How Your Digital Touch-Points are Harming Customer Relationships

patient_exam I wrote a post a while ago about the problems your email subscribers are going through.  I see the problem has now spread to many digital touch points you have with customers.

Many of these touchpoints offer confusing,  unclear, or incorrect information that is damaging your customer relationships.  So let’s examine the patients, determine a diagnosis, and provide a cure.

The Exam

  • A webinar invite from a “Marketing Company” that is offering a free trial webinar (they usually charge for their webinars).  The invite asks me to confirm participation, but there are no clear directions or a link to confirm.  The invite also has the incorrect time on the email invite, and then I find I can’t even logon to the webinar once I learn it is happening.  And they want me to pay the next time?
  • A very popular blog that I subscribe to via an RSS feed aggregrator sends me a daily digest email that only shows a message that this popular blog has changed, while all other subscriptions show at least a portion of the latest post. Too much other content to read so I rarely click on the link to go read the blogpost.
  • Clicking on the “Change My Email Address” link at the bottom of newsletters only offers the ability to cancel my subscription instead of change it. Fine, I’ll just unsubcribe then.
  • Downloadable file names are meaningless and don’t help me remember the content or the business it came from. When cleaning my desktop it’s just easier to just drag it to the recycle bin.
  • Social Media apps that I add to my profiles or pages are just too hard to use or don’t do what they claim. “Remove App” is very easy to click.
  • Complex sign-up and security procedures for content that isn’t that important. Required fields such as date of birth and security questions for email newsletters just doesn’t make sense.  I’ll just move on to less secure content.

Possible Diagnosis

  • There are no standards for customer communications.
  • There are no quality checks of the content.
  • There are no customer experience checkpoints or testing.

A Cure

  • List all the different ways your business communicates or touches customers (blogs, downloads, email, RSS feeds, social media, website, webinars, etc).
  • Determine the call to action for each touch point.  What do you want the customer to do at each touchpoint?
  • Test each touchpoint and not just once – for quality, calls to action, and customer experience. Test them on a regular basis because a change in your website may impact any or all of the touchpoints you didn’t consider.
  • When testing, do it from the customer’s perspective. Does it allow the customer to do what they want and what you want them to do?
  • Here’s the key – don’t have those who created the touchpoint/process test it themselves. You are too close to it and will often miss critical issues. Have someone else test it who is not at all related to your department, or have trusted colleagues or friends outside your company test your process.

Hopefully this will prevent the spread of this disease, and keep your business and your customer relationship healthy.

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Do You Care if a Customer is Still YOUR Customer?

  It turns out that 44% of customers who stopped doing business with a teleco company believed the company didn’t even know. (Study by RightNow & StollzNow).  Turns out most of the defection is due to poor customer service, with the following list of industries as the worst offenders (no real surprises here):

  1. telecommunications
  2. ISPs
  3. finance
  4. travel & hospitality
  5. online retail
  6. insurance & utilities 

ARE THEY STILL A CUSTOMER?  It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out if a customer is still yours.  You have a few metrics in place, and you start looking for trends.  You can look for changes in attitudes, as these are often a leading indicator of behavior.  Look at customer survey data for those who score low.  While high satisfaction scores don’t correlate well with customer retention/loyalty, low satisfaction scores do correlate well with customer defection.

It’s best to concentrate on customer behavior data for the real insights.  A few that have served me well in the past include:

  • Changes in RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) patterns
  • Customer service usage – frequency of contact, number of complaints, satisfaction with result of contact.
  • Product or service usage – changes in usage patterns, using most recent version, contract renewals, service usage vs. payment (using much less than what one is paying for may indicate pending defection)

Companies spend signficant dollars on acqusition, yet for many, customer churn rates remain high.  There may be some customers you no longer wish to keep.  That’s fine, but you need to know how to identify the ones to keep and the ones to “let go,” and the metrics above will help. 

WHAT’S MORE PAINFUL?  The study also found that “almost one third of Australians would rather go to the dentist for a tooth extraction than suffer a poor customer experience!”  Either they have some wonderful dentists in Australia, or really poor customer service…

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What counts in customer satisfaction?

survey1.jpg  According to the 2007 Retailer Customer Satisfaction Survey what customers look for in a retailer comes down to three things – value, service, and shopping experience. The study breaks these down into cost, employee helpfulness, quality of the merchandise sold, return policies, cleanliness and ease of finding merchandise (“the six qualities”).

The survey indicates that customers value the shopping experience (“employee helpfulness,” “store cleanliness” and “ease of finding merchandise”) above all else with a key contributor to that being “employee helpfulness.” The study also attempted to correlate ACSI satisfaction scores with Net Promoter scores (NPS). There has been a lot of discussion about the usefulness of these two measures. You can see an excellent post on this topic on Ron Shevlin’s blog.

I would expect a different and much higher level of “employee helpfulness” when I shop at Nordstrom when compared to Macy’s. Interestingly, they had the same ACSI score, but Nordstrom’s NPS was 81 while Macy’s was 18! A quick look at the data showed the greatest gap in the six qualities listed above for these two stores to be in “employee helpfulness.” This affirms two of my beliefs. First, that having a “satisfied” customer doesn’t mean that they will return or recommend you to others. Second, that no single measure really predicts the health of your customer relationships. It’s better to understand the drivers of customer satisfaction, and what will cause a customer to recommend you (and actually do it) than just a single question to measure either of these.