Customers Rock!

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

Posts Tagged ‘customer focus’

Is Retail Customer-Focused?

Posted by Becky Carroll on July 24, 2008

I heard a very interesting observation from a 14 year old young man the other day.

Why don’t they sell swim trunks in July?  That’s when I need them.  Seems like stores aren’t very focused on what their customers need!”

Now, I know all you folks out there in retail-land have your reasons for why this occurs.  Seasons for the industry are not the same as the seasons for consumers.  Inventory needs to be cleared out for next season’s merchandise.  I am sure you can share more.

However, let’s look at this from a customer’s perspective.  It took driving to 6 stores and over 50 miles (total) to find a pair of swim trunks that fit.  This is due to the fact that most swim trunks are no longer in stock.  If we had wanted to find a winter outfit, or something for back-to-school, we would have been set!

Putting Customers First

There needs to be some type of balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the customer.  Sure, it is difficult when a whole industry is set up to operate on a certain schedule.  However, our next generation is looking for a new, practical approach to business.  They want to feel important, like they matter to companies.  This will be key in building relationships with them.

We can build all the cool social media sites we want, connect with our customers on Facebook and MySpace, and even get them to spread our message virally.  But if they come into our shops and retail spaces and we don’t have what they need, that creates shaky ground for any relationship already built. 

Organizations need to stay in tune with what their customers need, want, and desire.  One of the best ways to do this is with ongoing customer conversation.  Keep in touch, remind them you are there, and meet their needs.  These steps will help strengthen any shaky foundations that may have developed due to thinking more about ourselves than our customers.


Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Marketing | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Defining “Customer-Focused Strategy”

Posted by Becky Carroll on May 14, 2008

Focus on the customer My blogging friend Glenn Ross has put forth the following challenge to some of his fellow Customer Service bloggers (including me): How do you define “Customer-Focused Strategy?”  Great question, Glenn!  Glenn has posted his definition of a customer-focused strategy, and has included ideas and definitions from other excellent customer service bloggers, including ServiceUntitled, CustomersAreAlways, and CustServ.  There are many good ideas there, and I encourage you to check them out.

Customer strategy is the main focus of this blog as well as what I do (and have been doing) for a living.  I still like the paragraph I wrote on customer strategy last year at about this time; here is the excerpt from the post Rockin’ Our Customer’s Experience Online:

Customer Strategy

Does your organization have a customer strategy?  Most companies have a product strategy and a marketing strategy.  Customer-centric organizations also have a customer strategy.  Put simply, a customer strategy is a proactive plan for how we want to acquire, retain, and grow our customers!  Too many organizations leave it to chance when it comes to retention and growth of customers, focusing most of their resources on customer acquisition.  Why would we want to leave the management of our most valuable asset, our customers, to chance?

In order to align our customer experience with our customer strategy, we need to consider how we have created that strategy.  A strong customer strategy is built around the interactions we have with our customers, and we are able to maximize the value of every customer touch.  In other words,  we make each impression with the customer count.  Customer service and support may have several opportunities to make customer impressions, and it is often where the rubber meets the road.  How do we handle our customers when there is a problem or a question?  The goal of all these interactions is to increase customer retention and loyalty, which ultimately leads to repeat business and referrals.  Done right, a customer strategy will also build customer trust, strengthen the relationship, and add value to both the customer and the company.

In other words, a customer-focused strategy is a planned approach to how we handle our customers at every touch point.  It is more than just giving great customer service.  It is more than marketing with certain customer buzzwords.  It is more than a great customer experience.  It requires a strategic plan to be put in place to address all of those areas, plus the metrics to ensure the success of the strategy. 

I have been part of creating a customer-focused strategy for several clients, and this is no small undertaking.  It requires agreement and consistency across all functional areas in order to be most effective.  No silos allowed!  The customer doesn’t look at a company as individual departments, so we need to be “one brand” to the customer.  The customer-focused strategy helps make that happen.

Great Examples

Glenn also asked for examples of companies who do this well.  There are a few competitions out there for this type of award; a great one is coming up from the team at Peppers and Rogers Group and Gartner.  Called the Gartner and 1to1 Customer Excellence Awards, it will be showcasing those companies that “get” customer strategy – and how to execute it.  (By the way, the contest is open until May 23, so if you are reading this and want to submit your company, you can go here and enter.)

At this blog, I have listed several examples of companies that are doing customer strategy well.  They include FreshBooks and their customer roadtrip, Bungie and the way they are fans of their customers, Element Fusion and their web concierge, Disney and customer delight, and Xerox and their dedication to customer experience, among others.  I don’t think any one of them is perfect, but each of them do many things well across several areas. 

OK, out to you, readers!  How would you define “customer-focused strategy”?  Do you agree with me or am I missing something?  Who is doing it well?

(Photo credit: redbaron)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Customer strategy, Customers Rock!, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Focus on the customer

Posted by Becky Carroll on October 19, 2007

sunglasses.jpg I love finding other bloggers who share my Customers Rock! passion.  Today, I have a collection of three great blog posts about customer focus to share with you.

1. Don’t Trash Customer Service: This is an inspiring post by one of the bloggers, Rachel, at Retail Design Diva about her family’s experience at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Her trash can saga has a happy ending.  I love how she sums it up –

“And I thought customer service was a long forgotten practice. While it may not be the answer to world peace, good customer service isn’t just good for business–it does wonders for humanity.”

This kind of customer service will definitely cause some word-of-mouth about the good things happening in retail.  Thanks for sharing!

2. A Little Customer Care: Another Diva, this time Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing Blog, shares with us her open letter to her local airport.  Seems she is much more impressed by the focus on customers at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.  It gets down to the heart of the matter when Sky Harbor puts it in writing –

‘In fact, the airport has a customer service policy that puts customers first with a vision to create “Americans friendliest airport.” ‘

Being customer-focused doesn’t happen by accident.  It only happens when organizations make a strategic decision to be customer-centric and then back it up with the appropriate measures, incentives, and finally tactics.  Great to see that Sky Harbor Airport gets it!  See you in Phoenix sometime, Toby!

3. 3 Easy Ways to Treat Your Customers Right: Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog shares with us three stellar stories about companies doing right by their customers.  He reminds us how easy it really is –

“It really doesn’t take much to treat customers well.

But you have to recognize the value. And then you have to be willing to take a bit more time, get a bit more creative, push a bit further…”

The companies that actually do this immediately stand out from their competitors.  Size of company doesn’t matter; action and sincerity does.  In the comments (read them, there are some good ones!), I suggested the 4th easy way to treat customers right is to listen to them.  How is your organization doing in this department?

Please leave your favorite story in the comments here, or send me an email.  I am always looking for more positive examples of Customers Rock! attitude.

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Customers Rock!, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »