How to Earn and Keep Customer Loyalty

Today’s buyers –– empowered by the Internet, assured by the enormous choice in every segment of commerce and capitalizing on the acute vulnerability of sellers struggling in this current selling climate –– have taken control of the entire purchase progression

The confluence of technology and choice described in Robert H. Bloom’s The New Experts, started customer loyalty down the slippery slope –– ultimately, customer loyalty died. Buyers no longer care which seller they buy from –– which gives buyers all the power. But buyers do care about fulfilling their needs and making the best purchase decision –– and that is how you can win them over at four critical customer moments.

The Four Moments That Count

1. The Now-or-Never Moment –– your first brief contact. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of your prospects’ initial contact with your company.

2. The Make-or-Break Moment –– the lengthy transaction process. Most leaders know from experience that far too many transactions fall through at the Make-or-Break Moment, the extended period of consideration, negotiation and decision to purchase.

3. The Keep-or-Lose Moment –– the customer’s continued usage. This is the period when your buyer is actually using your business’s products or services. It is important to nourish and maintain your relationship with a customer while that current customer is using, consuming, enjoying and relying on the product or service he or she purchased from you. Maintaining performance is essential at this moment.

4. The Multiplier Moment –– repeat purchase, advocacy and referral. Your Multiplier Moment is your conversion of a one-time customer into a repeat customer and an advocate and referral source for your company. Customers’ repeat purchases from your firm and enthusiastic recommendations of your firm will produce transactions that require far less investment and will create far more profitable revenue. This is why your business must sustain its performance long after the completion of the transaction and throughout your pivotal Multiplier Moment.
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Customers Buy. Fans Buy In.

Our guest blogger is Lee Elias, co-author of Think Like A Fan.

What do you call the people that do business with you? Are they consumers, patrons, customers, etc? I have become fond of referring to these people as fans. In reality, anyone who does business with you, whether it is monetarily or through trade, is making an investment into your brand and company. The physical transaction between a person and business may make them a literal consumer, however the choice to put their trust and faith in what you are providing is what makes them a fan.

Fans come in many forms; casual, fair weather and die-hard. Simply taking money from these people is no longer the most effective business model. With today’s limitless connectivity and ability to communicate, cultivating relationships and making these fans feel like part of your organization can be infinitely more beneficial, both monetarily and mentally, than ever before.

In a time when challenging the status quo has become the status quo, consumers have placed a responsibility on all organizations to stand out in order to gain their loyalty, not just their money. In order to find continued success moving forward, organizational leaders will all need to gain an understanding of how digital technology is reshaping the consumption of media.  Our entire market is integrating deeper and deeper into wireless, mobile, and digital solutions that consumers crave. These innovations are a major opportunity for revenue and brand building if implemented and integrated correctly. Proper planning and preparation for a digital migration effort is essential, and business leaders will find they cannot sit back and “see how it plays out” for as long as they may have been used to with earlier, more traditional marketing methods.

Today’s connectivity has opened the door for organizations to touch an audience 24/7/365.  Fans are constantly calling for a better overall experience – how are you answering the call?

There are several opportunities to transform from “merchandise” people buy to a “mission” they believe in. For example, organizations can

– “Broadcast” uniformed information across multiple platforms

– Speak with their audience, not at their audience

– Enable current customers and followers to promote your brand

– Stay constantly visible to supporters in order to stay relevant

– Continually “tap” their audience to engage and incite interaction

– Understand how to respond to both positive and negative reviews

– Substantiate internal sales forces to increase creativity and productivity

– Establish trust and authenticity as a keystone of the brand

– Create a digital community in which followers want to visit

– Utilize social media platforms to their maximum potential

– Work with (not against) competitors to maximize profits

– Create a culture of confidence in their brand

There is no doubt that a digital migration is happening. The question most of the elite are looking to have answered is when to make the change…the answer is now, as in right now.

Join us on September 29th at 12 PM ET for our Soundview Live webinar titled “Think Like A Fan”.

