In this Age of the Customer, and within it, and more ruthlessly, the Age of Social, successful word of mouth marketing equals business growth. That's why this edition is dedicated to success strategies and lessons from those nailing it. Click directly above. Or explore the entire series below.
Ask Uber. Or United Airlines, which deservedly ranks bottom in the 2017 ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) and whose despicable abuse of passenger Dr. Dao proves Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh right. Horror stories are legion. And it begins where ego, inflexibility and Customer Satisfaction clash. Many large companies who should know better are abysmally mismanaging their loyalty programs while small businesses run by rookie entrepreneurs can sometimes be forgiven for not knowing better.
A Chinese entrepreneur recently baffled me when having confided in me about her Taobao customer's bad undeserved review, she couldn't bring herself to implement a cost-free recommendation I thought we agreed on. “I wish you peace and stand ready to help you again” was all she had to write in reply to de-escalate, protect her brand, and move on from a bad customer who having failed to nickel and dime my friend into paying for shipping and handling, now sought to tarnish her reputation. Another smarter friend — also Chinese — who got a bad review went out of her way get her British Amazon customer to change her review to something more favorable. And the process, which involved some technical editing problems they couldn't initially figure out despite many tries, brought them closer, she joyfully recounted. Meanwhile, my other (Taobao) friend's account, I later learned, was subsequently closed by Alibaba. Coincidence? You decide.
In the Age of the Customer and the Age of Social, perception is reality. Your Customer Experience is your brand; Social Media, both the loudspeaker and Big Brother. And insisting on being right; not knowing how to avoid bad PR or effectively manage customer emotion, enhance the conversation as well as conversion or close rate, is bad business practice.
You will always have shady customers. And I sympathize with for example a Mainland Chinese who legitimately might object, saying: “But look at Walmart [China]. They have to take extreme measures to stop elderly people from shoplifting.” I've seen it many times. Yet Mark Sanborn is right.
Why? Because attracting customers and generating profit is only the beginning of business and customer success. Truly well run businesses, brands and institutions — like Byers Imports in Mark Sanborn's case — that are nailing Customer Experience are in a perpetual state of marketing. Such that every touchpoint is optimized, —enhancing and quietly, positively managing the stories spread about it. Whatever the medium.
Indeed Forrester Research recently confirmed that in order to get Customer Service right (see video at the bottom of the article), retain, and win customers, organizational core elements — in particular, culture — must change.
This is why writing before the Forrester Research finding, I not only stressed the same point but also argued in The Ultimate Business Strategy: Nailing Customer Experience & Customer Satisfaction that the right customers want you to survive and thrive as well. At the end of the day.
And if you're careless, you become just another sellout that never got that critical balance right and thus quickly, if not inevitably, went out of business. Having built a rigid brand with a business model insufficiently responsive to cultural demands of the Customer and Social Age. Of which Digital Transformation (including mass business migration to The Cloud) is a part. And if, as Gartner also predicts, 95% of Cloud Security incidents by 2020 will be the customer’s fault, are you building a top-notch Customer Journey culture? (all images hyperlinked)We know what a business exists to do. But with my lawyer and strategic thinking cap on, I prefer to broadly cast disciplined institutions, reputable brands and even governments in the same net.
The follow-up question being: To what extent is yours living up to it's full potential?The hyperlinked image (above) provides newer insight. Moreover, the same reasons explain why I wrote the older Are You Doing Customer Experience Innovation Right which underscores the importance of flexibility and culture in this twin age we're speaking of.
That's why Vusi Thembekwayo (in the previous iteration) crystallizes my obsession with flexibility, agility and culture as keys not only to business and leadership success but also, human development.
Because guess what, democratic as well as autocratic governments face the same challenges. As I argued in How To Nail Customer Obsession, Competition & Your USP, where I include another vital age working in confluence with the two mentioned above: The Age of Leverage.You see, every time you're told something “cannot” be done — that some service “can't” be rendered because of cited laws, protocol, tradition or regulations — what you're really hearing is the only proof necessary, that people DO build culture. And that if you really want a better outcome or experience, the obvious, even if challenging solution is to figure out how to put the right people in place to build, execute and deliver your desired experience. For example, what proven techniques and/or tools are you using to get closer to your customers?
Great CX (Customer Experience) and User Experience (UX) begins with talented experts in place who understand the difference, how the two work in confluence, and how we go from one to the other.
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In case you're thinking of skipping Kerry Bodine's presentation above, you'll miss not only her highly informative insight into UX and CX success stories but also, the 6 Disciplines of Forrester's Customer Experience Maturity Model. Namely:
② Customer Understanding
Furthermore, astute businesses, organizations and political systems like China's — as you will appreciate momentarily below — that defy gravity view nailing Customer Experience and Customer Satisfaction delivery as an ultimate business, political and strategic survival strategy requiring great Customer Experience Innovation. Innovation that addresses every touchpoint in the customer journey.Whether it is Social Media or offline, the core strategic foundation underpinning the world-class service John R. DiJulius speaks of here and Vusi's RRRC (previously), —which I prefer to rationalize as:
③ Responsiveness, and
together, form building blocks of Trust and customer emotional loyalty. In Vusi's case, originally based on the The Four Essentials of a Profitable Customer Experience (see pg. 4 in particular). It is an in depth study of the “The Customer Experience EDGE” or 4 Customer Experience Essentials.In politics, that customer is the voter.
Or in repressive albeit capitalistic China, people — consumers — with seemingly infinite access to affordable products and services. And whether you silence the word “product” in David Ogilvy's quote below or leave it intact, the strategic play, appeal and unique selling point or UVP of the CCP's (China Communist Party) — expounded in an unrelated article — begins to make sense:To transcend this increasingly brutal reality, which even NATO acknowledges, is to CONSISTENTLY execute around a consistently tested and proven People + Process + Anytime Client Care “Ask. Listen. Solve.” Model popularized by Commerce Bank. And with a user base of over 21,000 global clients supported driving cross country or flying transcontinental to spend whole weekends, or even 2-5 hours or days with, just to SOLVE a problem — having ASKED and carefully LISTENED — this is how, and from whence I personally prefer, and derive the term: Customer Care.
And here, Forrester Research is right: “Business is won or lost based on levels of speed and flexibility” plus technological agility or lack thereof, brought to today's competitive marketplace: This is why even a casual study of losers in virtually every domain today reveals how a failure to holistically appreciate the forgoing is leaving money on the table. Or in President Obama's case, an entire legacy. This, in essence, should be Competitive Advantage 101 for any company, startup, institution or government determined to win the Social and Customer Age.
Lastly, those who restlessly seek to dominate the competition and devour market share while consistently disrupting themselves through Customer Experience Innovation — see How To Achieve Strategic Pre-eminence in Business (where “clients” is preferred) — take time to understand the competitive landscape while simultaneously nailing Customer Service and Customer Satisfaction.
A video of the latter completes this article below.
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