4 Simple Steps to a Complete Customer Experience Makeover

Almost every savvy business executive recognizes that in order to set their business apart from their competitors, they need to provide an exceptional customer experience. It is understood that it is no longer enough to compete on products and services; how a business delivers to its customers is as, if not more, important than what is delivered.

The best customer-experience efforts begin with a customer’s perspective which is driven by the customer’s wants, not a business’s traditional organizational structure.

THE BUSINESS’S FIRST STEPS TOWARDS A COMPLETE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MAKEOVER

1. Recognize the Customer Across all Channels
Every channel (i.e. in-store, website, social media etc.) the customer interacts with should recognize the customer immediately, so that the customer doesn’t have to provide their information to the business more than once. A CRM application can help with this.

2- Deliver a Personalized Experience to the Customer
It is essential that businesses distance themselves from dated marketing tactics that encourage mass communication. In order to intrigue and retain a customer, marketers must communicate in a relevant, compelling and personalized manner by moving towards the relationship era of marketing. Marketing automation tools (personalized microsites and automated personalized communication) can help with this.

3- Capture Customer Feedback and Take Action
Everyone knows the importance of customer feedback but not all businesses know how and when to collect it efficiently and most importantly, to make real-time changes and take instant action where necessary. An Intelligent feedback application can help with this.

4- Train Customer-Facing Employees
Customer-facing employees can be the best medium in a business to deliver exceptional customer experience if given proper training. Businesses should spend sufficient time to train their employees with:
• The principles of customer experience.
• The concept of delivering memories not only transactions.
• The basics of customer recognition and segmentation.

Research indicates that 80 percent of customers who have stopped doing business with a company say that it is due to a bad customer experience. Whereas, companies that are consistent in providing positive customer experience across all channels are able to build stronger customer-relationships, maintain customer loyalty, benefit financially and receive customer-referrals. So what are you waiting for? These simple steps can take you from likeable to loved! For more information on the topic contact us at info@urbanbuz.com.

 

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Rise of BRAND ADVOCATES to BRAND EVANGELISTS

“Find one customer that believes in your brand and you’ll not only find other customers but also discover opportunities to continue scaling and growing your business.” 

One of the most important outcomes of this digital transformation is the rise of a new and very powerful customer-the Advocate.

Brand Advocates are those highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about. They write about your brand and share it with personal, social and business networks. The brands obviously need them on their side, because they have a disproportionate impact on persuading others to engage with and believe in the brand.

Some examples of brand advocates:

  • Kinokuniya Bookstore, Dubai’s- “mommy bloggers”
  • Porsche’s Customer Advocates
  • Community support systems: Dell, BestBuy, Fiskars’ crafting site Fiskateer

According to the 2015 Loyalty Report 360,– 16% to 20% of the total customer base of an organisation ,those are the brand believers and supporters, and in that role, they influence the remaining 80 to 84% of the other customers.

With a globe gone digital and the power of social media, they have a platform to make their point of view known to everyone. Advocates have become incredibly valuable assets.

Marketing power of Evangelists of Brands

Brand Evangelists are those who spread their beliefs about a brand due to a previous positive experience with the brand. Having customers becoming cheerleaders for the brand is the very essence of marketing the brand. The customers not only sell for the company, but they communicate in a way far more powerful than any content the brand has created.

Average Net Promoter Score

Average Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an alternative measure of customer satisfaction and loyalty, and is used to determine how likely your customers are to recommend and promote your company.

The average NPS score is computed by taking the average percentage of people who give a score of 9 or 10 out of 10 (the promoters) and subtracting the percentage of people who gives a score of 6 or below (the detractors). Crucially, those giving a score of 7 or 8 are ignored (the passives).

  • A high NPS correlates strongly with future growth.
  • Tracking the NPS is important to determine trends in loyalty (a high NPS is an indicator of loyalty).

 

Getting the word out through customer endorsements is a prerequisite for brand success today.

Chris Maloney, Marketing Strategist, from his theory innovation diffusion, he states that “once you reach 16% adoption rate for any innovation”. It’s time to change the messaging strategy companies focussing needs to shift from the one -scarcity needs to the one based on social proof . In this scenario, Advocates play a critical role in moving brands into new customer territories.

