The Top 10 Best Practices in the Development of Customer Experience (CX) Excellence Programs (CEEPs)

Customer Experience (CX) is becoming a greater focus for many companies world-wide. WHY? The development of Customer Experience Excellence has been demonstrated to enable marketplace competitive advantage and to create fiercely loyal customers who are willing to advocate for the company and its brands and are also willing to pay more for their products and services in exchange for uniquely excellent customer service. In addition, when customers are provided with truly exceptional/memorable customer service time and time again, they repeatedly tell positive stories about their amazing customer experience, telling as many people as they can influence about your company, how their experience made a positive difference in their lives and how your company cares about them vs. your competitors. In essence, delighted customers transition themselves into adjunct company marketing and sales agents for the company that is equal to millions in company paid efforts, plus their grass-root and viral influence is judged at least 5-10x more credible/believable vs. company paid advertising, marketing and sales.

 

The chart below is a small sample of the benefits gained by my clients and many other companies as a result of the systemic implementation of a customer experience excellence program. In addition to the above, employees are found to be much more content working for a company who truly cares about the well being of their customers and the service they are receiving.  It makes employees, as a client employee once said in a leadership meeting, “ I am Part of it, Proud of it”. In essence, making customers happy in turn makes employees feel satisfied.

Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience
Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience

As a result of my experience developing Customer Experience Excellence and CRM Programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies including {American Express, Intuit Software, HP, Ritz-Carlton, Pfizer, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Starwood Hotels, Marriott, JC Penney, Macy’s, Toyota of America, Nissan, General Motors, Lenox, Southwest Airlines, Astra-Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Welch Allyn Medical Systems, Vanguard, Citibank, Allstate, AXA Insurance, SONY, Siebel & Oracle Systems, SAS Software, Unica Software, Neopost, Bank of America, Samsung, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Hilton, etc.}, I have developed the following set of top 10 best practices in relation to the development of a customer experience excellence program:

 

1. The program must be advocated, supported and championed at the CxO level. This is evidenced by the increases in staffing of the position called the “Chief Customer Experience Officer” that most top companies now have.

WHY?:  Forrester reports that 76% of executives say improving CX is a high or critical priority and many companies have established a C-level position to oversee it. Great read, source: “Why every company needs a Chief Customer Experience Officer”, Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/06/why-every-company-needs-a-chief-experience-officer

 

2. A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.

WHY?: The metrics are the vision of the program and without these, the program is flying blind on whether the program is resonating with the customer.

 

3. The customer must be invited, as a brand-company partner, to participate in the program development, roll-out and ongoing evolution.

WHY?: Without really asking the customer about what they want/need directly, all other attempts or approximation of customer needs through analytics or intuition based decision making are merely guesses of what the customer really needs and wants and are likely to miss their mark.

 

4. The program must be benchmarked against, and kept competitive with, all companies who are considered to be world-class customer experience companies.

WHY?: You might feel you have a great customer experience program, but without quantitatively benchmarking it against the best of the best companies, you will have no idea how really good it is, whether it is falling behind with current/leading practices, etc.

 

5. Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the customer service vision statement and overall strategy.

WHY?: Customer experience excellence procedures is the bridge and playbook that takes the higher level customer service vision and strategy and translates into the behaviors (culture) and major actions are needed on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis to bring this vision and strategy to life and make it real to every employee.

 

6. Employees must be supported in the delivery of customer experience excellence by a set of training and development programs that certify them to be able to deliver on the customer service and experience excellence standards, policies, SOPs, etc.

WHY?: The customer experience excellence training programs translate the higher-level customer experience excellence procedure and policies into a detailed playbook of specific and tactical employee actions and interactions that are required to deliver an exceptional customer service experience. In essence, these are the detailed ‘how-to’ of customer experience excellence delivery that makes the program real for front-line and customer facing employees.

 

7. The program must be underpinned and supported by best of breed technology infrastructure to capture customer knowledge and intelligence, mine customer information, automatically deliver relevant customer information real-time, allow customer to set preferences, etc.

WHY?: Technology will not only become the longitudinal memory for customer insights including needs, wants, preference, etc., but it will also serve to automate the delivery of intelligent customer interactions such that the program doesn’t become burdensome (vs. simple) to operate as it evolves and grows.

 

8. Related to #7 above, the program must be sophisticated in delivering on the various customer segment needs and wants, yet needs to be simple to engage and manage for customers and employees.

