Saturday, December 31, 2005

Customer Feedback Via The Blog

Happy New Year!

Have you made those New Year resolutions yet? If not, or if you have, as part of your campaign to do better at Customer Service/Customer Experience management you might want to think about improving your Customer Feedback .

Companies and small businesses traditionally have put this on a back burner or have used it in limited ways, usually to verify their position instead of listening. The power of feedback information from the customer/client/market segment can be powerful. Surveys you say, well no I don't say. These traditional forms are so trite and blasé that most customers ignore them. Those who do participate usually pad their survey answers with what you want to hear or just out-right lie. Hmmm, isn’t this dirty laundry? So many of the surveys that are used by researchers to provide data for decision making and marketing projects are so far offline that the effectiveness of related strategic decision making or marketing projects are far from effective.

My suggestion is to try something new. Try setting up blogs for customer responses, Blogs that allow for customer specifics to be anonymous but feelings and responses real. You can use preset questions to gain a response (NO SURVEYS or advertising Please) or create one that is just open ended where customers can sound off, praise or condemn. Honest feed back is powerful and provides real insights into the market place and customer attitudes. It enhances the customer experience and adds another link for customer loyalty enhancement.

Blogs are ever increasingly becoming popular with individuals, but not yet as a feedback tool with companies. Those who have used them have found that their customers have not become desensitized to them as with surveys and other avenues of feedback gathering.

How powerful is the course of a blog? Well it certainly can change the course of a river, rivers of opinion that is. Dell Computers found this out when their customer center failed to adequately listen to a couple of customers. They blogged their feelings on the open blog network. Others with like mind also joined the swelling chorus causing Dell to loose critical points in market share.

Another example that is echoed in an article Found in the online
Slate Magazine, "Ironies of Her Downfall" about Kate Moss a Swedish model. A top Swedish clothing manufacture was persuaded by the power of Blogg to drop Moss as a Representative for their clothing line due to her publicized use of cocaine. In fact the response was so over whelming others who where going to use her in other marketing campaigns also dropped her from their projects. Viva le blog (horay for the blog).

It is important to supply as many feedback routes/alternatives as possible from the customer to you and your business so that the resulting information can provide for responsive avenues of change and effective customer experience management. OH! As an after thought don't be a traditionalist. You might actually listen to what the customers and market place are saying if your smart. If not it will cost you dearly if it hasn't already.

For more thoughts on the customer experience, customer service, and customer feedback please chek out ."The Customer Development Center".

Have an Opinion or Comment Please feel free to share. We're listening

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What Is A Customer Relationship?

Now this is an interesting subject. Is there a canned way to define this? Well, good luck if you think you have a handle on it. I was just reading a beautiful article by Sussan Abbot of Abbott Research "Is it a relationship or just a Rolodex? How do you define a relationship with a customer? Or a donor? Or a 'friend of the family'?" Long title with very astute thoughts attached. What we consider a customer many times is very borderline if a customer at all. In fact they are more of a contact than anything. Many people in our customer files are people we can't remember or people we had met that should just be part of wish list. Susan addresses this much better than I can so I would highly recommend you take the time to read her article and then take the time to re-evaluate your list and card files as to who is who. Re focus your energies with those who count. But most of all come to a clear understading of just what is a true customer for your business.

For more information on the Customer Experience please refer to "The Customer Development Center"

Any comments or thought, Please share.

Its the little things that make the Custiomer Experience

After all it’s the little things that count. It has been my experience that when dealing with customers it always boils down to making them feel good. Buying is an emotional experience and if you want them to comeback for more than once or twice you need to lead your customer down the path with an experience that leaves them feeling good about the decision they made and that they gained an added value proposition. That can be in the form of open access customer service, the thank you note etc.

It is in creating that unique customer experience that makes the difference between selling and really providing a service. Selling is product centered and yes it brings in the dollars, but does it create customer life cycles that brings in continued business and customer lifetime value. Creating the customer centered Customer Experience is what adds value to the customer. If you place the customer first your cashflow will increase, your customer retention will increase significantly and recovering the cost of acquiring your customer will significantly be recovered quicker

For more on The Customer Experience go to
The Customer Development Center
Please Post your Comments or Opinions.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Customer Development Stagnant?

