What Your Customer Data Isn’t Telling You

On a recent trip, our pilot was excited to announce that he got us to our destination 20 minutes early. I was happy to hear that and it seemed my fellow passengers were too! As we sat on the tarmac, our pilot announced that we were so early there was no open gate. We waited awhile longer and then finally parked at a gate where we waited for someone to extend the walkway for us to deplane. In the end, we were actually on the plan longer than we would have been had we landed at on time.  This incident made me think about airlines metrics. If airline leadership looked at the arrival time, they would see a positive metric. But, if you talked to any passengers, the feedback would not be as positive. Most businesses collect a lot of data! But if they don’t collect the right data or truly understand the data, they may not be getting an accurate picture.   Businesses collect an endless amount of data. They might collect data on call center volume, peak times they receive calls and call abandonment rates. They might collect data on customer time spent on their website and where they clicked. These are examples of quantitative data that provide one layer of information. Our flight duration and arrival time are examples of quantitative data.   What quantitative data does NOT tell you is the customers’ motivation behind the activity, feelings, or thoughts about an interaction. Why did they call you? What caused their satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Why did they click through your website but not make a purchase? This is... read more

Did You Lose a Customer Today?

Do you know if you lost a customer today? Chances are good that you did and don’t even know it. Studies have found that as high as 95% of customers don’t complain even when they have minor complaints about a business. They just don’t come back. What does this mean to your business? First, make it easy for your customers to voice complaints. Many people are uncomfortable bothering managers and frontline employees especially with minor issues. And when they do, follow these 5 golden rules for handling them in a way that makes your customers feel valued and important. After all, losing a customer impacts every area of your business and ultimately the ability to grow your business. Research shows that if you can address a problem quickly and efficiently, a customer will be 20% MORE loyal than before the problem occurred. Golden Rules for Handling Customer Complaints Quickly Acknowledge. Customers expect you to acknowledge the situation quickly and start addressing the situation. Nothing shows that you value your customer more than acknowledgment. If you don’t, they are likely to move on. Efficiently Handle. Establish an efficient process for handling problems. Customers should expect to talk to one person who will do the leg work to solve the problem. Repeating the story when handed off to multiple people is frustrating. Don’t make the customer do the work to resolve the situation. Be friendly. A bad attitude tells the customer that you don’t care about them or the problem. A positive, approachable attitude makes your customer feel valued. Smile, be pleasant and have a helpful attitude. It really isn’t that hard.... read more

The Power of Proactive Customer Service

Many companies provide traditional customer service. They wait until customers have questions or find out about problems before they take action. This is reactive service and can irritate customers, erode trust and destroy brands. Some examples include not informing customers about a delay in shipping or a delayed service call. An extreme example is GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles for a defect that they knew existed and had already led to 13 deaths. While, companies often have to be reactive, there are opportunities to provide proactive customer service.  Proactive customer service is staying ahead of customer questions or issues and making the first move to offer solutions, before customers ask questions or reach out for help. Proactive customer service creates trust, loyalty and confidence in a business or brand.  Companies are getting better at spotting problems and addressing them before the customer notices. How can your company make the shift to take advantage of the power of proactive customer service?  Create a Customer Service Culture  Create a culture where all employees are focused on the customer, not just touchpoint employees. Employees throughout the organization should be encouraged to recognize problems that can affect customers and feel safe in bringing the problems and a proactive solution to light.   Know Your Customers  You can provide valuable proactive service when you understand your customers and what’s important to them. Engage with customers, especially your top customers, to identify interests and priorities. There are many ways businesses can engage customers. Our company helps businesses engage in real-time through two-way text communication. Using our platform, businesses can tailor interactions for different customer... read more

