Category Archives: Customer Satisfaction

3 reasons why customer centricity’s time has come

the_time_is_now The world of business has rapidly transformed over the past 15 years. From a world where businesses controlled supply, controlled the message and could dictate terms to customers to one where customers have a much louder and more influential voice.

While we have always been advocates of businesses that act in the best interests of their customers, it seems market forces are now compelling all businesses to behave this way.

So why do we believe 2015 is the year for Customer Centricity? 3 reasons.

1. Customer Feedback Systems are going enterprise wide.

Companies have been measuring customer satisfaction levels for many years. Often these surveys have been conducted once a year, presented and then forgotten about. This type of survey methodology is rapidly changing, becoming real time and supported by great technologies to get the right feedback to the right person at the right time. In fact technology is enabling enterprise wide feedback mechanism that were never previously viable.

While this is a great positive trend for companies that realize they must become more customer centric, it is not enough for these to remain only the domain of customer service or marketing.

Being customer centric is a way of doing business that is not only about sales, marketing and customer service. It involves every department understanding their role in creating a great customer experience. Many forward thinking CEOs recognize this fact and are working on transforming their organizations to meet this challenge.

2. Convergence of customer experience and employee experience.

Today there is a recognition that employee experience impacts customer experience. If employees are not given the opportunity and tools to change the way they work, the customer experience will suffer. Being customer centric means understanding that every interaction with customers allows them to form an impression, good, bad or indifferent. It truly requires everyone in an organization to be engaged in delivering great experiences.

The bottom line here is that you cannot create truly engaged customers without truly engaged and passionate employees.

3. Recognition that Customer Centricity is a Leadership Competency. 

Being customer centric, requires leadership that is customer centric. Leaders need to be engaged with customers first hand. Leaders need to immerse themselves in the customer’s environment and experience what customer’s experience. I wrote about Telstra’s (A $20billion telecommunications company) Executive team engaging in this practice previously here. We are seeing this become the norm in many other large businesses around the world.

There is also increasingly a realization that leaders of all disciplines need to develop their customer centric thinking and leadership competencies.

We were recently honoured that our Book, the Customer Culture Imperative  was nominated as one of the Top 20 and later short listed after a public voting period to the final 5 for the Marketing Book of the Year – 2015. Perhaps some further proof that Customer Centricity’s time has come!

How DollarShaveClub.com created a disruptive customer experience

If you think about what’s happening in the men’s shaving razor market it’s a little like a cold war era arms race. Each year more and more blades are added to the humble razor. The giants of the industry Gillette and Schick continue to add more and more features to their products but are they creating more value?

Michael Dublin from DollarShaveClub.com doesn’t think so. In a mere 12 months he has built an online subscription based razor business with more than three hundred thousand customers.

How? Michael recognized three major pain points for men when it comes to buying shaving equipment. Firstly razors are expensive! and they keep going up in price. Rather than getting more for less consumers are getting more for more…. Secondly the experience of buying a razor is far less than ideal (to put it politely). Razors a usually locked behind a plastic cage at the back of a Walgreens store and it take 20 minutes to get someone back there to let them out! Finally who really needs 5 blades? How close a shave do men really need?

How about a world where razors are bought online at low cost and sent to you each month – a just in time subscription model. Not only that but they are provided by a company with a sense of humor, that doesn’t take things too seriously (apart from disrupting the existing business models).

A great value proposition is worthless if no one knows about it so to overcome the inherent challenge facing any new business or new idea, Michael developed a video to communicate what dollarshaveclub.com is all about…

While it certainly is not a video that will appeal to everyone, it does a great job of speaking directly to his target audience – men fed up with spending a fortune just to keep up with the latest shaving technologies.

How stupid companies hold their customers hostage

customer hostages

It never ceases to amaze me how some companies continue to make it hard for customers to leave. As though making it difficult for customers to leave will make  them want to stay. Why do you think businesses continue with such short sighted practices?

