Archive for the ‘Loyalty’ Category
In this week’s Business Surgery, Julia Cupman highlights that customers in loyalty programs are not necessarily loyal. Although it is relatively easy to reward the advocates of a brand, the big challenge comes with addressing the detractors, especially before they can cause damage.
On a flight to Chicago last week, a colleague moaned to me, asking “Why do we always have to fly United?” Of course, there are lots of other airlines that will get us to Chicago and back, but United has certainly locked me in with its loyalty program, in that I’ll take almost any opportunity to add miles to my MileagePlus account.
While this might seem a contradiction, customers in loyalty programs are not necessarily loyal. True loyalty should reflect only customers who are strong advocates of a brand, which is certainly not the case for all loyalty card holders. In spite of my frequent flying with United and apparent loyalty to the airline, many of my colleagues and family know only too well about my negative views on United, especially during its merger with Continental. I – like millions of other customers – won’t forget the negative experiences for some time yet, irrespective of United having improved its customer service in the past few months.
When a company grows so large that customers are mere numbers in a database, it’s possible to lose sight of the importance each customer plays. Indeed, United flies over 140 million scheduled passengers a year, so why bother about a particular disgruntled customer?
Companies are, however, increasingly receiving a harsh wake-up call as the web has made it easy for negative word of mouth to spread like wildfire. Every day, 400 million Tweets, 534 million Facebook updates and 2 million blog posts are generated worldwide. This gives a dissatisfied customer every opportunity to communicate a negative experience to the masses – and frighteningly quickly.
Back in 2009, Canadian musician Dave Carroll trusted his $3,500 guitar with United baggage handlers, only to arrive in Chicago to find the instrument of his career smashed into smithereens. Furious at United’s denial of responsibility, Carroll created a song about his experience, singing that he “alerted three employees who showed complete indifference”. The song was uploaded onto the internet, received one million hits in just four days, and has been viewed more than 12 million times to date. Clearly the impact of one seemingly small negative customer experience should not be underestimated.
While companies must continue to acknowledge and reward the customers who are truly loyal, they should also make every effort to address the detractors out there who are spreading negative word of mouth. Interestingly, and as proven in market research, successful problem resolution is one of the biggest drivers of overall satisfaction and loyalty, but disgruntled customers require speedy treatment in order to prevent their dissatisfaction from going viral.
To learn about B2B International’s real time promoter and detractor alert service (a part of our customer satisfaction and loyalty research offering), please call to speak to one of our customer loyalty experts.
The more forward thinking businesses out there realise that in times such as these that you have to be strong for your staff and carry them with you and they, in turn, will support you.
In order to build loyalty and engage your workforce, follow these 5 steps that are most closely correlated with staff satisfaction:
1. Start from the top and give confidence to those that you are leading as well as live the company values (especially senior management)
2. Give peace of mind about the future of the company so staff have belief!
3. Listen – and show your employees that you care
4. Don’t take advantage of your employees – their well-being is of utmost importance so treat everyone fairly
5. Allow managers the autonomy to do just that….manage but also support their team to enable them to fulfil their true potential
For more information about how B2B International can increase staff satisfaction and help create loyalty in your company visit: http://www.b2binternational.com/research-and-intelligence/employee-engagement
Click here to read our latest white paper on staff satisfaction and employee engagement visit:
Paul Hague this week advocates a simple, new metric to measure value.
In less than 10 years, the NPS or Net Promoter Score has become familiar jargon in business boardrooms. It is a single metric, a golf handicap score, that leaders can easily understand and which they can use to ruthlessly drive their businesses.
The Net Promoter Score is a measure of customer satisfaction and loyalty and who can deny that these two factors are crucial to the success of any business. It is easy to understand and the fact that it requires a simple calculation gives it a sort of scientific kudos.
Let us remind ourselves what the Net Promoter Score is. We ask customers one simple question – “How likely is it that you would recommend COMPANY X to a friend or colleague?” The response is recorded on a scale from 0 to 10 and the percentage of companies giving a score of 6 or less is subtracted from the percentage of companies giving a score of 9 or 10. Those in the middle ground giving scores of 7 or 8are ignored.
However, the NPS is not without its deficiencies.
We think that the NPS is a good metric but we also recognise that it is dangerous to drive a company on this number alone. The NPS does not measure the value that people attribute to a brand and this must be one of the most important metrics of all.
Towards this end we have developed a measure which is fast gaining ground. It is called the Net Value Score or NVS and it measures the value that people attach to a brand or a supplier. Pat Kenny, Vice President Of Corporate Marketing at PPG Industries, said the following about the NVS:
To arrive at the Net Value Score, one simple question needs to be asked:
Using answers to the question, the following steps result in the computation of the NVS:
Calculating The Net Value Score
For more information on the Net Value Score, visit http://www.netvaluescore.com/
In this week’s Thursday Night Insight, Julia Cupman draws the link between the simple act of apologizing, and increasing customer loyalty.
Have you ever been upset or angry by the words or actions of someone, but been ready to forgive and forget if only they could say sorry? As Elton John has sung numerous times, sorry seems to be the hardest word.
A couple of months ago, I returned to my apartment building to find 3 fire engines, 2 police cars, and an ambulance outside, and a lobby that was totally flooded with water. I later found out that a major water pipe had burst on the second floor, leaking 250,000 gallons of 180 degree water (the equivalent to a quarter of the amount of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool, but boiling)!
