Seventhman Blog

  1. How Do You Create a Great Customer Experience?

    "brand value"As promised, here’s part two from my previous post on Customer Experience.  This time, I will be writing about lessons I have learned in understanding what makes my customers tick.  Why is this even important? If you want to take real steps in improving your business and your bottom line, you have to go beyond what your company has to offer and take responsibility on delivering not just a great product – but that Wow! experience as well.  Just as I have mentioned how maintaining a consistent experience is the greatest challenge of them all, we still find ourselves stuck in our own way of doing things that we refuse to see past our mistakes and step in the shoes of our customers.  We forget that each person is different and each customer interacts differently with our brand.

    Not All Touch Points are Created Equal

    If there’s a top rule in Customer Service, it’s summed up in two words: Be Nice.  There is a reason why I propose that customer satisfaction metrics be revamped.  Here’s the thing: While big data on customer experiences collected at various touch points may be helpful in portraying a graph on consumer behavior, not all touch points are of equal value.  Let’s say we have two customers, one inquiring by phone and the other, by email.  While both touch points answer to your customers’ needs, they don’t define the same expectations that spells the difference between customer delight and dissatisfaction.  Their expectations can also be shaped by other factors like previous experience with your brand, your competition and so on.  CEOs can’t deny that customer experience is crucial in collecting, quantifying and analyzing data – Truth is, they don’t really appreciate the value of doing so, especially when CRMs are becoming more complex and costly these days.

    Customer Experience Lessons for the Fearless

    If there’s one truth about those who are not attuned to their customers’ experience, it’s FEAR.  There is this fear of what user data may reveal when you change gears and lead a customer-driven business.  To those who are holding back, here’s an eye-opener:

    Lesson #1  Everything is Linked

    Customer experience doesn’t only happen at touch points with your sales, marketing or customer service teams.  There are those that happen after sales and word of mouth can also indirectly impact customers’ decisions.  All they have to do is Google your brand online.

    Lesson #2  You are What You Deliver

    It’s all about delivering your promise across the entire customer life-cycle.  Negative experiences can easily kill your brand value.  Before you know it, all those bad reviews about your brand piles up – turning future prospects off.

    Lesson #3  It’s All About the Culture!

    Leaders, be a perfect example on how to delight customers.. and the rest will follow.  Don’t expect your front liners to put the customer first each time when you don’t do it yourself.  How can you align your business goals to your employees.. and eventually, your customers?  It’s high time to build customer experience into your brand.

    Lesson #4  One Size Doesn’t Fit All

    Making your customers happy don’t have to cost a dime.  Sometimes, it’s those little words that count – like saying ‘Thank You’ for their business.  For the same reason that you have to ditch that call script, customer experience should always be authentic and personalized.

    Lesson #5  Less is More

    I’d rather have the right data than a clutter of information that can overwhelm both your team and your customers.  How can you make customer interaction simple?  For example, you can reduce wait time of a customer in an IVR queue and make it faster for them to reach you with a few buttons.  Your customers love it easy and simple.

    If there’s a cause for concern, it’s this:  Customer dissatisfaction is real and thanks to online tools, customers are empowered to share their bad experience with others.  The challenge now is to take customer experience from just a mere buzzword, a slogan.. to real, actionable goals.  For what it’s worth, I’m sharing these lessons to raise your awareness.

    Are you willing to elevate customer experience and commit for the long term?

  2. Customer Experience: Delighting Your Customers in the Digital Age

    "customer experience"Last time, I have asked about how big data can save lives and this time, I’d like to touch the subject of customer data as your next best ally when it comes to moving your business forward.  The key to making this strategy succeed lies with customer service – more specifically, Customer Experience.  Learn that communication with customers have won them over call scripts each time someone asks for help.  These customers want to feel that you care about their requests and that they’re treated as individuals; not some bunch of numbers on your list.  No matter how big or small they may be spending on your products or services, it’s their experience with your brand that makes a lasting impression.  So, why are we still failing in the art of conversation?

    Customer Experience for the Uninitiated

    You can find lots of definition about it.  Customer experience is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier (Wikipedia).  The challenge is how to meet customers’ expectations to make sure that they will have a positive experience with your brand.  For this, businesses support it with their sales, marketing and customer service departments to make sure that customer issues are resolved at every touch point.  This is why we see customer loyalty programs that turn into a valuable resource of customer intelligence, of knowing what to improve to adapt your offer to their preferences.  Still, there is this huge gap in providing a seamless service and plotting customer’s intent to purchase.  That’s where things start to get complex.  How do you deal?

    A Fatal Attraction With Numbers

    I can’t believe that there are still those who are running call centers on call scripts – because they’re missing out on opportunities to do more business with their customers.  This is the age of dialogue and it amazes me how many companies are getting it wrong.  Even the C-suite don’t get the reasoning behind a poor customer experience.  With all the training that management can provide about delivering that Wow! factor in customer experience – the message don’t match the intent.  We still see products that are too complicated, fine print that leaves people scratching their heads, promotions that don’t match reality, rude customer service.  All those metrics we measure on customer satisfaction have made us obsessed with numbers and the more we do, the less we feel respect for the very blood where our business thrives.  Those analytics are working against our capacity for empathy.

