Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.
VOLUME 30: APRIL 2014
Thoughts on the Customer: The Customer as Bus Driver
In June, I will be a panelist at the Future Stores conference in Seattle, and I was recently perusing a new report put out by the conference organizers. The report, titled the 2014 State of Brick & Mortar Report revealed some interesting facts related to how organizations are adapting to changing customer purchasing behaviors brought on by technology.
A few illuminating stats:
- 87% of organizations surveyed indicated that they are trying to embrace showrooming as opposed to trying to combat it.
- 89% of retailers are implementing mobile tablet capabilities to enhance the in-store experience.
- 58% of companies now have an individual responsible for omnichannel initiatives.
Much is made nowadays of telling customers what they need, of inventing products and services that consumers do not even know they want. The iPod and iPhone are held up as the prototypical examples. What if Steve Jobs had asked consumers what they wanted?, some ask. Henry Ford’s famous quip about ‘they would have asked for a faster horse’ is inevitably brought into the discussion.
The central point: great companies lead their customers and do not follow them.
But this notion ignores the most fundamental of truths — creating behavior-revolutionizing products or services is extremely rare. In most cases, what customers currently do and think is paramount. As the stats above from the 2014 State of Brick & Mortar Report show, the customer is dictating how wishes to have its brick and mortar experiences, and smart companies are adapting to consumer preferences.
The reality is that for all of the talk of revolutionary product development, the customer still drives the bus most of the time.
Wise leaders remember this, even when they’re listening to their iPod.
The Month in Customer Service Blogging
A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience we read this past month.
- Eight Simple Things That Will Improve Customer Loyalty & Retention – We can all use loyal customers and simplicity. Need we say more?
- 4 Common Customer-Service Obstacles (And How to Fix Them) – A nice piece explaining some of the obstacles to outstanding service and giving advice on how to fix them.
- 5 Ways to Provide Great Customer Service Through Email – Encouraging post on using email in the customer experience. “Keep the canned responses to minimum.”
- Show Your Customer Some Appreciation and Increase Your ROI – Refer your clients business and other unique ways to show customer appreciation.
- Beware of Customer Experience Management Shortcuts – Perfect illustration of why “Let’s take a shortcut,” shouldn’t appear in your customer service strategy.
- When to Fire That, Er, Abusive or Disruptive Customer – Sometimes you have to stop working with an abusive customer.
- Creating the Chief Customer Officer Role – Learn the 4 major roles of a Chief Customer Officer and download a job description to get you started.
- Spare Me Your Platitudes — Customers Are Tired of Insincere Support – Your customers should drive your tone in customer support conversations. A good look at how to strike the proper one.
- True Customer Experience Leadership: Do You Breed Initiative Beyond Procedures? — Customer service leaders can produce the best customer service by fostering initiative in their employees.
- Making the Customer Experience Easy – If you want to earn customer trust, start by making customer experiences easier. A frustrating story that illustrates the opposite.
- Drive Customer Loyalty By Truly Getting to Know Your Customers: Part II – Concrete advice on getting to know your customers.
- Why Great Customer Service Isn’t Enough to Be Customer-Centric – Walking readers through customer service to customer centric. Check this one out to take your company to the next level.
- How a Verizon Customer Service Rep Saved a Life– An extreme example on how important it is to train your employees to be great listeners.
- 5 Ways Companies Are Using Big Data to Help Their Customers – Use your big data in these 5 ways to give indiviualized customer experiences.
- Poor Customer Service? UK Customers Quit Quicker, US Customers Shout More!– Although the title alone made us want to read it, the meat of the article includes how to get your company ready for customer service let downs.
Someone Was Listening
Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I liked best.
In our post Customer Experience: How Minor Issues Create a Major Impact, I recounted a recent hotel stay where an accumulation of minor service issues snowballed into a bad brand experience. The post is a cautionary tale about how the small things can really add up.