8 Data Points about the Importance of Customer Experience

I was asked to prepare some background information on the importance of delivering a positive customer experience, and I thought I would share some of the research with you.

How much does the market reward companies that deliver excellent customer experience? Consider that the Fortune list of the world’s 10 most admired companies in 2013 includes seven that are renowned for excellence in that area: Apple, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Southwest, Disney and FedEx. The world’s two most valuable brands – Apple and Google – are considered world-class.

Recent research worth noting:

  1. Dell has published internal metrics showing that 97% of dissatisfied customers can be rescued with proactive intervention and more than 40% of those people actually become raving fans.
  2. Siegel+Gale’s 3rd annual Global Brand Simplicity Index reported last year that nearly 1/3 of American consumers would be willing to pay an average of about 4% more for simpler brand experiences.
  3. Gartner estimated last year that by 2014 “failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers.” You have to wonder why one-third of large corporations still block social network use by their employees.
  4. Research published by Temkin Group last year reported that only 7% of the 255 large companies it surveyed could be described as reaching the highest level of customer experience maturity, although nearly 60% said their goal is to be the industry leader in customer experience within three years. That’s gonna be a tall order.
  5. A July, 2013 Lloyd’s survey of 588 C-suite executives found that customer loss was their second biggest concern, exceeded only by worries about high tax rates. Respondents also indicated they are under-prepared to address this risk, with executives giving themselves only a 5.7 rating on a 1-to-10 scale (see chart below).Areas of Biggest Business Risk As Defined by CEOs
  6. Sixty-two percent of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good experience, while 66% and 52%, respectively, stopped making purchases after a bad experience, according to a recent survey of 1,000 people who had had recent customer service interactions. The research also indicated that customers are somewhat more likely to share bad experiences through social networks than good ones.
  7. Executives talk the talk but still don’t walk the walk. An Oracle survey of 1,342 senior-level executives from 18 countries earlier this year found that 97% agree that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business advantage and results, and that the average potential revenue loss from failing in this area is 20% of annual revenue.  However, 37% are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative, and only 20% consider the state of their customer experience initiative to be advanced.
  8. A survey of 2,000 adults last year found that 83% are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One-fifth said they would spend 50% more on companies that they felt the company put the customer first.

How to Get Salespeople Aboard the Social Media Train

One of the most common frustrations I hear B2B marketers express is about the difficulty of getting salespeople interested in social media. Outside of prospecting with LinkedIn, few sales pros are willing to make the investment of time to learn and use tools that promise a payoff months or years down the road.

Jeffrey HoffmanJeff Hoffman says he knows precisely why salespeople are so reluctant because he was one of them for a long time. Hoffman, who runs the Boston-based MJ Hoffman and Associates sales training and consulting agency, shared four ideas for getting salespeople off the social media dime in a presentation at the Inbound13 conference in Boston today. I think they’re worth sharing.

Hoffman listed four characteristics of salespeople that make them poor candidates for social media success:

They’re reluctant to share. Information is competitive advantage in sales. Whispered tips from insiders and competitive intelligence can make the difference between closing the deal or losing it. Many salespeople see no upside in sharing information, which is a practice which is essential to building social capital.

They’re short-term thinkers. Sales pros are driven by quotas, which are measured in monthly increments. Telling them that social media prospecting will pay off in a year or two doesn’t interest them. They’ve got a quarterly quota to meet.

They express only neutral opinions. Anything that ticks off the prospect can sabotage the sales, so salespeople are trained never to express strong opinions, especially negative ones. How good is a competitor’s product? It’s great, but we’re different and let me tell you how we’re better. The problem is that visibility in social media accrues to those who have strong opinions to share. By keeping their opinions to themselves, salespeople limit their potential social capital.

They’re natural quarterbacks. Salespeople are lone wolf decision-makers. They want to be given goals and also the latitude to figure out how to achieve them. If you know any successful salespeople, you know what I mean. Don’t waste time collaborating on a solution; give them the ball and they’ll run with it.

Lemons into Lemonade

So how do you convince people to be more social media-savvy when their natural inclinations go against the grain of everything they need to do? Hoffman says you turn a handicap into a virtue. Here’s his advice for dealing with each of these anti-social behaviors in order.

Reluctant to share? Make it a contest. Sales pros are naturally competitive, so make the process of building social capital a game. Set measurable goals like the number of Twitter followers, number of LinkedIn connections of number of contributions to the corporate blog, then put rewards in place. People will try to cheat, but that’s OK. The point is to get them involved.

