Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Shift meetings are supposed to be fun and motivating.  But most are boring.  These meetings are a great opportunity to get feedback from your employees.  But most are one way communication tools.  Most importantly, these meetings should have a call to action.  Yet most fall flat.

The shift meeting below does not fall flat.  This manager understands what a shift meeting can do.  Enjoy.  It is one of the best!

It starts with this…”People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now,” he said. “They’re standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face.” And it only gets better!

7 Effective Tips For Better Customer Loyalty

The emotional bond of customer loyalty may not appear on your business’s bottom line, but ignore it and you’ll quickly see how important customer loyalty is to the survival of your organization.

7 Effective Tips For Better Customer Loyalty image customer experience understandingTo create better, more effective customer loyalty, your have to craft a customer experience that combines elements of physical, emotional, and transactional value for your customers.

Most business industries today really work in commodities. Your specific type of product or service, from your customer’s point of view, is less unique than you think it is.

Customers today are bombarded with options and are constantly being pitched by competitors to switch and save. With the high cost of customer acquisition in many industries, ongoing customer loyalty is critical for organizations to remain profitable.

7 Key Elements of Organizations With Massive Customer Loyalty

Generating the type of customer relationships and bonds with customers that keep customers engaged and loyal requires connecting with customers on an intellectual, emotional, or even a spiritual level that makes your customer experience more than just a typical transaction. In essence, the experience becomes more human interaction, than business necessity.

1. Be totally upfront about bad news

Customers crave transparency and reward organizations that are totally upfront in good times and bad. Buffer, an online social media sharing service that I highly recommend and use every day, recently had a security issue that compromised the sharing service for many of their customers. Rather than denying it took place, the Buffer team was totally honest and upfront, and most importantly timely in their response.

Rather than angry mobs the customer response was actually positive with encouraging words for the team as they worked on a fix. Buffer enjoys even stronger customer loyalty because of their transparency and emphasis on solving issues for their customers. Specifically look at how often the Buffer team updated customers during the situation and then the overall response of customers in the post comments.

2. Be generous with good news

One frequent frustration customers have is that companies are so quick to reward new customers and at the same time ignore existing, long time customers. Take cable and satellite service companies. Look at one of their ads and you’ll quickly see a long list of perks that you as a customer are clearly not getting, no matter how long you’ve been a customer.

Customers quickly become frustrated when they see the value of their purchase or service diminishing. Offering new and improved services for new customers but ignoring existing loyal customers is basically throwing away that loyalty you’ve worked so hard to build.

3. Personal means more than value (usually)

Your customers are human and they expect a human interaction, not a bland, generic one. A personal message on your customer’s birthday, in terms of customer loyalty can often mean much, much more than an extra 10% off sale on a holiday weekend. Customers still appreciate the value you offer them, but the emotional bond that really creates customer loyalty is more effective when customers feel and know that you are thinking about them on a personal level.

4. People are loyal to people, not corporations

No one has a relationship with corporate headquarters, computers, and office desks. But customers relate to and connect with the people who occupy and use those to drive your business forward. Remember that your customer loyalty often comes down to the relationships that your customers develop with the people they interact with from your business on a regular basis.

5. Customers have to be part of your organization’s DNA

Everyone can spot fake and cheap customer experience. Creating the type of experience your customers feel is genuine, begins with converting your entire organization to wanting to win the customer. If your organization is not on the same page, at some point of the experience, the emotion you’re trying to build will break down.

Your front line people may be fast, effective, and engaging, but if product development isn’t as obsessed with customers, the experience will feel disjointed and it’ll be difficult to develop the type of loyalty that keeps customers for the long run.

6. Compete only against yourself

Customer service today is in trouble. Customer service is so bad that we’re often delighted just when we receive mediocre service. With such a bad standard or service, competing against the rest of the bad customer service pack will keep you delivering average, mediocre customer service. Instead, forget about the competition and compete against yourself.

Be sure that you’re delivering what customers expect, then dream of how you can make what your customers are trying to do even better, fast, more efficient and effective. Your customers will validate the minor details of how things should work, but innovation has to come from your and your vision for developing a more complete customer experience.

7. Reward customer loyalty

It’s not only enough to offer value and function to your customers, but customers need to be recognized for their willingness to shut the door when competitors come knocking. Too many times feeling neglected is enough to send customers to the waiting arms of your competitors. Be on the prowl of customers doing right and be sure you recognize it.

My daughter’s school has a genius program to getting kids to act right and keep them acting right. She had “caught being good” cards. Teachers walk around with cards that they hand out to kids doing what is right, going the extra mile to do good to others and excel in what they should do. When they see a student going above an beyond, they reward them with a “caught being good” card that they can turn in for small prizes.

