Awful Customer Service | Jigsaw from Saw

Why Your Awful Customer Service Sucks For Me

Dear Fellow Business Owner / Manager,

Let’s face it — your service sucks. Bad.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit my service sucks on occasion too. But in my defense, my sins are unintentional. I am trying to do the right thing, and I either dropped the ball or hired the wrong ball carrier. You, by contrast, just don’t give a flip.

Awful Customer Service | Jigsaw from SawOn the one hand, it’s impressive. You’ve taken indifference to an entirely new level. Your service isn’t just bad; it’s awful, insensitive, and downright dehumanizing. Just the simple act of engaging in the customer experience with your business is a soul-crushing odyssey through the circles of customer service hell.

Actually, mythological and literary references don’t even cut it. Doing business with you is nothing short of being a victim in one of the Saw movies.

And that doesn’t look like fun.

Of course, the natural inclination would be for me to thank you. Next to you, my worst customer service looks like a good day at the Ritz Carlton.

I should thank you for setting the bar so low that I barely have to raise my foot to step over it. Most of the social psychology literature says that human opinions are shaped heavily by comparison. You’ve made looking good all too easy.

So, maybe I should thank you. Then again, maybe not.

You see, while you would think that we would be able to shine by virtue of comparison to your JigSaw-esque customer experience, looking for better is not the dominant mindset that your customers walk away with. When your customers come to me, they are usually not thinking anything is better than that last place, when they come to me they are thinking how is this place going to try to screw me.

That’s right, being the next business to get your customer is a lot like…

  • Being the next financial advisor to service the person who was just embezzled from
  • Being the next person to date the person who was just cheated on
  • Being the next surgeon to work on the person who just had a scalpel left in his chest

It’s a pleasure, I tell you, wasting away in Paranoiaville with the shell-shocked victims of your customer experience.

So, should I thank you? You’ve sent me a customer who is jaded, tired, defensive and ready to find conspiracies and malicious intent at the first sign of something going wrong.

Actually, you haven’t sent me a customer; you’ve sent me a victim of Post-Traumatic Shopping Disorder. It will take me months, maybe years, to gain this person’s trust and to turn them into a profitable customer that does not need hand holding and reassurance at every step of the customer experience.

So, again, the question at hand is should I thank you?

Grudgingly, yes — I should. Regardless of their mental state, I have a new customer now and an opportunity to make that person happy and to make the world a little better by restoring that person’s faith in business. And for that, I do thank you.

Just know that I will be sending you the psychiatrist bills — theirs and mine.

With somewhat grudging regards,

Adam Toporek

Bank Convenience, Piggy Bank with Handcuffs

Bank Convenience: Are You Being Held Hostage To Bad Service?

Chances are you have an account with a big bank. No, really. There is almost a 1 in 2 chance that you have an account with a Top 10 bank and a 1 in 3 chance that you have an account with one of the Top 3 largest banks.

So, there’s a pretty good chance you have an account with a major bank, and guess what?

 

There’s a pretty good chance you hate it.

 

Net Promoter Scores for the major banks are extremely low, with local banks and credit unions faring much better. And most likely if you do like your big bank, it’s because you happen to have a local branch that you like, not because you like the bank itself.

Bank Convenience, Top 15 Banks

15 Banks Control Half The Market

So, if people are so dissatisfied with their big banks, why do they stay? Usually when consumers are stuck with a large company they do not like, it is because of a lack of competitors in the space. However, the financial services industry in general and the banking industry in specific are highly competitive.

And still, most people act like they are handcuffed to their bank.

Not even a public outcry on the front page moves the needle that much. When a few months ago there was a public revolt against increased debit card fees, the big banks quickly backed down, causing the drama to disappear from the front page and a lot of the threatened attrition to evaporate.

Indications are that people will not be moving their accounts in any significant numbers in 2012.

The only real question is why?