WHY?: People do business with companies that make it easy to do business with – fast, efficient, responsive companies are sought out more than those that are not. In addition, a program that is difficult to administer is at risk for execution errors by employees or by them short-cutting or avoiding the process.

 

9. The organizational culture at all levels must be created that is supportive of the customer experience excellence standards and all incentives must be aligned to encourage employee excellence in its delivery.

WHY?: Research by Gallup shows that work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity — and they experienced lower employee turnover, absenteeism, and safety incidents. In other words, it is difficult (impossible?) to deliver excellence customer service without a great corporate culture.  Original Source:  https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

 

10. The CEE program must be viewed holistically that takes into consideration people, process, technology and culture (PPTC) capabilities as well as all customer segments across all customer preferred channels of interaction.

WHY?: Pure and simple, a great program is implemented with the full (holistic) spectrum of capabilities considered. Focusing on only 1 or 2 of the 3 pillars of CEE (refer to CEEF framework chart below) will sub-optimize its performance.

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

While the previous chart pointed to benefits of implementing customer experience excellence, the above chart, while self-explanatory, highlights a few negative impacts of having poor customer experience delivery. In addition to the above, companies that have a poor customer experience also experience the following:

  1. Market share erosion

  2. Declining customer acquisition success

  3. Declining cross-sell and up-sell success

  4. Customer social sentiment that is increasingly negative across an array of social media platforms

The above chart illustrates that in order to effectively gauge the effectiveness of your current customer experience program, you must be measuring across a number of company areas to determine what is working and what is not. Sound familiar?   2) ” A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.”

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

The above chart is a best practice Customer Experience Framework that depicts the major pillars that enable customer experience excellence.

  1. The first pillar is the customer knowledge and insights that enable you to provide the customer with the right interaction at the right time and by the right channel of their choice.

  2. The 2nd is a robust customer strategy and delivery model to define the desired level of customer service delivery and how you will enable it.

  3. The 3rd and last is the development of a customer oriented culture to nurture and expand customer relationships that not only provides a differentiated customer experience, but also drives increased sales, loyalty and spend per customer.

I use this chart above, along with others, to develop the customer strategy, vision, policies, etc. Sound familiar?  5) Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the over developed customer strategy.

Key Deliverables in the Development of a  Best Practice Customer Experience

Key Deliverables in the Development of a Best Practice Customer Experience

The above chart is the waterfall development method I use to develop customer experience excellence. With few exceptions, each of the top level items must be mostly developed before the following lower level items can be developed.

For example, the top level CEE program vision, strategy and goals must be developed first, to be used as a guide for the development of its supporting standards, policy and guidelines.  All of these customer experience excellence deliverables align with the ten (10) best practices we covered at the beginning of this article.

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Above are the depicted major work-streams I employ to develop customer experience excellence for my clients. These major work-streams align to delivering the top 10 CEE best practices as well as my waterfall deliverable development schema in the previous chart.

Summary:

In summary, improving your customer experience delivery doesn’t have to cost a great deal, can start slowly, can now be measured and the return on investment is generally in multiples (2-10x+) of the cost. Without a delivering an exceptional customer experience (via an exceptional corporate culture),  you will be unable to acquire and retain great employees, will have more costly sales and marketing efforts and your customers will not be acquired as quickly or remain as loyal (vs. competitors). With all this being true, do you really have any excuse at all remaining not to actively work on ensuring you are delivering the best company customer experience possible as to create competitive marketplace advantage?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your customer service and customer experience, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Aligning Market Insights & Trends to Customer Strategies & Priorities

Does Your Company Ever Grapple with how to answer the Following Questions related to the market you operate in and your customers?:

  1. What is the size of the potential pool of new customers and which are the best customers to acquire?

  2. Which customers are your most profitable and how do you get other customers to grow and become part of your top ( and most profitable) customer segment group?

  3. What is your current customer share of wallet (SOW) as compared to your competitors and what does driving small incremental increases in your customer SOW do to your overall revenue?

  4. What are the shifting attitudinal and behavior patterns of your customer market and how do you develop a strategy that ‘gets in front of’ these trends?

  5. What are the shifting customer demographics of your marketplace as well as the underlying shift in spending habits

  6. What are the changes in customer preferred marketing channels as well as trends that might impact customer loyalty strategy

Market Insights and Trends Drive Customer Strategy, Programs

Market Insights and Trends Drive Customer Strategy, Programs

 

The above charts illustrate why it is critically important to have clear and accurate insights into your new customer market potential/pool as well as the current customer base and their share of wallet.