Do what is right!

It has to be personal, it has to be valuable, and it has to be meaningful. Discounts are not enough, especially in B2B where your customers aren’t spending their own money. Instead, reward continued business with special gifts or perks that go beyond just typical discount so that it rewards the person making the decision that rewards your business.

Customers want to be rewarded for doing what’s good for your business. Be good to your customers, no, really good to your customers and they’ll reward you with long-term customer loyalty and success.

Originally published in Business 2 Community

Study: Apple is no longer consumers’ favorite tech brand to deal with

Apple Customer Satisfaction Study

Apple had been a leader for several years in Forrester Research’s annual study on consumer electronics brand customer satisfaction, but the latest edition of the research firm’s survey marks a huge changing of the guard. The study gauges consumers’ satisfaction level with consumer electronics brands by posing three questions: 1) How enjoyable were they to do business with? 2) How easy were they to do business with? 3) How effective were they at meeting your needs? Amazon had topped the rankings in the three-year-old study for each of the first two years, and the company continued its streak in Forrester’s 2014 survey, The Wall Street Journal reports. Apple secured the No. 2 spot in 2012 and 2013, but the company’s satisfaction score fell behind rivals Samsung, Microsoft and Sony this year.

forrester-customer-satisfaction-apple

The study surveyed 7,500 U.S. consumers and assigned a point value to satisfaction ratings for each question. The total scores were then tallied and compared.

According to WSJ’s report, Amazon handily topped rivals in Forrester’s 2014 study with a total score of 91. That’s a huge improvement from 2013′s score of 85, though 85 would still have been enough to lead the pack in 2014.

Sony’s score of 83 was good enough for the No. 2 spot, while Microsoft and Samsung shared the No. 3 position with a score of 82 points each. Apple rounded out the top-5 with a score of 81.

Forrester labels any score between 76 and 85 as “good,” while Amazon’s score of 91 pushes its rating to “excellent.”

Originally published in BGR

Embedded Engagement: It is a Process

We have discussed the ways in which building a culture of engagement in the workplace is like building a healthy home environment. One necessary component in this process is, well, process.

An organization dedicated to an engaged workplace will develop its processes in a way that supports this effort. It may seem odd to talk about processes when we are discussing culture, but when we think about it, isn’t this where the rubber really hits the road in an organization?

Everything is process in the workplace. Almost nothing gets done without it. And in this maze of competing processes lies one of the greatest opportunities for engagement to become lost, and never to be found again. There are even processes for shaping the processes.

Sadly, in the situations that provide the great opportunities for engagement, this opportunity is often overlooked or ignored. This is because these situations often involve urgent or unexpected developments.

They can lead to a reactionary response, designed to ensure secrecy and “hierarchical” behaviors. However, if the mission and culture of the organization are not being considered, and all employees who may create value included, the result may in fact not be responsive or confidential, because it will lead to further problems down the road.

Take, for example, two companies with urgent customer satisfaction issues. Both companies consider themselves to be dedicated to engagement, valuing the benefits of an engaged workplace to their organization.

However, the first company responds to the situation by bringing together a small group of individuals, on a “need to know” basis. The conversation in the room is mostly one-sided, and focused on gaining agreement, assigning blame, and protecting those not directly accountable from the incident being deflected toward them.

This process is being conducted quickly, so the organization can get back to its normal discussions, engagement practices, and celebration of those things that are going well. But does it really speak to engagement?

In the second company, a different approach is taken. There is sincere interest in not only solving the immediate customer problem, but creating a learning experience to ensure this customer, as well as others, have increased confidence in the company in the future.

Discussions include all employees who can contribute, and whose work impacts customers like this one. There is a dialog in which everyone is allowed to participate, and a solution is agreed upon and implemented.

Leadership is informed, the customer is made aware of the solution and the company’s commitment, and the developments are shared with all employees who support customer relationships. In this company, the problem is not likely to occur again, and if it does, employees will be better prepared to handle it.

This is one of the situations in which it is most important to “walk the talk” about engagement.

There are many other types of processes that should be examined to be sure they support the engagement effort. These include:

  • employee selection and on-boarding
  • employee development
  • performance reviews
  • strategic planning
  • budgeting
  • product launch
  • customer relationship management
  • project management
  • crisis management
  • community relations
  • media relations
  • meeting and event planning
  • employee recognition
  • employee surveys

In what ways does your organization design processes with engagement in mind? In what circumstances does this not happen? Do these circumstances usually have to do with unplanned or emergency situations? How can you better use these opportunities to create better results through the engagement of your employees?

