Earlier today I came across this post on Performix Integrated Marketing in which they highlight a recent article that Michelle Eggers of SAS Institute wrote about the importance of implementing marketing metrics and Customer Lifetime Value in your business.
Here’s a brief summary of the article as described by Performix:
- Look at the processes your marketing department is using. Are they ahead or behind schedule on jobs? Efficient, or chaotic? Keep a grasp on the people part of the process to be able to increase productivity.
- Distinguish between measuring campaign performance (e.g.. how the cross-sell campaign did online in the last 3 months) and look at the OVERALL effectiveness of all marketing programs, direct and traditional or broadcast media. You need to have the data on how all are performing in order to develop the right media mix.
- Develop and focus on broader business metrics that are not specific to any marketing program, like: sales growth, market share, total sales and total profits, Are they aligned? How do they interact?
- Look at the customer: except for managing marketing processes, all of the above relate to the customer. Are they affecting the customer positively or negatively? Create customer metrics, for things like: products (owned) per customer, customer profitability, customer satisfaction, net-adds, and customer lifetime valiue.
Does your business fully understand CLV?
Communication is key to customer relationships. There’s a need for you to openly communicate and be honest with what they should expect from your company. Service Untitled recently gave a few areas of communication to properly communicate with your customers.
Contact them through different mediums.
Be clear and honest with timelines.
Communicate what is being done and why.
Be prepared to answer questions.
In this news report, they discuss the merits of CRM. Since the conception of CRM systems, much has changed. In 1997, 39% of contact centers said they “had a single view of the customer” with 45% planning to follow their lead within 2 years. By 2007 this number had dropped to 34%. As Stephen Loring, a business development manager for customer interactive solutions stated:
“The rise of the Internet, and the use of different channels such as IVR and Web self-service has disrupted the unified 360 degree view of customers in CRM. At the same time the payback period for CRM installations is too long for many of today’s business managers.”
This has lead people to question the usefulness of CRM. In response Pete Marston, a Forrester Research Analyst had this to say:
“If you have customers won over you need to maintain those relationships, on the marketing side you need to get people interested in your product or service by understanding their buying behavior is, and then on the sales side you understand what the customers’ needs are. The various CRM tools help you carry out these functions.”
What is your take on this debate?
Even through troubling times and economies, the strength of the customer relationship that a company builds should endure. Researching the net, I came across this great list of 10 customer service tips posted by Joe Brown, general manager of EMEA at RightNow Technologies, on MYCUSTOMER.com.
- Don’t discontinue an existing customer initiative in an uncertain economy ‘ if necessary, reduce the scope of (or postpone pending improvements to) the initiative until the economy improves.
- Don’t wait for customer relationships to weaken or break ‘ you can’t afford the loss of revenue or of goodwill in an uncertain economy, so proactively take steps to manage those relationships well.
- Customers make purchase decisions more deliberately in an uncertain economy, so give them the service and the information they need to choose your company over the competition.
- Customers take longer to make purchase decisions when times are tough, so bridge the gap with a sequence of individually customised communications that provide concrete information on the specific product features and benefits that fulfil their needs.
- Spend your budget wisely, by shifting dollars to individualised service initiatives and communications targeted to those customers who are most valuable or who are most likely to grow in value.
- Clearly communicate value in each customer message’ empathetically explaining how and why your product is aligned with the customer’s concerns in a trying economic environment.
- Don’t overwhelm customers with surveys, and when a customer does respond, let them know that their feedback has been received’and, most importantly, that it is sincerely appreciated.
- Invest in innovation’fuelled in part by customer listening’during challenging economic times, because it can pay handsome dividends.
- The memories of customers will extend well beyond the end of an uncertain economy ‘ they won’t forget (or forgive) opportunistic actions or other violations of trust, but they will remember excellent customer service.
- Focus upon cost savings rather than revenue generation when implementing a customer initiative ‘ and then use those savings to fund future enhancements.
Retaining customer loyalty through turbulent times really shows the worth of your company. Follow these steps listed by Joe Brown to ensure that loyalty is not lost no matter how tough times might get.
