We were all a little excited, done being on a plane for four hours, and ready to get to vacationing. My son, girlfriend, and I finally had a chance to get away to Orlando for a short, long weekend. As a Customer Experience Consultant, my schedule can run hot or cold depending upon my client’s needs and projects, so being able to plan a time to get away with the people I love can be difficult. I am sure it is difficult for most people now-a-days with work, kid’s sports, family obligations, and everything else.
After landing, we made our way over to the car rental area. As we approached the car rental corridor, we were buzzing about going to Universal and wondering what the river pool at the hotel was all about. The rental area was fairly clear of crowds, except for a couple of families in our rental agency’s line.
The Process Manager in me realized quickly that there was probably room here for some improvement in efficiency, but I was not working, right? There are four agents, three of which were not assisting any customers, and one is helping a customer who appeared to come from the car lot with an issue. 10 minutes go by. 20 minutes go by. A half hour in, and the two families in front of us are still there. A sizable line had started to form behind us. The other agencies were shuffling families off to their car to begin their vacations. Blood pressures started rising. We checked online to see what the cancelalation policy said, and it required a loss of deposit, so we decided to stick it out.
At the 45 minute mark, we were next in line, but I was well past aggravated. At the 50 minute mark, a man who was not helping anyone for the last 45 minutes, called us up. We got our car, and everything was fine with the transaction, but I was still fuming over the experience. As much as I wanted to let it go (even with my car mates singing Let It Go), the experience marred the beginning of my vacation. The vacation that took a bunch of planning, sacrifice, and dollars began with this impression.
So what went wrong? Probably a lot of things, but I think the most important part that went wrong was the car rental service forgot “Their Why”. I’m sure they collect Net Promoter Scores, measure some form of retention, and manage a number of service metrics and SLA’s. But those are results, not why it is important to service their customers well. “Your Why” is never a result, it’s a reason that means something substantial to your customer or WHY your company exist. Examples of possible why’s this rental agency (especially at a tourist town like Orlando):
· Your vacation (or memories) starts with us
· We know we are the last thing standing between you and your vacation, let us get you moving
· We’re your first ride of your vacation (but the line is nothing like Space Mountain)
Your Why should be the foundation of your Customer Service culture, strategy, tactics, and metrics. It is part of a clear and articulated culture, upon which your talent, technology choices, process management, and data metrics should be looking to accomplish.
Let’s look at an example from my consultancy of when a Why was clearly articulated, and the power of understanding it.
In the first official meeting with a luxury jewelry company’s Director of Customer Service, I asked her the question “Why is it important to create a great customer experience?” After a moment, her answers sounded like:
· Strong C-Sat or NPS scores
· Customer Lifetime Value
After each answer, I said no that is a result. Tell me why it is important to your customers to deliver an amazing experience. Finally, we started hitting on the real why’s:
· Celebrating life moments (like weddings, anniversaries, special occasions, etc…)
· Making memories
· Retail Therapy (yes, it is a real thing)
· Making a connection
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” – Simon Sinek
We articulated our culture around our why’s. Yes, you need to write it down. We used our why’s to recruit incredible talent. We didn’t recruit based on call center experience, but recruited people who could make instant or fast connections with our customers. We selected and leveraged technology that made it easy to make a connection and relate to customers. Our processes centered around making a connection, finding places to celebrate life moments, and budgeting for making memories.
The result was amazing and immediate. We launched their new customer service, and after the first month Stella Services™ rated them as the #2 eCommerce customer experience in the world. Not just other luxury brands, but we beat the Zappos, Amazons, LL Beans of the world. In our second month, we became the #1 brand among all brands. Since my project ended, they have remained in Stella Services™ top 10.
My rental car company forgot, lost, or never understood their WHY. They lost my business forever. My client who lives their WHY has beat their own high expectation eCommerce expectations every quarter since. Find Your Why.
By michaelpace on March 6, 2014
“Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill.” – Warren Buffett
This article originally appeared in ICMI’s Social Media Resources.
