Customer Service Archives - Klaxon

The Curse of Self Service

Years ago I had the privilege of working at our local supermarket.

It was a big deal at the time. I’d moved up from being a waiter at a pub and in the process near doubling my hourly rate to a little over £4. I was responsible for stock replenishment (shelf stacking) and manning the checkout; a rite of passage for all teenagers surely.

I used to enjoy working on the checkout. It gave me the feeling of responsibility for the customer experience, not just taking money but also providing some degree of service. But all that’s changing with the advent of the dreadful self-checkout, a faceless and error prone experience.

As customers we are stepping back into our teenage years, where once again we have to scan products and navigate the weighing scale menu. The self checkout is the ultimate in self-service and it never surprises me to see queues at the checkouts when the self service line is empty.

Self service is a feature for plenty of business-to-business organisations too.

With the advent of software as a service, where cheaper products do not support high customer service budgets, vendors are forced to rely on FAQs and support forums to answer customer queries. It’s only when you need to rely on these channels for help that you realise how maddening they can be. There must be a better way?

Perhaps…

1. better product design to reduce the requirement for support
2. improved reference documentation online with accurate search
3. a support community led by brand ambassadors
4. an empowered channel network to provide paid support

The starting point is to view your product from the eyes of the target customer.

Only by experiencing your product in this way can you understand what level of support your customers need and what you should provide above and beyond self-service.

As a business to business marketer, make sure you’re not providing your customers with a self checkout experience. You may not get a second chance to impress if people find “unexpected items in the bagging area”.

 

How Did you Find Us?

It’s a simple question: how did you find us?

And so useful too. As a business owner / marketer you have to find out where your sales leads are coming from. It’s the only way you can determine which parts of your marketing plan are working and which are not.

In the digital era attribution is getting easier, particularly if your website is the spearhead of your business development. You can tell which source website visitors come from (e.g. advert, social media, email, web search etc), which search terms they’re using to find your site, what content they’re looking at and, when they fill in your contact form, you can collect their contact details too.

But for those prospective customers who call you, the only way to find this out is to ask: how did you find us?

I’ve made three enquiries today to event catering companies. Two I have not spoken to before and a third who I had previously employed.

None of them asked that simple question. As such they’re missing valuable information to inform their marketing decisions. Should they spend more on their website, are their email campaigns working, is the investment in social media worth it?

Asking that simple question will help with all of those questions.

Rant over.

Do You Listen to Customer Feedback?

I’ve written a lot on the blog about customer feedback. It’s something we view as critical to the success of our business and encourage clients to think the same way.

You might think the challenge is in getting feedback in the first instance. Actually we’ve found by putting a clear and consistent structure in place for collecting feedback, it’s quite a straight forward exercise.

The difficult part is actually deciding what to do with the feedback you collect. I found a great example on YouTube of how a dentist in Florida used some negative feedback to his advantage. He listened to his customer, took action and the result was to turn a dissatisfied customer into long term happy customer. Exactly what you would hope for right.

Watch this video to find out more. It’s around 5 minutes long, but very entertaining, so stick with it to the end.

Let us know some examples of how you have used customer feedback to your advantage.

How Happy Are Your Customers?

If you don’t know the answer, it’s about time you did.

Not only are your existing customers keeping your business alive, they are also likely to be a good source of new revenue too. There’s a well known stat from Bain & Co that it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new client than to retain a current one.

There’s a blog post on Big Girl Branding about keeping hold of customers that’s worth a quick read.

With this in mind it’s important you measure your customers’ happiness. We do this regularly through ongoing ad-hoc feedback and we also introduced over a year ago a twice yearly satisfaction survey. Our stance is that of fearless listening which so far has not been as painful as it sounds.

The results of our latest survey are now in and we’re delighted with the results, a sample of which you can see here (the higher the percentage score the better):

Klaxon delivers quality work, on time and with clear communications:

Average: 90%

Klaxon understands the market place and offers appropriate ideas and counsel:

Average: 87%

Klaxon provides creative ideas and solutions:

Average: 85%

How happy would you be recommending Klaxon?

Average 85%

How happy are your customers?

Image copyright Granit Chartered Architects and Joe Clark Photography

Fearless Listening

Recently I was sitting with a client (a large comms agency) listening to one of their client service leaders talking about building strong customer relationships and the importance of gaining feedback. The term used was “fearless listening”, the idea that you should not be afraid to ask for feedback in case you think it will be bad. The opposite to burying your head in the sand if you will.

