Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Archive for December, 2007

New Year’s Musings 2008

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 31, 2007

new-year-2008.jpg What are your goals for your business in 2008?  Last year at this time, I discussed some suggested Customer Service New Year’s Resolutions.  The customer has become much more front-and-center in this past year, but it is about more than just marketing.  We need to make sure all aspect of our organizations are customer-focused.  I think the resolutions I suggested last year are still valid for this year, so I wanted to share them with you again! 

Here are my suggested Customer Service New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Create a customer strategy for the customer service organization.

While most organizations have a product or marketing strategy, many do not have a customer strategy. A customer strategy addresses who our customers are, how we can differentiate them from one another both in value and needs, and how we will treat them.  This strategy should be built around the interactions and relationship that the customer has with your organization. The right customer strategy in your service organization lays the groundwork for the rest of the journey.

  • Proactively “manage” the customer experience. 

The customer experience takes place through all touch points with a customer, including agents, web sites, newsletters, and automated systems. We can think about each interaction as an opportunity to either increase or decrease a customer’s value to us. Example: I recently moved to a new house and needed to contact multiple utility companies.  In the first instance, I called the customer service line and waited on hold for nearly 30 minutes in order to tell an agent I would not be able to make the installation appointment that was previously scheduled. At the end of that half-hour period, I was not having a very good experience! The next day, the second instance but with a different utility, I called to cancel the service at our old residence. Wait times again were high, but in this case I was given the choice of receiving a call-back from an agent.  An agent called me 25 minutes later, exactly as they had predicted, and a recording of my own voice validated the call.  My elapsed time to deal with that call was 3 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes the day before. In both cases, the contact center was scheduling agents to take calls as they come in; however, in the second case my experience was optimized to make the interaction as convenient for me as possible. Which one built a stronger customer relationship and increased customer value? 

  • Formally link rewards with customer-centric behavior. 

A hard look at customer-based metrics is necessary in order to retain a balance between customer focus and cost reduction, especially in areas such as the contact center. Activity in the contact center should be reviewed based on measures of both efficiency such as call handle time, and measures of effectiveness such as first contact resolution, the number of repeat contacts, and the share of customer data. These measures have the greatest impact when they are linked to performance improvement opportunities including coaching plans and training as well as root cause analysis activities. The wrong measures can cause behaviors which reduce cost but also reduce customer value. For example, if an agent is measured solely on average talk time but not on how well the customer’s concern is resolved, that agent won’t care that the customer has to contact the organization again.   In addition, these customer-based measures need to roll up the management chain so the success of all members of the contact center organization is tied closely to customer success.

(Photo credit: lacreme)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Customer strategy | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Marketing Like a Rock-Star

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 27, 2007

rock-crowd.jpg Anyone who has ever been to a rock concert has felt the excitement in the air.  Fans are wild about the band’s music, especially when a favorite song is played.  Rock-stars can amass quite a loyal following!

Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has written a great post about how to take some of a rockstars “secrets” and apply it to your marketing.  Here are the six main themes of his post (be sure to go read it first!), along with some of my additional thoughts.

- Join in with your customer community.  Be a fan of your own company and products/services.  Do you use your own products and services?  You need to be part of the community conversation around your offerings.  A great idea is to try and hire some of your fans to work for you!  Coldwater Creek reached out to its loyal customers who live near their retail stores to get extra help for the holiday season.  What better way to ensure your customers are talking to raving fans?!

- View your company and products the way your customers do.  It is too easy to use corporate lingo and assume our customers will “get it.”  We need to look at our company using customer lenses.  This will help us understand what our customers see in our offerings, how they talk about it, and what motivates them to buy and use our products or services.

- Empower your fans to market on  your behalf.  A strong customer strategy will build up customer relationships to the point where customers become outgoing advocates for your company and products.  There have been many reports lately on customer trust which state consumers in particular trust what others have to say about a product more than what that company has to say.  If you are involved in your customer community and are using their lingo/way of thinking, creating customer advocates will be a natural outcome.

- Give customers input, and listen to it.  Engaged customers have a lot of great ideas for product or service improvements.  This is a good area to use social media in order to create ongoing conversations around products.  Just be sure to let customers know their input was heard!

- Have fun with your marketing – and your customers!  Mack gives some great examples here of companies who know how to make their marketing fun for all involved.  Do it in a respectful way, and you could really get customers talking!  How about this idea from David Polinchock over at Experience Manifesto blog on the Volvo “human joystick” game played at movie theaters – by all the patrons at the same time!  Here is a video of the experience:

Finally, use your community like Threadless does.  Mack gives some great examples of this in his rockin’ post, so go check it out if you haven’t already!

Music definitely has raving fans.  Your company can, too, when you decide to talk with your customers instead of talking at them.  Listen to their needs, and create your products and services in such a way that your customers can customize your offerings for themselves.  Hire great people who have a positive customer service attitude and who love your products.  You will then be on your way to having a Customers Rock! company.

(Photo credit: solarseven)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

The First Noel

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 25, 2007

wreath.jpg Customer service is an old profession.  Stories of poor customer service go back over 2000 years – to the First Noel. 

In this case, a pregnant woman, ready to have her baby at any moment, went with her husband to a hotel far from her home.  Even though she was weary and at the point of going into labor, the hotel turned her away.  They didn’t even book her at another hotel nearby or offer her a free stay in the future.  Instead, she and her husband had to go to a nearby barn to stay the night.  While she was there, her baby was born among the barn animals.  Of course, this is the story of the birth of Jesus who, Away in a Manger, overcame a poor customer experience and entered this world on a Silent Night.

I wish all of you and your families a peaceful and joyful Christmas!

(Photo credit: dodoman)

Posted in Customer service | 3 Comments »

Customer Service Is the New Marketing

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 22, 2007

csitnm_badge.png I love seeing more people recognizing customer service as a major customer touchpoint.  As I have written about many times, it is too often viewed as a cost to be managed. 

There is vital customer interaction going on at each customer service touch.  Companies that use the customer information shared in a customer service interaction will have a more complete customer profile.  Companies that use the customer service touchpoint as another place to build on the customer relationship are winners.

Customer service is one touchpoint with the customer (albeit a very important one).  The customer’s overall experience with a company needs to be consistent and planned in order to lay the foundation for optimal relationship-building opportunties.

There is a one-day conference coming up on February 4 in San Francisco called “Customer Service is the New Marketing.”  It is being put on by the smart team over at GetSatisfaction, and speakers include companies such as Zappos, Virgin America, Flickr – and me!  I will be doing a lunchtime workshop entitled, “Customer Experience: The Intersection of Marketing and Customer Service.” 

The team from GetSatisfaction had a very positive response on this topic last March at SXSW, so this should be a great conference!  Register before December 31 and pay only $295 for the day; price goes up to $495 after December 31.

I hope to see many of you there!

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service | 4 Comments »

Holiday Reading List: Outstanding Blogs

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 18, 2007

friends.jpg About this time last year, Mack Collier, blogger extraordinaire, started a list of blogs that were not yet well-read but deserved more attention (this is per Mack – great speaking with you the other day, BTW!!).  I was honored to be one of the original 5 on the Z-list:

Shotgun Marketing Blog
BrandSizzle
bizsolutionsplus
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim

The Z-list then went all over the world, and it is hard to say where the final list is these days.  A good, comprehensive listing of great blogs to read over the holidays can be found in the Z-list wiki, put together by Gavin Heaton.  It lists the name of the blog, the author, the location of the author, a category for the blog, and a short description.

Fast forward to this year.  Troy Worman has come up with his list of Outstanding Blogs, or O! Blogs for short.  This list has some overlap with the Z-list, but there are also many new blogs that I hadn’t seen before.  Thanks for the Christmas reading list, Troy!