The chart above (left side) details the trends for new customers by segment as compared to current customers.

The chart above (right side) illustrates which customers drive the current percentage of revenue in order to understand how customer priorities and strategy should be defined.

Critical Insights: Top Customer, Top Profitable Customers and Customer Share of Wallet vs. Competitors

Critical Insights: Top Customer, Top Profitable Customers and Customer Share of Wallet vs. Competitors

Market Spend Insights Can Be Transformational in term of goal setting

The above graphic illustrates how share of wallet changes drive bottom line revenue as well as converting customers into more loyal top customers.

Customer Attitudinal Trends Insights Are Critical to Customer Strategy

Customer Attitudinal Trends Insights Are Critical to Customer Strategy

Understanding your market & customer behavior insights is crucial to your company’s survival

The above graphic demonstrates a deep understanding in the shifting attitudinal and behavior patterns of the customer market

Customer Market Buying Power Insights are Crucial For Developing a Coherent Customer Strategy

Customer Market Buying Power Insights are Crucial For Developing a Coherent Customer Strategy

The above chart illustrates a company capability to understand shifting demographics as well as the underlining shift in spending habits per demographic group

Understanding Key Customer Behavior & Preferences is a Customer Strategy Imperrative

Understanding Key Customer Behavior & Preferences is a Customer Strategy Imperrative

The above chart illustrates a company capability to understand the changes in marketing channels as well as trends that might impact customer loyalty strategy

Customer Strategy: An Alignment of All Customer & Market Insights to Maximize Market Dominance & Profitability

Customer Strategy: An Alignment of All Customer & Market Insights to Maximize Market Dominance & Profitability

Once Customer and Market Insights are fully embraced, an Effective Customer Strategy can be developed that includes optimizing market channel selection, as well as contact and loyalty strategy program components

Blog Summary: In order to achieve the above insights, your company must develop and deploy the following strategic capabilities and delivery programs:

  1. Market sizing & trend insights

  2. Customer revenue and profitability insights analysis

  3. Customer share of wallet and competitor spend insights delivery capability

  4. Market trend & consumer attitudinal and behavior change longitudinal analysis

  5. 360° customer needs and preference cultivation that enables a personalized customer experience strategy and delivery (i.e. preference portal customer selection of preferred channels, content types, offer types, frequency of content delivery by content type.)

Below is a list of companies where I have helped develop these programs and are considered world-class in these practices:

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Capital One

  • Amazon

  • American Express

  • Kelloggs

Customer Emotions that Drive Buying Behavior

Find out why most companies miss the mark in terms of focusing on generating positive customer emotions

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Solutions to Problems AND Good Customer Emotions Need to Exist for Long-Term Loyalty

Good products and services are only part of the equation in terms of generating customer repeat business, loyalty, long-term retention

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Some Customers Will Work to Destroy Your Business While Others Are Willing Partners in Helping You Grow, Be More Successful

Some customers will actually work to kill your company and brand(s), namely dissenters and defectors, while others will work tirelessly to bolster your sales, reputation, customer acquisition efforts, etc.

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Guidelines for Generating Positive Customer Emotions and Relations

It is essential that all of your customer facing team members are representing the company and brand well, and that they adhere to your stated customer principles

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Sample Steps to Developing an Environment Where Customers Are Motivated to Buy from Your Company

Your customer facing team members need to develop a customer interaction playbook that is consistent with your brand and customer mantra

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Alignment of the customer delivery ‘value chain’ is Crucial

Every aspect of your customer delivery ‘value chain’ needs to be synchronized to deliver a highly consistent and high quality (emotional) experience as rated by your customers

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A Chief Customer Officer’s (CCO) role is to Advocate for the Customer within the CxO suite

** Refer to previous blog article on the 5 R’s of customer loyalty – https://goo.gl/L4IA3q

If you rate customer satisfaction and loyalty as a high company priority, then they must be represented by a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) that will truly advocate for customers and set the customer standards that drive positive customer emotions

Summary:  The following points summarize the content of this blog as follows:

  • In order to develop customer loyalty you must have both great products and services as well as the ability to generate positive customer emotions (customer delight, feeling connected to the company)

  • Segments of your customer base will work to destroy your attempt at market success while others are your partners in helping your company become even more successful.

