Posts Tagged ‘Customer service’

Greed

Even the largest businesses in the world will never be so big that they can afford to not look after their customers and more importantly loyal customers.

Apple act as if they are exempt from this rule by increasing their product prices unnecessarily, changing the dock connector resulting in millions of customers having to fork out an extra £25 for an adaptor which doesn’t work properly, updating your iPhone OS results in having to pay to update your MAC OS in order for both to stay compatible, forcing customers to only use Apple based software and then finally not allowing customers to access the most common apps such as Google Maps.

All of these things have one thing in common – Apple first, customer second. Having billions in cash reserve is not enough, they want more and more and more.

Most of those key issues could have been avoided eg. If Samsung changed their dock connector then they would have given an adaptor in the new handset box FOC, Apple could have given customers a free MAC OS upgrade with the new phone, price new handsets competitively – Sony now have the most premium smartphone on the market at the cheapest price (within the high end range) with the Xperia Z (video below) and new beautifully crafted Xperia Z1.

Once you’re with Apple you won’t move I hear you say, times have changed and there is an abundance of high end choice for the consumer at a reasonable price. Many customers are getting fed up and clearly turning to alternative products such as Google / Android, Samsung and Sony as you can see by the chart below.

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You only have to look at a few of the latest revenue trends for some of the largest brands on the globe to realise how quickly things can change for the worse such as Nokia, Blackberry, Microsoft, Dell and HP.

Many believe that Apple will end up like Blackberry and Nokia in the next 10 years. I tend to agree unless they adapt to change.

Listen

You have a eureka moment and you start building out the infrastructure for product, website and staff.

The product flies off the shelves and life is good. Customers are happy, customers are spending on your site and you’re living the dream.

As the business expands it produces more risk to ‘issues’ across key business areas which effect customers such as product stability, CRM / customer service and product development especially when linked to different platforms. As time goes on, competitors pop up trying to attack your weak points offering a viable alternative and the ideal solution would be to have had long term business strategies in place to cover all areas which could be at risk of those ‘issues’ appearing, resulting in customers not having a good reason to go anywhere else.

Many businesses only have short term strategies which apply temporary fixes and patches resulting in those ‘issues’ appearing in full view to customers.

The 21st century has brought customer opinions and voices which are not only expressed across the globe but also across all channels especially social media and forums instantly within seconds to millions, so no longer does a customer have to write a letter to complain or stay on the phone for hours, customers are now in the driving seat not the brand.

Those businesses who closely monitor, analyse and engage with their customer feedback especially their high value customers will avoid getting annihilated, emmbaresed and shown up in front of millions as well as having to pay high acquisition costs to convince new customers that they have changed.

Brands need to stop thinking that they know better and start believing the classic saying that ‘the customer is always right’. Yes, not every single customer is right and you don’t need to add every piece of feedback to the business agenda, but apply logic to constructive feedback and where a clear trend appears apply it to the relevant business area.

Not only are your high value customers willing to give you an abundance of ideas on how to improve, but you only have to give a tiny gift away to get vital feedback to improve business, which in turn once implemented will give you an abundance of organic new customers compared to the expense of having to use ad budget to acquire those new customers.

On a similar note, it’s also not acceptable to put a product on the shelf when based on customer feedback post launch is clealy unfinished. A brand should never be in this situation, especially with so many tools available which would give you the feedback you need in order to build the ultimate product which meets demand prior to launch.

So when you’re lying on the beach seeing the cash flow, you need to remember that if you don’t listen and look after your customers, you can lose them significantly quicker and in greater volume than you can aquire new ones and that is certainly not what investors like to see.

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When you look at any of the top brands which are currently doing well in this economic crisis, they are likely to have many things in common such as customer service levels, responding to customer demand promptly and delivering a high quality customer experience no matter how you engage with their brand.

Customers are more savvy than ever and will simply not stand for bad service, not being clear with promotional Ts&Cs and a bad user journey / experience.

Many CEO’s still ignore and turn their backs on their high value customer feedback, customer complaints, competitor improvements and general customer demand yet wonder why their competitors are stealing more and more market share.

Due to how technology has evolved over the past few years, this has forced brands to adopt an omni-channel strategy rather than a cross-channel strategy. Omni-channel is a one unified brand experience no matter how or where you engage with the brand. Some examples of what this does and doesn’t look like:

  • You see a product in store which isn’t available online – not omni-channel.
  • You start a car insurance quote on desktop and finish it on your mobile – is omni-channel.
  • You play poker on desktop but key features are missing from the mobile app – not omni-channel.
  • You receive a coupon through the post which is only available to use in store – not omni-channel.
  • You get a very warm customer feel in store and also get a very thorough warm response over the phone – is omni-channel.
  • You thought you’d upgrade your TV sat package online and after a few months decide to downgrade no matter what, but you can only downgrade over the phone – not omni-channel.

It won’t be cheap to adopt an omni-channel strategy, it won’t be an easy ride and it’s certainly not a short term strategy, but if you want the new generation of customers to engage and stay loyal to your brand, then you need to adapt.

Fortunately there are consultants already out there who can offer good advice like Webcredible and IVIS Group.