As you can imagine, this flood caused extensive damage to the building, in that it destroyed walls and flooring, and ruined the electrics – including the fire alarm system and all 5 elevators. As I live two thirds of the way up this 35 floor building, I was one of the many people who had to take the seemingly never-ending stairs for weeks, while our incompetent building management couldn’t arrange for the elevators to be fixed quickly.
In traipsing up and down the stairs each day, I noticed a common theme to the complaints of the residents around me: the building management hadn’t written to say sorry for the inconvenience caused. It occurred to me that anger was surmounting, not so much at the problem the building faced, but at management’s apparent inability to effectively resolve the problem.
As a market researcher, problem resolution is an issue I come across in virtually every customer satisfaction project I work on. There is always an angry respondent bitterly recounting how a problem was inadequately resolved by their supplier. It’s inevitable that in any company, problems will occur, but I have yet to come across an organization that has a procedure in place to respond to problems effectively. Indeed, it has been estimated that most companies spend around 98 percent of their time reacting to problems and less than 2 percent of their time preventing them.
Why do these companies struggle saying sorry? It’s probably because we live in a litigious society in which apologizing for an error or incident is synonymous with admitting liability. Rather than face expensive lawsuits, companies choose to deny, deflect, or defer responsibility. Anything but say sorry!
What these companies don’t realize is that an apology is actually a powerful relationship-building tool, for studies have shown that customers develop greater loyalty to a company if they have experienced problems that were satisfactorily resolved, than if they had never experienced a problem at all.
Of course resolving problems entails far more than simply apologizing. However, key drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty are so often these smaller, softer things which seem so inconsequential and yet are so impactful. As for the management of my apartment building, it wouldn’t have cost them anything to send an apologetic e-mail to residents. Words are indeed cheap, but when it comes to illustrating the importance and value of your customers, saying sorry is priceless.
This week Matthew Harrison thinks back to the nerve-racking day his wife gave birth, and reflects on what this tells us about the different ways in which we measure customer needs
We headed down a tree-lined avenue and arrived at the hospital, an imposing building in an aspirational Connecticut suburb. A team of uniformed, white-gloved octogenarians ushered us into valet parking, transferred our belongings into a silver trolley and delicately placed my wife into a wheelchair. Our vehicle was whisked away by a Dickensian character in a towering hat. I handed $5 to his fawning colleague and scurried inside the building, behind my wife-on-wheels.
The lobby of this hospital was a thing of beauty. Cherry wood-paneled walls met lush carpets; impressionist paintings vied for wall-space with portraits of benevolent local millionaires. One dry-cleaned footman after another escorted us through elevators and corridors and – finally and breathlessly – into a spacious labour room, our personal home for the next 15 hours.
I reclined on a chaise longue, like many a husband before me. The flat-screen TV piped cheerful music into the immaculate room. I tuned my laptop into the wi-fi system and emailed my family the latest news. This room had everything a man could want. My wife seemed a bit angry about something. Must be the hormones – I’d read about that.
The next days were the most miraculous of our lives, as our baby was born and our every need attended to by this most sumptuous of hospitals. The pièce de resistance arrived the night before we returned home, as the nurses served us a complimentary meal of filet mignon and champagne, before giving our new baby a trendy T-shirt and arranging for us to meet the ‘hospital photographer’.
One sleepless night a few days later, I reflected on how lucky we were to be in America at this crucial moment in our lives. Where else would we have received such 5-star service? The hospital had not only met our expectations, it had exceeded them. The hospital had delighted us.
Speaking to a friend back in England my view was confirmed. Jon’s wife had given birth in a West Midlands hospital, behind a flimsy curtain in a room full of caterwauling mothers and hyperactive visitors. No flat-screen TV, no chaise longue for anxious husbands. Nothing more than a clock radio chained to a concrete wall and a husband that was sent home to bed when visiting hours ended.
I told Jon that his treatment had been a disgrace. The once-great nation I was proud to call home was falling into disrepair. What kind of animal gives birth without champagne, filet mignon and an unusually lush carpet? Jon was quick to correct me, pointing out that his wife was perfectly satisfied with the medical treatment she received, and that he placed more importance on that than on some pretentious undercooked steak. For good measure, he informed me that the UK health service provides a superior service to its US counterpart when it comes to childbirth, with infant mortality 30% higher and maternal mortality 15% higher in America (CIA World Factbook, UN World Population Prospects Report) . Treatment in the UK was less likely to delight but more likely to satisfy.
Our discussion illustrated a frequent dilemma for market researchers and service providers. How do we measure customer needs? If we simply ask customers what their requirements are, they typically reply with top-of-the-mind requirements that any serious player must satisfy in order to survive in the market – in other words, hygiene issues or table stakes. A hospital, for example, must deliver babies and perform operations safely in order to remain ‘in business’.
The alternative way of measuring customers’ needs is to calculate derived importance by correlating respondents’ satisfaction scores on a range of issues against their overall satisfaction with the supplier. This provides us with the drivers of satisfaction. Requirements which correlate strongly with satisfaction are differentiating factors, the non-essential requirements that – so long as basic needs are satisfied – allow companies to pick up market share by distinguishing themselves from the competition.
In order to establish customer loyalty, companies must perform effectively against both stated and derived importance. The company that performs poorly against needs with strong stated importance will not be in business for long, because its offering is simply unacceptable. The company that performs poorly against needs with strong derived importance may survive for a while, but in a competitive market will become commoditized and see its margins erode over time.