Category Archives for "Customer Engagement"

5 Ways to Improve Performance

Every business leader and executive I speak with talks about performance.   Financial performance, people performance, marketing performance, sales performance, operational performance and so on.

Great performance requires people to be onboard, engaged, aligned and passionate about the vision, purpose, passion, goals, personality and promise of the business – and this is one of the biggest challenges within an organization.

MagicianPerformances, on the other hand, are delivered by employees, managers and leaders.  They are also delivered by customers, vendors, supporters, investors, partners and franchisees.

In other words, all people play a role in the success of a business.

The Theater references don’t end here…

Every business has a stage which is set by its marketing team and reinforced by employees and customers.  When employees see themselves as performers and their actions as performances, it’s easier to see how great behaviors and decisions make an impact.  (It’s also more fun!)

Great Experience

Leaders and managers are also challenged to improve the performance experience to add more value to customers, to differentiate their business from competitors, to improve relationships and to increase profits – while striving to deliver consistent performances regardless of who is on stage at any given moment.

 

 

Performance matters, regardless of how you define it.

5 Ways to Improve Your Performance

  1. Ensure you have a strong vision, purpose, passion, personality, platform and core values which are easy to share.  Then share it!  All employees need to know where you are headed.  All employees and customers need to know what you stand for and how you are different.  They will then choose whether to support your business or not.
  2. Review your policies, procedures and decision making criteria to ensure these are in alignment with #1.  If one of your core values is “sense of family” and yet you have departments or silos which compete with each other or don’t speak to each other, then your sense of family is dysfunctional!   If you say that you are customer-centric are you making decisions which support what your customers’ value and are willing to pay for?  If you are all about efficiency, how are you continuously improving it?
  3. Immerse yourself in your performance.  In this definition of performance, you are looking at the roles your people play; how customers and employees act; which “sets” on your “stage” need to be updated and how you can improve the experience delivered to employees and customers.  Think of your business in the theatrical sense to give yourself a different perspective.   Find out what it’s like outside your office.  Get immersed in the experience and ask how it can be better.
  4. Take action.  You’ve identified gaps in performance — both in the traditional business sense and through the eyes of the performers.  Review #1 and #2 and come up with a plan to close the gaps.  Every business will approach the action taking in a different way — just be sure to stay in alignment.
  5. Get help.   You can’t optimize your performance alone.  Involve your employees, customers, supporters, partners, investors and vendors.  Ask for insight.   Remember that your perspective isn’t going to be the same perspective that others have.  Let their input help to guide you.  If you are out of your element or you cannot take on more work, hire someone to manage the project or various parts of the project.

Performance is a one of those great words which means different things to different people.  Remember, your business is similar to theater.  You create the stage, you choose the performers, you deliver performances and your people act in certain ways.  Each of these elements impacts your business performance.  Improve the theater and improve your business.

How do you define performance?  How do you improve it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Customer Experience Boston Pizza Style

2015-01-15 13.37.17Today I had lunch at the Boston Pizza in Drumheller, Alberta.   If you’ve read my blast about the Boston Pizza in Courtenay, British Columbia in August, you know how unhappy I was with the customer experience there.

As I walked to the front door I saw this sign and I groaned.  “Really?”  I thought, “… we’ll see”.

Obviously this reaction indicates that I am a customer experience specialist who is a bit jaded — particularly when it comes to campaigns created at the corporate level.  The reason is that so many corporate leaders have no idea what is going on in the field.  They create policies, processes, strategies and profit-enhancing decisions without understanding how it impacts the customer experience and the employees who deliver it.  After all, every decision made from the Board Room, to the front-line, to the back-room and everywhere in between either positively or negatively impacts the customer experience.

From the moment I walked through the door I realized how wrong I was — this time 🙂

A woman greeted us with a great big smile   — not one of those forced smiles that those in service jobs often display.  When I joined my husband after a quick pitstop, this woman — our server — was waiting at our table with a great big hospitable smile.  A short while later she came back to ask what we’d like to drink and to explain the specials with gusto.  Today’s soup was chicken gumbo — I never remember what the specials are after I’ve left a restaurant — but I did today!

When she brought my tea and our water she realized she’d forgotten my husband’s coffee.  However, she made a little joke about keeping me happy and went to get his coffee.  We placed our orders and then she popped back and asked if my salad was a lunch size, which it was.  She agreed it was a good choice because the salads are huge.

