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  • Differentiated Customer Experience: Focus on the End Game Jane Hiscock -
    We often judge an experience by the most intense points and the ending experience. The peaks and valleys influence whether to repeat or avoid a similar situation in the future. This is called the peak-end rule and was popularized by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his paper “When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End.” His research shows that we often disregard the duration of the experience and are more influenced by the peak and final levels of comfort or discomfort.

    This is perhaps most highly experienced with air travel. Most fliers have had an experience of going on a business or personal trip where the entire trip was tainted by a bag not arriving at the end, or a flight being rescheduled multiple times delaying the return home. The negative peak at the end of the trip ends up ruining the entire experience.

    In our work with C-level leaders, there is a significant amount of focus on the customer experience and how to shape the most differentiated and meaningful experiences. This often gets deep into mapping of customer journeys and in some cases, can quickly become complicated as leaders try to imagine every possible turn on the path. What if we just focused on the end of the experience and tried to make that end point meaningful and differentiated?

    In our work of facilitating Board meetings – the final session is the key peak point. We focus on giving the executives around the table the last word. While it can feel overwrought, it is amazing that the participants have a significantly better experience when we do this approach because they feel they were able to contribute from the beginning through to the close of the meeting.
  • Customer experience without engagement: A dead-end street Karen Steele -
    At a recent company event, Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayan made the bold claim that “customer experience is all or nothing.” That’s certainly true, as far as it goes. But I want to suggest something equally bold, which is that this statement overlooks a crucial component of the customer experience equation: engagement.

    Customer experience and engagement are the yin and yang of the new Engagement Economy, joined in a symbiotic union. As marketers, we own the relationship that forms the customer experience, which is the destination. But we also own customer engagement, which is the journey. And it is impossible to reach a destination without some kind of journey.

    Done correctly, engagement is the glue that holds customers and fosters long-term relationships. Experience without engagement is not “sticky.” It does not create the lasting bonds that keep customers from drifting away. As the marketing landscape shifts towards maximizing lifetime customer value, the ability to personalize every journey and engage meaningfully at every step is paramount to delivering a consistently winning experience that brings buyers back again and again.

    Let’s look more closely at how this works.

    Engagement is binary: You have it, or you don’t. There are many ways for a business to engage meaningfully with customers: by knowing all about them, by standing for something personally meaningful to them, by anticipating their needs and making relevant suggestions… the list goes on. Regardless of how a business engages, it’s abundantly evident to customers if the effort is being made to engage meaningfully or not.
  • Customer Experience is the New Competitive Battleground Jim Tierney -
    Loyalty360 routinely speaks with brands about the critical importance of customer experience as a key differentiator among today’s loyalty marketers.

    Last month, Julie Pukas, head of U.S. Bankcard and Merchant Services at TD Bank, told Loyalty360 that she believes the customer experience is built around customer expectations.

    “We know that customers want experiences that are better and faster–and it’s up to the industry to ensure we can do that without sacrificing security,” Pukas explained. “We also know that consistently positive customer experiences breed customer loyalty, so within the industry, we need to focus on how we can deliver that in all channels–brick and mortar, online, and mobile. Consumers’ desire for seamless transactions is permeating every industry and there are some game-changers who are really upping the ante when it comes to payments and customer experience. The companies that will win will do so by prioritizing seamless and frictionless customer experiences.”

    According to Insightly CEO Anthony Smith, customer relationship management (CRM) is entering a new era. With an increasing number of purchasing alternatives and lower than ever switching costs, customers will abandon businesses in an instant if they fail to meet their heightened expectations for service and delivery. It costs eight times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones, yet legacy CRMs are designed around tracking leads and forecasting deals, not growing customer relationships or bringing their projects to completion.

    The future of CRM lies in measuring, acting upon, and growing customer relationship intelligence using social, interactive peer-to-peer, and environmental signals.
  • Doing less with more: How to improve customer experience on a shrinking budget David Thornton -
    How does an agency improve the customer experience while simultaneously dealing with a shrinking budget, a smaller workforce and maybe even a hiring freeze? It’s a classic federal Catch-22, and while no one has figured out a way to beat the system yet, some federal managers have developed strategies for survival.

