Two More Customer Service Lessons From A Customer Experience Fail

Enhancing Customer Experiences and Improving Customer Satisfaction

Over the past two weeks we have been sharing some important customer service lessons from our personal customer experience fail with Flagship Cruises & Events while on a family holiday in San Diego last month.

Here are our final two lessons in improving the customer experience and increase the satisfaction of your customers from this incident. You may need to read these three blog posts to get a full background on these lessons:

San Diego Cruise Line Fails to Understand Customer Needs

Customer Service Lessons From A Customer Experience Fail

More Customer Service Lessons From A Customer Experience Fail

 

Lesson #5: Learn From Industry Best Practitioners

As I have written before, every customer interaction is an opportunity to build long-term loyaltyThe best organizations in every industry know and understand this.

For instance, Disneyland has Disney characters roaming their theme parks offering to take photos of customers with the customer’s own cameras. There are even photo stations around each park where Disney characters are scheduled to appear.

Yes, Disneyland has employees also taking photos for families in the hopes of selling these later. But they are also willing to assist in having photos taken with their guests’ own phones and cameras.

The last thing a Disneyland theme park employee would ever do is attempt to physically block a customer from taking a photo with their own phone or camera (as the Flagship Cruise’s staff member did to us).

The same is true at the famed San Diego Zoo and their sister location Safari Park. At both venues employees were gracious and more than willing to take photos of us using our own equipment.

The key lesson here is that customer expectations are set not only by the communications and policies of your organization, but also by the actions and policies of other suppliers in your industry (and other industries as well quite frankly).

Lesson #6: Be Proactive In Handling Customer Complaints

In our Keeping Good Customers Blog last year we explained why Customer Complaints Are Good.

Of course, they are only good if you act upon them! Properly. Service recovery starts with how you react to a customer complaint.

In this case, the only reaction to date from Flagship Cruises to my publicly announced complaint on their facebook page was a reply from “trongley@flagshipsd.com” saying:

Thanks for reaching out Steven. We’d like to hear more about what happened.
Could you please reach out to me directly at trongley@flagshipsd.com?”

Apparently this staff member of Flagship Cruises believes that I need to proactively seek him or her out to further explain my dissatisfaction with their service. And here I was thinking that I am the customer!

When I bought our tickets for their whale watching cruise, I supplied both by email address and my mobile phone number. In fact, I get a weekly marketing email from Flagship Cruises attempting to solicit further business from me.

So there is no excuse for their failure to contact me to “hear more about what happened.” Passivity in reacting to a customer complaint, particularly one shared through social media, is unacceptable in today’s world.

It has now been over a month since our unfortunate and unacceptable customer experience with Flagship Cruises, and yet no one has contacted us. Not even after others replied to my post on their Facebook page. And not even after three weeks of using this customer experience fail as a customer service lesson for all.

The customer should not have to write you or call you after having voiced a public complaint. Organizations that excel at customer service know the importance of Making It Easy For Customers To Complain. Handling customer complaints properly impacts all current and future customers ─ and starts with processes, procedures, and systems that make it easy for such complaints to be communicated to your organization.

So, there you have it. Six important customer service lessons from one single customer experience fail. I hope these lessons will help you and your organization enhance the customer experiences you are providing and increase your customer satisfaction levels.

 

More Customer Service Lessons From A Customer Experience Fail

Boosting Customer Satisfaction Levels and Enhancing Customer Experiences

Last week we shared with you two valuable customer service lessons from a dissatisfying customer experience we had with San Diego cruise line Flagship Cruises & Events. These lessons relate to a customer experience fail as outlined in an earlier post on how this organization fails to understand customer needs.

This week we will add two more customer service lessons on how organizations can enhance the customer experiences they deliver and increase their customer satisfaction levels. You may need to read our blog post on March 6 to get a full background on these lessons: Flagship Cruises Customer Experience Fail.

 

Lesson #3: Set Customer Expectations

If you want to enforce a dumb rule like no personal photography allowed, then it is best to post the rule publicly for all to see.