Delivering the Unexpected

Today’s blog is from Dustin Klein and Howard Brodsky, authors of the just released book The Unexpected.

Innovation is a word that is tossed around a bit too often today, but when it’s used correctly – and applied effectively – there’s no denying its impact.

So what constitutes innovation?

It can be breakthrough technology. But it can also be a business style or approach, a corporate culture, or a new process. In essence, it is asking “what if?” and then testing the answer.

One way to ply innovation is an approach to how you can service your customers, your vendors and your employees. It doesn’t require dismantling your operations, your workflow, your current processes or procedures, or even your existing products or services. But it does require you to think differently about every interaction you have both internally and externally.

The concept is called The Unexpected. And while that may sound a bit ominous, it isn’t.

Rather, The Unexpected is based on the idea that consumers have resigned themselves to accepting subpar service in order to get the lowest possible price.

And unfortunately, because of the commoditization of many products and services, many business organizations have found themselves in a similar situation as they try to compete on lowest price. Sadly, they’re finding there isn’t much lower they can go and still be profitable.

As a result, you hear a lot of companies say “We compete on service.” But what does that really mean?

More important, when you start to hear everybody say that, it devalues exactly what that “service” is. And when you devalue something, you lose the competitive advantage it once carried.

Moving forward, delivering what might be considered “world-class” customer service – going above and beyond, delivering “plus-one”, and ensuring your customers can depend on you – may soon become your ante at the great poker table of business. And many of those who fail to deliver a minimum service level that is at least above average, will wither away.

So how does innovation play into this equation?

Simple. By innovating your business approach internally and externally, by training your team to be “eyes up” and to identify opportunities to do something different, you can effectively separate yourself from the pack and create a competitive advantage that is hard to overcome.

Here’s what has been uncovered:

First, people want something that is Memorable, which is the first element of The Unexpected. That means something that causes you to walk away and say, “Wow – I can’t believe what just happened to me.”

Here is a very simplistic example:  Let’s say you frequented the same restaurant every Friday night with your spouse or significant other. You always ordered two glasses of red wine with your meals. What if one Friday night the owner sent out two glasses of a new red wine he or she stocked BEFORE you ordered. And what if the waiter told you that the owner thought you might enjoy this new wine and simply wanted your feedback on its quality and taste. It was on the house and a thank you for being such a loyal customer.

You’d find that an Unexpected surprise.

Not only that, but neuroscience tells us that an experience such as this releases dopamine from the brain stem and results in an elevation of your positive mood – creating happiness and joy. It etches a little reminder into your brain that says, This Happened, and creates a memory – the What.

But The Unexpected is more than this. You must also make that Memorable experience Distinguishable, which is the second key element. The Memory must create a Where – it must distinguish your brand from other brands. In this case, the restaurant.

And then, it must also be something that people want to tell others about, thus becoming Viral, the third key element of The Unexpected.

Finally, if you accomplish those three things – Make it Memorable, Distinguishable and Viral – it will result in the fourth key element of The Unexpected:  Profitable.

You will either be able to go deeper and wider with your key client base and increase your profitability – for example, by telling others about how you received the free wine you might cause a friend to say, “Wow – we go there every Saturday and order dessert. I wonder if they might do the same thing for us when they create new signature desserts.” Or, you might be able to create more Profitability as Starbucks and The Ritz-Carlton do – by commanding a premium price for your products and services because you are never quite sure what Unexpected experience either organization will deliver.

Incorporating The Unexpected into your day-to-day operations is actually quite simple….but that is a lesson for another day.

To hear more about how to deliver the Unexpected to your customers, join Brodsky and Klein at our Soundview Live webinar: Breakthrough Strategies to Earn Loyal Customers for Life.

How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine

EARNING THE RIGHT TO GROWTH

Jeanne Bliss, a long-time advocate of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) position and author of two previous books on the subject, returns with her third book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0. At the heart of the book is a framework built around five customer leadership competencies that will help CCOs build what Bliss calls a “customer-driven growth engine.” The five competencies show Chief Customer Officers how they can enable “one-company” customer growth behaviors and actions. “Without this united engine, activities go back to being ruled by squeaky wheel issues, executive-driven one-off action items, and silo-by-silo priorities,” she writes.