Large businesses pay marketing firms billions of dollars every year to promote and brand their identity and products. They flood us with an inundating amount of information. They are merciless in their attempts to invade every aspect of our lives. Now the question surfaces, "Are they effective?" You might want to read the story
"The Purple Cow" posted at Fast Company. I have a tendency to believe them. With all the money and hype the latest figures show a growing decline in the effectiveness of traditional marketing. Increasing customer dissatisfaction, increasing abandonment rates, coupled with decreasing customer loyalty are starting to turn heads.

Maybe to little to late for some. However this is a great opportunity for small companies and businesses to step up and take charge. The one area that customers are responding to is to the renewed effort in the development of "The Customer Experience". No, not the way that the marketing teams are trying to develop it. They are just doing the same thing with new names. Small and medium size businesses can respond to clients faster and in more personal ways. They can build lasting trust bridges through personal contact and develop one on one recognition. They can even be more effective in a regional context of branding their name and product/service were National and global players are loosing their grip. Small businesses can also focus quicker on developing niche markets and respond to small market changes.

Why? Because customers really do count. And small businesses because of their increased sensitivity to customers needs feel a huge gap by those who think money can buy everything. Maybe the marketing people should stand up and take notice. It's not only just about sales.

For more information go to "The Customer Development Center"

As always we want to encourage your comment and idea exchange.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Social Conscience Comment


Yes, I was shouting how rude right? Well I know that I have a bit of trafic here and people are reading this stuff, but nobody is commenting. Please agree or disagree or something. Maybe the commentary is just to over whelming. Hmmm, I don't really think that I'm that good. Bloging communities are set up to exchange ideas and to challenge convention.
So please comment when visiting here or at other blogs. If nothing else at least as a professional courtesy.

Merry Christmas to Everyone
And thanks for letting me shout a little

Monday, December 19, 2005

Customer Experience = Customer Loyalty

Good morning blog land. I just read an interesting article at the "Brand Autopsy" written by John Morre concerning the importance of putting the customer at the center of our business success. We often tend to want to measure, dissect, manipulate and de-humanness our clients for the sake of promoting products and stuffing our good name down their throat. Like John I think this is a vile approach to developing those who create the greatest growth potential to any organization or small business and that is our customers. After all who can better advocate our good virtues than those who really believe from personal experience. Great article and a great read.

For more information on customer loyalty try The Customer Development Centerfor greater insight.

Again, as always let me encourage you to leave your thoughts for others to muse over.

Blogging a Doorway To Customer Development and Feedback

Today I had the opportunity of reading a blog called Big Bears BackBone Media, that dealt with the interactive nature of using a blog form customer feedback groups in the form of customer communities. Hey! It would work great with individualist that march to their own drum beat. The thing here is that through the creating of blogging communities in a formal head on interactive content or in indirect feedback groups you are able to create direct feedbaack content from your customer base, the idea has very strong merit.

This proactive creation of feed back chanels isn't about marketing this is about listening and building viable trust bridges between customers and potential customers. Take a look see. I feel it is worth the effort of a click.

Need other information on Customer loyalty, customer experience managing, customer development etc please go to "The Customer Development Center"

If you have a comment please leave it behind for others to read and share.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Customer Experience Management Is for Small Businesses Too.

OK, it’s Time to blog. Small businesses often feel lost in the rampages of large corporate programs and industry clichés. I can understand why when most small and medium size businesses haven’t any permanent marketing staff and large sales departments to power them into the customers lap. Look guys, customer service and the newer version, customer experience management are the same rules for them as they are for you. Do you need to hire a marketing company? No, not really although if you have the bucks be my guest, however choose well. You can compete, heads up with any corporation if you know how to set the rules of the game, your game. The easiest place to start is in paying attention to your customers and the experience they have when dealing with your, store or company, product or services. And I mean on every level. Believe me, everything a customer hears, sees or reads gets laid into a mental data bank. It is these images or impressions over all their contact experiences with your business that will determine whether or not they buy, comeback and buy again, or just brush you off and go some where else. I’ll be writing quite a bit on small businesses and the customer experience so stayed tune.

If you have a comment please share a word or two.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Customer Service vs Intellectually Challenged Technology

Bellow, you will find a comment that I left on someone else’s Blog,"A Day In The Life of A Persuasion Architect" . I actually have read every entry and found them fascinating as they keep coming back to the same topic. Business, whether it be a sole proprietor or a large enterprise have all been given a big line when it comes to IT systems. As a result customer service on line and off really sucks because no one knows what in the hell is going on. Talk about confusion. Take a read and visit the blog.