    The Internal Revenue Service has found itself battling severe budget cuts for years. Its funding is down by more than $1 billion since 2010, and it’s lost around 18,000 employees in that time. This has caused the agency to struggle with customer service in the past.

    John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner, said in situations like that, it’s necessary to keep planning for the future, even at the cost of the present.

    “If we keep guerrilla war fighting our way through the budget process and just try to stay afloat, three to five years down the road we’re just going to be three to five years farther behind,” Koskinen said during a July 12 Partnership for Public Service panel. “Even at the expense of some of the critical things we have to do day by day, we had to invest in what we called the ‘future state’ — what would the future state experience of taxpayers be, or should be, down the road?’ It’s been a balancing act. I get grumbled at once in awhile because we don’t do in the short term as well as we’d like to in answering phones or dealing with people in person.”
    He said his current plan for three to five years in the future is that customers will be able to interact with the IRS like they do with their banks — everything digital and automated, no human involvement required.

    But in order to reach that point, he has to divert resources to improving his IT systems, which currently aren’t up to the task. Those resources might be able to hire more employees and improve customer service metrics like call wait times in the short term, but Koskinen is playing the long game.

    Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for Passport Services at the State Department, said resources aren’t as much of a challenge for her agency.

    “The best thing about our strategy is that we’re fee funded,” Sprague said during the panel. “So as our demand goes up, so does our resources, and that’s made a huge difference.”

    She said what’s most important to her agency’s customer service is the culture.
  • Making the Most of the Omnichannel Customer Experience Maria Haggerty -
    The lines between a digital and physical shopping experience have become blurred as brands adapt to changing consumer behavior. While bankruptcies, restructurings and the closing of underperforming brick-and-mortar stores are rampant across the industry, it can be seen as an opportunity to adjust to evolving customer needs and allow them to shop however they want to.

    The most obvious lesson is that a strategy designed around the omnichannel customer experience is no longer optional. The secret sauce is figuring out how your customers want to shop. We’re seeing brands that were exclusively ecommerce now starting to explore physical locations such as showrooms and guide shops. We’re also seeing brick-and-mortar retailers utilize physical locations as mini distribution centers, offering in-store pickup and return of online purchases.

    Here are three key areas to consider as you begin to rethink the omnichannel customer experience to survive and thrive in today’s brave new world of retail:

    Optimizing the Shipping Experience
    While many brands don’t consider Amazon a direct competitor, there is no escaping their impact. Among the reasons customers gravitate to Amazon are the breadth of its product assortment and free shipping. Even though Prime membership comes at a premium price, it has had profound effects on purchase behaviors, including the widespread expectation of free shipping.

    While offering free shipping can certainly bump up purchases and topline, it can also be expensive and quickly erode margins. To remain competitive, you might consider offering promotional free shipping options at an order value threshold, or a free ship-to-store or pickup in-store option.

    The key to success is determining what’s right for your brand, what’s consistent with your value proposition and what’s appropriate for your competitive realities. The idea of free shipping sounds wonderful, but it’s not the only way to build customer loyalty and increase lifetime value. If you plan to offer free shipping, make it part of your overall product pricing (pre-discounts/sales).

    Optimizing the In-Store Experience
    There are significant advantages to maintaining a physical retail presence, all of which can be leveraged by brands that understand their customers. However in today’s climate it’s imperative to make your physical locations a complement to your ecommerce presence.

    A store affords brands the opportunity to engage with customers in ways that ecommerce alone cannot support. Instead of bigger and larger footprints, consider downsizing and optimizing the store to create a showroom, thus offering a more immersive brand experience. You might also consider a store-within-a-store model, which has grown in popularity.

