60 seconds” shows, there is so much going on online already, that it is becoming harder to build this emotional connection, which is the only way to really resonate and build relationships with your potential customers. So here are some ideas on how to do so:

#1. The secret of Information

Underst and what information your customers really want, not just what you want to give them. This is the single most important thing to remember when building a br and website. Read this post from Anita Williams Weinberg of Poppermost Communications for some useful thoughts on this.

#2. The secret of Needs

Review where your customers are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and ensure you are using relevant arguments to resonate and build a relationship that matters to them for the level they are at currently. Talking status to someone who is struggling to feed their family is unlikely to get either a positive reaction, or recall!

#3. The secret of Polysensoriality

Realise that products alone are rarely building an emotional connection and need a point of differentiation. Adding sensorial experiences will link directly with consumers and ensure higher loyalty even when product performance is similar to a competitor’s. Cars and personal care products are two industries that already rely on these to resonate with their potential clients.

#4. The secret of Surprise

Another way of increasing the emotional connection of a br and is by adding appropriate services to your offer. Zappo’s is a great example of how to do this; their slogan “Powered by Service” and their habit of training all new hires in customer service, including time in their care centres, ensures all employees are truly customer centric and will go above and beyond their duty to satisfy their customers.

#5. The secret of Underst anding

Surprise your customers with an extra they weren’t expecting. Amazon was one of the first to propose other relevant articles to their customers whether they were merely browsing or after having purchased. The emotional connection their customers feel by being understood clearly outweigh any feelings of “Big Brother” watching, although this of course remains a risk, especially for other companies trying to replicate the service idea.

#6. The secret of Service

Welcome the chance to solve complaints. According to the results of research recently conducted by The Temkin Group, 89% of customers have switched to a competitor after just one negative experience and only around 4% will even complain. It therefore makes good business sense to treat complainers as providing you with the prized gifts that they are doing and to do everything you can to solve their issue. Go “over the top” in listening to them and resolving their issue to their complete satisfaction, not yours. A positive experience will be shared with friends and family, as well as on the web, as will a negative one, so make sure your company delivers the former.

I hope this has given you some food for thought on how to start building relationships with your customers, to gain a place in their hearts and minds through using emotional connections. If you have any other ideas, we would all love to hear them, so why not share them below?

For more information on how to better connect with your customers to build relationships, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/engage/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

The 7 Keys to Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Ever wonder how to get people talking about your business? Start by offering them incredible products and services that solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Make your customers happy and give them something to talk about. Read this article to access 7 key elements that will get people talking about you!

Every strategy comes with its own set of rules, and so does word of mouth marketing. Yes, this means that you can actually create a strategy to generate positive word of mouth support for your business.

But first: why does Word of Mouth matter?

Learn about cognitive dissonance: “this is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.”

In other words: people are always searching for ways to reduce this cognitive dissonance (to reduce risk and hence fear!).

Receiving positive reviews by word of mouth from friends or family on products or services will reduce the dissonance, as it confirms people in their beliefs that this is a good product or service. You could also define this as the effect of social proof. “If X amount of people share a positive experience, it has to be great!”

So, given that consumers need input to reduce the risk they take, and hence the fear that goes along with buying stuff, here are 7 key elements that will generate positive word of mouth promotion for your business:

 

#1 Make Customers Happy

If you value your customers, offer them more than they expect! And do it all the time. It’s not only the great product or service that generates loyalty, but the implicit message that states “you matter to us!”. That’s what every customer wants to hear! Solid relationships thrive on rewarding your customers with a creative surprise. Watch the smile on their face!

 

#2 Focus on Br and Commitment

In Spreading the Word, Tom Brown defined Br and commitment as:

“An enduring desire to maintain a relationship with a specific entity.” (Brown e.a., 2005, p. 126)

Your Facebook br and page may offer you a unique opportunity to build and nurture a relationship with your fans. But, it takes more than just generating a Like for your Fan page to get people to talk about you! Just watch how many Facebook pages have almost zero engagement.

So, ask yourself these 2 questions every day: “do your customers have an enduring desire to maintain a relationship with your br and?” and “what do you do to earn your fans’ trust each day?”.

If you focus on the enduring desire of fans to maintain the relationship with your br and, this sets the conditions for successful viral word of mouth marketing.

Br ands with a strong and engaging fan base on Facebook can count on daily likes, shares and comments. This engagement will increase your visibility and accelerate your Reach. This social proof will increase your br ands’ attraction and generate more fans. If you want to learn more on this, check out Social Midas.

 

#3 Offer Distinctive Products and Services

When it comes to distinctive products, for most people one word is enough: Apple. Steve Jobs has succeeded in building a strong br and that people associate with innovative products that rock! Every time Steve introduced a new product, like the iPod, iPhone or iPad, people just had to talk about it and still do!

When you think about distinctive service, I’m sure Zappos.com resonates with you. Not only does Zappos offer shoes online, they value their customer’s trust more than anything!

