Customers Rock!

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

Posts Tagged ‘Doug Meacham’

Focus on the Customer Experience

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 30, 2008

Lamps at the Grand Bazaar There are so many ways we can focus on our customer.  I wanted to share a very cool post from one of my favorite bloggers, Doug Meacham of NextUp.  Doug is one of the first bloggers I started a conversation with back when I began this blog at the end of 2006 (he has also been one of those trying to get me to start Twittering – I am getting closer, Doug!).

Doug’s post is a great list from another Doug, Doug Fleener at Retail Contrarian, sharing 50 ways to improve the customer experience (note – there are actually 51 – added value).  This is near and dear to my heart!  Most of these apply directly to retail and consumer-based businesses, but they should also be considered for other customer-friendly folks.  Here are a few of the items that I especially liked:

“8. Send handwritten thank-you notes. Come on, do you really do it?”

Come on, really.  Do it!

“15. If you can’t fulfill a customer’s need, suggest another company that may be able to do so.”

Zappos.com does this if they can’t find the shoes you are looking for.  Awesome customer service.

“46. Partner with restaurants and other stores to present exclusive discounts and offers to your customers. (A win-win-win. The other company gets incremental revenue, your customer saves money, and you’re the nice person doing it for both of them.)”

I like this one because, through partnering, your company is able to offer added value (there’s that phrase again!) to customers. This can be a key factor in increasing customer loyalty.  I heard a recent example of this in some interviews I was conducting for a retail client.  The retailer’s store is on a street in a shopping district with several other retailers.  In order to give a reward to loyal customers, the street is holding a drawing for Mother’s Day.  The lucky winner will get one prize from each store or restaurant on the block, including free meals, spa treatments, and clothes.  How fun is that?

Of course, as I mentioned to the Doug(s) in my comments, the best way to take care of your customers is to do the above within the framework of a proactive strategy.   Planning for a great customer experience will make all the difference between “random acts of customer service” and a consistent experience. 

What works for you?  Please share some of your best customer experience ideas with us either by email or in the comments on any of the above blogs.  I will be sure to link to you here at Customers Rock!

(Photo credit: jchambers) (Note – WordPress.com’s photo uploader isn’t working; this photo is coming soon!)  Finally working!

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Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer service, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Customer Expectations and Loyalty

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 25, 2008

red-carpet-2.jpg I have long been telling clients that they need to look outside of their industry for competitors.  I shared this in a blog post last year:

Do you know who is rocking your customer’s world?  Is your competitor more focused on customers than you are?  Perhaps there isn’t anyone in your industry yet who has a Customers Rock! attitude and strategy.  However, your consumers may be experiencing Nordstrom or Southwest and their great customer service.  Your business clients may be serviced by Pitney Bowes, who have been recognized by Gartner for their excellence in CRM. 

Doug Meacham over at NextUp points out something similar from trendwatching.com’s latest briefing.  In their article on the Expectation Economy, they discuss how the increasing speed of worldwide communication among consumers, along with blogs and other online reviews, is helping to raise the bar on customer expectations in every product or service consumed.  Doug states the following:

“While consumer’s expectations are up and rising, most brands choose to not keep up with the “best of the best”. The result: Informed Consumers are Indifferent or Irritated. The briefing suggests that these states will likely manifest themselves in Fake Loyalty and Postponed Purchases.”

He describes Fake Loyalty as something which is gone as soon as something better (or sometimes cheaper or more convenient) comes along.  Drew McLellan at Drew’s Marketing Minute discussed something similar in his recent post about his dry cleaner.  Drew describes his relationship this way:

“By all impressions — I should be an easy win for another dry cleaners. 

  • I am very dissatisfied with my current provider
  • What they sell is a commodity
  • There is a low cost of entry — doesn’t cost me a lot to switch

Yet, I (so far) am staying put.

I have also called customers who exhibit this Fake Loyalty by another name: “hostages”.  Hostage customers are those who subscribe to cable because it is the only way to get certain channels they want to watch.  Or they are those customers who sign up for a company’s service plan for their machines because no one else (currently) offers service for them.  Or, as in Drew’s case, they stay with a service because it is convenient – until something more convenient comes along (Drew, what if someone offered a service to pick up and drop off your cleaning at your house, for the same price?).

All of this goes back to understanding customer expectations.  We need to begin benchmarking what is going on in our own industry, but also the other industries where our customers do their purchasing of goods and services.  I may be a business customer by day, but by night I experience Amazon or Lands’ End and their fabulous customer service.  As I stated in my previously-quoted blog post,

Customer expectations are set not just by our organizations but also by all the other organizations our customers touch, whether in their personal or business lives.  Do you want to rock your customer’s world?  First, understand their world and who is rocking it.  Then, meet their needs.  Along the way, exceed their expectations.  You will then have the building blocks for a long-term customer relationship.

Which companies are rocking your customer’s world?  If you have been a reader of my blog for some time, you will think of candidates such as Nordstrom, who focuses on people, Southwest Airlines, who is good at engaging customers via their blog, and even The Busy Bunny, who is good at thanking customers.  They are all Customers Rock! companies in one fashion or another. 

Do your customers do business with these companies, or others like them?  If so, now you know more about your customer’s expectations.  If not, you can still learn from these examples as you create your customer strategy to keep and grow business.

(Photo credit: eraxion)

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

Consistency of experience counts

Posted by Becky Carroll on October 26, 2007

car-keys.jpg When it comes to customer experience, there are a lot of factors that contribute to positive word of mouth.  In particular, a consistent experience is critical, whether it be across visits or across locations.  Doug Meacham of NextUp has recently joined the ranks of road warrior (ie. consultant – welcome, Doug!) and shares with us his story about the Hertz Gold program.  Doug loves the convenience of the service (so do I).

Unfortunately, some of the comments on Doug’s blog indicate the Hertz Gold experience is not consistent across Hertz locations.  Doug responds to the comments:

Clearly, the quality of a company’s customer experience is determined by its ability to execute the great experience CONSISTENTLY over time.

Once customer expectations are set, it is important to ensure they can be met each time, in each location.  This is a key area where many customer loyalty programs fall down.  Travel customer loyalty programs have become so popular, nearly everyone is “gold”.  It used to be a great day when you could board the plane early or get the choice cars.  Now, there are so many people using these services, it can sometimes be more the rule than the exception.  What happens when a frequent flyer/driver/stayer is one of many and there isn’t enough capacity for the “special treatment”?  Expectations are not met, and deep customer dissatisfaction occurs.

For this reason, customer experience isn’t just about giving employees incentives to treat customers nicely or to deliver great customer service.  It is about creating a strategy for how customers will be treated, across all touchpoints, and for the extent of the customer’s lifecycle.

Does your company have a customer strategy?  Tell me about it, and I will feature you and your company on the Customers Rock! blog.

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Customer strategy | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »