Modern Key Account Management Segmentation

Modern Key Account Management Relies on Proper Segmentation

                           

Customer relationships have moved far beyond the typical sales cycle, specifically within the B2B space. Instead of ushering clients into the traditional sales funnel, brands must now focus on bringing top-notch service to their customers at every stage of the journey. But for those companies looking to juggle growing demand and heightened expectations simultaneously, it’s essential to segment their customer bases in order to establish which accounts are most vital to their continued success and deserve “trusted advisor” services.

Beyond all else, companies must first acknowledge that it’s impossible to treat all clients equally. Not only would such an approach be taxing on sales and service associates, but it would also put undue strain on the brand’s finances. Segmentation, however, enables leaders to assess and categorize customer relationships so they may provide each client with the appropriate attention. No matter the size of your company, resources can become strained if associates are forced to devote equal amounts of time to clients that don’t ultimately yield the same level of customer lifetime value.

Segmentation offers companies an opportunity to add value through maximizing the use of their products / services. This added value (trusted advisor services) is reserved for those customers who meet the segmentation Tier I / Tier II criteria as shown below.

Below is a basic account segmentation example:

Tier I: Significant annual revenue and / or strategic value

Tier II: Potential significant annual growth and / or customer lifetime value

Tier III: Remaining customer accounts

When developing your company’s segmentation strategy, however, leaders must ask the core questions that’ll determine which accounts are essential for current / future growth:

  1. Which customers qualify for trusted advisor services now / future?

  2. What changes must the company make throughout the organization to achieve this desired level of segmentation?

  3. How will the company measure the value (ROI) of segmentation?

Forming deeper, more targeted relationships affords brands increased loyalty, sales, and profits, while customers enjoy an enhanced experience that adds value to their bottom line. Exceptional service must be the baseline for all, but leaders need to build upon this solid foundation to preserve and expand their relationships within key accounts. In recent years, Big Data has forced companies to sift through the “white noise” that threatens to cloud their understanding of those they serve. Segmentation, while not an exact science, allows leaders to organize customers into manageable groups that promise to add clarity to an increasingly perplexing, saturated market. Companies must ask themselves: Are you willing to earn “trusted advisor” role?

Once your company has developed its own solid segmentation strategy, it will be easier to determine which customers require key account protection program (KAPP). KAPP theory is based on “the process of building long- term mutually beneficial relationships with your most valuable accounts. Many of CRMI / Marketii clients of the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award (NFSB) for customer service excellence, have added (KAPP Relationship Survey) component to their existing CX strategy.

Leader must evaluate both revenue and strategic value in choosing key accounts. Leaders must also limit the number of assigned key accounts to start because overcommitting the company puts their reputation and the reputations of their customers at risk. By starting small, brands can ultimately position themselves as leaders within the given market as they strategically fine-tune their ability to help key accounts excel.

Key account managers are also an integral part of your company’s success. Though it might seem logical to promote your best salespeople to key account managers, leaders must recognize that this role requires special training and skill. These employees aren’t merely trying to sell or upsell to these clients. Instead, they’re responsible for expanding these strategic relationships. They will need to develop an intimate understanding of the client they are working with so that they may collaborate effectively and proactivity.

KAPP, after all, must become interwoven with the fabric of your brand. It’s not some lone offshoot? it’s an enterprisewide policy. Key account managers must be evaluated using metrics that prioritize the lifetime value of the customer, as these associates are tasked with establishing and maintaining rapport with clients that’ll prove most beneficial to the bottom line of both parties.

Ideally, those heading these key accounts will become so intimately evolved that clients will no longer see them as vendors, but instead as partners (trusted advisor) who have nothing but their interests at heart. At this point your brand has moved beyond selling, therefore, the buyer-vendor relationship has transitioned to the client-partner phase. If clients perceive you as their vendor after you’ve deemed them one of your key accounts, then it’s likely both the company and the account manager have failed to convey the client’s worth.

In general, vendors are seen as companies that aim to sell products and solutions even when they don’t satisfy the needs of the customer in question. They push their services despite the fact that their offerings fail to address the customer’s specific situation. They neglect to tailor their sales approach to accommodate those with which they seek to do business. Partners, however, are proactive. They foresee challenges and offer solutions before problems arise. They’re reliable and honest. They treat the client with dignity, respect, and overtime earn their “trusted advisor” role.

Trusted advisors, first and foremost, are in relationships for the long haul. They understand that the customer’s success begets their success. Trusted advisors know that, to prosper, they must communicate clearly and hold themselves accountable in their effort to lift the client up and never let them down. Ultimately, key account management depends upon services rendered after the sales team has worked its magic. Service has become an undeniable differentiator throughout today’s market, but when it comes to key account management, it’s not just ideal – it’s critical.

About the Authors

Bill Moore is Vice President of CXDNA Practice for Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI) (https://www.crmirewards.com/about). He delivers (CXDNA) strategies best practices training / workshops, as well as CEMPRO employee soft skills certified training programs, that raise employee’s customer service awareness – competence – operational practices resulting in employee’s who continuously exceed customers’ expectations.

Duncan Heal, President/CEO for Market Intelligence International (Marketii.com), where he oversees the activities of the company’s marketing / sales, customer experience operations team and professional consulting group. Marketii is a global market research firm that specializes in the area of customer satisfaction with service quality surveys (25 native languages), reporting, feedback, analytics and consulting.

Contact Diane Rivera, Director of Membership Services email: drivera@crmirewards.com Tel: 978-710-3269 to learn how your organization can prevent competitors from winning your accounts.

CRMI Salutes Companies Fighting Spread of Coronavirus

CRMI Salutes Companies Fighting Spread of Coronavirus
NorthFace ScoreBoard Award℠ (NFSB) Certificates issued to companies
that have performed extraordinarily in the fight against COVID-19

by Bill Bradley
VP Marketing, CXDNA Stakeholder Communications

The Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI), an independent third party and an expert in the field of CX (customer experience), has announced a special honorary certification – the NFSB COVID-19 Service Certificate – to recognize companies and their supply chain partners that have been acknowledged by President Trump’s COVID-19 Task Force and/or Forbes Magazine for exceptional service in helping to defeat the coronavirus.