Throughout our dining experience the hospitality that our server exuded was exceptional.  She seemed genuinely happy to serve us.  Sh2015-01-15 13.35.49e genuinely took care of us.  Her smiles were genuine.

I, of course, was watching her like a hawk.  I wondered if she would be like this with others too — or did she just take a liking to us?  Well, I was happy to see that the next guests were treated like family too.  She was helpful and patient as they decided what to order.  She made recommendations after asking what they liked and what they didn’t.  She also started a conversation with them, asking if they were visiting, where they were visiting from and what they were going to see while there.  In other words — she is the poster child for what hospitality is.

I decided to ask her if I could take her photo and I explained that I was going to write a blog post about our experience.  I told her about the experience in Courtenay and I told her I wanted to share what great service was all about.   She asked me where this was going to be, so I gave her my URL.   I joked about my makeshift purse and she joked right back with me.  I felt like we’d have become great friends if I lived in Drumheller!

As we were leaving, I took the photo of the poster above and just as we were about to get in the car, she came out of the restaurant and asked us if I could share my post with www.bostonpizza.com.  I said “for sure” and I’ll post on the Facebook Page too.

So here is recognition for a job well done, Cheryl S.  Keep on smiling and keep on sharing your great hospitality to those who come for a meal.

What lessons do you take from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Don’t Make the Same Mistake This Software Developer Made

young man pulling funny face on white backgroundI purchased a great video editing software a few weeks ago.  Fortunately (for me) I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to use it yet because all software has bugs — even after the beta testers have given their feedback.

I logged onto our Facebook Group today (which, btw, is a great tool for you to use to keep your pulse on what your customers are experiencing).   Sadly for the developer, there is a firestorm going on in the group because of a decision that he made to put ads on the software after we bought it.

The tribe is furious!  Comments are along the lines of “we didn’t buy a software with ads, so why are there ads now?” and “if you had given us the option from the get-go to have a version with ads or without ads that would have been one thing but to add the ads after we bought it is wrong”.

The developer is defending his position, stating that he was adding all sorts of value and that he didn’t make any money on the initial sale.  He then got defensive and told people they could ask for a refund.   Whoa!  Obviously ego and hot-headedness have taken over.

The initial purchase price was really low $39.95 (or something like that) and the developer is asking for $9.95 / year to have a version of the software that doesn’t have ads.  Obviously the $9.95 isn’t a large amount and everyone of his customers could easily pay it — but the issue we’re all having is with communication and the feeling that we’ve been the victims of a bait and switch.

Here’s my response to him / the group (which has received a lot of “likes” and a suggestion to turn it into a blog post.)

Carol Wain Andrew Darius — buddy — I am a customer experience specialist. Do not cut your own throat right now. You’ve nicked yourself but it’s time to put down the knife.

The best way to handle this is to stop for a second and look at how long you want to be in business.

Don’t piss off your early adopters.
Customers are a fickle bunch — don’t give us a reason to defect
There are others waiting in the wings to launch an even better software than you have. They will take what you’ve learned and what you’ve created and they will swoop in and “save all of us” who are not happy right now.
Do you want to be a one-hit-wonder who is gone next month or do you want to build a sustainable business?

Here’s what you should do. Reverse the decision for the ads and grandfather all of us. Do what you can to rebuild our faith in you.
Listen to what we’re saying. Remember that the initial promise was for a software that does X,Y and Z. Always deliver on that promise.

Create opportunities to increase your revenue.

Increase the price immediately. (btw, create a new FB group for the new people… let us be your advisory group here without the new people seeing what is going on. This group and the posts will scare away any new customers.)

Identify your core product — what we were promised and what we’ve paid for. Deliver that exceptionally well.

Identify add-ons.

I believe your approach to over-deliver is getting you in trouble. You’ve missed the mark on what to over-deliver.

Over-deliver on service.

Up-sell on features that weren’t included in the core product.

Cross-sell on products that enhance the overall experience with the product (but remember the product must work without them).

By all means — stop, look and listen. Let your guard down to truly hear what we’re saying. Make a plan for us early adopters and another plan moving forward.

Smart business owners know that it costs 6x (or more) to get a new customer than it does to keep one. They also know that the initial purchase is the tip of the iceberg — make the initial customer experience great and expect at least 10x the initial purchase price over the customer’s lifetime.

Stop complaining that you hardly made anything from the initial sale — if you make things right with us you can easily turn things around. Many people will break even or take a loss knowing that the money is in the back-end.

