Why Is Great Customer Experience Management So Elusive?

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Forrester updated its view into Customer Experience Management (CEM) earlier this year, with very interesting survey data. Retail continues to score highest among consumers and airlines stayed near the bottom. That’s why it came as no surprise when airlines moved quickly to be the first to announce that they would allow device use during takeoff and landing, just days after the FAA recently changed the regulations.

Airlines Aren’t Alone in the Struggle

Airlines aren’t the only ones to improve customer experience management. While retailers lead Forrester’s CEM survey, customer experience scores vary greatly between brands. Several of the highest scores were cost-cutting retailers—not surprising during a downturn in the economy.

But not all retailers mentioned were cost-cutters. For brands that want to compete on more than simply price, customer experience takes on a new urgency. At least one retail chain listed in the survey scored higher than cost-cutting brands, even though they don’t compete on price.

Rather than racing to the pricing bottom, brands are increasingly taking advantage of strong loyalty programs, executive through loyalty platforms, to improve the customer experience and retention.

The Danger of Competing on Price Alone

Competing on price alone is a cutthroat business model with a constant threat of disruption. It only takes a lower price to take the customer elsewhere. Competing on great customer experience, on the other hand, is a virtuous model that offers customer advocacy, revenue lift, and forgiveness for the occasional slip up.

Great CEM is elusive for brands that lack a focus on customer service, don’t know their customers well, or have outdated, transaction-focused loyalty programs.

 

Customer Loyalty Is The New Customer Service

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

In a recent post, 3 Reasons Loyalty Programs Aren’t Optional, I pointed out why loyalty programs are a critical part of customer engagement. A sudden surge in tablets and smartphones, the phenomena of Big Data, and the need for customer permission to avoid creepiness were reasons every brand needs to have a loyalty program.

But the reasons go even deeper than technology and privacy. In today’s climate of increasing choice, customer loyalty takes on many of the traditional aspects of customer service. By knowing your customer’s history, preferred channels of communication, current context and—most importantly—your service options, the chance of turning around a bad situation or delighting your customer are significantly improved (learn more in this whitepaper).

Sounds Good, But How?

Understanding your customer’s history, preferences and current context is the job of a loyalty platform for a loyalty program, but taking on the customer service opportunity requires the same knowledge of the customer. By studying customer responses with a test-and-learn approach, customer service based on customer loyalty data allows for segmentation and can be improved upon just like customer loyalty programs. It’s a win-win.

Customer service today is an opportunity to create customer loyalty in new ways and with far better results than in the past. And the best part? It is a by-product of having an excellent customer loyalty platform…and the tools are already available.

Customer Loyalty Management via the Customer Service Silo

By Ted Rubin

All of your employees work in the marketing department, at least to some extent, and they need to understand the role they play. But to create a strong foundation for customer loyalty management, there are a few departments within your company that absolutely need to sync with marketing. Your customer service department is the most important.

Here are four ways you can leverage your customer service team to effectively manage customer loyalty, build relationships, and turn customers into fans. Think Return on Relationship… because there is no better time than when your customers reach out to you.

Method #1: For relevant content inspiration

You already know how important consistent, creative content is for your inbound marketing strategy. The trouble is consistently coming up with new ideas. Even your best content creators will struggle at times to come up with the type of content your audience craves.

It pays to have an open communication line between your content creation team and your customer service team. Content marketers are always looking for new ways to solve problems, and write about them.

Effective customer loyalty management starts with contextual content your audience values.  Who better than customer service representatives to provide firsthand feedback of the primary questions and issues your they hear about every day?

Consider regular meetings between your content and customer service teams to keep up with the problems and hot-button issues your customers currently care about. An immediate added bonus will be real-life case studies and success stories. Also consider using an internal wiki to allow team members from customer service, sales, etc. to share article ideas based on interactions with your customers and prospects in real-time.

Even if you only use a fraction of the suggestions, you never know which one will lead to a piece of content that change the image of your company, not to mention the impact all this listening can have on contextual social messaging creation.

Method #2: For delivering on customer expectations

If your customers don’t feel they’re getting what is promised from the outset, your customer loyalty management efforts, and relationship building, will almost certainly be an uphill battle. Marketing works best when your leads, prospects and most importantly, customers, have a clear, accurate expectation for how your solution will help them.

How can your customer service department help?

When deliverables don’t align with expectations, your customer service department will be the first to know. They can quickly alert marketing when customers feel misled or misunderstood. Marketers will then be able to alter campaigns, and deliverables, to set more accurate expectations for potential customers. Now you have another great opportunity to turn those customers into fans, fans into advocates, and create long-term trust and loyalty.

