Customer Service

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Reimagining Customer Service at KLM Using Facebook and Twitter

For KLM, social business arose as a spontaneous response to the Icelandic volcanic eruption that spewed ash into Europe’s airspace for days, halting all air travel and stranding thousands of passengers. Since the abrupt birth of the airlines’ social business strategy, e-commerce senior vice president Martijn van der Zee has made the company a model for using social in customer service.

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Finding the Value in Social Business

A recent survey by MIT SMR and Deloitte shows that companies are starting to derive real value from social business — with the payoff concentrated most strongly in companies that have reached a certain level of sophistication in relation to their social business initiatives. The higher a respondent rated his or her company on a “social business maturity” scale, the more likely he or she was to report that the company is deriving business value from its social business initiatives.

Image courtesy of Flickr user abplanalp_photography.
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When Should You Fire Customers?

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Many customers are simply not profitable. Letting them go is one option, but so is trying to train them out of expensive behavior. Options suggested by Jiwoong Shin and K. Sudhir, both of Yale School of Management, include reducing services to unprofitable customers and educating them to use less costly service channels. “We recognize the mix of concerns, both ethical and practical, that swirl around firing customers,” write Shin and Sudhir. “We advocate firing customers only as a last resort.”

Image courtesy of Blue4green.

What You Can Learn From Your Customer’s Customer

Innovative companies fund internal research and development to gain an edge in the marketplace. They also work closely with suppliers to offer greater functionality and performance for their customers. However, some critical new product insights don’t come from suppliers and customers working together but from the customer’s customers. Drawing on numerous examples from technology companies, this article explores the various ways parties can collaborate so that everyone benefits.

Image courtesy of Flickr user H4NUM4N.

The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy

Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.

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McAfee: ‘Customer Service in the Digital Age: The Eternal Lament’

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MIT Sloan’s Andrew McAfee reflects on “the amazingly bad design and execution of customer-facing processes among financial services firms.” He wonders if they’ll only get better “when competitors appear who take process design and execution seriously, and digitize them to the maximum extent possible.”

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L.L. Bean Weighs, Then Goes For, Free Shipping

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Maybe you are one of these people: You get most of the way through an online purchase, then you see the shipping cost and you decide, “nah, I can buy it offline cheaper / I don’t really need it / maybe next time.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Kliefi.

Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service

This article examines how three factors—emotions, trust and control—shape customer assessments of service experiences and their overall view of service providers. Drawing on research conducted at companies including Dell, the Seattle Supersonics and McKinsey & Company, the article posits that organizations seeking to excel in customer service need to attack the “soft side” of customer management with the same type of intensity they have previously used to reengineer workflow and supply chains.

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How to Save Your Brand In the Face of Crisis

When bad things happen, companies need the right strategy for talking their way out of a mess and avoiding a calamitous pummeling of their corporate image. Choosing the best response can spell the difference between a brand’s survival — even enhancement — and its irreversible tarnishing.

Courtesy of Procter & Gamble

Is Your Company As Customer-Focused As You Think?

To become a customer-focused organization requires senior executives to open up communication with people throughout the organization so they can hear what is actually going on — as opposed to a sanitized version. Few companies make this leap, even though not doing it can hurt long-term performance. However, managers can come to terms with their company’s weaknesses in the realm of customer focus by posing a set of five questions specifically designed to uncover their vulnerabilities.

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Why the Highest Price Isn’t the Best Price

There are several questions an organization should ask to improve its pricing strategy, including: What is the marketing strategy in this segment? What is the differential value that is transparent to target customers? What is the price of the next best alternative offering? What is the customer’s expectation of a “fair” price?

By asking these questions and others, an organization can choose a price point that provides the largest long-term value to the supplier.

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Customers and service innovation

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Eric von Hippel of the MIT Sloan School has long argued that users play a larger role in product development than is commonly believed. Now, in a new working paper, Pedro Oliveira and von Hippel take a look at customers' role in innovation in a service industry: banking.

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Managing in the skies

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Mixed news this week from American Airlines: On the plus side for most people, American plans to respond to flight attendants' concerns and ban porn on its in-flight Wi-Fi system.

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