Here is the O! Blogs list (taken from Drew McLellan’s version), along with some of my favorites at the top:

Becky’s adds:

CustomerU

Experienceology

The Marketing Blog

Shaping Youth

Communication Overtones

They Talk Back

Troy’s list:

  1. 100 Bloggers
  2. 37 Days
  3. 3i
  4. 43 Folders
  5. A Clear Eye
  6. A Daily Dose of Architecture
  7. The Agonist
  8. All Things Workplace
  9. All This Chittah Chattah
  10. Angela Maiers
  11. Antonella Pavese
  12. Arizona High Tech
  13. A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye
  14. Badger Blogger
  15. Bailey WorkPlay
  16. Being Peter Kim
  17. Brett Trout
  18. Best of Mother Earth
  19. Beyond Madison Avenue
  20. Biz and Buzz
  21. Bizhack
  22. BizSolutions Plus
  23. Blog Business World
  24. Bloggers Showroom
  25. Blogging for Business
  26. Blogher
  27. Blog Till You Drop!
  28. Bob Sutton
  29. Brain Based Business
  30. Brains on Fire
  31. Brand Autopsy
  32. The Brand Builder Blog
  33. Branding and Marketing
  34. Branding Strategy
  35. Brand is Language
  36. BrandSizzle
  37. Brandsoul
  38. Bren Blog
  39. Business Evolutionist
  40. Business Management Life
  41. Business Pundit
  42. Business Services, Etc.
  43. Busy Mom
  44. Buzz Canuck
  45. Buzz Customer
  46. Buzzoodle
  47. Career Intensity
  48. Carpe Factum
  49. Casual Fridays
  50. Change Your Thoughts
  51. Chaos Scenario
  52. Cheezhead
  53. Chief Happiness Officer
  54. Chris Brogan
  55. Christine Kane
  56. Church of the Customer
  57. Circaspecting
  58. CK’s Blog
  59. Come Gather Round
  60. Community Guy
  61. Confident Writing
  62. Conversation Agent
  63. Converstations
  64. Cooking for Engineers
  65. Cool Hunting
  66. Core77
  67. Corporate Presenter
  68. Crayon Writer
  69. Creating a Better Life
  70. Creating Passionate Users
  71. Creative Think
  72. CRM Mastery
  73. Crossroads Dispatches
  74. Cube Rules
  75. Culture Kitchen
  76. Customers Are Always
  77. Customer Service Experience
  78. Customer Service Reader
  79. Customers Rock!
  80. Custserv
  81. Craig Harper
  82. Daily Fix
  83. Dawud Miracle
  84. Dave Olson
  85. David Airey
  86. David Maister
  87. David S Finch
  88. Design Your Writing Life
  89. Digital Common Sense
  90. Director Tom
  91. Diva Marketing
  92. Do You Q
  93. Duct Tape Marketing
  94. Empowerment 4 Life
  95. The Engaging Brand
  96. Essential Keystrokes
  97. Every Dot Connects
  98. Experience Architect
  99. Experience Curve
  100. Experience Matters
  101. Extreme Leadership
  102. Eyes on Living
  103. Feld Thoughts
  104. Flooring the Customer
  105. Fouroboros
  106. FutureLab
  107. Genuine Curiosity
  108. Glass Half Full
  109. The Good Life
  110. Great Circle
  111. Greg Verdino’s Marketing Blog
  112. Hee-Haw Marketing
  113. Hello, My Name is BLOG
  114. Holly’s Corner
  115. Homeless Family
  116. The Idea Dude
  117. I’d Rather be Blogging
