Gaining Your Experience Advantage with Three Quick Wins

Filed in Sales by on April 23, 2013 0 Comments
[private_professional]
Three Quick Wins

Give customers what they want. A great experience. Photo courtesy of Roberto Ventre/Flickr Creative Commons.

As you learned in the article, Improving Customer Experience, Where Do you Start?, a robust, strategic customer experience initiative can take years of planning and implementation and require an incubation period before the changes produce visible results. And while a long-term, strategic customer experience initiative is essential for building a meaningful experience advantage, there are three key customer experience quick wins that you can implement today that will bring about improvements tomorrow:
  1. Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.
  2. Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.
  3. Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.
When implemented together these three key quick wins complete a circle of customer care that will result in measureable improvements. Here’s how to get started:

Quick Win #1: Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.

Every organization has several methods for allowing customers to communicate with the company. Call centers and email queues are common manners for handling customer issues and complaints, but there are also social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, industry-centric discussion boards, and trade association websites. Unfortunately, when measuring these customer contact points, most companies measure the wrong metrics. Call centers are typically measured on call volume and length with the goal focused on reducing the number of calls and the length of the calls. And social media channels are monitored for volume with all the attention focused on the number of likes and mentions. Few companies are focused on what matters most – the customer complaints. Customer ComplaintsOf course, you assume that your direct customer complaints to an 800 number are handled right then and there, but often that is not the case. Call centers are outsourced and third-party vendors often “follow the policy” leaving customers unsatisfied. And email complaints have an inexplicable way of falling into black holes.  Too focused on reducing call or email volumes, companies let these few customers fall by the wayside assuming that “it’s just a handful of customers.” But a handful of customers can quickly, through word-of-mouth and social media, turn into a public perception of poor customer service and a tarnished image for the company.  According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, an unhappy customer will tell 9 to 16 people about their problem, while a happy customer will tell 4 to 6. The issue is compounded with social media where unanswered customer complaints often gather “me toos,” exponentially amplifying the issue throughout an online network. Instead of trying to reduce costs in the call center, think instead of creating a positive customer experience for your customer, which in turn positively influences another six people—a big win for your brand. And, it’s as easy to ensure that each customer complaint is fully and completely resolved. You can simply send a quick email survey after every customer service call or email and ask how you did and if they are satisfied. Unsatisfied customers will welcome the opportunity to tell you – and you can use this interaction to have a more senior representative or manager follow up again with the customer. Not all customers will be satisfied, but the second attempt may address their need more accurately, making them less likely to complain about your company to others. While this works well for direct calls or emails, don’t forget about social media channels. Whether you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page for your company, your customers are likely talking about you on social media already. Put in place a social media monitoring program and quickly address customer complaints when you see them. Ask complaining customers to email you directly at your customer service email and then you can follow-up with them using the same short email survey. Following-up on customer complaints will take time and resources, but it’s an investment well-spent. Instead of an unhappy customer telling 16 people about how bad you are, you now have a happy customer telling six people about how great you are.

Quick Win #2: Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.

Raelin Musuraca

Raelin Musuraca

Much like call centers, most company employees are rewarded based on productivity goals – which may or may not be in alignment with what is best for the customer. In many cases, company procedures and policies are focused on legal protections and cost-savings – not on satisfying customers. Sit down with HR and take a close look at how you measure and reward your employees. Ask yourself, does this performance review process encourage customer-first behaviors? When making a decision, would the employee place his own positive-performance review or the customer’s needs first?  Is an employee rewarded when they do something good for a customer? If you find yourself on the negative side of these answers, you’re not alone – the majority of companies are still reviewing and rewarding employees in this manner. It’s the customer experience leaders – Apple, Zappos, Southwest Airlines – who have turned these traditional incentive programs upside-down to focus instead on rewarding employees for customer-first behaviors. To reward for customer-first, sit down with HR and work out what behaviors and activities would bring about a great customer experience.  Train your employees on these behaviors and empower them to make the important decisions when they have to. And then reward them when they make the right decisions. Rewards can be monetary or recognition. For example, Zappos has a peer-to-peer reward program in which employees can award each other “Zollars,” which are currency usable at an on-site store of cool and useful things.  And Southwest management is known for gestures large and small, from sending specific congratulations cards to dedicating planes in an employee’s honor.

Quick Win #3: Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.