 

Bank Convenience for the Win

In my humble opinion, the reason most people stay in their unhappy banking relationships is what economists call switching costs or barriers to switching. Now barriers to switching can be substantial — such as a contract or geographic distance — but in the case of banking, it is rarely anything so clearly delineated. In the case of most banks, barriers to switching are what most of us call the hassle factor.

It costs almost nothing monetarily to switch banks. In fact, you will often save money by finding better deals and competitor incentives.

But a new toaster can’t buy you your life back.

Let’s look at some of the bank conveniences that make switching from any institution, but particularly a “big bank,” an incredible hassle.

  • Your large bank has ATM’s everywhere and you travel
  • Your large bank has a branch where your child or other dependent lives
  • Your mortgage is with your big bank and your bank accounts and credit lines are tied to it
  • Your credit card is with your big bank and acts as an overdraft protection device
  • You have multiple accounts all tied together online
  • You have numerous bills setup on auto-draft on your current account
  • You have numerous memberships setup on auto-draft on your current account
  • You have your employer’s direct deposit setup on your account
  • You have retirement auto-drafts setup on your account

You get the point by now, don’t you?

By the way, if you are a small business or franchise owner, double the hassle factor above for each business you own.

What is truly interesting about the above list is how much of a win it is for the banks. With the exception of more bank branches, every one of the conveniences above saves the banks money! Whether by design or by happy accident, the banks have given us greater convenience and at the same time increased their profit margins and trapped us in a prison of I-have-better-things-to-do than deal with switching banks right now.

 

How Can You Escape Those Bank Convenience-Cuffs?

Bank Convenience, Piggy Bank with HandcuffsSo, if you are stuck with bad customer service and a tight pair of convenience-cuffs, what can you do? As far as your existing accounts, nothing much without some major hassles. The quicker you want out, the more hassle it will be. However, there are three things you can do to set yourself up for the future.

  1. Don’t Double Down on Convenience Now that you see what a trap these conveniences are, don’t let yourself fall in further just for the convenience of having your accounts “all together.” Getting a new mortgage? Opening a new account? Find a bank you like and want to be with.
  2. Slowly Start to Move — If feasible (it won’t be for everyone), setup a second account at the bank where you want to be. Then slowly start moving some of the easy things, gym memberships, online accounts, etc. You can usually split your direct deposit. It takes some planning but can make transitioning easier.
  3. Find a Better Local Branch in Your Area — If the convenience-cuffs are on pretty tight, then shop within your bank’s network. While they will all be subject to the same mind-numbing bureaucracy, all bank branches are not created equal. Shop around; it might not be so bad on the other corner.

 

So, do you love your bank? Hate your bank? Have you stayed with a bank simply because of the hassle factor?

Customer (Dis)Service CNBC Documentary

Customer (Dis)Service: Inside the CNBC Documentary

On Thursday, January 5th, CNBC aired a documentary entitled Customer (Dis)Service. I had hoped to blog about the documentary as it ran, but alas, the hotel I was staying in did not carry CNBC. Fortunately, inbound marketing consultant Ken Mueller gave me a real-time play by play of the show. He also did a brief write up of the documentary.

After reading Ken’s thoughts, I was ready to return to the warm embrace of my DVR to watch the documentary for myself.

 

Before we delve inside, let’s look at CNBC’s overview of the documentary from its press release:

Customer (Dis)Service CNBC DocumentaryCustomer (Dis)Service takes viewers right to the heart of the new global battlefield, where the customer and the corporation are at war. Mass consumption is at an all-time high and customers have more options than ever before, raising consumer expectations to new heights. At the same time, rapidly expanding corporations are looking to cut labor costs, outsourcing their customer service departments to the other side of the world. Face-to-face time between business and consumer is practically non-existent, and customer satisfaction has declined dramatically.

Are the corporations at fault for putting their bottom line ahead of customer satisfaction, or are consumers demanding too much from the corporations?

Whatever happened to good customer service? 

 

That’s some fiery stuff: battlefield, war, declined dramatically… Fortunately, the actual documentary was a little more balanced than CNBC’s marketing copy.

