By clicking on a category heading you will see a brief introduction to each article. To print articles please use the link in the top right hand corner. For emailing an article to another person a link has been provided in the bottom right hand corner.

I hope you will enjoy this selection of what I consider poignant articles. Since I plan to add more as I come across them I suggest you come back at times to see what's new.

If you would like to discuss any customer-focus issues related to these articles or your organization contact me for a Free, No-obligation Phone Consultation.

CUSTOMER FOCUSING

The Ca$e for Customer Focusing
The Ca$e for Customer Satisfaction
The Ca$e for Customer Management
11 Commandments for Customer Centered Change
The Seven Habits of Successful Customer-Focused Companies
Seven Barriers to Becoming Customer-Focused
Ten Questions To Ask About Your Customer-Focus Improvement Process
What Happened to Your Customer-Focus?
Does Every Company Need a Customer Strategy?
Developing Measures For Customer Centered Goals
 
Voice of the Customer (VOC)
To Hear the Voice of the Customer, Listen Outside the Box
The Voice of the Customer Is a Critical Feedback Loop

CUSTOMER SERVICE & EXPERIENCE

Would You Do Business With You?
Roadmaps for Delivering Winning Service
Service Encounters Of The Third Kind
The Ten Demandments
Ten Commandments of Legendary Service
Seven Philosophies for Building Great Brand Experiences
Seven Steps to Creating Customer Experiences that Delight
Eight Traits of a Healthy Organizational Culture
(fostering a sharp customer focus)
Unwritten Ground Rules– Cultural Barriers to a Positive Customer Experience
Accepting the Awesome Customer Experience Challenge
Customer Experience Management (CEM)
Just What Is Customer Experience Management, Anyway?
The Three "Ds" of Customer Experience
Thinking Clearly About Customers
The Customer Journey of Experience
How To Create Customer Evangelists
How to use exceptional service to create an Addictive Customer Experience
The Business of Being Irresistible
Raising the Profile of Customer Service:
The Dual Roles of Service Recovery & Customer Feedback
Satisfaction: Guaranteed?
Customer Disservice
   
Customer Complaints and Service Recovery
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning
Complaint Handling is Easy - Just Make it Memorable
Customer Complaints Can Be Great or Bad for Business
Your Fast Guide to Dealing with Complaints
Your Fast Guide to Service Recovery
   
Internal Customer Service
Turning Customer Service Inside Out!

CUSTOMER LOYALTY & CRM

Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Profit - Understanding the Links
Customer Retention is not Enough
Six Principles of Loyalty
Twelve Laws of Loyalty
Eight Insights Into Butterfly Customers
Five Ways to Turn CRM into Customer Loyalty
Seven Golden Rules for Successful CRM
CRM - Buy-in from the Top is Still Lacking
Loyal Customers Help Improve Price-to-Earnings Ratio
How To Dump Your Customers – When Saying 'No' Can Help Your Business

PEOPLE

People First
Nine Ways to Engage Staff and Please the Customer
Employee Loyalty: Why People Stay
The Secrets to Finding and Keeping the Best Employees
Seven Ways to Find and Keep Good Employees
Ten Things People Want Most in Their Jobs
Seven Reasons Service People Fail

 

CUSTOMER FOCUSING

The Ca$e for Customer Focusing

Over the past three years, four-fifths of America’s fastest growing companies have initiated important new programs aimed at customer expansion, customer retention, and/or customer profitability. And, as if this significant involvement were not enough, a majority is planning to either greatly enhance an existing customer initiative, or launch a new one over the next 12 months. There is an important payoff to this reaffirmation: those planning new customer-focused programs have achieved 46 percent faster revenue growth than their peers over the past five years, and are projecting 35 percent higher growth over the next 12 months. These are highlights of the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers "Trendsetter Barometer," released recently.
read more >>

The Ca$e for Customer Satisfaction

•Price-to-Earnings Ratio is Higher
•Market Value is Higher
•Profitability Increases
•Dissatisfaction Siphons $$