Customer Feedback Keeps Your Business in Top Shape

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine leased a new GMC vehicle. As part of the lease, he received a complimentary 3-month subscription to OnStar, the service that keeps a driver safe, connected and ready for the road. As part of this service, he receives a diagnostic report on many aspects of the vehicle including transmission, emissions, brakes, airbags, tire pressure, and oil life remaining. The report also reminds the driver of mileage and maintenance needed. It really is an amazing report full of feedback on the condition of various systems of the vehicle. The diagnostic report is great feedback that helps a driver maintain a vehicle and keep it functioning safely.  What if the driver got feedback that there was a issue and didn’t take action to address the problem? The report would be worthless. The same is true for customer feedback. It is worthless unless it is used to make improvements. Businesses who care about customer experience put the feedback they receive into action. Consider the hotel chain who got consistently negative feedback from guests about its air adjustable beds. While the beds were initially loved by guests, they wore out quickly and became more uncomfortable than regular beds. Management at the hotel chain listened to the feedback and replaced the beds over time. Obviously this was a costly change but one kept loyal guests coming back. Take the example of a quick oil change company. Management had gotten negative feedback from customers that the television stations in some of the waiting areas were showing soap opera programs that were inappropriate for young children who were... read more

Ignoring Customers is Risky Business

Consistently providing great service was the foundation that made my businesses successful. Continuous communication and training ensured all employees deeply understood our customer service culture. I believe that all customer feedback is good, including feedback about problems. That is valuable information we can use to improve. In fact, a problem handled quickly and effectively often results in a more loyal customer. So, it amazes me when I interact with businesses that don’t seem to care and in fact, ignore customers. I had a bad experience with an upscale restaurant and sent in a web form about the situation. A month later, they haven’t responded to me. I know they received my web form because I immediately started to get marketing emails from them! A timely response would have had much more impact. Customer service is changing but it isn’t going away. Business can’t ignore customers. 50% of customers give a business only one week to respond before they stop doing business with them and 89% began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. So, I ‘m left wondering why this restaurant, as well as other businesses, ignore customers. Here are four of the top reasons I think businesses don’t respond. They don’t care  Businesses are willing to let bad service go unaddressed. They view problems as a part of doing business. Things do happen but customers deserve and want a response and an apology when things go wrong. 68% of customers expect higher levels of service than they did one year ago. Individual situations should be handled but more importantly, businesses should look at feedback over time... read more

Five Digital Customer Courtesies

Common customer courtesies are behaviors employees demonstrate that affect the customer experience. How customers feel they are being treated, greatly impacts whether they make a purchase and whether they return to make additional purchases. In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated and being treated poorly is the number one reason customers leave a business. Most businesses understand the importance of treating customers courteously when they walk through their doors. Acknowledging and greeting customers and a friendly, helpful attitude lets a customer know you care about them. A genuine interest in helping a customer find what they need or solve a problem positively impacts a customer’s experience and decision to continue to do business with you. How does a business transfer courteous behaviors to digital interactions such as emails, web forms or text messages? Our company offers a two-way text channel to businesses and we have identified five basic customer courtesies businesses overlook that can positively affect digital interactions. Timely Acknowledgement Just as you pick up a phone call within a few rings or greet a customer when they walk in the door, a digital message should be acknowledged promptly and handled as soon as possible. Think about how it feels to walk into a business and no one acknowledges you. The same applies to a digital message. Personally acknowledge a digital message from a customer. Let the customer know that you are handling their message and when they can expect a response. Use the Customer’s Name in a Warm Greeting Online interactions have an advantage of coming with some information... read more

Embrace Text Communication 

The first text message was sent almost 25 years ago. Today, 18.7 billion texts are sent EVERY day! Texting has become the most popular communication channel around the world, across all age groups. A Gallup poll found that sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50. Text communication is the most common form of communication for almost half of those over 50. Texting communication is real-time. Text interactions create faster exchanges between customers and businesses and reduce customer effort to contact businesses. Customers want quick, easy ways to resolve problems and get questions answered. Reducing customer effort increases customer loyalty, retention and spending. Businesses that open a text channel to their customers can reap benefits that result in both top line and bottom line growth. Here are five benefits of real-time communication for businesses. Improves Customer Service Customers are highly frustrated with having to contact a business multiple times to resolve an issue. In fact, 78% of customers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to a poor service experience. Text communication enables customers to easily reach the right person in a business with one message. Businesses can establish a knowledgeable team to respond quickly to answer questions or provide information. No more phone transfers, phone tag, web-forms,  or email exchanges. A robust text communication channel also allows businesses to proactively communicate with their customers, anticipating questions and building trust. Resolve Problems More Efficiently Customers don’t give businesses much time to resolve a problem with 50% leaving within 24 hours of experiencing a problem and 79%... read more