We’ve been encouraging our clients to ask for feedback for as long as we can remember too. In fact we run regular customer satisfaction surveys for one of our longest standing clients. This allows us to track changes in performance, identify trends and highlight any areas where the client needs to raise its game. In the last four years this process alone has helped to improve customer satisfaction significantly.

With this in mind we decided it was high time we conducted some fearless listening ourselves and have begun surveying our customers. It’s been an eye opening experience so far with a huge amount of positives identified, along with one or two areas where we can improve. We have been delighted our Net Promoter Scores that’s for sure.

If you aren’t already asking your customers for feedback, start now. It doesn’t need to be a great big survey, it can be as simple as asking the question ‘are you happy with the service we’re providing?’ The important thing is to start collecting feedback, recording your customers views – both positive and negative – and making sure you take action on any of the areas for improvement. You will be surprised how this can focus your mind on the customer, which after all is what marketing is all about.

Moving Clients through the Advocacy Tree

TreeThere’s one thing about clients that’s difficult not to love and that’s a client that brings you more clients. Those people you have impressed so much, they’re happy to go out and do your advertising and selling for you. I’ve worked with some companies that secure half of their new business through clients like this, their advocates. As you can imagine their marketing budgets are low.

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Timing is Everything with Email Marketing

It goes without saying that email is one of the most popular customer communication and marketing channels at the moment. Even with the explosion in social media, email is still without a doubt a very important and impactful channel for b2c and b2b marketers.

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Are you Customer Focussed or Self Obsessed?

I’m a big believer that a good marketing organisation is one that puts the customers at the heart of its business. What I mean by this is when decision making is focussed on meeting the customers needs and wants, rather than that of the board or MD. But how to you measure your levels of customer focus?

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Ever Heard of Customer Service BA?

On a recent trip to Dusseldorf I had the pleasure of flying with British Airways. I say the pleasure, because the flight was quick, painless and the service if nothing else was rapid.

However, I have to also comment on the experience off the airplane to give you the rounded picture. For anyone following the UK news, you’ll now that last week two things of interest happened at London Heathrow:

1. a lunatic ran on to one of the runways carrying a suitcase which he left on the runway

2. the Queen officially opened the brand new Terminal 5 building

So what you might ask has this got to do with British Airways and customer service?

First of all both occurrences delayed my flight – on the outbound and inbound journey. To be fair, I can’t really complain about this what so ever, BA after all had no control over the lunatic running onto the airport which resulted in additional security for Her Majesty’s visit the following day.

However, what I can complain about is the complete lack of information from BA. While waiting at Heathrow for over two hours all I was told by the information desk was to have patience. When I enquired in the BA lounge at Heathrow, they actually had a little more information, but not much.

On the return journey, it was the same story: no information at all from the staff at the gate, even though we were kept waiting for about an hour.

All this got me to thinking about how negative I was feeling towards BA.

Not knowing why there were delays I naturally assumed it was the airline’s fault, particularly as they were unwilling to talk about it. Has this done some damage to BA’s brand? Yes quite possibly.

I shared my experience with my colleagues in Dusseldorf (several others of whom got caught in the delays also) and of course I’m writing about it now. Will I fly with BA again? Probably, but not until I’ve checked out the alternatives. Strange isn’t it, after all, BA are not to blame at all. It was just a lack of communications that left me feeling disappointed.

What are the lessons then?

I think it is clearly that when things are going a little pear shaped, keep the customer informed. Whether that’s a announcement at an airport, a phone call, or a quick email. All of these small steps will help to keep the customer informed and a little happier.

We all know that happiness has a direct correlation with repeat business and making recommendations to friends, family and other potential customers.

For more ideas on customer communications, visit the excellent return customer blog from Joe Rawlinson. Joe talks a lot about keeping customers properly informed, whether that’s to reinforce negativity in the sales process, or simply getting the basics right in answering the phones.

Don’t forget, keep communicating with your customers!

A little bit of praise for Google

IGoogle‘m not often one to sing Google’s praises, but credit where credit’s due in my opinion and they do seem to be smartening up their act with the AdWords support programme. Perhaps this is in response to Microsoft adCentre’s excellent telephone support line.

Well anyway, just a short post to say well done Google. The recent problems I’ve been experiencing with My Client Centre and Analytics are being handled by a very polite and responsive lady by the name of Niamh (pronounced Neve for those non-Gaelic readers). I will let you all know how quickly the problem is resolved, but for now I’m happy in the assurances that Niamh is on the case.