Posts Tagged ‘listen’

celebrate friends and fans – 2011

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Fridays are for celebrating Stance Friends and Fans. I encourage you to visit their facebook page, website or place of business and tell Stance about your experience with their company, product or service.

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Fadó Irish Pub in Denver will host an event on Friday, March 11, for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation where nearly 300 people will have their heads shaved by stylists from Salon and Spa on the Boulevard. Those shaving their heads will be enthusiastically cheered on by crowds of friends, family, doctors, nurses, children and others who have been touched by cancer in hopes to further awareness.  

On March 17, 2000, three executives turned their industry’s St. Patrick’s Day party into a head-shaving event to benefit kids with cancer. Their 20 “shavee” recruits planned to raise $17,000, and instead, they raised over $104,000.

The movement quickly grew into the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research, and today the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization. Since 2000, more than 147,000 volunteers have shaved in solidarity with children with cancer and raised over $90 million for life-saving research, and each is a walking billboard for the cause.

A few of the kids being honored by the event: 

Preston has Stage 3A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with cancer in his neck, top left clavicle, liver and spleen. He was treated at The Children’s Hospital and is currently in remission. He is eight years old and a hero and warrior.

Bella was one year old when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She was treated at The Children’s Hospital and is currently in remission. Her treatment ends March 11, 2011. Now three years old she remains strong and is an inspiration to everyone.

Fadó Irish Pub will donate 20 percent of food sales during the event to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Get involved and either shave your head, volunteer, eat or donate, but give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers. Visit St. Baldrick’s Foundation website to learn how to be a shavee, support a team or donate in general.

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If you have participated or worked with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, please share it here. If not, visit them today. I look forward to hearing about it and sharing your experience with other Stance Friends and Fans.

why do you social media?

I have almost 800 friends on my persoanl Facebook page, over 300 fans on my business fanpage and close to 1500 followers on Twitter…not huge numbers, but respectable. Of those 2600 friends, fans and followers, 75 percent consists of retail, blogs, restaurants, services, entertainment, career connections and news sources.

Every day I read about what is for sale, what the economy is doing, how to run my business, what time happy hour is, what the special is tonight, why bedbugs are making a comeback, how to train my dog and the latest top 10 list about something.
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I comment. I engage. I ask questions. I like. I share. I tweet. I retweet. I post. I suggest. I repost…and over and over.
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Oh, and I also schedule updates to post later. I do this to make good use of my time and share information on a wide variety of topics that interest me and my friends and followers. I am proud to say that 99.4 percent of the time, I am available to ENGAGE with friends, fans and followers when the post goes live because that is the point of social media.

So why do I Social Media?

From a professional level (for my business and for my clients): to build relationships and to understand the root causes of customer sentiment and behavior in order to prioritize improvements that enhance each customer’s experience.

  1. Listen
  2. Know your customers
  3. Care about your customers
  4. Evolve with your customers

From a personal level: to create relationships, to support those I believe in, to stay connected with my past, to build my future and to find out what the special is tonight….because after all, food is high on my list of priorities.

Why do you Social Media?

third party doldrums

I spend a lot of time building relationships on the great internet via social media. I talk regularly with people I have never had the pleasure of meeting and have made some real friends along the way.

I also have regular cyber conversations with restaurants, hotels, out of state services and local business owners. Each group has created an identity for themselves or the establishment they represent. As a consumer and believer in the almighty word of mouth marketing (WOMM), it excites me to watch the relationships grow before my eyes.

Which is why, on a recent visit to a local restaurant and bar, I was saddened by the treatment (or non-treatment) from the staff. Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT looking for handouts or freebies, just the continued sharing and conversation that is done online.
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Before heading to happy hour with four other ladies, we all did our fair share of tweeting and facebooking about where we were going and at what time. We included the twitter handle of the establishment and even received a tweet back from them. They were happy we were coming in and excited to serve us (I bet they were also happy for the free WOMM). Also, I should mention, this was not my first time “chatting” with this business. I have been a supporter and so have the other ladies who include foodies, business owners and mega social media users.

The staff had no idea who we were. I do not expect the average restaurant to know who I am as I am not famous, but when five ladies have tweeted, facebooked and checked in on foursquare, it is assumed that an owner, manager, bartender, host or bartender will have some clue. Nothing. Enter the third party doldrums.

This particular establishment hires an agency to manage their social media which is NOT a problem at all for me. The problem is they do not have a system in place to inform the on-site staff of what to expect at any given time.

One large benefit of social media is building relationships with potential and current customers. People do business with people they like and spend money in places that make them feel good.

At this point the relationship has been broken and the experience was a let down. Even more alarming is that the employee, customer and company are not aligned so there is no way to provide the optimal customer experience.

Have you had the third party doldrums? If you are an establishment who hires out of house social media management, what systems do you have in place to avoid third party doldrums?

CEM Gone Wrong

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I recently had an interesting customer experience with my mortgage lender. Ok, I know the experience was with the individual in the call center, but that experience was designed by someone in the CEM department, or whatever they call it, and it was also a huge failure.