    Both approaches provide the ability to do more with less. RFID-powered showrooms only need to stock enough items for customers to touch, feel, and try on. RFID embedded product tags allow customers to approach a kiosk, select their size, color, etc., and have it delivered to their home. Alternatively, a store-within-a-store reduces overhead expenses like rent and electricity.

    Optimizing Customer Engagement
    One of the most critical components of rock-solid marketing is connecting the customer experience across every channel they engage with and sell through. Everything from messaging to creative must be aligned to provide a seamless experience at every touchpoint.

    As more brands restructure and put more chips behind their online channels, creating an immersive omnichannel customer experience must remain top of mind. The same goes for “click to brick” players that open physical stores. This level of consistency will ultimately generate greater brand loyalty and trust. When these expectations are met and exceeded, the result is greater customer lifetime value whether they come through your door, click on a social media post or press the “add to cart” button.

    Despite the drumbeat of store closings and restructurings, these are exciting times in retail. There is ample opportunity for brands to reimagine their engagement with customers while also rethinking the logistics that fuel their operations. No matter what you’re selling, where you’re selling it, or who you’re selling it to, a solid approach to logistics and fulfillment that puts the omnichannel customer experience front and center is a must if you want to compete and succeed in commerce.
  • The forgotten touch point in your customer experience Willemijn Schneyder -
    When I unbox a new coffee machine I want to be able to make my first cappuccino and not learn how to clean the machine, right? You would think so, but I regularly come across manuals and instructions that fail to keep it simple.

    “Put the customer first! Improve the customer experience!” is today’s corporate mantra, so why do so many overlook the fact that the product instruction manual is a key touchpoint in that customer’s experience? And that certainly doesn’t mean starting the manual with a flood of legal warnings, recycling information and other irrelevant stuff.

    Unfortunately most manuals are just boring technical product descriptions and the first thing which people throw aside after getting a rough idea of how the product works. I think this is a missed opportunity to inspire and inform your customers.

    Let’s think about ‘Outside-In Instructional Design’. Put the customer’s needs, issue and tasks at the core of your instruction design and adding a bit of empathy into the mix.

    This certainly isn’t a guarantee for success, but it does structure the process from the customers’ point of view. Here’s a quick run-down of the method we use at SwipeGuide
  • Winning Customer Experience – Simple Matters of Trust Joseph Michelli -
    Customer Experience and Trust…hmmm.

    Here’s three quick questions to engage your brain.

    1) How would you answer the following?  “Most people can be trusted” – True or False?

    2) What percentage of Americans answered “True” to that question in 1964? and,

    3) What percentage of Americans answered “True” to the same question in 2016?

    If I were a betting man, I would guess you answered “No” to question 1, underestimated on question 2, and may have been close on question 3.

    The Findings
    So the answers are…. drumroll please… In 1964 77% of respondents said “most people can be trusted”  but only 31% viewed most others as worthy of trust in 2016 (thus causing my negativistic prediction about you today).

    So where did those 46% points worth of trust go in that 52 year span?

    My uneducated guesses include such things as the highly vitriolic and alarmist tone of political discourse, high profile cases of corporate greed, a 24 hour news cycle trolling for stories of human depravity, a level of social media viciousness fueled by people relishing in the anonymity and reach of their online posts, etc.  But I will let social scientists take a scholarly approach to understanding our ‘trust gap.”

  • 5 Fresh Examples of Customer Experience Innovation Blake Morgan -
    Serena Williams is a fiercely competitive tennis champion. Her record is 39 Grand Slam titles. She shows an ability to serve aces at critical moments — a tennis serve the opponent doesn’t touch. She's known for her aggressive play, a "high risk" style balanced in part by her serve, the greatest in women's tennis history. She consistently places powerful shots with accuracy. She isn’t thrown off by variation of circumstances. She won the Australian open while eight-weeks pregnant. If you've ever been pregnant then you know going for a long walk pregnant is hard. But Serena was not going to back down, even in her most vulnerable moment.