“It’s inconceivable how much our world has changed since March 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Maraganis, president & CEO of CRMI. “Scores of companies have either stepped up their traditional work in life sciences and related fields to focus on the pandemic or retooled their businesses to focus on this global challenge. We felt it was important to salute these firms with an honorary COVID-19 NFSB Service Certificate and to provide the opportunity to earn recognition for achieving world-class customer service-” based on their actual CSAT survey results.

All companies engaged in fighting COVID-19, and their supply chain partners, shall receive a NFSB COVID-19 Service Certificate confirming their voluntary contribution to fighting the virus. They may also apply for the NFSB Award for customer service excellence and receive a special COVID-19 NFSB discount.

Now in its 20th year, the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award is presented annually to companies who, as rated solely by their own customers, achieved excellence in customer service during a full calendar year. Further, all NFSB recipients who have met the criteria for five (5) consecutive years shall receive special SUMMIT category – status denoted on their award and in their NFSB certification letter/deliverables.

 

COVID-19 NFSB Honorary 2020 Recipients:
(View Forbes Grace Chung and Giacomo Tognini business tracker article)

 

Testing

Abbott Laboratories Carbon Ipsum Diagnostics
Alphabet Cellex Mammoth Biosciences
Amazon Cepheid Mesa Biotech
Aytu BioScience Copan Diagnostics Puritan Medical Products
Ava Credo Diagnostics QIAGEN
BioIQ DiaSorin Siemens Healthineers
BioMérieux Henry Schein

 

Treatments

AbbVie CytoDyn Merck KGaA
AIM Immunotech Eiger Biopharmaceuticals Mesoblast
Aldeyra Therapeutics Eli Lilly Mylan
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Emergent BioSolutions OncoImmune
AlloVir EUSA Pharma Panoptes Pharma
Amgen Faron Pharmaceuticals Partner Therapeutics
Ampio Pharmaceuticals Fujifilm Pfizer
Apeiron Biologics Gilead PharmaMar
Apeptico Green Cross Pluristem Therapeutics
Applied Therapeutics Grifols Pulmotect
ARMS Pharmaceutical Harbour BioMed Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Ascletis Hope Biosciences Relief Therapeutics
AstraZeneca Humanigen Ridgeback Therapeutics
Bausch Health I-Mab Biopharma Roche
BeiGene Incyte Roivant Sciences
Belleron Therapeutics InflaRx Synairgen
Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Innovation Pharmaceuticals Takeda
CalciMedica ISR Immune System Regulation Teva Pharmaceuticals
Can-Fite Kamada Union Therapeutics
Capricor Therapeutics Karyopharm Therapeutics Vault Health
Celltrion KD Pharma Group Vir Biotechnology
Celularity Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals XBiotech
Cocrystal Pharma Laurent Pharmaceuticals Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals
CSL Behring Livongo Mateon Therapeutics

 

Vaccines:

Advent-Irbm ExpreS2ion Moderna
AJ Vaccines FluGen Novavax
Altimmune GeneOne Life Science Sanofi
Arcturus Therapeutics GeoVax Sinovac Biotech
Biocad GlaxoSmithKline SK Group
BioNTech Greffex Sorrento Therapeutics
CanSino Biologics Heat Biologics Takis Biotech
Cel-Sci Corp. Hoth Therapeutics Themis Bioscience
Codagenix iBio Tonix Pharmaceuticals
CureVac IMV Vaxart
Dyadic Inovio Vaxil
Dynavax Johnson & Johnson Vaxine Pty Ltd
EpiVax Medicago VBI Vaccines

 

Protective Equipment and Sanitizer:

Anheuser-Busch InBev Dickies
Ansell ExxonMobil Menarini
Aria Designs Fanatics Miroglio Group
Armani Fiat Chrysler Automobiles O.C. Tanner
Bacardi Fippi Pernod Ricard
Barbour GelPro Prada
Bauer Hockey Gojo Industries Procter & Gamble
BrewDog González Byass Quicken Loans
Bulgari GVS Reliance Industries
Calzedonia Group HP San Miguel Corporation
Canada Goose IKEA Seamus Golf
Cantabria Labs Ineos Siemens
Charoen Popkhand Group Jockey Stanley Black & Decker
Colgate L’Oréal Starkey Hearing Technologies
Consomed LVMH Top Glove
Decathlon Massaflex Volkswagen
Diageo Medline Voodoo Manufacturing

 

Ventilators and Beds:

Airbus Inspiration Healthcare SIARE Engineering
BAE Systems Mahindra Group Smiths Group
Bloom Energy Malvestio SpaceX
BreathDirect Medtronic Tesla
Dyson Meggitt Thales Group
Ford Penlon Ultra Electronics
General Motors Philips Vyaire Medical
GKN Aerospace ResMed Xerox
Hill-Rom Rolls-Royce

 

Supporting Healthcare Workers and First Responders:

Airbnb First Due NeuroFlow
Alibaba GlobeKeeper Palantir
Anaplan GoPuff Rave Mobile Safety
Apple Headspace Speetar
Byju’s Hyundai Tencent
Carbyne Inditex Uber
EverBlock Systems Intel UiPath
Facebook Manna Aero Vista Land Group
Faculty Medallia Zoom

 

Asia:

Asia Coatings MetroResidences Yili Group
Enterprises Suncity Group

 

Asia Private Sector:

Ansell GeneOne Life Science Ping An
Ascletis Green Cross Seegene
Biolidics HDFC Bank Shiseido
CanSino Biologics Healthmatch Takeda
DBS Bank I-Mab Biopharma Yuchengco Group
Envision Group JN Medsys Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals
FPT Group Mesoblast
Fujifilm Pan Brothers

 

About CRMI:
Since 1999, the Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI) has promoted that CX is the most critical component of company’s DNA. Further, that consistently exceeding customer expectations builds customer loyalty and requires competent-engaged employees. As a membership-based resource, we provide “One-Stop Shop” for “everything CX.” Whether you are new to CX strategies or a veteran practitioner, you will join thousands of like-minded professionals eager to share their CX experiences.

For more information on how to qualify for the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award, visit www.crmirewards.com or call (978) 710-3269 and ask for Diane Rivera, drivera@crmirewards.com.

