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Innovation and the Art of Recognizing Opportunity

I often speak about customer experience in my blogs. I do so because a company that provides a superior customer experience creates a robust strategic differentiator. However, today I want to focus on product innovation and a success story of one of our clients, AGCO.

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Keeping the Experience Alive and Vital

Many companies have had a formal customer experience program in place for many years. They have accumulated thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of interviews. Employees have completed training, and new technologies have been implemented to improve the customer experience. Among our long-time clients, all have a customer experience that is superior to what it was in the past. As I work with these clients, I have had several discussions about how to keep their program both fresh and effective. I want to outline some suggestions that can help keep the feedback component of your program alive and well:

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Do Your Customers Trust You?

It is a question not often formally asked of customers. The response to this question is assumed. “Customers trust us. Why else would they do business with us?” However, it is a question you should consider asking your customers based on our experiences. Their responses may surprise you and may also make a difference to your company’s bottom (and top) line.

Trust and Loyalty: What’s The Connection?

Intuitively, managers know that it is better to have customers that trust them more than less. Since trust, we think, is derived from experiences customers have with a supplier, I want to identify those areas that are critical to enhancing the level of a customer’s trust in your company.

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How to Cut Out Customer Feedback Friction

Customer feedback is an essential ingredient for building better customer experiences, which help businesses survive and thrive.

Too often, though, feedback processes contain unnecessary friction, which causes customers to drop out of the process.

This is a lose-lose situation. The company is deprived of customer insights and customers waste their time.

Here’s the good news: By following a few simple steps, you can prevent or solve much of the friction in feedback processes. Before getting to those, though, let me share why I’m writing about this in the first place.

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Customer Experience KPI’s: Unintended Consequences (and How to Avoid Them)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be invaluable in helping companies manage progress towards their goals. A KPI answers the question “Are we on track?” with a single metric. Put enough KPIs on a dashboard, and you’ve struck management gold: a snapshot of your business, distilled to a single page.

Applied to customer experience improvement efforts, KPIs can help businesses put actionable, “hard” metrics around what can otherwise be a “soft” topic. Just the ticket for aligning your efforts to become more customer centric. So, what’s not to love?

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The Evolution of the Service Experience: Cooperation and its Impact on Customer Expectation

I cannot say if customer service is, in general, improving or getting worse.  The American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that customer service improved until mid-2014 but has been trending downward since. It is probably growing in some industries and not in others. Personally, I am occasionally impressed with the service, but the service I receive is “adequate.”  I give talks frequently, and I often start the presentation by asking who can recall a positively memorable service experience in the last few months. Typically, I will see a smattering of raised hands.  If asked about unsatisfactory service experiences, the number of hands raised is usually far larger. Is Customer expectation changing or is consistency slipping?

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A Business Tip from Nature: How to Stay in Touch with Customers as You Grow

If your company is growing, congratulations!  That’s great news.  Now, here’s the bad news: your business may be becoming less connected with your customers with every sale you make.

Here’s why and what to do about it:

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Don’t Play “Telephone” with your End Customer: Why B2B Companies Must Understand their “C’s”

Have you ever played the game of “telephone,” where players whisper a message from one person to the next?  Once a message goes even one or two hops, it can break down quickly with often hilarious results when the message is announced at the end.

The same dynamic exists in B2B value chains though the end result is less amusing.  If a B2B company relies solely on the next hop in its value chain to know how well it’s satisfying customer needs and identify opportunities for improvement, it’s at risk of receiving poor quality information.

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Getting Customers Off the Fence

Since 2005, we have provided a transactional survey process, ServiceConnect, to our clients.  Most of the clients are Caterpillar dealers.  One of the biggest challenges they have faced is the Passive customer (i.e. the customer who gives a 7 or 8 on the willingness to refer or Net Promoter Score question).  Over the past year several dealers have made significant improvements in moving Passive customers to the Promoter category.  I interviewed one client CEO about what they did and he had a simple response. 

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Customers, Employees and the Connection

The Gallup organization, along with several others have done extensive research on the connection between an employee's engagement and customer satisfaction.  Not surprisingly, there is a strong positive relationship.  In recent research done by our firm, we have made similar findings. 

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