It is such a perfect simile. We’ve all had those moments, for good or for not-so-good, when our actions build upon the previous, and create either a gloriously round snowman body or a boulder blocking our driveway. Hopefully, you are having more of the positive experiences. I love the simile because it conjures such a clear visual example of creating virtuous cycles. They are not always perfectly linear, grow based on the force/momentum, conditions, and the overall landscape, and need time to mature. As I approach developing customer service experiences, I am always trying to identify the opportunities for virtuous cycles.
What is a virtuous cycle? Dictionary.com describes it as “a beneficial cycle of events or incidents, each having a positive effect on the next”. Usually in the business world, this is expressed by a boring PowerPoint Smart Art of arrows going in a continuous circle. We have all seen it, nobody is impressed. In actuality, virtuous cycles are really like snowballs; with each revolution the circle grows and compounds for the next revolution. While this appears to be a great post on how to build a snowman, let me bring us back to how virtuous cycles great amazing and profitable customer experiences. Let’s start with a digital example:
Moment 1: Customer tweets to your handle or mentions your brand with a question.
Moment 2: Customer Service responds to the tweet, with a link to Knowledge Base.
Moment 3: Since this a fairly frequent question, you post the tweet and response on your blog or community site.
Moment 4: Customer Service “proactive” tweet with a link to your support blog and/or community site, “Wondering how to do XXXXXX, so was one of our customers, see how <link>”.
Now, what just happened with this example?
- Customer is acknowledged on Twitter, hopefully within a beyond customer expectation turnaround time (2-10 minutes). Both acknowledgement and response time are as important as providing the correct answer in social customer service.
- Customer is provided an answer linked to your Customer Knowledge Base. Not only does this provide an answer to your customer’s question, it builds awareness that answers are available in another digital format. If this is a public tweet, not a Direct Message (DM) or began with the “@” symbol, any follower can learn from your other customer.
- Believe it or not, you are now in possession of valuable content. You have a customer’s voice, an answer to the question, and awareness to alternate forums. By posting this content to your community or blog site, you have created “searchable” customer support content.
- By posting the community or blog site link, you now have created proactive content for customers who may search for their answer via a search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc…) and provided help content on your site.
Even if just steps 1 and 2 occurred, you still created a bigger snowball or virtuous cycle of customer support between your Twitter community and your Knowledge Base. If moving to steps 3 and 4 produce a sense of fear or out of your current scope of work, you are correct. But I believe it’s the role of Customer Service and the tools they use that is changing, and so should Customer Service leaders.
This may sound similar to previous Customer Service tactics, such as while your customers are on hold waiting for a service representative, you let them know they can also get answers from your website. The intention in this message is to reduce or deflect call volume by creating awareness of your website. People and customers all hate this. They probably called for a reason. This tactic actually creates a vicious cycle, where the message angers callers on hold, and typically creates a longer call. Virtuous cycles create value for all parties involved. Virtuous cycles do not interrupt. In the example above, the customer received their answer in the forum, format, or medium the customer chose.
If you wanted to introduce them to your website, use a follow up email post or even during the interaction with the customer on the phone. Let the customer know you will be sending them a link if they ever need this information again, a quick simple place they can find it.
Other examples where virtuous cycles can be created:
- Providing your Twitter or other social links on your mobile app
- Including Knowledge Base information or search functionality on your mobile app
- Using company blogs or SHORT whitepapers to educate or coach your customer post a transaction, but only if it is relevant to the conversation
- Invite customers to your communities (in person, via email, over the phone, etc…) – only after the transaction has been completed
- Using Chat functionality to link to your Knowledge Base (but also provide a in simple written form while in the chat
- If you have a Customer Success program, make sure you have virtuous cycles imbedded in your processes
Virtuous cycles create exponential value for both your company and the customer. If done well, you may also begin helping customers who you will never hear from, because they have helped themselves. And if done really well, those customers will also share their new insights. Then the snowball starts getting bigger and faster. Your infrastructure and processes are the hill, and your helping the customer is the first small ball. Find your virtuous cycles, create momentum, and get rolling.