Utilizing Employee Soft-skills Home Training through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now more than ever as we navigate times of uncertainty, at home employee soft-skills training will produce long-term positive customer experiences. Are your employees armed with the necessary soft-skills training to deliver exceptional customer experiences?

Many companies are reviewing @ home employee work plans and as you look at the possibilities, one is the opportunity to train your staff’s soft-skills to improve the customer experience.

Often in the past, it may have been difficult to provide your staff with the time to train and provide them with the opportunity to improve their skills.  Much research has shown that employees with soft-skills training significantly improve customer satisfaction, their productivity and lead to long-term customer loyalty. Also, at the same time by improving their soft-skills to effectively deal with customers, especially during these unprecedented times, builds the road to “Trusted Advisor” which is the key component to long term profitability.

Here are four (4) basic training content for any organization:

Customer CARE is the basic employee training for building long-term strong customer relationship skills. Learn the keys to what customers value – drives behavior – causes dissatisfaction. Learning how to become a “Trusted Advisor” NOT “Vendor” is the key to building customer loyalty.

  • Learn about Customer CARE and why customer satisfaction and loyalty are important
  • Understand that effective customer relations is essential to individual and organizational success
  • Understand that Customer CARE is not just the job of the service organization
  • Understand how your job ties into the mission of the company
  • Experiential exercises in understanding your encounters with good and bad Customer CARE
  • Understand the drivers of good and bad Customer CARE
  • Learn how to deliver exceptional service, why customers quit and what they really want
  • Learn how Customer CARE ties directly into bottom-line profitability

 

Dealing with Difficult Customers provides skills for diffusing heated customer complaints. Teaches customer empathy while providing a resolution to the customer’s irate complaint. Turning a bad situation into a memorable favorable solution is the road to “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Understand why we need to deal with difficult customers
  • Learn why a difficult customer is a precious gift and a great opportunity
  • Understand why customers are difficult and the three levels of customer expectations
  • Understand the qualities of a good and bad listener
  • Understand your listening style and how it meshes with your customers styles
  • Understand the importance of listening and learn how to become a better listener
  • Learn a 5-Step process to successfully deal with difficult customers
  • Learn how to turn that dissatisfied customer into an advocate
  • Learn how to deal with your fellow employees, customers and others to get better results

 

Problem Solving Skills teaches employees how to use their skill sets to resolve various problem situations. Learn how to ask the right questions, connect problem symptoms and utilize technology to quickly resolve customer issues, again is the road to “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Learn the difference between problem solving and decision making
  • Evaluate situations and determine the correct process
  • Learn the importance of early identification and resolution of problems
  • Learn the importance of gathering and recording the correct information
  • Learn a 10-Step process for Successful Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Know how to formulate and implement problem solving plans
  • Know how to formulate and implement decision making plans
  • Understand how these processes provide a common language and approach that enhances teamwork and provides better results

 

Time Management teaches skills to increase employee productivity. Customers greatly appreciate those service providers who can resolve multiple issues in a reasonable timeframe. You can add time management to the requirement list to become a “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Definition of Time Management
  • How to prioritize your tasks to be more effective
  • How to manage time and reduce deadline stress
  • Understanding major time wasters and how to deal with them
  • Understand the evolution of time management and the current fourth generation
  • Understand why setting reasonable expectations that can be exceeded is essential
  • Learn techniques to increase your efficiency while improving customer satisfaction

 

These are four basic soft-skills needed for all organizations. Now is the time to invest in employee engagement that will pay recurring dividends in exceeding customer expectations. Use these unprecedented times to invest in your @ home employees soft-skills training.

 

 

Bill Moore Vice President of Employee Engagement
Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI)
Telephone: 617 803-1639 | Email: bmoore@crmirewards.com

Develop an Engagement Strategy That Prioritizes Employee Satisfaction and Recognition

Whether your company actively recognizes this notion or not, one fact’s for sure – your employees are your greatest asset by far. From those who operate along the frontlines, to those who maintain systems behind-the-scenes, your employees are the cornerstones of your brand’s existence. They interact with customers on a daily basis, making them the face of your brand. Success lies within their will and ability to deliver consistent, superior customer service at every touchpoint along the path to purchase. Yet, in many instances, leaders take their employees for granted, as they neglect to consider their insights and needs in pursuit of the elusive, almighty dollar.

Despite the fact that most leaders declare “our people” as one of their company’s prime competitive differentiators, not every brand has the proper engagement strategies in place. Actions speak louder than words and, in such cases, what these leaders say doesn’t always align with what they do. Brands that merely “talk the talk” offer employees little room for growth or feedback. But, for those companies that truly value their employees—the brands that also “walk the walk”—said individuals have ample opportunity to communicate and grow alongside the brand itself.

An effective employee engagement strategy requires emphasis on both satisfaction and recognition, as it’s not enough to simply provide these individuals with a generous benefits package and send them on their way. More than anything, today’s employees crave purpose. They wish to counter the world’s negative energy by making a positive impact one customer at a time, and that starts within the bubble of your business. After all, as a leader, you have the power to empower your employees to speak up and speak out against injustices within their ranks and throughout the organization, as they fight for what’s right for the customer day after day. You have the authority to enact programs and protocols that enable these employees to excel. You have the right to reward those whose performance elevates the customer’s brand experience.

But, at their core, what elements do such strategies command? What does it take to convey that your company cares for its employees like family? Here are the four building blocks every brand must use as its foundation for engagement:

 

Listen

First and foremost, your company must establish a forum that empowers employees to speak up and share constructive feedback without the fear of retaliation. In many instances, employees are afraid to share their concerns because they might face backlash from their colleagues or superiors. But such an air of trepidation can create a toxic work environment that permeates the ranks. Employees must feel free to share insights and opinions in an atmosphere that begets respect. For engagement to truly take hold, employees must know that their voice carries value.

If there’s any doubt, employees might flee to the competition. But, as on the customer front, it costs far less to retain your staff than to hire and onboard new employees. Thus, it’s imperative that you institute the processes necessary to amplify the complaints and criticisms of your current employees.