The bigger issue with Customer (Dis)Service was not that it was a fire-breathing polemic but that it suffered from a lack of defined scope. If it was attempting to cover the “state of customer service” in under an hour, it did not accomplish that task very well. The end product was a quick look at some hot button topics in modern customer service, not a comprehensive overview.

Yet, the show still managed to strike on some golden nuggets. Here are three of the best…

 

Customer (Dis)Service: The Takeaways

Offshore Call Centers Are Not Going Away

Much of the show’s focus was on outsourced, offshore call centers. While the behind-the-scenes look at how an overseas call center operates was interesting — Westernizing names, removing “Indianisms” from speech, sticking to scripted responses only — the larger point was fairly obvious to anyone who has ever owned an electronic device — overseas call centers generally suck for consumers.

The Power of The Social Media Consumer (It’s Less Than You Think)

The documentary makes the point that social media has empowered consumers, giving them the ability to fight back against “abusive” companies like never before. While true, this idea is greatly overstated throughout the documentary and, quite frankly, throughout the blogosphere and business press.

To prove the point, the director points to some famous examples of viral videos — such as United Breaks Guitars — that created huge public relations issues for companies.

However, this is the Hasty Generalization fallacy in action. Viral videos (in almost any context) are the exception, not the rule. Go to YouTube and search “I hate <large company>” or “<large company> sucks.” In most cases, you’ll find a handful of videos with hundreds maybe low thousands of views. Not even a blip on the radar of a national brand. Stay tuned for more on this topic — it deserves its own blog post.

The Customer Has Changed A Lot Too

Not only am I a customer, but if you’ve read this blog, then you know I also put a lot of time and thought into how to make customers happy. Yet, the truth that those of us in the retail trenches understand is that customers have changed a great deal in the past few decades.

As Shelle Rose-Charvet, one of the consistently wisest interviewees in the film, said: “I think the problem is the customer has changed. Customers are fed up and want off the merry go round. They have no time anymore. They are under a lot of pressure.”

This observation, which the filmmakers fleshed out fairly well, was one of the high points of the film because it balanced out a tendency to shape a storyline of embattled consumers and heartless corporations. As the narrator said, “We may be nostalgic for a certain customer service, but we want it fast and cheap.”

 

The Big Miss: Customer Service In The Context of Market Economics

Besides an occasional bout of polemicism (the one-sided and heartrending interview with the Indian call center operator who was fired because “one customer” complained), the biggest miss in Customer (Dis)Service was the question of why?

  • Why do call centers still manage to thrive if consumers hate them and the companies that use them?
  • If social media consumers are so powerful, why haven’t they changed so many large companies?
  • If customer satisfaction does not improve a company’s bottom line, why should it care? (Yes, I did just ask that.)

The reality is that many large companies, particularly public companies, view customer service as a short term cost, not a long term investment. Add market conditions such as high regulation and oligopolistic competition, and you’ll see customer service a distant priority in many cases. Name three industries where almost everyone you know routinely complains about their service regardless of what company they are with, and you will generally find these characteristics. (Did you name banking, airlines, and wireless providers?)

This assertion, of course, is a blanket one. Bad service can be found across industries, as can excellent service. But when looking at the broader trends in customer service on a societal level, market economics and economic factors such as availability of substitutes and barriers to switching cannot be ignored.

 

A CNBC Documentary Worth Watching

Customer (Dis)Service is well worth the hour investment. The interviewees included in the film added strong perspectives and often illuminating commentary. Blogger B.L. Ochman, Steve Dublanica of WaiterRant.net, and the others brought insights that were well worth the time on their own.

While I’m still unclear on the filmmaker’s overarching purpose with Customer (Dis)Service, the show does accomplish the most important objective of any documentary: making the viewer think about the topic. And for that, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

 

Have you seen Customer (Dis)Service? Are you planning to? 

