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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Optimize What?

I just received one of the many emails I read each week that invites me to participate in a webinar.  I bring in up not because I’m opposed to sharing information, or because I don’t think such sessions can improve awareness and even consideration of the presenting  firm, but because of the topic:

Corporation X case study:
Best practices for marketing optimization in the call center

It demonstrates to me that most corporations are still locked into a siloed view of the Customer Experience.  Rather than management thinking about how they can optimize their budgets and their effort  in the areas that will most improve the Total Customer Experience, we’re talking about the call center.  I may be that reasonable due diligence has been done before focusing on the call center, but that’s doubtful. 

What corporation need to do is to look at every Touchpoint in which they interact with their customers, and learn which are the most important to the customer, and in which they are falling below the majority of competitors.  Once that research has been completed, and once they have a better understanding of the Experiential Components of those few critical Touchpoints, then it can be time to act -- But only then.

If the corporation is falling below the performance of the broader marketplace, and if that is important to customer, then it is time to start figuring out how to “optimize” the call center.  But the areas requiring change or improvement could just as well involve the products themselves, the training of staff, the marketing communications, corporate policies, the physical facilities (if there is any brick and mortar in the Customer Experience) and much more.  Management of the Customer Experience will be an inefficient struggle until we stop looking at things from an internal operational structure and begin to recognize that it’s a Total Experience that controls whether customers keep coming back, buying more, and generating positive word of mouth.

2:18 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where's the Starbucks Customer Experience Heading?
Just when we thought Starbucks was starting to understand the concept of the Total Customer Experience, we get word that they will be entering the breakfast value-meal race.  Wasn’t it only a few months ago that Mr. Schultz was telling us that the solution to their woes was to be found in a return to more personal service, removal of the breakfast offerings that were overwhelming the smell of the brewing coffee, a return to the relaxed coffee house atmosphere rather than the fast food pace, and removal of equipment that was blocking you from watching as each and every drop of your special blend was being individually prepared for you, and you alone.   What happened?  Were those changes implemented?  Was Starbucks expecting that those changes to their value proposition would instantly be enough to overcome the worst downturn in the economy since the Great Depression?  Did they really have any process for measuring the impact of those changes in the Customer Experience or are they just counting revenue per store?  Did they have the patience to find out, or are they now hooked on expectations of the wild growth they enjoyed in past years and frantically seeking strategies focused only on generating revenue for the current quarter? In the long run Starbucks isn’t likely to win a duel with Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds on their turf.  They succeeded up until the recent past by offering a very different value proposition. Part of that original proposition had been exclusivity and being almost a member of a private club. Then they tried to grow to fast (interestingly at the same time they issued their statement about the breakfast-value offering they also announced that they would layoff 6,700 employees, close 300 more doors, and scale back store openings for 2009) and lost sight of what they delivered to their customers.   Breakfast-value offerings might provide a short term boost in sales, but it’s unlikely to bring them back to the success they once enjoyed.      
11:36 am est          Comments

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Measurement, Management, Optimization
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