Pay Checks Can’t Buy Passion

On September 18th, The Professional Development Center hosted a day of showcased training options for driving organizational change and improvement. Here is a presentation by PDC instructor, Brad Federman, entitled, “Paychecks Can’t Buy Passion: The Power of an Engaged Employee”.

Customer Engagement Starts with Employee Engagement

Content employees generate satisfied customers.  When a customer has a positive experience with a member of your staff, they are more likely to engage.  Engaged customers refer their friends and colleagues.  A single positive experience can precipitate a plethora of loyal customers.

What is the key to developing a content employee?  While there is no “magic pill” to address employee satisfaction, there are strategies you can implement to ensure your staff is gratified and eager to engage customers.

Ask for employee input

Whether it’s as simple as determining the new paint color of the lunchroom or as complex as developing a new branding strategy for your company, consider asking your employees for their opinions and input.  This not only reinforces the fact that you value them, but also gives them the opportunity to provide valuable insight from different perspectives.

Point out the positive

It’s easy to overlook an employee when they do something good.  Make a concerted effort to compliment your employees at every opportunity which presents itself.  This solidifies your rapport and builds confidence.  A confident employee will always shine!

Reinforce your appreciation

Communicate just how much you appreciate each employee.  Do this as often as possible.  When they feel appreciated, it resonates during their interactions with customers.

Offer public kudos and incentives

When an employee is promoted or honored in any way, send a press release to the local newspapers and/or publish it in your company newsletter.  Positive recognition sparks performance.  Also, consider developing an incentive program for outstanding performers. This can be in the form of cash, gift certificates, a special parking space or entry into a drawing for a big prize.  Incentives motivate employees, and motivated employees engage customers!

Encourage employees to “take ownership”

Make your employees feel like they are part of a team – a winning team – and that your company is “their” company.  When warranted, offer outstanding performers leadership roles with additional perks (i.e. a position on the employee holiday planning party committee, etc.).  When an employee feels pride and ownership in their company, they will overachieve!

Taking a few steps toward making your employees feel appreciated and important will also decrease turnover. Ultimately, keeping your employees engaged and content will translate into greater performance, loyal customers and increased profits!

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response.  Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.

A Customer Disengagement Story-AT&T

One week has gone by and I still cannot get my AT&T internet service working correctly.  I have been on the phone with them and my email hosting company working to get my email working for at least 1 day.  If I were to charge them for my time then they would be paying me to use their service.

Now, I understand that there are technical difficulties with any service so while I was frustrated I am willing to deal with some issues when they come up.  However, I am not willing to accept lousy service.  It started with every time I called in I was told call volumes were high by a recording.  I typically had to wait at least 15 minutes to talk with a person that could help me.  When I did talk with an agent the conversation was so scripted that it demonstrated to me that they believe service is more about them than their customer and the customer’s problem.

AT&T also does not support any email except their own; not something I was told when I switched to their service(I was actually told they would make sure it worked after install) .  In fact, not only do they not support other emails they actually have their system set up so it is actually difficult to use other email.  They block ports etc.  It is a strange problem with my email.  Sometimes I can send email and sometimes I cannot.

When it was sold to me and installed I was told AT&T would do whatever it to make sure the transition was seamless and they I would be up in running right away.  I was told that if I had any problems they would come back to fix it.  That is not what happened.  They run tests remotely and if the tests on their end say everything works then they will no longer help you.  In fact, they will try and sell you a paid service plan.  The irony is that we have both Mac’s and PC’s and both are having problems not just with email but consistent connectivity.   Sometimes we can connect, but not access certain websites or parts of websites.  It is like the AT&T system is having trouble talking with other systems.

When I called to tell them I was in a time crunch and I needed to fix a problem the rep quickly told me that they could not provide support for that problem without diagnosing what was going on.  In fact, what I have found out is that they listen for key words such as “Outlook Email” and before they even understand the problem they shut down the conversation.  So now, here is the clincher…After telling them that their service did not work, and being told by them that they could not support me, they tried to up sell me on an even larger, more expensive package and make it sound like they were doing me a favor.  What nerve.  I did receive a call back from that person’s supervisor.  They left me a message asking me to not be upset with the rep because she was only doing her job.  She then went on to say it is a standard to always to up sell a person who calls in regardless of the circumstances.  How she thought that would make me feel better I do not know.  I mean, what kind of service standard is that? A stupid one!  There is a time to up sell and there is a time not to and knowing the difference is service.

I even used their paid service support tier who was not a help at all.  They wanted to pass me back to the U-Verse people who could not help in the first place.  Nobody there cares.  They tried to tell me that Delta, GoDaddy, Apple, and Outlook, and my computer were the issues when a week ago all was fine when I was with Comcast.  I blew up!  Still did not help.

Needless to say I will be on the phone shortly to ask about cancelling the service.