    The Price of Efficiency

    Standardization of processes are done to minimize waste and maximize efficiency, no doubt.  While this may work in the production line, with computers and machines replacing the human assembly line – the same principle may bite you in the hand if you implement it in your front line.  To provide your customers with consistent, compelling experiences is a huge task.  It’s not just about responding quickly to customer requests that will win them over, but it’s also about making each customer interaction highly personalized.  It’s leading from bottom to the top which will define your brand’s value and profitability.

    Next time, I will share with you essential lessons to learn when it comes to delivering top-notch customer experience.

    For now, I’d say.. “Ditch that Script!”

    -End of Part One-

  3. Outsourcing Customer Service in the Digital Age

    "outsourcing customer service"Everyone in business knows that good customer service is not an option; it is a MUST.  When customers are the very blood that’s keeping your organization alive, will it be a smarter option to outsource service to vendors so you can save on cost?  For the past few years, support functions have been a major contributor in globalization as companies outsource their workforce to call center hub spots like India and the Philippines.  Still, the very question these days is how you can find balance in the human and technical side of things when providing service to your customers.

    Customer Service in the 21st Century

    No matter how technology allows for instant connection, there are people who still feel assurance speaking to a live person.  For this reason, contact centers have fully integrated online, mobile, social and landline communications.  This means monitoring customer queries and conversations online and offline, 24×7 – from phone queries, call routing, live chat, fax, website queries, emails, SMS, mobile touch points, interactive voice response (IVR) and social networks like Facebook, Twitter..  Whether you choose to outsource to vendors here or abroad, or hire the services of a home-based agent is not the focus these days.  Those who provide an awesome customer service knows that empowering your team to personalize each call for help will win your business more loyalty.  Your front-liners must reflect your genuine interest to help and add value to your customers.

    Motivating your team to go beyond the usual service metrics and customer satisfaction scores can be tough if you’re working with a hundred or more.  Are you ready to encourage them to take chances in making your customers happy?  Read This First:  To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    The Rise of Unsourcing

    You probably haven’t heard of this word yet and many are speculating it to be the next gen of customer support.  Instead of outsourcing support to a third party, the company sets up an online community that enables peer-to-peer support among its users.  Not only will customers get help from those with the same experience, but they get to interact with someone who’s local.  This way, advocates of unsourcing can lessen instances of irate customers and minimize the cost of customer service via outsourcing.  This knowledge-sharing is further encouraged through gamification, like awarding badges to top contributors and giving out perks.  Still, there are limits to this where confidential data is concerned, like billing.  Will this mark the end of outsourcing services as we know it?  Too soon to tell, I’d say.

    Should You Still Outsource Customer Service?

    The answer is YES – if only you understand how to do it right.  You have to carefully analyze the risks and benefits, the skills and resources you will need.  It’s not an easy path or a band aid fix to your business problems.  It’s stepping away from the usual cost saving notion and thinking about ways on how to manage customer relationships for real.  Just in case, you need to have that realistic approach before you even sign that contract with your vendor.  The key to a successful customer service lies not in training your team to deal with irate calls or tough questions; it’s all about teaching them how to listen to your customers’ wants and needs.

    It’s an evolving process.

  4. Are You Spending More Time on Bad Customers?

    "bad customers"There’s an argument that bad salespeople lead to bad customers, if ever you’re wondering why you are attracting the wrong type of market to your business.  Perhaps, there is truth to this statement because when customers are made to focus on the pricing and features of your product, they end up not getting interested in the value you provide.  This is why they will continue to focus on price alone and if you’re running your business on a freemium model, the greatest challenge is how to convert them into paying subscribers.  If you want to be a highly productive entrepreneur this year, I’d say it’s time to be honest in getting rid of the bad apples – for good.

    Does Social Media Empower Bad Behavior?

    There are many tales of brand-bashing last year that made me wonder how social media is creating a new bad when it comes to customer experience.  We’ve seen angry mobs take on a brand on social networks, spreading bad news like some digital wild fire.  There are many trolls who will add fuel to the fire and there’s just no sense of guilt since they’re bullying a brand, not a person.  It’s so easy to post a bad review under anonymity or a fake profile, those who do don’t feel any accountability over their actions.  The boundary between freedom of speech and online bullying is yet to be defined…

    The Customer is Always Right.. Not Really

    I hate to break it to you, but this fallacy is what’s draining the life out of your team. Truth is, there’s such a thing as bad customers and they are:

    1. The deadbeat client who won’t pay their invoices on time, for whatever reasons
    2. The stingy customer who will always ask you to cut corners and make changes until you run out of business
    3. The freeloader who will only stick with you if you provide everything for free for the longest time running
    4. The terrorizing client who will use fear to get what s/he wants ( and get on everyone’s nerves as well )
    5. That rude customer who loves to throw in the f-bombs and swear words you don’t really want to hear
    6. That customer with constantly changing needs, who expect full service treatment on a tight budget
    7. Those frequent complainers who connive to get some form of compensation from you – from full refunds to big discounts
    8. The nit-pickers who will constantly check on you, expecting you to work like a seamless machine 24/7
    9. The needy customer who will ask for endless advice and lots of attention
    10. and those who simply do nothing.. after all the time, free advice, discounts and extra mile you have thrown in

    Here’s the good news:  You can rehabilitate these bad eggs.  Most customers aren’t that bad, just ill-educated on the value that your business provides.  Persuading troublesome customers to become good ones can be a tough job and it’s your call to convert them into believers.

    My Advice:  Know when it’s the right time to push away those who drag your business down.. so you can cultivate the right relationship and inspire loyalty instead.

    Good Luck!