Analysis of the PIMS data base concludes that businesses rated high by their customers for service grow faster and are more profitable than businesses rated low.
read more >>

The Ca$e for Customer Management

Do companies which manage customers well actually achieve better business performance than those which do not?
read more >>

11 Commandments for Customer Centered Change

In keeping with the biblical theme of the 10 Commandments, I have listed below the key “thou should do…” activities that empirically have the highest leverage in terms of delivering a customer based strategy. There are 11 - you have received one bonus commandment.  You will note they are equally internally and externally focused. 
read more >>

The Seven Habits of Successful Customer-Focused Companies

What makes a successful customer-based initiative tick? When a company launches a successful customer-focused initiative, it's likely to be characterized by the following traits:
read more >>

Seven Barriers To Becoming Customer-Focused

Successful companies today are the ones that revolve their business around their customers. They focus on adding value by designing processes such as technology, training and employee compensation systems to support a strategy of customer-centricity that penetrates all areas of the organisation, resulting in a concerted effort towards providing superior value. There are seven typical barriers to stop this happening.
read more >>

Ten Questions To Ask About Your Customer-Focus Improvement Process

read more >>

What Happened to Your Customer-Focus?

I have often observed the following organizational manifestations of a lack of focus on customers. If you observe any or several of these in your organization, I would suggest that your customer-focus is lacking or slipping.
read more >>

Does Every Company Need a Customer Strategy?

It's rare that any one firm can be all things to all customers. Not every enterprise considers a customer focus part of its core competency, but that doesn't mean that such enterprises can't benefit from a customer strategy. The fact is, every customer
wants three things from the companies she does business with: a great product, good value for the price and good service. That's why every company needs a proper balance of the three core competencies defined by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in their landmark work, "The Discipline of Market Leaders”: Operational Excellence, Product Innovation and Customer Intimacy. Whichever discipline gets the larger focus sets the core competency for the firm. But they all require a customer strategy fundamentally designed to grow the value of the customer base.
read more >>

Developing Measures For Customer Centered Goals

Customers are the heart of your business.  A customer centric goal orients the efforts of your company around the buying desires of a specific segment or market.  In order to operate your business in a customer centric manner, you must understand the measures of success for your business.Here are several tips to develop your own measures:
read more >>

 

Customer Complaints and Service Recovery

To Hear the Voice of the Customer, Listen Outside the Box

A Voice of the Customer (VOC) initiative should give voice to things that the firm would not normally hear. It should allow a firm to hear, straight from its customers, insightful things that do not surface through conventional marketing research.
read more >>

The Voice of the Customer Is a Critical Feedback Loop

If you want to manage your customer relationships, you need to understand their perspective. Voice of the Customer (VOC) research provides a structured means of doing so that can be used wherever you have significant contact with your customers. If you are interested in fostering customer loyalty, VOC can provide a critical feedback loop at almost every touch-point that you have with your customers. As such, VOC encompasses a host of different research techniques that center on one primary question: What do our customers need?  Determining what customers need is no simple task. Here are five critical guidelines for the "big picture" that will help ensure the success of your VOC program, regardless of where you apply it.
read more >>

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CUSTOMER SERVICE & EXPERIENCE

Would You Do Business With You?

If more company presidents and their senior managers asked themselves this question, taking the view of their customers, many would answer "probably not." The reason? Customer service.
read more >>
or download pdf file

Roadmaps for Delivering Winning Service

Problem solving, cross selling and quality assurance are identified by a new research study as the top three skills customer service representatives must have in order to build customer loyalty, increase sales and lower customer acquisition costs. Additionally, the report shows that providing customer service has become increasingly complex over the last decade, and identifies the biggest challenges faced by service providers and their managers.
read more >>

Service Encounters Of The Third Kind

What makes a company successful over the long, long term? What characterizes the service relationship between companies and customers who do business together for decades, even centuries?How can your company stay close to your customers even as times change, technologies change and expectations keep steadily rising?What can you do to ensure that your company's future offers are relevant and valuable in the market?One step you can take is to explore your customers' future needs and interests through cultivating "Service Encounters of The Third Kind".
read more >>