By michaelpace on February 4, 2014
I’m not a huge fan of Net Promoter Scoring (NPS).
I am sure this sounds like blasphemy from a Customer Service professional.
I would not recommend a family member, friend, or colleague to blindly use Net Promoter Scoring to understand or forecast the retention of their customers.
I’d give NPS a Net Promoter Score of 7 (Passive).
Take a second and answer these questions about Net Promoter Scoring:
- What do you do with the score? Individually and in aggregate?
- What are you really trying to understand by collecting this information?
- If last month you scored a 27, and this month scored a 28, what does that mean?
- Is the verbatim on the general survey more important than the scores?
- Should or do you alter retention or net add forecasts if your scores change?
- What is the action if the score drops?
- Do your customers know the difference between a 6, 7, or a 9?
- How often do you ask yourself if this is a waste of time, energy and money?
Net Promoter Scoring is a good system. It’s better to collect NPS than to not at all. Since it’s relatively generic, it allows you to benchmark your industry and others. It will provide a sense of your customers’ emotional connection to your company.
Why does “Ultimate Question” ask if you would recommend someone who is near and/or dear to you? It is clearly looking for an emotional relationship versus a behavioral relationship because you would not recommend a commodity company. I know the end goal is to get the recommendation or referral, but the real underlying question is quite different, and may be more powerful.
What Net Promoter Score is really asking is:
Do you trust <company X>?
Answers should be simple: Yes, No, or Sometimes
If a participant answers “Yes”, theoretically you are recommendable. I say theoretically, because many companies make it difficult or complex to recommend.
If the answer is “No” or “Sometimes”, the likelihood of achieving a recommendation is low. Would you recommend a company you do not trust or only sometimes trust? Why do you think Financial Services, Healthcare providers and cable companies have such low scores? – No Trust.
How might things be different if you asked, “Do you trust <company X>?”?
(For the score freaks out there, let’s pretend a “Yes” is +1, while “No” and “Sometimes” are -1)
- How would your CEO respond to a low Trust score versus NPS?
- Would you find more companies in the negative?
- There is no question of whether a 7 is a 9 in another person’s opinion. It’s clearer to the participant.
Again, you will still need more context of the answer. Regardless, if you ask NPS or Trust, this is always harder for participants to explain. The areas of the brain that handle limbic functions such as liking, loving, referring, emotion, and trusting are not “connected” to the area that handles speech (Broca’s area). That is why it is hard to describe why you love someone. However, with help, participants can break down why they do or do not trust <company X>.
I believe trust is a combination of three factors:
If someone does not trust you or a company, you are falling short on 1, 2 or all of the 3 factors above. Follow up questions, should gather their feelings on your sincerity, competence, and reliability. By understanding where you are weak in trust, you can take corrective action. I am sure my cable company means well (sincere) and know how to do their jobs (competent), but their reliability or at least the perception of their reliability is poor. People love Zappos and USAA because we believe they care about us or service, provide valuable advice, and deliver consistently.
There are many ways to skin a cat, and other ways to determine the likelihood your customers will stay and even recommend.
By michaelpace on December 16, 2013
Complete, wild guess predictions and thoughts by my cousin Pacefucious about the trends in Customer Service for 2014.
Note: The practice of adding “in bed” may or may not work with the following fortunes.
Pacefucious say: Successful Customer Service leaders will be Customer Success Leaders
Even now, Customer Success strategies and methodologies have been mostly delivered in the Software as a Service (SaaS) world, and even there it may not be considered part of the customer service strategy. Customer Success is all about providing rapid value and adoption of your product or service to your newly sold customers or trialers. In a SaaS environment, delivering value to customers in a timely manner is critical to reduce churn and/or boost retention. In general, Customer Success strategies and methodologies place a considerably higher effort during the initial stages of the customer support lifecycle. It may involve a “coach” or “relationship manager” helping the customer better understand how the product or service works, appropriate marketing or learning materials sent with context, and hand offs to deeper technical support.