This will help minimize negative interactions between your front-line staff and your customers.

Of course, this will make your organization look absolutely foolish, which is one indicator that you should not have such a customer unfriendly rule in the first place!

 

Lesson #4: Learn to Leverage Social Media

Had our family been allowed to take a nice photo of our daughter with the ship’s life preserver, we would have each shared the photo using the check-in feature on our respective Facebook pages.

Flagship Cruise Customer Experience Fail

Despite the Flagship Cruises & Events no personal photography policy I got this snap off.

Imagine how many positive Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter posts Flagship Cruises is losing daily due to its ban on personal photography at the life preserver post. This positive publicity would far outweigh any minimal loss in picture sales they incur from a change in policy.

Our personal marketing philosophy is simple:

if it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue™

The “no personal photography” policy of Flagship Cruises is definitely a marketing issue, with direct impact on customer satisfaction levels, customer experience delivery, and word-of-mouth publicity. It may or may not be an operational policy, but it is definitely a marketing issue.

As such, these are the lessons for all organizations. Next week we will have two more customer service lessons to share with you from this dissatisfying customer experience at one of San Diego’s better-known cruise lines.

Customer Service Lessons From A Customer Experience Fail

Enhancing Customer Experiences and Customer Satisfaction Levels

In last week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo we shared the dissatisfying experiences we had recently with Flagship Cruises & Events and how this San Diego cruise line fails to understand customer needs.

This week we will share some of the customer service lessons from this customer experience fail. You may need to read last week’s blog post to get the full background on these lessons: Flagship Cruises Customer Experience Fail.

Lesson #1: Birthdays are important.

Everybody likes to have memorable birthday experiences. This makes birthdays a great opportunity for any organization to provide an exceptional experience that is not only memorable, but will also result in positive word-of-mouth publicity as well. After all, the little things matter in customer service.

For instance, Flagship Cruises could have party balloons at its cruise check-in point and use these in the photos it takes of those celebrating a birthday or anniversary. The chances of increased sales of such photos are extremely high.

Additionally, instead of having an attitude that helping to celebrate one’s birthday on a public cruise is “too difficult,” this company could proactively create memorable experiences such as letting the birthday celebrant take photos in the wheelhouse with the captain, or even holding the ship’s wheel. After all, how difficult is that to implement during the course of a four-hour cruise?

The bottom line is if you help your customers create happy and memorable birthday experiences they will be guaranteed to share their experiences with family members and friends.

Lesson #2: Policies are fine. Exceptions are critical.

There may be numerous valid reasons for the “no taking of personal photos” rule enforced by Flagship Cruises. These could include speed of moving customers to the waiting area, hopes of increased photos sales by prohibiting personal photos, reduced agitation by customers in line having to wait a few extra minutes to board, etc.

For each supposedly valid reason I could counter with equally valid reasons and process to avoid anticipated fallout. Of course, I approach such situations from my marketing philosophy of if it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue.™

Rigidly enforced rules, with no empowerment to frontline staff to make exceptions, is bad policy. We are well past the days when being customer-oriented meant operating in order to meet the needs of the typical customer. Every customer has individual wants, needs, desires, likes, and dislikes. Businesses today cannot afford to build operations and policies attuned to meet only the needs of the average customer. To be fully successful, and to avoid negative and dissatisfying customer experiences, businesses need to be flexible in how policies, procedures, and processes are implemented.

So let’s turn this rule on its head. Since Flagship Cruises appears to like rigidly enforced rules, here’s a new rule they can implement:

“Customers celebrating birthdays and couples celebrating anniversaries
today will be allowed to take their own celebratory pictures
at our famed life preserver post.
Thank you for helping us make their special day even more memorable.”

If they posted a plaque with this “rule” at the entryway, other customers would not feel inconvenienced by the handful of people taking their own photos. In fact, some in line will likely shout out birthday and anniversary greetings, or even start a chorus of the Happy Birthday song.

These are just a couple of lessons, and ideas, on how to move from a customer experience failure to a memorable customer service experience.

