I was extremely excited – and quite proud! – that our friends at SAP (the $20B global enterprise software company) published intimate details of their Customer Success program in their most recent annual report. SAP is leading their industry by publishing customer-focused metrics right alongside financial measures. Based on the Net Promoter System, SAP has gone beyond measuring customer sentiment to incorporate true best practices for B2B businesses, including:
- Measuring customer success: “We view customer success as being so critical to our own that we have made it one of our four company-wide strategic goals, in addition to employee engagement, growth, and margin.”
“…a shorter questionnaire that hones in on what really matters to customers – such as the degree to which SAP solutions contribute to their success.”
- Understanding the level of engagement with their customers by defining coverage and response rates. Notably, “Our secondary goal was to achieve a response rate of 70%. While we fell short of this goal with a response rate of 67%, we were encouraged by the high level of customer engagement in providing feedback on our solutions and services. Our plan is to continue to promote our new methodology to sustain this feedback.”
- Focusing on improvement, not measurement. “…we are putting much more emphasis on responding to their concerns. In 2012, we greatly expanded the respective training for our employees, introducing a new e-curriculum that covers the subtle skills required to manage customer relationships. We can already document that our follow-up on issues has improved significantly.“
Congratulations and best wishes to Phil Morin and his global team on these achievements – truly an exciting development for SAP and for our “Customer Experience” industry! I’d also like to acknowledge Mary Brigden for her pioneering efforts that helped SAP get to this point.
This is the first time I’ve seen this level of customer focus published in this way … are there other examples? The customer success section of the annual report can be found here:
I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with JBara and Marketo in which we discussed how “Customer Success Managers” (who are typically focused on customer retention and cross-sell/up-sell expansion within their existing customer base) have implemented customer surveys to support their goals. Mike Stocker, Customer Success Team Lead from Marketo, spoke about the specific process he uses at Marketo, while I discussed successful strategies and tactics from other companies, including:
- Knowing your customers sentiment (“temperature”) with complete certainly before you contact them
- Making best use of customer interactions to drive sales
- How to construct a questionnaire to manage the customer success process
We had a great turnout, and so there are interesting results to our poll question to understand what experience the attendees might have with Net Promoter as a system, instead of feedback as a score.
To watch the webinar click here
(which will take you to the “Implementing a Successful Customer Survey” recorded webinar at http://www.jbarasoftware.com/upcoming-webinar-best-practices-in-surveys/ )
Waypoint Group hosted a local networking group we have endearingly entitled BICEP, Bay Area Innovative Customer Experience Professionals. It was a fabulous opportunity for local customer experience folks to gather over lunch to share challenges and collect best practices from other local companies. As one of the attendees expressed, “It was a fantastic way to discuss my program challenges with peers and gather great new ideas for how to drive very specific improvements!” Represented were CX & Net Promoter professionals from Cisco, Intel, SAP, VMware, USF, PeopleMatter & Integris Performance Advisors. Autodesk, HP & Symantec were also among the RSVP list, proving there is TONS of interest for this type of open forum, attended by, & provided for, local Bay Area customer experience practitioners.
Some of the take-aways offered by the participants included…
- Wordle (http://www.wordle.net) is a free service for creating word clouds for displaying comments
- A practice that moved the needle: Even if the overall scores are “OK”, do take the time to read verbatims and follow-up with people who asked questions or stated issues
- Connect your Voice of Customer Program with your company’s lost-customer program by linking the financials of each lost customer to the costs of “proactive” service. For companies with “trapped” customers, model the cross-sell offers to see the lost opportunity cost.
- Using Sales Pipeline data may be an easier way to show sales execs the power of customer feedback. Pull out pipeline data from your B2B sales team and show the connection between pipeline and scores.
- Analysis tip: Aggregate scores according to your company’s organization (e.g. by region, by product, etc), and show growth rate against Ease of Business score. You’ll see “market share givers” vs. “market share takers” and how scores relate to sales performance.
- Create a 1-page list of specific customer verbatim comments for each of your company’s departments to show their impact on the customer experience.
- Impactful survey question: “If you had a few minutes with NAME [your company’s CEO], what would you tell him/her?
Bottom-line: Make sure to position your role as not one of running surveys, but instead to capture Voice of Customer in an actionable way.
We are thrilled to be able to provide a productive forum for local practitioners running customer experience programs. We are planning our upcoming holiday event to be held in downtown San Francisco. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you in early December – !