In my experience businesses that rely on monthly membership fees are the worst offenders. Of course there is the notorious case of AOL that lit off a firestorm online a number years ago and continues to be talked about today.

This is clearly a leadership and corporate culture issue. It happens when leaders behave in a way that suggests it is ok to make it hard for customers to leave. They probably say things like “what ever you do don’t let a customer go without doing everything you possibly can to keep them!” This is great in theory but in practice not every customer wants to stay and its not necessarily because they don’t like what you are offering.

Sometimes customer’s needs change, they grow out of using your product and need to move on. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to let them go on a positive note rather than kick them on the way out?

Why do you think this still happens?

Is this the end of in-store customer service and retailing as we know it?

a_retail_customer_wants_service

You would think traditional retailers when confronted with the undermining of their traditional in store purchasing business models would be reaching out for new ways to create value for their customers……

Although most retailers agree delivering a superior in-store experience will rescue the physical store from the fate of the last buggy whip company. I find it strange that they continue to offer customer service that borders on a slap in the face.

A recent survey released by Motorola has found that the number of shoppers who prefer to rely on their own mobile devices, rather than shop assistants, to guide their purchasing decisions has reached a level that for retailers can only be described as “a major wake up call”.

There are a couple of facts from the research that suggest retailers may have given up on providing better in store service.

Firstly about 50% of Millennials (Gen Ys) and more than a third of Gen X shoppers suggest it’s easier to find information on their mobile devices than from a store associate. Since the Millennials are gradually overtaking baby boomers as the biggest consuming group, retailers are saying to their future target customers –  there really isn’t much point in coming to the store after all.

The second interesting fact is that store managers agree – and are convinced in even greater numbers than their customers – that mobile devices provide better information. More than 60% of managers were of this view!

The Motorola research also revealed that the shopping experience improved when sales associates themselves used mobile technologies.

Digitally-enhanced service is clearly a direction being taken by many leading-edge retailers who are already shifting to mobile checkouts and other technologies that bypass or supplement humans to provide product information.

What is the future of store based retailing?

The shift in retailing appears to be heading in a smaller number of viable directions:

The first is technology-based self-service, with people being largely phased out of store operations. This is already starting to happen at super markets and other high volume retailers.

The second is real value-added  in-store customer experiences provided by passionate “brand ambassadors” – for example Lululemon and Apple in which store associates are so highly trained, informed and motivated that they can make customers feel good enough about the experience to make additional purchases.

The third will be specialty retailers in high traffic tourist areas that will continue to relie on holiday shoppers and serendipitous purchases. The local cannery row and fisherman’s wharf areas in Monterey California come to mind….

Consumers appear to be losing faith in the ability of retailers to deliver on the promise of people powered service.

What do you think? How will store based retailers survive in the future?

How customer centric companies make service recovery a priority

In the below video, Chris Zane of Zane’s cycles, probably the most customer centric bike store on the planet, tells the story of how they got things wrong.

Not only did they gets things wrong but on Valentine’s Day of all days!

We all get things wrong from time to time, what matters is how we handle things when we make a mistake. People that work for customer centric companies take ownership, take charge and make things right for the customer.

Is this how your team operates?

Extreme customer service on top of Mt Kilimanjaro

climbing_the_customer_centric_mountain

Source: crewtreks.com

It is amazing where you will find people with a “customer first” mindset and an innate sense of understanding customer needs and how to fill them.

Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, at 19, 340 feet, is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Mt Everest stands atop a mountain range. The climb from Everest Base Camp to the summit is between 11,000-12,000 feet depending on whether you start from the south or the north. But the continual climb of Kilimanjaro from base to the top is over 19,000 feet. So, when you start climbing the mountain you climb for a continuous six days increasing your elevation by over 3,000 feet per day. It is not a technical climb, so the biggest danger is altitude sickness, which will effectively end your mission to get to the top.

