Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing
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Loyalty Starts At Home

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(Posted on Feb 14, 2015 at 05:41AM by William Cosgrove)

By Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of YOU!

Employee Loyalty & Customer Loyalty Can They Really Be Separated?


Employee Loyalty

I recently got involved in a discussion over an article that was written by a virtual acquaintance of mine Philip Nothard who posted an article entitled “Are carmakers killing off the optional extra ‘upsell’?” posted at AM Online an automotive publication.

The article was discussing the fact that car manufacturers are taking more control over how options are packaged and sold and how it may be further hurting franchise dealers sales/profits-But this is a subject for another time-

However, this morph into a discussion of how dealers operate today which gave me the opportunity to bring up the subject of employee relations and compensation-a subject that I feel strongly about and seize every opportunity to voice my feelings.

I have been self-employed for most of my career but over my professional career working for others my experience has mostly been in sales at some level and mainly in the Automotive Industry. But my discussion here applies to all businesses in all industries across the horizontal in terms of the need to be loyal to your employees.

To all businesses across the industry horizontal- Important Information.

“Don’t hang them out to dry” Promote Healthy Employee Relations

In this article and what a spot on title “The Secret to Delighting Customers? Put Employees First” co-authored by Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company explores the connection between companies that are good at both making their customers happy and making their employees happy.

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*Employee engagement programs can increase profits by $2400 per employee per year (Workplace Research Foundation)

*And in gallops “The Secret of Higher Performance” companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%

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For any organization to perform better it is necessary that the employees are comfortable with their employer, each other, and work in close coordination towards a common objective. People that feel appreciated and motivated to do good work and enjoy their work rather than taking it as a burden.

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*68% of U.S. full-time employees are suffering from work overload (Cornerstone)Nov. 10, 2014 — While the unemployment rate may have dropped in the past year, that doesn’t mean the workloads of those already employed are easing up. 68% of U.S. full-time employees are suffering from work overload, a 14% increase from 2013. Work Overload is the Biggest Productivity Killer In The US.

*56% of executives say promoting loyalty is "not a major focus, but valued nevertheless" (American Management AssociationJust “Political Rhetoric”. In other words not very important.

* 24% of executives say promoting employee loyalty was "never valued nor a major focus" (American Management Association) - Fewer here but maybe being more honest and forthright.

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It is important that the management promotes healthy employee relations at workplace to get the best out of each individual. Competition is essential but it should not promote negativity.

But more often than not, in today’s mindset of increasing the bottom line at any price focusing on rewarding and cultivating dedicated and loyal employees has become the exception to the rule but the benefits of being the exception can be enormous.

 

The Bottom Line/Top Line Struggle

About thirty years ago it became popular and necessary for many bloated companies to downsize and cut the fat to survive in the marketplace. But what began as a necessary effort to make companies more efficient has evolved into quarterly driven public and privately owned companies whose principal mission is to do anything to show grow often at the expense of the people on the front lines-its employees.

Employees are the ones on the front lines day in and day out and are the heart and soul of your business. A company’s employees are the ones making it all happen and driving those dollars to the bottom line.

Bottom Line Growth is not sustainable only Top Line Growth is and only Top Line Growth will get you real sustainable growth without diminishing the infrastructure of what drives that growth.

“We have all heard the expression that you need to “Spend Money to Make Money?” Have you ever heard the expression that you need to “Save Money to Make Money?”

Maybe it adds more to the bottom line- but is this really true?

*Each year the average company loses 20-50% of its employee base (Bain & Company)

*Replacing a lost employee costs 150% of that person’s annual salary (Columbia University) (2009 statistic)

*Replacing an experienced worker can cost 50% or more of the individual's annual salary in turnover-related costs (AARP)

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Employee loyalty and dedication is critical to a company’s long term success. If you want to grow your business, you need to have an environment that encourages team work, and encourages everyone to work together to learn and try new things and to give 100%.

One of the hardest parts about running a company is attracting and retaining real talent. The only way to realistically do this is with a great atmosphere, fair compensation, employees that feel good about coming into work with the desire and motivation to perform their best. If employees are not motivated, poorly compensated, or are unsure about their position, the results of this type of atmosphere will not only restrict growth and result in high turnover but combined can and probably will seriously restrict it.

You can have all the proven systems in place that guarantee success but if you don’t have true leaders and talented and dedicated employees to institute those systems you are most likely going to fail or at the least underperform in the marketplace.

