research

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

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.


Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve – 11/27/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view.

Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may involve a review from some reputable online publication. More often, I seek out reviews from fellow customers, and I put a TON of weight into their opinions. Even though the seller may offer specs on the product and glowing descriptions, the words of customers who purchased the item mean more.

They tend to tell you about the ordering and shipping experiences. They tell you how the assembly went, what they like and dislike, what works and what doesn’t, and what type of support they receive if there’s a question/issue/return involved. It helps me to make an informed decision.

Now, what it should also do is to help the seller improve the product or the buying process or the support process.

Think about seeing the buying experience, the “setup-for-use” experience, the product benefits/drawbacks, and the support experience all through the customer’s eyes! It’s like mystery shopping without having to mystery shop. It’s real-time information from real people about real experiences.

If you want to know how to improve yourself, your service, your organization, or your product, look for sources of customer input that already exist (and create those that don’t). Review the input; determine the common threads; find opportunities to recognize others, and find opportunities to get better.

Use customer comments to continuously improve.

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Play Ball with Your Customers – 9/4/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


We typically conduct 35-40 surveys a year for the sports industry. And while you may work in a different industry, there are lessons to be learned by the types of research that sports organizations seek and why they seek that information.

First, we design and deliver many pre-event surveys. This is especially important when you’re trying to understand who is going to be attending the event, and which of those are first-time customers. Think about your own business. How much would you benefit from knowing your customers’ expectations before they ever walked in the door? How much more tailored could your information be if you knew what was of greatest interest to them? How much more effective could you be in creating a comfortable experience if you understood what their awareness level was of your operations, facilities, products, and services? How much easier would it be to get a return visit if you understood the reason they chose your organization or your event in the first place? Think about learning from your customer before they ever walk in the door.

Second, we do a lot of surveys based on the experience itself. These are almost immediate surveys that enable us to understand exactly how the different steps in the customer journey were perceived by the customer. You can immediately learn the customer’s likes and dislikes. You can strategically think about what aspects of the customer journey need to be improved and why. You get raw, real information about those aspects of the experience that can make or break the customer’s relationship with you.

Third, we provide post-event research with clients, and this not only includes some input we’re seeking on the experience itself, but it also includes gauging their interests, their priorities, their retention drivers, their willingness to return, and their interest in additional products and services. Too many organizations view existing customers the same way they view prospects. But if you view your customer as a unique individual that you need to develop a relationship with, then you realize that you need to know a lot about them – why they would stay with you or go to a competitor. Identify what you need to know about your customer to create a great relationship with your customer.

A fourth common research approach we use is Exit Interviews. This is when we go to clients that have not renewed or have cancelled their tickets or ended their relationship with the organization. The primary purposes of this research are twofold: First, we are trying to understand why they left so that we can look at fans of a similar profile and develop strategies to better retain those who we still do have. Second, we are looking for opportunities to win back these fans by truly understanding their retention drivers and their willingness to give us a second chance.

Although these are only 4 different research vehicles within the sports industry, they’ll give you a feel for the core approach we use with many of our clients. Think about your individual customers and the impact they have on your company as a whole. Devise a research strategy that will help you learn from them throughout their customer journey and even after they’ve left so that you can best keep and grow with your customers.

Learn how to play ball with your customers.

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