experience

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

It’s NOT about the Cinnamon - 12/15/20


It was happening again.  Jessica had just handed the freshly made concoction to her coffee shop customer, and less than a minute later, the customer was in Jessica’s face, red as a beet, ranting and raving:  I specifically asked for extra cinnamon on top!  Does this look like extra Read more

Locke-in from the Start - 12/8/20


John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher, physician, and researcher.  He wrote many papers arguing particular points, oftentimes using reason and facts as the basis for his position.  He noted that many disagreements start because there is – in my words – a lack of real clarity about Read more

The End of the Tunnel - 12/1/20


Have you ever heard the expression:  There’s light at the end of the tunnel… In this COVID-era world, it sure does feel like the tunnel is long, doesn’t it?  It sure feels like this is not a light that we’ll be at in 2 seconds after the train goes another Read more

A Lesson in Gratitude - 11/24/20


Mr. Robinson went to the hardware store with his teenaged son, Steve.  Steve was starting his first woodworking project – building a small coffee table – and needed supplies.  As they walked the aisles, Mr. Robinson and Steve couldn’t find the exact type of wood they wanted, so Mr. Read more

Why Your Job is Important - 11/17/20


I was speaking with a client recently, and she was telling me about one of the classes delivered by their professional development team. Her description of the course reminded me of some client workshops we’ve conducted where a part of the outcome is having individual staff develop Personal Mission Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential concerns, and overall experiences.  Needless to say, we’ve had a ton of lessons learned that we’re sharing with you today.

Find the Customer’s Sweet Spot

Every event is going to have precautionary measures – protocols to utilize in order to keep staff and fans comfortable and safe.  Realize that you are striving to provide a great fan experience, but part of that great experience involves the fans being comfortable enough to have a good time.  So before events, conduct research with fans so you have a sense for what are the most important characteristics or potential protocols that you could put in place, from the fan’s perspective.  Understand what their expectations are and their needs are to have the comfort and confidence to have a great experience.  Before trying to do too much or too little from a sanitization perspective, make sure you have an understanding of those key perception drivers from the fan’s perspective so you have a better chance of hitting their sweet spot for protocols.

Educate New AND Old Customers

Most sports organizations, if they do any pre-event education with fans, tend to tailor those communications to the first-time fans.  This is being done for obvious reasons – first-time fans are the least experienced in how to navigate the fan journey and how to do their part to have the best experience possible.  But in this COVID world, keep in mind that even long-term fans and season ticket holders have never experienced an event of any kind – particularly a major sports event – within a COVID environment.

Make sure that the educational path you take is geared toward these two distinct groups – the first-time fans and the long-term fans about to have their first COVID event experience.  Remember in these times, in order for the customer to be comfortable and confident, you need to become an educator to the fans of what the experience will be like and what THEIR part is in helping to create that safe environment.

Post-event: Research, Refine, Reinforce

Finally, we’re going to discuss post-event activities from 3 perspectives:  Post-event Research, Refinement of plans, and Reinforcement.

First, make sure that you’re conducting Post-event Research on the fan experiences and future expectations.  You want to know what you did great so you can recognize staff. You want to know what was most appreciated by fans, so you can replicate that action.  And you want to know what needs to most be improved upon, because just like the COVID findings and recommendations seem to change every day or every week, the approach for events is going to slightly change every day or every week.

Also make sure that you understand their future expectations.  Identify whether their likelihood to return will go up or down based on whether the number of protocols go up or down.  Gauge their likelihood to return and their likelihood to bring more people to the next event.  Gauge their likelihood to be a repeat COVID Era customer.

Refinement relates to operations and communications.  Based on the feedback from the fans, make those adjustments in your operations.  If you were successful enough to find the sweet spot in your protocols, then you’re just tweaking your operations event-to-event.  In terms of communications, if you do a good job proactively engaging and educating fans and asking how they want to be communicated with, if you do a great job after the fact in your post-event research of asking them what communications were most useful, most used, and most effective, then refine your communication strategy with fans so that you can – again – continuously improve.