Dedicated Employees Foster Loyal Customers

(Image courtesy of periscopeiq.com)

Engaged and dedicated employees provide better service and show genuine concern for customers that is a reflection of confidence in the company and shows through to put customers at ease “instilling trust” that gives them the confidence to do business with them-your company.

“Remember People Buy People”

Dedicated employees generally stay longer with a company when they feel comfortable working there which also shows customers that they also can feel confident continuing their relationship with the company and recommending them to their peers-all contributing towards sustainable long term growth.

Monetate, who powers multi-channel personalization for the world’s best brands reports that 73% of consumers would consider purchasing from a brand again if they had a superior customer experience.

Consider This From Knowledge @Wharton

MetLife’s 10th annual survey of employee benefits, trends and attitudes puts employee loyalty at a seven-year low. One in three employees, the survey says, plans to leave his or her job by the end of the year. According to a 2011 Careerbuilder.com report, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Other studies show that each year the average company loses anywhere from 20% to 50% of its employee base.

Whatever the actual figures some employees are clearly feeling disconnected from their work. Among the reasons cited for this: the recession, during which companies laid off huge swaths of their employees with little regard for loyalty or length of service; a whittling away of benefits, training and promotions for those who remain; and a generation of young millennials (ages 15 to 30) who have a different set of expectations about their careers, including the need to “be their own brand,” wherever it takes them. In a nomadic world, one of the casualties is a decreasing sense of commitment to the organization.

Wharton management professor Adam Cobb sees another reason for what is clearly an evolving relationship. “When you are talking about loyalty in the workplace, you have to think about it as a reciprocal exchange,” says Cobb. “My loyalty to the firm is contingent on my firm’s loyalty to me. But there is one party in that exchange which has tremendously more power, and that is the firm.”

Cobb suggests that at a minimum, “loyalty is not something a company can rely on. But when people say that employees have no loyalty to their firms, you get into a chicken-and-egg kind of argument. Imagine a different world where firms took care of their employees, and loyalty was reciprocal. Would employees be job hopping to the extent they are now?”

* 28% of all employees are currently looking for work at another organization (Modern Survey)

* 27% of US workers plan to seek new employment in the next year (American Psychological )

Are you Convinced yet? So……. Where’s The Beef?

One big reason that Businesses today lack the dedication and leadership needed to build a truly successful business is the lack of compensation (proper pay for performance). This for some reason lately has become a dirty word in some circles.

Remembering someone’s birthday, giving extra time off and pats on the back in lieu of compensation is just placating the powers that be. Anyone who talks like this is either doing it so as not to upset clients or have never been in the trenches trying to make a living-or both.

All this is good will but if it isn’t backed up with “proper pay for performance” you will never attract the true dedicated leaders and employees that can get the job done.

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*35% of employees report they will look for a new job if they do not receive a pay raise in the next 12 months (Glassdoor)

*According to employees, salary is more important to job satisfaction (88%) than having a certain title (55%) (CareerBuilder)

*65% of full-time U.S. workers say they do not currently earn their desired salary (CareerBuilder)

*Dissatisfied employees cite concerns over salary (66%) and not feeling valued (65%) most often as reasons for their dissatisfaction (CareerBuilder)

*40% of employees wish their employer cared more about their financial well-being (Virgin Pulse)

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I hope that what I discussed here will touch upon a personal experience that you have had or are having and maybe entice you to share it with us here. I understand if you are concerned about retribution at your current employer-How Sad-but maybe you have a previous experience or can just fictionalize your current situation

Also if you have or work for a company that takes care of the people who take care of them, let me know how they are doing it and the success they are realizing for doing it right.

 

*Employee Engagement & Loyalty Statistics: The Ultimate Collection by Posted byBrandon Carter was an important source for many of the statistics in this article- Thank you.

William Cosgrove

Cutting Through The Noise to Market Smarter

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(Posted on Dec 6, 2014 at 08:07AM by William Cosgrove)

Businesses that integrate content marketing, social media and SEO strategy are seeing big results. Integrating these marketing channels can be a challenge and marketing from Ground Zero provides a very cost effective way of pulling all these channels together to provide impressive long term and sustainable results.

For any business looking for better ROI along with small and medium sized businesses with limited digital marketing resources it is important to cut through the noise and find ways to provide your business with the most economically viable and sustainable ways to build your brand, provide great customer service and drive new business.

Most businesses have an online presence with exposure to social media to some extent but in many cases do not feel they have the resources, to take their online marketing to the next level. If this describes your present situation read on because marketing from ground zero can be the answer.