The Five Competencies

The first of the five competencies is to honor and manage customers as assets. A company’s efforts to understand its customers are often based on surveys in which customers describe what they might do, Bliss explains. The customer-as-asset approach is not about conjecture but about what customers are actually doing. This competency involves aligning leaders to create a performance metric that rigorously measures customer results, including quarterly results, in terms of volume and value, on: how many new customers were brought in; how many customers were lost; how many customers increased their purchases; and how many customers are disengaging from the company. Of course, this competency is not about the numbers but about awareness and focusing the company’s leaders on the why of the numbers: why customers stay or go, or become more or less active.

The second of the five competencies is to align around experience. This is the competency required for COOs to guide the leaders of the company into building “a one-company version of their customer journey,” Bliss writes. This is achieved by working with leaders to create a customer journey map that follows the customer through his or her entire interaction with the company. The challenge is that the customer experience is often seen from the company’s perspective, such as prospecting, the sales pitch, the close, or after-sale service. The purpose of competency two is to shift the perspective from the company to the customer. Thus, the first step, for example, is not “prospecting,” but “customers who have an unfulfilled need.” Likewise, the second step is not the “sales pitch” but customers who are trying to figure out their options.

The third CCO competency is to build a customer listening path. CCOs must work with leaders to build a one-company listening system, which, Bliss writes, uses multiple sources of customer feedback to focus the company on important areas of improvement. With this competency, the challenge for Chief Customer Officers is to break the dependence on survey scores, which fail to fully describe the customer experience. Bliss emphasizes that leaders must understand, appreciate and respond to the customer’s story, not quantitative results.

The fourth of Bliss’s competencies is entitled proactive experience reliability and innovation. The goal of the CCO in this competency, according to Bliss, is to ensure that leaders of the company are aware of customer experience problems before customers have to contact the company. Bliss offers guidelines on how to build a “Revenue Erosion Early-Warning Process” to achieve this important proactive step. This process includes a reliability reality-check — investigating the reliability of the company’s interactions with customers at every stage of the customer journey — and building a defector pipeline, which identifies the make-or-break moments when companies are at risk of losing customers.

The fifth and final competency is leadership, accountability and culture. For Bliss, this is the “prove it to me” stage of building the customer-driven growth engine, when CCOs work with their company’s leaders to ensure “consistent behaviors, decision-making, and company engagement that will prove to the organization that leaders are united in their commitment to earn the right to customer-driven growth.”

“Earning the right to growth” is a phrase that appears consistently in this comprehensive guide to customer-driven growth. Filled with stories from a variety of companies as well as practical implementation tools for CCOs, Chief Customer Officer 2.0 is a manual that translates customer-focused language into on-the-ground action.

Staying On Top of Issues That Can Make or Break a Company

We have just released our latest batch of executive book summaries, and they cover the gamut of business subjects and issues. But they do have one thing in common: they provide critical information to help you stay up on the latest issues and innovations in order to continue to succeed.

powerofthanks

The Power of Thanks by Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley

Globoforce executives Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine explain how a Culture of Recognition can boost employee engagement and loyalty, stronger teamwork, a more innovative culture, increased customer satisfaction, as well as greater profitability and organizational health. Ultimately, they show how to build a better workplace for employees.

leadershipblindspots

Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw

Robert Bruce Shaw helps leaders to identify weaknesses, threats and other vulnerabilities that can impair effectiveness, results and even their careers. Shaw reveals how blindspots operate and why they persist, but also provides techniques for recognizing them and taking action before they create lasting damage.

dataism

Data-ism by Steve Lohr

New York Times reporter Steve Lohr explains how big-data technology has its benefits and its drawbacks, which raises questions about the wider implications for everyone. Lohr lends insight into what’s ahead, suggesting that individuals and organizations will need to exploit, protect and manage data to stay competitive.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual titles to purchase and download them right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way

SHIFTING FOCUS TO THE NEEDS OF THE PATIENT

In December of 2004, the 77-year-old father of James Merlino, a colorectal surgeon in training at the Cleveland Clinic, came to the hospital for a biopsy, expecting to be discharged later in the day. Merlino’s father never left the hospital, unexpectedly dying seven days later.

