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. 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!

  4. Top 3 Qualities of a Great Customer Service Team Revealed

    "winning customer service team"Trust is the keystone where everything else comes into place when it comes to business.  You hired your team because you trust them to do their job.  But with trust, comes expectations that need to be met and most often, risks were overlooked.  The truth is that trust alone can’t guarantee your safety from cyber liability – from social media blunders, password mismanagement and data loss on unsecured mobile networks.  But the greatest burden of them all is how you can trust your employees to solve your customers’ problems.  Do you even measure what really matters most to your customers?

    Balancing Quality and Quantity

    In my participation on this #custserv weekly chat, most often, the brand name Zappos is mentioned, all in the name of customer service.  My curiosity got the best of me so I took on my sleuthing hat to examine further.  I have discovered that unlike your regular contact centers, Zappos don’t focus much on cost, but the opportunity to market.  This is why they don’t follow the usual call metrics where time per call is measured.  Instead of getting customers off the phone quickly, they take the customer experience to the next level by creating that ‘intimate’ level in building a relationship that speaks loyalty.  Isn’t that how business should be done?  Now, I understand why folks hoist their glasses in salutation.

    What Should You Expect from Your Customer Service Department?

    Whether you have an in-house team or an outsourced contact center handling customer service queries, you have to make sure that:

    1. They Have Total Commitment to Quality

    Because no two customers are alike, your customer service team should be able to assist in the best way they can and exceed customers’ needs, even after sales.  This can be achieved through proactive listening and taking responsibility in assuring the customers of finding a solution to their problems.

    2.  They are NOT afraid to talk to Unhappy Customers

    It’s every contact center representative’s nightmare to attend to an irate caller.  Take note that your most important source of improvement comes from those who are not satisfied with your product or service – their feedback can be an invaluable tool for business growth.  Your team shouldn’t just listen, but seek for a permanent fix.  It doesn’t have to mean giving away freebies all the time just to appease frustrated customers.

    3.  They are Passionate in Bringing Customers In

    It’s tough to get a hundred or thousands to be motivated about what they do.  Great customer service goes beyond training and call scripts.  While having a standard response may save on time, it does hurt employee morale in the long term.  Trust your agents to come up with small ways of bringing that ‘wow’ factor that goes a long way.  And when they do bring in more sales and retain subscribers from closing their accounts, it’s high time that you reward your people for these wow moments.

    Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to step in your customers’ shoes to get a clear picture of the service they’re getting.  The next time you plan a revamp of how your customer service team works, just stick to one goal in mind:  Solve problems, for real.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated…

  5. Does Your Business Really Need to Be Mobile?

    "mobile business"The age of mobile is here.  More people are owning smartphones and other types of mobile devices.  They’re checking websites online to stay connected.  Now, the real question is: Do you have a mobile-friendly site where they can check you out to see what you have to offer?  Most probably, not.  It still amazes me how many small businesses are over-looking this matter, that they’re missing lots of chances to connect with their target mobile users.  It’s not just about building better business relationships, but it’s also about increasing connectivity.  How convenient do you make it for people-on-the-go to find you on their devices?

    The Mobile Gold Rush You Simply Can’t Ignore

    You’ll find plenty of stats on the subject of mobility and the mobile consumer.  Did you know that more than five billion own mobile phones worldwide?  The number of Google searches on mobile devices increased dramatically by 500% and Google predicts that by 2016, mobile searches will outdo PC searches on local search ( Google 2012 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research ).  For those in the travel, restaurant and auto industry – it’s definitely good news that 50% of mobile queries result in a purchase (  2012 Telmetrics Survey ).  In fact, early last year, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, reported a spike in download of travel apps.  I bet there are plenty more to add to this list and one thing’s clear: People are looking for mobile solutions… so how can businesses create a better connection, stay efficient and increase sales?  Simple – provide value and better user experience.

    More than Changing How the World Shops

    There are many reasons why you need a mobile site for your business.  In fact, it’s a hot topic these days and I only have to thank Marsha Collier for sharing with me Google’s Howtogomo.com test to see how my website looks on a mobile phone.  It will also ask you a couple of questions and give you a free report on the mobile-friendliness of your site.  Now, many have been asking if they should go for a mobile version of their site or build an app instead.  I guess, the apps market is a bit fragmented and for now, going for mobile site is a better investment.  While it is important to put usability in mind when it comes to site navigation,  it’s always crucial to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and identify which information they will need the most.  It’s not just about mobility, but a simplified browsing experience that will push them to buy.

    Your Business Needs a Mobile Strategist

    Yes, mobile technology may seem complex and those who are still trying to cope up with social media tools are already scratching their heads in confusion.  But these myriad of new inventions are here to stay – from location/content-based apps, mobile payments to augmented reality.  How do you manage the mobile eco-system?  When your business moves in the speed of mobile, you will need someone to create a balance between mobile functionality and user needs.  This person will implement your business goals objectively, making sure that mobile projects are profitable as well as intuitive.  S/he will discover new challenges and opportunities in the mobile landscape, to understand consumer behavior and lifestyle as major players in their decision-making process.