But there is no reason this level of service needs to remain solely in the SaaS world. Providing rapid value and adoption leads to improved retention, and every customer service leaders primary responsibility is to retain customers (quality of service is a driver of retention). Imagine if your newly selected bank contacted you to make sure you better understand the fee schedule or how you could save more. Or if you buy a tablet, learn how to find the best apps for childhood learning. Earlier in the year, I provided my steps for Customer Success; you find them here.
Pacefucious say: Mobile is the Combo Plate of Service – Everything at once
Mobile – it is probably the most discussed technology over the past few years. But what does it mean for Customer Service? Everything. First off, mobile is not channel; it is the combination of a device, ecosystems, and circumstance. A few examples:
- Using a smartphone to check prices at retail establishment through the general internet
- Purchasing an item through a company branded mobile application
- Calling customer service while driving
- Interacting with multiple screens such as tablet, smartphone, and TV while you are lounging on your couch at home
- Amazon texting you when you receive a package at home while you’re at the office
- Pay a bill while or deposit a reimbursement check from your office
- Tweeting feedback (positive or negative) to a company
- Browsing Flipboard while you are waiting for your spouse to finish up the dressing room
- A FitBit device uploading workout data to a user dashboard
- I hate this term, but yes, the internet of things
How could or would customers interact with your company? Do you have a responsive website or customer service site? Do you have a mobile app? What are all the customer service channels you can point to in a mobile situation? Can they connect via phone, get answers from your knowledge base, get their most general questions answered, link to a chat, send an email (yuck), provide feedback or answer a survey, or even just consistently perform routine actions?
Many mobile apps and sites are typically “controlled” by Product Development, and their goals may be different than the Customer Service Department’s goals. How can you influence them to include more customer service features and options? Start with understanding how, why and where your customers use their mobile devices. The mobile “movement” is still in its early stages (hard to believe), so survey and meet with your customers (whether internal or external).
Pacefucious say: “Your customers will be your most valuable customer service agents” (repeat from ’12 and ‘13)
I still find it puzzling that so many customer service organizations do not utilize communities to help solve their customer’s questions or problems. Some customer service organizations do not even have relationships with the people in their organization who manage their communities. I am not sure I have ever even been to a customer service conference where community management was a topic. Your customers, especially your advocates and superusers, have (collectively) considerably more knowledge than your support agents; why not let them help your customers too? I am not advocating for the end of phone or chat service (maybe email – see below), but having a shared community and knowledge base that can be added to and used by your customers is both incredibly efficient and can provide awesome service. I discussed this topic in an interview with Execs in the Know in March, find it here.
Pacefucious say: It may be Big Data buffet, but tummy still the same size
Big Data is all the rage. How do we incorporate Big Data into the customer experience and their service? Love this quote from Dr. Eric Topal at Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit, “Big data is like teen sex. Everybody is talking about it; everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.”
Big Data is a bit of hype. Yes, technologies have improved that enable us to gather and analyze more data faster. But data is still data, whether it is big or small. You cannot be big dead or big pregnant, it is what it is.
Customer Service and contact centers have been in the Big Data game for the last 20 years, and will be for another 20 more. Contact centers produce so much quantitative and qualitative data it usually coming out of their headsets. More often than not, service centers can gather immense amounts of data, but either do not have the ability, competency, or availability to do anything with it, let alone gain insight. Most companies still need to focus on the basics. Basics seem to be forgotten when we can look at or “need to look at” 15 different combinations of analytics. Odds are you not Amazon or Google. Don’t worry so much as to what Big Data is, and the promises that it can provide. Instead of collecting more data, revisit the questions that you are trying to solve.
- How do I retain more customers?
- What areas of the experience are pains for customers?