Increasingly a brand’s values and vision plays an integral part in creating a relationship. Customer Advocacy is a function that focuses on the customer, not an individual department, organization or division of a company. Many companies are recognizing the importance of “customer centricity” and the implied customer focus and are thus choosing to implement a Customer Advocacy role. In this customer centric context, it reminds me of how throwing a stone into a pond creates ripples that move outward in increasing circles from the centre to the pond’s edge. Exchanging the stone for a brand Advocate’s positive post or recommendation, we will get an idea of how digital word of mouth works in today’s connected world and how advocates messaging accelerates the brand across the chasm.

Because today’s customers behave quite differently from those in the past, winning them and persuading them to become Advocates can be more challenging. Customers have changed from being passive to being active and engaged. Advocates exist on a level above that. It takes time and disciplined series of interactions to build the right conditions for customer engagement.

How to enable Advocacy & Evangelism by brands?

  1. Awareness: The starting point is always awareness. What do customers know about the brand and what the brand stands for? What are they saying to each other? Do they visit your website? How many page views? What is the visit duration? What do customer interest levels suggest?
  1. Engagement: Beyond awareness, are customers interacting with your brand, signing up for experiential events, registering with contact information, following social media feeds, and so on?

3

  1. Attachment:Have customers strengthened their relationship and interacted with the brand by posting, blogging, and commenting/responding about the brand?
  1. Advocate/Evangelist:The last stage is when they become Brand Advocates and turn to evangelists where they are actively recommending brand to the friends, sending links, posting on social media, or participating in the brand user community.

Taking the case of GoPro, it sells video cameras that can be mounted to capture most activities (think a camera on a helmet when you are skydiving.)It provides a place for customers to share their most enthralling moments, but it’s a great way for potential users to see the products in action. Brands now more than ever need to listen, moderate and engage with their community in order to reach the ultimate goal – turning customers into brand advocates. An online community is ideal for a brand advocacy platform because of the ability to engage customers at every level of their journey. This helps brands to identify and promote their most loyal customers, and then turn them into brand advocates and evangelists. Hence brands should build a strong Brand community through online platform that they can control and manage.

Creating superior brand experiences is about helping your customer’s feel something they can’t touch. It’s emotion. It’s intellect. It’s heart and its mind. It’s art and it’s science. It’s more about a commitment to prioritizing and architecting the best brand experience you possibly can all based on what the customer needs. The tracking & personalizing advocacy efforts (giving customers easy access to profiles and providing notification of opportunities fitting their interests), will encourage them in participating with feedback.

As a brand you need to find, track and reward the most passionate and vocal customers and ultimately transform them into brand evangelists. This encourages participation at every level, streamlining engagement and feedback and tracking those essential activities using the right system.

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What is Your Data Capturing Strategy?

Once you decide to implement a customer loyalty system and you have all the involved people aligned around the four main benefits of having such a system (see The Four Basic Benefits of a Loyalty Program), then you can start working on the strategy.

Typically when thinking about customer loyalty, businesses immediately start discussing points and how-to-capture-more-customer-data-300x206rewards, which really undermine the power of a customer loyalty system. Before even thinking about the incentives and the rewards, you need to figure out your data capture strategy.

A data capture strategy defines how you collect and manage information about your customers. A well thought of data capture strategy will deliver high quality customer data, allowing you to better understand your customers and enhance your relationship with them.

Capturing information about your customer does not mean you need to gather up every type of demographic data from every single person. You only need to capture the data that’s “relevant” and “relative” to your business and your sales objectives. You also need to make this data capture meaningful to your customers as well. You can’t just start asking for volumes of information unless it seems important to them as well.

One Golden Rule we recommend is this: Only capture data that you can actually USE to trigger a marketing campaign or make a decision about a “next step” within a marketing sequence.

Free_Data_Cleansing_Review_Parameters

There are three basic guidelines that should guide your data capture strategy:

  • Depth – The amount of data you have about your customers to make your communications relevant

 

  • Breadth – The volume of customers you have on your database and can therefore have a conversation with.

 

  • Quality – The deciding factor. Your database may be full of customer records appended with all manner of information, but if it’s inaccurate it’s useless

 

 

Depth

It is important to identify what information you require to allow you to meet your objectives. At UrbanBuz, this is one of our starting points and this is something we call defining your “ideal” customer profile.

