research

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

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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Let the Customer Decide Where to Share – 6/5/18

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


When we work with clients on their Voice of the Customer strategy, there’s obviously a proactive research component included. And while many companies immediately consider a web survey as the sole source of customer feedback, when designing your Voice of the Customer strategy, first think about how your customers would prefer to share their feedback with you.

Some people prefer the face-to-face focus group because they can dialogue with others, and they prefer that personal interaction. Others prefer the web survey that is clickable and quantifiable, and it can be done any time of the day-of-week or time-of-day.

Some prefer the telephone, and not necessarily your calling them – which is becoming more and more rare – it’s also providing opportunity for them to dial into an anonymous conference call or to leave a voicemail for someone with their thoughts and opinions. Consider social media, where many are digitally engaged customers who spend a lot of their time and effort engaging companies through those more new-age methods.

Another benefit of gathering the Voice of the Customer using methods the customer would prefer to share information, is that your results can be biased if you don’t take that approach. What if 50% of your clientele who experience the organization onsite prefer to give the feedback onsite, but all you request is a web survey?

What if you prefer to use focus groups, but the majority of your customers don’t have the time nor inclination to drive somewhere, park, sit in a focus group, and then drive home? What if you preferred to get feedback via social media, but 80% of your clients are rarely on social media except as an observer of others?

To truly and accurately get the voice of your customer, develop a strategy that taps into the communication methods that your clients prefer most.

Let the customer decide where to share.

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