    The best athletes in the world take thoughtful and bold risks in critical moments. Serena is a powerful reminder of how to be a leader in uncertain times. Like Serena's playing style, companies today must consistently make bold bets on customer experience even in uncertain times.

    One area we need to do a better job of risk-taking is customer experience. Recent research shows that last year 75% of companies said their top objective for the year was improving customer experience. But how do companies know how to do that? There is a major role for innovation when it comes to improved customer experiences. 
  • 6 Ways to Deliver an Unbeatable Customer Experience AJ Agrawal -
    With the increasing integration of social media in our everyday lives, both people and businesses are becoming rapidly more connected to one another. It is because of this development that business models are now having to adapt to more personal spheres of communication, like marketing, social media engagement, and customer service. Engaging potential consumers has become much more involved as a process than plunking a few rotating advertisements in newspapers and television breaks.

    Now, the producer-consumer dynamic has evolved to needing actual interaction, whether it be physical or digital. Although businesses may already have their hands full focusing on new product ideation and content curation, there are only a few considerations needed to succeed in the game of consumer interaction. Here are 7 ways to create a stellar customer engagement strategy.

    Understand Your Customers
    The number one concern when curating customer service is defining the needs of your specific consumer base. Understanding their characteristics and interests can go a long way when deciding what kind of experience they may respond well to. For example, while younger followers may want snappy dissemination of information, older consumers may need more of a helping hand with newer, more complex products and services.

    In addition, being cognizant of those features unique to your consumer base can help in several other areas, like marketing, content curation, and even product design. Overall, taking a little time to list out the characteristics specific to your customers carries numerous benefits that go far beyond customer service.

    Availability Trumps All
    Once you have an ample understanding of your consumers, the most important habit you can form is being available at all times. Whether your service is online or in person, this rule still applies and can have a significant impact on the public perception of the customer experience you’re providing. To customers, having delayed or nonexistent service is not only a major annoyance, but it is also damning for your brand’s reputation.

    Plus, availability means physical and mental engagement; being present but disinterested in the customer’s concerns defeats the whole purpose of having customer service at all. Brands who encourage and enforce availability and involvement on the part of its employees should have no problems in the eyes of their consumers.
  • How Mobile Technology Can Improve the Customer Experience for Even the Smallest Businesses Piyush Jain -
    Small businesses such as retail shops and restaurants may not have the resources to create an exciting mobile app to increase their brand appeal or enhance customer satisfaction. But that doesn’t mean that these businesses cannot exploit the amazing convenience and efficiency that mobile technology offers.

    Here are six ways business owners can use existing apps to enhance their business:

    1. Use Keynote to engage, inform, and delight customers
    Imagine if the customers browsing in your retail shop, or waiting for a table in your restaurant, could get a quick overview of what’s cool in your shop, or descriptions of the food and drink specials on your menu. Keynote is a powerful, easy-to-use presentation program that you can use to give customers personal, hands-on access to key information that will enhance their experience with your business. All you need is one or more iPads and an inexpensive iPad mounting frame. Now, customers that are waiting will become customers that are engaged in your business. Your Keynote presentation can easily be designed to reflect the brand image and personality you want for your business. Customers can even use it to sign-up for your email newsletter or for special email deals.

    2. Use Twitter as an issue ticketing system
    Stop worrying about negative comments on Twitter and start using Twitter to negate negative comments. The immediacy of Twitter makes it an excellent Customer Issue Ticketing System, because it gives your customers an easy way to voice concerns and gives you a fast and easy way to address those concerns.

    Business can create a handle, such as #supportatABCInc, and customers can tweet their issues using that handle. If an issue is simple and easy to remedy, keep it public and demonstrate your commitment to customer service. If you’re confronted with a difficult or complex issue, respond to it quickly but take additional discussion off-line with an explanation that time is needed to correctly address it. Either way, you are showing your customers that you are reachable, responsive, and care about your customers.
  • Ten Customer Service And Customer Experience Trends For 2017 Shep Hyken -
    Each year, new data comes out that indicates customer service and the customer experience (CX) are more important than ever. According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. No company can afford to be a customer service laggard. So, what can leadership do to ensure they stay up, stay competitive and stay relevant? Pay close attention to what’s trending in the world of customer service and CX. Here are 10 trends you shouldn’t ignore. There’s something here that will impact every type of business.

