Posts Tagged ‘customer experience’

Emotions Are Your Customer Experience Reality

Emotions are the common thread that bind humans beings.  And it is those very same emotions that are guiding each and every customers experience specific to the points of connection.  Again, points of connection are everything your customers see, hear, touch, smell, taste and feel.

Extensive customer service research by Rosenberg has shown customer behavior can be predicted by emotions.   According to Yu and Dean in 2001, they determined that “The impact of emotions is the best predictor of customer loyalty in the customer interaction process.”

During the last almost 40 years in business, I have spoken with numerous clients and colleagues who shared their own emotional experiences with me specific to bad customer service.  One sharing including visiting a newly opened restaurant and the owner turned away not only this gentleman and his wife, but a family of 5. The owner decided to close early for the day.

Now anyone in the restaurant businesses knows opening a restaurant is difficult at best. This owner’s attitude of closing early started a cascade of negative emotions.  For this customer who experienced a problem (he wanted his need of hunger to be satisfied) that was not resolved is telling a lot of people about his negative emotional experience and he assured me he would never go back to this eating establishment. Lost customer value of 10 years was probably more than $6,000.

Whether the sign states “all employees must wash their hands” to the actual hours of operation, the messages delivered by those signs have established a point of connection with your customer. Your customers do not want to hear (point of connection) excuses.

TAKE ACTION: If you want to leverage the strategic advantage within customer loyalty, then everyone in your organization needs to understand the specific points of connection within the customer experience. Then written goals must be established to strengthen those customer experience connections unless you want a lot of emotionally dissatisfied customers sharing their bad experiences with all of your other potential new customers that you just lost.

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Having a Bad Day Just Get Over It Part 2

Having a bad day is something most of us can relate to within our professional careers and small businesses. How we handle those bad days will either make us stronger as employees and leaders or make our small businesses weaker.


What is interesting is the migration towards accepting customer service representatives (that means all employees) who demonstrate having a bad day attitude or behavior. We as customers should not be upset by these encounters, but truly should be more understanding.

Excuse me, reality check. How do small businesses make and keep dollars?

Answer: Through profits generated by the actions of their employees.

If employees share their having a bad day attitude with customers, how will those behaviors translate into more profits?

Also in all fairness to employees (I was one once), business leadership or management is responsible for managing employees who are having a bad day. Allowing poor customer service to exist and to be replicated is 100% the responsibility of the business leadership and management teams.

Yesterday I wrote about my first time customer experience with a local bank.  What I did not include is the bank manager (presuming he was the manager as he was wearing a white shirt and tie along with being the only other person in the bank) either was also having a bad day or just did not give a rat’s behind. He too was oblivious. This gentleman also did not smile.

Maybe just get over it sounds cruel and lacks compassion. I don’t believe so.  I believe that even when I am having a bad day, someone else is having even a worse one.  My friendly voice, my smile just may make a difference.

If you want to grow your profits, then embrace the business leadership role of ensuring your employees now to handle those “I’m having a bad day” times.  Remember your customers do not care if you are having a bad day. They care about themselves and their issues.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.


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Is Your Customer Experience Memorable?

Customer loyalty happens when the customer experience is memorable in a good way.  For a variety of reasons, far too many organizations deliver a customer experience that is memorable in a very bad way.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Good resource is the Ultimate Question by Fred Reichhheld.

Yesterday, I had another experience with one firm that I totally regret every giving them any of my hard earned marketing dollars. This was a lifetime membership and their customer service is probably the poorest of any firm I have ever experienced in my 50 plus years. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Sometimes even those who believe they have done all of their due diligence still can be fooled.

My emails are never answered, they continue to bombard me with new “opportunities” for taking more of my money and their initial claims were false.  So when I am asked directly about this business, I tell everyone to beware and there are probably better ways in which to direct your marketing dollars. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Dissatisfied customers are any organization’s worst nightmare and will directly affect profitability.

This morning as I am reading the business alerts from I happened upon another individual, Michael Hess, who shared his frustration with the customer experience specific to customer feedback. I can totally empathize with his plight given mine of the last several years.

Repeat business happens only when the customer experience is always delightful. Some businesses really get that such as J.C. Penney, Ritz Carlton to Southwest Airlines to even local Mom and Pop shops. There are several locally owned restaurants in Northwest Indiana (Traditions, Tao Chen’s) for example that I make it an effort to stop by each month because the experience is always great. What makes me willing to exchange my hard earned dollars for their products or services is because the customer experience engages as many of my senses (sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell) in a very positive way.

When organizations truly understand that a seamless positive interaction between their patrons and their employees must be always present to ensure repeat business, then their profits will soar.

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First Ring Begins or End Customer Experience

This past weekend I did my scheduled bi-monthly visit to my hairdresser. As I was waiting, I observed what actually happened at House of Berggren in Chesterton, IN.

First the phone was always answered by no later than the second ring and most times it was answered on the first ring.  A real person and not a mechanical message said: “House of Berggren, how can I help you?”

When customers walked in, they were greeted with a friendly hello.  All interactions between the employees of this establishment including the owner, Bob, and the customers were authentic and genuine. Clients were asked if they wanted coffee and received hot, fresh brewed coffee prepared to their specifications.

When the phone wasn’t ringing or someone was being attended to, I watched one of the hair stylists picking up and tiding up. What was unusual was she was not asked to do this, but did this as almost as naturally as breathing.

Even though I have been a customer for a while, I tried to imagine how I would feel about my first time experience at this business.  My sense is that I might have only noticed what was important to me such as the hot coffee and well done service. Maybe in future visits, I might have noticed the phone answered quickly, the neatness of the salon and how everyone else is greeted.