Break down long-term goals into short-term milestones. Using the technique above, share the numbers with your sales team as social quotas. Post a leader board that shows each rep’s progress toward that goal. Make sure everyone can see the rankings. Salespeople take pride in beating their quotas, so make sure they know their up-to-date progress toward this one – and also everybody else’s.

Make it safe to express opinions. Ask for a blog entry on what they like best about sales, why they came to work for your company or 10 reasons to love the local football team. Find topics that enable them to exercise their opinion muscles without risking backlash. As they gain confidence (and see response), they’ll feel more comfortable venturing outside their comfort zone.

Turn quarterbacks into captains. Give sales reps the same control over their social capital as you do over their territories. The conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn will go on with or without them. Don’t change quotas, but create incentives for sales brought in through social channels. Then let the reps figure out how to achieve them.

The one theme that runs through all four of these tactics is competition. Sales people respond better to challenge than they do to opportunity, and better to short-term than to long-term goals. Make the process of building social authority a game and let the instincts of your sales people take over from there.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Gems from Godin

Seth Godin keynoted the #Inbound13 conference in Boston this morning, serving up his usual bounty of great quotes. Godin’s overarching point: We are moving from the age of mass to the age of connection. Organizations must connect with their constituents individually or they’ll be ignored. A person’s value is defined by his or her platform, which is a function of connections.

Quotes are more or less word-for-word. Unquoted comments are paraphrased.

  • “We get so hung up on what we’re good at that we forget to ask what we should do next.”
  • “For 100 years our economy has been based on idea that we can swap people out interchangeably.” This promotes mediocrity.
  • “More people are listening to music today than ever before but the recording industry is toast. That’s revolution”
  • “Mass media appeals to the masses and that means average. TV was invented to sell ads to masses. Products advertised on TV are by definition mediocre.”
  • “A typical supermarket has 30,000 items with 17,000 new ones arriving every year. Do consumers want more marketing?”
  • The Internet shifts markets from normal to extreme because enthusiasts can find each other and drive each other to greater extremes.
  • The great new ideas come from people working at the extreme outer edges, not the normal middle
  • We’re leaving the industrial economy and entering the connection economy. Mass won’t work any more.
  • “Be careful with a race to the bottom because because you might win.”
  • Generosity will be essential to marketing because no one wants to connect with a selfish person.
  • “If people aren’t complaining when your e-mail doesn’t show up, you don’t really have their permission to e-mail them.”
  • “Be the one people can’t live without, the one that delivers something unique. That’s why TripAdvisor is worth more than American Airlines, which is basically a bus company.”
  • “The guy who invented ships also invented shipwrecks.”
  • We want to be in synch with our tribe, but our tribe isn’t large any more. It’s others like us.
  • Don’t try to invent a tribe. Show up to lead one that already exists.
  • “The minute someone gives you instructions, you’re not doing art any more. You’re doing color-by-numbers.”
  • “If your value is that you cost a nickel less than the other guys, you’re in a race to the bottom.”
  • “If you believe failure is not an option, then neither is success.”
  • “A meeting is a group of people waiting to see who foolishly will take responsibility for what happens next.”
Seth Godin at #Inbound13

Seth Godin on stage at #Inbound13 (photo by Joselin Mane via Twitter @JoselinMane)

The Smart Device Revolution Is Just Beginning

I spotted a promotion this morning for a smart tag you can now attach to items that you never want to lose. It emits a Bluetooth signal that a smart phone app can pick up so you can always track them down. It’s a terrific idea and another example of how the Internet of things is going to transform so many markets.

Smart Revolution E-Book CoverCoincidentally, Christina Kerley just sent a copy of her new e-book, “The SMART Revolution.” It’s a 17-page compendium of products that are rewriting the rules of entire businesses by embedding intelligence into everyday things.

For example, hospital workers can now wear a wristband that reminds them to wash their hands and monitors their diligence in doing so (if this sounds Big Brother-ish to you, ask yourself if you wouldn’t prefer to be a patient in a hospital that used it). There’s a device you can attach to a golf glove that gives you feedback on your swing and several examples of devices that monitor your health to help you or your doctor make more informed decisions.

There are several other wonderful examples in the 17-page e-book, which is free on Christina’s site.

I think we’re only in the first innings of understanding the revolutionary potential of smart mobile devices and how they will enable us to crack big problems that are too expensive to solve by other means.