Attitude is Everything 

Experienced leaders know that they should hire for attitude, not skills. This is especially true for customer-facing employees. Mark Murphy, author Hiring for Attitude, tracked 20,000 new hires and found that 46% of them failed within 18 months. 89% of the time, the new hires failed due to problems associated with attitude. Attitude separates high performers from low performers and can affect the ability to work collaboratively with others, think innovatively, cope with failure and learn. Finding employees with the right attitude is especially important when hiring customer-facing employees. There is no definitive list of what those attitudes are. I have a list of attitudes that are foundational for all customer-facing employees. In addition to having empathy and being solution-oriented, employees with these foundational attitudes are ones that consistently provide WOW experiences for customers. Here are four I think rank high on the list. Patience Patience is defined as quiet, steady perseverance and even-tempered care. Clearly important when working with customers. Customers come to employees for help when they are confused, need direction, or have a problem. Taking the appropriate amount of time to understand and assist customers is better for that customer as well as for overall business. Read Customers In today’s world, employees aren’t always able to see customers face-to-face. In fact, they may not even hear a customer’s voice! They still must be able to read customers by looking for subtle cues about the customer’s mood, personality, and level of frustration. The ability to read customers and respond with empathy is also an important part of engaging and personalizing customer interactions. Flexibility  Customers are more diverse than ever, ranging from millennials... read more

Peoplocity Chosen for ACTE Global Conference

Peoplocity has been selected to present in the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) Global Education Conference to be held April 23-25 in New York City. Peoplocity was chosen as an innovative and disruptive technology that is influencing the future of the travel industry. Peoplocity will be one of the technology companies featured in the ACTE Commons, an open customized learning space based on the seven spokes of the ACTE Ferris Wheel. Peoplocity will be on stage to highlight how its two-way text communication channel is supporting both the modern business traveler’s expectations and providing travel managers with data and insights to better manage their programs. In its business travel segment, Peoplocity lets travel managers and travel management companies provide travelers with an efficient text communication channel to get feedback, manage issues and share information with business travelers throughout their trip, in real-time. Travel managers get more in-depth data and travelers feel more secure. Peoplocity Founder and CEO, George Klein, is a serial entrepreneur and executive with proven success in a variety of businesses. He has vast experience in all aspects of ownership and management of new businesses and turnarounds. The common denominator for success in all these businesses has been Klein’s ability to create a company-wide focus on providing best-in-class service. “Business travelers want to know they can easily get help while on the road. Travel managers, TMCs, and suppliers want to be able to efficiently interact with travelers to resolve issues and share important information before, during and after a trip. They also need feedback from travelers on their interactions with airlines, hotels and transportation,” comments Klein.... read more

Building a Lasting Culture of Employee Appreciation

Employee Appreciation Day is recognized on the first Friday in March. While an annual employee appreciation day is nice, building a lasting culture that values employees has a much greater impact. Businesses with a culture that values and engages employees enjoy higher productivity, lower absenteeism, lower turnover and higher profitability. Businesses that successfully build that culture also see positive results with customers. Numerous studies have found a direct link between engaged, happy employees and loyal, happy customers. Studies focused on employee engagement found that engaged employees are willing to go above and beyond for their companies and customers. There are many pieces that must work together to create a productive organizational culture. Here are three practices that build a culture that values and appreciates employees. Ask Employees For Feedback  Employees who interact with customers have a wealth of information about your customers. They are in the best position to understand customers’ likes and dislikes. They also understand how internal processes can be improved to better serve customers. Make employees a valued part of the business by asking them to watch for ways to improve how you interact with and serve customers. Establish methods for employees to regularly and easily share what they know. Value Employee Feedback Asking employees for feedback is not enough. Use the information they share to make changes that improve the experience for customers and for employees! Employees feel valued and appreciated when they see that their feedback is used to improve the organization.   Empower Employees Employees who feel valued, are motivated to go above and beyond to meet customer needs. Let them! Provide training to help employees understand customers as well... read more