A good practice is to start by working out what information is most important. From there, you can then investigate where this information is currently captured or where it may be in the future. Don’t fall into the trap of collecting data because you think it might be useful. If you can’t think of a use for it now, don’t collect it. Asking for too much data may alienate your customers.

You can also use transactional data to get a far richer understanding of who your customers are than they actually want (or are able) to tell you. With sales data, you can build customer segments. You wouldn’t offer deep discounts to customers who were already loyal to your store and willing to pay full or close-to full price (that’s just giving away money). Your more infrequent customers may need different incentives to come in and purchase. Segmenting your customers can allow you to send the right offers to each customer.

Breadth

In order to maximize the number of customers who would provide you with their information, you should make it as easy as possible for customers to provide that information.

It is important not to push the customer to provide information at your own schedule. They need to do it when they feel like it. So for that you need to enable them to do that across different channels whether while browsing or waiting at the store, on your web site, on your Facebook page, or on their phone.

Also people expect something of value in return for entering their contact details. Incentivizing your audience needn’t be costly. You might provide a quick digital offer or voucher that gets emailed to them once they fill out their profile.

The key here is to make it quick and easy for customers to provide you with information at their own time by integrating your data capturing process with all your different channels from Point of Sale system to web site and Facebook.

Quality

Approximately 1 in 10 customer records you store will become out of date every 3 months. This has implications not just for the data that you collect (for example ask for a date of birth rather than age) but also for how you maintain it. A badly timed or irrelevant communication could at worst result in reputation damage to your brand. It is therefore not sufficient to just collect customer data well; it must also be diligently maintained.

You need to make sure to provide your customers with the capability to update their information and to have regular campaigns reminding them to make sure their profiles are up to date and most importantly to remind them “why” they should update their profiles.

While data collection does take some work and commitment, the payoffs can be well worth the time.

  • You can exponentially increase the response rates on your marketing campaigns
  • You can increase your per-visit transaction revenue
  • You can identify and improve your relationship with your best customers
  • You can provide useful information to all of your customers

To have a solid Data Capturing strategy in place, always make sure:

  1. Decide what data you need and prioritize
  2. Don’t ask for everything at once – build it up over time
  3. Make it easy for customers to give you information
  4. Incentivize your customers to part with their details
  5. Streamline the process from point of capture to storage
  6. Regularly remind customers to update their data and about the benefits of doing that
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The Four Basic Benefits of a Loyalty Program

History1Did you know that Loyalty programs have been used in commerce for decades? They originated in Germany where price based competition was disallowed by governmental restrictions in certain industries. In the 1930s, S&H Green Stamps rewarded grocery store and gas station customers in the US with stamps redeemable for appliances and other merchandise.

History2The modern day loyalty program was launched in 1981 by American Airlines, and was quickly duplicated by other airlines and other hospitality industries including hotels, car rental companies, and credit card organizations.

Throughout the years, both businesses and consumers have recognized the value of loyalty programs. Research shows that only 12% – 15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer, but it is that small bracket of shoppers that generate between 55% – 70% of company sales.

Some food retailers find that as much as 65% – 95% of their sales go to members of loyalty programs. Numbers show that 53% of food retailers offer loyalty programs with 3/4 of program customers using their loyalty cards at least weekly and 88% at least once a month.

History3Loyalty programs have many purposes but in general businesses think about them as a channel to reward customers for purchases and so to keep customers spending more and more with the business.

However, the greatest value that a well implemented loyalty program offers to a business is the ability to identify individual customers and to measure and understand their individual behaviors. This consumer behavior data, especially in the 21st century where competition is high and consumers are more in control, far outweighs the monetary value of providing consumers the opportunity to build a reward opportunity by shopping at one particular brand. This specific value is often misunderstood by businesses, small and big.History4

Having said that, loyalty programs in today’s business world, are considered the gateway to consumer data that would offer the business a window into a structured, measured, and targeted marketing efforts to drive business growth.

