Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing
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The Power Of Customer Loyalty

(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
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Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

(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
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

Introducing “MyPhotoRep” Testimonial And Photo In One

(Posted on Apr 27, 2014 at 06:15AM by William Cosgrove)
MyPhotoRep, is the first automated photo and text app of its kind developed by award winning OneBigBroadcast’s innovative technology to:

*Augment your reputation management

*Raise social awareness,

*Increase SEO rankings

*Encourage employee participation

*Solidify your brand through positive feedback and referrals from satisfied customers.

* Instantly share MyPhotoRep on your social channels and Testimonial page on your website with our fully integrated plugin.

The happiest time in the buyers experience is:

*The day they pick up their new or preowned vehicle

*Buy a home

*Eat that great meal

*Pick up that new product or:

*Get that great service.

We have made it easy to capture that moment with a photo and text statement from the customer as to why they purchased from your business. There are also many times when a customer is more than satisfied with the prompt and friendly service they recieved.

You no longer need to let these invaluable marketing opportunities slip by. Capture these happy moments on any mobile device as they happen and share them instantly on your Testimonial Page, with a blog and across your's and your sales or service representative's social channels.

These pictures and statements from satisfied customers will do more for your reputation and social awareness than anything that is available to you today and will also help with your search rankings. Your employees will also benefit from sharing these treasured moments on their social channels.

Plus, You can capture those funny or treasured moments that occur during business hours and share them with your current and potential customers to show them that you are people to, transparent and customer centric.

Search Engine Watch reports that 85 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. Dimensional Research reports that 90 percent of consumers say that positive online reviews had a direct impact on their buying decision.

Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions to Consider for 2014 (Social Times)

55% of young shoppers said that a recommendation from a friend is one of the strongest influencers in getting them to try a new brand. 47% consider brand reputation to be almost as important.

60% of Millennials said that social advertising has the most influence over them in how they perceive a brand and a brand’s value and Hispanics represent the youngest segment of the population here in the US. The Millennial tech-savvy and fast-paced crowd has now surpassed Baby Boomers spending $600 billion a year compared to Baby Boomer’s $400 Billion

The MyPhotoRep will allow you to easily attract customers, build a brand around your company, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website and convert more leads. 

MyPhotoRep is also a great contest app.

How many products have you invested in that produce invaluable guaranteed benefits from day one, do not need to be proven and take no time to implement.

Finish the year on a positive and productive note. It may be the best investment you make this year.

Call me today at 717-889-7030 or email me to set up a demo of this versatile application.

William Cosgrove

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Countering Bad Reviews Through Effective Digital Marketing

(Posted on Apr 23, 2014 at 06:57AM by William Cosgrove)
Picture It happens all the time: The hard-working crew at a small business loses customers thanks to the sour grapes of one person.

It could be a disgruntled employee, an angry customer or even a competitor, says V. Michael Santoro, coauthor with John S. Rizzo of Niche Dominance: Creating Order Out of Your Digital Marketing Chaos.

“Anyone can post a bad review online and hurt your business,” says Santoro, who is a managing partner with Rizzo of Globe On-Demand, an internet technology company. “Unfortunately, most business owners are not even aware that these bad reviews are out there.”

Seventy-two percent of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online, according to a 2012 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey.

“A bad review published in a newspaper, or broadcast on radio or TV, is short-lived, but a bad review posted online can live indefinitely,” says Rizzo. “With consumers now researching an average of 10 reviews before making a buying decision, and 70 percent trusting a business that has a minimum of six reviews posted, business owners need to be proactive in developing their online reputation. You need several positive reviews.”

Online searches have been streamlined, combining reviews with maps, pay-per-click advertising, local business directories and Facebook Fan pages, Santoro says.  As damaging as bad reviews can be, positive reviews can be equally constructive, he says.

