A term that is used repeatedly by companies, yet I am not sure we fully understand what it means, how we can nurture an innovative culture or whether it is a good or bad thing.
I read a blog recently by Pat Lencioni entitled “Is innovation good or bad” and started thinking about this interesting term and how frequently it is used or requested without there being a clear understanding of what it means and why we are doing it.
There are several written definitions of innovation but the one that I feel is the most relevant is: “Innovation is creating value by implementing ideas”
If adding value is the measure, then who is the measurer? Is this a personal measurement? I ask these two questions because I feel in today’s world it is so easy for people to say “we are an innovative company” or “you are not an innovative company.” The same applies to personal beliefs.
So what are my thoughts on how to deal with this?
- Review your customer survey to ensure that the “innovation” section / questions are asked in the right way so that you can specifically understand what this means to the person responding. I believe that innovation is personal so this is crucial. Without this you will not know what to do more of, less of or where to spend your money.
- Look at the employee innovation feedback and the client feedback to see if there is a correlation.
- Define innovation in your organisation, sector and identify when innovative ideas occur and tell people about it, reward people for innovation.
- Implement a robust ‘idea to innovation’ process that aligns to your vision so that ideas become real commercial services or products that add value.
So what does the future look like in relation to innovation? I hope more clarity, better measurement and personalisation. To avoid thinking that innovation is about large investments but to focus on the smaller things that truly add value to your customers and employees.
Last year, we discussed Customer Experience Management and whether the development of its strategy should be owned by Marketing, HR or Customer Services. I came across a similar question the other day, while listening in on a presentation about social media customer service. Who should define your social media customer service strategy? Should it be the Marketing department who owns all the content linked to your brand or should it be the customer services department whose aim is to find and resolve customer concerns?
One very interesting point of view offered by the presenter was that customer service on social media is actually a part of an organisation’s PR strategy. It is as important as content and as critical as good customer relations. And just like Customer Experience Management, it should be owned by the entire company. One could argue that a representative from the marketing team could work alongside customer service representatives to define and execute search and rescue programmes for customers on social media. This is possible, of course, but is risky due to the evolving nature of the medium and the exponential exposure all social communication is subject to.
Experts would advise you to spend a significant amount of time planning your social media strategy across the board – figuring out the budget, the approach, the tone, resources and the tools you’d need. Another aspect to keep in mind is that social media strategy will have to be revised every few months, because it is a dynamic medium; the forums, tools and your social customers are constantly evolving.
It could be that only one department in your company cannot effectively own your social media customer service, and just like Customer Experience Management, the buy in and effort put into its execution should come from your company as a whole. Where does customer service through social media sit within your company? Is your current approach working or would you consider splitting its ownership across different departments? Let me know via comments. Thanks!
With the announcement by Lloyds Banking Group this week that they are about to ‘overhaul’ the handling of customer complaints came a small reminder for me from recent experiences of working with clients. A well-recognised brand which attempts to portray confidence, professionalism and customer focus isn’t always representative of what is happening on the inside.
In this age of consumer focus and customer-driven strategy (there are many more buzz words that I will avoid), you would be forgiven for thinking that such big organisations who employ thousands of people in customer marketing, customer service, customer relations and customer insight actually have the customer at the heart of the culture.
Not so, it would appear. And so Lloyds’ announcement that it was about time it had ‘one customer view’ is a big move, albeit a bit late. Now, maybe they can be cut some slack in that they have just joined three big brands in a very difficult market. But it would seem that, even within the individual brands, delivering a coordinated and choreographed service was slightly beyond their reach.
It’s not easy to change quickly, in fact for most businesses that just won’t happen. And a lot of the delays aren’t just about finances and technology, but in the heart of the business – it’s culture. If you drive and reward success on call targets, sales volumes and the odd half-hearted customer feedback round on the ‘front line’ then we shouldn’t be surprised that the whole business might just be run that way.
Some of the best businesses for customer engagement are those that have always had a culture for loyalty. Being the best for great customer experience is much more important than just being the best in a sector or industry. The energy sector demonstrates this point; it may be great to be the top of the big six for customer satisfaction, but if that top place only comes with around 68% satisfaction in an industry where 70% of customers said they were not fully satisfied but only 20% switched provider, it’s not much kudos.
- Run your customer service like a small business (especially if it is a small business). If each person/team/department looked after their customers as if they were their very own, as if that customer coming back for more relied on that one interaction and experience, satisfaction and loyalty will follow.
- Give your people the tools. A customer won’t care that you have seven different teams who deal with seven aspects of their account. If you want your customers to have a great experience, you need to let everyone see what that experience looks like. In addition, trust those who deliver for your customers to make the right decision. Give a policy to hide behind and an environment that doesn’t foster ‘do the right thing’ and don’t be surprised when your bland service doesn’t break any records.