    1. Customer service is getting better (even if it doesn’t look like it). With the $62 billion statistic mentioned above, one might think customer service is getting worse. I believe that it’s actually getting better. What’s happening is the best companies are setting the bar and creating a new, higher expectation. There is a new benchmark, and other companies, even with their efforts to improve, aren’t able to keep up with customers’ newfound expectations. The good news is that companies are making the effort, they are improving, and they can catch up to those new expectations.

    2. Value and experience continue to trump price. Unless a company wants to be recognized as a low-cost provider, the value proposition of good customer service can make price less relevant. That’s how smaller independent retailers can compete against big box stores. Think about how Ace Hardware stores compete against big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Ace Hardware stores are typically a fraction of the size, don’t have as wide a selection, and may not have the lowest price, yet they not only survive, they thrive. This concept is not limited to retail. It crosses into all types of businesses and industries.
    3. Personalization creates a better customer experience. Technology has made it easier than ever to track customer preferences and history. Big data gives us trends and insights with uncanny accuracy. There is no reason to not create a more personalized experience that caters to a customer’s individual needs.

    4. AI and IA assist those who assist the customer. Artificial Intelligence is coming to the forefront of how a company creates a better CX. Machines’ ability to interact with humans is stronger than ever. AI will help us make better business decisions, many of them positively impacting the customer. AI won’t necessarily take over the human function, although in some places it can and will, but it will assist customer support people, becoming an IA, or Intelligent Assistant.
  • How To Become A Customer Success Leader Jeb Dasteel -
    “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” This quote comes from Max De Pree, the former CEO of Herman Miller, an office furniture company. I believe De Pree was speaking about leadership generically, but his quote couldn’t ring truer than in reference to customer success.

    To achieve customer success means to become the ultimate partner to your customers—developing personal relationships, understanding each customer’s unique needs, and implementing customer programs that help ensure customers gain meaningful value from your solutions. As De Pree said, to accomplish that, one must be both a leader and a servant.

    Customers are complex. They are individuals with unique needs and definitions of success. Meaning there isn’t a perfect, fits-all solution. Defining success is reliant on getting to know the customer organization and how it works—and getting to know the customer as a person. While it is important to know the company’s overarching goals, it’s also crucial to know what matters most to the people who are leading and influencing the direction of the business.
    We’re in an era where customer success is mandatory. Customers have come to expect—rightfully so—that their providers will always have their best interests in mind. If a prospective customer puts a project out to bid, they anticipate that everyone who submits a proposal will include a section on how they will be a partner and help the customer achieve success.

    During my time in this business, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by not only talented and insightful coworkers, but driven, creative, successful customers. And while I think becoming a customer success leader is an ongoing evolution, I’ve learned a few lessons from customers and colleagues along the way. Check out my post on LinkedIn to find out more about these best practices.
  • 25 CRM Best Practices for Beginners Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead -
    Customers are the most important part of any business. Given that customers are the single most important asset of a business, it’s important we look after them. Investing in a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is essential for businesses wanting to improve customer relations.

    Before developing any bad or counter-productive habits, what best practices should small businesses mind when starting out using a CRM platform?

    CRM Best Practices
    To shed some light on the subject, Small Business Trends caught up with CRM expert Brent Leary of CRM Essentials. CRM Essentials is a management consulting and advisory firm focused on assisting businesses develop and implement CRM strategies and processes.

    Choose a CRM Vendor That Offers Support
    No two businesses CRM needs are the same and it’s important that you pick a vendor which can provide you with the support you’ll need. As Brent Leary told Small Business Trends:

    “Choose the vendor that provides the kind of support you’ll need, it can be as important as the functions the software has”.