Use good judgement and wear your “Customer Experience” hat as you make decisions. Always think about how this decision will impact your customer experience — and never, ever underestimate how important it is to your success.

If you need assistance, PM me.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much — a monthly fee of less than a dollar to stir up a bees nest.  How you respond will make the difference between success or failure because your customer experience is the only true differentiation between you and your competition.

Have You Experienced Any Situations Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Customer Experience Failure – Boston Pizza Style

I have always been a champion for the customer, which is why I look at the customer experience first when I help business leaders to transform their businesses to become more profitable.

People-Power-Profit-300x35

People can power profit — or they can destroy it. And sadly — more often than necessary — they make decisions to destroy it.

Tonight is a case in point.

I have taken my first day off in ages. It’s a glorious, hot, sunny Sunday here in Courtenay, BC. It’s also a long weekend. And here’s where Boston Pizza comes into the picture.

It’s 6pm and I’m well into the “relaxation mode” I had planned for, so I went online to place an order for delivery. I’d been building myself up to have my absolute favourite dish — the Chilpotle Chicken Salad — for a few hours. I ordered 2 of them for delivery.

2 Seconds after I ordered online I got a call – which is normal and appreciated. However, this time the message was “I see you chose debit at the door as your payment”. I said “No, it’s credit, which is what I chose. There was only an option for cash or credit payment at the door.”

I was then told that they could not deliver to me because the machines for accepting payments at the door were broken. If I have cash it’s fine.

Okay… think about this for a second as it’s a classic Customer Experience Fail.

#1. I was able to place my order online. Why can’t I pay online? (my guess is that it will require extra administration on behalf of Boston Pizza — guess what? I don’t care!) The customer experience is what matters across all touch points in the customer journey. So figure out the logistics behind the scene and don’t make any decision a burden for your customers.

#2. Why are the machines broken? Every single one of them? On a long weekend? On a hot and sunny long weekend?

and most importantly…

#3. Why didn’t the gal say “I’m really sorry but we’re experiencing problems with our machines for payment at the door. Can you give me your credit card number and I’ll punch it into my machine here? Then you can sign when we deliver your meal.”

or failing all of the above, as a back-up measure…

#4. Have one of those old fashioned machines with the “cha-ching, cha-ching” that takes an imprint of the credit card and you sign it? I travelled to Mexico a few months ago and they still use them there. My credit card was charged just fine too.

So, before I go off to spend 10 minutes making a salad — I’ll share these parting words:

The majority of customers will not return after a poor customer experience. Often it only takes one poor experience to lose a customer.

Many people (myself included) will happily share customer experience fails online via social media, review sites and blog posts.

Boston Pizza — and every other business — needs to start thinking about the customer experience as the only true differentiation between itself and the myriad of other choices in each market.

Customer Experience is in every decision.” ~ Carol Wain

3From the decisions at head office — those who made a website that allows you to order but not pay — to those in the field who don’t think about how they can make a work-around to ensure their customers have an awesome experience, it’s time to rethink what you are doing.

  1. Think about how your decisions impact your customers and ask before implementing.
  2. Have designated staff to be the Voice of the Customer and ensure those people have a seat at the Executive Table. Ideally, all employees should be encouraged to watch and listen for customer reaction and are invited to share what they learn.
  3. Train your employees to ensure your customers’ experience is as expected. Of course you have procedures and systems but there are times when employees should be permitted discretion to go outside of them.
  4. Have a back-up plan
  5. Ensure your customer journey is consistent across all touch points

 

Update:  August 11, 2014  — Here’s what has happened since my initial experience.

After I wrote this post and shared it on LinkedIn I went to Boston Pizza’s Facebook Page and posted there.

I applaud the community manager for responding and suggesting we take the conversation offline (which I teach!)

I wrote a very long email with suggestions and counter-arguments to some of the “policies”.

I was assured that someone would be in touch shortly.

I received a phone call from the restaurant owner, Gary, who was on vacation at the time.  He left his cell phone# for me to call.

I called back a day or two later and we had a conversation about the experience.

I explained my Customer Experience passion and that I can’t help but speak up when things are going badly.

He spoke for a while to explain the problem (again, as the customer, I really don’t care that TD Bank had screwed up so none of the machines were working).

I was sitting there ever so silently wondering if he was going to ever get to “me” rather than an explanation about why I experienced what I did.

I also wondered when he would accept ownership (or if anyone would).

I wondered what — if any — offer would be made to “make it up to me”.

I was waiting and waiting…

And then Gary said “I would like to offer you gift certificates to make it up to you”.