Next week we will share two more valuable lessons that will help you enhance your customer experiences and customer satisfaction levels.

 

 

San Diego Cruise Line Fails To Understand Customer Needs

Flagship Cruises Customer Experience Fail

I have written many times about the stupid rules and regulations organizations have that prevent superior customer service. I have also written frequently about the need for commercial operations to truly understand customer needs and for these needs to be fully understood by all staff.

Now I have a new customer experience fail to cite in future writing and speeches, courtesy of Flagship Cruises & Events in San Diego.

Last month we took our daughter to San Diego to celebrate her 9th birthday. A highlight of the 5-day trip was supposed to be a whale watching excursion. Good idea. Bad choice of excursion providers.

After booking the cruise I called the Flagship Cruises customer service line a few days before our trip to enquire if there was any opportunity to do something special for my daughter since we would be going on the cruise on the actual day of her birthday. I was politely told that doing anything extraordinary was too difficult on a public cruise. Oh well, nice try but “too difficult.”

We arrived early on the day of the cruise and spotted a beautiful life preserver ring with the Flagship logo and date of the cruise on it. What a wonderful photo opportunity we thought. But the two Flagship Cruise employees would not allow us beyond their entry rope to take a photo of our daughter with the life preserver.

Instead, as we entered the boarding area a half hour later we were asked to pose next to the life preserver so that they could take a photo of us with their camera! We told our daughter to do so as it was her special day. But when mom and dad tried to take our own photos we were shouted at loudly that such actions were prohibited. And one staff member (Leslie) actually knocked my arm tried to physically block me from taking a photo.

Upon querying her actions we were told the two staff members (Julia was the other young adult staff member) were merely following their boss’s orders. Even after explaining the significance of the date to our daughter, they still refused to make an exception to the rules.

All of which, unfortunately, caused our 9-year old daughter to burst into tears on her birthday!

So, for causing a 9-year old to cry on the morning of her birthday, Leslie and Julia of Flagship Cruises are now enshrined in my Customer Experience Hall of Shame.

Flagship Cruises claims to be a family owned and operated company. But it appears they don’t have a clue about what is important to families and customers celebrating an important life milestone.

Even worse, they promise on their website to “treat you and everyone aboard like family.” They certainly don’t live up to this claim with rigidly enforced rules on photo taking. What kind of a family prevents other family members from taking photos?

After the cruise, I posted a short complaint about our treatment on the Flagship Cruise Facebook page. Here’s the reply I got: “Thanks for reaching out Steven. We’d like to hear more about what happened. Could you please reach out to me directly at trongley@flagshipsd.com?”

I guess “trongley@flagshipsd.com” thinks that I need to proactively seek him or her out to further explain my dissatisfaction with their service. And here I was thinking that I am the customer! Well, this Monday Morning Marketing Memo is my further explanation.

At the end of the cruise, the photograph of my daughter taken by the Flagship Cruise staff member was available for purchase at $10. That is not a significant price, especially since it was a lovely photo. But I could not bring myself to buy it for the photo would only serve as a lasting memory of an unfortunate and dissatisfying customer experience.

Interestingly, I have noticed that when my daughter or I talk to others about our San Diego trip we mention the famed San Diego Zoo, the Birch Aquarium, Sonny Jim’s Cave, and the Safari Park. Neither of us speaks of the whale watching excursion and neither of us is recommending this cruise to others.

It just goes to show how a bad customer experience results in the lost opportunity for positive word-of-mouth advertising and social media publicity.

Ironically, the company also states on its website that they are “the best in the business providing San Diego visitors and tourists with experiences they will remember for a lifetime.” Well, I’ll certainly remember my experience with Flagship Cruises for a lifetime, but perhaps not in the way they hope.

There are many customer service lessons to be learned from this experience with Flagship Cruises, which I will discuss in next week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo.

 

Being Customer Focused Means Being Easy To Do Business With

Customers Do Not Want To Be Nomads

Larry Weber, the founder of public relations firm Weber Shandwick , says that “most customers are nomads.”