If you offer new distinctive products or services, people just want to talk about that. It’s up to you to generate virality by offering them great content about your products or services, so they can share it with friends and family. Think about blog posts, videos, podcasts, badges or other promotion material.

 

#4 Nurture Involvement

Offer solutions that connect to the mental relevancy of your customers. Think about how to trigger a big desire or confront huge pains or frustrations. Get into the middle section of your customer’s brain (limbic) to create somatic markers. These markers connect a personal experience with your br and. Just like a can of Coca-Cola will generate happiness and warm feelings for a lot of people. Continue to nurture these feelings and watch how your customers want to share their experience with their family and friends.

 

#5 Connect with Market Mavens

Market mavens are individuals who have up-to-date information about many kinds of products, places to shop and other facets of the market. These market mavens are the ones who are most likely to respond to information requests from friends or family. They love to educate others, and it also increases their status. Connect with these market mavens and make them your br and advocates.

 

#6 Identify your br and advocates

When it comes to word of mouth marketing, referrals by br and advocates are your most effective type of marketing. If you want to include these influencers in your strategy, you need to identify them first.

Fortunately, Satmetrix, Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld developed “The Ultimate Question”.  Ask your customers: “How likely are you to recommend us to a colleague or friend?” and calculate the Net Promoter Score. People that indicate this likelihood with a 9 or 10 are “loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth”.

 

#7 Invite Social Media Stars

If you want to increase your word of mouth marketing effectiveness on the social web, you need social media stars. These are social media users who reach a great number of people and have much influence. The Klout Score is certainly a great measure to identify these social media stars.

The Klout Score uses data from various social networks -like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr in order to measure your True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact.

As more social media management tools -like HootSuite or SproutSocial- include Klout Score as the main indicator of social influence, I think it’s worth paying attention to the Klout Score of your online connections.

Take Away: although no one can predict virality of customer experiences on the social web, word of mouth marketing matters more than ever. Underst and these 7 key elements and create your own strategy to stimulate positive word of mouth.

My recommendation on word of mouth marketing: “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies get People Talking”.

We love to hear from you! Please share your reaction in the comments box below. Thanks 🙂

To learn more about connecting with your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on Felix Relationship Marketing on April 12th 2012

The 7 Secrets to Strategic Marketing Success on the Social Web

This week’s guest post is from Felix Relationship Marketing founder Juan Felix. In it Juan shares some great tips on getting people talking about your business; isn’t that what we all want? 

Ever wonder how to get people talking about your business? Start by offering them incredible products and services that solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Make your customers happy and give them something to talk about. Read this article to access 7 key elements that will get people talking about you!

Every strategy comes with its own set of rules, and so does word of mouth marketing. Yes, this means that you can actually create a strategy to generate positive word of mouth support for your business.

But first: why does Word of Mouth matter?

Learn about cognitive dissonance: “this is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.”

In other words: people are always searching for ways to reduce this cognitive dissonance (to reduce risk and hence fear!).

Receiving positive reviews by word of mouth from friends or family on products or services will reduce the dissonance, as it confirms people in their beliefs that this is a good product or service. You could also define this as the effect of social proof. “If X amount of people share a positive experience, it has to be great!”

So, given that consumers need input to reduce the risk they take, and hence the fear that goes along with buying stuff, here are 7 key elements that will generate positive word of mouth promotion for your business:

 

#1 Make Customers Happy

strategy objectivesIf you value your customers, offer them more than they expect! And do it all the time. It’s not only the great product or service that generates loyalty, but the implicit message that states “you matter to us!”. That’s what every customer wants to hear! Solid relationships thrive on rewarding your customers with a creative surprise. Watch the smile on their faces!

 

 

#2 Focus on Br and Commitment

In Spreading the Word, Tom Brown defined Br and commitment as: “An enduring desire to maintain a relationship with a specific entity.” (Brown e.a., 2005, p. 126)

strategy missionYour Facebook br and page may offer you a unique opportunity to build and nurture a relationship with your fans. But, it takes more than just generating a Like for your Fan page to get people to talk about you! Just watch how many Facebook pages have almost zero engagement.

So, ask yourself these 2 questions every day: “do your customers have an enduring desire to maintain a relationship with your br and?” and “what do you do to earn your fans’ trust each day?”.

If you focus on the enduring desire of fans to maintain the relationship with your br and, this sets the conditions for successful viral word of mouth marketing.

Br ands with a strong and engaging fan base on Facebook can count on daily likes, shares and comments. This engagement will increase your visibility and accelerate your Reach. This social proof will increase your br ands’ attraction and generate more fans. If you want to learn more on this, check out Social Midas.

 

#3 Offer Distinctive Products and Services

strategy 3When it comes to distinctive products, for most people one word is enough: Apple. Steve Jobs has succeeded in building a strong br and that people associate with innovative products that rock! Every time Steve introduced a new product, like the iPod, iPhone or iPad, people just had to talk about it and still do!

When you think about distinctive service, I’m sure Zappos.com resonates with you. Not only does Zappos offer shoes online, they value their customer’s trust more than anything!