He also suggested I may be able to help them improve the customer experience (oh hell yes, I can!)

I was not angry — I came from a place of  “sharing and caring” while I also wanted a resolve.

I explained how most people wouldn’t give a second chance and how important customer experience was.  We chatted a bit about my services and we ended the call.

Fast forward to today — exactly one week to the day I attempted one more time.

What a nightmare!

Today, I placed my order online.

I received a call a few min later to confirm the order.

I corrected the delivery time — I didn’t want it in 50 min, I wanted delivery at 6:30.

So at 6:35 the delivery person arrived (oooh… he smelled badly… not good in the food service industry … although he was pleasant enough as a delivery person.)

This time the order was for one Chilpotle Chicken Salad and one personal cheese pizza….

…………Except the “chicken and bacon” part of the order was missing…………

You’ve got to be kidding me!  The Customer Experience is actually worse this time!

6:38   I called the restaurant and explained what happened.  I received an apology and a promise the chicken would be delivered soon.  I pressed to find out what “soon” meant.   I was told 15 – 20 min depending on traffic.

6:39  I emailed the email address Gary gave me when I spoke to him

7:15   I called the restaurant again and apparently the driver was there and he’d be leaving with my chicken right away.  I asked to speak to the owner.  Gary is still on vacation.  I asked to speak to the supervisor.  I explained today’s situation and last week’s situation and I had spoken to Gary.  She attempted to correct me that perhaps I spoke to “Steven”.  I said “no, I contacted Head Office and Gary gave me his cell phone #.”  She seemed surprised.

I’ll cut to the learning points:

  • I discovered during this call — this is a common occurrence — the onus is on the host/hostess to ensure the order is complete but they don’t.  Why is the problem common?  and…. Why on earth do they share this?
  • The supervisor does not have the authority to authorize a refund — this time I’m expecting one — tomorrow she’ll talk to the office manager to see what can be done.
  • The delivery guy showed up with my new salad and he said words to the effect that he only delivers what he’s given.
  • It is now 1 hour after I asked for my salad to be delivered… 45 min after I was promised the chicken would be delivered.
  • I’m actually surprised I haven’t “Lost it” by this point — maybe because I knew I’d be using this as an example in my teaching for years to come 😉

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!

You’ve got to be kidding me…  Remember, the customer doesn’t give a sh*t about excuses and who isn’t doing what.  The customer expects to experience the brand promise and to receive what they bought in a timely manner with the quality promised.

Boston Pizza desperately needs a Customer Experience overhaul — I’m here and I’ll consult with corporate and franchisees.  I’ll also train staff.

Consistency is missing — as is a focus on the Customer Experience — instead, the culture appears to be one of “pass the buck”.

In the restaurant business, this combination is a death sentence… perhaps my first best-selling book Guerrilla Tourism Marketing might be useful as the first step!

What Suggestions Do You Have for Businesses That Have Challenges Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Want to Make Your Customers Feel Special? Thank Them!

TD Bank Takes a Page from WestJet — Combining a personalized Thank You with great PR

Watch and you can’t help but feel moved.

This video shows the power of a personalized thank you.    How are you thanking your customers — particularly your long-time, most profitable customers?

How do you show your customers that they are valuable to you?

It seems like such an easy question to answer, doesn’t it?  So why aren’t more people doing it?

In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the Joie de Vivre hotels in California.  As part of their Dream Maker program, the hotels ask each guest to provide a significant amount of personal information upon registration so that they can find ways to give their guests a memorable experience.

This program challenges the employees to come up with ways to provide exceptional guest service.

Gary tells a story about a reservations manager, Jennifer Kemper, at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley, which incidentally is the number three hotel in Berkeley according to TripAdvisor.  One of the hotel guests needed multiple, long-term stays because her son, a 20 year old Berkeley student, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment while trying to continue with his studies.

The guest needed to visit often to help her son during his sessions but some of the dates that she needed were not available.

Jennifer told her guest that she would be taken care of but she did not stop there.

Jennifer thought of the guest’s plight and determined that she would be a great candidate for the Dream Maker program.  A few days later, Jennifer went and bought a card, sunflowers, chamomile tea and a dragonfly mug with a built-in strainer.  The card said “For a loving mother who deserves to relax.  Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Naturally, this touched the heart of the guest, who continued to stay at that property until her son graduated.  This example of a fantastic customer experience also shows how a simple touch can have a viral effect.  Imagine how many people heard about this story from the guest and her son.

