John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


Panera’s CEO reacts to decline in Customer experience
July 1, 2014, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Customer Service

 

Panera CEO fixing poor café experience - Panera Bread’s CEO, Ronald Shaich, told investors, “We’ve directly surveyed our Customers, and the top reason they cite for coming less often is the diminished in-café experience.” Slow lines and inaccurate orders were prominent among Panera Customer complaints.

 

*TDG Disappoints [related article]

 

Panera 2.0 Customer Experience – After listening to its Customers and making the Customer experience a top company priority, Panera Bread has launched Panera 2.0− a series of integrated technologies to enhance the guest experience for all consumers no matter how they choose to use Panera.  “Panera 2.0 is an investment in the Customer enabled by technology and powered by operational excellence,” Shaich said in a release. “We believe it will reduce friction such as wait times, improve order accuracy, and minimize or eliminate crowding−all while creating a platform for an even more personalized experience.” Panera is focusing on personalization. It enables a differentiated food experience−when and where you want it−from customized menus and tailored content to offers through the MyPanera loyalty program.

 

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Human interaction endangered? 2014 Secret Service Summit lineup

Is human interaction an endangered species? Every industry is trying to replace people with technology. This isn’t exclusive to ecommerce, but retail as well.  You now see fewer clerks and more self-serve checkouts. According to Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, mentioned in an article by  Ilan Mochari, Why Retailers Won’t Nix the Human Transaction , your retail future is unlikely to include actual point-of-sale (POS) transactions. Someday in the not-too-distant future, Chui says a Customer will be able to walk into the store, grab what she wants and simply leave. Chui says, “You grab a pair of shoes and you just walk out.” Chui also predicts that through a population of sensor technologies placed strategically within stores, retailers will recognize Customers when they walk in the door through smart devices or other means. Stores will have payment cards on file; Customers will be billed when they leave the store with the merchandise, essentially bypassing the checkout.

 

*Related article: Cash is Dying

 

Interactions trump transactions – Regardless of technological advances, people need people for information, education, conversation, and most of all, an emotional connection. The bells and whistles are nice; however, relationships will always be the key differentiator in the Customer experience.

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Do you suffer from MSA, and what is more important than IQ?
June 17, 2014, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Customer Service

The Connected Customer - In an article titled “Brian Solis’ Vision of the Future: Connected Customers,” he discusses how businesses need to acquire the “connected Customer.”  You probably know some connected Customers. They are ones who just had the amazing social event, right after they got back from a wonderful vacation. And how do you know about all of this? Because they tell practically everybody about it – before, during and after the experience, by capturing the moment and putting it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Solis points out that today we are living in a connected lifestyle – one that’s digital and increasingly mobile. The connected Customer has changed people’s behaviors and expectations; the more connected, the more informed and empowered a person becomes. Have you targeted connected Customers?

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Hootsuite gave it away free and ended up with 5 million Customers

Give it away and they will pay later - Recently the founder of HootSuite, Ryan Holmes, wrote an article titled, “How to Get 5 Million Customers with Zero Ad Budget,” and shared that for the first three years, HootSuite spent literally no money on marketing, PR or advertising. Rather they built their business on the freemium model. The majority of users, hundreds of thousands of them, paid absolutely nothing for the service. And, it worked! Especially because free users have no vested stake in you, and no long-term contract. If you don’t deliver, they’ll move elsewhere. To this day, over half of HootSuite’s paying Customers-including some of HootSuite’s biggest enterprise clients, were once non-paying, free users. As Holmes says, “put your energies into developing an irresistible product and loyal user base. Worry about making money later. I can’t imagine doing business any other way.”

 

Freemium - The word “freemium” is a combination of the words “free” and “premium.” It is a business practice in which you give your product or service away at first, grow an extremely large Customer base that eventually can’t live without you, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google, or in which you give a core product away for free to a large group of users and sell premium products to a smaller fraction of this user base, i.e. Skype, Dropbox, and Evernote.  All were built on freemium. While this seems to be a new technique applicable to internet-based companies, this is the way many businesses started off, including brick and mortar, building a Customer base and brand awareness. The following is the marketing plan we executed 20 years ago when we originally opened John Robert’s Spa and couldn’t afford to spend any money on advertising. The result? Two decades of consecutive positive sales growth. 

 

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How to make Customers fall in LOVE with your brand

Biggest Advantage – Let’s talk about a word that is not used regularly, or comfortably, in the corporate world. That word is LOVE. While it isn’t spoken, it is what all executives want: People to LOVE their brand. They want their employees to LOVE working for them. We all want our Customers to LOVE us. Think about the top brands in the world: people don’t buy from Starbucks, they LOVE Starbucks. People LOVE Apple, Zappos, Nordstrom, Chick-fil-A, and Amazon. Think about the companies you personally would never stop doing business with? You may LOVE your hairdresser, or your account executive, manufacturer/distributor; you might even LOVE your banker or lawyer (crazy as that sounds).  What makes you LOVE a service provider or business? What did they do to make you LOVE them? How many of your Customers would make heart-shapes about your brand? I LOVE the phrase “Out-LOVE your competition.” Out-Loving your competition is the most distinct competitive advantage a company can have. When enough Customers LOVE your business, you have just made price irrelevant. What do we have to do to make our Customers LOVE us and our businesses?

