Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #137

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How Does One Prosper in Turbulent Times? By Being Customer Centric!
by Craig Bailey

In the quest to promote optimism in these turbulent times, I offer a current example of the value of being Customer Centric.

With the markets in turmoil, one of the prudent things that I determined to do was squirrel away funds in a safe and secure vehicle, with the highest yields possible. I have been a customer of ING DIRECT for a number of years, initially responding to an opportunity to receive a $25 sign-on bonus for a deposit of $250 (an instant / guaranteed 10% gain on my money). My experience working with ING DIRECT, in the years since then, have been positive. Until today there was nothing to write a newsletter article about.

Two recent experiences have prompted me to share how ING DIRECT demonstrates that they are a Customer Centric firm and the value that they receive from doing so.

ING DIRECT recently began offering Personal Savings account holders the opportunity to receive referral bonuses. You go online to your account and invite up to 25 friends and family members (via email) to sign-on with ING DIRECT. The win-win-win situation results in the following:

  • You, the referrer, receive a $10 bonus for each person that makes a deposit of $250 or more.
  • Anyone that makes a deposit of $250 or more receives a $25 bonus.
  • ING DIRECT benefits from viral marketing (people telling other people) thus growing their customer-base organically.

So, if you are looking to earn an IMMEDIATE and effortless $250 why not invest (quite literally) just a few moments to sign-up with ING DIRECT and refer 25 people. And, you are offering a great service to those you refer! I've been banking with them for years and they have been nothing short of exceptional!

And now for the most impressive part of the story!

I wanted to gain the same (safe, secure, highest yielding) benefits for my business as I had for my personal finances. So, several days ago I created a business savings account with ING DIRECT. Several days later I received a postcard in the mail from them offering a $50 signing bonus for establishing a new business savings account. Bummer, I thought…But wait, let's give ING DIRECT a chance to exceed my expectations. I called them (on a Sunday afternoon, mind you) and explained that I had recently set up a new business savings account and that I had just received a postcard offering a $50 signing bonus. Then, I posed my question: "Is it possible to get that $50 signing bonus applied to my new account." I paused with much anticipation…

The response was an emphatic "absolutely!" He simply asked for my account number, verified my identity and then asked "are you online?" (He doesn't know me very well does he?) My response was "yes." He said "Simply hit the My Accounts tab to refresh your screen and you'll see that I deposited the $50 into your account."

I nearly fell out of my chair at how simple the process was. He didn't tell me the reasons why I didn't qualify for this offer. He didn't need to check with his supervisor. He didn't ask how long ago I set up the account. All he wanted to do was satisfy my (quite reasonable) request. This clearly demonstrated to me that ING DIRECT's marketing activities are NOT just about acquiring new customers, but also about maintaining loyalty with their long-term customers as well.

So, what value does ING DIRECT receive from being Customer Centric? First, free publicity in the form of the thousands of people who receive this newsletter. Second, they are going to get more of my money. My "other" personal and business bankers are probably saying "uh-oh." And, they should.

Click here to learn more about ING DIRECT.

If you'd like to learn more about how your firm can benefit from being Customer Centric and get on the path to doing so, give us a call. We'd be more than happy to share the highly pragmatic approaches available to you to prosper in these turbulent times while other companies are merely focused internally and thus losing sight of their single source of revenue (the customer).

Getting Serious About Customer Feedback Management
by Stewart Nash, QuestBack Boston LLC

"Feedback management technologies will be the top investment in 2009 to improve the customer experience ... in both a down economy where retention is key and a buoyant economy where growth is desired, customer experience remains a critical factor."

Gartner: "Predicts 2009: CRM Customer Service and Support", Jim Davies, November 2008

Customer Feedback Management is clearly a hot topic. Companies are being challenged to grow without spending on marketing, larger sales forces or other infrastructure. Naturally, many are turning their attention towards their existing customers as a strategy to grow within the constraints imposed by the environment. As a result many companies appear to be "Getting Serious" about customer feedback management – the topic of this article. If you are operating in a resource constrained environment and are looking to your customers for growth opportunities, we think this article will help you organize to leverage customer insight.

Revisiting Feedback Management Maturity

In our last column we introduced a framework for characterizing a company's effectiveness with customer feedback management: the Feedback Management Maturity Curve. We defined three stages along the curve: "Getting Started", "Getting Serious" and "Reaping the benefits". We pointed out that becoming more mature was an evolutionary process. We outlined how customer feedback is used by companies at each stage and pointed out that the higher up the curve, the greater the benefits. Lastly, we observed that most organizations today appear to be in the "getting started" stage along the curve.