Brands Building Community Should Promote Own Sites

Today, as reported by by Gavin O'Malley at Media Post “At least as community-building tools, marketers should forget about Facebook and Twitter. That’s the crux of a new report from Forrester Research, which suggests that the social giants are losing their grip on what has historically been known as “social” marketing.

“Top brands Facebook and Twitter posts reach only about 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers interact with each post,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliott explains in the new report. “Marketers need to rebuild their social relationship strategies around sites that work.”

In place of Facebook and Twitter, Elliott and his colleagues suggest that brands build out their own social-friendly properties. Indeed, U.S. online adults are nearly three times more likely to visit a brand’s Web site than to engage them on Facebook.”

More than 80% of small businesses cite that (Ground Zero) - their website is the number one way they engage with customers. This statistic alone shows that businesses should be looking for ways to more fully utilize this precious resource.

Great Customer Service Is Key to Free Publicity

There is no better way to provide excellent customer service than through an onsite community. More than two-thirds of American consumers said they're willing to spend 14 percent more on average with a company that delivers excellent service, according to new survey from American Express.

Providing great customer service can also get you free publicity through recommendations and referrals. Forty-six percent of respondents said they always tell others when they've had good service interactions, and 42 percent said that a recommendation from a friend or family member is more likely to get them to do business with a new company.

The Power of Customer Loyalty

New customers driven by existing customers’ recommendations are the second-biggest source of revenue—more than new customers who come to a business from other sources.

Repeat customers were by far the biggest source of revenue for more than 43 percent of entrepreneurs, while new customers accounted for about 19 percent of revenues.

Whatever the trending term these onsite customer care and benefit centers (communities) can benefit companies across the industry horizontal. There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty and drive referrals and recommendations than by having an onsite social community.

An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base. One Big Broadcast has been a leader in developing and customizing these types of platforms for years.

A Proven Platform

One Big Broadcast has been at the technological forefront of Onsite Social Communities for years and has been redefining the customer experience and how businesses and their employees interact with both their existing and potential customers by taking customer care, service and benefits to a whole new level. Onsite Social Communities shifts customer support and service to being part of the brand marketing mix.

One Big Broadcast’s SEO automation and CMS technology combined with our inclusive suite of marketing products and fully integrated mobile capability provides a low cost way to create an ecosystem within itself that can power your online and mobile marketing initiatives to cost effectively cut through the noise to market smarter.

William Cosgrove
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The Power Of Customer Loyalty

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(Posted on May 27, 2014 at 04:02AM by William Cosgrove)
Which customers are most profitable for you and what marketing tactics work best to attract them and encourage customer loyalty? In a recent survey, Huzzah Media found there’s a big gap between what marketing methods small business owners use and the ones they’d like to use if money were no object.

By far the top way small business owners engage with customers is their websites, cited by more than 80 percent of entrepreneurs. Next is the Yellow Pages, cited by more than 65 percent, followed by social media, used by nearly 55 percent.

Attracting new customers means nothing, of course, if they don’t buy anything, so the study also asked small business owners where most of their sales come from. Repeat customers were by far the biggest source of revenue for more than 43 percent of entrepreneurs, while new customers accounted for about 19 percent of revenues.

Interestingly, “word-of-mouth” was cited by 36.39 percent. In other words, new customers driven by existing customers’ recommendations are the second-biggest source of revenue—more than new customers who come to a business from other sources.

Along the same lines, when asked what marketing method is most successful for them, a whopping 52.22 percent of small business owners cited “friend referrals.” In comparison, just 33.23 percent say advertising is their most effective marketing method.

Clearly, most small business owners have a baseline online presence (that is, a website), and most are also using social media (although there’s definitely room for improvement there). But few are taking their online presence to the next level by using tools such as customer loyalty programs and mobile apps to their fullest extent. These can be great ways to increase word-of-mouth, retain existing customers and drive new ones.

So why aren’t small businesses using them? Primarily, they don’t have the budget (42 percent) or time (27 percent) to deal with expanding their online presence. In addition, about 18 percent admit to confusion about mobile apps, loyalty programs and social media—they’re either “overwhelmed” by the idea of doing more digitally or “don’t know where to start.”

Small business owners in the study are clearly aware that mobility is the hottest trend going right now. If they had the budget and time to make a change, more than 40 percent would like to add a mobile ad campaign while 21 percent would optimize their websites for mobile use. In reality, optimizing your website for mobile users doesn’t have to be costly. Finally, consider adding a loyalty program of some kind. With so much of the average small business’s revenue dependent on existing customers, it only makes sense to reach out to your customer base with rewards. There are more options than ever before for loyalty programs, from simple punch cards to sophisticated (yet affordable) mobile apps that make it easy to track customers’ shopping habits.

By Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media

Also Read Social Networking At Its Best

Existing Customers Spend 2/3 More time, Cost 10 Times Less

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(Posted on May 14, 2014 at 04:20AM by William Cosgrove)

A joint study by BIA/Kelsey and Manta found that, for the first time, small businesses truly grasp the impact their customer base has on their long term business viability. The study surveyed nearly 1,000 small business owners (SBOs) and found they now spend more than half of their time and budget focused on existing customers, recognizing that it can be up to ten times more costly to acquire a new customer. Further, a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one.

There are nearly 28 million small businesses in America, and they are making a formidable impact on the U.S. economy. Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and account for 54% of all U.S. sales.

These findings are in stark contrast to previous studies showing that small business owners’ primary focus was on customer acquisition, says the report. A 2012 BIA/Kelsey study found that SBOs focused on customer acquisition vs. retention at a 7-to-1 rate, with more than 37% spending over half of their budget on customer acquisition and only 6% spending more than half of their budget on retention.

According to the recent survey, 61% of SBOs  generate  51%+ of their annual revenue from repeat customers rather than new customers. This is reflected in how SBOs spend their time and money, says the report. 62% of SBOs spend the majority of their annual marketing budget to retain existing customers with less than half going to new customer acquisition.

Similarly, SBOs spend the majority of their time and effort investing in existing customer relationships, with 56% of them spending less than 25% of their time and effort on marketing related to customer acquisition.

The study further supports this new alignment, revealing that channels where SBOs will increase time spent, notably email and Facebook, are those best suited to engaging existing customers.

Media Used by SBOs for Advertising and Promotion

Media

% of Respondents

Facebook Page

52.1%

Email Marketing

39.4%

Newspapers

32.2%

Direct Mail

31.7%

Sponsorships

31.2%

Source: BIA/Kelsey, Manta, April 2014

Existing customers can also be leveraged to gain new customers through digital word-of-mouth, such as customers writing reviews, checking in, and posting stories and photos of their experience with businesses. A loyal existing customer can be a brand champion and an important source of new revenue, especially since it can cost up to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Small businesses clearly understand the economics of their existing customers as the benefits of loyalty marketing are proven with increased customer spending and higher retention, yet few SBOs even have a program in place. According to the study, only 34% of SBOs have a loyalty program, while the majority do not. When asked about the purpose of their customer loyalty program, those who had one answered that they want to “Improve customer relationships” (39%) and “Grow revenue” (36%).

SBO Loyalty Program Utilization

% of Respondents

SBO Loyalty Program Situation

34%

Have a program

54%

Are NOT digital (paper, verbal, other)

46%

Are digital

66%

Don’t have a loyalty program

Source: BIA/Kelsey, Manta, April 2014

Moreover, says the report, the majority of SBO loyalty programs are offline rather than online, failing to take advantage of technologies that enable seamless implementation and deeper customer insights. Only 46% are in some type of digital form, like an email list, while 31%

are paper-based, and 17% verbal/word-of-mouth or in another form.

The report concludes by noting that customer loyalty can bring big benefits to small businesses:

  • Existing customers not only comprise the majority of top line revenue, but can dramatically affect a business’ bottom line. According to the “Loyalty Effect”, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% to 100% increase in profit for the company
  • Existing customers that have an affinity with a brand are easier to up-sell and cross-sell. They already know and like what a brand does, so there is a measure of trust not afforded to an unknown company
  • Repeat customers are more likely to refer their friends and family to a business via word-of-mouth, online reviews, and social sites. Technology has amplified the reach of customers, making it easier to share recommendations about a particular business.
By Jack Loechner 
Center for Media Research

For more about the study, please visit Manta here.

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Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

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(Posted on May 8, 2014 at 04:49AM by William Cosgrove)
Many articles like the one you are about to read by Dave Evans have been written on this subject and one of the best solutions is in implementing and onsite community on your site. Follow the link at the end of the article to start understanding why….

There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty than by having an onsite social community. An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base.

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

Allegiance to your brand begins again with every experience, from word-of-mouth mentions to small social objects like status updates that are passed around and shared.

Customer loyalty is an essential component in the business equations of most firms. After all, loyalty translates directly into a clear return on investment (ROI)-related benefit: lower churn (lower cost), higher renewal and upsell likelihood (more sales), etc. So beyond the obvious - do things that make customers happy, and don't do things that drive good customers away - what are the actionable steps you can take to systematically build and measure gains in loyalty?