Rizzo and Santoro offer an Internet marketing strategy called “reputation marketing,” described in the following steps:

  • Develop a 5-Star Reputation: Begin by having your happy customers post great reviews about your business. Strive to have at least 10. This needs to be a continuous process. Proactively ask your customers to post reviews.
  • Market Your Reputation: Once reviews are posted, use a well-designed online marketing strategy to drive targeted traffic to your website. Ensure that your website can convert this traffic into customers. Additionally, showcase these third-party reviews on your website.
  • Manage Your Reputation: Regularly check that the reviews being posted are positive. You can use Google Alerts for your business name; however, you will need to check the local directories, too, since they’re not picked up by Google Alerts. By building up the positive reviews, you can counter a poor one by sheer volume. You should also quickly post a reply to a negative review if they occur. Always be professional and indicate what action you have taken to remedy the situation.
  • Create a Reputation Marketing Culture: Train your staff to proactively ask customers for reviews and to deal immediately with any customer who appears unhappy. A positive culture will encourage customers to post positive reviews about your business.
By Michael Essany

Also see Increase Your Sales & Improve Your Reputation

Finally, Some Social Media Ground Rules

(Posted on Apr 14, 2014 at 05:04AM by William Cosgrove)
The Securities and Exchange Commission should be applauded for its new guidance on third-party review sites and financial adviser testimonials, and for clarifying what advisers can and can't do when it comes to client reviews that are posted on sites such as AngiesList and Yelp.

But the move to define social-media ground rules also raises important and difficult questions: Who will enforce the guidelines that the SEC has developed for taking advantage of these review sites, and how are they going to go about it?

Like it or not, social media is part of our culture, and neither advisers nor regulators can stick their heads in the sand and ignore it.

As Liz Skinner reported, a survey conducted by Corporate Insight in December indicated that 67% of Generation Y/Millennials and 28% of baby boomers said that they would use an online search tool to find an adviser.

Such searches often lead to sites that feature customer reviews. Slowly, the SEC has come around to realizing that social media is here to stay and has tried to help advisers adapt to it to enhance their businesses, while at the same time protecting investors from its abuses.

(Don't miss: Client reviews and you: What you need to know)

First, some background.

Since 1940, the SEC has barred advisers from using testimonials in their advertisements. The rationale is that such testimonials, by their nature, are misleading in that they emphasize favorable comments and ignore those that are unfavorable.


However, social media wasn't around 74 years ago.

According to the SEC's new guidance, it is now OK for advisers to link to testimonials on these third-party websites as long as the adviser has no control over the reviews and the sites include both favorable and non-favorable comments.

The SEC said that advisers are allowed to cite their average client rating from these sites.

That is all good news, but advisers and the public need to know that these sites aren't without controversy. There have been serious allegations that at least some of the reviews on these sites have been written by freelance writers hired by companies to post favorable comments about the companies' services.

Last year, the New York Attorney General's Office fined businesses more than $350,000 for generating phony reviews online.

Yelp acknowledges that 20% to 25% of the reviews submitted to its site are suspicious, though the company claims that many of them are filtered out before they are posted.

Is the SEC prepared to start monitoring sites such as Yelp to make sure that unscrupulous advisers aren't rigging the system to attract more clients? And if such an adviser can pay to have a positive review posted, would he or she also pay for a fake review that is critical of a competitor?


Until such questions can be answered satisfactorily and review sites can do a better job of policing the people who are posting reviews, advisers should proceed with caution.

Advisers must remember that they can't pick and choose the reviews to which they want to link.

Advisers who link to a site should make sure that they know what the reviewers are saying about them and their businesses. At the very least, advisers should learn how to challenge a review they deem bogus or one that uses inaccuracies in its assessment of the firm's services.

As one social-media consultant told our reporter, “There's always a bad apple who figures out how to game the site.”

Advisers shouldn't let that bad apple take them down. Take the time to monitor what people are saying about your business and be prepared to fight back if necessary.

Editorial Investment News
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CMO Council releases auto report indicating lack of social media leverage

(Posted on Mar 11, 2014 at 05:43AM by William Cosgrove)
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council has released a report indicating that the auto industry ecosystem should do more to leverage social media as a platform for driving business leads into sales pipelines.
Social media is stimulating extensive auto-related conversations and content that create major opportunities to identify likely buyers and engage them based on their preferences and purchase intent, according to the report, which is entitled 'Turning Social Feeds Into Business Leads'. 

Developed in partnership with hoojook, a Silicon Valley social media intelligence company focused on the auto sector, the new report finds auto industry marketers are in various stages of adopting social marketing strategies and practices. Most see social as a potentially powerful medium for understanding and engaging consumers, but they are early in the development of marketing and business metrics, as well as processes that integrate social media data more effectively in the sales funnel.