- How do we do this efficiently for our customers and ourselves?
- How do I hire, develop, and retain the best associates?
IBM’s Watson can probably give you the answer, or you can just ask the folks in customer service.
Pacefucious say: Why do you think the Menu has Such Pretty Pictures?
How can you be a company worth between $1-3 Billion (yes B), and still never create anything close to a $1 of revenue? Just be a company like Instagram or Snapchat, where pictures rule. Who knows how much Pinterest will be worth one day. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” may need to be updated. My point is that we have become a very visually dependent society. And, there is nothing wrong with that, but it also means you may want to understand how visuals can reduce customer issues. If we know that visuals (images) are enticing and important to our customers, how can customer service leverage the power of visuals to provide proactive or self service?
- Use images to link to your most popular questions answered in your knowledge base
- Use slideshows to walk customers through longer step by step processes, better yet, link them to your branded Slideshare site (create virtuous cycles)
- Create short videos (no more than 2 min.) introducing new products or enhancements to your service
The Poo Poo Platter: Things that I hope will disappear down some dark tunnel
- Email for Customer Service – email is atrocious for customer service. Let’s take a typical email situation: question to company (waits), reply and clarification from company, customer clarifies (waits), company provides standard message to solve problem, customer needs more specific information, blah, blah, blah, blah etc… That is a horrible experience, and costs more than you think to provide. Use email to accept issues during your non-hours of operation, but make sure the customer knows the expectations of service.
- Bullpen / Open cube areas – I am not sure how the concept of the open cube area makes for a more collaborative environment came about, but let’s put a chopstick in this idea and call it done. All the bullpen does is make easier for you to see the person that is IMing you.
- NPS (Net Promoter Score) Monitoring – You got a score of 43 this month. Next month it is 44. Then it is 42. The score is pointless unless you know why. Also, gathering this information and not including it in your customer’s account information is even worse. NPS has become one of those things that we have to do, but people have forgotten why we do it.
By michaelpace on November 20, 2013
My friends and family think I am a bit “Grinchy” when it comes to the holidays. I say “Bah Humbug” to that. Today, I give you the best present I can possibly give someone working with social media tools and their senior management who want to understand if they are providing actual business value – The How to Measure Your Social Media ROI “guide”.
A few notes to start:
- I don’t believe Engagement is a metric – it is a combination of metrics that may or may not tie back to an actual business goal. I’m not a big fan of using squishy metrics and buzz words.
- This methodology does not show or provide you the value of using social tools within your business. It may, but was not specifically designed to do so. However, there is plenty of juice here.
- There are a ton of non-quantifiable benefits of using social network tools for your business; it will still be up to you to show the value of those benefits. Story-telling does work well here.
- Quantifiable numbers, in context, make the basis for a fantastic story to tell. Your need to create the storyline, tone, and its beginning, middle, and end. Also, remember, story-telling is just another way to influence others.
- If you don’t know the value of other more important or relevant business activities, such as your retention efforts or acquisition, STOP HERE and go figure that stuff out first.
- Making progress on Learning Agendas is more important that ROI. Learning Agenda items may include things such as: content management, scale, hiring/development, infrastructure needs.
- Lastly, and maybe most importantly – If you cannot link social profiles to your customer database, you will never actually answer the question of ROI.
Ok, now you may unwrap your gift.
Part 1: As just previously mentioned, it is imperative you can link your customers’ social profiles to a customer database. To gather a somewhat accurate ROI, you need to be able to identify which of your customers are active on social media. If you then can link them back to a customer database, you can then index or compare them against your non-social customer data set. From there you will be able to see how they perform on the metrics below.
I realize in many industries and companies, you may not sell directly to the consumer (think home products, Coca Cola, trash bags, bacon, Smuckers, etc…), but you can still use the following information to develop your ROI.