As he describes in his book, Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way, Merlino was devastated by his father’s death, not only because it was so unexpected but also because of the way his father had spent those final days — days of frustration at unresponsive nurses, insensitive doctors and inefficient service, combined with the growing fear that he was going to die.

His father’s death was a turning point for Merlino, who recognized that, contrary to what was taught to rising young doctors, medicine should not be simply the emotionless treatment of disease. Hospitals needed to focus on the entire experience of the patient.

Merlino left the Cleveland Clinic but returned a few years later under a new CEO who had launched a revolutionary Patients First mission for the hospital. Merlino would eventually become the Chief Experience Officer of the Cleveland Clinic. Service Fanatics is the story of how he and the new CEO, Toby Cosgrove, turned the mission of Patients First into reality. Today, the Patients First mindset drives every decision and process of the Cleveland Clinic.

The Cleveland Clinic story is one of overcoming resistance and derision and battling the egos of doctors who treated patients as numbers or diseases, not as people. While doctors attempted to resolve the disease as best they could, they had no awareness of the fears and needs of the person behind the disease. The patient was almost irrelevant; it was the ailment that was the focus.

It is the story of transforming a hospital into a place in which every person on staff is considered and expected to be a “caregiver.” In his quest to transform the hospital’s approach to patients, Merlino conducted extensive research with other hospitals and explored other organizations and industries beyond the medical profession.

One of the first steps in creating a new Patients First environment, Merlino writes, was to precisely define the goal. The challenge in medicine is that the customer is not always right. In Merlino’s specialty, for example, patients must rise from bed the day after their surgery since getting up and walking around is essential to ensuring a good recovery. Patients, however, consider this obligatory exercise the sign of an insensitive doctor. Thus, unlike a restaurant, customer satisfaction can be a treacherous measure for whether a hospital is doing the best job it can.

Eventually, Merlino and his team at the Cleveland Clinic defined Patients First as 1) Safe Care, 2) Quality Care, 3) Customer Satisfaction and 4) High Value Care — in that specific order.

Service Fanatics is the careful narration of an organization meeting a customer-service challenge, and it is at once unique but filled with lessons for all types of organizations. Building the involvement of staff; adding to rather than changing your culture; executing by fixing processes first, then identifying best practices; and myriad other insights into transforming an organization, captured in valuable bullet points at the end of each chapter, will help leaders from all industries focus and align their businesses to the needs of the customer.

Creating Amazing Customer Experience – Excellence Or Consistency

Today’s guest blog is from Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, a customer experience transformation firm, and the author of 6 books including Exceptionalize It!.

We live in challenging times. Customers’ expectations are increasing exponentially. Their tolerance for anything less than amazing is diminishing. They demand excellence or they go elsewhere. Competitors are trying harder to delight customers constantly raising the customers’ expectation bar. On the other hand, cost reduction efforts are everywhere. We try to control costs by optimizing services. We do so by creating consistency everywhere. While striving to solve the excellence question, we end up with consistency as the answer.

We often make the mistake of confusing excellence and consistency. Consistency is about optimizing services and products to be without flaws. Delivering a “consistent” product or service focuses on removing elements of dissatisfaction and achieving parity.

At best, consistency meets customer expectations. Eliminating inaccurate invoices is an example of a consistency effort. Ensuring that all your products share the same level of quality is consistency. Responding to customer inquiries in a timely manner is consistency. Consistency is heavily dependent on processes, and these processes become the primary objective of the performance; employees are merely executers of carefully managed procedures. In a consistency-driven environment, employees themselves are secondary to the process. They are subservient to the roles dictated to them by the process definition. Consistency emphasizes optimized processes and de-emphasizes the role of employees. At best, consistency reaches parity but never exceeds expectations.