    Consider the Set-Up Time and Ease of Use of the CRM
    If you’re a CRM beginner, the last thing you want is to be faced with a complex CRM system that takes hours to install. Instead, opt for a CMR that is easy to use and requires little installation or set-up time.
  • Why Good Old Fashioned Customer Service Will Keep Humans Ahead Of The Robots Jon Lucas -
    From jobs across the insurance and banking industries to builders, farmers and taxi drivers, we are - apparently - going to see people increasingly replaced by technology. Automation, AI and robots have a big future, with consultancy firm PwC predicting that as much as 30% of jobs in the UK may be under threat from AI in the next 15 years.

    Some of this feels very reminiscent of 'vaporware' hype, a trend particularly associated with the 80s and 90s, where tech companies would announce exciting product features or capabilities that never actually appeared. But the diversity of these potentially 'expendable' roles is fascinating, and there is no doubt that massive investment is being made to try and turn ideas into reality. Time will tell.

    My own industry - cloud and Internet services - is an interesting example. As a market sector, we are early and enthusiastic adopters of innovative tech. But while more automation is having an impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of key areas such as IT security, what we aren't seeing is any realistic prospect for technology fully replacing the human ability to provide really great customer service.

    One of the challenges could simply be that delivering good service is just really difficult - no matter how it's provided. Companies make the most terrible customer service mistakes every day, and a quick look at Twitter shows how widespread the challenges are. It's an incredibly important part of the whole customer experience, and is often the main reason why as consumers, we take our business elsewhere.

    Indeed, some organisations build start-up success around amazing customer service. But with success often comes the need to scale and a personalised, tailored customer service strategy is not easily distilled into an automated replacement.

    Why is it so important? Many believe that customer service should be at the heart of every organisation, but clearly this is not the case for all businesses if the 2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index is anything to go by. According to the survey, 58% of people surveyed feel underappreciated by the companies they do business with.

    For any business interested in growth, customers should be at the heart of their approach. The best way to retain and gain customers is by ensuring that they have great experiences before, during and after each purchase. Building a happy, loyal customer base is the fuel for increased success and can also bring in new business through word of mouth and recommendation.

    But according to the Aspect survey, 49% of consumers stopped doing business with at least one company in the preceding 12 months due to poor service. In an age where most companies are facing more competition than ever before, losing customers to poor service isn't a sensible option when winning new ones can be so challenging.

    Ultimately, what seems to really matter to people about customer service is that specific human element. It matters that when a customer needs help, a real person is able to understand their specific problem and fix it for them. In many cases, it's also incredibly important that a customer service relationship is in place where, as a customer, I can talk to someone who knows who I am and what I need.

    What I often see is that people are keen to make the comparison between what they see as 'real', personal customer service and arms-length, aloof and automated tech substitutes that don't get the job done. Tech tools are certainly vital and deliver a huge amount of efficiency, but as it stands today they are better at supporting human intervention than replacing it.

    For many organisations, the decision as to much how they automate customer service in the years ahead will be about cost savings, and whether automated customer service becomes good enough to suffice. For others, the essence of great customer service - showing that the business genuinely cares about its customers - is too fundamental to mess with.
  • Best Practices for Asking Customers to Participate in Marketing & PR – Getting a YES! Susan Thomas -
    In my previous blog post in this series on customer references in technology marketing, I took a look at how you can identify the best customer reference for your needs. In this post, I’ll outline some techniques that can actually get that customer to say YES to your ask.

    If you are considering approaching your customers to participate in sales, marketing or PR initiatives, your success will depend on your strategy. Companies that depend on the sales team to secure customer participation, and/or don’t have forethought to consider and merchandise the benefits the customer will receive from participating, likely won’t be wildly successful. In our experience there are generally two major barriers to building a customer reference and marketing program: WHO is doing the asking, and HOW they are asking.