"Social represents an important marketing frontier for the automotive industry," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "Senior marketers recognise its capacity to deliver actionable, real-time insights that can help drive overall marketing effectiveness. They also see its value as a dynamic channel for influencing brand preference and purchase. Now they need to take the next step by integrating social more directly into the sales funnel and using it as a new platform for delivering qualified leads." 

Social media evidence

There is plenty of evidence demonstrating the potential of social as a marketing channel across manufacturing brands, dealerships and aftermarket products and services. For example:

• 38% of consumers say they will consult social media in making their next car purchase 
• 23% of car buyers say they use social media to communicate their purchase experience
• 84% of automotive shoppers are on Facebook and 24% of them have used Facebook as a resource for making their vehicle purchases
• 40% of new car purchases over the next 10 years will be made by Millennials
• 94% of millennial car buyers gather information online
• Clicks on Facebook auto ads climbed from 16% to 39% between October 2012 and April 2013

Based on interviews with senior marketers and executives from auto manufacturers, dealer networks, aftermarket service providers and B2B automotive solutions companies such as Autonation, Costco Auto Program, Nissan, Cadillac, Car MD, KIA, Aspen, Express Oil Change, Mazda, Snap-on, Dealertrack, DME Automotive, the report finds that senior marketers are highly interested in developing and using new systems and processes to leverage social more effectively for lead acquisition and acceleration. However, most say they are only in the very early stages of the process and often express caution about possible brand reputation issues when overtly marketing to individuals on social.

Potential for an effective medium

Nonetheless, the report argues that the use of social in combination with natural language processing and big data analytics, along with social's ability to deliver meaningful content and commentary in context, has the potential to make it a highly effective medium for identifying, segmenting and engaging consumers based on preferences and where they are in the purchase cycle.

"The technology now exists to process and analyse social streams. Not only to understand broader consumer attitudes and reputational issues but also to identify, segment and profile individual consumers based on where they are in the purchase cycle, their preferences and needs and psychographic characteristics that influence how they want to engage with brands and service providers," said Shauli Chaudhuri, CEO of hoojook. 

Other report insights

• Campaigns focused on cars generate much higher consumer engagement and interest than other social media initiatives, such as charitable causes
• Reputation management is seen as potentially the most critical aspect of social marketing, with consumer-generated content and commentary having a huge influence on purchasing decisions
• Marketers view social as most effective when integrated with other channels and marketing approaches; many view social analytics as an invaluable source of insight for other digital and offline marketing efforts
• Facebook is widely regarded as the most powerful social channel for automotive, but marketers say other channels can be more effective, depending on the need and strategy

BIZCOMMUNITY.COM Daily Industry News

Businesses Lose $41 Billion from Bad Customer Service: Here's what to Do

(Posted on Feb 12, 2014 at 04:26AM by William Cosgrove)
This article by Noreen Seebacher  gives undeniable evidence for having  onsite social community. Bring your customers close and your employees closer and stay close to them and stop losing business to perceptions of bad customer service or employee apathy.

There are so many ways to utilize onsite communities to benefit the customer and your company that cannot be duplicated elsewhere - that it is a one time cost effective addition that you need to think seriously about for 2014.

William Cosgrove


Featured Guide: Web Content & Customer Experience Management Guide (Download a Sample)

The US is a nation of "serial switchers" — and that lack of loyalty is costing businesses an estimated $41billion a year, according to research from NewVoiceMedia, a cloud contact center vendor.

Blame it on bad customer service: 44 percent of customers leave because they feel unappreciated, fed up, frustrated and convinced no one really cares about their problems.

You can read more about the study here (registration required). 

But you don't need to dig deep to understand that better customer service can have a big impact on a company's bottom line. So what should you do? For advice, CMSWire turned to customer experience expert Shep Hyken, a best-selling author, motivational speaker and Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations.

Just Amazing When you have a title like "Chief Amazement Officer," people listen. Or at least they should. Hyken works with companies and organizations that want to build better relationships and loyalty with both their customers and employees.

"Keeping customers long-term is key to the success of virtually every business, " Hyken said. The reason is simple:  It's much more expensive for a business to attract new customers than to keep existing ones — anywhere from four to six times more, depending on which research you consult."