If you offer new distinctive products or services, people just want to talk about that. It’s up to you to generate virality by offering them great content about your products or services, so they can share it with friends and family. Think about blog posts, videos, podcasts, badges or other promotion material.

 

#4 Nurture Involvement

strategy 4Offer solutions that connect to the mental relevancy of your customers. Think about how to trigger a big desire or confront huge pains or frustrations. Get into the middle section of your customer’s brain (limbic) to create somatic markers. These markers connect a personal experience with your br and. Just like a can of Coca-Cola will generate happiness and warm feelings for a lot of people. Continue to nurture these feelings and watch how your customers want to share their experience with their family and friends.

 

#5 Connect with Market Mavens

strategy 5Market mavens are individuals who have up-to-date information about many kinds of products, places to shop and other facets of the market. These market mavens are the ones who are most likely to respond to information requests from friends or family. They love to educate others, and it also increases their status. Connect with these market mavens and make them your br and advocates.

 

 

#6 Identify your br and advocates

strategy 6When it comes to word of mouth marketing, referrals by br and advocates are your most effective type of marketing. If you want to include these influencers in your strategy, you need to identify them first.

Fortunately, Satmetrix, Brain & Company and Fred Reichheld developed “The Ultimate Question”.  Ask your customers: “How likely are you to recommend us to a colleague or friend?” and calculate the Net Promoter Score. People that indicate this likelihood with a 9 or 10 are “loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth”.

 

#7 Invite Social Media Stars

If you want to increase your word of mouth marketing effectiveness on the social web, you need social media stars. These are social media users who reach a great number of people and have much influence. The Klout Score is certainly a great measure to identify these social media stars.

The Klout Score uses data from various social networks -like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr in order to measure your True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact.

As more social media management tools -like HootSuite or SproutSocial- include Klout Score as the main indicator of social influence, I think it’s worth paying attention to the Klout Score of your online connections.

Take Away: although no one can predict virality of customer experiences on the social web, word of mouth marketing matters more than ever. Underst and these 7 key elements and create your own strategy to stimulate positive word of mouth.

My recommendation on word of mouth marketing: “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies get People Talking”.

We love to hear from you! Please share your reaction in the comments box below. Thanks 🙂

To learn more about connecting with your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on Felix Relationship Marketing on March 13th 2012 

When Did You Last Really Delight Someone?

Now just to be clear, I am not talking about your spouse or significant other, whom I assume you delight every day! I’m talking about your customers, consumers or clients; the ones whose satisfaction and delight makes your business grow. 

An article last year on Forbes Blogs detailed a discussion with Amex EVP of World Service Jim Bush, where he was quoted as saying “we have been taking them (customer service personnel) off the clock and tossing out the old, robotic scripts”.

He also mentioned that “we believe that great service is about what the customer thinks after every interaction”.

 

Delight or Delete

Did you know that if a customer contacts a service centre and is dissatisfied with the response they get, they are more than twice as likely to not repurchase your product or service as someone who had a complaint but did not contact the care centre? Customers who reach out to a company to complain, become fervent detractors if not satisfied by the response they get.

If they have taken the time to call, you need to do everything possible, not only to respond to their needs, but also to surprise and delight them, by “going the extra mile”, going beyond what they had expected, to solve their problem or answer their query. In this way they then become advocates and will share their experience with friends, family and even strangers over the Internet these days.

 

A personal example of ABCD Service

At the end of last year, I tested a few companies’ customer care services as I did online purchasing of my Christmas presents. One company’s products were delivered by the post office to the wrong address (an empty house) and when eventually found, the package had been completely ruined by the rain and snow.

I called the company, even though it was not directly their fault; they not only replaced the damaged goods, but sent them by first class post to ensure I got the parcel in time for Christmas. Now that is service ABCD (above and beyond the call of duty!) the story of which I happily shared with everyone over the festive season. You can be sure that I will use their services again and choose them over other suppliers in the future.

 

What more can you do for your Customers?

I wish more companies would start thinking like Jim Bush and treat every single customer as vital to the success of their business. Whenever a customer contacts you, by whatever medium and for whatever reason, you have a unique chance to engage one-to-one with them on their terms, and to surprise and delight them.

How are your own customer services personnel trained? Do they have a script to which the must adhere and targets of time or cost limitations to respond to each contact?

Here are some ideas on how to improve your Customers’ experience when they reach out to you:

  • Start by thanking the customer for having taken the time to call or write
  • Listen to everything the customer has to say before responding
  • Solve the issue if possible, or say how you are going to get it resolved, by whom and in what timeframe
  • Ask if there is anything else that the customer would like to ask or share
  • Then and only then may you invite the customer to respond to any questions that you would like to ask, if relevant, but keep it short
Please share this post with all your friends and colleagues; the more people that know how to do customer service right, the better we all will be!
Do you have any ideas on what other things you can do to turn your customers into advocates? If so please share here.

For more ideas on how to improve your company’s connection with your customers, check out our website for more ideas: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was originally published September 27th 2011 on C3Centricity Dimensions

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

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