My friend, John, booked with a Tanzanian expedition company with experienced guides and travelled to Kilimanjaro last December with both excitement and anxiety. He dearly wanted to make it to the top, but could he? Climbing high mountains plays on you both physically and mentally. On the lower parts of the climb he kept hearing stories of how hard it is to reach the summit. He saw people being rapidly brought down the mountain suffering from altitude sickness.

After five days of climbing, John, his fellow climbers and their guides set off at 11pm for the remaining 3000 foot climb to the summit. The oxygen deficit at that altitude impacts the body and the mind. John was feeling tired, but good. The Tanzanian guides were continually encouraging the climbers – “go slow. You’re doing great!” At one point a guide came back to John and suggested he carry John’s backpack for him. John felt OK and said he could carry it himself. The guide persisted and said he would only carry it as far as the next rest stop. When they arrived at the next rest stop, John could see that the guide had carried an additional three packs apart from his own. When John approached him, the guide said he would just carry it a little further for him.

They reached the summit at 7.30am the next morning and the guide was waiting for an exhausted John with his backpack. Who knows whether he would have made it carrying his own pack. But, the guide could sense that John may have difficulties making the top – not only in the first part of that summit climb, but for the last bit of it. He was thinking ahead of his client’s future needs. He was almost literally “walking in the shoes” of his customer. He was checking with his client to understand how he was feeling and sensing what else he could do to help him achieve his goal. Most of all he was thinking of his client as a human being.

John was overcome by a sense of gratitude to his guide. The emotional connection was intense.

Isn’t that what real customer service is about?

Customer Centric Lessons from the Rock Band Van Halen

CREDIT: PHOTOSTATION IMAGES/LARRY MARANO

CREDIT: PHOTOSTATION IMAGES/LARRY MARANO

Van Halen was particularly big in the US during the 1970s and 1980s. David Lee Roth was their lead singer and also somewhat of an technical operations expert.

In fact Van Halen was a pioneer in many ways for touring rock bands. They were one of the first to take a really big action-packed rock concert to smaller cities and towns across America. In one year they did more than 100 concerts across the US. The technical set-up for these concerts was on a massive scale, Van Halen would haul 9 semi trailers worth of equipment to each venue.

Although they had their own road crew much of the initial set-up had to be contracted out beforehand. As part of that process they had developed very detailed specifications to denote the way the stage and surroundings needed to be set-up. David Lee Roth actually described the document as the size of the Yellow Pages. It’s is not the sort of detailed work you would expect from a lead vocalist in a rock band, particularly one that had its fair share of Rock Diva bad behaviour.

In fact they not only threw a TV out the window from the suite of one of their hotel rooms but they had enough extension cable to ensure the TV stayed on all the way until it hit the ground!

Another bit of folk lore from the time was the band’s requirement to have a bowl of M&Ms with the brown M&Ms removed. In fact in the contract they had with venue suppliers it stipulated if this bowl of M&Ms was not available back stage they had the right to cancel the show with full compensation. Many people explained this away as Van Halen making ABSURD demands just because they could. However the truth of the matter is a little different. The clause, called Article 126 was written with a very specific purpose.

If the band arrived at a venue and David Lee Roth saw a Brown M&M in the M&Ms bowl he would demand a full check of the entire production. He believed it was a guarantee there were errors in the way the technical elements of the stage production were set-up as clearly they had not read the “yellow pages sized” instruction book!

David needed a way to check that people were paying attention to the details of his requirements as a customer. So he add this little test as a cue.

In fact as customers we all use cues to determine whether something is good or bad, high quality or low quality and what we might expect in terms of service.

In the airline business, the airlines know that if there are stains on the trays people feel nervous about the quality and safety of the aircraft. So the good airlines pay attention to these details because of the broader message it sends about safety and airline quality.

Do you have customers like this? What cues are your customers using to assess whether you will live up to your promises?

Do you have the type of organizational culture where people are tuned into these customer cues?