Blog Comment:
You had me smiling. The one singular problem is that with the onset of computer technology, CRM, order systems, and remote phone centers those who should care and those who would be normally involved in the inline order process are now removed. Our decision making is now in the hands of automated junk.

The incredible thing here is that this IT junk is designed by people who haven't a clue about business or business processes let alone customer management. Less than 5% of the IT developers have any kind of biz degree and less than 3% of that has any mid level experience managing outside of an IT firm. Need I go further? Customer service took a big kick in the mmmm because of this now dependency on computer generated data and analytics designed by people who haven't a clue.

People make decisions based on this artificially induced intelligence (computer generated analytics) and it lulls the organizations to sleep. What a mess. Managers need to get off their butts and back into the interactive stream and make a difference.

The call center you talk about was contracted as an outsourced initiative and probably has never seen the web order system. The web order system was probably outsourced to IT company who has no clue about customer interaction and the good management people who should know probably have never used the order system. Good article it further exposes a trend on the false Provodo the new brave world has brought. Don't get me wrong here; IT has its place as a support system to enhance business not as replacement systems to smother it.

There are more article available on Customer Service, Feedback, CRM, Customer Experience Management at "CDC" Please take a look.

Please feel free to comment. We would love to hear what you have to say.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Customer Service - A Clear Thought

Tom Asacker in his latest blog,"David Allen on Achieving Clarity" has underscored what some of us already see and understand in relation to what's happening around us in the world of business and marketing.This has great impact on the concept of the customer experience. Why customer satisfaction is falling and why we can't respond to the customers needs. If you would like to read it follow the link to Toms Asacker's blog. It leaves alot to meditate on.

If your in the mood for other articles on the customer experience, customer service, etc then go to where we focus on the importance of customers.

Create a Great Customer Experience

"T's the season to be jolly - Fa la la la la la". The lines to the Christmas standard "Deck The Halls" have measurable lessons in the way we should promote customer experiences and great customer service. In an article published in the Customer Evangelist Blog there is a good example of how a small business decided to promote and reward its valued customers at the same time it empowered their employees. It would be wise to remember that anytime that you give the employees the ability to affect good outcomes with your customers by creating creative and positive customer experiences you endow your employees with the power to add value to your business and create added customer loyalty.

Actually larger businesses dealing with key accounts and their management of those accounts could learn from this. The translation from small biz to large biz is very easy for the bright and not so bright. It has been my experience that business strategies that are successful scale very easily and are applied nicely regardless of the business type or size. This especially applies to customer service, customer loyalty, branding; and customer experience management.

Please remember that the spirit of the season requires extra effort and tolerance in order to be translated into customer value. Customer value translates into money in the bank. Now, why can't we do this year round.

Please feel free to comment. We would love to hear your take on this

Friday, December 09, 2005

Will the Real Customer Service Come Forward

I have seen and read dozens of definitions on customer service. They all seem some what noble and mystifying and each with a different focus. This is all and good except when business starts each day they all go out the window and it is business as usual. The following is an excerpt from our website at "The Customer Development Center"

"Customer Service" as defined in business terms, is what a company or business is willing to do for the customer/client to procure the sale and payment, with as litle cost to the company as possible in either time or money. This also includes all post sale customer care and support programs. This may be simply stated, but it is true.

I know customer service has a bunch of definitive definitions that are all impressive. But, and it's always but, they are centered on and around the above definition when applied. This is determined by the current focus with which companies do business and define their customers. Hey! Let's be realistic. I've sat in on those sale meetings, the branding brain drains and the accounting audits and can tell you right now customers are seen in terms of what they bring in quick dollar conversion and not much more.

What would happen if the sale/orders/cash flow cycle were no longer central in business? Instead, we focus on the customer and their overall experience (group of experiences) as observed through their interaction with the business or product. What if this became central and all business processs were designed to support it? Hmm, now that's a thought to consider.

The power in redefining Customer Service in terms of successful Customer Experience Management brings realms of possibilities that can push the envelope. By the way studies show that successful customer experiences bring increased sales, increased loyalty, higher retention; and provide longer customer lifecycles.

In the customer experience model a customer lifecycle is defined not by the product or services purchased, but by the term length in which continuing meaningful experiences or interactions takes place with a given company. In these terms the customer lifecycle can under the right conditions can be extended indefinitely.