Consistency is basically just doing your job. Some companies do it well; others do it in a mediocre way. Delivering consistency is nice, but it is not excellence—unless the rest of your industry is consistently awful and you stand out for being able to meet basic customer expectations. In fact, the definition of consistency is being on par with customer expectations. It is a boring, uninteresting place to settle. No one will celebrate your consistent performance.

Excellence and superiority, on the other hand, are about going above and beyond. They are about pleasantly surprising the customer. Excellence is all about exceeding the expectations, not just meeting them. By definition, this type of performance requires human intervention to set higher goals, individualize and humanize the interaction, and be authentic throughout the whole experience. At the core of the contrast between consistency and excellence is the role of people and processes. With excellence, processes are merely a means to a goal. A tool to deliver a greater solution. Employees are in charge, and use of accepted processes are subject to their judgment. If a process assists them in achieving the goal, they will use it. Otherwise, they use their discretion to get the job done and exceed expectations. With excellence, the corporate culture permits such employee discretion and provides permission to perform, as well as permission to make mistakes.

Excellence requires an emotionally engaging performance that delivers an authentic and memorable caring touch. Processes are not able to do this, only people are. So, excellence is not a matter of a better process. To achieve excellence we need to place processes in their rightful place, as tools, and give people the freedom to perform.

In times of excellence or nothing, we must exceed the consistency paradigm and focus on reaching to the excellence standard. To do so we will need to rethink the tools, information and authority we provide our employees to deliver on the ever increasing customer expectation for excellence.

To hear more about meeting customer expectations, join us on May 12th for our Soundview Live webinar with Lior Arussy: Stop Boring & Start Exciting Your Customers.

Take Your Company to the Next Level

Our latest book summaries are out and include three titles meant to improve your company. Whether it’s delivering greater value to customers, achieving a higher level of performance, or improving time management, you’ll find it in this issue.

thehiddenleader2

The Hidden Leader by Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain

Hidden leaders are the under-utilized employees who demonstrate integrity, lead through authentic relationships, focus on results, work from customer purpose, and fulfill the value promise of the company. Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain show how managers can recognize and develop these talented employees in order to deliver even greater value to customers.

thirteeners2

Thirteeners by Daniel Prosser

The key to building a great company is executing its strategy consistently by employing connectedness. CEO mentor Dan Prosser shares how to transform an organization’s internal connectedness so it can achieve the next level of performance, creating a workplace environment that supports your vision and assures participation by every team member to produce breakthrough results.

the5choices2

The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill & Leena Rinne

The authors combine research and insights from FranklinCovey to redefine time management in ways that will increase the productivity of individuals, teams and organizations. The 5 Choices will empower individuals to make more selective, high-impact choices about where to invest their valuable time, attention and energy.

If you would like to read each of these titles in 20 minutes or less, consider a subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries. These three titles will be place in your online library at check out so you can start reading them immediately.

 

 

How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers

Romancing the Brand. It sounds like the sequel to Romancing the Stone, the movie. But actually it’s a new book by author Tim Halloran. Here is how he begins the book.

“It wasn’t a particularly dramatic moment. The eight women sat around the overflowing table of colored cans and bottles of soft drinks. They has just completed what we call a ‘sorting’ exercise, in which participants arranged soft drink brands in groups based on some organizing principle that they were to develop themselves. I don’t remember how they organized the forty-plus brands that day, but what happened next stuck with me. A petite woman in her late twenties, picked up one of the cans and said to the focus group moderator, ‘I drink eight of these a day. It is always with me, no matter what happens. I was there when my boss gave me my promotion last week. It was at my side two months ago when my cat died. It got me through it. I start and end my day with it. It’s never let me down. I can always count on it. To sum it up, it’s my boyfriend . . . Diet Coke.’”

