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Saturday, February 25, 2012

What’s the Biggest Challenge to an Improved Customer Experience?

Articles appear all the time with advise on improving your customer experience.  Some tell us all that it's about the need to focus on the integration of channels, or advice that it’s about learning how as humans to connect with the digital world.  Others claim that it's all about increasing first call resolutions, getting employees to smile, improving website usability, facilities appearance, call waiting times, the appearance of staff, the image projected by advertising, the smell of the lobby, and dozens of other factors.  We disagree.  We believe that the real challenge comes in understanding the experience from the customer point of view and identifying priorities for improvement.  Trying to do it all will never work, it’s costly and inefficient.  The real challenge therefore is one of proper allocation of resources.

Neither key driver analysis in traditional customer sat nor NPS helps identify those priorities.  Those approaches look at the experience functionally, from an insider’s view.  They fail to consider the multiple interactions and multi-sensory composition of the TOTAL customer experience that brings customers back, causes them to spend and increasing share of wallet with the brand, causes them to generate more positive word of mouth for the brand -- or drives them to the competition.

6:18 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crisis Management through Social Media
Following the grounding of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, parent company Carnival Cruise line has taken much criticism for its handling of its social media presence.  Initially the CEO went dark on Twitter but the company maintained status quo on Facebook with the usual postings of updates on trips, deals and specific ships.  After six days, with hundreds of negative posts on their Facebook wall and other outlets, they finally stopped online marketing and announced a temporary halt to their Facebook and Twitter activity “out of respect” and to focus on helping with the crisis.

Their announcement a week later that they were ready to “engage” stirred much more negative response.  Social media experts have strongly suggested that Carnival terribly mishandled the situation.  They suggest that the company should have brought forward key individuals in the social media to answer questions, share ideas in chats, hang-outs, or stream interviews.

That all sounds logical, but what were they to say:  That the captain was really at his post and doing his job?  That they usually conduct safety drills?  That the captain and the crew handled the crisis well based upon their training and valor?  But in reality they had failed horrendously on board ship and there was little defense.  Further, it’s likely that their legal counsel had instructed all executives to say nothing.

So what to do?

We believe that the proper way to manage a crisis playing out in social media must begin well in advance of the event. Yes, the captain and crew of the Costa Concordia failed horribly.  That can’t be explained away or denied. But on the social media front they could have prepared. Loyal customers who had been on many safe and enjoyable cruises can act as the Best Customer Advocates, in good times as well as when a crisis strikes. They should have been identified well in advance. They should have been armed over time with information and stories (safety records, engineering, training, corporate citizenship, staffing, etc.)  to help them generate positive word of mouth for the brand (both online and offline). Such communications could have helped generate sales in good times and add perspective and balance to the public dialog in bad times.
10:53 am est          Comments

Monday, February 6, 2012

How engaging is your Facebook page?
We don’t have a great Facebook page. We don't have hundreds of Twitter followers.  We set up accounts several years ago and quickly realized that we just didn’t have enough new experiences and original material to keep it up.  Do you?  Some very smart folks we followed for a while couldn’t really hold our interest. Unless you’re a celebrity with a paid ghost writer, a corporation with a continual flow of games and coupons, or a real news organization, it’s probably also difficult for you or your corporation to be continually generating content that’s worth reading.

Does that mean public social media shouldn’t be part of your marketing strategy?  NO.  We believe Facebook, Twitter, blogs, review sites, and all the rest must be part of any action plan. 

But here’s our alternative
Rather than trying to be the one generating all the content about your business, all the time, instead stimulate a lot of your existing customers so they will comment about you in their own Facebook pages, Tweets, reviews, and blogs, and for that matter in their more private phone calls, emails, text messages, and even face-to-face conversations.  They have the experience with your brand, but they need some motivation, content, and to be pointed in the right direction.  We call it Identifying & Arming Customer Advocates. It’s part database marketing, part PR, part promotions, part relationship marketing.  Its time has come.
1:47 pm est          Comments

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