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Smartcompany

It seems we’re being asked to the big guns now which is always nice when you’re young and upstart-ish.

Smart Company is an Alexa ranked #16,000 site – meaning it’s very well read! and they featured an article on “How to get customer feedback” this week.

´╗┐Handling complaints

Businesses should be motivated by the fact that customers can actually become more loyal after a bad customer experience, so long as you try to recover the situation.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and the best way to respond to complaints is to listen very carefully to customer issues and act upon them immediately. A bunch of flowers, a card, even a simple apology where service has failed to hit the mark can have a huge impact,” Mark Copeman, co-founder of service organisation Customer Thermometer says.

Copeman says that 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree.

While some businesses try and blame the customer or their own staff for the problem, this isn’t wise, Copeman says.

“What matters is the customer’s perception of the issue, not who is actually at fault. Make sure that you fix the process that’s broken rather than leaping to conclusions about staff or customers.”

Click below to read the whole article.

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/strategy/20110524-how-to-get-customer-feedback.html

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Ask customer advice and do what they say

I wanted to draw your attention to an awesome post by John o’Nolan called the Customer Service Happiness Manifesto in which he articulates the art of customer service in 3,181 words.

We like what he’s said and wanted to draw your attention particularly to the last paragraph…

“Ask for their advice, and then do what they say

With all customer service, but particularly those customer who have had a particularly tough time, ask them for their feedback and then do what they say. Once again this comes down to humility. Customers like hearing that you consider their opinion to be worthwhile, they like being made to feel important, and they like it when you go out of your way to improve your company based on a problem which they experienced.

Keep in mind that this method is largely pointless (and potentially even damaging) if you make a whole load of empty promises or simply ignore the customer’s suggestions. Your most vocal critics can quickly become your most vocal evangelists if you make them feel like they matter and that you really care.”

John – we totally agree. Match real people with real-time problems to real-time actions and you’ll only gain not lose customers. That’s what Customer Thermometer is all about!

Have you signed up for the best customer satisfaction survey tool on the planet yet?

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Customer Satisfaction surveys just don’t work!

SO many of you will disagree, however we believe it to be true, and having done plenty of digging on this in the last few weeks and months – it does seem so many people are happy with 5% response rates. Unbelieveable!

We think that the pace of business life has increased tremendously in the last few years. Whether you’re in large or small business, the pressures on people every day, if not every hour are greater than ever to deliver. Email inboxes are overloaded and those emails which do get opened – if the task is onerous, typically get left to fester…

Sending your customers a customer satisfaction survey which will ONLY take them 20 minutes to fill in will typically not get a response.

Sending them a single question about how they’re feeling and allowing them to answer in a single click typically does.

Take a look at 5 more reasons the average online customer satisfaction survey just doesn’t work!

It’s a popular list.

Maybe add one of your own!

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5 ways to treat customers as investments

1. Always focus on the lifetime value of the customer to you. If you treat customers on the basis of their last order value you will inevitably make the wrong decisions about how much to pay to acquire a customer, and how much to invest the keep them. 

2. Create a spend plan for customer retention. “Marketing” costs are typically focused on new business generation efforts. Build a budget for your retention strategies in the long term.

3. Create a range of customer retention strategies. Not all customer retention strategies are equal, and not all will work for you. Create a number of different options that work for different segments.

4. Calculate success in customer retention over time. Like an investment in your personal finances, you will only see the full value of your investment in customer retention over time. All  investments take time to mature.

5. Invest in a customer monitoring system. If you’re spending money on getting and keeping customers, make sure that you monitor their satisfaction regularly. A single poor experience can be enough to damage a relationship and the only way you’ll know how your customers feel is if you ask. But long surveys can annoy even the most loyal customers, so choose your tool considerately and carefully.

You can read the full post on investing in the lifetime value of your customers on our blog The Voice of the Customer and read more about client retention strategy here.

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How to really engage with customers

I spotted an excellent article over on the American Express Openforum today. If you’ve not seen it – check it out, because it’s a tremendous resource for all things small business, with some amazing writers.

The author of this particular article, Eric Groves talks about engagement with customers he lists three keys to a successful engagement strategy:

1. Understanding the customer’s experience and constantly striving to improve it.


2. Connecting and building relationships with your current customers.


3. Setting up your passionate customers — those who know and love your products or service — to drive word-of-mouth marketing about you and your business.

I think he’s on to something and I think that Customer Thermometer can help with 1 and 2 when it comes to client retention and engagement.

He goes on…

As an example, I recently rented a car from a national chain on a business trip and not long after, I received an e-mail requesting my feedback about my rental experience. The quick survey asked about the reservation process, the ease in pick-up and drop-off, the quality of the vehicle, and the likelihood that I would rent from this company again on future trips. Right there, the company was offering me an opportunity to share my customer experience with its service.

This is where we start to differ however. Whilst we like the idea of following up – in our mind, the last thing a customer wants having dropped off a car is to be bombarded by trivial, mundane, multiplequestions… Absolutely, send them an email… but send a SINGLE question and then follow up with them accordingly… start a dialogue, because, if they respond (and response rates are amazing for Customer Thermometer), then you’ve effectively got permission to talk to them.

How about the question: “How did you feel about your car rental experience with us?”

You can take a look at the whole of Eric’s article here: http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/successful-busine…

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Thoughts from Frank C. Martin, III

Couldn’t help but notice this excellent quote from Frank Martin, who has been a marketing researcher and marketing consultant for more than thirty years.

We think he’s absolutely right with the single question approach and we are hoping he might stumble across our superb new tool… Customer Thermometer?!

One thing that absolutely, positively does NOT make customers happy? Long, boring and repetitive customer satisfaction surveys.

I have been guilty, and have seen other researchers be similarly blameworthy, of asking WAY too many questions in the typical customer survey. I have seen customer satisfaction surveys stretched to over 100 questions, which can tax the goodwill and satisfaction of even the most elated customers.”

You can read the rest of his post here. Wise words Frank!

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5 ways you are losing your clients. And how to stop it from happening!

  1. Your client is most likely to be “saving up” minor problems or issues without communicating them. Over time these grow into big problems.
  2. The people you know best within your client are most likely to be day-to-day contacts. They are not always the budget holders and/or the decision-makers. Over time, contact with these senior folks can drift. When that budget cut comes along or your performance is being questioned, it’s easy to be left high and dry.
  3. Very strong personal relationships between your account teams and clients sometimes make it hard for clients to be honest about the organisation’s overall performance, leading to assessments or tenders with competitors that the account team may be unaware of in the early stages
  4. You simply aren’t getting the full picture of how a big client feels about you if you don’t ask everyone impacted by your product, services or programme how they are feeling about you. Social media makes this even more dangerous.
  5. Traditional customer service surveys often get rescheduled or bumped by the client due to business pressure; online surveys are just ignored by the senior contacts. Months & years can go by without a review. If the client doesn’t get an opportunity to input along the way, things can rapidly go wrong.

Why not improve your customer retention rates today? Sign up for a free trial of Customer Thermometer by clicking the link, and get real-time customer feedback without the wait.

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