So before we start discussing the different components of what is today considered a loyalty program, let’s clarify the very basic benefits of using a loyalty program to obtain customer information, which are:

  • SHIFT – Acquire new customer
  • LIFT – Increase the spending of existing customers
  • RETENTION – Improve the natural churn rate of customers
  • PROFIT MIX – Shift spending to higher margin products

These four basic loyalty program benefits form the basis for all loyalty program initiatives.

History5You might have guessed by now from reading through this article that customer loyalty is the realm of the marketing department. So in case you were thinking about assigning this to your IT manager or operations manager, you need to stop and think about your marketing managers. They should be the ones responsible for designing and managing customer loyalty because they are in charge of establishing a connection between your brand and your customers.

Unfortunately many businesses confuse “loyalty” with “rewards”, and this is a fundamental mistake of many marketers. Loyalty stands for advocacy and commitment not points so it is really more about behavior and relationships through personalized and relevant engagement. Keep in mind the four basic benefits that you should aim to achieve from your loyalty program when you start thinking about implementing one or when you decide you need to improve the one you have.

History6

 

In order to shift, lift, and retain your customers, you need to understand them, communicate with them in a personal manner and on relevant matters. This is what your customer loyalty program should allow you to do; otherwise, it is just another discount system.

 

 

 

 

 

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Who is in Charge?

The CEO wanted to have a loyalty program so I got assigned the task of starting one. I went ahead and ordered 200,000 cards that we can give out to our customers as loyalty cards when they register to our loyalty program.

That story was told to me by the operation manager of a big brand that was going through global expansion. He was asked to setup a loyalty program globally and the first thing he knew about the subject is that he needed loyalty cards. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict how this program will do.

Unfortunately I have heard different versions of the same story from different business managers. One marketing executive told me that they had all the plans ready for a customer loyalty program and about to start executing only to be stopped by the head of IT who assured everyone that his team can setup a loyalty program by simply installing the loyalty module that comes with their Point of Sale system. One year later and there was still no loyalty program.

In general, loyalty programs are often developed with good intentions; however, businesses struggle to understand where to start and who should be driving the customer loyalty journey. The challenge is raised by the fact that customer loyalty dynamics have changed dramatically through the years and so when some businesses try to implement a program they tend to do it based on knowledge that is outdated and with an unprepared team, which results in the over-simplification of the customer loyalty initiative by looking at customer loyalty simply as points/rewards and loyalty cards and eventually causes their whole initiative to fail before it even launches.

Rewards have evolved in the marketplace from being a nice little extra for one’s loyalty to being perceived as an entitlement. Also one of the major shifts in customer loyalty is that consumers have moved away, to a certain level, from a desire for possessions to a desire for experiences. In other words, consumers are looking for a meaningful relationship with the business, which includes value and relevance.

As a result of this shift in consumer attitude, retailers recognized that without a proper “customer identification tool,” they were unable to recognize individual customers and reward them for desired behavior. They realized that to the most part what they had is “sales” data while what they needed now is “customer” data and so the traditional model of loyalty that is based solely on points and rewards is no longer sufficient.

The rising tide of expectations necessitates that loyalty marketers develop truly innovative loyalty programs, utilizing loyalty marketing best practices. So businesses need to keep in mind the question of how the program can tap into not only changing lifestyles, but also changing attitudes. The answer is not just in the rewards catalog, but in understanding the fundamentals of loyalty marketing as many confuse “loyalty” with “rewards.” This is a fundamental mistake of many businesses and marketers today.

Too many businesses take shortcuts and jump to platform selection or program execution without any “internal” preparation first. Compare the two stories I mentioned at the beginning to a meeting I had with the managing director of a well-established brand and her team. The managing director had requested her accountant along with her operation managers to give her a detailed report about their customers, their average spending, their average visits, etc. So when we got to the meeting she had a clear idea about what they had, the challenges, and where they need to be.

She hired a marketing manager responsible for working with UrbanBuz on “designing” and managing the customer loyalty program and at the same time brought in her operations managers to make sure they fully understand the program and provide feedback as they were responsible for “executing” the loyalty program with their staff on the ground. The IT team was not even in the room.

So before you even start thinking about how and what you need to do to setup a loyalty program, you, as a business executive, need to first figure out who will be driving the program. Most important of all, is top management (starting with the CEO), need to have full commitment to the initiative otherwise the rest of the teams will struggle to make this a success.