5 Examples of Customer Service Skills You Can't Ignore | Handing shopping bag

5 Examples of Customer Service Skills You Can’t Ignore

5 Examples of Customer Service Skills You Can't Ignore | Handing shopping bag

Any list of examples of customer service skills is bound to be incomplete. Customer service and customer experience management incorporate operational, technological, and interpersonal skills that are as diverse as they are numerous. However, identifying and developing core customer service skills — in hiring, in promotion, in restructuring — can be an incredible source of strategic advantage for a company.

Below are 5 essential examples of customer service skills that should apply to almost any organization. Read more

Through The Past Darkly Album Cover

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Epic CustServ Fail

Volume 3: December 2011 Mashup

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

 

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.


 

Two New Blogs in the CustServ Sphere

 

ControllerGate
For anyone who missed it, one of the worst examples of customer service on digital record blew up during the last week of December. I considered writing about it myself, as I really did not find anyone with a customer service focus opining, but at this point, the thing has been done to death.

The story really shows how outrageously bad customer service can turn into a PR nightmare. Below are a few of the better pieces I read on the subject.

 

 

My Key Takeaways from this Epic CustServ Fail:

  1. When dealing with customer service, check your pride at the door.
  2. The single best way to understand the dark side of the Internet is to reread William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Not joking.

 

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I am most proud of.

 

Thoughts on the Customer

In 1969, the Rolling Stones released the album Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), a compilation record released after the death of original Stones member Brian Jones. The album had a very cool octagonal album cover (which I used to have), and on the inside flap was an epitaph to Brian Jones that has always stayed with me.

“When this you see, remember me,
and bear me in your mind.
Let all the world say what they may,
speak of me as you find.”

Through The Past Darkly Album CoverThe sentiment is appealing — for who does not want to be judged individually and not through the colored perceptions of others? But in business, the sentiment is also a pipe dream.

In today’s information-soaked marketplace, your customers come to you preconditioned and prepared for the experience they expect.

Whether their perceptions were formed through social media, your own marketing, or their best friend, almost no one enters your business as a blank canvas on which you can write the story you wish to tell.

Your customer might arrive with a positive view, in which case there are unknown expectations you have to meet (and hopefully exceed). Or the customer might arrive with a negative view and for whatever reason (convenience, morbid curiosity, etc.)  have decided to give you a chance anyway, meaning you now have to overcome being judged through a lens that tints everything with a negative light.

Customers will judge us through their own experiences, but those experiences are already being shaped long before the customer gets to us. There is little we can do to change that fact, but we can recognize it as a truth of the customer experience and adapt to its reality.

 

 I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Please join others in sharing it using the social share buttons below.

Happy New Year

How This Blog Will Change in 2012

Instead of a roundup looking back at the past year, I thought I would take a look forward in this final day of 2011. This blog will be changing a good bit in the coming year, and I wanted to talk briefly about the new direction.

[UPDATE: As the redesign has already occurred and this post was moved to the new domain, some information on this page will be dated.]

 

Name Change and Redesign

The name of blog and the domain name will be changing. The focus on customer service and customer experience is not aided by a confused branding message.

Do you sell fences? Are you a fence company? Do you have a clue — no, really… do you?

While IntenseFence Management Solutions will still be the business entity that owns this blog, the blog will have a new name and a new look. The new domain is already secured, and no, I’m not telling what it is. My wife’s latest copy of Vogue says I’m supposed to be mysterious.

(Gini knows, but she would never betray me. Unless you have Bears tickets on the 50.)

We are currently working on securing a designer. Also, we have to find an SEO expert to move everything without losing our Google juice, which I hear mixes well with vodka.

 

Content, Content, Content

As most of you know, I have posted religiously on a schedule over the past year.

<Insert pause as regular readers fall over laughing.>

Okay, so regular content production has not been a hallmark of this blog thus far, but that is going to change.

I just counted, and I have over 30 blog titles in my tickler file just waiting to be written. So, it has never been about ideas, just priorities. While I am still working on balancing (sorry Kaarina) this blog with multiple offline businesses, I am committing to step up content in a big way. I probably won’t adopt an actual blogging schedule until after the relaunch, but content production is going to increase measurably in 2012.