The Ten Demandments

Ten Demandments for turning the most demanding consumers into the most delighted customers. Beyond all the hype about delighting customers by meeting and exceeding their expectations, is the simple reality that most businesses just don't come close to knowing what customers care about. Today's consumers expect more and tolerate less, in part because they have so many options. With the ever-expanding explosion of information readily available and easily accessible via the Internet, modern consumers are able to research and comparison shop an endless array of both products and services from the comfort of their own homes or offices. Welcome to the age of the demanding consumer.
read more >>

Ten Commandments of Legendary Service

Creating a product or service that is unique in the eyes of the customer is becoming increasingly difficult in today's competitive environment. Therefore, more companies are relying on service to achieve competitive advantages. Outstanding service companies share some basic similarities, but they also customize systems, structures, management styles and employment practices so suit their strategic goals.
These 10 fundamentals will help create a culture of continuous service improvement. Companies must define success for everyone in the organization as continually improving everything -everyday. Nothing less will do.
read more >>

Seven Philosophies for Building Great Brand Experiences

What Customer Experience is your company delivering? These Seven Philosophies explain how you can use the Customer Experience as a competitive weapon and critically how you can simultaneously improve your Customer Experience and save costs.
read more >>

Seven Steps to Creating Customer Experiences that Delight

Customers are an organisation's biggest asset. There's much written and spoken about customer care, customer service, even customer 'delight', but what does it all mean? How does it relate to your business, your people, and most importantly, to your customers.
Here are a few tips to help you look at your own business, and identify some steps to improve the service experience you create for your customers and delight them.
read more >>

Eight Traits of a Healthy Organizational Culture
(fostering a sharp customer focus)

Any good organization must have an inspiring, shared mission at its core--and it must have capable leadership in place and in development. Assuming these two factors are present, the following eight traits define a healthy corporate or organizational culture.
read more >>

Unwritten Ground Rules– Cultural Barriers to a Positive Customer Experience

'UGRs exist in all workplaces, although staff do not always talk about them.                    
They create a culture that governs everything employees and managers do'.
Why do so many so-called ‘customer centric’ strategies fail to make an impact?             
Why are work cultures so intransigent?
read more >>

Accepting the Awesome Customer Experience Challenge

The Awesome Customer Challenge is to stop merely satisfying your customers and build a consistent and repeatable process to start delighting them. Delighting customers will fulfill the dream of creating a new customer or experience economy in which customer loyalty, deepened customer relationships, stronger brand, and solid differentiation can be achieved. Anything less will fall victim to your own competition.

The only way to meet the Awesome Customer Challenge and create loyal customers is by becoming an experience-based organization. This means that your organization must start with the belief that the customer is its most valuable asset, customer loyalty is important and the organization will do everything in its power to encourage its customers to take an active part in their own experiences. Experience-based organizations let their customers tell them what is relevant, what is valuable, and what they most want in their customer experiences.
read more >>

Customer Experience Management (CEM)

CEM provides the means to retain valued and long-standing customers. It takes a forward-looking view of what customers expect of their suppliers. CEM directly captures the voice of the customer, so that all parts of the organization work towards the common goal of meeting the customer's needs and protecting against customer defection.
download the pdf file of this article

Just What Is Customer Experience Management, Anyway?