  118. Influential Marketing
  119. Innovating to Win
  120. Inspiring & Empowering Lives
  121. Instigator Blog
  122. Jaffe Juice
  123. Jibber Jobber
  124. Joyful Jubilant Learning
  125. Joy of Six
  126. Kent Blumberg
  127. Kevin Eikenberry
  128. Learned on Women
  129. Life Beyond Code
  130. Lip-sticking
  131. Listics
  132. The Lives and Times
  133. Live Your Best Life
  134. Live Your Inspiration
  135. Living Light Bulbs
  136. Logical Emotions
  137. Logic + Emotion
  138. Make It Great!
  139. Making Life Work for You
  140. Management Craft
  141. Managing with Aloha
  142. The M.A.P. Maker
  143. The Marketing Excellence Blog
  144. Marketing Headhunter
  145. Marketing Hipster
  146. The Marketing Minute
  147. Marketing Nirvana
  148. Marketing Roadmaps
  149. Marketing Through the Clutter
  150. Mary Schmidt
  151. Masey
  152. The Media Age
  153. Micropersuasion
  154. Middle Zone Musings
  155. Miss604
  156. Moment on Money
  157. Monk at Work
  158. Monkey Bites
  159. Movie Marketing Madness
  160. Motivation on the Run
  161. My 2 Cents
  162. My Beautiful Chaos
  163. Naked Conversations
  164. Neat & Simple Living
  165. New Age 2020
  166. New Charm School
  167. Next Up
  168. No Man’s Blog
  169. The [Non] Billable Hour
  170. Note to CMO
  171. Office Politics
  172. Optimist Lab
  173. The Origin of Brands
  174. Own Your Brand
  175. Pardon My French
  176. Passion Meets Purpose
  177. Pause
  178. Peerless Professionals
  179. Perfectly Petersen
  180. Personal Branding
  181. The Podcast Network
  182. The Power of Choice
  183. Practical Leadership
  184. Presentation Zen
  185. Priscilla Palmer
  186. Productivity Goal
  187. Pro Hip-Hop
  188. Prosperity for You
  189. Purple Wren
  190. QAQnA
  191. Qlog
  192. Reveries
  193. Rex Blog
  194. Ririan Project
  195. Rohdesign
  196. Rothacker Reviews
  197. Scott H Young
  198. Search Engine Guide
  199. Servant of Chaos
  200. Service Untitled
  201. Seth’s Blog
  202. Shards of Consciousness
  203. Shotgun Marketing
  204. Simplenomics
  205. Simplicity
  206. Slacker Manager
  207. Slow Leadership
  208. Socially Adept
  209. Social Media Marketing Blog
  210. Spare Change
  211. Spirit in Gear
  212. Spooky Action
  213. Steve’s 2 Cents
  214. Strategic Design
  215. Strength-based Leadership
  216. StickyFigure
  217. Studentlinc
  218. Success Begins Today
  219. Success Creeations
  220. Success From the Nest
  221. Successful Blog
  222. Success Jolt
  223. Talk to Strangers
  224. Tammy Lenski
  225. Tell Ten Friends
  226. That Girl from Marketing
  227. Think Positive!
  228. This Girl’s Weblog
  229. Thoughts & Philosophies
  230. Tom Peters
  231. Trust Matters
  232. Verve Coaching
  233. Viral Garden
  234. Waiter Bell
  235. Wealth Building Guy
  236. What’s Next
  237. Writers Notes
  238. You Already Know this Stuff
  239. Zen Chill