    Are you ready to take your mobile strategy seriously this time?

  6. What Makes Your Customer Service Exceptional?

    "customer experience"Whenever I meet a small business owner, I’m often tempted to ask if their business have a ‘soul’ –  that is, if they are customer-centric.  There’s no denying that people are demanding world class customer service these days and where loyalty is at stake, it only makes perfect sense to come up with effective means of improving customer satisfaction scores by investing in training for your front-line or virtual team.  Marketing professionals make the mistake of mixing up customer loyalty and customer experience, and this can come at a high cost — your brand reputation.  The problem why many programs won’t work is that loyalty is more about relationships and though they may appreciate all those discounts, freebies and perks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will buy more.

    Redefining Your Customer Touch Point

    Someone mentioned that it’s five times more costly to get a new customer than keep new ones.  If that’s the case, why do businesses lose the good ones?  Perhaps, achieving high levels of customer service is a myth?  But then, we hear brands like Southwest Airlines who keep customer service at its finest.. thousands of miles above the ground.  I bet that what worked for them is not only creating superior value for customers to buy, but making customers feel valued.  The more you customize the experience, the closer you get at building that relationship many have been blogging about.  Customers are not just some number on your balance sheet, your score cards.  You may be proactive in taking steps to improve satisfaction rate and at the end of the day, it’s more than just doing business in order to generate revenue.

    The Fundamentals of Creating a World-Class Customer Experience

    I have been an avid participant in this weekly twitter chat that talks about customer service, and it’s an amazing source of insights and best practices from key influencers and folks who are passionate about the subject. The #custserv chat happening every Tuesday nights at 9-10 pm is something you might want to add on your to-do list where getting social is concerned.  I’ve been itching to ask if they can name one important component of what makes an awesome customer service and I think, the answer will vary a lot.  I believe that training your front-liners is crucial to your company’s success and the challenge is how to make them feel this sense of purpose.  To motivate your team is one thing, to make them enthusiastic in giving out a one-and-done resolution to your customers is another.  It will all start with the passion to help..

    The Makings of a Transcendent Customer Support Revealed

    I recall someone asking me weeks ago on what makes a good customer-centric website and here’s the best way I can answer that question: It’s not about where your customers intend to do business with you that matters, but how available you are when they need your help.  Investing in a good website may help lessen the amount of phone time or the load of tickets you get each day in your inbox. It will come down to a customer-friendly website that’s easy to navigate, easy to read, updated, understandable and most importantly – complete.  This is why I would recommend entrepreneurs to invest in developing a good website that doesn’t look like some free blog template tweaked for the sake of keeping an online presence.  Besides, there’s no point creating an interface for your customers to interact with when your site gives them a crappy experience.  That means dabbling in some codes or hiring someone to do it for you.

    Then, all you have to focus on is listening to your customers so you can build conversations with them that create trust over time.  And by talk, I mean going beyond the typical ‘yes/no’ type of questions.

    Are you ready to engage now?

  7. Perceptions in the Age of Social Media

    "social customer"When was the last time you experienced a phenomenal customer service?  Why was it memorable?  In today’s market where customers are empowered like never before, digital word of mouth can spread like Greek fire about your brand on the Social Web.  The question now isn’t really about how innovative your business model is when it comes to new product or service offering, but how customers perceive your brand as a whole.  First impressions may not last, but perceptions do.  What impression are you giving to your customers in this social media age?

    Marketing and Customer Service: A Huge Divide

    Know that customers are social-savvy these days and they talk about brands on social media platforms, where you have no control about what’s being said about your business.  The age of industrial era marketing is over and companies need to realize that traditional marketing doesn’t simply work like it used to these days.  Customers expect you to listen and take action on their feedback about your products and services.  Simply put, don’t expect your customers to call or write you if they need help; you have to engage them in places like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

    With a demand for world class customer service that consistently meet or exceed expectations, customer service and marketing departments must learn to work with each other in order to address what’s expected of them.  In the near future, the gap between these two will vanish as the social media landscape is changing ways on how people interact with your brand.

    Your Product is NOT the King; Your Customers ARE!

    The value of your business is taking a major shift from your products and services – to your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, “Sell Dreams, Not Products” and by delivering a value proposition that sells the dream of simplicity, functionality and beauty, the Apple brand has become the top of its kind.

    Learn This: High customer engagement is the key to your sales funnel and it brings us all back to how your customers and potential ones perceive your brand.  Just how satisfied are your customers with the level of service they get from your business?

    If you want to survive and grow in this age of social media where social customers have the power to make or break your brand, you will need more than just a customer service strategy to start with.  You have to involve your customers at every stage of creating your products or services… until its delivery.  Are you ready to revamp your business model to cope with this change?