Specifically we observed that companies with successful feedback management efforts often shared certain characteristics:

  1. Senior management commitment, sponsorship, involvement.
  2. Willingness to invest necessary time, resources, budget.
  3. An empowered team with the right functions represented (including outside help if necessary).
  4. An internal communications plan to get employees on board, to disseminate results.
  5. A feedback management tool that meets the organization's needs.
  6. A "start small" and "prove-the-benefits" approach. Don't take on too much initially.
  7. Commitment to see it through.

In this column we'll start to discuss how to organize a customer feedback management effort. The list above shows seven sets of observed characteristics of successful customer feedback managers. But for our purposes we'll group them into four categories: Management Commitment, Feedback Objective(s), Process and Tools. We'll cover the first two topics - Management Commitment and Feedback Objective(s) – in this issue.

Management Commitment

Management commitment is essential. As in any business function, customer feedback management requires a senior management sponsor - someone in the organization who can determine priorities, allocate and spend money and determine objectives. Here's our list of things your sponsor should be prepared to commit to:

  • Budget for out-of-pocket expenses (outsourced customer survey help, purchased tools, etc.).
  • Personal leadership – to guide objectives and responses to feedback, to prioritize staff, for acquiring internal resources including things like I/T support, data access, etc.
  • Staff time – both for providing input into the design of your customer outreach and for acting on results of the outreach effort.
  • Project management – You should pick a resource (either internal or external) to manage the project.
  • Multiple feedback cycles – In customer feedback management, cycles matter. You need period over period comparison data to know if your feedback based actions are having an effect on the objective(s) being measured. Keep in mind that feedback management benefits accrue over time. We recommend at least three customer feedback cycles (more is even better).

Feedback Objective(s)

Obviously you'll need an objective for your first feedback management effort. If you are still reading this article, you may have one already in mind. Choosing an objective is normally a fairly simple matter. In your business there is likely a metric that will point to future behavior of your customers relative to their purchase or re-purchase of your offering(s). Some examples of feedback management objectives with this characteristic are: Customer loyalty (per Reicheld), Customer satisfaction, Customer support effectiveness or perceived value versus competition. All these are useful metrics and any one of them would make a good customer feedback objective. You may eventually want to try to track all of them.

Note: The key aspect of the objective you pick is its relevance to your success as a business. Customer loyalty is often chosen by "mature" feedback management organizations because it is a proxy for the overall perception customers have towards their company, for their intentions to re-purchase and likelihood of referring new business.

Picking a customer feedback management objective can have its challenges. In many companies, several different business functions "touch" customers. Some of those functions may also gather customer feedback as part of their processes. Your customer feedback management effort may potentially highlight problems in the way other parts of your organization handle customers. It may be one of your goals to identify these kinds of issues. We think you would be well served to think about and involve representatives of other organizations in your planning process.

We will cover the final two categories – Process and Tools – in our next article. In the meantime, if you need help "getting serious" about Customer Feedback Management, companies like Customer Centricity can help. Feel free to contact us!

About QuestBack: QuestBack is an enterprise feedback management tool for gathering, analyzing and acting on feedback from critical constituencies. With unique ASK&ACT(TM) follow-up capabilities, QuestBack makes customer feedback data immediately actionable and supports the implementation of feedback management processes. The company is based in Europe and represented in the US by QuestBack Boston LLC.

Read previous articles in this series.



+ Being Customer Centric

+ Customer Feedback Management



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More Satisfied Customers
Check out what some recent customers had to say about their experiences with Customer Centricity:

"Our organization needed to move from a process-centric to a customer-centric focus. We engaged Craig Bailey and Customer Centricity to assist us in moving in the right direction while simultaneously controlling costs and preserving resources. Phase I of the project was an organization assessment and implementation plan. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase I and feel that the results were well worth the investment.

Much of the success of this project is due to Craig's skill and approach. The
fact that the staff responded so enthusiastically is a testament to his ability to make them feel comfortable, ask them the right questions and to express the intention of improvement rather than criticism.

The true proof of our satisfaction with Craig's services is that we will be engaging him to oversee our Phase II implementation project. I'm looking forward to our next steps and to moving forward to customer centricity!"

Kristy Wright
VNA, Western Pennsylvania

Happy New Year!
Customer Centricity wishes you health, joy, and prosperity for 2009!

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In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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