While there's a clear reason to become a staunch supporter of CEM, there's a great deal of confusion over what it really is. As more individuals get on board the CEM bandwagon and build services, confusion seems to be increasing. It's time to demystify the hype. When we look at the nature of Customer Experience Management, there are essentially five key areas that CEM practitioners or "Experience Architects" examine.
read more >>

The Three "Ds" of Customer Experience

Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree, says Bain & Company. Here's how to repair the disconnect.
read more >>

Thinking Clearly About Customers

Which customers should you target? If you say "the most profitable ones," you're only half right. It's also important to attract buyers who will act as your company's growth advocates, encouraging others to buy from you. By assessing customer profitability and customer advocacy, you can tailor your strategies—and your investments—by segment.
read more >>

The Customer Journey of Experience

What we put our customers through if they wish to do business with us’.
read more >>

How To Create Customer Evangelists

How to get customers to tell a lot of people about their experience with you; to act as customer evangelists?The obvious lesson is the importance of creating a distinct experience. People want to ‘do’ things rather than just ’buy’ things. They’re highly conscious of consumerism and don’t want to just consume and then die. They measure their life in experiences.
read more >>

How to use exceptional service to create an Addictive Customer Experience

There’s a lot of hype around at present regarding Customer Relationship Management (CRM). And if you were to believe much of it you could easily think that CRM is something new. But it obviously isn’t. People have been attempting to do their version of CRM for as long as there have been suppliers and customers.
read more >>

The Business Of Being Irresistible

Has your organisation what it takes to stand out from the crowd, that little bit of magic that attracts and keeps customers? Attracting and keeping customers is at the heart of business survival. This isn’t news. Or at least it shouldn’t be – yet so many companies ignore this fundamental truth. They treat customers as if they weren’t important. Despite all the customer focus of the last twenty years, despite the clear message that excellent customer service is a superb differentiator – and differentiation brings competitive advantage – survey after survey has shown decreases in customer satisfaction.
read more >>

Raising the Profile of Customer Service:
The Dual Roles of Service Recovery & Customer Feedback

For years it has been known that customer retention was a cheaper option to acquisition. Early research suggested it cost ten times more to acquire a new customer but today it ranges from two to 20 times depending on the industry. It therefore makes sound economic sense to raise the profile of Customer Service and to use these guidelines to position and resource the dual roles of service recovery and customer feedback as positive contributors to future organisational performance.
read more >>

Satisfaction: Guaranteed?

"Satisfaction guaranteed" has been a mantra of many companies' march toward "customer-centricity." And as more and more companies have adopted the principles of CRM, they have made significant investments in measuring and monitoring their traditional gauge of customer performance: customer satisfaction. But despite these investments, many companies will find that they provide little real understanding of their customers, no insight into why these customers stay or defect, no better understanding of how their business is truly performing, and little direction for impacting growth or profits. Why is that?
read more >>

Customer Disservice

Almost as quickly as CRM rose to the top of corporate agendas it has come under fire – too much pain for too little gain, critics scoff. Even if that was true, there is no turning back now.
read more >>

 

Customer Complaints and Service Recovery

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning

A customer who complains to you should be valued – many of your dissatisfied customers will take their business elsewhere and not even give you an opportunity to respond. Bill Gates has stated that: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

“I really care for you and I want us to stay together.
Do you really want end this relationship?”
“Why don’t you speak to me?”
“Why do you find it so hard to say sorry?”
“Why can’t you acknowledge my hurt?”
“Why don’t you care?”
Comments from a marriage counseling session?
read more >>

Complaint Handling is Easy – Just Make it Memorable

Despite the headline, complaints management is serious business. Organizations spend huge budgets on compensation, without really learning why their customers have cause to complain, or, more importantly, how their frontline teams are best equipped for this most influential of loyalty effecting contacts. Back in 1999 the legendary US business guru Fred Reichheld exclaimed "It is not how satisfied you keep your customers, it's how many satisfied customers you keep."
read more >>

Customer Complaints Can Be Great or Bad for Business

The quest for 100% customer satisfaction is like the quest for most forms of perfection - a little unrealistic. Problems often happen because the environment in which your business operates changes with the changing wants and needs of customers, market regulation and so on.

Any business should put processes in place to identify customer satisfaction, put problems right, deliver quality services and products and build better business relationships. The best will invest in effective complaint handling processes recognizing the return in terms of fully understanding the needs of customers, increased customer loyalty and retention, positive word of mouth advertising and free notification of potential service problems, product failures or non-compliance with regulations and legislation read more >>

Your Fast Guide to Dealing with Complaints

Most organisations spend a lot of time and money trying to identify customers who want to buy their products. Here, Roger Cartwright explains that complaining customers are offering themselves up free!