 

Change

Once your company’s leadership team turns its ears to the voices of its employees, you must also bring this influx of insight to action. It’s one thing to gather feedback, but it’s another to use this data to fuel change across the enterprise. Employees want to feel safe and supported when they share feedback, but they also want to know that their suggestions will influence improvements and adjustments in the way the company operates. Communicate how you plan to use their ideas and keep them up-to-date at every stage of development. Not only will this promote trust and transparency throughout the entire company, but it will also establish a precedent for how leaders handle employee feedback in the future.

 

Recognize

While employees might be motivated by a desire to provide the best possible customer experience at the start, they’ll inevitably become fatigued if their efforts go unrecognized. Company leadership must constantly be on the lookout for top performers so they may recognize and reward these employees for going above and beyond expectations. Ideally, leaders will set balanced goals based upon achieving key performance indicators (KPIs) for customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s also important for leaders to recognize and reward both groups and individuals for their customer experience efforts, as some successes are collaborative, while others result from the actions of one lone individual. Companywide awards offer leaders the opportunity to declare their appreciation publicly, but employees should also be compensated for attaining measurable customer satisfaction gains.

Not sure what steps your team should take when launching your company’s own recognition program? Learn more about CRMI’s Employee Rewards Program here.

 

Educate

If your company’s truly invested in its employees, leaders will also be eager to invest in their continued education. In an era where technology evolves at breakneck pace, it’s often difficult for employees to remain knowledgeable about every possible twist or turn on the customer’s path to purchase. Thus, by committing to a continuous CEM training program, which includes both soft, people skills and technical or job-based competence, leadership demonstrates its desire to help staff members be the best they can be. Plus, advanced-level instruction can ultimately pay big dividends for your company and provide career advancement opportunities for employees, which benefits everyone involved.

Not sure how to boost your employees’ customer relationship skills? Learn more about CRMI’s certified CEM Professional (CEMPRO) training here.

Destructive data mistakes in customer experience

CX Network looks at two data mistakes that hinder customer experiences: Data silos and the big data myth.

It is a fact of business that poor data practices have the ability to do real damage to customer relationships. After all, as Emmanuel Obadia , VP of Marketing at Oracle, states: “Data is the foundation upon which you can build the entire customer experience (CX) effort. It’s blood to CX. If you don’t have data, you can’t go anywhere.”

When customer data resides in several isolated pockets in a portfolio, the conflicted customer view can trip up multiplay providers when they attempt to identify a customer across multiple lines of a business. If a brand fails to recognise that a customer is simultaneously subscribed to various products they could send communications that are anything but targeted: For instance, sending a customer an enticing offer for a product they already have at a lower price point than they paid for it. During a time where people expect convenience and personalisation, this sort of insulting mistake can do real damage to a customer’s perception of a brand and even push them to switch to a competitor company.

It’s not just a lack of data integration that can be harmful; too much integration can be damaging when you have several groups in a company capturing data. Flimsy governance procedures could result in customers suffering from “creepy” experiences where they are unsettled by unexpected preemptive actions. This can occur when data is borrowed or cross-referenced between divisions in a company. Safeguarding procedures are needed to ensure that customers retain control.

Poor data practices like these will hold companies back from progressing to providing sophisticated predictive customer experiences. A truly unified view of customer data is integral to unleashing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), or more specifically, machine learning in a compliant manner.

In this article we look at two data mistakes that are hindering customer experiences: Data silos and the big data myth.


Data silos

Data silos were labelled as the top customer experience challenge by CX Network members in our latest research. Many organisations across the world struggle to bring innovation into their businesses because of legacy systems. A lack of interoperability between systems results in data being trapped within individual sections of the tech stack. This forces companies to compromise on the quality of the end product and experience due to antiquated (but well-embedded) technology. Despite it being a tall challenge, especially in larger companies, it is a mistake for brands to ignore the value of breaking down data silos.

 

How to overcome silos 

Betty Chuah, senior manager of EMEA retailer consumer insights at Volvo Cars, notes the importance of having a global CX team with the global responsibility to govern the CX vision and battle silos.

“In many companies the IT department was founded many years ago to handle all the information from customers and today they are in separate departments,” she explains. “I [have] seen some companies have combined digital and customer experience departments and are striving towards having one customer dataset to have the complete customer journey map out and control all the data.”

Darya Vselubsky customer success manager at travel software start-up Triptease, agrees that transparency is vital to defeating data silos and innovation blocks.

“Transparency is the key to overcoming any data silos and listening to the customer needs,” Vselubsky remarks. “Customer success teams in general are really crucial as they’re the glue that will connect customers to data to product.

“Product teams may have an idea of customer needs and some of the things that they can do with data. But unless there is transparent communication, which is of course nurtured by customer success teams, there will be misunderstandings that could lead to product development that’s not easy to use or necessary, which will lead to churn and product failure.”

 

Overcoming silos 

In the eyes of James Alexander, Decisioning Director at London based media company Sky, the key to enhancing the digital customer experience for connected customers starts around the concept of identity, gluing together all the different interactions as much as possible into an actionable profile.

Alexander explains: “First of all, it allows you to get much better visibility of what’s going on with your customers. In particular, how they interact with you on your websites, your apps, your call centre and other channels across all of those silos in the organisation. Combining this with key bits of core customer data provides an incredibly rich asset that allows you to really understand your customers.

“Typically, as you integrate the data and marketing technologies to construct the customer profile, it also allows you to go in the other direction and execute a tailored experience at the individual account level.”

 

Big data myth

Another data mistake that causes fragmented experiences is the misconception that quantity is more important than quality. ‘Big data’ as a phrase isn’t as prevalent as it was a few years ago. As mentioned by CX expert Shep Hyken in The Big Book of Customer Insight, Data and Analytics 2018: “Big data is really another way of saying too much data, and when you have too much it gets confusing.” In fact Sherif Mityas, Chief Experience Officer at TGI Fridays, believes the quantity-over-quality viewpoint is perhaps the biggest data mistake a company can make.

Mityas says: “The biggest mistake is thinking you need to have all the data. When we first started TGI Fridays, everyone told us: ‘You have to collect all the data, create the data links and put all the data into one system.’ There was the assumption that more data was better, but this is false. More data is just more noise; it’s not relevant and it’s expensive.

