Customer Service

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What Unhappy Customers Want

Companies have tried for decades to improve customer complaint resolution — without notable success. Customer expectations are rising; customers now expect positive results and not just the chance to complain. Many customers want nonmonetary remedies, such as an apology or a chance to vent. In addition, companies must recognize that they must treat every customer interaction as if it were playing out on a Facebook page or a YouTube video, because it might be.

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The High Price of Customer Satisfaction

No company can last for long without satisfied customers. But misguided attempts to improve satisfaction can damage a company’s financial health. Research finds that the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer spending behavior is very weak, and that the return on investments in increasing customer satisfaction is often trivial or even negative. What matters is how customers rank your brand in satisfaction relative to your competitors.

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From the Editor: How Important Is the Customer’s Voice?

It’s easy to say customer satisfaction is very important – but harder to put that into practice. The Spring 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on understanding your customers, from gauging global clients’ satisfaction through the use of big data to figuring out better strategies for improving customer complaint resolution.

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How to Drive Customer Satisfaction

There are six significant drivers of customer satisfaction for companies to pay attention to: adaptability, commitment to customers, connection with other customers, product assortment, easy transactions and appealing environment. A Trader Joe’s grocery store, for instance, carries about 4,000 items, compared to 50,000 in a typical store. Less is better: Items are chosen to match the demographic and psychographic profiles of Trader Joe’s customers, and provide the assortment customers want.

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Why Managing Consumer Privacy Can Be an Opportunity

How many privacy policy updates does your credit card company send you each year? Companies often “manage privacy” and “keep consumers informed” by drafting their privacy policies as broadly as possible and consider their job done if they change the policy 10 times a year to fit with changing practices. However, managing privacy should not be seen by businesses as a burden. Instead, it can be a valuable way to generate and maintain a good relationship with your customers.

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Why CRM Fails — and How to Fix It

Customer relationship marketing was supposed to be a “new paradigm” that yieldied more loyal customers and more profit for companies. It hasn’t. Researchers from Cranfield School of Management write that the problem is fundamental: “Most senior management teams have an unbalanced approach to managing marketing investments, and this is particularly evident in the case of CRM.” Their suggestion: successful CRM investment begins with new capabilities to improve customer relationships and then backfills the capital investment as needed.

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Putting the ‘Relationship’ Back Into CRM

Many think that the way to capture value through relationship marketing is to focus on the “good” customers and get rid of the “bad” ones. But there is more to best practice relationship management than maximizing revenues on individual customers and minimizing costs to serve. This article provides guidelines for companies that want to improve the value of customer relationships. For most companies, the transition to a relationship-based approach will require a significant shift in practice.

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Are You Speaking the Same Language As Your Audience?

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Are you dropping the ball when it comes to conveying your ideas – about data, about creativity, about direction, about design – in ways that your audience really understands?

Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, blogged yesterday about the moment when he realized he

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.

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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Don’t Fire Your Customers, Yet

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Times are tough. There’s too much work to go around and some days it seems like you’re spending all your time trying to please customers who never seem happy.

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Customer Education Increases Trust

Companies that provide professional services have not always been eager to invest in customer education initiatives. For such companies, it has remained unclear what economic benefit they would gain by providing customers with the skills and abilities needed to become more knowledgeable customers.

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