Many people become defensive when dealing with complaints because this is a person’s natural reaction to someone who is angrily criticising their organisation or department in the case of an internal customer complaint. Organisations seek to instil loyalty into their employees but complaint situations are times when employees need to be honest and objective. Within the bounds of commercial confidentiality it is counterproductive to not be honest with the customer.
read more >>

Your Fast Guide to Service Recovery

Service recovery is a foreign concept to many businesses. They don’t understand it, so they don’t practice it. As a result, they are struggling to survive. Simply put, service recovery is putting a smile on a customer’s face after you’ve made a mistake. It’s solving a customer’s problem or complaint and sending him out the door feeling as if he’s just done business with the greatest company on earth. It is bringing a customer back from the brink of defection—and doing so in 60 seconds or less.
read more >>

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Internal Customer Service

Turning Customer Service Inside Out!

How Poor Internal Customer Service Negatively Impacts External Customers.
While companies focus thousands of dollars on external customer service in hopes of wooing and retaining customers, little attention is being paid to the effect poor internal customer service has on customer satisfaction. It all starts within your organization! Sooner or later the ripple effect reaches your customers. To really walk your service talk, make sure your commitment to internal customer service matches your company's external focus on customer care.
read more >>

 

 

CUSTOMER LOYALTY & CRM

Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Profit - Understanding the Links

As a thought for those that are still unconvinced about the concrete benefits of making your customers satisfied and loyal consider this: markets are becoming more and more competitive, and consumers are getting more demanding. If you’re experiencing high customer turnover, but your competitors are locking in customers by targeting loyalty, you’re soon going to run out of prospects to pour in at the top of the bucket.
read more >>

Customer Retention Is Not Enough

Defecting customers are far less of a problem than customers who change their buying patterns. New ways of understanding these changes can unlock the power of loyalty. read more >>
or download pdf file

Six Principles of Loyalty

“Loyalty, what loyalty? Don’t expect loyalty from customers or employees. They will give you commitment, but not loyalty. Loyalty is unthinking. If you want loyalty, get a dog.” Fashionable thinking has swung against loyalty in recent years, suggesting it is dead. All those loyalty programmes and CRM systems haven’t helped, as they give the impression you can buy loyalty instead of engraining retention in the way you do business. But, when Fred Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect and Loyalty Rules, was asked if customer loyalty is dead he, not surprisingly, he riled a little.
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Twelve Laws of Loyalty

1. Build staff loyalty.
It’s a fact: Firms with high levels of customer loyalty have also earned high levels of staff loyalty. It’s darn near impossible to build strong customer loyalty with a staff that is in constant turnover. Why? Because customers buy relationships and familiarity. They want to buy from people who know them and their preferences. Key rule of loyalty: Serve your employees first so they, in turn, can serve your customer.
2. Practice the 80/20 Rule.
In building customer loyalty, the 80/20 Rule is alive and well.
read more >>

Eight Insights Into Butterfly Customers

Eight insights into Butterfly Customers to help you re-focus on the whole loyalty issue.
read more >>

Five Ways to Turn CRM into Customer Loyalty

These five tips are a start to getting your company on the road to recovery from any CRM hangover that you may be experiencing. The key to better customer retention and stronger customer relationships is to create a constant focus on building a loyalty marketing discipline in your organization, and then projecting that focus outward to your customers.
read more >>

Seven Golden Rules for Successful CRM

Heard the word on the street? 75 percent of CRM projects fail within their first year, resulting in lost productivity and wasted corporate investments in software, services and time. The greatest irony of this statistic is that most projects fail because the cornerstone of CRM - relationships - is overlooked. Today's economic climate only intensifies the need for proven solutions that actually improve the relationship between employees and customers.
What follows are the seven "golden rules" that CRM projects should follow to guarantee successful delivery.
read more >>

CRM - Buy-in from the Top is Still Lacking

"I do believe that CRM, as a business strategy, is the true path to success for enterprises. But as often as I and many others emphasize that CRM must be understood and adopted in the boardroom first, I don't see it happening enough."