“Instead, it’s about collecting the right data, the data that will create a difference in the action you want to deliver. Data that will inform your AI tools to create a better, relevant and more personalised message.”

A blind focus on data quantity over quality could have damaging results when it comes to AI. Thierry Derungs, Chief Digital Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, acknowledges that AI is always starving for data and “its hunger is gastronomic”, but he maintains that data quality is still compulsory.

“[The classic phrase is] garbage in = garbage out, but with AI it is even stronger because it’s garbage in = total mess out,” remarks Derungs. “You really need to understand what your intelligence is doing, especially if you have machine learning or deep learning. If you cannot be sure that your data at the entry is of the top quality, then understanding what your intelligence is indicating or building as a model will be very difficult.”

 

The power of data quality over quantity

Shep Hyken notes that the best people in marketing analytics will be aware that they only need a few select, but crucial, pieces of data to complete their objectives.

“You’ve got to look at who are we going after and what data is important, and recognise that you can’t be all things to all people,” Hyken explains.

“Systems today are more powerful than ever and have made it easier than ever to understand your different customer segments,” he adds. “Most companies typically have four to six main types of customers. When you understand what those four to six are, then you recognise you don’t need to be everything to everybody, but be as much as you can to those four to six groups of customers and split them up, market to them appropriately and service them appropriately.”

Interested in conquering your data mistakes? Join hundreds of other CX practitioners at CXN Live: Customer Insights and Analytics for exclusive data strategies from the likes of Paypal, TGI Fridays and start-up Triptease. 

Want to Capitalize on Customer Service Excellence? These 14 Key CX Marketing Activities Can Help.

Of the three primary disciplines in business—marketing, sales, and service—customer service has the power to make your company stand out amongst the competition. After all, a recent American Express survey stresses that seven out of 10 U.S. consumers say they have spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service. Yet, while countless companies offer excellent service, few take the time to tout their CX strategy, thereby leaving them to blend with their competitors.

“Customer service is of critical importance to your business because it’s key to retaining the customers you close and extracting more value from them,” Swetha Amaresan writes for HubSpot. “By providing top-notch customer service, businesses can recoup customer acquisition costs and cultivate a loyal customer base that will refer friends and colleagues, serve as case studies and testimonials, and write customer reviews.”

Amaresan adds that, not only are happy customers more understanding and less sensitive, but they’re also your brand’s best advocates, as they can convince prospective new customers of your company’s merits more effectively that your own marketing materials and salespeople ever possibly could.

Customer service, therefore, plays an increasingly pivotal role in your company’s continued success, as today’s saturated, fast-paced market leaves little room for error (or modesty).

“With consumers facing so many choices with who to do business with, you need to set yourself apart from the rest,” R.L. Adams explains for Entrepreneur. “What makes you different? What added value do you bring to the table? Why should a customer work with you rather than your competitor? We’ve all heard the horror stories of people dealing with poor customer service. Yet, we seldom hear the raving-fan stories.”

But your brand has the power to highlight these stories and share its successes. By embracing these 14 key CX marketing activities, your team can use its own history of superior service to support its legacy of satisfaction and loyalty

 

 1.  Customer Satisfaction Annual Report

Much like your company’s annual fiscal report, this summary allows you to convey the results of your customer experience strategy with your stakeholders and customers.

 

2.  Voice of the Customer Video

Interview your top executives to provide the public with high-level insight into your CX strategy and what you are doing to sustain customer loyalty.

 

3.  Case Studies & Customer Testimonials

Allow your stakeholders and customers to shine the light on your success by sharing their own stories and experiences with your brand and expertise.

 

4.  CX Certified Report Card

By partnering with an outside analytics organization, your brand can provide customers and prospects with a third-party audit of your company’s exceptional customer satisfaction data.

 

5.  Intelligent Visual Communications

Project your CX content in real time via dynamic, multimedia LED dashboard displays and handheld devices to promote and improve transparency.

 

6.  CX Infographic

Share the story behind your CX strategy and how you serve your customers through engaging graphics that clearly highlight your brand’s continued efforts to satisfy and delight.

 

7.  Public Relations

Make sure customers and prospects are sufficiently informed by sharing your successes through news releases, newsletters, white papers, and other such collateral.

 

8.  Social Media

Connect with your customers and prospects where they live by tapping into social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share your wins and announcements.

 

9.  Live Video Streaming

Create an online event that captures your CX story as it happens and reach your customers and prospects by embracing today’s most engaging, fastest growing medium.

 

10.  CX Podcasts

Participate in or develop a branded podcast that highlights your CX story so customers and prospects can listen to at their convenience.

 

11.  CX Webcasts

Join an established webcast or develop your own series so your company can tout its successes and your top executives can demonstrate their expertise in their industry.

 

12.  Competitive Satisfaction/Loyalty Analytics

Demonstrate your CX strategy’s effectiveness by illustrating its measurable business impact through competitive satisfaction and loyalty analytics that reinforce your success.

 

13.  Customer Events

Invite customers and prospects to come together so you can simultaneously show your appreciation and highlight your company’s countless CX success stories.

 

14.  CX Awards

Leverage industry awards, such as CRMI’s NorthFace Scoreboard and CEMPRO, to demonstrate and reinforce your brand’s customer service excellence within its industry.

Not sure where to begin? Reach out to CRMI directly for quickstart tips and successful hints that will help your brand stand out amongst the fiercest competitors in your industry.

You’ve Defined Your Brand’s Flaws and Foibles — Now You Need An Effective Corrective Action Plan

Much like your annual New Year’s Resolutions, the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) comes into play after you’ve taken stock of your brand’s faults and failures. After all, you’ve gathered business intelligence, implemented data analytics, and embraced the benchmark process throughout the past quarter, so you’re completely in-tune with what works (and what doesn’t) across your company. Now, however, it’s time to grab that metaphorical hammer so you can knock down what’s beyond repair and rebuild what needs to be fixed.

Whether you’re responding to direct customer feedback, or identifying weak spots within your strategy, corrective action plans empower your brand to restore customer service to its full potential. In return, these measures will ultimately influence your company’s preventive action plans, as you will be able to look ahead and remain aware of any problems that might be lurking underneath the surface of your present strategy.