Years ago when I worked in corporate, my goal was also to answer the phone on the first ring with a friendly voice because I believed that first interaction was critical to delivering the exceptional customer service experience. So I am very aware of any business that appreciates how to create a positive reaction with those first few spoken words.

In fact, recently I experienced another business who answered the phone in a way that you must truly experience for yourself.  The business is Lovings Cooling and Heating located in Portage, IN. (If you decide to call them, then let them know you were curious because of this article.)

If you want to increase sales,  build customer loyalty and gain word of mouth (WOM), then it truly makes sense to review those few moments when you connect with that person regardless if they are a customer or not.  By taking that action, you will be the Red jacket in a sea of sameness.

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Ignoring Your Customers Is Expensive

Ignoring the needs of your customers within the sales process is very expensive. This was very aptly demonstrated by the primary results of June 7, 2010 in many races from state to federal elections.  In many cases, those already in office (think current vendors) ignored the psychographics of their constituents (customers and potential customers). They invested thousands to hundreds of thousand of dollars for a failed marketing campaign. (Earlier today,  I wrote about the impact of psychographics using the election results  in my article at

Beyond losing the customer what also happens when ignoring the why behind the decision making process, there is an incredible drain to the bottom line (profits). In one of my all time favorite books, Corporate Canaries which is a very short yet powerful read,  the author Gary Sutton discusses that you cannot outgrow losses.  What that means to me is you cannot outsell losses.

Unsuccessful marketing campaigns be them elections to product launches  are truly 95% marketing and 5% selling. These campaigns drain profits.  This is why I focus so much of this blog on effective marketing and business ethics.  As I have repeatedly said and will continue to do so is unless someone knows about you, your products or services will stay on the shelf and there will no new dollars in the cash register.

And when they do notice you, your behaviors must demonstrate your business ethics.  We have all witnessed when buyers find a disconnect between what a person says and what a person does.  The Helen Thomas early retirement is one such example.

The customer experience begins with that first notice.  Then if they are truly qualified they will extend that experience and potentially place additional criteria within their decision making process.  So when you understand them through their psychographics you have the opportunity to more firmly establish that relationship of trust because people buy from people they know and trust.  Additionally, you will begin to discover these additional criteria that may turn into obstacles for you. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Buying is an emotional process justified through a logical thought process.

Ignoring your customers does cost you beyond losing the sale. Remember this before you engage in another marketing initiative. Also make  sure your business  values are consistently demonstrated.  And finally, leave your ego at the door with all the other gray suits so you can that stands out in the crowd and be the Red Jacket.

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How Customer Experience Determines Customer Loyalty

Noted business guru Peter Drucker said the function of business is to “attract and maintain customers.” If we peel away the essence of Drucker’s words, it suggests that the customer experience is fundamental foundation to the function of business.  Yet, how many times are customers both external and internal turned off by their experiences?

For example, Southwest Airlines has become a model for customer loyalty. The goal of management  is to immerse new employees into their culture. Sales Training Coaching Tip: The culture is the known and anticipated experiences of all shareholders.

Another blog post at B2B Marketing Insider suggested the 5 tips for improving customer loyalty. The main point is that businesses should consider “cultivating satisfied and engaged employees”. (Source: Michael Brenner)

This is a great point, except I believe it should not be limited to employees, but to all who enter the organization or business. Management should start with the employees as Southwest Airlines has done, but then gone beyond those points of connection (think experiences) to the external buyers of your products and services.

By taking this action, you may gain greater clarity about how the customer experience can determine customer loyalty (think maintain) which will increase sales, dramatically improve profits and decrease operating costs.

Sales Training Coaching Tip: If management or if that means you  do not have a written strategic business growth action plan and a separate sales growth action plan, this is probably the best place to start otherwise you may be engaged in Captain Wing It behaviors.

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Customer Experience is Core Being Customer Centric

Repeat customers who rave about your products or services (a.k.a. customer loyalty) is the pot of gold for any business.  However, far too many people fail to understand how to articulate the desired results and hence may initiate  strategies and tactics that fail to achieve those unclear results.

Take for instance customer loyalty. Much as been written about it and most of it is from the outside, the views of the business. What would happen if businesses would change their perspective and view if from the inside? Of course some would answer we do and yet I am not convinced given the consistent data about poor customer retention where most businesses lose 50% of their customers within 3 years.

A posting entitled Making Customer Loyalty Real referred to some earlier research in 1999 of global manufacturers conducted  by Deloitte. What is interesting to note is beyond the ability to adapt quicker to customer demands is a philosophy of attracting profitable customers and retaining them forever.This creates an almost self fulfilling loyalty prophecy.

To take such action means to leave product centered manufacturing approach and embrace a customer centric one.  Ford with its new cars are gearing to the needs of the younger generations through all the software applications such as IPod. Additionally, Start, one of Ford’s new concept cars is totally designed with the needs of the urban consumer. Do not presume by the name this is a low price entry car for it is not.

Bottom line this is being customer centric is about creating an incredible customer experience at all points of connection. However in many cases there are breaks or gaps in those connections which affect long term customer retention. One way to determine those gaps is to take a customer experience walk about your business both externally and internally. This walk answers this simple question – Are we easy to do business with? – or in other words what was the actual customer experience.  To do this requires using all five  senses sight, touch, hearing, tasting and  smelling. Additionally, incorporating the sense of feeling is also necessary.

When the experience is exceptional for truly qualified customers and existing ones, then you probably are a business that is customer centric. This will translate into higher profits because you have a lot more loyal raving fans who eagerly take action to  share their experiences with others.

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