Part 2: I am going to assume you are in business to acquire customers, retain customers, grow their usage, and do it profitably (if you are a for-profit company). All of the other stuff is how you get there. Traditional business models have brainwashed the simplicity out of getting actual results done. In other words, if you keep focusing on the pine needles, you are going to miss the forest.
Whether they admit it outright, most marketers are focused on acquiring customers. “Likes” and “Shares” are pine needles, they need to lead to something bigger. Context and content would be the trees in this metaphor. Social media used well can be an incredibly effective way in acquiring customers; I love the concept of Inbound Marketing made popular by folks like Hubspot. The four metrics I find most beneficial to look at are:
- Marketing Qualified Leads
- Sales Qualified Leads
- Cost per Acquisition
Some may feel “Likes” and “Shares” should be considered MQL’s or SQL’s, and I do too if, and only if, you are able to reconnect beyond just possibly being visible in Facebook (or other stream). I feel more strongly that content that leads to action (like email capture) is worth considerably more. If you context and content creation are strong, you should also be able to lower your paid search costs.
Everyone who works in social knows that content shared by a connection is more trusted than a commercial or direct mailer. The trick is now to track that referral. Isn’t that a big reason why we collect NPS (Net Promoter Score), to see if you would refer a family member, friend, or colleague? If social media is about connections and relationships, the referral is the ultimate, tangible result.
Of course, the easier you collect MQL’s, SQL’s, and referrals you lower one of your most important acquisition metrics – Cost of Acquisition. I’m not sure why cost of acquisition doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but all profitability starts with how much it costs to gain a customer. Lowering your cost of acquisition impacts how you look at retention, average usage, and general customer profitability.
While studies may vary, it is widely known that acquiring a customer is between 5-8 times more costly than to retain a current customer. In really simple terms, if it cost you $100 to acquire a customer, every customer you retain saves you between $80-$87.50. I love how David Skok illustrates this in the SaaS world with his article “Why Churn is SO critical to success in SaaS”.
During my tenure, at fast growing SaaS company, we saw customers, who were active in our community and social network platforms, attrite at half the rate of non-engaged customers. If you had no other metrics to prove the value of your social program, this one will typically turn a CEO on their head. Also, if your company employs a customer success program, you will want to see where and when social fits in.
Average Usage or Average Revenue per User
When I have consulted and spoken at conferences, I will usually refer to education and coaching as social’s best driver of average usage or average revenue per user (ARPU). Gaining more revenue from your customer is a no brainer, but how you do it is critical. Social networks, in tandem with strong context and content, are an incredible way to showcase how your product or service can better the lives of your customers. I highlight “better the lives” because there is a very real distinction between education/coaching and the cross sell. Cross selling for the sake of revenue will increase attrition rates eventually. You would need a very considerable amount of ARPU to overcome loss of customers. Education and coaching help your customer accomplish their goals. They chose your product or service for a reason, help them get the most out of it. Again another great illustration on the financial impact of increased ARPU or what David Skok refers to as Negative Churn.
Obviously, all of the metrics above can increase or decrease profitability depending on how well you execute on the initiatives and programs that drive those results. When I say profitability, I am specifically talking about how much does it cost you to serve your customer. Social networks, specifically community platforms, can serve your customers at far less expensive cost than your traditional networks like phone and email. Again, during my tenure with the SaaS company, we saw handling issues over Twitter costing about 1/6th the cost of a phone call.
Community platforms (such as Jive and Lithium) can deliver even better results, much better. A strong community manager can support tens of thousands of customers helping customers. Community platforms that have an easy to use search functionality are especially effective in lower your cost per customer.
Part 3: Now it is time to calculate, yay for math. I’d advise pulling in someone from your Finance or Analysis team to assist, specifically on how to best influence and showcase your data. However, if you need some assistance on calculators, here are a few helpful sites:
This may be my longest post ever; now you definitely cannot say that I didn’t give you anything for Chrismahanukwanzakah. Happy Holidays.
