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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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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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Creating Client Loyalty in a Tough Industry

In this blog, I want to share how one company, Carocon Corporation, has created client loyalty in an industry not know for much loyalty.

Carocon Corporation is the fourth largest apartment contractor in the US.  They build over 2,600 apartment units annually.  I have had the privilege of working with the company since early 2000 and currently serve on its board of directors.

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Unsung Heroes of the Customer Experience: Your Back Office

Believe it or not, your non-customer facing employees, from Sales, Support to Finance, to Legal, are the foundation on which great customer experiences are built. Yet, too often, organizations don’t realize this, or they forget the importance of the support team until it’s too late and your customers begin leaving for your competitors.

If you work in a sales function, take a moment to read the story below and consider the importance of your support team. If you’re in support, take a moment to pat yourself on the back!

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Connecting Customer Experience and Your Brand Promise

If your company is looking to strengthen its brand, consider including the customer experience as a key component of your strategy. The customer experience matters, because brands are built on promises made real.

Consciously or subconsciously, your customers compare what your company logos and slogans are saying to what you’re actually doing. If you consistently make good on the promises you make, your brand grows stronger over time.

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Who Moved My Cheese(burger)?

Imagine you ordered a cheeseburger.  But as you prepare to dig in, you discover there is no cheese.  Now you just have a burger.  I recently spoke to a customer who had a “burger only” experience.  He rented a backhoe and was ready to dig in at his construction site.  But the bucket was loose and the dig was a disaster. You guessed it -- no cheese.

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Don't Take Loyal Customers for Granted

In the past, I have written about the importance of consistency in delivering a great service experience.  In my opinion, you will likely win at the service game if you deliver good, no great, customer service consistently (rather than having it great one time, average the next, and not-so-good the next time).  I want to highlight a critical component of delivering consistently great customer service which is not taking loyal customers for granted. 

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How to Stop Playing Customer Service Whack-a-Mole

Whack-a-Mole is hilariously fun at first, yet it quickly becomes tedious and repetitive.  Just imagine having to play it for a living.  If you manage a customer facing team or function, that’s what you may feel you’re doing when dealing with customer service issues.  You run from one problem to the next, stopping just long enough to apologize or extend a goodwill credit before dashing to the next fire.

If you’d like to stop playing customer service whack-a-mole, consider using “continuous improvement,” a management method made common by Toyota and other manufacturing companies to help identify, fix, and prevent production errors.  Continuous improvement works on customer issues, too.

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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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