4 Essential Strategies So how can businesses build customer loyalty and get a customer to come back again and again?

Be better than average: A company doesn't have to "wow" its customers each and every time. It just has to be a little better than average, consistently. "Two basic things need to be in place before any customer service strategy can be executed.  First, there has to be a clear vision of what it is about.  Second you have to have good people who can execute on that vision.  From there you communicate the vision, train to it, recognize the effort and celebrate the success," Hyken said.

Encourage every employee to act like an owner: Employees who care as much as the person who owns the company put customers first. " You can encourage and ask everyone to step up and act like an owner, but you have to support the behavior.  Empower employees.  Recognize them for their success.  Use mistakes as learning opportunities," Hyken said.

Strive to create totally loyal customers: Even loyal customers may still buy from your competition. The ultimate loyal customer is a repeat customer that buys what you sell — only from you and not from your competition. "Loyalty is created over time, one interaction at a time.  It is the predictable consistent experience that a customer receives that gives them the confidence to want to come back next time.  So, loyalty can be broken down into smaller parts.  It’s really about what you’re doing right now that will get the customer to come back next time.  It’s about the next time, every time," he said.

Create a customer service culture: Treat your employees the way you want the customer treated, maybe even better. " Before you can be a customer focused organization, you must become employee focused.  Leadership initially models the behavior, but then all employees must do their part as well.  The 'Employee Golden Rule' is to treat employees the way you want the customer treated.  That’s a lot different than the way you would like to be treated.  To be the best place to buy from, you must be the best place to work," Hyken said.

Additional Tips
  • Pay attention to details: Little things can make a big impact.
  • Analyze compliments as well as complaints: Don't just learn from your mistakes. Learn from positive experiences, too.
  • Get social: Use social media to send value added messages, develop community and monitor what people are saying about you.
  • Be consistent: You generate trust among your customers by delivering consistent service experiences.
  • Keep your customer service people-focused: Customers should want to do business with you because of you and your employees.
  • Sample your own customer service: See what it's like to be on the receiving end of the service you provide, through first-hand interaction.
To read more click here:
Know These Must Have Social Media Marketing Tools
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The Secret to Delighting Customers? Put Employees First

(Posted on Feb 1, 2014 at 03:19AM by William Cosgrove)

This is an article recently co-authored by Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company. It explores the connection between companies that are good at both making their customers happy and making their employees happy. Below we explore four of the most important activities customer experience leaders do to make their employees happy. What other activities have you found that are effective?

On a visit to a Disney theme park, a little girl and her mother came to a fenced-off construction site. To her mother’s dismay, the little girl threw her favorite Disney doll, Belle, over the fence. When park staff retrieved the doll, it was in a sorry state, spattered with mud, dress torn, hair bedraggled. Attempts to find a replacement in the shop proved futile: Belle had been replaced by a newer model. So the doll was taken first to a makeup artist, who washed her and styled her hair, then to the wardrobe department, which made her a new dress, and finally to a “party” with other Disney princesses, with a photographer in attendance. 

Good as new, Belle was returned to her owner that evening, along with a photo album that showed what a great time she’d had during her “makeover.” Later, in a thank you letter, the girl’s mother described the moment of Belle’s return as “pure magic.”

What motivates employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide this kind of a memorable customer experience? It’s not magic, but method. The theme park team didn’t consult a script or take instructions from their manager. They did what they did because Disney has created a culture where going the extra mile for customers comes naturally. 

Such devotion to customer service pays handsome dividends. Companies offering an exceptional customer experience can exceed their peers’ gross margin by more than 26 percent. Emotionally engaged customers are typically three times more likely to recommend a product and to repurchase it themselves. 

Delivering an exceptional experience consistently is especially important in a world where customers interact with a brand at many different points – in person, through social networks, online. Analyses reveal that performing well across these customer journeys1 is linked with greater market success than individual touchpoint performance. Companies that had a 1-percentage-point lead over their peers in key customer journeys typically enjoyed a 2-percentage-point advantage in revenue growth. In addition, companies that deliver excellent customer journeys increase employee satisfaction and engagement by 30 percent. 

Yet corporate initiatives to improve customer experience struggle to make a tangible difference where it matters most: at the front line. Call center agents read from rigid scripts and get paid for keeping calls short rather than for resolving complaints. Websites try to drive upsell rather than help customers find what they’re looking for. 

In our experience, the best way for companies to create emotional connections with their customers is by ensuring that every interaction delights them. To do that, you need more than great products – you need motivated, empowered people at the front line.