Thank-You-300x199That caring, attentive service, which is one of the guerrilla marketing principles, provided exposure to this hotel they could never afford through traditional marketing.  Talk about a win-win situation.

The appreciation you show can take many forms – from saying “thank you” to following up after the sale, to responding quickly to requests or questions to finding a special gift for them for a special occasion.

 

 

How can you / do you thank your customers in a meaningful, personalized way to make them feel special and appreciated?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Enlightened Capitalists Focus on Customer Experience

5 Reasons to Focus on Customer Experience  (CX)happy-customer 300x300

  1. Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  2. Decrease Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  3. Support an increase in employee engagement
  4. Create brand advocates and greater loyalty
  5. Differentiate your company among competitors

CX Insights

  • In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.  (Forrester Research Navigate the Future of Customer Service in 2014)
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Customers 2020 Report)
  • In a poll of enterprise contact centers by Deloitte, 82% view the customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and view accuracy and quality of information provided (82%), as well as ease of interaction (73%), as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience. (Deloitte’s 2013 Global Contact Center Survey Report)
  • In 2013, 62% of global consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences, up 4% from last year.  (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Customer Experience Process

  1. Secret-shop in person, on the phone and online – you need to know what it’s like to be your customer
  2. Understand your culture – does it support a great customer experience?
  3. Obtain Board and C-suite commitment to improving customer experience
  4. Review your customer complaints / testimonials / online mentions – where are the gaps?
  5. Ask customers what their needs are.
  6. Allow customers to state their preferences for the communication they have with you
  7. Use a combination of high-tech and high-touch – high-tech to easily disseminate data collected about each customer and to create models for ideal customers and what they may need.  High-touch to personify the customer experience.  Strive for consistency – each and every time, the customer needs to know what they will experience – regardless of employee, regardless of location, regardless of time of day
  8. Ensure that all touch points are reliable – websites, phone, in-person, email etc.  They must all deliver a consistent experience based on your brand promise
  9. Eliminate silos within your company and promote cross-department communication as it relates to increasing the customer experience
  10. Build a community around your business and your business around a community
  11. Create a Voice of Customer (VOC) program – and always be reviewing social conversations, online reviews and testimonials, customer surveys, call center and customer service feedback, and feedback from tech-support and retail reps
  12. Realize it’s a game of measures that has meaning to your customers and employees – that there is not one “perfect” measure for customer experience

Customer Experience KPIs

The 3 main Customer Experience KPIs are Acquisition, Retention and Profit

Acquisition = Goal is Lower CAC–measure referrals, social mentions, efficiency of marketing campaigns, conversion rate

Retention = Goal is Increased CLV – measure average order value, average frequency of purchase, average length of “customer” (how long they are your customers), average resolution time for a complaint, cost of loyalty programs, and mark-downs for repeat purchases or to avoid loss of customer

Profit = Goal is Lower Cost to Service – measure revenue per employee, gross profit per employee

5 Steps to Success

Define – Define what objectives you want to achieve, what KPIs you want to impact, what touch points you are focusing on for this initiative (don’t attempt to do all at once!), prioritize your objectives, define the timing, identify resources, allocate budgets, identify return on investment expected

Discover – Map your customer’s journey from the moment they first hear about you through to repeat purchases.  Be sure to include customer experience perspective from employees in all departments – not just “customer service”.  Also be sure to include data from relationship surveys and transactional surveys of your customers

Design – Using best practices, discovery insight and your objectives, design a customer experience plan

Implement – Implement your plan, educate your employees, engage in two-way dialogues with employees, encourage two-way dialogues between customers and employees

Monitor – Monitor employee responses, customer reaction, customer learning, feedback, impact to KPIs and adjust as needed

Our Role

  1. Coordinate with your project managers, VOC team, senior leaders, management team, supervisors and trainers for requirements
  2. Define – what are your objectives? … Identify KPIs, create your baseline
  3. Discover – what is it really like to be your customer? … Coordinate with VOC team and test that VOC insight matches employee insight and customer reality
  4. Create your transition plan with input from all stakeholders
  5. Implement and support training, coaching, mentoring and facilitating
  6. Coordinate with your team to report on results and make appropriate adjustments
  7. Leave you with the insights and practices to continue to grow your customer experience

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What are some of the ways you focus on customer experience in your business?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

carol-showCarol Wain is the founder and leader of many brands which help leaders to create more profitable businesses that transform lives and positively impact our planet.  She is an author, speaker, trusted advisor and mentor who won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003. 