How you manage these customer lifecycle experiences will define you as an owner, manager, and as a business. It will define your social and ehtical responsibility to your employees, the community and your external clients in terms more powerful than current customer service practices. It permeates every department and function of a business and if aproached correctly involves everyone across departments lowering internal barriers that work against internal productivity. "Customer Experience Management" is a very powerful tool which encompasses the holistic view of business.

Welcome to the "New Customer Service Model."

For another and fresh perspective from a branding point of view go to What's Your Brand Mantra. Jennifer is a beliefer in seeing business as a business ecosystem. I don't totally agree with the idea of brand being central however. Brand to me is only as a part of the forming of the customer Experience model. However, it is a good read.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Watch what you write?

This blog is a thank you to one of the many that frequent both "The Customer Development Center" and here at our "CDC" Blog. The persons name is, and I hope he doesn't mind, Glenn Cross. Glenn, who also has a blog dealing with the issues of small business, was so kind to write and remind me that I was getting a little sloppy (very sloppy) with my grammar and spelling. I owe him a big thanks and everyone else a very I'm sorry.

How we appear to our clients and potential customers is of great importance and should not be ignored. This is especially true with the way we write our blogs, e-mails, letters; and other correspondence. Even our websites at times are terrible. When I see a web site with poor grammar, lots of miss spellings etc I automatically write it off. My first assumption is that it was compiled by amateurs or perhaps even a rip off or a con artist. Now that isn't necessarily so or is it fair, but in the human mind that is exactly the thoughts that take place. If there was any hope of cedibility before someone saw the site it is certainly was gone afterwards. This is also true with all other business writing on and off line.

People will judge us by what and how we write. In business this is a must to think about. In our blogs and e-mails people will measure our professional status, as being un-educated, or worst of all they will associate with us an I don't care attitude that will reflect on our efforts, business, services; and our products. Talk about a negetive touchpoint. If we are careless in the way we write and express ourselves our customer or potential customers will deal with us harshly and then bye, bye business.

So PLEASE BE CAREFUL in your writing. Use spell check and even get a friend, or someone you trust to proof your copy before you publish it, or send it to a client. This also goes for contracts and other documents.

There is a terrific site available that you can use to help with grammar and writing. It is "The Guide To Grammar and Writing". (IT"S FREE) It is maintained by Dr Charles Darling of the Capital Community College, who has done an excellent job. People of all ages and nationalities will benefit from the information and tutorials that are provided. This wonderful site is free and is Sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation.

We may not be perfect in our efforts, but heaven help us for trying.

Thanks Glenn, I am deeply grateful. Please send me your blog link so that I can return a favor.

If anyone wants to comment or share their perspective please do so.

For more information on Customer Service or The Customer Experience please go to
The Customer Development Center.

Touchpoints - emotional tags

I read a lot of material, both on and off the net, and as I do I get to see what others are doing in the way they mange their customers and that management helps or hurts their business. I was reading an article recently at "PC world dot com" that reminded me of this principal. The article 30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do On The Internet demonstrates the use of applying positive emotional tags to provide the potential customer with reason to trust and then to buy. Touchpoints are the contacts our customers have with us, both direct and indirect(non-initiated), along the customer life cycle. Every time a contact is made via the Touchpoint mechanism people create positive or negative emotional tags that are associated with your product, service, or your company.

PC World uses appropriate and useful information to create positive emotional tags. What kind of tags have you provided for your customers or clients that will move them closer to a purchase and long time loyalty? This process will make or break your business. Not only is this a great sales tool, but it is an important part of market dominant "Customer Experience Management".

For a more thorough discussion of "Touchpoint Management" or "Customer Experience Management" you mite want to follow this link. .The Customer Development Center

Please leave a comment and let me know how you feel or may want to share an experience

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Customer Feedback - A Customer Service Essential

Well it's another day and another dollar, right? I was shopping with my wife last night, not my favorite thing, but it does make her happy. We were looking at bunkbeds for my 4 year old daughter. When ever we go somewhere I, as always, go fact finding and take the time to talk with the managers and especially the floor clerks. As always I come across various issues and this time I found very disturbing pattern that seems to popping up in med sized businesses. By the way small and large businesses aren't immune to this either. This disturbing trend consist of the lack of concern in developing different avenues for customer feed back.