  • In order to drive positive customer emotions and convert your customers into advocates and super-advocates, you must develop an internal customer relations playbook (develop customer vision, code of customer interaction conduct, etc.)

  • Every aspect of your customer delivery ‘value chain’ needs to be in-synch in order to deliver an end-to-end superb and fulfilling customer experience

  • Every company should have the equivalent of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) in order to set the customer vision and standards and be the ultimate advocate for all of your customers.

Win a Customer for Life by Employing the 5 R’s of Customer Loyalty

 

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The 5 “R’s” of Customer Loyalty

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Ensure Your Company is 5 “R” Customer Compliant

Following the 5 R’s of Customer Loyalty Will Enable Your Company to Attract and Keep Customers for Life

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Reliable

 

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Top Steps to Ensuring Your Company is R-Reliable

The First “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Setting High Quality Customer Standards (External) and Goals (Internal) and then Delivering on that Customer Promise for Each and Every Customer Interaction as well as the overall & long-term customer relationship

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Reliability

 

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Reliability (continued)

 

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Responsive

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Responsive

 

The 2nd “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Customer’s Expectations Are Met: Needs, Concerns, Quality, Cycle Time Expectations, etc.

 

Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness

Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness (continued)

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Recognizable

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Recognizable

The 3rd “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company has Distinctive and Positive Characteristics such that it drives positive emotions (driving repeat business, customer referrals, word-of-mouth adverting, etc. 

 

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Example of How a Company Becomes Customer R-Recognizable

 

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Example of How a Company Becomes Customer R-Recognizable (continued)

 

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Ensure Your Company is R-Relationship Oriented

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Relationship Oriented

The 4th “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company develops a high quality and mutually beneficial relationship with your customers based on mutual respect, customer insights, an ongoing and open dialogue and a model that encourages a partnership between your brand & company and your customers 

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates That It Is Customer R-Relationship Oriented

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates That It Is Customer R-Relationship Oriented (continued)

 

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Rewarding

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Rewarding

The 5th “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company rewards mutually beneficial customer behavior (greater share of wallet, spend, brand partnership activities, etc.) such that it drives further and longer-term customer loyalty.

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Rewarding

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Rewarding (continued)

 

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Is Your Company Ready to Take the 5 “R” Pledge?

SUMMARY: If you take the pledge above to adhere to the 5 R’s of customer loyalty, you will enhance your ability to attract and retain customers for life. Key to this is developing the capabilities to be best in class for each “R” and ensuring that you are (cost effectively) maintaining a major qualitative advantage in each customer R vs. your competitors.

The Formula for Creating a Positive Chain Reaction with Your Customers and Clients To Win & Keep Them for Life

nuclear1

Introducing the Theory of Customer-Relativity

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Theory Of Customer Relativity

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Danger – Critical Mass With Your Customers Ahead !

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Relativity – Treat Customer Like Family

Treating customers, clients and guests like your close relatives will create lasting customer loyalty lasting many generations.

memorable-guest-experience

Memorable Guest Experience Formula

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Critical Mass Formula for Customer Excellence

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Derived Benefits from the Customer-Relative Relativity Formula

Following the customer theory of relativity formula can net your company a distinctive customer competitive advantage

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Family Like Customers

small_emc2

Critical Mass Formula for Customer Excellence

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Listen Intently – Family & Customers

Listen intently to your customers for improvement gifts in order to improve upon your product and service delivery

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Welcome – Family & Customers

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Fulfill Special Requests – Family & Customers

Discovering and fulfilling unmet customer needs is a golden opportunity for you to grow your business

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Made to Feel Welcome – Family & Customers

Leveraging gathered insights can help you surprise & delight your customers by anticipating and pre-delivering (without having to be requested) on customer needs and preferences

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Gather & Leverage Needs & Preferences to Surprise & Delight Your Guests

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Make Your Guests Feel at Home – Family & Customers

Delivering on a company environment that drives a feeling of belonging, contentment, ‘connectedness’ will endear your customers to your company and brand and make them loyal for life

welcome4

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Ensure the end-to-end guest experience ‘chain’ is optimal, memorable, etc.

