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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Five Steps to an Optimized Customer Experience—and a Stronger Brand

This title is from an article in Multichannel Merchant by Scott Glatstein. It’s a well written piece and the link behind Scott’s name will take you to the full text of the article at Multichannel Merchant.

His five steps are:

  • Identify your reasons to believe.
  • Identify customer touchpoints.
  • Determine the most influential touchpoints.
  • Design the optimal experience.
  • Align the organization to consistently deliver the optimal experience.

You should read the complete article to appreciate Scott’s perspective. My focus is just on the last point.

All the efforts to “design” the right customer service experience fails if your people don’t deliver it to your customers. That’s why is must emanate from the top. And persistently so. If anyone doubts the importance of good customer service to the CEO, then your chances of actually delivering it to your customers declines.

Good customer service must be a pre-occupation of everyone in the company — manufacturing, purchasing, marketing, operations, customer service personnel — whether the staff in on your payroll or outsourced. Everyone needs to get the same message about customer service.

If the CEO asks the order picking staff what the definition of good customer service is, will they know the right answer? It needs to be on everyone’s mind, all of the time.

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Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

What Was the Biggest Multichannel Challenge in 2006?

Now I confess, I copied the title of this post from an article at the Catalog Success web site, with the same title. Click on the magazine title to see the entire article. Here’s the opening sentence of the article:

Customer acquisition and retention topped the list of business challenges
in 2006, according to multichannel retailers cited in an Escalate Retail report
released at last week’s eTail conference in Palm Desert, Calif.

I really don’t want to sound disrespectful, but — it’s about time.

Ultimately, every measurement we make of our marketing, customer service or operational efforts boil down into customer acquisition and retention. Add Customer Life-Time-Value and you’ve pretty much got the whole picture.

One of the effects of ubiquitous technology is the ability to measure anything and everything. But just because we can measure it, does not mean it is useful to actually measure it.

Be sure the things you measure will actually improve Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention or increase Customer Life-Time-Value. If a measure doesn’t help one of these three measures, then consider ignoring it.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

Is Customer Service Just an Expense Line Item?

Too many businesses treat their customers as if the answer to this question is “yes.” They reluctantly provide customer service, but only because they’re convinced they must. As a result, while they do try to provide good quality service, they simultaneously try to drive the overall cost of customer service as low as they can.

Others go out of their way to provide superior customer service. Some — and unfortunately, too many — end up spending money on operational efforts that make no appreciatable difference to customers. For example, some merchants insist that web or catalog orders be shipped the same day they come in. To the managers in the warehouse, this creates a very expensive labor burden, because they typically have to over staff in order to meet the service level. Then, to rub salt in the wound, the order is shipped via the lowest cost method, which means the customer will never notice how quickly their order was picked, packed and shipped.

But the real oversight is not following the logic of good customer service to it’s proper conclusion.

Most companies which provide good customer service do so in the hope that such good service will result in greater customer Life Time Value. That is, the customer will buy more over the long term.

Fair enough. That’s a good plan.

But why not go for it right now!

That is, ask for another order right after you provide the good customer service. Take care of the customer’s problem and then try to make another sale.

Too many customer service contact centers are failing to recruit and train their staff with sales in mind. So, while the customer service is great — the lost sales opportunities just continue to mount.

Customer service should not be just an expense line — it should be a revenue generator — all the time.

I was prompted to write this comment because of some dealings with one billion dollar company who recovers 30 percent of their customer service expense thru increased sales on those very same calls. However, another company — this one a client of mine — generates four times their customer service cost in additional sales at the end of customer service calls.

Which report would you rather give your boss?

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

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