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...

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...

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%...

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...

Are Your Surveys Like the Election Polls?

The 2016 presidential election was significant for many reasons. Many feel it may be the most important election of our lifetime. The incredible inaccuracy of the polls stands out as one noteworthy aspect of the election. The political news reporters were shocked and embarrassed by how they blew the prediction of the election outcome. This is a clear demonstration of how decisions can be based on erroneous information. Some of the inherent flaws in polls are similar to problems with surveys. Poll predictions use several factors that are supposed to be representative of the population. Like polls, surveys are the responses from a subset of people who theoretically represent the whole and the results are based on those who are willing to respond. The accuracy declines and results are skewed for several reasons: We are inundated with surveys and, many of us don’t respond, leading to a smaller sample of the whole. I spoke with a business leader recently who was frustrated that only three people out of 750 responded to his company’s survey. His compensation was affected by the satisfaction ratings, but the results were worthless. Customers have been tainted by long surveys with endless pages of questions. No upfront indication of the length or the time it will take to complete result in high abandonment rates. Requests for extensive demographic information may benefit the business but send a message to the customer that the survey is not focused on improving the customer experience. Businesses need on-going customer feedback to continuously improve. So, how do they get it? Business can start by focusing on their customers’ needs, not...

You Can’t Compete Without a Mobile Channel

As I work with businesses on their customer service strategy, it is clear to me that a mobile communication channel is critical to the future success of most businesses. I’m not referring to social media or one-way text platforms. A mobile communication channel is one that offers two-way, real-time interaction by connecting a robust customer care platform to customers who use mobile/text channel. Today, many businesses just don’t make it easy for customers to contact them. Customers are frustrated with the effort required to access cumbersome communication channels businesses offer. 90% of customers are frustrated with being put on hold. 89% are frustrated that they have to repeat their issue to multiple people. 91% are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason. Millennials are an enormous force for change in how we do business and they expect a different interaction with businesses. They make up about half of the workforce and it is estimated that they will spend $200 billion annually by 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes. They expect easy authentic interactions and prefer text over phone calls or emails. Mobile is Conversational A mobile channel enables businesses to have an easy, two-way dialogue with customers. They can engage with customers to learn about their preferences and to keep them informed of updates and changes. A mobile/text channel can help a company reduce customer service costs by 25%. Mobile is Real-Time Businesses can increase response rates and engagement with customers due to timeliness and relevance of the interaction. Mobile communication also provides more accurate customer feedback. And there’s an added...