 

More Depth of Information

Look for entire sections of the site to develop focused on content areas. This will be an ongoing process, but I’ve already mapped out some key sections that I intend to develop in Q1 and Q2. Also, I will be producing more “pillar” type posts like this one on customer lifetime value.

 

Active Email Newsletter

It’s time… Enough said. Look for this to appear in Q1.

 

Video

Long overdue (right Marcus?). Not sure how many me-looking-at-camera, Blair Witch style videos I will be posting, but you can look forward to interviews and other video content to appear in the first half of the year.

 

More Guest Posts

I will be soliciting more guest posts, particularly for the Customer Service Stories series. Drop me a line if you have a story of exceptional service, either positive or negative, that you think might be a good fit. I also hope to increase my guest posting at other blogs, but that will not be a focus in the early part of the year.

 

In Sum…

I hope this look to the future gives a sense of what to expect as we roll into 2012. I’m very excited about the new refinements and making this blog one of the top customer service destinations on the Internet!

Happy New Year

Moving Forward Into 2012!

Not all of the changes above will happen at once. The goal for the relaunch is Feb 14 because I’m a romantic at heart…  because that is the one year anniversary of this blog. Other than that, most of the items above are ongoing processes more than achievable milestones.

 

And Finally…

Last but not least, thank you.

Whether you read this today or on the other side of midnight, whether this is your first time here or your fortieth (Bill), I appreciate your taking the time to visit my little corner of the blogosphere. I look forward to seeing you in 2012 and making your time here more rewarding than ever.

 

A happy, healthy and safe New Year to all!

 

What would you like to see out of this blog in 2012?

Average Customer Service | Dodgeball Pic

Why Average Customer Service is the Norm — And Always Will Be

The original title of this post was Is Bad Customer Service the Norm? It is a catchy title — better than my current one — however, there is only one problem with it:

It isn’t true.

My original inspiration for the piece came from a January blog post by Harley Manning over at Forrester summarizing the results of Forrester’s Annual Customer Experience Index (CxPi) Survey. In the summary, Manning says:

 

“So what did we find this year?

First, we saw that customer experience ranges from just “okay” to “very poor” for almost two-thirds of the brands in our study. We place the cut-off point between “okay” and the next highest rating (“good”) at 75 points on our 100-point scale. This year, 65% of the 154 brands in our report didn’t make it over that 75-point hurdle. In all, 35% of scores fell into the undifferentiated “okay” range from 65 to 74 points — our most heavily populated bracket and not a good place to be if you want your brand to stand out from competitors.

Digging a little deeper, we saw that only 6% of firms ended up in the “excellent” category by earning a score of 85 points or higher, down from 10% of the brands in last year’s report.”

 

At first blush, the passage above seems to intimate that bad customer service is the norm.  By lumping the bad and the okay together and by stating that 65% of the brands didn’t make it to “good,” it frames the conclusion that the majority are not good, i.e. they’re bad.

However, if we dig deeper, we see that 35% actually registered as “okay,” which means the breakdown really looks like this.

 

Average Customer Service Graph

In fact, while we certainly don’t have the data to prove this* (stat geeks, see note below), it is not hard to imagine that the state of customer service falls into something close to the ever-familiar shape of the standard normal distribution.

 

Average Customer Service - Standard Normal Distribution

Now, while my intention is not to perform a detailed dissection of a general synopsis, I do wish to use it as a springboard for a more basic argument.  And that argument is…

 

Average service is the norm — that’s why it’s average.

 

The Revolution Will Move the Middle

My buddies at The DiJulius Group have a great tag line that says: Changing the World by Creating a Customer Service Revolution. It is a vision I believe in and wholeheartedly support. To me, it represents a desire to make every experience more pleasant for the consumer and to make business in general a more human, and humane, activity.

If a customer service revolution can succeed on a large scale, it will inevitably improve the experience for everyone and make the world of commerce a better place. For there is an absolute aspect to customer service, and it is based on human relations. For example, when the definition of “very poor” service is no longer being outright ignored by a salesperson but just being half-heartedly attended to, that is an absolute improvement. Everyone is better for it.

