Friday Five: Weekly Review

Welcome to Friday Five, great to have you with us. Let’s take a look at some of the top customer service stories of the past week:

Engaged Employees = Loyal Customers.

CustomerThink has a good article on a topic we never get tired of emphasizing: If you want loyal customers, work on engaging your employees.

“Core values should empower and inspire your employees to excel in their individual roles,” they write, adding “Customer first. Employees always.”

They identify three elements to assess:

  • Engagement. How much influence, or ownership, do employees have in their role that they can use to help you grow as a company?
  • Awareness. Listening is such an important, yet underrated, quality in a leader. Are your leaders aware of the company culture as it really is, now how they like to think it is?
  • Core values. All employees, regardless of their jobs, should know your company’s values and priorities. You could hold a workshop to tell them or, better yet, live them out yourself.


“Sick of Customer Satisfaction Surveys Too.”

Fred Reichheld, the father of customer satisfaction surveys, has a confession to make: He’s sick of them too.

Bloomberg spoke with Reichheld, who was recently was in a hotel lobby where a sign read, “If there’s any reason you can’t give us a 10, stop by the front desk. We’ll make it worth your while.”

Which, frankly, is not the point of customer satisfaction surveys.

Over 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies use the Net Promoter System Reichheld developed, making it far less useful – just another system to be gamed.

Basically there are too many surveys with too many questions, and as might be expected, “results that are tied to employee bonuses – or jobs – prove inaccurate.”

Time to find something better than ten-point customer satisfaction surveys.


Pay Attention to the Fine Points.

“Customer loyalty,” according to a recent article in Investors.com, “requires careful attention to finer sales points.”

The article breaks that down into actionable areas:

  • Zero In. Impress clients person-to-person.
  • Hold On. New customers are great, but you need to hold on to the profitable ones you already have. Customers love being welcomed, acknowledged, personally recognized, and they hate being taken for granted.
  • Sweet Talk. Speak warmly – “You’re most welcome” or “My pleasure” beats “Sure.”
  • Listen In. Demonstrate to customers that you listen and you’ve already impressed them. You have the technology, what are you waiting for?
  • Elevate Them. Find ways to make customers feel significant. Never let them feel like a nuisance.
  • Be A Giver. Offer something of value to a customer before the customer makes a purchase – something that’s on point and valued: “Great salespeople are always finding ways to serve the particular needs of their individual prospects and customers. It’s part of what makes customers loyal to them.”


AI and the Customer Experience.

Sarah Patterson, SVP for product marketing and strategy at Salesforce, writes an interesting article on CMS Wire, asking how does AI fit into a customer service strategy?

She looks at three areas:

  • Make Self-Service Channels Smarter. AI, in such forms as automated voice channels, can handle a lot of routine interactions, leaving agents free for “high value interactions.” AI-powered bots can do the same, escalating interactions that require the human touch.
  • Extend Service Beyond the Service Department. Use AI to invoke actions based on “the collective sum of smart devices in a company today that can communicate information about customers and their products to the cloud.” Airline connections being rebooked without the customer knowing about it, for instance.
  • Put the Human in Your Human Response. AIs are not emotional. That’s a strength and a weakness – AI can keep emotionally overcharged customers from burning out your agents.


What Bad Customer Service Really Costs.

VentureBeat finds seven ways bad customer service is hurting you with both customers and visitors:

  • Frustrated visitors don’t become customers. Next.
  • They become other companies’ customers. Makes sense. If you can’t satisfy them somebody else can.
  • Frustrated customers want to stick with you. They really do. They’ll give you a mulligan or two if they liked your service in the past. Just don’t presume on their goodwill.
  • More customers talk more about bad service. Ah, humanity – we spend much more time complaining and criticizing than we do praising and complimenting. Customers, being mostly humans, do too.
  • They really do: “The American Express/Ebitquity poll found that someone who had a good customer-service experience told on average eight people about it, but when they had a bad customer-service experience, they told on average 21 other people.”
  • Happy customers spend more money. Satisfied customers reward you.
  • A lot more. “According to Bain & Co. research, a company that improves its customer-retention rates by as little as 5 percent may see increased profits that are 25 percent to 95 percent higher.”

Thanks for dropping in, see you next week!


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