Wouldn’t we all like to have this kind of loyalty from our customers? They are engaging in a rich, complex, ever-changing relationship, and they’ll stay loyal, resisting marketing gimmicks from competitors and influencing others to try the brand they love.

Halloran reveals what it takes to make consumers fall in love with your brand. Drawing on exclusive, in-depth interviews with managers of some of the world’s most iconic brands, he arms you with an arsenal of classic and emerging marketing tools—such as benefit laddering and word-of-mouth marketing—that make best-in-class brands so successful.

We’ve invited Tim Halloran to join us on April 30th to reveal to us How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers. This Soundview Live webinar with give you the chance to learn first-hand about these emerging marketing tools, and to ask your most challenging questions. Join us for the sequel and bring your popcorn.

Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers

THE DECODED COMPANY

Using Big Data in Human Resources

What if companies knew as much about their employees as they knew about their customers? That is the provocative question at the heart of The Decoded Company — a book written by a group of entrepreneurs connected to a technology-driven health care marketing agency called Klick Health. Klick Health CEO Leerom Segal and his co-authors are great believers in the potential of big data — the myriad of information that is quietly and continuously collected from you as you go about your business as a consumer. Surprisingly, while companies have near-unanimously embraced the use of big data technology for their customers, very few attempt to find out more about their employees.

Three Principles

Using their own experiences as leaders of a fast-growing technology company, the authors describe in their book three fundamental principles for decoding your organization — that is, truly understanding in real time the individual skills, motivations and successes of employees, recognizing the challenges they face, and supporting each individual or groups of individuals as needed.

  • Principle 1: Technology as a Coach and a Trainer. According to the authors, most organizations use technology as a referee rather than as a coach. Technology allows companies to monitor what employees are doing and to whistle the fouls when they fall behind or fail. In decoded companies, technology is a      trainer and coach — preparing employees for the game (to continue the metaphor), then watching from the sidelines and jumping in to coach as      needed. One coaching idea proposed by the authors is the hiring of a “concierge” — someone who might use some of the traditional HR tools, such as career counseling or performance reviews, but whose one and only goal is to design a customized solution for each employee that helps them perform and grow. Technology as a trainer, the authors explain, means using “data and systems to watch blind spots, identify teachable moments, and proactively intervene with just-in-time training.”

 

  • Principle 2: Informed Intuition. The second principle is that technology does not replace but rather augments the intuition of leaders born from their      experience and knowledge, thus allowing them to make better decisions. The      capture of ambient data — ongoing information about what employees are doing or saying — is vital. (One example of the creation of ambient data is your Facebook activity. Facebook tracks with whom you communicate on their site, how often, from where and through which method, such as posting or chat message. This ambient data determines which Facebook friends end up on your newsfeed.) After analyzing a combination of ambient data and selected self-reported data, such as performance self-evaluations or monthly results, managers in decoded companies use their intuition to seek solutions to employee challenges. Bank of America discovered that the performance of call-center employees improved based on whom they talked to  during overlapping lunches. The bank thus decided to create more opportunities for employee conversations by changing a policy that had restricted overlapping breaks.

 

  • Principle 3: Engineered Ecosystems. The third principle is to use data to set up the culture and the environment that enables employees to work at their highest levels. Engineered ecosystems are both data-driven and talent-centric. For example, the authors describe how Google — which, as the company that tested 41 shades of blue for one of its toolbars, is notoriously data-driven — launched a major initiative to identify the most important traits for its managers. The results seemed at first less than earth-shattering: The eight identified traits included not micromanaging, expressing interest in employees’ success, having a vision and a strategy, and having the technical skills to advise the team. The data, however, not only identified the traits but also ranked their importance, and this is where Google’s leaders uncovered a truth about its culture that was contrary to everything they believed: technical expertise, once thought to be the keystone of a great Google manager, is the least important trait that a manager can have. Everything else comes first.

While Segal and his co-authors use Google and numerous other companies in a variety of industries as examples, it is their own success at Klick Healthcare that make The Decoded Company an authoritative, balanced and real-world exploration of the human resources potential of big data.