Carol is passionate about reinventing business to become a force for good — positive businesses which respect, appreciate, encourage and support the right employees who voluntarily use their discretionary effort to bring the vision, purpose, platform, personality, passion and core values to life; businesses which create useful, meaningful and valuable products, services and experiences which improve the lives of people; and businesses which support communities, take a stand and have a higher-purpose.

For more information visit  http://CarolWain.com, http://EnlightenedCapitalist.org and http://WorldIncentiveNetwork.com

The Ever Fickle Customer and Why Customer Experience is Key

thumbs up thumbs downThis blog post was going to be about the nearly perfect customer experience I initially experienced when I rented a car from Enterprise a couple of weeks ago.  I got busy and didn’t get around to writing the post — which, in retrospect, was perfect.

A back-story is in order:  My car — a Mazda 6 which I am reluctant to upgrade because we are preparing to go on a worldwide adventure for a few years —  was making funky noises on a road trip to Whistler in December.  Fortunately, my hubby knows his way around an engine and he thought to check the oil.   We were down to 1 litre, even though we’ve been getting the car maintenance done at the local Mazda dealership since we bought it — uggh.

Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to take the car on a big road trip, especially if I’m by myself, so I decided to rent a car for a meeting in Victoria, which is a 3 hour drive away.

I was bowled over by my initial experience with the car rental.  I’d booked using CarRentals.com and I really wasn’t expecting much.  However, the day before I was to pick up the car I got a phone call from a representative from Enterprise thanking me for booking and asking if I needed a pick-up.  I hadn’t considered getting picked up but when the offer came I said “sure”.  Pick me up at 1pm.

The pick-up was late — by about 45 min — which was not okay.  I know it’s a small operation but when people have an appointment and need a car, they need to be picked up on time.  Fortunately, I’d given myself an hour “buffer” between when I wanted to leave and when I needed to leave, so I was still able to make my appointment — (only “just” though because I’d left later and I hit rush-hour traffic).

The driver was friendly and apart from the delay, the pick-up was welcome.

When I arrived at Enterprise, the representative was great — and attempted to get me out of the office quickly to make up for the delay.  The guy who phoned me came out of the “back office” and introduced himself, shaking my hand and thanking me.  I was willing to forgive the lateness.

The rental itself went well — I drove 6 hours that day with no complaints.

When I took the car back the next day, there was a sign on the door which indicated they’d be back in 15 minutes — so I went to the coffee shop.  When I returned, the 2 employees who had welcomed me the day before were walking towards the cars and didn’t see me arrive.

I entered the premise — stepping over a small red bucket, a cloth and a spray bottle, which were sitting right in front of the one door out of two which were unlocked.  I waited a few minutes before the guy who had phoned me and welcomed me the day before returned.   He was surprised to see me waiting but quickly “returned” the car.

He asked how they could do better and by now I was no longer excited.

As I was leaving, I had to step over the bucket etc. again (which he had done himself twice — once to go outside to inspect the car — the other time when he came back inside).  I asked him why they were there and I was told that he was attempting to get the windows cleaned but they were busy.

What appears to have happened here is that the initial “wow” was all dictated by either corporate policy or corporate training but there was a disconnect in the rest of the experience.  Again, I realize it’s a small location and there isn’t enough demand to keep multiple people on staff — however, there are opportunities for improvement.

Customer Experience is in Every Business Decision

Next Rental – Approximately 1 week later

My daughter phoned from the ferry to say she was coming early and her friend couldn’t pick her up for hours — and considering my engine was now on the garage floor thanks to hubby, I decided to book a rental car again from Enterprise.  I showed up 15 minutes later and the car was not ready, which is understandable and forgivable.

I was asked to sit for 2 minutes while she washed the car (I was skeptical she could wash a car in 2 min but I didn’t say anything).   About 10 minutes later, I told one of the other employees that I was going to get lunch and I’d be back.
This time I was given a FIAT.

However, there was a problem with the car — on the way home the engine light came on and I immediately pulled over.  I called the office and explained the situation.   Again the experience was less than ideal — first response was could I take the car to the Nanaimo office (no — I didn’t know where it was — and besides the check engine light was on!).

We waited by the side of the road for an answer — we got one — someone would pick us up but it would take at least an hour (I expected 90 minutes).

I asked if it was safe to drive back to the mall because the last thing I needed was another engine issue!  I was told it would be fine, so I drove to Chapters and waited for a call to let me know how long it would be until someone picked us up.