However, there is a relative aspect to this change as well. Once the needle has moved for very poor service, it will have moved for all service. The old good is now the new average, and smart companies will have to improve even further to be considered very good or excellent.

 

Average Customer Service Is Here to Stay, So Be Better Than Average

Of course, many bemoan the state of service today. When people say bad service is the the norm, they basically mean that the average has moved backwards. That the standard they remember from days of yore is no more. That today’s average is yesterday’s poor.

However, this approach is a dangerous way to view customer service.

Average Customer Service | Dodgeball Pic

Because average only wins in the movies.

Sure, a general deterioration in service can be a source of competitive advantage for companies with a defined service mission. But this does not mean we should rest on our laurels. In customer service, world class organizations never strive for average or even good. Excellence is always the goal, regardless of where “average” might be.

Why is this important? First, this discussion is occurring at the broadest of levels. Your industry might be super competitive. Your pricing might set expectations of superior service. Customer service perceptions are inherently relative to context.

Second, the average could always move to the positive. In fact, based on a number of societal and economic trends, I believe that the definition of average service will improve over the coming decade. Companies that are not continuously striving for an ever-greater definition of service excellence will eventually find themselves closer to average.

And to quote Mr. Manning, average is “not a good place to be.”

 

Has customer service gotten better or worse in your lifetime? Do you think yesterday’s average service is today’s poor service?

 

*Statistical note. This post attempts to make a broader point about the bad customer service is the norm nowadays meme. Forrester’s synopsis, and the way they framed the conclusions, is used as a basis for discussion. I do not have access to Forrester’s data nor the details of the CxPi calculation. Also, I understand that jumping from the data snippets I do have to a standard normal distribution is not methodologically sound. In this post, the stats are merely a launching pad for a more general point about the perception of average and what that means in the field.

Picture of Snow Owl | HootSuite Owl Representation

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and The HootSuite Owl

Volume 2: November 2011 Mashup

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

 

Customer Experience Resource: “Hootie” The HootSuite Owl

This month’s spotlight is on HootSuite, a social media management dashboard, who has affectionately been renamed Hootie in my household.

How does HootSuite relate to the customer experience? As social media increasingly becomes part of the customer experience for businesses across industries and sizes, properly scaling social media monitoring and response is essential to enhancing the customer experience and responding to customer service complaints made in the social sphere.

Multiple social platforms can be challenging to maintain. HootSuite enables organizations to consolidate most of their social media management, monitoring multiple streams in one location.

HootSuite Screenshot

For instance, with Twitter, you can have a column for lists, a column for keywords, a column for @mentions, and more. HootSuite allows me to keep track of Facebook and Twitter for multiple retail businesses, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for my personal/blog — all with one login.

HootSuite’s mobile app (at least for iPhone) is an excellent way to keep on top of social accounts; however, if you suffer from any type of smart phone addiction, it is likely to only increase the condition. “Please put Hootie down and take out the trash” has been heard quite a few times around my house.

One of the best selling points for HootSuite is it scales economically for small organizations but is robust enough to be used by large media companies like Fox and The Huffington Post.

HootSuite provides an excellent way to delegate responsibility without giving up control. If you are concerned at all about Facebook fan page security (and you should be), then HootSuite allows you to have others manage the page without giving up dangerous admin privileges.

While HootSuite has too many features to list in this short spotlight, I hope this brief introduction has helped expose you to some of the possibilities for monitoring and managing social customer service. While HootSuite is not the only platform for managing multiple social accounts, it is one of the most popular and, to my mind, the best in class.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

  • Language Engineering: Finding the Right Words to Use with Customers – Careful word choices are an integral part of not only reactive customer service but also of the customer experience as a whole.
  • Do You Believe Customers Are an Asset… Or a Cost Center? – Many firms need to evaluate whether they have systems in place that inconvenience the 99% just to protect them from the 1%. Context is everything in this discussion, but most businesses fail to have the discussion at all.
  • Customer Equity — Should you treat all customers equally? An interesting post that ties in well with the discussion of Customer Lifetime Value from earlier this week.
  • Infographic: The Word and The World of Customers — An interesting look at word of mouth marketing both online and off.