By michaelpace on November 5, 2013
“Customers do not expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong” – Doug Porter while SVP at British Airways
Remember that time a company did not meet your expectations, or something broke, or you received sub-par customer service, or you were just having a bad day, and then something happened …
Something that moved you from “company challenger” to its biggest “champion”. You go from dislike to love, like a rocketship to the mailbox. Cupid’s company arrow struck you right through your wallet. We all have one; what was your most memorable service recovery kiss?
To quote two greats, Chip Bell & Ron Zemke, “Service recovery is the art of fixing what went wrong for the customer and mending the damage that error, mistake, or misstep did to your relationship with the customer. Service recovery is about restoring trust when your customer is most vulnerable to doubt.”
Service recovery is truly both an art and a science. It’s about both how you handle a customer who was impacted, and how do you spot them in a sea of customers. It’s about short term fixes, and long term proactive changes. It requires a special kind of associate, one who is empowered to do the right thing for the customer, while keeping the businesses best interests in mind, and can be consistent with process.
Below find a presentation on the Art and Science of Customer Service Recovery. Also be on the lookout for a full step by step article in this month’s Contact Center Pipeline.
By michaelpace on October 1, 2013
I can remember when Chip first changed my world. Almost a decade ago, I attended an intra-company process management conference with the hope I would not literally be bored to tears. Luckily, the conference was very well run and “edu-taining” as a whole. On the morning of the second day of the conference, the morning keynote was introduced. This man with an absolute crazy look in his eye, bound in his gait, and wild white hair appeared from nowhere and lit up the room. He brought energy, a sense of purpose, and most importantly smart information and storytelling. I was totally captivated.
When I returned back to the office, I order a copy of his latest book at the time, Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service. I would say that I blew through the book in hours, but that wasn’t the case. After each chapter, I was taking too many notes and streaming ideas for my contact center and customer service teams. When I finished, I ordered another 15 copies of the book for my direct reports, supervisors, and even my bosses. It drastically changed my customer service long term strategy, and I wanted everyone on the same proverbially page. He helped me discover:
- The Power of a Service Vision and Standards
- How to deliver truly remarkable and memorable service
- Part of my managerial style of today – helping others Exercise Their Responsible Freedom (my take on the subject)
Since then I have read all of Chip’s other books including Magnetic Service, Managers as Mentors, and Knock Your Socks Off Service Recovery. But my well worn copy of MKYSOS, still comes with me on every engagement. A couple weeks ago, I was honored to be asked to write a review of his latest book, The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service. For me, it was a chance to give Chip just a little something back.
First, let start by acknowledging what the book itself is; it’s a gift book. Its (obvious) intention is not to provide you with detailed strategies on how to create and develop a remarkable and innovative service organization. There are plenty of books by Chip that provide that kind of information. The book itself is only “106” pages. The book is meant to share basic principles and inspire. It will make a great gift for:
- Personal inspiration
- Thank you gift
- Customer gift
- Agent appreciation
- Reinforce culture
- Team development
- Prospect gift
9 1/2 Principles provides the basis for a great experience, with a short story for each and inspirational quotes from leaders across industries. All are great reminders what it takes to innovate in service. My personal favorite is “The Speed Limit 23 MPH Principle”. The story revolves around a group of visitors to a gated beach resort. Over a game of stump-the-other-team trivia, someone asked what the speed limit around the resort was, and everyone cheered 23 MPH. The principle is simple, even the littlest details make memorable experiences. By “working the edges of the box” (a little Seth Godin there), the resort makes you stop and notice, creates a memory, and gives their customers a story to tell. Give your customers a great story to tell. In our sharing economy, word of mouth and great stories travel.
9 1/2 is a great introduction to Chip, and a nice gift for someone on your list. Check it out.
For more about Chip, head over to http://www.chipbell.com/
As a little man, Boba Fett was by far the coolest Star Wars character ever. He had a jet pack, wrist rockets, and an outfit designed with attitude. I never thought about it back then, but his outfit and weaponry was not all that made him cool. And it definitely wasn’t his appearance in Return of the Jedi (worst Star Wars movie and scene ever). Part of Boba’s fandom comes from how you needed to acquire his action figure. And for a nine year old it was quite a hurdle.