At this particular furniture store they have a policy that I felt was somewhat unfair to the unsuspecting consumer. Basically, it trapped them into making further purchases to gain a discount. Which, in and of itself, is a poor customer service/sales policy. Anyway, when I talked to the clerk concerning the issue he didn't want to hear it. Hmmm, I thought something is wrong. So I asked if he would mind passing my concerns on to the manager and he said sure, but they never listen to the staff. In fact, during the year that he has been working there, he has never been able to pass any customer concerns on. Both store management and upper management discourage any floor level feed back.

This is a BIG PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!! The staff is your first line for feed back and should have a daily if not weekly debriefing by managers, owners, or department heads. This ongoing debriefing should include discussions and input response from management. Hey, this lak of customer care totally sucks and does more to harm you customers loyalty than to promote it. Let me put it this way, I'm not making a trip back to that store anytime soon.

What's your opinion?

If you want a good article go to Building Feedback Channels where there is more information.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blog and e-mail, What a Team

If you haven't started your blog, then you need to take the time to learn what it's all about and make blogging a part of the stack of tools that already lay at your feet. Such tools help to create quality customer interaction, a key element in providing good customer service. It can also be, at least for the moment, a marketing landslide and it has just started. Even though they seem to permeate the news these days, their use is still limited, but proving powerful. Use your blog(s) wisely or your current and potential customers will shut the door. Just like e-mail, the over use (junk mail syndrome) of this tool de-synthesizes your customer or potential customers to what your messages are.

The blog coupled with the use of e-mail becomes a powerful one two punch for sampling opinion and garnering customers or market segments positions on any number of topics and services. The two together can drive exploratory research for R&D initiatives, create opportunities for stronger customer support, and better customer experience management not to mention an additional door to approach your customers through. A blog provides a less formal appeal to those who may have slipped through your fingers through more conventional marketing. Blogs can be used singurlarly or in groups for different functions and formalized through the use of the e-mail a more polished and formal communication tool inorder to formalize projects, agreements, newsletters, special offers, etc.

Don't let time slip away and become an antique of opportunity lost, LEARN TO BLOG.

You Better Start Blogging Before IIt's to Late (opinion)

Who would have imagined that a few years ago, when the blog first lifted its ugly virtual head out of the Primordial soup, that it would become such a powerful tool in the dismantaling of markets. It permiates our privacy almost as pervasively as the cell phone and has become the open door for stating positions, feelings and our over the wall disbelief with the systems that run the crazy world we live in.

Now comes the next layer of unrequested residue as the marketing minds of large businesses try to trample the heards of small businesses, all rushing to capitalise on the next bastion of customer will and buying power. Can they suceed? Well maybe, depending when the burnout comes and those who have opened their souls to the wills of the net via the blogg become desyntheisized to its commercialized candor.

Now, I work hard at helping businesses to succeed. The one thing I have learned is that to sell, we need customers. We need them to listen, we need them to talk, to let us know what's going on, and for them to let us know how we can help them. Therein lies the beauty of the blog. If they write we should be listening. We need to learn how to use the blog as an informal sounding board to provide an alternative feedback channel. It'can also become a great contact tool and will only remain that way if we (business) back off and respect the customers space. Use it as a tool to talk, share, and help. If we have a service, solution or product that can make the difference then we can share it by using our e-mail channel as the formal presenter. But now that big business and small opportunity (gold diggers) players are in the game its a matter of time before the doors shut on a great tool.

If you haven't started your blog yet you need to learn what it's all about and make it a part of the stack of tools that are available to serve your customer base. It can be at least for the moment a marketing landslide and it has just started. Use it wisely or your current and potential customers will shut the door.

Take the time to respond with your opinions. After all, they do count.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

CRM Is Changing Again?

In a recent article, written by the editor of the news wire CMC, it is suggested that todays CRM is in a changing flux. What CRM was a year ago is not what it is today, perhaps more so than other customer relation technologies. This may be true in part , but what I have found is that the changes are just repackaging of bad software. Customer relationship management just keeps getting worse. Many of the new and not so big players in CRM are adding new functionality and raising the level of competion everyday. What they aren't doing is sucking it up and addressing the issues that their software should be doing which is serving the businesses that use it and not in changing them.

Anyway take a look and give your opinion. Is the new generation of CRM really what it should be? For more information you can also go to CRM Reborn.
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