Mapping, analyzing and applying continuous improvement to the end-to-end guest experience on an ongoing basis will ensure each step of that experience chain is high quality and optimal

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customer_service_ambassador_final

Hire & Maintain World-Class (1-in-10,000) Customer Ambassadors who treat customers like family

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Summary

Top 3 Keys to Delivering an Exceptional Customer/Client Experience

  1. Hire passionate ‘customer ambassadors’ and empower them to drive your customer & client experience. These ambassadors are typically extremely difficult to find and are generally a 1-in-1,000 find, but if you know you have found one when many of your public reviews mention this person by name as delivering exceptional (family like) customer service.

  2. Adopt a customer/client first set of policies and practices that empower your entire team to make right any customer perceived imperfection, unmet need, etc. in the delivery of your products and/or services. This is similar of how you would go out of your way to ensure your relatives are comfortable when visiting as guests.

  3. To support #2 above, develop a listening & learning system to collect, retain and then deliver on expressed customer/client needs, wishes, preferences, etc. Ritz-Carlton does this extremely well with their guests and it shows in terms of attained customer satisfaction levels.

Summary:

By employing an E=MC² formula and treating your customers comparable to your relatives, you will create a positive chain reaction experience unlike any other and enable your company to leapfrog your competitors. This formula has worked for numerous companies employing those 1-in-a-thousand customer ambassadors who care about customer with all their heart as they do they own relatives.

Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy

 

  • Do you know which of your customers is destroying your company and brand value via negative word-of-mouth comments?
  • Do you know which of your customers is on the verge on defecting from your company and brands to one of your competitors?
  • Do you know which of your customers is promoting your company and brands and generating positive company and brand value on your behalf?
  • Do you know which of your customers is as passionate about your company and brand as your CxOs and should be rewarded as such?

 

To find out the answer to these questions, read the rest of this informative blog article below.

Customer Loyalty & Advocacy

     Customer Loyalty & Advocacy

{Click on image above for a larger/clearer view}

Your customer base is almost always represented by the above spectrum of customers. What varies from business to business is the percentage in each segment group. The more well managed your business, the more skewed to the right your customers tend to be. Therefore a business must develop strategies to migrate customers continually from the left to the right from segment group to segment group in increasing numbers. The rest of this blog is dedicated to sharing best practices on how to migrate more of your customers to the right of the spectrum.

Customer Loyalty and Advocacy Framework

    Customer Loyalty and Advocacy Framework

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For any company to achieve world-class status, one must carefully map out a customer loyalty and advocacy framework including the following component steps from the chart above:

  1. Clearly articulated customer segment definitions based on customer satisfaction levels, in addition to customer buy/sell segment definitions (top independent seller, high volume digital seller, etc.)                                                     
  2. A clear customer segment strategy and detailed tactics on the customer treatment that should be employed for each customer satisfaction segment               
  3. Customer cross-segment best practices and processes to drive segment migrations from the far most left segment to the far most right segment (i.e. from dissenters to super advocates)
Customer Loyalty & Advocacy Framework Segments

   Customer Loyalty & Advocacy Framework Segments

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The above customer loyalty & advocacy framework includes the following segments:

  • Customer Brand Dissenters or Malcontents – Very negative and detrimental to the company’s brand(s)
  • Customer Company Defectors – Very likely to defect to a competitor
  • Customer Neutral or Indifferent – Neither brand supporters or detractors of the company’s brand(s)
  • Customer Brand Supporters – Slightly positive about the company’s brand(s)
  • Customer Brand Advocates – Very positive and generating positive value to the company brand image
  • Customer Brand Super Advocates or Delighted Customers – Active promoters of the company’s brands, adding continuous & tremendous value to the company brand image

A formal social and company/brand listening and tracking program is a best practice on how to identify which of your customers exist in each of the above segments (see my previous blog entry on the topic of Social listening programs).

Customer Dissenters & Defectors

Customer Dissenters & Defectors

{Click on image above for a larger/clearer view}

From this graphic above, we can see clearly that the strategy should be as follows:

  • Dissenters: Diffuse and redirect customer angst and anger and come to some sort of closure agreement on for the source of their angst/anger.
  • Defectors: Get the defectors to see the entire spectrum of value the company has to offer and get them back to the level of positive company engagement vs. disenfranchisement. Provide insights to how a more positive company relationship would reward them – loyalty programs and other rewards.

Unless the individuals in these segments are high value or high profitability customers, then you would want to minimize the financial rewards to these customer satisfaction segments.

