If the shoe doesn't fit, should you still wear it?
If the shoe doesn't fit, should you still wear it?
We've all hear the saying that "Timing is everything." Surveys are no exception.
The entire customer experience was going well.
My wife and I were greeted immediately upon entering the showroom, and offered help in a non-intrusive, low-key manner. The salesman was not at all pushy; in fact, we found him to be quite helpful. When we settled on a vehicle, and agreed on a price, we were introduced to the finance manager, who promptly completed all the paper work with us.
When our new car was brought to us, the salesman demonstrated all the controls, gauges, levers and buttons, showed us where each of the 32 cup-holders were located and even offered to connect our phones to the blue-tooth stereo. We were happy customers.
When customer-facing employees are paid more, do customers receive a better experience?
According to McDonald's CEO, the answer is "Yes."
“We know that a motivated work force leads to better customer service, so we believe this initial step not only benefits our employees, it will improve McDonald’s restaurant experience,” said Steve Esterbrook, CEO of McDonald's, according to an article in the New York Times.
When employees are paid more, they're more likely invest more discretionary effort into their work; they're willing to go the extra mile. A 2013 study by human resources thought leader Aon reveals that pay is a key driver for employee engagement. For a customer-facing employee, this may mean working a little harder; trying a second time to satisfy a customer. The added discretionary effort can turn the corner for the customer from merely satisfied to delighted. And delight drives loyalty.
When employees are paid more, their attitudes improve. They're more positive, and this comes across in their demeanor with the customer. Higher pay reduces financial stress. While research indicates that a more positive attitude can reduce stress, the inverse is also true - reduced stress allows a better attitude to happen. A customer can smell a bad attitude from a mile away and a positive attitude from two miles. People tend to be drawn toward positive people, and away from negative ones. Positive employees attract more customers.
When employees are paid more, they stick around longer; they're less likely to move to another employer for incrementally higher pay. As a result, the work for as a whole becomes more experienced. And greater experience brings greater knowledge, more confidence in doing the work, and a reduction in training and hiring costs. As HBR points out, there are indeed high costs associated with low wages, and frequent turnover is just one of them.
There are plenty of systemically good reasons to invest more in front-line employees - those who most directly interface with the paying customer - but perhaps the most strategically sound reason of all is to improve the customer experience. Greater customer experiences lead to greater customer loyalty, an higher revenue and profits.
What's so special about seeing fresh flowers in public restroom?
I almost didn't receive a FedEx package recently, because someone screwed up the shipping information. The package was shipped to the correct address, but the recipient's name - mine - was truncated.
The name appeared as "James Wa" instead of "James Watson."
I was a guest at the Omni Orlando in ChampionsGate, Florida. The package was to be held for me at the front desk. For two consecutive days, each time I called the desk to ask if the package had arrived, I was told, "No - nothing has arrived with your name on it." But the package was there the entire time.
Techncially, they were correct. My name wasn't on the package because the person entering the "Ship to" information typed the following 39 letters on the second line of the address:
"HOLD AT RECEPTION DESK FOR JAMES WATSON."
But only 35 of the 39 letters appeared on the shipping label when it printed. That's right, the software program that prints out the shipping labels will only print the first 35 letters. In 99.9% of the cases, I'm sure that's not an issue. But in my case, it was. And that's the only case I cared about on this particular day.
So who's at fault here?
An argument can be made for each of these, but regardless of who's at fault, there was a breakdown in a "back office" process that had caused me to not receive my "Next Day" package for 2 days. And that caused me to think negatively about 3 companies involved:
The Point is This:
It's not only the front-office, customer-facing employees that impact the customer experience; it's also the back-office employees and processes that can impact the experience, the brand and the reputation.
So, what to do about it?
Carefully map out the entire customer journey, but when you do, include behind the scenes processes that can impact the customer experience. It can be something as remote and banal as the number of characters that print out in and address field that can hurt your brand and reputation. It's these invisible factors that lurk beneath the surface that can really do damage. Don't let them.