Business strategy is established in the boardroom. The success of Six-Sigma as a core dimension of GE strategy was led by Jack Welch. TQM at Motorola started at the top. And Herb Kelleher drives the relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction at Southwest Airlines
read more >>

Loyal Customers Help Improve Price-to-Earnings Ratio

Focusing on customer relationships is an investment you can take to the bank, according to Satmetrix Systems, which develops systems for monitoring and improving the customer experience in real time. Based on the survey's 27,000 respondents, the Mountain View, CA-based firm discovered that companies with loyal customers have a price-to-earnings ratio that's 9 percent higher than your average product-centric company. Of the 746 companies that panellists said they'd used most frequently within the past year combined, those that ranked highest in terms of customer loyalty and best practices (for instance, making customer satisfaction part of employee performance reviews and compensation) had $930 million more in additional market valuation than competitors in their same vertical segments. Why? "The bottom line is, these organizations really center around customer-thinking," says Laura Brooks, chief methodologist. "This paves the way for customer loyalty, and business success."

How To Dump Your Customers – When Saying 'No' Can Help Your Business

Successful companies choose the customers that they want to work with, others supply anyone who will let them - they are busy, but not always busy making money.

Too many sales people find it impossible to say ‘no’, and end up taking on work that is non-profitable, proves difficult or impossible to deliver, is time consuming, and causes hassle to everyone in the business, as well as the customer. Add to this, the fact due to limited resources, this non-profitable stuff actually stops them looking for and working on the profitable work, it’s easy to see how many business managers find they are being ‘busy fools’.

So, what can be done? read more >>

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PEOPLE

People First

Creating a powerful customer experience requires the full and continual commitment of the people responsible for making it happen. People make the difference. If you concentrate on creating a great environment for your employees, they will focus on creating a great experience for your customers.
read more >>

Nine Ways to Engage Staff and Please the Customer

Mounting evidence suggests that the more engaged employees are in what they do, the better their performance and the higher the rewards will be for customers, employees, and the whole organization. The key is to have managers who are skilled at creating employee engagement, and who understand that to provide the best service for your customers the employees must believe that what they're doing is important, feel appreciated, and do their daily work with passion and purpose.
read more >>

Employee Loyalty: Why People Stay...

Over 3,000 people from diverse roles and industries reflect upon a time when they stayed with one organization for a while – and then write down the top reasons why.
read more >>

The Secrets to Finding and Keeping the Best Employees

"You can tell a lot about a company by the people it keeps."

It's true: The best companies keep their talent in-house. What's less apparent is how they manage to keep their people.

Retention is about more than throwing the most money at talent. It's about creating a climate and culture that honours talent and temperament. It's also about building allegiance to the company over time through developing mutual trust.

So how is it done? It's done in ways both big and small. Here's a quick overview of the primary components of employee retention.
read more>>

Seven Ways to Find and Keep Good Employees

1. Develop a ‘talent mindset’
2. Create extreme Employee Value Propositions (EVPs)
3. Build a high-performance culture
4. Recruit talent continuously
5. Develop people to their full potential
6. Be ruthless with non-talent
7. Re-recruit your top performers
read more>>

Ten Things People Want Most in Their Jobs

With the free market determining the labor costs (salaries) in most products and services, the most important value-added component a company can offer its people increasingly will be job satisfaction. Extensive research has been done on what's important to us in our jobs. The conclusions of most studies are that the following ten points are the main components of job satisfaction.
read more>>

Seven Reasons Service People Fail

Put away that blame culture. Unless your hiring practises are seriously flawed, your people are not usually to blame when something goes wrong. Here are seven reasons people at the front line fail to perform.
read more>>

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