Companies are afraid of losing ‘control’ of their brand message. There are two parts to their fear. One, customers have the freedom to say whatever they want; and, two, that is only that message in the marketplace. You can see that in part two you as a person responsible for the brand message or customer communications (yes you!) can jump in and be a part of shaping what’s presented in social media.
We already know that #1 is happening. Putting your head in the sand won’t stop it. Don’t let your fear of what customers are saying stifle your willingness to work on part #2. This is where you can become the hero of your customers and business value – offering helpful messages and bringing balance to what is being presented. Plus, you can gain ideas that can help shape your business direction and focus.
The best way to overcome this fear is to engage with customers in a dialogue via social media. Leaving negative comments alone doesn’t make them better, but engaging and solving problems and responding really can. Continue reading
A friend of mine works for a prominent university where one of his primary responsibilities is actively engaging with the alumni and athletic boosters, both directly and through social media channels, to garner large donations. Recently his department compiled a tribute video for one of their most prominent alumnae (and donor) using recorded messages from some of their past outstanding football players. It was a great idea in theory but tracking down this old player data proved to be rather difficult.
The life in academia is very much like our corporate lives. We have TONS of data about past and present customers (students) but it’s not easily accessible, not well organized and definitely not easily analyzed. My friend’s task sounded easy – track down football players that played for the university between 1974 and 2010, contact them, and get them to agree to appear in the tribute video that would air during this year’s homecoming celebration. What seemed like a straightforward request, turned into nothing short of a Big Data nightmare. You must be thinking, ‘I can get past customer addresses – what’s the big deal?’ Continue reading
Earlier this week I attended a city council public hearing regarding the 2011 annual budget in my current hometown of Omaha, NE. I won’t bore you with the details of why and how Omaha came to have a $33.5 million budget deficit, but needless to say residents had some very strong opinions about the proposed solutions – increased property & wheel taxes and a 4.4% gross proceeds tax on restaurants.
Residents overfilled city hall and shared intimate stories of loss, hardship and frustration. They took time out of their day to express their opinions and provide unique insights into their lives – much like your customers do every day.
What was surprising to me was the veritable wall of silence and ignorance with which these opinions were met. I understand that the purpose of such public hearings is to collect (not share) opinions, but the blank stares on the faces of a number of council members told me that for some, this was not a research effort designed to elicit a better plan for the city’s future but simply an exercise in futility for the attendees. They asked because they had to ask. How many of your customers would describe your customer experience research in the same way?
Are you listening AND engaging your customers?
In order for your Customer Experience evaluation to truly be an effective listening post for your organization, customers must feel that your organization values their input and plans to take their input into consideration at critical decision points. You can convey this to your customers in many ways:
- Tell customers why their input is important when you invite them to participate in your survey–Customer Relationship Metrics’ business partners vary widely in the places and ways in which they inform customers of the availability of a survey. Some business partners play an IVR message about the survey to all customers, some play an IVR message for a randomly-selected portion of customers, some rely on their call center agents to inform and invite customers to participate in the survey. Regardless of the approach you have chosen to take, the way you phrase the invitation has a lot to do with the response rate you receive. If you take the time to inform customers why their feedback is important and/or how it will be used, customers will be more likely to take valuable time out of their day to provide their feedback. Customer Relationship Metrics can work with you to design a survey invitation test to determine which invitation appeals most to your customer-base.
- Follow-up on survey alerts (and be timely about it)– When customers do take the time to complete a survey and they request follow-up from management it is imperative that management take action. And swiftly take action. Failure to do so indicates to customers that your organization is either not paying attention to customer feedback or worse; that your organization doesn’t care about the customer’s experience. If you value the feedback you receive from customers, make it someone’s job to follow-up on the real-time alerts. These alerts are not just complaints, they are a goldmine of opportunity to convert another customer into a loyal missionary for your brand. I saw a fantastic tweet on twitter recently that is spot on true, “Engagement builds loyalty! Some of the most passionate brand advocates are satisfied former complainers” (@KnowledgeBishop, Tristan David Bishop). Let’s face it, the minute your customer stops complaining you’ve already lost them.
- Tout your own customer service achievements – If focus on the customer experience is not a new concept to you and you’ve been doing the work (not just talkin’ the talk), many of your customers may be spoiled by your efforts. As you’ve improved over the years, their level of expectation has climbed. It’s time to shake them up and remind them of how great it’s been to work with you. If you’ve recently won a service award, if you ranked well in an industry benchmark study, tell your customers about it – in your IVR, in your bill inserts, on your website, and on Twitter!
- Tell your customers how their feedback has helped shape your organization – Most importantly, if you have been recognized for your customer satisfaction efforts, remember to thank your customers for making it all possible. It is after all their feedback that led to your organizations’ recognition.