The 7 Keys to Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Ever wonder how to get more people talking about your business? It’s simple.

Offer them incredible products and services that solve their problems and fulfil their needs and desires. Then when you have converted them into customers, continue to keep them satisfied and give them something to talk about by surprising them too.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But as you know it’s not. I realise that only too well in my own service offerings. Which is why I decided to write this article about the 7 key elements that will get people talking about us!

Every strategy comes with its own set of rules, and the same is true for word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Yes, this means that you can actually create a strategy to generate positive word-of-mouth for your business. In fact, this has become an essential part of marketing as people have started to lose trust in the reviews they read online – more on that later. Friends, family and trusted advisors are those they turn to for a valued opinion these days.

But first: why does Word-of-Mouth matter?

To start with, it is important to understand what cognitive dissonance is. According to Wikipedia’s definition, it occurs when

“a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. Coping with the nuances of contradictory ideas or experiences is mentally stressful. It requires energy and effort to sit with those seemingly opposite things that all seem true.”

In other words, people are always searching for ways to reduce their stress that is caused by cognitive dissonance when shopping and selecting brands. One of the ways they do this is by searching for confirmation that they have made the right choices. Receiving positive word-of-mouth opinions of products and services from friends or family members will reduce the dissonance, as it confirms people’s beliefs in what they have purchased.

Given that consumers need input to reduce the risks they take, especially when purchasing a brand for the first time, it is marketing’s job to provide a maximum amount of information to build trust. Whether this is through advertising or online customer reviews, it is important to show both transparency and popularity to enhance confidence.

This has become a challenge in recent years as a result of the exposure of significant fake reviews on many websites, including Amazon. There are now even services to highlight these paid or fake reviews, such as fakespot.com and reviewmeta.com. If you are interested in this topic, then I suggest the article on “10 secrets to uncovering which online reviews are fake.” by Catey Hill.

So how can we improve customers’ trust in what we offer? Here are seven ideas I came up with to include in your word-of-mouth marketing:

 

#1 Make Customers Delighted!

If you value your customers, offer them more than they expect! It’s not only the great product or service that generates loyalty but the implicit message that “you matter to us!”  Continue Reading

How to Improve Customer Centricity in Hospitality

The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be highly customer centric, as it relies on satisfying its guests.

However, it can learn a lot from consumer packaged goods (FMCG/CPG), as I shared with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerland. Having spent most of my career in consumer goods, I was invited to share what the hospitality industry could learn from the industry. From the reactions at the end of my talk it seems that the answer is a lot!

It might surprise you, but the two industries have a number of similarities. They both (should) have their customers at their heart. And they are both founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clients in the quality of the products and services they offer.

 

During my presentation, I shared many ideas; here are a few of the points I covered:

 

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about the need to move from a return on investment to a return on relationships. While I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement. Despite many books touting the need for our customers to “Love” our brands, in reality, I’m not sure that any of us want to have a deep relationship with brands.

The relationship is based on more than just the brand. It is founded on trust and confidence in the product, the brand’s website and their engaging communications. Think Coca Cola and Red Bull as great examples of this.

 

#2. Build Relationships with Strangers

The hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests. But in today’s connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These may include the friends of past guests, who have heard about the hotel or restaurant and are interested in visiting it for themselves.

One good example of this, but I know many hotels are also doing it, is the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico. 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 future guests before they even arrive. In addition, the posts will certainly have a positive influence on website visitors. And the guests who publish their photos, will have an even stronger positive impact on their friends and followers.  After all, they will more than likely have similar tastes and desires.

 

#3. Value is more Important than Price

Having additional control of our 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 decisions are influenced by their peers, more than by traditional marketing. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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.

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

  • 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.
Continue Reading

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

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

Every connection you make with your customers provides an opportunity for you to also ask questions or provide information back to them.  Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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.  Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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!
Continue Reading

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