In addition and based on my research and experience, you are wasting your marketing and sales $$ spend to these two segments as they are much more unlikely to respond to any marketing offers due to being so currently dissatisfied with the company and brands (think about it – why would they trust you and buy more of the same when their initial experiences were so terrible?). 

Customer Neutrals & Supporters

  Customer Neutrals & Supporters

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From this graphic above, we can see clearly that the strategy should be as follows:

  • Neutrals: Develop strategies to more of these customers to a net positive relationship by communicating more frequently and effectively with this segment group. The path toward becoming a company/brand supporter should be clearly and frequently communicated to these customers so that they are encouraged to become ever more value to the company and its brands. This group is likely to be lukewarm to your sales and marketing efforts so expenditures here should be highly selective. 
  • Supporters: Develop these supporters into more loyal and more committed customers by developing brand ‘stickiness’ through company loyalty rewards, referral programs, by making it easy (discounts) to buy additional company brands or products, etc. The path toward becoming a company/brand advocate should be clearly and frequently communicated so that these customers become ever more value to the company and its brands. You should have formal programs in place that amplifies their support of your company and brands via social media, forums, etc. 

 

Customers in these segments should be offered tiered financial rewards to incentivize them to want to contribute at even higher levels to brand value and to remain even more loyal to the company and its brands.

Customer Advocates & Super Advocates

 Customer Advocates & Super Advocates

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From this graphic above, we can see clearly that the strategy should be as follows:

 

  • Advocates: This group should be provided with an array of rewards and accolades for helping effectively spread the word about the company or value of the company’s brands, especially if the individual customer is of high value, profitability or influence. The path toward becoming a company/brand super-advocate should be clearly and frequently communicated to these customers so that they are encouraged to become ever more value to the company and its brands. You should have formal programs in place that amplifies their advocacy of your company and brands via social media, forums, etc. 
  • Super Advocates: This group should be provided with top tier rewards and accolades for helping effectively spread the word about the company or value of the company’s brands, especially if the individual customer is of high value, profitability or influence. You should have formal programs in place that, not only amplifies their super-advocacy of your company and brands via social media, forums, etc., but also provides significant rewards for helping increase your brand value (i.e. via a “brand ambassador” rewards program). 
Customer Loyalty & Advocacy Cross-Segment Best Practices

Customer Loyalty & Advocacy Cross-Segment Best Practices

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The graphic above highlights just a few of the cross-segment customer loyalty & advocacy best practices I recommend that companies continually practice to migrate customers from the negative segments that hurt the company’s brand value (dissenters, defectors) to positive segments (advocates and super advocates) that adds incredible value to a company’s brand.

 

Here are the brands for which I am a Dissenter, Defector, Neutralist, Advocate and Super-Advocate for based on my own personal experience and opinions:

 

  • Companies and Brands for which I am an official dissenter:
Companies For Which I am Dissenter

Companies For Which I am a Dissenter

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Sears

Sears

Sears – I received abject customer service back in the late 1980’s and don’t want anything to do with the retailer ever again. I have tried to give them a second chance and continue to have an unsatisfactory experience.  I pledge to never set foot in a Sears store again.

Target

Target

Target – I interviewed for a senior management position at Target a several years ago was treated so poorly that even the HR manager at the time said the treatment of me was ‘questionable’. She then shared with me that she asked upper management “are we really trying to hire the best candidate here?” before she left the company.  I vowed to never shop in Target again and have held true to my word. 

Empire Carpet Today

Empire Carpet Today

Empire Carpet – We had several issues with our carpet installation and follow up customer service.  They are very disorganized, non-customer friendly and do not seem to keep with the volume of sales that they generate.  I will never use this company ever again. We steer people away from this company if asked.

2) Companies and Brands I am likely to Defect from or have defected from and tell everybody about why I am about to leave (or have left) these company & brands:

Companies for which I am a (potential) Defector

Companies for which I am a (potential) Defector

Bank of America

Bank of America

Bank of America – Closed many of the local branches where I live and the abundance of local branches was the reason I opened an account with BOA in the first place. The remaining branches are now crowded and not staffed adequately. This tells me they care more about the bottom line than customer satisfaction.

Marriott

Marriott

Marriott – In my opinion Marriott has lost its way. I used to be a Platinum member at Marriott for many years. Their properties since that time have become worn as compared to their competitors and they seem to not listen well to their customers. An example of this myopia is when they converted the Courtyards to the Bistro concept. Every customer I speak to was disappointed by this change but they went ahead and did it anyway (presumably to save $$ on operations costs).