According to OpenEI’s definition, both corrective and preventive action plans consist of improvements made to an organization’s processes in an effort to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. “It is usually a set of actions that laws or regulations require an organization to take in manufacturing, documentation, procedures, or systems to rectify and eliminate recurring nonperformance.” While corrective actions are implemented in response to customer complaints, unacceptable levels of product non-conformance, issues identified during an internal audit, as well as adverse or unstable trends in product and process monitoring, preventive actions are implemented in response to the identification of potential sources of non-conformity.

But what goes into creating an effective corrective action plan exactly? Follow these five steps as you draft your strategy:

1.  Define the problem.

Before you can tackle the problem, you must define the problem. Be sure to remain clear and concise so all parties involved are on the same page. Once you understand what’s wrong, you can then begin to make it right. Determine what’s happening and how it contradicts your intention. From here, your team can develop a road map that leads your brand back to its ideal destination. If you can name the issue at hand, you can ultimately find its solution. Be sure to listen to your customers constantly, as they will be your most reliable source for insight into the issues that arise during their regular interactions with your company.

2.  Establish accountability.

Once you’ve determined the problem and developed the solution, you must establish accountability among those who are tasked with rectifying the issue. Each party must know what they’re responsible for in this scenario and how their actions contribute to the greater good of the project in question. They need to know the value of their role in detail to ensure that their performance remains consistent and strong. These team members must understand how to operate independently and jointly in order to comprehend how their specific role feeds into the bigger picture. By assigning small, more manageable tasks, you also empower more employees to become invested in the company’s overall success, as they now have the capacity to impact its future CX strategies.

3.  Create quantifiable solutions.

There’s no way to prove your actions will have the desired impact if you don’t create solutions that can be measured over time. You want to fix the problem for good, after all. However, companies have been known to implement changes they assume will remedy the issue, only to find that the problem persists. They neglect to map their approach and assess their progress. They believe they know what’s best and what will work even though their prior failures prove otherwise. Thus, when you finally decide to put the CAP into action, you need to understand which key performance indicators (KPIs) you plan to observe and measure so you can regularly evaluate its impact on CX.

4.  Set attainable deadlines.

While problems certainly don’t adhere to any sort of calendar, your solutions should. When you choose to implement your solution, you must also set up a timeline in order to measure your corrective action plan’s effectiveness. Some issues might take longer to resolve than others, so your deadline must allow your team enough time to address the problem and implement the solution. Each solution might also require multiple steps on the path to complete implementation, so your employees might benefit from a series of deadlines that afford them the freedom to proceed with diligence and care. Deadlines serve as check-ins, essentially, so these instances will provide your team with ample opportunity to examine its progress and realign their approach, if necessary.

5.  Monitor progress regularly.

Because the aforementioned deadlines give you and your team numerous opportunities to review your progress, everyone involved can easily monitor the solution’s success in real time. While it’s important to establish the baseline concept for the solution to your problem, the hypothesis driving your team’s work might not prove accurate over time. Customers can be unpredictable and how they react to your response might not be what you expected. Thus, it’s critical to continually monitor how the changes you’ve enacted are performing under the scrutiny of those for whom it was intended all along. How you feel about the solution and how customers feel about the solution don’t always align, so your CAP must account for their perspectives at every stage.

Geo-specific game-plans: North America

When crafting a customer experience game-plan CX practitioners should consider the geographic location of their target audience if they want to fully meet expectations and delight customers.

As mentioned by Martin Ortlieb, User Experience Researcher at Google, humans are more similar than they are different. However, an awareness of what those differences are and how culture contributes to them could be the key to having a competitive edge with customers in a certain location.

Murray Goodwin, Director, CX Advisory, IPSOS MORI Customer Experience notes: “Understanding how your customers interact with your products and services within different cultures can make or break your commercial successes.”

He adds: “We recently helped a global CPG manufacturer interpret the role that laundry fragrance plays around the globe. Our research revealed a whole host of interesting quirks, but in the US in particular, we learned that having clean-smelling clothes plays a far more important role than it does across Europe, as people were more likely to greet one another with a hug in the west and therefore the way you smell has more significant implications for peoples’ perceptions of your social status.”

He urges brands to remember that people give different NPS scores in different countries. “Selling new cars in the US? We’ve shown that your customers will be far more likely to recommend you to others than if you were selling the same cars in Italy.”

Market consensus agrees that the United States is the most advanced region for brand experience and customer segmentation in most industries, with trends emerging first in the US and then spreading to other countries a few weeks later. As these customers have a higher chance of exposure to world-leading experiences, people based in the US are likely to have higher expectations than their global counterparts.

Support for this argument was witnessed in Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service report which polled 5,000 individuals across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of the US customers surveyed:

 

  • 62% have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience *
  • 43% have done this in the last 12 months *
  • 42% feel the quality of customer service is getting worse *
  • 56% have higher expectations for customer service now than they had a year ago 

 

*This rate exceeded the global average.

Here, CX Network looks at how CX practitioners in North America are reacting to industry trends in their mission to impress US customers and prospects.  This piece will delve into exclusive insights from a research group of US CX professionals from the 2019 Global State of Customer Experience Report to map out key localised customer engagement trends and pain-points.

Top trends for US CX practitioners

Omni-channel: The omni-channel model and the notion of meeting customers in their channel of choice appears to be a much higher priority for US practitioners than their international peers.

If they want to field the omni-channel set-up, brands need to have the correct resourcing in place. In regards to the offline vs digital prioritisation, in one of the recent CX Network Advisory Board calls, Board member Claire Hill, Customer Experience Director of Studio Retail Limited noted: “In previous years there was a laser focus on being digital first – but now we are no longer talking about the online vs offline piece. We are shifting away from just going digital for the sake of it. Internal operational changes are in place so we aren’t pushing the digital agenda forward – we very clearly display phone numbers for customer contact or live chat. We are allowing the customer to interact with us via the channel they choose.”

To inform the operational strategy that would ensure their resourcing was flexible enough to respond to different channels, Claire recalls: “….we turned to historical data to spot trends to inform decisions about having resourcing in the right areas. When a new channel is introduced there may be a spike where take-up is higher than expected – this will even out and help to inform future decisions.”