Handling customer complaints and recognizing employee’s customer-first behaviors can bring about significant customer experience improvements for your organization, but these are not long-lasting changes that will impact your bottom line year over year.  These two critical steps should be brought full-circle with internal process changes focused on what’s best for the customer. To encourage real change, bring your key company stakeholders together in a customer experience action committee focused on learning from your customer experience insights and implementing programs to bring about improvements for lasting success. Prepare for your action committee by gathering your data from customer interactions, leveraging insights and ideas from your newly incentivized employees, and placing this data in the hand of your committee members on a regular basis. Getting the data into the hands of stakeholders is only the first step - the key to an effective customer experience action committee is indeed the  action. The committee must be dedicated to implementing internal programs that will bring about change and it’s members held accountable for the successful completion of these initiatives.  This action committee as well becomes an area of reward and recognition, with committee members and their teams receiving accolades for successfully implemented initiatives. Of course, these three quick wins are only the first three steps in your long journey towards building an experience advantage.  If executed upon quickly and consistently, they can bring about significant results that can then be used to build a case for a more encompassing, strategic customer experience initiative. What kind of habits for improving customer experience are already in place at your business? Any other quick wins you can think of? [/private_professional] [private_c-level]
Three Quick Wins

Give customers what they want. A great experience. Photo courtesy of Roberto Ventre/Flickr Creative Commons.

As you learned in the article, Improving Customer Experience, Where Do you Start?, a robust, strategic customer experience initiative can take years of planning and implementation and require an incubation period before the changes produce visible results. And while a long-term, strategic customer experience initiative is essential for building a meaningful experience advantage, there are three key customer experience quick wins that you can implement today that will bring about improvements tomorrow:
  1. Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.
  2. Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.
  3. Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.
When implemented together these three key quick wins complete a circle of customer care that will result in measureable improvements. Here’s how to get started:

Quick Win #1: Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.

Every organization has several methods for allowing customers to communicate with the company. Call centers and email queues are common manners for handling customer issues and complaints, but there are also social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, industry-centric discussion boards, and trade association websites. Unfortunately, when measuring these customer contact points, most companies measure the wrong metrics. Call centers are typically measured on call volume and length with the goal focused on reducing the number of calls and the length of the calls. And social media channels are monitored for volume with all the attention focused on the number of likes and mentions. Few companies are focused on what matters most – the customer complaints. Customer ComplaintsOf course, you assume that your direct customer complaints to an 800 number are handled right then and there, but often that is not the case. Call centers are outsourced and third-party vendors often “follow the policy” leaving customers unsatisfied. And email complaints have an inexplicable way of falling into black holes.  Too focused on reducing call or email volumes, companies let these few customers fall by the wayside assuming that “it’s just a handful of customers.” But a handful of customers can quickly, through word-of-mouth and social media, turn into a public perception of poor customer service and a tarnished image for the company.  According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, an unhappy customer will tell 9 to 16 people about their problem, while a happy customer will tell 4 to 6. The issue is compounded with social media where unanswered customer complaints often gather “me toos,” exponentially amplifying the issue throughout an online network. Instead of trying to reduce costs in the call center, think instead of creating a positive customer experience for your customer, which in turn positively influences another six people—a big win for your brand. And, it’s as easy to ensure that each customer complaint is fully and completely resolved. You can simply send a quick email survey after every customer service call or email and ask how you did and if they are satisfied. Unsatisfied customers will welcome the opportunity to tell you – and you can use this interaction to have a more senior representative or manager follow up again with the customer. Not all customers will be satisfied, but the second attempt may address their need more accurately, making them less likely to complain about your company to others. While this works well for direct calls or emails, don’t forget about social media channels. Whether you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page for your company, your customers are likely talking about you on social media already. Put in place a social media monitoring program and quickly address customer complaints when you see them. Ask complaining customers to email you directly at your customer service email and then you can follow-up with them using the same short email survey. Following-up on customer complaints will take time and resources, but it’s an investment well-spent. Instead of an unhappy customer telling 16 people about how bad you are, you now have a happy customer telling six people about how great you are.

Quick Win #2: Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.