Then I got the phone call — there was no-one who could pick us up.  I could call Roadside Assistance on the back of the rental form but it would likely result in a charge (and they wouldn’t get us home) or I could drive the car back — since the Nanaimo office also had problems with their FIATs giving “check engine lights” coming on randomly too.  In fact 2 out of their 5 cars has this issue — why they were still part of the fleet, who knows.

I expressed my concern about driving with a check engine light on and that I didn’t want to be held responsible if the engine failed.  I was assured that I would not be held responsible for anything should it happen.

A simple trip to pick up my daughter at the ferry — about 75 minutes away — turned into a completely stressful event.

I returned the car the next day — Good Friday — when the location was closed.   I put the keys into the return box, only to get them stuck.  I couldn’t open the return box door to see if the keys had dropped.  I phoned and left a message that someone should come and fix the box since I couldn’t confirm the keys had been “dropped” and if anyone else was returning that day they may not be able to return theirs.

(BTW, don’t even get me going on the fuel options — I’ve tried the return it as you got it and the return it empty, neither of them makes sense for the customer.  Enterprise… fill the car up before you rent it!)

Since Friday (it’s now Monday), I have heard nothing — nothing at all — and to me this is the most disturbing part of the customer experience.

Enterprise started off sooo well, yet I had a hell of a time with my last rental and no-one has even called to offer me anything — no thank you for letting them know about the key problem, no thank you for letting them know the check engine light went off when I got back home, no thank you for renting from them, no consideration as to the stress caused by driving a car 100km with a check engine light on, no apologies, no credit — nothing — not a word.

I have another car rental with Enterprise next week — and I wonder why.

Customer Experience Lessons

“Corporate” can dictate policy, procedures and practices and they can be followed with great results (as experienced with the first few  touch points I had, forgiving the delay in pick-up)

However, without a team absolutely on-board with the vision, the mission, the values and — most importantly —  a desire to deliver the best customer experience — a positive customer experience is not going to happen.

Update:  Last weekend I rented again from Enterprise.  I received the phone call 24 hours in advance again — but no offer to pick me up.  I showed up and spoke with the manager, Ryan.   My purse was open and he noticed the contract I had brought with me.  He asked about it and I said that I’d like to talk to him about what happened with that rental.  I explained the stress, the inconvenience etc. and he apologized.  He asked what I’d like — I said, I’d like you to write this rental off.  He said he couldn’t but what he could do is give me this rental (a 3 day rental), an upgrade and a tank of gas.  He also told me I could return the car to the airport which would alleviate the key drop problem I encountered.

I talked about customer experience and why consistency was so important.  I offered suggestions and let him know this is an area of expertise for me.  He kept checking in with me to ensure that he was meeting my expectations.   All, in all, he did everything he could and this experience makes for a great case study about why getting it right in the first place is a lot easier than attempting to fix it afterwards.

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Creating an Emotional Connection – P&G

Creating an Emotional Connection Increases the Opportunity for Customer Engagement

When you create an emotional connection with your customers and/or prospects, your ability to increase your customer lifetime value (CLV) is higher because emotional connections are a necessary element for having a relationship — and relationships are needed for customer engagement.

In the olden-days, when people shopped locally, it was easy to have a relationship and connect with your customers on an emotional level because you knew them and they knew you.  Local marketers who adopt this philosophy today certainly attract more “loyal customers” than those who don’t and they have the ability to win back certain customers who have chosen to shop big-box or online.  B2B marketers are also wise to make the emotional connection with their customers too — after all it is a person who is making the purchasing decision.

However, what do you do when you are a multi-national consumer brands company?  How do you create an emotional connection to the company that provides toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste and the like?   I know I’m certainly not emotionally connected to my TP — unless of course there is one sheet left on the roll — and I cannot think of one consumer product in my home that gives me the warm-fuzzy of emotional connection.

Which leads me to this video from Proctor and Gamble — which had me in tears this morning.   P&G understands that women are — most often — the decision makers when it comes to many purchases for the home (unless, of course, there are no women in the home!).  P&G knows we women also tend to me more emotional than men and  P&G understands that Moms often feel unappreciated when it comes to their roles while raising children.  So, they create videos to pull at our heart strings with videos like this one.

Will this video result in me buying more P&G products?  Likely not, since I am not particularly brand-loyal when it comes to consumer goods.   I also couldn’t tell you which brands belong to what company, so is this video useful?

The answer is yes — and no.