Reinforcement relates to changing perceptions.  Fans have the experience that they have, and down the road when they’re making their decisions about recommending your event to others, coming back themselves, spending more money with you, the memories that they have and the perceptions they have days weeks and months down the road are going to help them make those decisions.  You can impact those down-the-road perceptions.  Send them communications about their experience, reinforcing what a great experience that they had, what success that the event had in mitigating negative outcomes from a health perspective, sharing visuals of people having a great time, and highlighting fan comments from post-event surveys about how much they enjoyed their experience and how much the protocols oftentimes enhanced that overall experience.

Take these lessons learned that we’ve gleaned from our client work, and make sure that your COVID Era sporting events deliver a great experience your fans as well.


Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect.

No Communication = No Connection

If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we not only are not top-of-mind, but we’re not even “bottom-of-mind.” We are not in the mind. They don’t think of us, they don’t consider us because the relationship has gone stale.

Now caring is in the eye of the beholder. How one person defines whether they are cared for by the other may differ from individual to individual. But if we put things in the context of the customer relationship, there are some more consistent realities. Communicating with the customer just to sell isn’t relationship-building. A lack of communication isn’t relationship-building.

What Caring for the Customer Requires

Caring requires that people feel like they’re viewed as an individual – that we value them. It requires that we usually listen more than talk. It means that we try to understand their issues, needs, and goals, and – if they want more than the listening ear – we address those issues, needs, and goals.

So much of what I just described suggests that we can – and MUST – improve customer relations through research, and CSS is conducting a great deal of research in this COVID-19 environment because our clients understand this truth.

Customer research done correctly involves a company asking a customer a question. It involves the company seeking information from the customer, ultimately for the customer. Sometimes, well-designed research instruments convey caring for the customer and valuing of the customer just by how the tools are worded and what questions are asked.

Design with the Customer in Mind

What do you need to know about the customer to help them? What do you need to learn about them to best serve them? How do you identify their priorities, their issues, their concerns, their perceptions, their preferences? And how do you construct these questions in such a way that you convey that you care? We’re talking about research, and we’re not necessarily saying it’s purely web-based surveys. This can include one-on-one interviews, phone follow-up from account representatives, or check-in calls from staff. This could include informal e-mail requests, or it could include facilitated ZOOM focus groups.

Whatever it is, do enough of it to know enough about as many of your customers as possible to help them. If you professionally design with the conveying that you care in mind, you will improve customer relations.


Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the four P’s:  Places, Processes, Products, and People:

Places – Starting outside the building, have signage that tells the customer what to do and where to go, using a combination of pictures/coloring/words.  You need to put a premium on self-navigation.  From signage outside the facility to signage inside the facility, whether it is directional on the floor, wall, ceiling, and “You are here” maps – make it easy on them to move appropriately from area to area.  You want it to be simple enough that they can navigate on their own without having to engage your staff for directions.

“Simply, to have a customer-friendly experience, BE FRIENDLY!”

 

Processes – This is about proactive and digital instructions. How you help them and how you help them help themselves are both very important. View yourself as an educator of customers for how they can have the best experience possible. From the moment they walk in the door (or even before they enter your building!), proactively engage them with questions and directions to get them started on a great experience. Ensure you have a website that gives the specific aisle and bin where an item is located or specific in-facility directions on how to get to a particular office.

Products & Services – Whether self-service inside or outside/curbside service, there needs to be an opportunity for contactless delivery. This is where you look at all the different digital and hands-free ways that customers can either get their own need met onsite while engaging employees as little as possible or set up an entire process such that they can pull up outside your facility and get whatever physical documentation or product is required. Define services that allow them to get what they need with limited or no physical contact with your staff.

People – Finally, with less face-to-face interaction, oftentimes impeded by a mask, those interactions have to be that much better. Simply, your staff need to know how to smile with their eyes. Simply, to have a customer-friendly experience, BE FRIENDLY! It’s easy as a leader to overthink things. If they are in your buildings less, appreciate them during each engagement more. If they proactively initiate conversations with you less, proactively initiate conversations with them more. Extra courtesy and respect are vital when people make the extra effort to safely come to and enter our facilities.

To have a customer friendly COVID-19 walk-in experience, ensure you’re taking a comprehensive approach. Along with all the medically necessary strides you’re taking, view the overall experience through the customer’s eyes. Address the Places, Processes, Products, and People aspects of their experience.