Raelin Musuraca

Raelin Musuraca

Much like call centers, most company employees are rewarded based on productivity goals – which may or may not be in alignment with what is best for the customer. In many cases, company procedures and policies are focused on legal protections and cost-savings – not on satisfying customers. Sit down with HR and take a close look at how you measure and reward your employees. Ask yourself, does this performance review process encourage customer-first behaviors? When making a decision, would the employee place his own positive-performance review or the customer’s needs first?  Is an employee rewarded when they do something good for a customer? If you find yourself on the negative side of these answers, you’re not alone – the majority of companies are still reviewing and rewarding employees in this manner. It’s the customer experience leaders – Apple, Zappos, Southwest Airlines – who have turned these traditional incentive programs upside-down to focus instead on rewarding employees for customer-first behaviors. To reward for customer-first, sit down with HR and work out what behaviors and activities would bring about a great customer experience.  Train your employees on these behaviors and empower them to make the important decisions when they have to. And then reward them when they make the right decisions. Rewards can be monetary or recognition. For example, Zappos has a peer-to-peer reward program in which employees can award each other “Zollars,” which are currency usable at an on-site store of cool and useful things.  And Southwest management is known for gestures large and small, from sending specific congratulations cards to dedicating planes in an employee’s honor.

Quick Win #3: Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.

Handling customer complaints and recognizing employee’s customer-first behaviors can bring about significant customer experience improvements for your organization, but these are not long-lasting changes that will impact your bottom line year over year.  These two critical steps should be brought full-circle with internal process changes focused on what’s best for the customer. To encourage real change, bring your key company stakeholders together in a customer experience action committee focused on learning from your customer experience insights and implementing programs to bring about improvements for lasting success. Prepare for your action committee by gathering your data from customer interactions, leveraging insights and ideas from your newly incentivized employees, and placing this data in the hand of your committee members on a regular basis. Getting the data into the hands of stakeholders is only the first step - the key to an effective customer experience action committee is indeed the  action. The committee must be dedicated to implementing internal programs that will bring about change and it’s members held accountable for the successful completion of these initiatives.  This action committee as well becomes an area of reward and recognition, with committee members and their teams receiving accolades for successfully implemented initiatives. Of course, these three quick wins are only the first three steps in your long journey towards building an experience advantage.  If executed upon quickly and consistently, they can bring about significant results that can then be used to build a case for a more encompassing, strategic customer experience initiative. What kind of habits for improving customer experience are already in place at your business? Any other quick wins you can think of? [/private_c-level] [private_social]
Three Quick Wins

Give customers what they want. A great experience. Photo courtesy of Roberto Ventre/Flickr Creative Commons.

As you learned in the article, Improving Customer Experience, Where Do you Start?, a robust, strategic customer experience initiative can take years of planning and implementation and require an incubation period before the changes produce visible results. And while a long-term, strategic customer experience initiative is essential for building a meaningful experience advantage, there are three key customer experience quick wins that you can implement today that will bring about improvements tomorrow:
  1. Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.
  2. Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.
  3. Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.
When implemented together these three key quick wins complete a circle of customer care that will result in measureable improvements. Here’s how to get started:
The remainder of this article is available to Professional and C-level members of the Ideahaus Community. Upgrade to a Professional membership here.
[/private_social] [nonmember]
Three Quick Wins

Give customers what they want. A great experience. Photo courtesy of Roberto Ventre/Flickr Creative Commons.

As you learned in the article, Improving Customer Experience, Where Do you Start?, a robust, strategic customer experience initiative can take years of planning and implementation and require an incubation period before the changes produce visible results. And while a long-term, strategic customer experience initiative is essential for building a meaningful experience advantage, there are three key customer experience quick wins that you can implement today that will bring about improvements tomorrow:
  1. Immediately, and personally, address your unhappy customers’ complaints.
  2. Reward your employees for customer-first behaviors.
  3. Give customer feedback to the stakeholders who will take action.
When implemented together these three key quick wins complete a circle of customer care that will result in measurable improvements. Here’s how to get started:
The remainder of this article is available to Professional and C-level members of the Ideahaus Community. Upgrade to a Professional membership here.
[/nonmember]

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About the Author ()

Raelin Musuraca is a researcher and designer focused on leveraging new technologies and innovative thinking to champion the customer experience. Over the last 20 years, she provided strategic planning and design services to several Fortune 500 companies. Raelin provides strategic planning and design services focused on integrating all customer touch points in the delivery of consistent brand messaging and the ideal customer experience.

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