Waze screen shotI’m using the popular Waze app on my phone to make me a smarter driver. Waze tracks data coming from nearby users and alerts me to problems ahead. It has become an essential utility for me when driving more than a few miles, particularly at rush hour. On several occasions, Waze has redirected me to routes I never knew existed to get me around traffic jams. It taps into the experience of each driver on the road to the mutual benefit of all.

While most of us use our smart phones primarily to read, text and perhaps play games, their potential is so much greater. When tied to a network, they become utilities that tap into information all around us to make us healthier, more informed and more efficient.

Back in the 1980s several states experimented with traffic monitoring systems that involved embedding sensors in roads. The systems proved to be too expensive and fragile to be practical. Today we’re solving these kinds problems not by changing our infrastructure but by tapping into the devices that people carry with them. This is a vastly cheaper, more reliable and more flexible approach than the ones envisioned just a couple of decades ago.

I think you’ll find Christina’s e-book fun and thought-provoking. Get it here.

How to Summarize Content for a Business Audience

In my previous post about How to Read and Summarize a 20-Page Research Report in 20 Minutes, I showed how to skim through a complex document and gather essential information to use in summarizing the material for a business audience. Now let’s build our summary from the material we highlighted.

We start by going back through the document we marked up earlier (it’s embedded in the previous post) and copying and pasting each highlighted section into a new document. Organize each element under one of the categories you used when marking up the document (for example, Key Point, Take Away, Summary Trend and New Insight). The result looks something like the document embedded below.

Then we plug our highlighted information into an “inverted pyramid” template. Inverted pyramid is an organizational technique that was invented many years ago in the newspaper industry when space was finite and stories often had to be cut at the last minute. Inverted pyramid dictates that information is presented in order of declining importance. That way, if the story needs to be cut to one paragraph at the last minute, the key points are still preserved.

You don’t hear much about inverted pyramid anymore because length isn’t an issue online, but it’s a very reader-friendly way to present information to time-pressed people. That makes it a good technique to use in business writing.

The technique of journalism writing.

Just the Facts? No

A good summary does more than just relate facts, though. It also provides context for why the facts are important and filles in background information that helps the reader understand how this new information moves their understanding forward. Here’s a typical example from an Aug. 1 AP story:

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the fewest since January 2008. The decline shows the job market continues to strengthen.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average slid 4,500 to 345,750. The July figures are typically volatile as the government has a difficult time adjusting for seasonal layoffs in the auto industry.

Still, the trend in weekly unemployment claims has been positive and offered hope that a better job market could help lift a sluggish economy later this year.

Look to this model when summarizing content. Your outline might look like this:

Paragraph 1 Key Point
Important Data 1
Key Takeaway
Paragraph 2 Important Data 2
New Insight
Paragraph 3 Callout or Quote
Paragraph 4 Important Data 3
Paragraph 5 Important Data 4
Potential Gotcha or
Summary Recommendations

Each paragraph should ideally introduce new data that moves the story forward. After you’ve introduced two or three new data points, step back and offer context for what you’ve just said. The exception is the middle of the summary, where the quote typically appears. Quotes shouldn’t be random or perfunctory. They should comment upon the data and insights already presented.

Putting It All Together

By dragging and dropping the highlighted information into this outline and then rewriting for consistency, we come up with this summary:

New research finds that midsize businesses are applying the same principles as big companies to extracting untapped value from data both inside and outside the organization. They are also motivated by the same goal as their corporate counterparts: to create a competitive advantage. The research challenges common perceptions that only big companies have the scale and computing power to realize the opportunity of “Big Data.”

A survey of more than 1,100 business and IT professionals in 95 countries – nearly half of which are midmarket businesses – also suggests that data quality is an important variable in the effective use of big data analytics. Researchers suggest that a fourth “V” – veracity – be added to the “three Vs” of big data that are commonly accepted. They include volume, variety and velocity.

“’Veracity emphasizes the importance of addressing and managing for the uncertainty inherent within some types of data,” the researchers say. Acknowledging that there is no such thing as perfectly clean data, they recommend that “the need to acknowledge and plan for uncertainty is a dimension of big data that has been introduced as executives seek to better understand the uncertain world around them.”

Customer-centered objectives are the principal drivers of big data projects, the research revealed. Other frequently mentioned goals include operational optimization, risk/fi­nancial management, employee collaboration and enabling new business models.