 

You have to LOVE them first – LOVE has to start at home. In business terms, that means internally  treating your employees with world-class service. What is felt on the inside will be felt on the outside. All relationships begin with a connection. It may only be momentary  (your heart skips a beat) possibly originating out of the first three of the Five E’s (eye contact, enthusiastic greet, and ear to ear smile). It grows a little bit more when a conversation is had, executing on the final two E’s (engage and educate). Through this interaction, the Customer realizes it is not about the sale, rather you are truly interested in what’s best for them. Interest and trust has been created.  However, emotional connection isn’t made until the business demonstrates genuine care and interest in more than just their pocket book. Falling in LOVE with your brand is not possible until the Customer feels that it is all about them, that they are the most important person in the relationship. The business needs to take the time to learn about them, using Customer intelligence, their FORD — about their Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.  Due to the relationship you have created, the Customer cannot recall how they ever got along before you were in their life and could not imagine a world without your business. You now have a brand evangelist.

 

What we need is LOVE - Let’s teach what kindness looks like, in business, in family, communities and schools. Have employees learn about caring for others with no hidden agenda to make a sale or profit. Teach them how to display genuine hospitality.

 

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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Call Centers are dead

Director of First Impression - Often the contact/call center is the only interaction Customers ever have with companies, which would then make sense that organizations should ensure they have an incredible experience. Unfortunately, that is typically not the case. There are several reasons (see past eService white collar sweat shops) besides management not giving call centers the resources and training necessary.  The Customer service representatives’ responsibilities have evolved significantly. Today they are asked to do so much more, juggling multiple channels of communications.

 

Relationship Centers – Companies have to look differently at their call centers and the roles of their Customer service reps. It is no longer a call center, but rather a relationship center. I seriously recommend naming and referring to your call center (or contact center) as Relationship Centers. This will help everyone from within the company (executives to the Customer service reps) to think differently about this critical part of the organization. In a great article titled, ” The Future of Contact Centers in the Age of the Customer,” Nicola Millard shared a study done with contact center experts, which revealed that they expect web-chat to become one of the primary ways Customers will communicate with companies. As Customers are increasingly starting their journey online or on a smartphone, web-chat is an easy way of having a conversation without leaving their browser or app. Video chat is also expected to explode in the next five years (see past eService Virtual Engagement).

 

Guardians of your Customer experience – Contact centers are more critical than ever to businesses. Today they are the ones that understand Customer demands, what Customers are contacting organizations about. Companies need to shift from the old paradigm of a “call factory” to relationship builders and “guardians of the Customer experience.” Companies also need to change  the traditional key performance indicators (KPI’s) for contact centers. These might be transactional metrics like average call handling time – which is not Customer centric (see past eService on Measuring the wrong metrics). Like anything, if you don’t have executive sponsorship, nothing will change.

 

Collecting Customer intelligence from…Customers – With the rise of the social media era, Customers are more empowered than ever to have access to, and influence information about themselves and their experiences.  Some companies (Testra puts Customers first) have decided to allow Customers to access and edit their account notes and preferences in their CRM systems. The theory is Customers will provide better, more accurate information, which will allow Customer service reps to build stronger relationships when they interact with their customers.  This also shifts some of the database maintenance from the employee to Customer, saving the company resources and time. Do you think giving Customers access to their information will be a good or bad thing?

 

 

 

 

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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Social media rebellion, Department of Customer defense

The Social Media Rebellion – Social media has turned Customer service upside down. No advancement has disrupted

the Customer-care landscape on the same order of magnitude – or as quickly — as social media (past eService biggest influence on Customer service in the last 50 years). Today, more than ever before, Customers are informed and empowered, and they expect personalization and quick responses. In the past, a company had the ability to respond (or not) on their own timetable, but now the fact is your Customer has instant access to social media, which means instant access to thousands of people. Consumers now have personal platforms and the ability to broadcast the good, the bad, and the ugly pertaining to their favorite (or least favorite) brands with the click (or the tap) of a finger. For better or worse, social media has also shone a spotlight on a brand’s approach to Customer care – fails, successes, and all.

  

Department of Customer Defense – Companies need to make sure they have proper procedures in place to handle their Customer’s reaction on social media. If not, then you run the risk of a potential nightmare (see past eService It’s About Time). Here are some keys:

  1. You need to know about it. There are numerous software choices that will automatically notify you anytime your company gets mentioned on social media channels. 
  2. Respond ASAP. It takes years to build a brand’s reputation and seconds to ruin it. Don’t be vulnerable to brand terrorism. Be aggressive, with both positive and negative comments. Thank and address publicly and privately if needed.
  3. Make it easy for Customers to share and give feedback, even if it is constructive. Most companies are only hearing from a small percentage of unsatisfied Customers. How often do you have a poor Customer experience and don’t bother to tell anyone at that business? If we advertise to our Customers that we want to hear about their experience, good or bad, it dramatically increases the amount that will share, both good and bad. What they are not telling you, they are telling their friends. Today that could be thousands of people in a click of a mouse. 

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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