• June 14, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Be Top of Mind to Top the Customer Service Charts

NEW ORLEANS (ACCE 2011) – In his keynote address to open the 2011 Annual Call Center Expo (ACCE) here June 14, author Joseph Michelli urged every company to adopt a customer-focused "way we serve" statement.

This statement, he said, is more than just a mission statement. "It's how we want the customer to feel" after he&'s completed his business with us, said Michelli.

Michelli singled out several retailers that have excelled at customer service because of these statements. Among them were the following:

  • Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle, which went from a customer service loser to an instant success when it began "to treat each customer as if he were world-famous," he said. Before coming to that conclusion, the fish market, which had struggled for years, improved its product, streamlined operations, and revamped its organization, all with no success. Coupled with this statement, it began to create "unique, memorable, easily relatable experiences."
  • Starbucks, which thrives because they create "the third place" for customers—not as formal as the office but not as casual or informal as the home. They succeed by creating "the living room of the community," Michelli said.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, which "create the home of a loving parent."
  • Zappos, whose motto is “Wowful happiness.”

According to Michelli, "little things in service do matter," and the most beloved brands "operate with high respect and high love" for their customers.

"There are three key metrics for customer love: engagement, loyalty, and advocacy," he said. "The key is getting your customers to say, 'Your brand is the perfect company for people like me.'"

But even then, "It's not enough to be top of mind. You have to be top of heart," he said.

To support this, he stated that even in difficult times, 50 percent of customers would be willing to pay more for a product if it came with a better customer experience, and 50 percent would abandon a business because of a bad customer experience.

"You need to create a moment in time to create a story," he concluded.

And that message applies as much to social media as it does to all of the other channels. It's a channel that is not going away, according to Fergus Griffin, vice president of Service Cloud product marketing at Salesforce.com.

Griffin, the lunchtime keynoter, said "Social is past the point where it's a fad that will go away," he said. "There have been sites that had their moments and then faded, but social in general is here to say."

Companies have to go social, Griffin said, because that's where their customers are going to talk about them, he added. "Customers are social, and for many, it will be their preferred means of dealing with us," he said. "People are already on Facebook. We don't need to encourage people to get on Facebook to find us."

Fergus noted that companies can save 20 percent, 30 percent, or more by adopting a social strategy. Most of those savings come from call deflection, reduced call volumes, and decreased call handling times, he said.

But even then, companies have an obligation to treat customers fairly and respectfully on social media channels and to listen to them, he said.

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