(Photo credit: elnur)

Posted in Blogging, Memes | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

BrandingWire: Communicating with Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 14, 2007

rainbow-glove.jpg We communicate with our customers in many ways.  In fact, customers pick up communication clues from not just our words, but also from tone of voice, demeanor (yes, a smile can be heard!), and body language.  In certain settings, the sense of smell plays a large part, even impacting long-term memory.  In written communications, words aren’t everything – pictures and color make up a large part of the story.  One of the masters of using non-verbal communication was one of my favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock:

“Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.”  Alfred Hitchcock

This brings me to the latest BrandingWire challenge about color.  Rachel is a color consultant for business and helps organizations use color as an effective tool in their marketing arsenal.  She is relatively new to the market of color consulting, and she wants to spread the word about what she can do (and keep in mind that she is moving states within the year!).  She also writes a blog about color called Hue.

The new BrandingWire model is to leave the case study open for others to share their advice, expanding it beyond our original “posse”.  There are already several comments on Rachel’s challenge, including mine today.  Here were my suggestions for Rachel:

1. Do some quick research with small businesses in your area; you can use them as a “proxy” for what small businesses in other areas might think.

Talk to those who see the inherent value in being color-conscious and those who don’t. What were the drivers and motivators behind the color decisions made by the savvy businesses? What helped them make the choice to use color in marketing?

Talk to those who don’t yet know the value using color can bring them. What are their thoughts/concerns/objections?  Understanding your customers and potential customers is a key step towards business success for you!  This will also help you with Chris Brown’s suggestion of finding the right client.

2. Your blog is potentially a very powerful tool for your business! You have a strong writing style and good insight. However, I am not convinced it will appeal to your potential customers – yet.

You can make your blog content more relevant by adding insights at the end of each post with how it can apply to small business. This would help your potential clients to see that they could use these concepts in their businesses, and by the way, Rachel seems like she really gets how I could do that!

Feel free to go to the BrandingWire site and add your own ideas for Rachel.  There are also many other great ideas in the comments, so grab a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to peruse the thoughts of some smart bloggers.  (Photo credit: nruboc)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Blogging, BrandingWire, Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

How Teens Shop Online

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 12, 2007

ipod.jpg Customers Rock! focuses on companies with the attitude that their customers are important, no, critical to their business success.  A big part of this is communicating with customers, and potential customers, in the way they prefer.  If your company is reaching out to teens, their preference may well be YouTube over your company website.

According to a new survey by Online Testing eXchange, in conjunction with the eCrush social networking website, most teens do their actual purchasing in stores. However, 65 percent of teens say they learn about cool new products on the Internet, compared to 62 percent from friends, 54 percent from TV ads and 48 percent from magazines. (Thank you to bizreport for the survey info.)

About that online research.  I had an interesting conversation with my teen yesterday.  He is in the market for a new iPod (he already has an older-version Nano).  Interested in the iPod Touch (which he is buying with his own money, BTW), he is ready to move towards purchase but wanted to learn more about it. 

Here are the steps of his experience.

  • “I wanted to see what the iPod Touch was like, so I went to Apple‘s website.”  He went to the iPod section from the toolbar at the top.   From there, he saw what looked very promising: “iPod Touch – A Guided Tour”, so he clicked to watch the video.

This is where the Apple website fell down.  Instead of making the video easily viewable, my son was required to download Apple’s QuickTime in order to see it.  He tried this, but he couldn’t get it to work properly.  At that point, he gave up on the Apple site.

  • Next stop: YouTube.  Why?  “I knew that a lot of people make videos of the things they buy and how they work.”  My son quickly found a video tour of the iPod Touch (it looked like it could have been put out by Apple) and spent the next 14 minutes glued to the PC screen.  “Wow, this is so cool!  I really want one now, and I already know how to use it just by watching the video.”
  • His comment about how he intends to proceed next time: “From now on, I am just going to go to YouTube first!”

To recap: A potential teen buyer wanted to spend big bucks on new electronics, but he wasn’t sure yet.  He went to the company website but ran into problems trying to get the information he needed to make the decision.  He went to his trusted source for information, YouTube, and found exactly what he needed to make his decision.

Where are your customers doing their research?  Does your company’s website make the grade?  Should you put together a cool YouTube video about your product to reach out to your customers?  The answer lies in knowing your customers, their preferences, and their trusted sources.

One more thought.  As my son is already an Apple customer, Apple could have reached out to him, through his email or through iTunes, to let him know about their new products.  This would have made him feel special and “in the know”, and it could have moved him to purchase sooner – that is, if he had saved up enough money!

(Photo credit: ronen)

Posted in Customer experience, Marketing, social media, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Free eBook: Customers Rock Tips

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 11, 2007

gifts.jpg It’s here!  I have put together a free eBook to thank you, my valuable readers, for your continued loyalty to me this past year.  The eBook is a compilation of five of my favorite blog posts from the last 12 months.  I have also included the comments along with each post so readers can continue to follow the conversation; many of these were quite enlightening!