 

And in the spirit of the holiday season, a couple of posts on how to get, not give, better service…

 

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I am most proud of.

  • Understanding Customer Lifetime Value: A Non-Geek’s Guide. Calculating Customer Lifetime Value can be a complicated undertaking, but extremely worthwhile. This post takes an exhaustive look at CLV using a back of the napkin approach. This is the longest post on this site, and it has received the most initial traffic of any post yet.

 

Thoughts on the Customer

“Even loyal customers like to try new things.”
Jack Mackey

As you might know, I recently heard Mackey speak at The Secret Service Summit. This quote really stood out, because I believe it strikes at the heart of how customers view loyalty versus how many businesses do.

Much writing on customer loyalty tends to view the customer relationship as a marriage, as if customers are only truly loyal if they don’t stray. Companies have even attempted to reinforce the idea through marketing (particularly cigarette companies back in the day): “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” “I’d walk a mile for a camel.”

However, in most cases, customers do not view loyalty the way we wish they did. Our customers will always be tempted to try the competition, and it is human nature to want to experience new things. Accept that loyal customers will stray on occasion, and remember that your service experience and value proposition should be ready to withstand the enticements of newness.

Customer loyalty should not be viewed as a chain that binds but as a home where the door is always open.

 

I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Please join others in sharing it using the social share buttons below.

 

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value: A Non-Geek's Guide | Blackboard equations

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value: A Non-Geek’s Guide

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value: A Non-Geek's Guide | Blackboard equations

What is Customer Lifetime Value and Why Is It Important?

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) attempts to determine the economic value a customer brings over their “lifetime” with the business.  At the heart of understanding CLV lies the recognition that a customer does not represent a single transaction but a relationship that is far more valuable than any one-time exchange.

However, CLV is not about any one customer; it is about stepping back and taking a look at your customer base as a whole — understanding that while some never return and some never leave, on average there is a typical customer lifetime and that lifetime has a specific economic value.

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value is incredibly important for customer service professionals and for businesses of all types. Why?

Because if you don’t know what a client is worth, you don’t know what you should spend to get one or what you should spend to keep one.

For instance, if it costs you $100 to acquire a customer, and your customer’s CLV is $75, then we’ve got a problem Houston.

Understanding CLV allows you to drill down and understand the economic value of each customer, so you can make sound decisions about how much to invest in acquisition and retention.

Read More

Customer Appreciation | Thank You Receipt

Customer Appreciation: Giving Thanks On Another Level

The spirit of Thanksgiving is embodied in the name of the day. Somewhere among the football games, the super-caloric gorging, and the tryptophan-induced dozing, we all hopefully pause to reflect and to give thanks for the things we cherish in our lives.

Customer Appreciation | Thank You ReceiptFor most, this means reflections on family and friends, on health and happiness. Having just posted about the Blue Key campaign and the global refugee crisis, I am even more conscious of the many things we have to be thankful for living in the United States.

This post is not about customer appreciation ideas — thank you notes, branded gifts, and the like. This post is a simple reminder to appreciate our customers and to take a moment to give thanks for those who support our businesses.

It is simple nudge to not forget that it is our customers who make possible many of the other things we are thankful for.

Creating a great customer experience begins with a mindset and, to me, one of the cornerstones of a great service mindset is gratitude, a sentiment at the heart of Thanksgiving but usually reserved just for family and friends.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving, we should extend the circle of gratitude a little further.

 

As Sam Walton once said:

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Walton’s quote is a testimony to the importance of customer appreciation, a strong reminder to be grateful for those who choose to spend their money in our businesses.

So, take a moment tomorrow to give thanks for your customers and then let us all resolve to keep that sense of gratitude with us the other 364 days of the year.

 

Whether you are U.S. based or not, I extend a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

One of the things I am most thankful for is your attention and support!