And rightfully so. Too few companies and organizations deserve customer loyalty.

The reasons why customers are nomads are numerous:

  • Service delivery is inconsistent.
  • Customer service is perfunctory and uncaring, lacking warmth or even pleasantness.
  • There is no recognition of the customer’s previous engagements and interactions with the organization.
  • There is a lack of personalization to meet individual needs, wants, desires, likes, or dislikes.
  • “Value-added” pricing and packaging comes without the value add.
  • Customer rewards programs are thought to be true customer loyalty programs.

Despite all these hurdles, customers do want to be loyal!

After all, loyalty saves the customer time (our most precious commodity in today’s world). Plus consistent service delivery can be anticipated, expected, and planned for. No surprises results in the customer not having to make new plans or contemplate new decisions.

How can you obtain customer loyalty? Does becoming customer focused work? What does it mean to be customer focused anyway?

Call it customer focused, customer centric, customer caring, or any other clever phrase you want. Being customer focused may boil down to one simple question ─ are you easy to do business with?

How do you rate in terms of convenience, easy ordering, customizable products and services, personalized delivery terms, and flexible terms and conditions?

Being easy to do business with is more about pre-sales and post-sales support than about the core features of your products or services.

For example, I buy almost all my books from Internet retailer Amazon. Unlike the big chain bookstores, or even my local neighborhood bookstore, Amazon is easy to do business with because:

  • The titles I want are always in stock.
  • I never have waste time while the checkout person chats idly with the customer in front of me.
  • I never have to search for a knowledgeable staff member to help me find out where the book I’m looking for has been placed.
  • I do not consume fuel driving to Amazon, nor do I have to wait or pay for a parking space.
  • The time and fuel costs I save more than outweigh and offset any shipping charges I pay.
  • My personal shipping addresses and credit card details (yes, both are plural for a reason, another sign of their flexibility and customization) are on file, so I easily check out with the mere click of a few buttons.
  • Amazon notifies me when my order has been shipped, saving me the time to follow up.
  • Amazon gives me an approximate delivery date, thus setting my expectations (which they then always meet).
  • Even when I place an order on Saturday it gets shipped the next day ─ a Sunday!

I cannot think of a single thing Amazon could do to make it easier to do business with them. I have read where Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is passionate about improving the customer experience. For me, he is certainly hitting all the right buttons.

Amazon is a great example of a company that is practicing Customer Retention Marketing by being easy to do business with. As a result, they are keeping good customers (like me) loyal in terms of both buying behavior and brand preference.

Customers do not need (or want) to be nomads. All it takes to change this is being easy to do business with.

 

KEY POINT:  being customer focused may boil down to one simple question ─ are you easy to do business with?

TAKING ACTION:  ask yourself, is your organization easy to do business with? What rules, procedures and processes do you have that make it hard for your customers to do business with you?

How could you make it easier for customers to do business with you? What changes can you make in the areas of convenience, order placement, product or service customization, delivery, and other terms and conditions that would make it easier for customers to do business with you?

Review with your major customers which of your processes, policies, procedures, terms, conditions, and other elements drive them crazy and make them wish you did things differently.

 

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo

10th Ranked Marketing Book in Amazon Kindle Store.

Our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo was ranked as high as #4 marketing book in the Amazon Kindle Store over the weekend. This morning it is #10.

To celebrate this achievement, along with a personal milestone birthday, we are giving away free Kindle versions of The Best of the Monday Marketing Memo today.

For many years, the Monday Morning Marketing Memo was one of the most popular marketing e-newsletters around the world. It was read by business owners, entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing practitioners in organizations big and small.

Slightly edited, revised, and updated as needed, the 42 Monday Morning Marketing Memo issues reprinted in this book are the ones that generated the most commentary, queries, discussions, and feedback from readers around the world.

These 42 issues discuss a wide range of diverse topics, including corporate branding, customer retention, marketing strategies, and sales management skills.