Yes, this video is useful because it’s been viewed nearly 20 million times.  It’s got over 30,000 “likes” and over 3,000 comments.  It’s an engaging video which is increasing the exposure to the company and its brands.  …  and let’s not forget that I am one of who-knows-how-many who are sharing the video on my website!

However, if the intent is for me to buy their brand, I’m afraid it won’t work because, although I will probably remember this video, I still won’t remember what individual brands it represents.  Even as I type this a mere 5 minutes after watching it, I am struggling to remember what the diaper brand was and the more I rack my brain to remember, the more I realize I can’t remember any of the brands.  Perhaps it was the tears running down my face.

Was it a good use of their marketing budget to create this ad?  What do you think?  I’m the first to admit that I’m not a specialist in consumer brand marketing or consumer brand engagement — as you can likely tell — so I’m going to switch gears back to what I do know.

I know that it’s important to create an emotional connection between your customers and your business and it’s easier to do that when your business is not a multi-national consumer products brand!

Find a way to connect with your customers — on a personal level — on an emotional level — so that they will come to you to purchase because they know you will have their backs and because you share the same values.

It doesn’t matter if you have a B2B company like I do — we have always “had the backs of our customers”, we’ve always made an effort to get to know them as people, we’ve always done whatever we could to make them look good for choosing us over the competition.  If you have a restaurant, or a medical services practice, or a niche manufacturing facility — it’s exactly the same.  People choose to buy based on emotion and rationalize their purchase decision.   When you figure out how to connect with your ideal customers on that emotional level you can expect to see increased profit through referrals and repeat purchases.

Until next time — I’m off to find some tissues — not quite sure what brand we have here though 😉

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

How to Win The Hearts of Your Customers and Employees

Learn a Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Lesson (While also learning about great PR!)

WestJet knocks one out of the park for its customers and its employees!

Check out the video and see what elements you can do in your own business to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.  We don’t all have the budgets or the networks to pull off what WestJet did — however, we can all do something special with our employees to make the day of our customers.   By including the employees, they had a lot of fun, yet imagine the trickle effect throughout the whole company.

So, my challenge to you for 2014, is what can YOU do in your company to strengthen both customer engagement and employee engagement?  Tell me below in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

My Top 3 Tips For Managing Your Online Reputation

A Reputation That Took Decades to Build Can be Threatened by a Single Event

Reputation

You may find yourself in the unfortunate position as the victim of a coordinated attack on your business using social media, which is a horrific situation for anyone who has lived through it.

Negative reviews are bad for business and no-one disputes this reality.  However, when you understand how to leverage online reputation, and in particular, your online reviews, they can be very powerful and very profitable.

#1 Evaluate your brand promise versus reality.  What are you saying in each and every marketing message?  What do people expect when they shop with you?  Is there a disconnect between the customer experience and your promise?
If yes either change your brand promise or fix the disconnect.  This could mean training, replacing people, investing in upgraded equipment, renovating and so on.

Remember… each and every touch point someone has with your business is marketing.  Be sure it is consistent with their experience otherwise your reputation — both online reputation and offline reputation — will suffer.

#2 Claim your accounts.   If you have not claimed your Foursquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, Google Places, Facebook, Trip Advisor and other accounts where people are reviewing you, do it immediately and start responding to the reviews.

When you read a great review, thank the person for taking the time to comment, be humble but reinforce your brand promise and ask them if they would like to call out any employees who made their experience so you can properly recognize them.
By doing this it shows you are listening, you care, you appreciate, you are dedicated to a positive experience and you are a good employer that values the great employees you have.

Also respond to negative reviews.  If it is a legitimate complaint, recognize the person, thank them for giving you the opportunity to improve the experience your customers deserve and ask them to connect with you directly offline.

Note:  Always remember that just because you are offline, your conversation or correspondence can end up back-online.

#3 Be relentless in your quest for testimonials and reviews.  Remember, people look at reviews as social proof and many people will choose one business over another because of the reviews, so you want as many reviews as possible.

Many happy customers will say they will write but they don’t because they are busy or because it’s a pain to get an account so they can leave their review.

Tip: Knowing what is being said about you is the first line of defense and there are social media monitoring services, such as Trackur, Social Mention, Netvibes or Topsy. They will track mentions of your business online so  you can see what is being written.

You should also set up a Google Alert (http://google.com/alerts) for your business name but I would not recommend relying solely on that service as it is not as thorough as a social monitoring service.

What lessons do you take from this post?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com