- Use customer feedback. If you take time to find out what customers really want, and you act on those wants and drivers of satisfaction (not just cherry-pick the ones that suit you) then you will see the results.
- Reward and recognise outcomes, not outputs. Sometimes the smallest and simplest of reports show the greatest of results. If you want your customers to come back, to recommend you to others and to expand the services they need from you then recognise it won’t come from a hard focus on handling times and volumes alone.
Of course, there are many more ingredients to a great customer experience. I would love to hear your views on making your experience better. Who does it well and who deserves your loyalty?
In last week’s blog, I began to talk a little about multichannel customer communication and the positive impact certain forms can have on customer loyalty. In particular, I picked up on the fact that face to face communication, albeit not as common as it was ten years ago, has the ability to create a strong bond between customer and company.
This begs the question – if one such channel can influence the experience your customers have so much, should you dedicate your time and resources to this channel alone? Or should consistency across all channels of communication be maintained?
Let’s explore both sides of the argument.
A recent study of UK retailers revealed that 70% believed the in-store experience they provide for customers delivers the highest level of customer service, and is the most profitable of all their channels.
Results from a separate study highlight that more than half (54%) of retail banking customers prefer to communicate with their bank in branch, and that this channel scored the highest for customer satisfaction (marginally higher than online communication and significantly higher than telephone communication).
Do these results suggest that UK retailers and banks should spend more on the service they provide in branch rather than over the phone? Certainly this would vary from sector to sector; those in finance may consider the branch to be more influential, whereas energy firms may find telephone communication harnesses greater power over customer loyalty. But can they afford to spend the time and resources on determining which channel is best for them?
On the other side of the coin, a whopping 98% of the retailers surveyed above recognised that a multi channel approach is necessary to remain competitive in the market, and more than two thirds believed that inconsistent levels of service across multiple channels can damage customer loyalty.
Results here begin to demonstrate the potential power of the multichannel approach, and its influence on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Perhaps the retailers above could adopt the same approach to customer service for all channels as they do for their most profitable. But will this prove equally as expensive?
Whichever side of the argument you come down on, one question remains. Can a multichannel approach only prove beneficial if a consistent service is provided across the board? Let me know what you think below.
As advocates of better customer insight, Percepta shapes its services around delivering change and improvements for our clients based on high-quality customer and employee feedback combined with intelligent analytics.
Today we are pleased to announce that Percepta has created a partnership with Qualtrics, the industry-leading provider of online survey software, for our soon-to-launch survey and customer insight service. Qualtrics delivers to over 200 corporate clients in addition to many more academics and government organisations. This, along with their focus on delivering a great user experience for their clients customers, made this partnership ideal.
The team at Percepta have worked for over 12 months with Qualtrics to understand more about the technology and ensure the right fit for our clients, their customers, and employees. Aligning the vast Qualtrics global expertise in survey technology with Percepta’s experience of using customer insights to manage change is set to deliver an improved service for our clients and their customers.
Alan Bates, service development manager for Percepta, explains, “Finding a quality technology partner for our survey and customer insight service was critical. We have many years of experience in the analysis of multiple data streams, from voice of customer and voice of employee to sales, product, and process-related information. Having built this kind of intelligence for each of our clients, we needed software that can help us in the collection of that data and is flexible enough to work for a diverse range of businesses, sectors, and customers. This is the perfect combination of customer-focused improvement with world-class surveying software.”
A number of global brands are already experiencing the positive results of this new partnership ahead of the official service launch.
I have recently seen several discussion on LinkedIn, even started some myself that are asking “Where does CEM sit in an organisation” “How can HR and Marketing partner to deliver great customer experiences”. “Should HR associations (CIPD) and Marketing associations (CIM, IDM) be better aligned”
These are all great questions and you would think that they would be simple to answer, bearing in mind that CEM seems to be top of the agenda for most organisations. From what I have seen, just on the more popular social media sites, there is one thing for sure, people have strong views on this subject, but there is not always agreement on what the answers are.
Here are my thoughts
1. One lead, supported by the whole organisation
Because the role of “owning the customer relationship” has historically been the responsibility of sales and marketing, CEM has naturally been picked up by the marketing lead and I believe that its needs 1 person to take the helm, but it is important to recognise that CEM must be supported by all areas of the organisation; HR, Customer Service, Finance and also the external partners, suppliers, and distribution channels.
2. HR and Marketing have to be aligned
It is no good having strong brand messages if your employees do not deliver the brand experiences. An obvious thing to say and many people do say it. But in reality how many organisations make sure this happens? How do you ensure that that every individual who can influence the customer’s experience understands what they need to do on a daily basis? How do you ensure it happens: Training, reward and recognition, coaching? For me this is why it is so crucial that the HR and Marketing teams work together. It brings the internal and the external together to deliver great customer.