Topics include:

  • Taking care of existing customers
  • Customer or client?
  • Tips for listening to customers
  • Stories and the personal touch
  • Measuring customer relationships

Feel free to share it, post it, print it, or copy it.  Send it to someone you think would benefit from information about keeping customers longer and strengthening customer relationships.  I would love to have this eBook shared with as many people as possible.  :-)

Let me know what you think, and thank you again!

Download free eBook: Customers Rock Highlights

(Photo credit: Spanishale)

Posted in Blogging, Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer service, eBooks | 7 Comments »

Thank You for a Wonderful Year!

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 7, 2007

champagne.jpg Pop the cork!  Today is my one year blog-iversary of Customers Rock!, and I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you!  Without you, my readers, I would just be talking to myself (it’s been known to happen).   Read on to see my plans for thanking you all.

I have had a great time putting these posts together for you, and I am very proud to be a positive blogger.  In other words, I make a real effort to blog on positive examples rather than ranting about all the things that go wrong in the world of marketing, customer service, and customer experience.  I think that you, my readers, like it as well because I get many compliments from you (you are so kind!).  However, my best compliments are the comments I get on my blog; thank you to so many of you for conversing on a regular basis (Lewis, CB, that especially means you, as you are my top commenters!).

To celebrate my first year, I am putting together a free eBook for you to read and share some of my favorite posts.  The finishing touches are going on now, so either leave your name in the comments or send me an email, and I will send it to you when it is out this weekend!  Alternatively, watch my blog, and I will put up a post when it is ready.

Thank you all so much for a great year; here’s to year number 2!

Here are a few stats and interesting facts from my first year:

Number of posts: 175

Number of comments: 977

Total views: 88,716

First commenter: Mack Collier on my Harley-Davidson post (within 2 hours of my posting it – amazing, Mack!)

First link from another blogger: Mack Collier in his Viral Community News (thanks!)

7 – Becky has decided to join the addiction that is blogging, and here’s her new blog, Customers Rock! Check it out as she’s off to a great start!

Original member of the Z-List (Mack was definitely one of my early fans!)

Listed on ToddAnd Power 150 member (now the AdAge Power 150)

Listed on Top 20 Power Women

Listed on Top 25 Marketing Blog

(Photo credit: Erdosain)

Posted in Blogging | 12 Comments »

VIP Treatment

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 6, 2007

red-carpet.jpg I just attended a hip holiday party last night here in San Diego, in our historic Gas Lamp district.  It was put on by a number of marketing, advertising, and PR associations jointly, which brought a crowd with some nice cross-pollination.  The event was on two-levels of a swank club.

As I went upstairs, I noticed an area near the back bar which was roped-off with velvet ropes and looked very luxurious.  It was obviously a VIP area, and there was a sentry at the entrance to it with a list of names to allow through.  A few minutes later, I spotted a few ladies with yellow wrist-bands they were trying to put on; these would allow them into the VIP area.

Me: “Hi there.  I noticed you have some of the VIP wrist-bands.  Out of curiosity, what did you do to get those?”

Ladies: “We don’t know!  They were given to us when we picked up our badges at the front door.”

Hmm, I thought.  I will check back with them on this later.  Party continued, great time had by all.

This morning, I was corresponding with one of these ladies by email.  I asked her if she ever found out why they were issued the wrist-bands.

Her response: “I have no idea how we got into the VIP area!  But it made us feel special.”

I am glad she and her friend received special treatment.  However, that treatment was not a very good use of money for the organization granting it if the recipient doesn’t know why!  The organization could have made the most of this opportunity by sending out a note ahead of time, letting the VIPs know they were in for a special evening and telling them why they were selected for this privilege. At the very least, a note or comment at the door would have helped.  Ideally, someone from the organization could have wandered the event, personally thanking VIPs and letting them know why there were chosen.

It is great to treat your best customers well.  But it is potentially a waste of marketing money if they don’t know why they are getting special treatment!

(Photo credit: Eraxion)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing | 2 Comments »

 
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