Customer loyalty is not a task and certainly not an IT project; it is a business strategy that should be at the core of your marketing team’s strategy. Having said that, the marketing or customer loyalty team is only in charge of designing and managing the program to maintain the analytics to understand what customers are thinking and analyze the information. They also have to deliver the understanding, and help, and coach the rest of the organization.

When it comes to executing the program, it falls on the shoulders of the operations team. Those are the ones dealing with the customers day after day on the ground so it is up to them to really drive the strategy designed by the customer loyalty team and make it a reality.

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The Rise and Demise of the Facebook Business Page

I remember four years ago that during my conversations with different businesses about customer loyalty and their efforts to build relationships with their customers, one topic almost always seemed to come up, and that is how many people can we get to like their Facebook page or even some of them went as far to claim that they have thousands of fans on Facebook so they saw no need for a customer loyalty program.

It is interesting how in the past 4 years things have evolved for businesses from something touching on hysteria about how many “fans” can a business get on Facebook (to the extent that companies were born to simply sell or generate Facebook fans for businesses) to almost no mention of Facebook at all nowadays when we talk to those businesses about their customers.

So what changed? Facebook did not go the path of MySpace (if you even remember MySpace), on the contrary it is still growing and still the juggernaut of social media with a billion people using it. So why are businesses, especially local ones, moving away from Facebook and why did the business Facebook page devolved from being “The” business online presence to just another online page?

The promise that Facebook sold to businesses was that if they win fans then they will be able to reach out to those fans through their Facebook business page. That looked very attractive to a business where they could have a cheap and easy way to have a customer base that they could then reach out to. It was natural for businesses then to go over and beyond to acquire “fans” whether organically or through paying for other companies to generate that fan base for them.  However, that promise was quickly lost as Facebook changed the rules on who can see what to the extent that in 2012 if a business posted something on their Facebook page, that post reached a meek 16% of their fan base. So if a business paid money to get 5,000 (and this was considered very low in 2012 standards) fans then Facebook was allowing them to only reach 800 fans, which meant that businesses have paid to get 4,200 fans that they cannot reach.

That was in 2012! Jump to 2014 and things get worse where a Forester research study showed that top brands on Facebook were reaching only 2% of their fans and only 0.07% of their followers actually interacted with each post. You find this hard to believe? Just visit Coca-Cola Facebook page, which claims more than 96 Million fans and look at the engagement numbers to their posts.

To seal the deal, Facebook announced in 2015 that brands that post promotional content “will see a significant decrease in distribution.”

One might quickly think that they would simply pay to boost their posts to reach out to their fan base. Then the question that businesses need to ask themselves is, if I am going to pay anyway to reach out and build a relationship with customers, wouldn’t I rather own and dictate the terms of that relationship and not Facebook?

Think about it that way, if your emails to your customers get delivered 90% of the time while your posts would be delivered 2% of the time (that was in 2014), even with the meager low open rate of 20% it would still be a much higher rate than the 2% of Facebook, then which one should you be focusing more on? And guess what, with emails of SMS there is no one telling you what you can write and what you cannot say, you are in control.

So there is a shift that we are seeing now where businesses are going back to their own web sites and communication channels to connect “directly” with their customers. What I believe will happen as a next step in this shift is for businesses to start creating their own social “microsites”.

Another Forrester survey shows that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost three times as likely to visit your site as to engage with you on Facebook so it makes sense for businesses to start focusing on engaging their customers through their own channels and offering a rich experience there.

The good news is that we have started to see that here in the MENA region where a lot of businesses that we work with are now revamping their web sites to offer a way for their customers to start the engagement, which is the right first step in the right direction of putting customer loyalty at the center of their customer facing channels. This ties directly to a customer engagement system that enables them to communicate directly to those customers in a personal and efficient manner.

Companies like Starbucks and Panera Bread in the US were able to build customer databases of millions of customers using their rewards program. Those are just two great examples that businesses can build their own customer database through an attractive rewards program, so they can keep engaging their customers after they leave the store and then reach them with channels like personalized notifications, email, and SMS at the right time with the right message. This will produce the type of engagement that any business crave and haven’t been able to get with social media, and will result in more return visits and more profits for businesses everywhere.

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