Human-centred design: Human-centered design centres on providing an experience that solves the needs of a target audience. US practitioners seem to have more interest in this area than the global average, which is encouraging as customer-first cultures need to be nurtured and these exercises contribute to the foundations needed to roll-out more predictive customer service efforts. According to Microsoft’s report, US customers appreciate proactive customer service notifications. Therefore, brands which can pre-empt the needs of their US customers place themselves in a strong position to win loyalty.

At the Omnichannel Exec Forum, Steve Kato-Spyrou – UX Manager, John Lewis highlighted the importance of validating concepts using design thinking approaches. The process of 6 Up-sketching in workshops was discussed – coming up with as many ideas as humanly possible, as hearing ideas from peers can spark creativity. He noted that John Lewis puts ideas generated from workshops in front of its customers to see which ones are popular. In fact, customers visit the John Lewis Customer Hub in person four times a week to inform the validation cycle followed by researchers.

Investment priorities 

Customer acquisition and contact centre solutions seem to have attracted more budget from this section of customer experience practitioners in comparison to their global counterparts.

Customer acquisition:  Healthy lines of new business are critical in the US as customers may be at a high risk of churn. According to Microsoft’s research, the number of US customers that have left a brand because of poor customer service in the last 12 months exceeds the global average.  Businesses should capitalise on this switching economy by making their brand desirable to their competitor’s neglected high-lifetime value customers. Advocates should be empowered to entice new customers and brands should turn themselves into digital listeners offering multiple options for conversion.

Contact centre solutions & Customer insight: It is logical that this batch of CX professionals are investing in bolstering contact centres with more training and equipment with the strong emphasis from the region on knowledgeable customer service representatives.  

A holistic and, if possible, 360° view of the customer will helpful to brands as the majority of US customers surveyed agreed that customer service representatives should know their contact, product and service information/history. This dashboard view provides agents and frontline staff with a more intimate understanding of customers, the services they are subscribed to, their past behaviours and real-time preferences. This rich, relevant insight and real time visualisation of data can be leveraged to proactively engage with customers’ needs in real-time when it really matters.

Key Challenges 

Building a customer-first culture: Similar to practitioners based in countries outside of the US, it appears difficult for businesses to fully tear away from a business-first, product focused end-to-end business mind-set in order to live and breathe a customer-first culture. Customer-centric validation techniques are crucial for educating researchers on improving products and processes. This is especially important in the US as customers in this region seem to be more willing to switch brands after a bad experience.

Linking CX initiatives to ROI:  ROI and board buy-in are significant challenges for all CX practitioners. Both areas are crucial for unlocking future CX investments. CX has a strong influence on business success hence the strong level of investment going into CX, but this of course triggers a desire from senior management for results. The inability to communicate the financial business case can jeopardize the future of a finely crafted CX program.

Final Remark 

In order to win market-share in a certain location, brands should arm themselves with any insights that will give them the edge over their competitors.  A few of these game-changing strategies may be hidden in the regionally influenced preferences of your customers. To capture these preferences, companies should mine their Voice of the Customer data and use it to inform their personalisation methodologies going forward.

For this region in particular, businesses would be well placed to remember that US customers appear to be ready and willing to leave a company because of bad customer experiences. Therefore, when servicing these customers in this area a conscious effort should be made to provide a solid service and recover experiences as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If you want more detail on these findings click here

Top 5 Customer experience trends in Retail

Customer experience has gained respect from various verticals as findings signal that experience will soon be the key decision-maker for consumers, above product and price.

Here we look at five customer experience trends in retail highlighted in our recent research.

 
1. Customer experience is a good revival strategy

Retailers are finding themselves in the position of having to do more with less. Many are reacting by making cuts.  Closing stores, reducing staffing levels or hours according to store size projected sales and ignoring location surrounding facilities and competitors and turning to tech to deliver services at scale.

However, a recent Wharton University study looking at the relationship between staff levels and store performance has shown that it’s a big mistake to react this way to the retail apocalypse. Their study states that well-trained staff are the long-term solution for stable profits. “Understaffing stores and undertraining workers was never a good idea, but it’s especially bad now, because it takes away the biggest advantage traditional stores have over e-tailers: a live person a customer can talk with face-to-face”, said the study’s authors.

In the study after boosting staffing levels at certain outlets over six months, the stores in question made over $8.9m in extra profit even after accounting for additional labour costs. Around 6% more revenue was provided by staff who had received an hour per month in training that empowered them to solve problems for the customer.

Customers are utilising stores now as experiences, Steve Kato-Spyrou – UX Manager, John Lewis notes: “They visit to do fun things and spend the whole day out, not just to simply purchase something. So that’s where we’ve got to head in the next 12 months with in-store: the experience.”

 
2. Utility is key 

Serious investment into CRM, customer insight and analytics represents investment into a robust CX framework for a brand to provide value to clients.

In regards to adding value for customers, Steve Szymczyk, Director Digital Marketing, Adidas (Retail) says: “[A CX trailblazer is] anyone that can capture a consumer’s imagination and use data to combine the two to provide a great consumer experience.”

“What Nordstrom Men’s is doing in the US with the virtual store, that’s a really interesting model. Obviously it’s one store, so we don’t know if it’s working yet.

“There are so many things happening in this space and we’re going to see a lot of ‘trailblazers’ that will have some phenomenal successes and some will have pretty spectacular failures. What is important is to test things, listen to the consumer and they will vote with their wallet, they will tell us what they want.

“As brands, it is our job to provide new levels of comfort, convenience and be thinking about things that the consumer doesn’t know they want yet. In reality, the things that will work are the ones that will be edgy enough for the consumer to have fun with and add value to them in a real way.

“If you’re not adding value and not looking at it from a consumer-centric point of view, then it’s probably not going to work, no matter how much you want to make it happen.

“The one piece of advice is to really put yourself in the shoes (pun intended…) of a consumer to see how they experience your brand, spot where their touchpoints are and work out whether you control them or not. Because let’s face it, a viral video from a 16-year-old on YouTube giving an opinion on your brand counts as a brand interaction, whether you like it or not.”

 
3. Customer-first culture 

Highlighted as the main challenge for CX practitioners in retail, a customer centric or CX centric culture is fundamental to creating an organisation that embeds customer experience into all of its decisions and activities. CX must be a framework for business activity, just as profitability, efficiency and marketability have been embedded previously.