Whether in a digital or "real" context (and note that for an increasingly large demographic segment, digital isreal), beneficial word-of-mouth is one of the most important marketplace signals that indicates the development (or erosion) of loyalty. Word-of-mouth and the small social objects - status updates, posts, videos - that are passed around and shared become part of the conversations that define contemporary brands, products, and services. Each of these can be systematically earned and nurtured, and related back as a precursor to loyalty.

As a starting point in assessing these precursors to loyalty consider Touchpoint Analysis, the discipline of measuring customer satisfaction at each and every point where a customer comes in contact with your product or service. Each of these interactions generates a conversation: as my colleague Xavier Jiménez put it, "Loyalty restarts with every customer experience." Although it may sound a bit like "what have you done for me lately" it's important to recognize that all interactions count, not just the outstanding (positive or negative) ones.

Sure, an outrageously excellent - or terrible - experience is likely to elicit an immediate tweet. But for every one of those there are many more "typical" experiences, experiences which day-in and day-out shape the ordinary conversations that power your brand's reputation. These same experiences - because they are associated with specific product and service interactions - also set the prevailing tone for the conversations that form around products and services. In other words, they drive sales.

So the first step is to measure and track your performance at these points of interaction - customer touchpoints - where talk-worthy experiences happen. Consider plotting the results so that you can see how various touchpoints are contributing to the overall perception of your product or service.

A simple way to do this - shown in the figure below - is to assess and rank performance at various touchpoints using a 0-10 scale. Then, for the same touchpoints assess and rank the talk-worthiness - how likely your customers are to talk about this particular touchpoint. For each touchpoint, plot talk-worthiness on the X-axis and assessed performance on the Y-axis. You'll end up with a map that should be "up and to the right." In other words, given the constraints that you operate against - no one can do everything - from a social optimization perspective the touchpoints with the highest likelihood to generate a conversation should be the touchpoints for which you recorded your best performances.
In reality it's seldom this simple: If your map looks more like blob than an up-and-to-right line, focus on the low-performing, highly talk-worthy points first; consider borrowing resources from the "low-talk/high-performance" efforts and apply them to the touchpoints you really need to improve on.

You can do more with touchpoints analysis, too: organize your touchpoint map chronologically and create a simple journey map. Furthest to the left - the earliest time - are the experiences associated with formation of opinion about a brand, product, or service during consideration. Furthest to the right are the experiences associated with renewal and the advanced stages of customer advocacy. The result is an understanding of the customer journey - the path your prospective customers follow when first entering into consideration of your product or service, through to the point where that same customer, after numerous interactions, has declared him or herself a brand advocate.

To see how touchpoint experiences impact loyalty, and indeed to see how loyalty itself is impacting advocacy, take your journey map and organize it into the post-acquisition stages of support, sales, and ideas corresponding to the customer emotions of satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as shown in the figure below.
Activity in any layer can happen independently of any other. But it's much more powerful when satisfaction (because of happiness with what has been purchased and the way your customer has been supported) leads to loyalty and new sales (because the right products or services are being offered given what has already been purchased) and ultimately to advocacy (because taken together, these are the kinds of experiences given the product or service involved that anyone would wish for anyone else in the same situation).

Why does this matter? Simple: When you place the pinnacle - advocacy - against the management of personal social capital as the basis for talking about a brand, product, or service, it's clear that from the customer's perspective it's all about managing and building his or her personal reputation in a specific domain so that when a recommendation is offered, it is not only followed but contributes further to the accrual of person social capital. From your (business) perspective, this is jet fuel for your brand ascension program - the ascension in customer emotion from satisfaction to loyalty to advocacy. Put all of this together - the reality of contemporary brand-building is that it is built on a negotiated relationship between business and customer - and you are set for success.

Look back at the main points in this article: evaluating performance at specific touchpoints, and focusing your effort on the ones that get talked about, on the experiences that are likely to lead from basic satisfaction to the first of the higher states - loyalty. Next, organizing these touchpoints chronologically to highlight the critical stages in the customer journey where these emotional stages are crossed. Finally, stacking all of this into layers themselves - satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy so that you can acquire, satisfy, and build brand advocates.

Loyalty begins with each experience: loyalty directly impacts ROI and leads to less-fiscal but nonetheless essential realization of advocacy. Follow the steps above, and at the same time score the power-up bonus by showing your customers how to build their social reputation in the domains which reflect their personal passions. Come back next month for more on how to do just that, and how to take reputation to the next level.

By Dave Evans
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave is the VP of social strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing.

 See Its Time to Look Within to learn more