Method #3: For social media support done right

Most of you already provide customer service via social media. But are you putting the right person on the job? Are you connecting the social team and the customer service team so they understand how best to work together? Your social media account manager may seem like a natural choice, however when it comes to helping and resolving issues, your customer service team likely has the training and on-the-job experience to satisfy customer needs more efficiently.

Creating a customer loyalty management program that allows your customer service team to help with inquiries from social channels can deliver a much better experience for your customers and get issues resolved more efficiently.

Method #4: For consistent, contextual messaging

If your marketing team is doing it, your customer service team should know about it.

Why?

Who is a prospect or customer going to call if they have questions about an event, a promotion, or a product? That’s right, customer service – often because it’s the easiest contact number to find.

Think of your customer service rep as your target audience’s concierge. Why are they calling? What are they trying to accomplish? How can you give customers and prospects the exact help they need and then naturally direct them to the most logical point in your sales cycle?

A simple shared document with login information for events and links to helpful content can eliminate wasted resources and save valuable time. And when your prospects and customers get the help they need immediately, they’re well on their way to becoming fans, and advocates, of your brand.

Building a bridge between your marketing and customer service silos is a great way to stay on top of what matters most to your prospects and customers. After all, how can you be sure you’re offering contextual content to your audience unless you are listening to what they want?

Nobody listens and hears more, if they are doing their job correctly, than your customer service department. Make them a key cog in your approach to social marketing, customer loyalty management, and Return on Relationship.

Learn more about how to build a well-rounded customer loyalty management program in this webinar and whitepaper by TIBCO Loyalty Lab. And learn about Return on Relationship by reading Ted’s book released January 29th.

Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker and Brand Evangelist. In March 2009 he started using and evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, hashtag #RonR.  As many may have heard, Ted recently left his position as Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias.

Many people in the social media world know Ted for his enthusiastic, energetic and undeniably personal connection to people. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter according to Social Media Marketing Magazine; one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to Say Media, #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, 2013, and number #2 on the Leadtail August 2013 list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers.

ROR is the basis of his philosophy…It’s All About Relationships! His book, Return on Relationship was released January 29th. Connect with Ted… http://TedRubin.com or @TedRubin

 

 

Structure No Longer Has a Vote on What’s Data or Not

by Sukki Sandhar

Not so long ago, businesses didn’t care about information outside the normal structure of trusted outlets like print media, trade journals, academic research and other trusted system-generated information. In fact, I would go so far as saying that if it wasn’t structured, it wasn’t data. All of this changed soon after customers started to freely express their comments and opinions on websites and bulletin boards. Views became another data point to track and analyze to harness customer preference as an aggregate and per each individual. In some ways, unstructured customer data via connectivity and social media has multiplied the already growing challenge of big data.

Unstructured data now matters

Now businesses thrive or fail on what these un-controlled, unstructured data sources say. From retailers to job sites, what unstructured data says about a business and brand matters. Businesses don’t control unstructured data sources, and this scares them. But, just like structured data sources, business can ingest, understand, react, and even anticipate what’s going to happen if they are clever.  The speed and pace at which unstructured data sources spread has increased due to the nature of the Internet and global connectivity.

How employee and customer knowledge becomes a data point

This is not new in terms of customer service; customers have always been complaining. What’s new is mass proliferation of this information to a social media following. What once would have been between one disgruntled customer griping to his friends and family has now become a status broadcast to hundreds that can even go viral and reach millions (the absolute worst nightmare for PR).  To compound this shift in information structure, the once unstructured information of personal anecdotes now masquerades as a trusted, structured, information source based on the close personal relationship between the social media follower and the original poster.

To see the price of not knowing, look no further than Barings Bank, the oldest merchant bank in London, laid low by the behavior of one employee who lost $1.3 billion in speculative trading. Despite surviving the Great Depression and both World Wars, Barings was brought down in 1995 by its head derivatives trader in Singapore. It was reasonably clear something was amiss when employees started to clear their desks and leave the building, but the structured data sources like rating agencies did not, and could not, react faster than the word on social websites.

Combining structured and unstructured data for a single view

The Financial Service industry relies heavily on what rating agencies provide on the structured data side, however, it’s clear the structured and unstructured data sources have their place when time and sentiment matters.  The ability to have high performance integration with low latency and the ability to process and understand unstructured data is fast becoming a holy grail.

Whether it’s a disgruntled employee whistleblowing corruption at a big bank or thousands of frustrated sports fan providing unstructured reactions to a structured news story about their team, unstructured data sources and how these integrate to better inform business decisions is going to be an area of extreme value to all businesses.

Read more by Sukki at The TIBCO Blog.

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