Great customer experience and how to create it Creating great customer experience comes down to having great people and treating them well. Looking after your people makes them feel more engaged with your organization and more committed to your service goals. But how do you put principle into practice? We’ve found that the best companies adopt four habits.

1. Listen to your employees 

If you want your employees to take good care of your customers, start by taking good care of your employees. Treating them respectfully and fairly goes without saying. But go a step further, and get personally involved in tackling their issues and needs. Ensure you have formal mechanisms for employees to express their concerns, either at regular open meetings, through anonymous channels such as internal surveys, or via an ombudsman. Then take action. Communicate what you are doing and how long it will take, and involve the employees themselves in the solution. 

When the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort first opened in 2005, for example, its cast members – Disney’s term for employees – had to pick up their costumes from attendants before starting their shifts. With up to 3,000 cast members arriving at once, waiting in line created delays and frustration. Leaders responded by introducing self-service kiosks, where cast members could simply pick up a costume, scan the tag and their ID, check the screen display, and walk away. Having a smoother start to their day enabled them to focus their energy where it belonged: on guests. So effective was the new approach that Disney subsequently rolled it out to all its theme parks and cruise ships. Not only does it make cast members’ lives easier; it has resulted in significant savings in inventory counting and maintenance. 

Or take BCI, a Chilean bank that acts on its belief that happy employees take better care of customers. It holds regular meetings for staff to voice their problems and needs. More importantly, having listened, it acts. When auditors complained of stiffness and eyestrain, the bank commissioned an ergonomic assessment of their workstations. When new recruits in the legal department said it took them a while to find their footing in their new positions, BCI set up additional briefing sessions. 

Clearly there are limits to what management can do, but by taking tangible action to address employees’ concerns, you demonstrate the strength of your commitment to your front line.

2. Hire for attitude, not aptitude – then reinforce 

If you want friendly service, hire friendly people. Put another way, you can train for skill, but you can’t train for attitude. JetBlue, a perennial leader in customer satisfaction, has embedded this conviction in its front-line hiring process. To recruit individuals with a natural service bent, it uses group interviews. Watching how applicants interact with each other enables the interviewer to assess candidates’ communications and people skills to an extent that wouldn’t be possible in a one-to-one setting.

Best Chevrolet, a large auto dealership in Massachusetts, is another believer in “hiring for nice.” Since adopting and sustaining this approach over several years, it has seen a rise in employee retention and a flow of testimonials from satisfied customers, not to mention a customer-satisfaction rating more than 10 percentage points above the industry average. It also racks up a 69 percent retention rate of customers who still return for services five years after purchase, compared with an industry average of 40 percent. 

Having hired people with the right attitudes, leaders need to ensure they reinforce the behaviors they want to see. Although Disney hires people to pick up trash, everyone in the organization knows that they share responsibility for maintaining a clean and pleasant environment. Asked why he was picking up paper in the restroom, one leader replied, “I can’t afford not to.” Leaders’ actions are visible to all, or as Disney puts it, “Every leader is telling a story about what they value.”

3. Give people purpose, not rules 

To ensure consistent execution across all their operations, large corporations need to define standard operating processes. However, rules and guidelines go only so far. Front-line employees participating in infinitely varied customer interactions won’t always find the answers in manuals. Besides, mechanically following a script saps interactions of authenticity. Instead of detailed lists of process steps, the best companies supply front-line staff with common purpose backed by clear quality standards.

Common purpose – a succinct explanation of the customer experience you are trying to create at an emotional level – motivates employees and gives their work meaning. They choose to go that extra mile through personal passion, not passive compliance. At Disney, for example, common purpose – “We create happiness” – figures in the first day of training for every new recruit at every level. When cast members rescued Belle the doll from a muddy puddle in a construction site, they knew their organization’s purpose was to make her owner happy; their job was to do everything they could to bring that about. 

When BCI was defining its common purpose – developing trust-based customer relationships that last a lifetime – senior leaders kicked off the process, and then cross-functional teams stepped in to craft it, in a collaborative effort that built ownership across the business. 

Defining a common purpose is one thing; living it, however, is another. The bank’s leaders like to tell a story about a lottery winner who was looking for a bank to entrust with his prize money. When he visited a BCI branch, he was impressed to find that employees didn’t just try to sell him products but made an effort to identify and satisfy his needs. Explaining why he chose BCI, he said its employees struck him as genuine. By living the company’s values, they had earned his trust without even realizing it.