    Too frequently the sales team is tasked with asking customers to help marketing. Often the sales team has long-standing relationships with customers and has a sense for a customer’s attitude towards these types of opportunities. However, even with bonuses and incentives that more sophisticated companies offer to their sales team, the clever salesperson knows they can make more money focusing on sales instead of marketing. Unless they are inclined to see the bigger picture of corporate growth, requiring the sales team to do the asking and the follow up is not a scalable strategy that will consistently deliver great customer advocates for marketing.

    Many forward-thinking companies have created a role specifically to work with existing customers over the last few years: the (1) Chief Customer Officer. This role is defined as the person responsible for the “total relationship” with an organization’s customers. In other words, this person has an overview of what the customers have purchased; how much support they have received; their tone when they requested help or support; and the way customers participate in helping the company with marketing (which may include product development councils such as a customer advocate in a marketing initiative). In the event your company doesn’t have this level of executive, you may have a customer experience professional or manager. In the absence of that, a well-placed person in marketing who has a strong understanding of your customers and their challenges and/or a consulting organization with this specific expertise is recommended. Simply put, you want the person(s) responsible for building your customer advocates to be measured on this specific activity – thus ensuring focus and a greater likelihood of success.

    Eight out of 10 companies we talk to approach customers with marketing and PR opportunities in the following way: “Can you do me a favor – we have a journalist with eWEEK who would like to interview one of our customers, and we’d appreciate it if you could make time to take that interview. Can you participate this week?” Your most satisfied and happiest customers may agree to take that call. And, if the particular person you are asking is ambitious and strategic enough to realize that getting media attention for his or her leadership is a smart thing to do to advance their career, then perhaps you will get a yes. However, all too often that proves to be a difficult ask for a number of reasons. Just put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Consider the fact that they have already technically done you the favor of buying your product, service or solution – not to mention that they are likely busy trying to implement your solution for their organization and make it work properly. What’s even more daunting for them is that they know they will likely need to get corporate approval to participate in any kind of interview or speaking opportunity that will be accessible to the public, and that’s never easy.

    Sometimes clever marketing professionals think they have the solution to the problem by offering the contact a discount or additional support credits. That approach is great for a person responsible for the budget, but it sometimes doesn’t do your contact a whole lot of good. An old acronym comes to mind:  WIFM – What’s in it for Me? That’s what your customer really wants to know.
  • 5 Bulletproof SaaS Strategies Proven to Build a Culture of Customer Success Burke Alder -
     As SaaS organizations of any size can attest to, winning new clients is only half the battle. The real testament to a company’s product, culture, and employees is showcased in the success of its customers. Customer retention should not only be at the top of any executive’s priority list, it should be a priority for the entire company, and every employee and every team should own a stake in customer success.

    Below we’ll share 5 bulletproof strategies any organization can leverage immediately to build and grow a winning customer success culture from the ground up:
    5 Strategies to Build Customer Success as a Company Culture

    1. Make a Culture of Success the Top Priority Across the Organization

    For SaaS companies, it’s foundational that every single department feel dedicated to creating a culture of customer success. The key to ensuring every employee shares this outlook is for metrics or qualitative goals to be tied to each department and each role, designed to measure customer satisfaction and success.

    This culture of success goes far beyond the CSM role alone. The marketing department, for example, can be incentivized to capture success stories from customers and include current customers in outbound marketing campaigns. Product teams can communicate directly with customers on what features are well received and used with purpose, and which should be evaluated. Even with finance and administration teams, the key is to open up a direct line of communication between customers and your internal teams to streamline processes and to make sure customers know they are the priority and lifeblood of your business.

    Read more at //
  • Lifesize recipe for SaaS success? ‘Smother customers with love’ Phil Wainewright -
    The story of Lifesize is a microcosm of the transition many enterprises face today, as they grapple with the transformation from traditional one-off product sales to a modern subscription-based services business model. It approaches that change with a philosophy that puts customer success at its heart.