Whether you’re talking to a company’s representative on the phone or online, there are two quick ways to alienate a customer. Laura Bergells details these two approaches that your company’s reps should watch out for when they communicate with customers in her latest post on Internet Marketing in the Midwest. Laura gives an example of two companies that she has had a long customer relationship with which she will soon break off. One company apologizes constantly in person, on the phone, and in ‘canned letters’. The apologies seem scripted, and thus can frustrate customers even more when their problems are not being solved. The next example involves a company who apologizes for none of its faults, and makes the customer feel like an idiot. The representatives for Company B treated Laura with absolutely no respect, and made no effort to go out of there way to provide superior service. Not only was the rep rude, but they did hold Laura’s scheduled appointment. These are two examples of customer service approaches that your company should never follow. As Laura mentions, customer service is a huge part of marketing, and frustrated bloggers can spread word fast all over social media. Businesses should empower its representatives to use social skills and reasoning to solve problems and communicate effectively with customers, instead of following a script or being unapologetic.
One of our media partners for our NACCM Customers 1st event, 1 to 1 Media, discussed the relationship between call centers and customer service on this post from their blog today. These are some of the points that the author noted after discussing ways to achieve success with individuals who worked there.- Managers want to use e-learning modules for training, but are torn about taking agents off the phones to train.
- There’s a need for bilingual capabilities, but confusion about how to implement them.
- Getting all departments in the enterprise, from R&D to marketing, to give all necessary information to the contact center for agent training purposes.
– Department heads and executives need to spend more time in the contact center listening and learning.
– Some contact centers are partnering agent training with recruiting.
– Daycare workers (college educated moms) and retirees are becoming the hot new workforce in contact centers.
- Agents are getting coached about how to hear and manage a lifecycle change on a customer call.In summary, many of these points highlight on the need for improved training, and the importance of integrating the departments in a more cohesive manner. This is imperative for employees at these call centers, since they are often times the main point of contact for consumers.
This post on Customers Rock gives an example of how Lighthouse Ice Cream and Yogurt in Ocean Beach, CA is taking a new approach to ever so common ‘customer wall of fame’ that many restaurants adopt. The shop is full of white poster boards hanging from ribbons, filled with photos. When the lady behind the counter was asked what the photos were, she explained that they have been taking pictures of customers for the past 10 years! This is a cheap and effective way to show customer recognition, but there is more that can be done for no cost at all. With the growing shift of Web 2.0 and social networks, businesses might want to turn to the internet to create communities. Becky Carroll gives a great example of how Facebook groups and a Flickr account full of fans might be an easier way for people to interact and to raise awareness.
Disgruntled customers just want to know that their complaints are being heard, and that the company is doing something to try and rectify the situation. This post on CRM Daily mentions that the results of a survey conducted by the Better Business Bureau show that 1 out of 5 people cite that customer service is a prerequisite for building trust in a business. Angry customers are generally not a lost cause. Another study conducted by Harvard shows that an unhappy customer can become a repeat customer almost 80% of the time. The business must take appropriate steps and action to provide phenomenal customer service to exceed the consumer’s expectations. Since customer service representatives are your first line of defense from losing a customer, very well trained, courteous, and knowledgeable staff is needed to solve disputes. Every business should work on improving customer service and its retention ratio. After all, it costs a lot more money to gain a new customer than to maintain an existing customer.
Searching the blogosphere, I came across this post from one of NACCM’s keynotes speakers, Joanna Brandi. A couple of colleagues talked to Joanna about the recent experience they had at a stay at the Ritz Carlton hotel. Her friend later went on to describe the behavior of the employees there as ‘It was as if they were anticipating what I needed.’ The conversation quickly led to similar experiences (both good and bad) that they had in local restaurants. Before Joanna knew it, she had a long list of places not to go. When it comes down to recommending places based on customer experience, word of mouth marketing is crucial. Word of good customer service and bad customer service will somehow find its way spreading like a viral disease. Make sure your customers are taking care of, before they spread the word! Be sure not to miss Joanna’s Brandi’s session ‘The Positive Leader’ at NACCM where she’ll shed some more insight on customer management.
I came across this news story from CIOL which highlights Converse’s latest launch of its Converse One Billing and Active Customer Management solution. This new approach will help organizers manage all subscriber orders, regardless of the payment types, as well as accelerate new promotions and offers. This functionality will help the overall customer experience, since it is making it a lot simpler to handle many different subscriber accounts. Some of the benefits of this solution include real-time credit control and precise order management data which can be presented ultimately to the end-consumer. Capabilities can even be added due to ever-changing business needs and transformations. This solution is paving the way for more customer management applications to be released. What I’d like to know is what other companies out there are planning to implement something similar within their customer service operations.