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Question

What tips can you offer a small company (with limited funds!) on improving their customer experience

 

Our thoughts...

You have the advantage of being small, agile and more able to challenge traditional thinking in the market. http://www.boldthebook.com/ipad.html has many examples of small companies doing just that. Innocent, The Geek Squad, Umpqua etc. They are now large of course but isn’t that the aspiration any small business! Shaun

In terms of where to start, I suggest speaking with your customers and finding out how their lives are changing, what frustrates them, what do they truly value? Then looking at your offer and seeking to do more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Look for the areas your competitors are ignoring. Shaun

Question

What advice would you give to companies who find the whole social media scene a bit overwhelming and aren't really sure it will work for them? What's the best way to get started?

 

Our thoughts...

Great question! There are three stages to becoming what Salesforce call ‘The social Enterprise’. Stage 1 is ‘being in the flow’ having a presence and listening to what is being said about you…. Stage 2 is ‘Being in the know’ Connecting your people through ‘Chatter’ etc so that information is shared and they can respond quickly to customer comments and issues… Stage 3 is ‘Co-creating’ . Facilitating the conversation with customers so that they become part of your product development process. LEGO is a terrific example of this. Shaun

Question

What do you feel is the current thinking in customer service management concepts?

 

Our thoughts...

Well that is a broad subject but the emergence of social media, mobile platforms and digital marketing are all causing organizations to re-think customer service. it is so much broader now and encompasses the end-to-end journey. You only need to think of Amazon-generally regarded as giving great service but have you ever spoken to anyone at Amazon? The point being that we need to redefine what we mean by service…

I would also add that customer service used to be the province of ‘Customer Service Department’ but now the customer has to be ‘owned’ by the ‘C-suite’ We call it ‘Triad Power’ whereby Marketing HR and Operations (customer services) each have a role to play in delivering the experience

Question

One thing I find really frustrating is that when companies want your business (such as banks, mobile phone operators, media companies etc) you get great customer service. Basically they'll bend over backwards to make sure you buy from them. But once you are a loyal customer and you have a query you get shipped over to foreign call centres, have to phone premium lines, don't get the best deals. Why do companies do this as surely it's best to keep a customer than have to get a new one

 

Our thoughts...

Of course you are correct. The problem is that many organisations believe that the call centre is a cost-centre and so seek to minimise expenditure. We say that they are focused on ‘Efficiency’..

Some see the opportunity to sell more through CRM (those awful calls from Indian call centres on a saturday afternoon) and it is all about revenue generation. We say they are focused on ‘Effectiveness’...

However, the best are those that realise that the contact centre is a vital touch-point for delivering the brand experience and are bringing them back on-shore. We call this focus ‘Experiential’ and brands like first direct and Zappos have made this a differentiator. I think more organisations will go this route.

Question

I have noticed that far more call centres are coming back to the UK. Personally I think this is a good thing as they seem to have more flevibility to deal with your actual needs rather than following a script. Thanks

 

Our thoughts...

I agree. No matter how good the training it is very difficult for someone in India (or anywhere else) to demonstrate the brand values if they are not part of the organisation.​

Question

What do you think will be the next big thing that will set a company apart in terms of customer service?

 

Our thoughts...

I wrote an article by that very title which I shall be happy to send to you. The short answer is that people look for a ‘quick fix’ and the modern day version of ‘snake oil’ is the TLA (Three Letter Acronym), TQM, BPM, CRM, CMR, CEM, SEM…. an on and on. My view is that consultants are always looking for the NBT (Next Big Thing!) because they can flog more. Managers like it because they usually promise instant results. The reality is that I can’t imagine a time when the experience we provide to our customers is unimportant so, for me, CEM doesn’t require the NBT- it just need sot be implemeted with rigour. Shaun

Further comment from Shaun

Just adding to my earlier rant smile I think what we will see is greater seamlessness so that organisations take amore holistic approach to their strategy. In the words of Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2, “It only works when it all works” So for me it more about leadership and execution than it is about the concept itself. Shaun

Question

Why are the ‘Bold’ brands in the minority?

 

Our thoughts...

Mike, ah.. the million dollar question. Because the focus of most organisations is short-term, self-serving, and share-holder focused rather than long-term, customer-serving and society-focused. This is because the nature of PLC’s rewards the former rather than the latter. For example one of the brands that we all love is John Lewis, which is a partnership not a PLC. As a result they are not driven by the next quarter’s results. Shaun​

Question

What is your advice to organisations wishing to embark on a customer experience strategy?

 

Our thoughts...

You said it- ‘strategy’. It has to be led from the top and be high on the management agenda so start there. Make the business case to senior management and make sure that they are committed otherwise it will be just one more initiative among many whereas customer experience should be the organising framework for differentiating the brand an as such, needs to be front and centre in the boardroom. Shaun​

Question

Shaun, you have been writing and speaking about customer experience for many years now and yet great customer experiences are still the exception rather than the norm. Why is this?

 

Our thoughts...

​Thanks, I think it is because of some of the things I have said already; short-termism, lack of leadership, competing agendas etc. But above all it is because so many brands try to be all things to all people and as a result are mediocre. The strong brands have a point of view- love ‘em or hate ‘em. Think Apple, Harley-Davidson, Ryan air etc. Thanks everyone for some great questions today. Shaun

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