While making my June mortgage payment on line through my bank for my rental unit, I inexplicitly switched two numbers and sent the payment $90 short. A week later I received a notice that I was two months behind in payments. Knowing I sent the payment, I checked the status on my banking site…yep, there it was. Sent, cleared and $90 short.

Last week, before leaving town, I called my lender to double check the amount owed before hitting the send button. The amount totaled two months plus a late fee. I was confused as I was only $90 short plus the full amount for July. The representative said that no amount is applied when an amount less than the full amount is sent….something I did not know and an expectation they never set.

What was clearly a typo on my part (two numbers transposed) was considered non-payment by them. Interesting…and infuriating. I indicated I would send July’s mortgage plus the coverage and asked if she would waive the late fee. She said she did not have the power to do that and would need to transfer me.

Then she asked if I lived in the home.

ME: “NO, it is a rental.”  (I could visualize her reading her script….if no, go to question 89. If also a rental, go to question 122.)

HER: “Do you plan to keep it and continue making payments?”

I thought to myself, what? Of course. But I said “why do you ask”?

Stumped. There was no script directive for that answer. She had no idea why she was asking. All she knew was that the when dealing with late payments on rental units she should ask if the intention is to keep the mortgage or not. Ok, I get it. The company is trying to foresee any foreclosures or bankruptcies for obvious reasons: they too have been hit hard over the last two years.

This is CEM gone wrong. I was insulted they insinuated I may be attempting to “walk away” from my responsibilities. The goal was to get a feel for if a customer is going to “walk away” but the result was making a perfectly happy customer angry. That is not a customer-centric (sorry Shevlin) company. It is a company-centric organization interested in covering their assets at all costs.

They set the protocol to ask a question, but did not empower the employee to stray from the script and engage me in informational dialogue that would have streamlined the process. I should also mention, the next day, I received a phone call from the collections department trying to make good on two months of payments. I told the guy to read the notes in their fancy CRM system and hung up.

Aside from re-creating the entire process and empowering and trainging their employees, how could this have been handled better? For starters, they could have been truly customer focused, and instead of a letter and an insulting phone call, they could simply have called and said the following:

Ms. Gore, it appears you have transposed two numbers in your payment amount. Would you like to pay the shortage now, or simply apply it to your next payment?

Problem averted and customer, employee and company aligned.

PS some BPM work would not hurt either. 😉

Customer Experience is Not Tangible

Today I am posting my first official blog representing my new company,
Stance: Customer Experience Exemplified

FIRST LOOK
At Stance, our position is simple and strong: we help companies create positive experiences for their customers. From our standpoint, Customer Experience Management (CEM) is an ongoing journey (a leisurely road trip as opposed to a quick overnighter) during which we observe, address, and implement processes that place your organization, your employees, and your clientele on common ground.

For all intents and purposes, let’s start at the beginning: defining customer experience
and customer experience management.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The customer experience is not a tangible item. You can’t touch thoughts and feelings and you can’t bend an expectation or a perception. The customer experience is what happens when a customer buys a home or a phone, or orders a meal or gets a massage. The experience starts when the idea enters their mind and it really never ends. Every time a customer gets a massage or orders another meal, they think about the time before and how they wish this time would be different, better, cheaper, easier, faster, more emotional, tastier, friendlier or possibly the same. The experience belongs to the customer. 

It stands to reaason that your company’s brand promise IS the customer’s perception which is based on

  • Expectations
  • Experiences with you and competitors
  • Social interactions which affect the brand (thank you Eric Jacques, Customer Excellence)
  • Word of mouth

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT (CEM)
Two years ago I said:

“CEM is a customer-centric business strategy that ensures all employees are delivering the company values, mission and brand promise to create a favorable customer experience.”

In April 2010 I said:

“CEM is the ability to meet and exceed the expectations of those with the highest propensity to buy.”

Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst at Aite Group and author of Marketing Tea Party blog has a knack for consistently pushing me to bend my definition of CEM and go beyond empty industry jargon…..and I like it.

Yesterday, after reading his blog, I upgraded my definition again:

“CEM is improving business processes to include customer perspective to align the employees, the customer and the organization and increase business and reduce losses due to wasteful practices…. and do it better than the competition.”

It sounds so simple.

Processes – without processes companies crumble under pressure (something I forgot I knew and learned from Jennifer Gore – mentor, stepmother and friend) and fail to create optimal customer experiences.  

Customers – without knowing the customer, there is no chance of differentiating from other companies or creating remarkable, memorable and over the top experiences.

CEM is well-traveled by large corporations…but why should they have all the fun? Stance aims to introduce smaller companies to the benefits
of CEM (to be discussed in future blog posts): customer retention, customer referrals and higher profit margins.

Clearly CEM continues to evolve, at least for me. How have your ideals and definitions of CEM evolved over the years?

Thank you for supporting my first blog post. There are many more to come as well as inevitable changes including the new site design which is under way. I look forward to your comments.