Steve Kato-Spyrou, UX Manager of John Lewis notes that the key retailer battles with breaking down business silos. “We have the knowledge in the building; it’s getting every human into the right place at the right time to disseminate that knowledge and talk to each other to come up with the product or service or experience that works.”

There is no such thing as stand-alone product development, marketing, or digital strategy. Those disciplines are all, essentially, feed into the same purpose; they are the customer’s interaction with the brand or organisation.

 
4. More consistency needed with actioning customer data

Data and analytics dominate as the most important, impactful trend for retailers. Although they recognise actionable insights as a challenge, research from CX Network indicates that many in retail are indeed actioning customer feedback in someway. This has had strategic benefits for the research group involved regarding customising products or packaging and new tactics to improve delivery speed.

However, the research did signal that there is a need for more consistency as many insights fall through the cracks and aren’t fed back to relevant business units.

Retailers should continue to aim to consistently close the loop with the voice of the customer. In a sector increasingly reliant upon social proof it is logical that consumers need to recognise the power of their feedback and contributions. This closure will also encourage the customer to keep the channels of communication open with retail firms, thereby helping the brand to improve their products and processes.

 
5. Omnichannel 

Businesses are struggling to make the omnichannel ecosystem a reality. Minor progression has been made year-on-year according to these stats.

However, businesses must press on in this journey, as omnichannel customers are thought to have more lifetime value than single channel customers. Also, the more your competition progresses with omnichannel the higher expectations will rise from your prospects.

Steve Kato-Spyrou – UX Manager, John Lewis said: “We heard today there are infinite touchpoints. So as far as omnichannel: you should be everywhere your customer is. If you’re saying: ‘we need to look into mobile or we need to look into in-store’, that’s correct, you need to go where the customer is.

“As far as the baseline, I would say look at your strongest competitor – that’s the expectation. It’s a case of: ‘Amazon do X, Y and Z – so, why don’t you do it?’.”

 

Why Your Brand Needs to Embrace a Periodic Benchmark Process

Imagine your brand’s struggling in some capacity. Perhaps sales have plummeted in the last quarter, or employee turnover has skyrocketed over the past year. You’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, but you need to find the root of the problem as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic consequences. As a leader within your industry, you’re aware that one or more of your competitors consistently excel in this particular area, and you’d love to transform their secrets into your success. What should you do now?

Brands that are looking for the “quick fix” might opt for competitive analysis or research, which IMPACT defines as the “field of strategic research that specializes in the collection and review of information about rival firms.” However, despite the notion that it’s crucial to establish what type of financial threat the competition might pose in both the short and long term, analysis and research often comes across as shady and deceptive to others throughout your given industry, putting your company’s reputation on the line. Instead of copying or mirroring brands that are making all the right moves, leaders should use benchmarking to improve obvious weaknesses and identify latent strengths in an effort to adapt and grow according to market demands.

According to the Business Dictionary, “benchmarking” can be defined as the “measurement of the quality of an organization’s policies, products, programs, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers.” Essentially, benchmarking empowers the executives at leading companies to develop a barometer that allows them to gauge how their organization compares with others across the industry. Benchmarking serves as a valuable “reality check” that enables leaders to grasp how their organization stacks up against their direct competitors and adjacent industries in general.

Similarly, its primary objectives are:

  1. To determine what and where improvements are called for throughout the organization.
  2. To analyze how other organizations achieve their high performance levels.
  3. To use this information to improve performance and procedure.

Benchmarking reveals how your company measures up when compared to the industry standard and highlights ways in which your brand can grow over time. Not only can this process uncover issues that have gone overlooked, but it can also provide proof that improvements need to be made immediately, as C-suite executives often fail to allocate the necessary funds and resources until it’s too late.

As iSixSigma indicates, there are three basic classifications of benchmarking: internal, competitive, and strategic.

Internal — Used when a company already has established and proven best practices and they simply need to share them.

Competitive — Used when a company wants to evaluate its position within its industry or needs to identify industry leadership performance targets.

Strategic — Used when identifying and analyzing world-class performance in times when a company needs to go outside of its own industry.

“For innovation professionals who do want to take action, benchmarking best practices can provide ammunition to break internal log jams and convince the C-suite that risk can potentially be mitigated when undertaking new initiatives,” Scott Lenet, co-founder and president at Touchdown Ventures, writes for Forbes. “For those with existing programs who are struggling to communicate value, benchmarking is an opportunity to articulate strengths and address areas for improvement. No one likes to be audited or visit the doctor for an annual physical, but those practices exist for a reason, too.”

He adds, “Innovation programs aligning with industry standards may be more likely to build a positive reputation in the ecosystem, provide ongoing value to parent corporations, and avoid shut down.”

“Benchmarking by specific industry allows you to stack yourself up against other companies and improve your organization,” Berni Hollinger writes for CH Consulting Group. “Who has the best sales per salesperson and how do you stack against them? Which company has the most efficient customer service department and how did it happen?

“In a simplistic sense, it allows you to compare your company against others – not financially, but in best practices,” she adds. “Don’t get me wrong, better processes results in higher profit to the bottom line. How can it not? Each time you improve upon a process or procedure, it saves time, equipment or supplies. Less time spent on the operational end means more time available to increase revenue.”

Periodic benchmarking allows companies to continuously audit their standing within their industry and make changes as necessary in order to preserve their competitive advantage. Because the customer experience remains at the heart of each decision an organization makes, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be up-to-date on industry standards and expectations at all times. Companies that refrain from the benchmarking process until issues arise will find themselves at a disadvantage, as it’s best to be aware of the current and emerging trends throughout the industry.

In the end, your company will reap an array of benefits, including improved quality and performance because, as an organization that’s constantly in-tune with the current industry standard, your brand will continuously strive to bring its products and services up to par with—and inevitably surpass—the norm. Doing so will also remove the tendency to become complacent, as you and your employees will have the insight and incentive necessary to push performance beyond the industry standard to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market.

Consistent benchmarking will reveal weak spots early, allowing your organization to initiate proactive measures that reinforce your leadership and dedication to the overall customer experience.