How Does One Prosper in Turbulent Times? By
Being Customer Centric!
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
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,
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
QuestBack Boston LLC
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,
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
Revisiting Feedback Management Maturity
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:
Senior management commitment, sponsorship,
Willingness to invest necessary time, resources,
An empowered team with the right functions represented
(including outside help if necessary).
An internal communications plan to get employees on
board, to disseminate results.
A feedback management tool that meets the
A "start small" and "prove-the-benefits" approach.
Don't take on too much initially.
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 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
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).
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
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
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
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
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
VNA, Western Pennsylvania
Customer Centricity wishes you health, joy, and prosperity for 2009!
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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