After aligning on a common purpose, an organization needs to make it concrete through a set of quality 

standards: priorities that guide front-line staff in delivering the desired customer experience. BCI employees follow four quality standards: safety (fulfill commitments with transparency and competence); closeness (get to know your customer and connect emotionally); diligence (promptly advise and execute responsibly with agility, ease, and simplicity); and image (project the values of BCI in each action and location). 

When people are trusted to do their job and given clear expectations rather than an instruction manual, they feel more valued and empowered – qualities that can’t help but show in the customer experience they provide. In the first year of BCI’s program to improve customer experience, satisfaction among its retail banking customers rose by 33 percent.

4. Tap into the creativity of your front line 

Giving front-line employees responsibility and autonomy creates a sense of ownership that inspires them to do everything they can to improve the customer experience. When they see a problem, they fix it without waiting to be asked. 

The best companies recognize that front-line staff are also a rich source of customer insights. They can help leaders understand what customers want – and how to provide it – without the time and expense of market research. To get the most value from these insights, organizations need to build good “plumbing”: robust channels to get information up the hierarchy to leaders who can act on it. 

Consider Wawa, a U.S. convenience-store chain based on the East Coast. Knowing that its store managers understand local customers’ needs better than any desk-bound analyst ever could, it grants them considerable latitude over what they sell.

One enterprising manager decided his customers would welcome a coffee bar and more fresh food options. When customer traffic and profits soared, head office noticed and quickly dispatched a team to investigate. On their return, the team explained how the manager had boosted sales and presented a plan for rapidly replicating the innovation across other stores in the network.

How do you do it? Show you genuinely C.A.R.E. So what does it take to deliver a consistently top-level customer experience? Sadly, there is no short cut to becoming best in class. Most companies take years. But there are four things you can do to get off to a good start: 

Clarify. Before you embark on a customer-experience transformation, put as much effort and rigor into understanding your employees as you do into understanding your customers. Treat interviews, surveys, and suggestion boxes as important sources of information. Combine the input you receive with customer satisfaction scores, business metrics, and employee churn rates to isolate the issues that matter most to your employees and your business. 

Align. Define a common purpose that encapsulates what your organization stands for, and make it the emotional pivot around which all your employee and customer strategies revolve. Forget slick marketing campaigns; instead, use common purpose to rouse your people to action on the things that count. Make sure all your leaders are 100 percent on board. Without their commitment, communication and implementation will soon break down. 

Reinforce. Even the best customer-experience program is of no use unless leaders put their commitment into practice by being role models for the behaviors they want employees to adopt. Seeing leaders acting in a new way encourages employees to follow suit and makes common purpose a living reality within the organization. To help the changes stick you need a systematic reinforcement program combining training, coaching, and 360-degree feedback mechanisms. Develop metrics to track how employees are performing, and intervene when necessary. Training and coaching should evolve over time as the needs of employees and the organization change. 

Empower. Clarity about expectations plus freedom to act equals an empowered front line. Establish quality standards to ensure your people make real-time decisions that are consistent with your common purpose. Then support your quality standards with behavioral guidelines to shape your desired customer experience and enable your staff to measure, coach, recognize, and reward one another in their day-to-day work. Armed with this framework, they’ll be able to handle every customer encounter in a way that expresses your company’s vision and values.

Technological advances have made it much easier for business enterprises to understand customers on an individual basis. Even so, engaging with them is still largely done by people at the front line, through personal contact. The continuous relationship of trust with customers that companies seek to nurture is built one interaction at a time. That’s what your people are hired to do. So to create an emotional bond with your customers, start by engaging your employees.

Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company collaborate to provide customer experience transformations to a portfolio of global clients.

Authors: Fernando Beltran, Dilip Bhattacharjee, Harald Fandel, Bruce Jones, Scott Lippert, Francisco Ortega

Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company

The Five Types Of Social Media Complainers [Infographic]

(Posted on Aug 18, 2013 at 03:27AM by William Cosgrove)
Social media plays a critical role in protecting both brand equity and customer loyalty. More and more consumers are using social media to interact with brands; yet most customer complaints, questions, and comments remain unanswered by those brands.

This infographic identifies five different types of complainers and how you can help them.
By Blue

DealerNet Services