MindTouch provides software and services to help enterprises deliver exceptional “help” experiences. We recently sat down with Corey Ganser, the Customer Experience leader for MindTouch, to discuss MindTouch’s customer experience program and how it benefits them.
Q: What prompted you to start a Customer Experience program?
When I initially started with MindTouch I was leading the Customer Support department and I needed to understand how well MindTouch was doing in the customer’s eyes. How could we improve? As a smaller company, being customer-focused is critical, and a main competitive advantage. Therefore the focus was on ensuring customers were happy and not on ‘tickets closed’ or other internal metrics.
While our initial measure of customer success was focused on end-user interaction with the Support organization, we realized that was too narrow. We leveraged Net Promoter – adding a periodic “relationship” questionnaire that also uses the “recommend” question – to make sure customers are happy overall. We also ask what can we do to improve MindTouch, and that’s where we learn critical customer priorities: While the majority of that feedback is around product enhancements, we also learn quite a bit about how to improve our communications, training, documentation, and processes.
Q: How did you go about implementing this program?
“To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships.”
One of the most critical elements was to shine the light on this effort across the company. To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships. I made sure I had a solid understanding of each department’s objectives, initiatives, and processes. Only then did I collaborate with the CEO and executive team to provide the required insights to the rest of the organization.
In that regard I was able to make sure that the feedback and required actions fit with existing priorities and didn’t just “throw feedback over the wall.”
Q: What would you say are the key outcomes so far?
MindTouch has grown. We’ve been able to tie this process to individual customers that have grown over time. Relate it to a personal experience: Have you ever felt that a company has listened to you? What would you do if they did? Note that while this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there.
“While this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there. The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it. ”
The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it.
There is also a connection between employee loyalty and customer loyalty: People stay, they are happy, and that drives results. We’ve been able to hire smarter to bring in the right DNA.
On the “dark” side, we found early on how important it is to follow-up with everyone. We have found that feedback deteriorates if we don’t follow-up, even if it’s just a “thank you” for positive comments. We must respond back to the customer.
Q: What are 1 or 2 things you would tell someone just starting this effort?
The most critical part is the follow-up process. After I triage the issue, the rest of the organization takes action on all feedback.
- When a customer responds to the recommend question as an “8 or higher”, they are happy with MindTouch so we reach out and ask for case stories, referrals, and even up-sell/cross-sell opportunities.
- For Scores of 7 or lower, within 2 hours we reach out to find out why and what’s bubbling under the surface.
Second is to use feedback in the Account Management process. Complementing our Support experience process is a periodic, relationship program that goes out to more people. Of particular importance is to engage the “quiet” people who may not respond. Our account managers understand the importance of building relationships, so they use the process to unequivocally know how things are going, and what’s working or not. Of course, they are finding new sales opportunities through this process as well.
Going forward, we’re continuing to refine customer-facing communications and also improve our internal, employee facing insights. One example of this is an overall dashboard for each customer showing customers’ “temperature.” The more we can help drive action, the better off we’ll all be.
by Diane Magers
If you are just starting, or are transforming, your customer experience practice, there is a driving desire for a quick win. A need to show financial results in the next quarterly meeting. A need to “check the box” that you are “doing“ customer experience. But you wouldn’t start a business without a plan of action, a strategy, processes, a roadmap, but most importantly, a definition of success? It’s the same with Customer Experience.
Launching a survey, jumping right into a measurement or listening to customers without a carefully thought out plan is like opening the doors of a new business without inventory, clerks, or a cash register. You will find quick wins, but you will continue to Band-aid and churn activities without any real direction. Even if you are starting with a pilot to get your feet wet, it still requires careful thought and planning.
We need to drive and manage customer experience tactical activities with strategic intent. Resources, processes and planning are needed to determining how we will:
• Respond and react to customer issues and great experiences
• Communicate the change to elevate customer centricity in your organization
• Learn to search for and find insights that lead to action
• Target and achieve customer value and benefits
• Design and launch initiatives to fix the root cause of issues
Start or transform your current Customer Experience practice by clearly defining your mission, goals, customer strategy, objectives, key performance indicators, timeline and roadmap, objectives and other key components of your blueprint for success. Creating this charter and business plan – all the while knowing the document will be a living, breathing reflection of what you learn and how you adjust – can be a key success factor to your new practice.