The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo will help business executives, entrepreneurs and marketers focus on the key marketing topics that will help you grow your businesses, retain customers, and leverage your corporate brands.

Click on any of the book title links above to be taken directly to the Amazon Kindle store to download your free copy of The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo. Hurry though as these free copies are only available until this evening (Oct 17, 2016). Tomorrow the regular price of $3.88 returns.

In celebration of my birthday weekend we are also giving away three other free Kindle books today, including two more of my most popular marketing books and the #1 leadership book in the Amazon Kindle store:  8 Keys To Becoming A Great Leader (With Leadership Lessons from Gibbs, Yoda and Capt’n Jack Sparrow). Details of these books are in this Keeping Good Customers Blog post. Again this is the last day these books will be free in the Kindle store.

Terrible Marketing Advice

The Strategic Importance of a Strong Corporate Brand

A few weeks ago I downloaded some product information from a company selling CRM software.

About a week later I received an extremely delightful email that said in part:

Recently, you requested information about “XYZ  CRM”.  I want to thank you for your interest in our product, which is why I’m going to send you a valuable marketing course that will help you evaluate your current marketing efforts and give you tips that will definitely increase your profits.

This marketing course is called “6 Magnetic Marketing Secrets To Explode Your Profits.” You’ll get an email once a week that gives you powerful marketing advice for your business, which you can use right away to close more sales and make more money with your business.

I was suitably impressed…until I received part one of their six-part so-called “marketing” course.

Called “Secret #1: The Real Definition of Successful Marketing,” this initial communiqué states that “there are only three factors that influence the profitability of any marketing effort. The smartest marketing minds on the planet have sifted these factors down to this simple, but powerful formula:

The Right Message. To the Right Market. At the Right Time!”

That is the problem when someone tries to boil marketing down to a “simple formula.” They tend to ignore factors like having the right product solution, the right distribution and delivery system, the right branding strategy and, of course, a profitable pricing strategy.

Of course, these guys are trying to sell CRM software solutions, so they appear only concerned with the “selling side” of the marketing equation. But nevertheless, that does not give them the right to broadcast such a misleading interpretation of the essence of marketing to their potential customers.

If they wanted to use an all-encompassing phrase to depict the real meaning and quintessence of marketing, they should have asked to use the one created by the mind of this marketing professional:

If it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue™

Now, with their focus on selling CRM systems, and their pitch on tracking all customer and prospect communications, these guys compound the error of their ways by offering free marketing advice in this so-called “marketing course.”

They claim that “not using the three marketing success factors and/or little or no direct response offers costs companies millions in missed sales every year!”

That is almost funny because, from almost all the articles I have read about the problems of implementing CRM systems, it appears that it is these implementation problems that are costing companies hundreds of millions in missed sales and lost customers every year.

But that is beside the point, at least for now.

What galls me the most about their free marketing advice is their first point on how to “fix” the problems of these lost sales. This advice is to:

Never waste money on image advertising, or at least keep it to a minimum and only try creating yourself or your company as a brand after becoming profitable!

What utter nonsense! What utter lack of understanding of how to create and leverage a brand. What complete confusion and wrong impression about the strategic importance of having a strong corporate brand in today’s ultra-competitive markets.

In other words, what total idiots!

It is only a sense of professionalism, combined with pity for their misguided ways, which prevents my total outrage at their spreading their mistaken and erroneous claptrap from telling our Monday Morning Marketing Memo readers who “XYZ CRM” actually is.

I will share this week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo with the person sending out their email campaign. I will also point them to the classic advertisement from McGraw-Hill that ran in the 1950s. The copy platform of this ad was quite simple, yet effective:

I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t know what your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

I don’t know your company’s record.

I don’t know your company’s reputation.

Now ─ what is it you wanted to sell me?

Come to think of it, in terms of the “XYZ CRM” company, I don’t know who they are, what they stand for, their customers, their track record, or even their reputation. All I know is that they give out awful free marketing advice.

And for me, that’s enough NOT to recommend them to anyone now, or in the near future.