3. Change will always happen
Delivering CEM inevitably produces change. If marketers do not know how to manage change themselves or have not been trained to understand how to coach people through change, their goals will not be achieved.
4. CEM – is long term not short term
Traditionally organisations have followed the funnel based approach (Read the Forrester report “It’s time to Bury the Marketing Funnel”) to market their organisations. This short term view of the world put the focus of winning new customer on pre sales activity and the marketing and sales teams. This very short term view has to change if CEM is to work. In particular, Marketeers have to have a longer term view, gathering data over the whole lifecycle to make sure the customer received the experiences that they are expressing in their marketing messages.
… and if it doesn’t move? Measure it until it does!
Statistics are all around us and I got to thinking, how much do we depend on analysis and are there times where they are just not worth paying attention to?
Before I continue, and at risk of a contract being taken out on my head by an axe wielding numberjack, I do think that some of the data analytics that are performed by our own Business Intelligence department (who have the coolest department name in our company) not only add value to our service delivery but they also help our clients understand their business better than they ever have before thus giving them the ability to perform better than they have ever dreamt of. From my point of view this type of reporting and analysis is very valuable and I rely on good data to make relevant decisions in the workplace all the time.
In the workplace we can use statistics & analysis to help us understand specific trends, patterns, cycles, behaviours etc. Where statistics start to lose credibility for me is when they are presented with a specific bias in mind. I recall the itv news at ten showing, with the same snappy graphics as they use for their ‘Happiness Index’, the shift in voter faith in the coalition government and other related questions. The part that struck me wasn’t the message that they were driving home; it was the percentage of people who had answered “I don’t know”. On some questions this category made up almost half of the responses but clearly it didn’t hit home a hard message that indifference rules, instead they opted to focus on something that would either create a skewed positive or negative message to make it news worthy.
In the recent Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election each political party relied heavily on trends and past statistics to get their excuses in early. On the lead up to the election each party had already peddled their statistic driven reasons for potential failure either by referring to tactical voting or previous outcomes where the sitting party ‘never wins’.
This also happens in televised sport, in the pre-match build up a barrage of statistics will be shown of past form in previous encounters. Often these mean nothing but at best it gives the pundit something other than idle banter (or sexist comments allegedly from Andy Gray & Richard Keys) in the low points of the game.
I have already had a pop at the media in another blog posting so, in an attempt to provide other examples, I will move to advertising. If you haven’t done so already, the next time you see an advert for a new shampoo or cosmetics line coming on the television or in a magazine or newspaper, take a look at the small print which will tell you the actual percentage of the people that agreed with the fact that the shampoo is the best around. More importantly it will also refer to the sample size. In some cases I would be better asking my extended family for their opinions…at least I could trust them to tell me the truth and I would have more respondents. Granted, a positive response from the general public to a survey can offer backup to the claims being made but when the advert on the TV for shampoo sees the model with hair extensions, really how much faith do they have in their product?
As we move more and more towards social media as a driving force for public opinion I often wonder whether the rating that something has received has been a push-up by the creator/owner/business and often I am left still making up my own mind…
I would really like to hear your opinions on this topic. Do you trust and rely on statistics in your professional and personal life in the same way? Or do you think that a statistician is just a person who draws a mathematically precise line from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion?
Answers on a correlation diagram please.
At a time when the banking sector could do without the least bit of bad press, I can imagine the last thing on any of their minds would be having to pay out fines worth millions for poor service and advice to customers.
Following all the recent media coverage related to banker bonuses and the government trying to lean on them to forego them another year, this kind of news can be nothing but bad for the customer (us) that whilst the bankers want to take millions home with them – their customers aren’t even receiving the right level of service in a number of key areas (complaint handling and product advice).
In the past week the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have fined Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland £7.7m and £2.8m respectively.
So, how can such large organisations get things so wrong? Have they become so large that they’ve lost sight of their customer’s needs? Or is it simply a case of poor training and ongoing development of customer facing staff?
From reading what I have in the press and from my knowledge of working for an organisation where customer service is king – I unfortunately believe it to be the latter.
A thorough induction programme, including all elements of training on products, systems, communication skills and process combined with an ongoing, accurately measured and tracked personal development plan is a crucial element for all employees. This is especially the case for customer facing roles as it is the people in these who represent the organisation and its brand.
The FSA has realised this with RBS as one of their enforcements with that case is the employment of an external expert to review all it’s complaint handling processes.
I’m no expert in the banking sector or the particulars of each case I’ve mentioned, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject so please feel free to comment.