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Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I think it is the simple things that organizations do that have a big impact on the customer experience. For example, having a conversation as against doing a transaction or the business ensuring that their customer is fully satisfied with the service received as against requesting for a online feedback.

Hope the large businesses also understand this and incorporate such behavior by design in their processes rather than hope that the service team will take care of keeping their customers happy.

Technology Matters

It’s a well-known fact that bad news sells… and that’s probably the reason that most blogs you read are full of doom and gloom or are pointing out the inadequacies of someone or something. Having just done that with my previous post I thought I’d buck the trend and write about two good news stories instead.

The first is from the Post Office, much maligned over recent years and run down (or at least downsized) in many villages and towns. On Saturday I went to renew my passport at my local Post Office in a small place called West Monkseaton. A very bright and modern post office with lots of very friendly and helpful staff who obviously wanted to take care of people. It was a real pleasure to have a conversation as opposed to feeling like a transaction and this translated into a very good customer experience.

The second one…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Why videos go viral

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Kevin Allocca, who gets paid to watch Youtube video, in his TED talk, talks about the characteristics of videos that go viral.

They are

  • picked up by taste makers or influencers
  • acted on by a community
  • unexpected

Interesting talk!

Categories: Customer delight Tags:

What ails travel distribution in India

February 29, 2012 1 comment

Today, I read an interesting article in the McKinsey Quarterly titled – The trouble with travel distribution. In the article, authors, Robert Carey, David Kang, and Michael Zea go on to explain what ails the travel industry.

Broadly speaking, they talk about the following:

  • The ecosystem is completely fragmented. No trust between the players (airlines, hotels, travel agencies, aggregators).
  • Instead of working as one integrated supply chain, they are fighting with each other on topics like how much should each of them pay each other and who owns the customer, which results in each of the participant trying to woo the customer.
  • All of these leading to a situation where everyone is competing on price, which is not good news for any industry, specially, for any service provider.

Though I agree on all of the above, I think there is much more that ails travel distribution in India.

  • The level of service provided in India by any of the service providers is a far way from world standards.
  • The models on which the loyalty programs are based are flawed.  These models do not take into consideration  important pieces of information like corporate contracts, frequency of service usage, advocacy, engagement, referrals, etc.
  • Though Indians are an emotional lot, we rarely see any of the players actively emotionally engage their customers.
  • The only comparison that customers get to see are around the cost. So, they need to take a decision on the basis of cost, which is not good for the entire industry.

The authors of the McKinsey article offer a 4 point solution to address this issue:

  1. Focus on customer and not the channel.
  2. Use the data that they already have to customize the customer experience for customer segments.
  3. Sort out the differences and partner with other players in the value chain to  work and provide seamless customer experience.
  4. Own the entire experience (not just selling the service, but the entire cycle including pre-sale, service delivery and post service delivery.
I think that while these are the basics that any business in the era should do, there are some very specific things that the travel industry could do to achieve the next wave of growth.
  1. Travelling is tiring. Try and make it as much comfortable and fun as possible. Connect with your customers at an emotional level. Make them laugh, make them cry, but surely, have fun with them.
  2. Work towards service excellence. Never forget that you are a service provider. So, provide exceptional service. At every touch point with your customer.
  3. Make life easier for your corporate customers. Integrate with the back-end systems of your corporate customers so that your actual customers save their time entering their travel details in their corporate ERP system. If planned and executed well, this could also free up a lot of cash for the airline and their corporate clients.
  4. Stop competing just on price.
Here are some videos of airlines who have taken the very boring concept of going through the security drill and made them into amazing experience for their customers:

 

Categories: Customer delight

February 26, 2012 1 comment

This is a very simple idea which is very powerful when done. But as I’ve seen in most large organizations, its the simple things that do not get done. So, I intend to atleast try setting up an internal meeting with the different stakeholders and pose this question – “How can we make it fun for the customers to do business with us?”

Let’s see what comes out of it.

Categories: Customer delight

The idea of Customer advocacy

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I came across a nice article by Jeannie Walters titled – Community Managers as customer advocates.

I completely agree with her when she says

“This emerging role is really the first line of advocacy for customers. These people are engaging and interacting with customers, former customers and future customers daily. If the C-level isn’t asking for constant feedback from them, they are missing out.”

My day time role is as a customer advocacy manager at a large multi-national software giant. So, I was very much interested in the post. She does have a few interesting points to make:

When I took this role early last year, I was not very sure what I was expected to do and how will I go about figuring this out. However, the last 12 months have been an eye-opener for me. I now have a clearer understanding about what does customer advocacy mean.

In a nut shell, I think customer advocacy is the following:

  • Understand what and how your customers think. Then be the voice of the customer within your organization.

The criteria for success of this role would be the following:

  • The person should have direct access to the senior management of the organization.
  • Should be well-respected both within the organization and within the customer community.
  • Should be able to understand both sides (Organization, customers), represent both sides and at the same time, stay neutral.
  • Should be a good listener.
  • Understands how his organization ticks so that he can influence the same when the time comes.

Anything less than this and the organization is not fully leveraging the customer communities and is missing a great opportunity to connect and engage with their customers.

Having said all of this, I think we will see more and more organizations create the customer advocacy roles within their organizations to engage with their customers.

The secrets to building fierce loyalty

February 7, 2012 1 comment

I have been following the blog post series by Sarah Robinson“28 days of building fierce loyalty”. She has some really good folks come and talk about the secrets to building fierce loyalty. So far, we have had some very interesting posts.

When I started thinking about folks who have inspired fierce loyaly, people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Madonna and a lot of others.

I realize that they all shared a few characteristics:

  1. Fiercely passionate: They were all fiercely passionate about a cause and were totally committed and driven by the cause, a cause which was bigger than themselves. It may be a free country, abolition of apartheid, abolition of racism, insanely beautiful products or insanely great art.
  2. Dedicated to one & only one cause at a time: These people are not multi-taskers. They are consumed by the one thing that they are passionate about. Anything else does not matter.
  3. Dreamers: They all dream big! They constantly talk about the present and the possible future. They make people around them dream big as well.
  4. They Care: They care about the cause and their fellow community members. When Lady Gaga came to know that her loyal fans are braving the weather and are waiting in-line much before the concert is due to start, she orders pizzas for them and surprises them by an impromptu visit! That is why her fans are so loyal to her. She cares about them.
Becoming fiercely loyal is emotionally draining. One can be fiercely loyal to one or maybe two causes! Hence, it is not easy to build fierce loyalty.
What do you think about this? Are you fiercely loyal to someone or some cause? Do you know why are you so fiercely loyal to the person/cause? It would be a great learning for all of us to learn more about this.
Meanwhile, lets sit back and enjoy reading and learning from the series that Sarah has so well put together for us all.