Prior to Empire Strikes Back, Kenner (the toy company) created a hurdle for their Star Wars action figure community by offering a mail-in promotion, in which five proof of purchases would be the only way to acquire the action figure Boba Fett. For the first time, everyone couldn’t just go to the toy store and pick up possibly the coolest figure ever. Kenner created a barrier only their most loyal fans would cross.
Historically, I have been a big proponent of making your communities easy to use, easy to access, and providing the least amount of hurdles. Having multiple screens or process steps for someone to register or gain full access to your community limits volume, possible conversion, and the so sexy numbers your boss may like to see. For the most part of the past few years, this has been the strategy for many organizations:
- Providing a freemium product
- “Like us on Facebook”
- Just name and email for community platform access
If volume and impressions are your goal(s), this is a perfectly great strategy. It brings you more possibilities to convert, win over share of wallet, and allows your marketing message to reach a higher number of people. If your goals are about direct top and bottom line growth, you may want to rethink your strategy. In other words, would you rather have 10,000 likes or 100 raving fans? Yes, the answer is both, but requires two very distinct community management strategies. If your goals are about depth of engagement versus breadth, creating barriers to inclusion may be a strong option for you. Some barriers include:
- Pay for app or pay trials (think WhatsApp or other pay for games/apps)
- Develop an acceptance process to join a community
- Detailed information on entry
- The Mafia and other organized gangs have some very difficult hurdles (I don’t recommend)
Remember you are providing access to your community to achieve a goal or a number of goals. Take the time to think about which strategy help you get there, free and easy access or adding in some hurdles. Boba Fett still remains a personal favorite character, and I still remember the day my mom walked in and handed me the brown mailing box from Kenner.
Do you belong to any communities that provided hurdles?
Does your organization make it purposely difficult for customers to get involved?
Did you get your Boba Fett in the mail too?
By michaelpace on April 18, 2013
Drum roll please …
And the Winner is …
Ladies and Gentlemen we have a tie, a three way tie. The winner of an amazing opportunity goes to PerkStreet Financial, Me, and Everyone who is tired of broken banking as usual.
PerkStreet Financial (located at 114 State Street, Boston, MA) will be my new home away from home, and I couldn’t be more excited. PerkStreet Financial is changing the way we can bank. If there ever was an industry that needed to be disrupted, it’s Banking and Financial Services.
- Get rewards for using your debit card, rather than going into debt (Hmm … that would be nice)
- Reach a person 24/7 (Stuff happens, we’re there to help)
- Use social media to create community (Yes it is possible in Financial Services)
People say things happen for reason, and while the search for the right opportunity took longer than anticipated, PerkStreet is a perfect fit for my customer service experience, social and community management skills, and financial services background. PerkStreet doesn’t approach business with typical functional silos like marketing, operations and customer service. Instead, they organize around the business objective* with team members with different skills working together in stand alone teams. My job will be to spearhead Customer Care and Cultivation in 4 critical areas:
- Customer Dialogue – How do we engage with prospects and customers across channels to help them get the most out of PerkStreet?
- Issue Diagnosis – It isn’t enough to fix things that go wrong, we are applying analytics to our customer interactions to understand how we fix things that went wrong and take friction out of the process.
- Scale and Flex – How do we grow without losing the human touch?
- People Leadership – All great businesses have cultures that drive success, how do we maintain and build upon a strong foundation, particularly when we leverage outside parties?
Banking customers and their money deserve better, and I intend on changing their perceptions and realities.
Special thanks to Jennifer Spencer for advocating internally for me to bring me in to speak with such a great team!
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- Swinging a Hammer Does Not Make You a Carpenter; It Just Makes You Dangerous Or Smart Use of Social Media for your Contact Center