In order to get the most from big data, companies of all sizes need a scalable infrastructure and strong analytics. Even then, most are struggling to find the skills needed to analyze the deluge of unstructured data like voice, video and conversations in social media.

Note the third sentence in the first paragraph, which states that the research challenges conventional wisdom. This is an attention-getter. Whenever you can counter commonly held perceptions, you have a good chance of grabbing the audience’s attention.

Note the third sentence in the first paragraph, which states that the research challenges conventional wisdom. This is an attention-getter. Whenever you can counter commonly held perceptions, you have a good chance of grabbing the audience’s attention.

Paragraphs one, two and four primarily introduce new information. Paragraphs three and five step back and provide context. Again, this is a cadence that readers are comfortable with.

This is just one of many ways to write a business summary, but it’s a reliable one. It uses a cadence that’s familiar to most people and gets across the key points of the research in declining order of importance.

Next we’ll talk about writing headlines for different audiences.

Enhanced by Zemanta

When Bad News is Good

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
–Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Consider the case of Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and author of the controversial new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethAslan was interviewed by Fox News’ Lauren Green last Friday, resulting nine of the most bizarre minutes in television journalism history. Green, who had clearly not even cracked the cover on Aslan’s book. repeatedly questioned the author’s credibility as a Christian religious scolar based solely on the fact that Aslan is Muslim. MediaMatters reports that her bias against Islam goes back many years.

As a rule, public relations professionals advise their clients against getting involved in a confrontational interview such as this, but in Aslan’s case it has worked out splendidly. As of this moment, his book is the top seller on Amazon. Twitter is recording about 10 tweets per minute mentioning the author’s name. The story on BuzzFeed (linked to above) is approaching 4 million views and nearly 6,000 comments have been posted to the coverage on Huffington Post. Scores of articles have appeared in mainstream media. YouTube views are over 1 million.

Reza Aslan is making out like a bandit. The Fox interview virtually guarantees his book will be a bestseller. Getting attacked by Lauren Green is the best thing that could have happened to him.

What’s the lesson here? In today’s hyper-caffeinated media market, you have to make a scene to get noticed. Aslan’s book was controversial before he went on Fox, but had this interview not occurred it probably would have received little mainstream notice. Pairing him with a questioner with a Christian fundamentalist agenda was a recipe for dynamite. The author was clearly prepared to be challenged. The fact that Green bungled the whole interview so completely was just his good luck.

The story is a microcosm of the new media industry. Outlets like Fox thrive by pushing an agenda. It doesn’t matter to them if their tactics occasionally look stupid. Their core audience will stick with them regardless. Watch Lauren Green’s popularity soar in the wake of this incident. Many of Fox’s ultra-conservative viewers will believe she was only saying what too many others are afraid to say. In the echo chamber of extreme media, it’s almost impossible to go too far. Far from being cowed by this incident, Fox will only be further emboldened, just as Rolling Stone has profited from anger over its recent controversial cover photo.

There’s also a lesson for professional communicators. If you want to get noticed, you have to be outrageous. This new fact of life frustrates many of us who believe our work to be thoughtful, serious and worthy of informed debate. Authors can hope for thoughtful reviews in the Wall Street Journal, but that isn’t going to sell 100,000 copies of their books. If the opportunity to  engage with immediate extremist media emerges, grab it. An attack may be the best publicity you can ask for.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Attack of the Customers Roundup, July 25, 2013

Recent stories of customer attacks, bad business behavior online and advice on how to prevent the latter.

Don’t ignore customer service on social media

Social media gets discussed ad nauseam as a marketing tool, but it does have other business applications. In the case of customer service, that’s something apparently ignored by many businesses.Only 44 percent of the top 25 online retailers respond to complaints on Facebook within 24 hours according to the data compiled by Desk.com. 
Open this article

3 Easy Steps To Turn Business Failures Into Customer-Generating Positive Case Studies

Ever go public online with something your brand will regret later? Alas, it’s human nature. But there are ways to combat that! The plain fact is, we all have the ability to knee-jerk ourselves into orbit a wee bit past the Alpha Centuri moon. I do it, you do it, we all do it. The challenge is to sit on your hands until that extraordinarily compelling urge *disappears* so you can comment without being in the red flare of unstoppable…
Open this article

