Seventhman Blog

  1. 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-

  2. 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.

  3. How Can Entrepreneurs Build Better Business Relationships?

    "customer relationship"I have many times asked myself if entrepreneurship is a lonely road – where only the brave pursue visions at the cost of sacrificing traditional employment to make that passion a reality.  Maybe, I’m right all along that entrepreneurs are radical thinkers when it comes to engaging themselves in this self-involved mindset, where success is a gamble.  Along the way, these people will meet other like minds and the call to build relationships for business and personal success is growing stronger.  The problem is, many small business owners are struggling with deepening these relationships with fellow entrepreneurs.

    Where Relationship Meets Business

    When your business is growing, having business relationships is crucial if you’re looking for referrals along the way.  These relationships fuel your business, other than your customers.  Most often, we are caught up in selling our products and services that we overlook building stronger ties with long-term customers, vendors and potential business partners.  Like any other type of relationships, business relationships is all about mutuality, of give and take, of sharing and supporting.  Unfortunately, it is easier for us to automate the process that we approach everyone in our network like we were out hunting for a bargain.  The human factor that made the brick-and-mortar business survive this far amidst all the technological innovation is out.  We focus so much on transactions, on sales, on closing deals… and less on communication.  Are we really that busy?

    Keeping In Touch: Who, Where and How

    For those of you with online presence, keeping a balance between conversation and marketing may seem like a curse, especially when there’s too much noise to deal with.  Staying in touch with everyone in your network is a time-consuming activity.  Someone even call this phenomenon as ‘social media saturation’.  Come to think of it, it’s easier to accept anyone into your network with a touch of a button.  It’s harder to know who are for real and who are just hoping for your follow back.  While having a large number of following on your social account can be flattering, it’s not how many that matters – but who these people are.. and how often you talk to them.  Whether you keep in touch each week, every 15 days or once in a month – it’s all about continuity without bombarding that person with spammy, purely promotional type of monologue.  Starting with an open, honest relationship is all about listening more than you talk.  While it’s tough to say you don’t have answers to all the questions about your niche, you’ll be surprise how this admission will earn you more respect as an expert in your community.

    Entrepreneurship and Business Relationships:  Nurture, Conquer or Divide

    Anyone who is running their own business is so passionate about its goals that they can’t talk about anything else.  You’re not to blame if you picture yourself as one.  You just see a bigger world of opportunities, collaboration and risks that while you actively engage in climbing the ladders of success, you may feel alienated in the process.  You may even lose old friends who are not in tune with what you believe in or be called a mercenary in your quest to convert a friend into a customer.  But true business relationships is all about nurturing, of learning more about your connections so you can share values while complimenting each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Just how often do you get out of your office to meet new people is not really the issue here.  It’s more on a question of how willing are you to give more than you take, of how good are you in working with other people.

    When was the last time you took the time to say ‘thank you’.. or sent out a hand-written note of appreciation to folks who have helped you out?

  4. What Does Customer Centricity Really Mean to Your Business?

    "customer centricity"It was my first time participating in #LeadershipChat last March 13th, where I had the pleasure of learning from @BobBurg and other brilliant folks there.  The topic of customer centricity made me want to dig deeper in the agenda of creating a positive customer experience at point-of-sale and post-sale transactions.  Is it all  about adding value to your company… by being a go-giver in this go-karma economy?  Last time, I’ve pondered on the subject of going beyond customer satisfaction surveys and now, let’s break into the reality of implementing your customer strategy by taking a risk to do something that have eluded many businesses for years.

    Commodity Hell: The Challenges in Today’s Marketplace

    Why is it hard for many CEO’s to answer a simple question, if their business is customer-centric?  Yes, plenty of organizations do have a customer service department, but it’s more like a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario where business-to-consumer relationship runs on shallow waters ( murky as well ).  Organizations sent out plenty of surveys to get useful data for them to analyze and learn from it, but most often, it doesn’t reveal anything vital about their customers.  It’s a no-brainer that knowledge of your customers means more revenues and still, more evidence is seen each day on how lack of collaboration and siloed information in your internal departments may be the very barrier to achieving a customer-centric brand.  Is it lack of resources to implement a well-rounded program.. or, is it fear of failure?  What’s stopping you?

    Looking Through the Lens: An Outside-In Approach

    Every CEO knows in his/her heart that running a customer-centric business is the key to its success.  The reason that we’re all consumers make up for the validity of this thinking and yet, there seems to be a gap somewhere.  Instead of looking at your business from the inside, try walking in the shoes of your customers and see your brand through their eyes.  In that way, you will understand what real problems they face and how you can come up with the best solutions to help them.  Sometimes, you can’t stop wondering if it’s psychological.. that many executives play it safe by continuing to impose systems that didn’t work, that doesn’t work even now.  Are we making excuses?  In simple words, it’s just doing what you say you will do and as such, bringing value your brand promises and delivering it constantly to your customers.

    When Customer Centricity Means Sustainability

    You know that as new technologies rise, the communication barrier between your business and your customers will cease to exist.  So, what does it really take to make that transition?  In this competitive age, having a consumer-centric business is not a goal; it’s a must – if you want to survive longer.  Creating a culture that puts your customers at the core of every business decision-making can be challenging as you can’t please everybody.  Still, having a holistic approach is the key and by training your employees with the right tools to solve your customers’ issues, and by motivating your team with appreciation of their efforts, you CAN start a domino effect that will build a solid rock for your business to stand on.

    The days of fooling customers to earn profit is over.  They are smarter now.  Are you ready to get real and face this reality?