    Founded in 2003 as a maker of high-definition digital videoconferencing systems, the business was acquired by Logitech in 2009. Five years later, it was spun out again with venture financing under the leadership of its founding CEO Craig Malloy, with the aim of transforming from a product business into a cloud-based, software-as-a-service company. Today, Lifesize still sells videoconferencing hardware, but its flagship product is a cloud-based video, audio and web conferencing system for internal communications within the enterprise, which at the last count had 4,200 customers.

    Realizing that this was would be far more than simply a technology and product transformation, the first new employee that CEO Malloy brought in to help manage the change was Amy Downs, who became Chief Customer Success Officer in advance of the launch of its new SaaS offering in June 2014. She discovered processes and a culture that weren’t going to pass muster in the new, customer-first world of a SaaS business:

    "We had to redesign the entire company. Customer support was like a complaints department. [A customer-centric approach] was not in anyone’s DNA at the company in any way. We had to shift the attitude and culture of the company to think with the end user in mind first."

  • Nailing Your Customer Success Job Transition Lindsay Smith -
    So you have decided to take the leap and switch companies. Now what!? The goal of any career transition is to reach what “The First 90 Days” (highly recommend this book) calls the break-even point – the “point at which you have contributed as much value to your new organization as you have consumed from it” (Watkins, 2013). Below are 8 steps that will help you reach this point more quickly.

    1. Unlearn what Customer Success means to you.
    It is likely that your new company will define CS differently than your last and will have different structures and practices in place as a result. Take time to mentally reset, and prepare to embrace the new. Remember, just because something worked at your old company, there’s no guarantee that it will work at the next one.

    2. Regularly sync with your new manager.
    Early on, ensure that you confirm expectations and goals for your role. Interviewing is like dating – sometimes after you get into the relationship, things change – ensure you’re proactive about it. Sooner rather than later, have crucial conversations such as preferred communication styles and what decisions you can make on your own versus those you should consult them on. It’s always better to risk over-communicating as you two get to know one another better.

    Read more at //
  • Retention, Growth and CX Expectations Hank Barnes -
    In today’s tech markets, with more and more offerings delivered as a service, the focus is increasingly on retention and growth within existing accounts.   And, they are usually used in the same sentence and the responsibility of the same account representative.   Unfortunately, findings from Gartner’s Sales and Service Group, led by Nick Toman, from CEB (Now Gartner), show that we have some problems.

    First, while growth is desirable, retention is required.  In the recent #CEBInfluencers day, Brent Adamson (also of CEB (Now Gartner) described it this way, saying sales management’s message is typically, for example, “We’d like you to grow that 11M account to 15M, BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t let it go below 11M.”   Comp plans are often split between retention and growth, with the majority of comp based around retention metrics.

    To drive retention and growth, the vast majority of sellers believe that the answer is to go above and beyond in efforts to exceed customer expectations.  They see exceptional service as the key stepping stone toward growth.

    And, based on this new data from Nick’s team, they are wrong.  
  • 5 Customer Success Post-Sales Pitfalls Burke Alder -
    As any SaaS professional knows, even the best laid plans sometimes hit roadblocks. For customer success leaders, these roadblocks or pitfalls can be the tipping point between customer satisfaction and customer churn.

    5 Common Success Post-Sales Pitfalls

    In order to make sure your CSMs are prepared, take a look at these common post-sales pitfalls, strategies for success, and best practices at every point of the post-sales customer lifecycle to ensure critical issues don’t slip through the cracks.

    Let’s set the stage.

    Understanding Post-Sales Lifecycle Management

    After the customer signs on the dotted line and officially enters into a partnership with a vendor organization, there is a clear customer lifecycle that falls into place. It’s the responsibility of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) to guide the customer throughout this lifecycle and ensure the smoothest journey possible.

    Oftentimes, however, this step-by-step journey is not clearly defined or aligned across the various departments within an organization. Customer success leaders must understand and develop the post-sales lifecycle from the customer’s perspective to capture all the elements that are truly important to the customer. In order to ensure smooth inter-departmental transitions and customer satisfaction, all departments must be on the same page and aligned on customer’s needs and wants.

    Read more at //
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