Revisiting the Facebook ‘Other’ folder disaster

Facebook has a folder for messages into which it unceremoniously dumps email from people who don’t normally contact you. Because hardly anyone ever checks this “other” folder, many very important messages to missed. Every once in a while, a writer will ask his readers to go check their “Other” folder to crowdsource the discovery of surprising messages that have been sitting there. Recently, New York Times columnist David Pogue asked the question, and the…
Open this article

Slow Social Response Times Prove Annoying to Millennials

A growing number of consumers around the world are contacting brands through social media channels, to the extent that customer service and audience engagement is now seen as one of the top organizational areas where social tools carry the most heft. Results from a new study [download page], conducted by Havas Worldwide, suggest that consumer expectations are high for social responsiveness, and that brands that fail to meet those expectations risk alienating a large portion of consumers. 
Open this article

Enhanced by Zemanta

Not Dead Yet: Blogging’s Popularity Surges Among F500

There’s no fluff in the press release, so I’ll just excerpt it word for word. Nora Ganim Barnes and her team at the Charlton College of Business Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth continue to produce some of the most consistent, rigorous and comprehensive research on social media adoption by both small and large businesses. And they’ve been doing it every year since 2008, which makes the trending data particularly useful.

It’s no great surprise that this year’s report shows a broad-based increase in adoption of all types of social media. What is surprising is the sudden popularity of corporate blogs. After stagnating at just above 20% for three years, use of corporate blogs has shot up to 34% of the Fortune 500 in the last two years. That’s nearly a 50% increase.

This comes just as many of the digerati are writing off blogs as yesterday’s news. Maybe the technology isn’t very sexy, but the utility sure is. Blogs are search engine magnets and search is still the killer app for people researching purchases. It will be for a long time. Be careful of dismissing mature technology just because it isn’t cool any more. Did you know that e-mail still has a significantly higher conversion rate than any other B2B Web traffic source?

Read more and download the full report at “2013 Fortune 500 Are Bullish on Social Media.”

In the past year, the Fortune 500 have increased their adoption of blogging by 6%, their use of Twitter for corporate communications by 4% and their use of Facebook pages by 4%. Sixty-nine percent of the 2013 Fortune 500 use YouTube, an increase of 7% from 2012. These was among the key findings of the latest benchmarking study conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Felow and Research Co-Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The new report is the outcome of a statistically sound study of the 2013 Fortune 500 list. The study examined these institutions to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies. This is the seventh year that Barnes has tracked social media usage by this sector, and it is the only statistically sound longitudinal study of its kind with every company in the Fortune 500 included. Key findings of this study include:

• In 2013, 171 companies (34%) had corporate blogs showing the largest increase in use of this tool since the 2008 study of the Fortune 500.

• Companies that blog include two of the top five corporations (WalMart and Exxon), leaving the other three (Chevron, Phillips 66 and Berkshire Hathaway) without a public-facing blog.

• Three hundred eighty-seven (77%) of the Fortune 500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days. This represents a 4% increase since 2012.

• Facebook, new to the Fortune 500 list, has the highest number of followers on Twitter, followed by Google, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Walt Disney, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines.

• Three hundred forty-eight (70%) of the Fortune 500 are now on Facebook. This represents a 4% increase since 2012.

• In 2012 one hundred fifteen companies (23%) had neither a Twitter account nor a Facebook account. This year that number has dropped to eighty-four companies (17%).

• Approximately 40 companies of the Fortune 500 are now using Instagram, Pinterest and/or Foursquare.

Charts

Fortune 500 Corporations  With Public-Facing Blogs Slide1

A Content Marketing Gem from Marketo

Marketo's Big Marketing Activity Coloring Book

Marketo calls the Big Marketing Activity Coloring Book “30 pages of pure, unadulterated marketing activity fun!” It is that. It’s also brilliant.

The theme of fun runs throughout this e-book, and the content maps perfectly to Marketo’s message that marketing is fun again. There’s a crossword, connect-the-dots, Mad Libs, a comic book, word search, a word jumble and all the standard fun-book activities, but the marketing them runs throughout and the content is highly relevant to professional marketers. I was delighted to be included on page 12, but that’s not why I’m writing this post. The Big Marketing Activity Coloring Book is one of the cleverest pieces of content marketing I’ve seen in some time.

Congratulations to Jason Miller and the team and Marketo that dreamed up this gem. There’s even a “This Book Belongs To _________________________” on the cover. Hilarious! BTW, if you get five other people to download the PDF Marketo offers to send you a printed version and a box of crayons.