What back-office experience factors exist in your business?
What can you do to fortify them?
If you've ever been a consumer (who hasn't), you've been hit with a service charge that you felt was unreasonable. Perhaps the most notorious is the banking industry's "overdraft fee," especially when it tags an additional $35.00 onto the cost of a $2.50 cup of coffee that you paid for with your debit card.
While the institution that charges the fees often says they're intended to "cover the cost" of a customer action, the bottom line is that today, most of these administrative costs are invisible or non-existent to the institution. No human being at the bank administers anything in these situations; the process is entirely automated.
So why do these institutions keep charging these fees? Because it's become a valuable revenue stream for them. Their lack of innovation prevents them from generating new revenues through services that customers actually value. Therefore, they have to keep charging these evil fees in order to achieve their revenue goals.
A business that profits from a customer's mistake or misfortune is not worth patronizing.
So, where does Enterprise enter into the equation?
I rented from them recently, as I often do. I drove through a $1.00 toll without stopping to pay. Enterprise was billed the dollar from by the Maine Turnpike Authority. This week, I received a letter from Enterprise, passing along the $1 charge, along with a $13 "administrative fee."
When I called Enterprise to object to the 1,300% penalty fee, the agent waived the fee before I could even request that she do it. That's right, my entire conversation was less than 30 seconds. To be honest, I was ready to spend a lot more time pleading my case. But Enterprise wasn't.
Reason #1: Eliminating or waiving administrative fees saves time and labor costs.
And when the agent voluntarily waived the fee, my admiration for the company only got better. It's clear to me that Enterprise is driven to be fair and reasonable, and profit by delivering services that customers ask for, and benefit from. The experience increased Enterprise's reputation in my mind.
Reason #2: Eliminating or waiving administrative fees improves a company's reputation in the mind of the customer. And ultimately, that's the only mind that matters.
That act of customer-focus by Enterprise, and their increased standing in my mind, will cause me to rent from them again. Which brings us to...
Reason #3: Waiving or eliminating fees creates customer loyalty.
For further proof that customers like companies more when those companies stop charging for things that are outside the core value proposition, look no further than LL Bean, or Amazon. Since LL Bean has stopped charging for shipping (customers also don't like to pay for shipping), and Amazon offered the "Prime" service, they've both seen customer loyalty (and revenue) grow.
The napkin that the flight attendant gave to me had a Coke logo on it, along with the following words:
"You can't buy good taste, but you can order it."
If I the consumer think of ordering and buying as the same thing, then what's Coke trying to tell me? I found the message confusing. It may have been linguistically creative, by I'm willing to bet that linguistic creativity is hardly the hook that most catches cola buyers.
According to Andrea Hammer's blog post "5 Tips to Help Make Your Marketing Message Sing," sentences, and the messages they comprise should be simple. Andrea says, "Complexity and clutter make processing information difficult, so don't pack multiple ideas into sentences. Make your thoughts easy to digest..." In my mind, Coke's creativity made the message more complex, and harder to process.
What's ironic is that Coke acknowledges the consumers' desire for simplicity with an entire line of beverages called "Simple." In Stuart Elliot's July 26, 2012 article in the New York Times, "Paring Down Marketing Messages to a Few Simple Basics" Allison Higbie, the group director of marketing for the Simply juices is quoted as saying, “We recognized what consumers wanted early on...“We can’t even imagine how complicated and busy consumers’ lives are going to become,” Ms. Higbie of Coca-Cola said. “It’s definitely a consumer insight with staying power.”
So, what's a simple way to test the simplicity of your marketing message?
Apply the "nine-year-old child test": Ask a nine-year-old to tell you what the message means. If he or she can't, you're probably made it too confusing.
In a world where we're hit with more messages every day, simplicity matters more than ever. As consumers don't want to have to think too much. Do us a favor, and and make it easy for us to understand your marketing messages. Then we'll be more likely to buy what you're selling.
How simple are your marketing messages?