Perhaps they ought to reconsider their own policies, and their own advice, by figuring out how to create a strong corporate brand for themselves that can be leveraged for greater sales, higher margins, and better profitability.

In the meantime, I caution all readers to be leery of free marketing advice, especially when this is promulgated by sales people more interested in meeting quarterly sales targets than in helping you to better understand how to use the power of marketing to create and grow your own sustainable business.

KEY POINT:  do not overlook the strategic importance of having a strong corporate brand in today’s ultra-competitive markets.

TAKING ACTION:  be leery of free marketing advice, particularly when it is not proffered by professional marketing people, but by those eager to sell you their goods and services.

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your corporate brand and the impact of this on both your future sales and your customer retention levels? Have you become so comfortable with your corporate brand that you have forgotten to check its pulse with your customers, prospects, employees, and the communities you serve?

Contact us today for an in-depth discussion on how we can help you evaluate your corporate brand and devise strategies to leverage your corporate image to enhance the sustainable growth of your business.

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

Customer Churn Continues Unabated

The Importance of Measuring Customer Retention and Loyalty

Customer attrition rates remain unbelievably high, despite (or maybe because of) continued investments by corporations in CRM technology.

According to a study a couple of years ago of 1,000 consumers by Accenture, 18% of respondents reported they stopped conducting business with at least one retailer within the past year due to poor service. A significant proportion of consumers in this survey also stopped doing business during the previous 12 months with Internet Service Providers (15%), banks (14%), telephone companies (12%), wireless/cell phone companies (11%), and cable/satellite TV service providers (10%).

That’s a whole lot of customer churn going on.

And I have not read or seen any data or evidence that these numbers are significantly different today. In fact, they may well likely be worse.

It is little wonder that Larry Weber, founder of the Weber Shandwick public relations firm, says that “most customers are nomads.”

When viewed in the light of another piece of research, perhaps these findings are not so surprising after all. A destinationCRM.com reader poll conducted in October a couple of years ago reports that:

  1. 39% of customer contact centers do not measure either customer loyalty or customer satisfaction.
  2. 19% measure only customer satisfaction.
  3. 42% measure both customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

This means that a full 58% of customer contact centers do not measure customer loyalty at all, at least according to this reader poll.

If you are not measuring customer loyalty, then you probably have little idea how to manage and reduce customer attrition.

Building a sustainable and profitable business requires a customer strategy that is centered on creating (and measuring) customer loyalty.

Doing so requires keen customer insight, not million dollar CRM computer systems. In most cases, the thousands and millions of dollars spent on CRM hardware would have been better spent on hiring, training, motivating, and retaining good staff who have your customers’ needs, wants, desires, and best interests in mind at all times.

In another Accenture research study reported in the article Meeting Individual Customer Expectations by Michael Breault, “delivering consistently on the brand promise plays a greater role in creating loyal customers than any other customer-facing capability does.”

In fact, according to the study, “regardless of their industry or business model (B2C, B2B, etc.), developing and delivering a branded customer experience comprises 33% of a company’s ability to achieve strong customer loyalty.”

In his article, Breault also cites a Bain & Company study that found some 80% of companies believed they are delivering a “superior experience” to their customers, while the customers of these firms rated only 8% of them as truly delivering a superior customer experience. Now that is a perception gap!

It is a perception gap that is caused by the corporate focus on using transactional data to define the relationships with customers and a lack of insight on customer attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions. It is also caused by the reliance on demographic segmentation instead of segmentation based on customer needs.

It is also caused by companies not listening to their customers. A study by customer experience research and consulting firm Strativity Group concludes that too many companies do not properly use the information garnered from customer surveys. The two biggest problems cited in this study were:

  1. although a majority of the respondents (59%) claimed to design customer surveys with strategic intentions, only a small minority (23%) managed to obtain internal buy-in for change in response to customer survey results.
  2. only 45% of the 200+ plus firms surveyed around the world could translate their customer survey results into actions.