I had the opportunity to fly Delta airlines recently. Never been on that airline before (really) as I’ve been stuck in a stupid “loyalty” program elsewhere. Imagine my surprise when I found pleasant service-with-a-smile, and genuinely helpful staff! I was in the unfortunate position of having to check luggage this time around. You know what happened next: yes, they lost my luggage. But that’s NOT the interesting part…
Delta’s baggage-service staff were AMAZING. I’d guess those folks have a difficult job, dealing with upset people all day long. These folks were friendly, thorough, showed genuine concern, and very knowledgeable. They alone could’ve made me a Delta “Promoter” BUT THAT’S not the interesting part …
The baggage-service staff knew why my bag was lost: I had to change airplanes in LAX, a huge, complex airport. Lucky for me I only had a 35-minute layover. Unfortunately 35-minutes isn’t enough time to transfer luggage on a busy day. The baggage-service folks frequently see this problem.
Companies spend millions (billions?) on service recovery. Why not invest similar amounts into addressing the root-cause? At minimum, why not warn people when they ticket that short LAX-layover might cause baggage problems (never mind the checked-baggage fee)? Or, why not turn those spammy emails about “my upcoming trip” into a genuine cross-sell? For example, make me aware of this potential problem, suggest some simple work-arounds, and offer me “baggage insurance” or FedEx delivery? Intuit provides a potential example: TurboTax offers an “audit protection” service when filing (seems to me that the $30 could save anyone lot’s of time in that unhappy event).
I’ve written about this before. I’m no airline expert, but with a little cross-functional collaboration and creative thinking I’d think Delta’s Marketing organization could actually be aligned with delivery. At least I’ve now learned never to check any bags with a short layover through LAX.
We had the opportunity this week to publish an article in FunnelFacts, a new and focused publication from the folks at DemandCon. The periodical features innovative strategies and tactics for marketers concerned about increasing profitable growth rates.
Here’s an excerpt:
You’ve undoubtedly heard about Net Promoter – a research-based method for defining which customers are “with you” (called “Promoters”) and which aren’t. The Net Promoter ‘system’ has been around for nearly 10 years and has unequivocally proven the link between customer loyalty and profitable corporate growth. Loyal customers buy more, stay longer, refer others, and provide valuable market intelligence. And while many companies hype their Net Promoter scores – just as they did in the past with “customer satisfaction” scores – there’s far more opportunity here for marketers than just PR.
Here’s the link to the full article and we’d love to hear your counter-points, thoughts, and challenges!
Is it possible to have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to customer experiences? My ongoing experience with a frozen yogurt franchise screams “yes!” Sure, the staff greets me upon my entry through the door, asks me if I have been there, offers samples, is attentive, promptly provides me with my yogurt, etc. But it is how they do it that really grates on my nerves. I barely open the door a crack before I’m pounced up with greetings that feel rushed, forced, and insincere. Inevitably they ask me if I have been there before right after the greeting. Two things go through my mind each time: Do they really think I’m incapable of ordering frozen yogurt and don’t they know me by now? Each time they act as if I haven’t been there before so they explain the process. Even when the same person serves me several times in a week (yes, I’m an addict), the routine is the same. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. I see they recognize me but they stick to what I can only assume is a script, probably closely monitored. It’s eerie. Imagine if you went to Starbuck’s daily for your coffee and the same person helped you and every time, they asked you if you had been there before. The lack of recognition really takes the intended personal element away. The result is a feeling of being disconnected. I won’t bore you with specifics of the script, but I have it memorized. What’s even crazier is when I give a non-standard answer or ask them how their day is going, they get tripped up. They usually double-back and ask the same questions again, start at the top of the script and fumble their words. I keep imagining smoke coming out of their ears like they are in system overload from a “non-conforming” customer.
So, why share this strange ongoing frozen yogurt experience? It is because it is a reminder that you can’t beat a genuine authentic personal experience. Presumably, some well-intended manager developed this scripted approach with a positive, consistent customer experience in mind. The problem is their staff is forced to respond in such a rigid way, it comes across insincere, contrived and actually takes away from the experience all together. When we develop tools to help our teams interact and improve customer experiences, keep the people element in there. Empower your teams, don’t control them. Something gets lost when we don’t put ourselves in the customers shoes. In fact it may be that what gets lost is the point of the experience altogether.