Frigidaire/Electrolux

Frigidaire/Electrolux

Frigidaire/Electrolux – Our dehumidifier stopped working after only 1 year.  We have been trying to get a credit from them for six months with no end in sight.  The return process is the most customer unfriendly I have ever encountered with no possibility of human interaction. We have been without a dehumidifier for an entire year due to their poor customer service process.

3) Companies and Brands I am Neutral about and don’t really have much to say about them:

Companies For Which I Have Neutral Sentiment
Companies For Which I Have Have Neutral Sentiment

Samsung, Sony, Direct TV, Time Warner Cable, Panasonic, Cuisinart, Hunter Fans, Home Depot, Lowes, Macy’s, Sunoco, US Air, Delta, Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger King, Chili’s, Pizzeria Uno, American Airlines, Holiday Inn and many more. This category contains the most number of brands due to the distribution across segment group being shaped like a bell curve

4) Companies and Brands I am an Advocate of and share positive stories with anybody who is willing to listen:

 

Companies For Which I am An Advocate
 Companies For Which I am An Advocate
American Express

American Express

American Express – I have worked with American Express as a consultant on several different strategic projects.  They are an extremely well run organization with some very smart people running the company. I have also been a Platinum card member for many years.  They provide excellent customer service and their fee structure is the only thing keeping me from being a super-advocate. I tell everyone I meet I consider American Express a world-class company.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

 

Southwest Airlines – Southwest is just a great airline and makes the flying experience pleasurable. They are almost always on-time, the employees are friendly (some even humorous) and they try to be reasonable to their customers at every turn. I used to hate Southwest and am now a Southwest lover/advocate.

Hilton Hotels

Hilton Hotels

Hilton Hotels – Did you guess what hotel I become more loyal to after minimizing my Marriott loyalty? Guess no further. Hilton has been on a roll creating new and invigorating hotels and I am now an advocate/loyalist and stay at Hilton Hotels whenever possible.

Dooney & Bourke

Dooney & Bourke

Dooney & Burke – Dooney & Bourke creates high quality, classic and trendy handbags and accessories that last over long periods of time even with heavy usage.  Styles and collections are priced to reflect the consistent durability and attractiveness of this brand. If something goes wrong with their products, they stand behind them through high quality customer service.

5) Companies and Brands I am a Super – Advocate of and go out of my way to tell everyone how wonderful my experience has been with dealing with these companies:

 

Companies For Which I am a Super Advocate

Companies For Which I am a Super-Advocate

 

Cox Automotive

  Cox Automotive

Cox Automotive – Cox Automotive has a great company culture consisting of many top automotive brands that includes Kelly Blue Book, Autotrader, Manheim, NextGear, DealSheild to name a few. The company is one of the best places I have ever worked and includes an employee first culture that they actually adhere to and practice. The company is run by a world-class CEO named Sandy Schwartz that has a great vision for the company’s future and is very visible in his support for the employee oriented culture.

Toyota

Toyota

Toyota  – My family has owned Toyota vehicles for many years.  Toyotas are extremely reliable automobiles. I have a Tundra with 132,000 miles on it and have had zero major issues with it. I have such an affinity with my Tundra I have a hard time thinking about trading it in for another vehicle even though it would most definitely be another Toyota.

Ritz Carlton

Ritz Carlton

Ritz-Carlton – I love staying at Ritz-Carlton since the experience each and every time is truly memorable. I also worked as a consultant for Ritz-Carlton to help design the perfect customer experience for guests.  Ritz Carlton’s goal is to create an experience to remember and smile about and they live up to this promise every time.

 

The amazing (or sad) part about my sentiment rankings of the above companies is that, despite spending millions ($$$) on analytic systems and databases, I am willing to bet that very few, if any, actually were knowledgeable about my sentiment toward their brands prior to my writing this article.

This relates directly to a previous blog entry I developed on why CRM (Customer Relationship Management based on historical analytic insights) is dead and a new CRRM model is now a best practice. In this article I point out how world-class companies now query their customers how they feel about the company and brands on a periodic basis. Like me, many customers would be more than willing to share their sentiment and how they are feeling towards the company and their associated brands. Bottom Line: Analytic models provide minimal understand of true customer sentiment when it is primarily focused on historical purchases, spend, etc.

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