One of the other problems identified in the Strativity Group survey is that 69% of the survey participants reported that they faced internal struggles with people arguing about the validity of the customer survey results. As the report concludes, “the study results indicate only a superficial and incremental commitment on the part of companies to their customer studies and to acting upon customer insight.”

When these various independent research studies are reviewed in aggregate, one reaches the conclusion that:

  1. Customer attrition rates of 10% to 15% per annum are likely to remain for years to come.
  2. Until companies start to measure customer loyalty, they will remain ignorant and naive about this critical bottom-line impacting issue.
  3. Too many companies are fooling themselves (or their senior management, but not their customers) by conducting customer surveys that do not result in action and customer experience enhancing changes.

One of these days, corporations are going to understand the cost of customer attrition. At least that is my hope.

Until then, of course, any company that makes customer insight and customer loyalty a focal point of their business operations will have a significant advantage in creating long-term, sustainable growth and profitability.

KEY POINT:  if you are not measuring customer loyalty, then you probably have little idea how to manage and reduce customer attrition.

TAKING ACTION:  review the results of your two most recent customer surveys and then identify what actions were taken as a result of the surveys. Was sufficient action taken? Why or why not? What actions were overlooked or not implemented? Why?

What is your customer attrition rate? If you do not know, how can you start monitoring this immediately? Your customer attrition rate should be a critical component of your Marketing Dashboard. Is it?

How can you start to measure customer loyalty? Make measuring customer loyalty one of your top goals for the coming year.

 

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

 

New Leadership Website and Leadership Book

Keys To Becoming A Great Leader

I have longed believed that anyone, at any level of any organization, can become a great leader.

For I believe that great leadership is an art.

It is the art of achieving progress through the involvement and actions of others. This is why great leaders are strong in both leading people and leading for results, while good leaders typically good at leading only one or the other.

As such, I have started turning my focus away from branding and marketing to leadership development. Marketing and branding will always be in my veins. There is no doubt about that. But my focus — particularly my new writing focus — will now be concentrated in the realm of leadership.

As such, I am pleased to share with you my three latest ventures:

Caliente Leadershipa leadership training and development company where our focus is on turning good managers and leaders into truly great leaders, at all levels of an organization. We do this by helping leaders create the right mindset, personal leadership philosophy and the use of the right tools, techniques and leadership behaviors.

All leadership training and development programs from Caliente Leadership (www.CalienteLeadership.com) are designed and tailored for the specific needs of its global clientele. There are no off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all programs. We also provided train-the-trainer programs incorporating best-practice facilitation techniques and detailed course teaching notes.

New Leadership Bookin my latest book, 8 Keys To Becoming A Great Leader (With Leadership Lessons and Tips From Gibbs, Yoda and Capt’n Jack Sparrow), I use three popular fictional icons from pop culture — Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs from the hit television series NCIS, Jedi Master Yoda from the epic Star Wars film series, and swashbuckling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies — to demonstrate my 8 Keys to Great Leadership model:

  • Personal Leadership Philosophy
  • Leadership Mindset
  • Core Set of Leadership Behaviors Aligned With Organization’s Culture
  • Leading Teams and People
  • Leading People Development
  • Leading For Results
  • Ensuring Accountability
  • Communicating as a Leader

My purpose in this book is not to suggest that any or all of these three fictional characters make ideal leaders, but rather to use their behaviors and individual leadership platforms as a launching pad for readers to look into and develop their own leadership beliefs, skills and behaviors.

The book is now available on Amazon in both Kindle ($3.98) and paperback ($6.38) formats.

The Art of Great Leadership Blog — I have also started a blog where I will share articles, videos, books, resources, and my own thoughts on leadership. If the topic of leadership interests you, please click this link to subscribe to The Art of Great Leadership Blog.

I will continue to use the Monday Morning Marketing Memo to share my thoughts and resources on marketing, branding and the corporate image. Thank you for continuing to be a reader.