How do you wow your customers in a sincere, authentic way? What is that personal touch that makes the difference in your customer interactions? How do you empower front line employees to provide that experience?
Great article here in VentureBeat, Why the Internet was wrong about Ron Paul. We’ve written many times in the past about how response bias — only looking at survey results from people that respond to your survey — skews customer feedback results (most recently here: Net Promoter & Statistics: When Accuracy Goes Haywire, and 5 Ways to Proceed).
“Paul dominates positive tweets in an atmosphere that is incredibly negative,” said David Rothschild, a Yahoo researcher focusing on event prediction and individual behavior.
“But,” he continued, “tweets originate from an unrepresentative segment of the electorate who can ‘vote’ many, many times… These are not representative samples of the relevant electorate.”
Ever wonder why your company’s financial performance may not be as strong as the marketing hype around your “customer satisfication” would lead you to conclude? Pay attention to who ISN’T responding: there’s gold in understanding who’s engaged with you… and who isn’t.
I used to be a proud VP Marketing. These days ‘marketing’ seems to be all about spamming people with as much noise as possible. Many Marketing organizations plod along with ~5% open rates, ~3% conversion rates, and little-to-no ability to report the real business value (results) they bring to the company. And then they complain that Sales doesn’t take action on the great leads they throw over the wall.
In other words, times have changed yet most Marketing organizations haven’t.
So when I write “Marketing is Dead” I’m not saying that the marketing discipline is no longer needed. Marketing is more important than ever exactly because of all that noise and the need to get noticed. Marketing needs to evolve. How?
Ask yourself 2 questions:
- Where do the best actionable leads come from?
- What is my own process when I buy something?
For most business, the answer to both these questions is essentially the same: The best “leads” come from personal referrals and references. Likewise, when I buy I talk to colleagues that I trust.
So the obvious key is to create an army of Promoters. Get people (customers and partners) talking positively about your business. I was fortunate to participate in a Net Promoter program in which the client executives wanted to understand how their Customer “Insights-to-Action” program was helping the field. Here’s the summary from 800 sales people after just 3 months:
Enhanced Customer Relationship
Met New Contacts:
Identified New Late-Stage Sales Opportunities:
I’m not aware of any other marketing campaign that resulted in a 29% direct-success rate. And that doesn’t even count the “soft” side whereby Sales was able to increase their wallet-share in key accounts and generate more references and referrals.
Marketing needs to take the lead in creating, developing, and engaging Promoters – people that love the company and speak to their friends and colleagues about their experiences. How?
- First, prepare mentally. Recognize that unless you personally are paying the bills your own voice and opinions don’t matter. Don’t be a Hippo (HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion). Your customers matter more. Then, before you start, commit to action and not just measurement.
- Now begin by identifying customers that are “with” you and those that aren’t. Whether you use the Net Promoter model or not, segmenting customers into those that are “with” you and those that aren’t can only lead to good things… if Marketing is prepared to act.
- Engage those customer contacts that are “with” you. Find out what they like and why, what they’d like to see improved and why, and what they know about their industry (and who they know) that can help your firm.
- Open dialogs with the folks that aren’t “with” you. Find out Why? You’ll discover that the problem here generally isn’t with Sales or Support or Services or Product – it’s most often the interplay with all of them: gaps in customer experience that are a result of missing customer expectations. Marketing, Sales, and Competition (industry dynamics) set expectations. Know how the company delivers on those expectations and understand where and why
expectations are missed.
- Act. Use customer quotes and hard evidence to amplify the voice of the customer so everyone can hear exactly what you are hearing. Quantify the benefit (here are several posts on ROI) of addressing those gaps, and work collaboratively within the company to create more Promoters.
You can swing for the fences, trying for that 3% conversion rate by sending 10,000 emails that lead to 3 new deals one year later. Or you can face facts that you win customers over one at a time, and can be a part of the team that wins 15 new deals in 3 to 6 months.
Which metric would you like to report:
1. I sent 1000 emails to prospects, which led to 30 new names that we can contact.
2. I identified 30 Promoters that will help us with references and referrals.
3. I helped engage 30 Promoters that enabled the company close 15 new deals worth $3.2 million.
I hope someone can help me to understand why Marketing doesn’t get more involved in creating and engaging Promoters. Why isn’t it part of Marketing’s job to help with that?