Edition 16

Forget the crisis! Be S.M.A.R.T. !

27th September 2009 By TeleFaction A/S no comments

It is said that you need to be more conservative in the times of a crisis. This means that you need to assess your business strategies, and adapt to the current situation.

The key to success is the proximity to the customers!

Especially when times are hard, this holds true. When the money is tight, you have to focus on your customers. Even though the climate is economically harsh, you will still be able to find customers that are willing to spend, customers that are willing to stay with your company even though they pay a premium price, customers that stay with you in order to keep their competitiveness and save the hassle of switching vendors.

In uncertain times you cannot risk or even afford to lose customers. Alone the fact that acquiring new customers is up to 6 times more expensive than retaining existing customers, should straight out the issue. Keeping and building the relationship with your existing customers is therefore a key-factor.

Recent studies in this field show that built up loyalty and trust can be trashed through just one single bad customer experience. A big survey published in the book “Customers Are People” shows that 70 percent of the customers’ buying decisions are based on how they feel they are being treated. In another survey, from the organisation “Beyond Philosophy”, 69 percent of the customers say that emotions count for more than half of the total buying experience.

Knowing that customers value high-quality in interaction, product and service, that they want to talk with empowered employees, that they want honest communication and that they want rewards for loyalty, there is no doubt that the winners - especially during the credit crunch right now - are those companies that are able to deliver excellent customer experiences.

Experiences that are able to tie the customer closer to your company.

So how do you focus on this customer experience?

You get started by being S.M.A.R.T using the following foundation:

Strategy for customer value

Metrics to steer

Alignment of employees

Redesign of customer experiences

Technology to optimize

S for Strategy for Customer Value

The process of discussing and defining customer value begins with a deep understanding of why your customers buy from you. This information, when gathered correctly, gives you the tool-set to identify the key-drivers that influence customer buying-decisions. What makes your customers buy, stay or even defect? There are many theories and tools out there to get you started.

M for Metrics

Metrics are essential in order to track and influence organizational actions. Therefore it is of a high importance to understand the touch points where your customers interact with you as a company. Knowing the place, the people involved and the frequency of such interactions, you can start prioritizing different touch points according to the impact they have on your company from a customer’s perspective.

Each single touch point then has to be assessed in terms of which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) describe this point appropriately and how they can be tracked. Done in a proper way, all KPIs capture the service performance of the company.

A for Alignment of People

Learning what drives value for your customer and which metrics are related to these drivers has to be fully understood by your organization in order to achieve “Return on Behavior”. A study done by “CustomerThink Corp.” showed that the Top 5 attributes of companies that deliver “Constantly Excellent Customer Experiences” were:

  • Well-trained and Helpful Employees
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • High-Quality Goods and Services
  • Friendly and Caring Employees
  • Personal Attention, Reward for Loyalty

Four out of five attributes are related to people. So there is no doubt that training is a key component. Besides that it is crucial to provide employees with information about what customers think about their performance. This feedback can guide your employees in the right direction which in turn will lead to an improved customer experience.

R for Re-design of Experiences

Having established that customer experiences define business success, you have to make sure that every contact with the company gives the customer a chance to evaluate and communicate if the experience has been bad / neutral / good. Over time these customer experiences will have a lasting impact on the company’s values or the company as a brand and it becomes obvious that acting on the feedback of your customers experiences is essential. Only then you can reap the benefits of satisfied customers.

The continuous improvement rationale can also be applied at the customer level. By harvesting the learning gained from each customer interaction, you should be able to deepen your insights with respect to each individual customer, thereby improving the single customer’s experience.

T for Technology to Optimize

First of all you should get informed about the quality of available systems that are able to track and measure customer experiences across various channels such as telephone, online or directly in the contact center. The advantage of these systems is that you can optimize both your marketing and your campaign management. No matter which technology you use, the individual customer should always remain in the center of your attention. At the same time, rewarding customer loyalty becomes a key-priority.

You should provide tools to help employees be helpful and responsive thus ensuring that customers perceive your service as excellent.

Final words

Managing and tracking customer experiences allows you to create powerful, loyalty-boosting “Learning Relationships” with individual customers-relationships that over time get “smarter and smarter” with respect to each customer’s individual preferences.

About the author: TeleFaction A/S

This is just a test to figure out whether all this works nicely

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