If It Touches The Customer, It’s A Marketing Issue

Base Your Marketing Strategy On Customers, Not Products

Many years ago I developed a personal marketing philosophy that I believe forms the core principle of marketing ─ if it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue.™

By focusing my thinking on what touches the customer, and how these impact and influence customers’ purchase decisions, I became highly adept at developing marketing and positioning strategies, first for my employers and then for my clients upon creating Howard Marketing Services in 1993.

Of course, everything your organization does touches your customers. This is why I advocate that long-term, sustainable success requires a customer-centric, marketing-led approach.

The key here is being customer focused, not just marketing led. Success will not automatically result from the traditional implementation of marketing techniques such as brand advertising, one-way communications with customers, lack of awareness of customer experiences, and reactive customer service strategies.

Rather, sustainable growth and success, as well as long-term customer loyalty, results from combining and modifying those traditional marketing approaches with TLC (think like customers), proactive customer engagements that lead to long-term customer satisfaction, two-way communications at all customer points of interaction, and a focus on understanding and learning from customer experiences with your products and services.

Prolonged success also results from adapting your current organizational processes and practices to better align yourself with the changing values of customers.

One of those changing customer values is choices and flexibility. Customers want both choices and flexibility, particularly when deciding what products and services will provide solutions to their needs, wants, and desires. Of course, when it comes to the actual purchase and use of a product or service, it is a bit different. As B. Joseph Pine points out in the book Mass Customization, “Customers don’t want choice. They just want exactly what they want.”

Only an organization that is fully focused on identifying the needs, wants, and desires of its customers will be able to provide exactly what they want. Then, if you give customers a little bit more than they expect, you are well on your way to developing long-term customer loyalty. As Susan Lyne, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said, “If people get what they expect from a brand ─ and more ─ they’re going to stick with it.”

Product Marketing. Brand Managers. Product Managers. Organization structures based on product lines or product groups. This is where the traditional focus of marketing has been, and unfortunately still remains ─ on products.

But, as I have often stated: “A product is or a service is just your point of entry. A loyal customer is the true goal.”

Having loyal customers should be the goal of every organization. The purpose of business, as the legendary Peter Drucker wrote, is “to create a customer.” In my view, the ultimate role of marketing is to create and keep good customers, to the benefit of customers, the organization, and other stakeholders.

Business is not just about sales, contracts, cash flow, internal rates of return, ROI, and profitability. Even Henry Ford recognized this when he said, “a business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.”

Using traditional marketing techniques, being “customer oriented” has meant operating in order to meet the needs of the typical customer, or the average customer. Businesses today cannot afford to focus on the average customer. Your future growth, and future profitability, comes from satisfying the needs of your most valuable customers.

To treat your most valuable customers as your most valued customers requires that they be treated as individuals ─ with individual needs, wants, desires, likes, and dislikes.

To treat valuable customers as individuals requires the understanding that anything that touches these customers is a marketing concern. It also means understanding that everything you do as an organization ─ and sometimes the things that you do not do ─ touches your customers.

The bottom line is simply this:  if it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue™.

This simple phrase births an entire marketing philosophy that you can use to develop sustainable growth and a loyal customer base for your own products and services.

It means doing things ─ particularly “marketing” ─ differently than you are doing them today. It means putting the needs of your customers first, before those of the organization. It means inculcating the skills of thinking from the customer’s perspective throughout the organization. And it means delivering your brand through customer experiences rather than paid advertising.

It will feel different, doing all these things, of that I can assure you. But I can also assure you so too will be the results.

 

KEY POINT:  if it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue.™

TAKING ACTION:  what is the main focus of your internal meetings? Products or customers? Sales results or customer needs? How can you spend more time discussing customers and their needs and less time discussing other matters?

How do you reward those in the organization that exhibit high levels of customer intensity? How do you publicize their efforts internally? What can be done to improve these areas and turn your customer-focused folks into internal heroes?

What is your marketing strategy based on ─ products or customers? Are your marketing plans based on product groupings and goals or customers and customer segments? Now is the time to change from product-driven strategies to customer-driven ones.

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

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