A USA Today article titled Airlines see Revenue Increase from fees talks about how customers react badly to the additional fees being charged now, especially when the service used to be free. The traveling public feel they are being gouged.The rationale for these fees is that airlines have been forced to reduce travel costs and are using fees to bring their companies back to profitability.The explanation to consumers is that the customer pays for the services they want (and doesn’t pay for the services they don’t want). Examples are baggage fees, fees to change reservations or cancel reservations, excess weight, and fees for food on the plane. There was even some talk about charging fees to use the washroom! Consumers have choices and can pick other airlines to fly but only if they can compare how much they are being charged in total. The US Government stepped in, responding to complaints.
Archive for September, 2011
I recently finished a book called How to Deal with Difficult Customers: 10 Simple Strategies for Selling to the Stubborn, Obnoxious, and Belligerent
by Dave Anderson. The focus of the book is how to sell to ‘SOB (Stubborn, Obnoxious or Belligerent) Customers but many of his words of wisdom apply to the practice of customer satisfaction. Most customer satisfaction theory revolves around the quality of the product and post sale support. The main point of this book is that customers can become dissatisfied during the selling process and provides techniques on how to prevent the most common problems.
How Social media are Amplifying Customer Outrage by author Chris Taylor shows examples of real life, on going, struggles between organizations and consumers. Some organizations are backing down from the public outrage. Some are not. Netflix responded with a change in their business model and a video of explanation. It remains to be seen if customers and Wall Street will react more positively.
In a recent Zoomerang survey, called Marketing in a Digital World, 1180 SMB decision makers in U.S. businesses with less than 1,000 employees provided insight into how they use social media tools (particularly Facebook) to interact for business purposes. One of the key takeaways from the survey is that what small businesses value most from social media is customer satisfaction data. And consumers praise more than complain.
One of the key ways to keep customers satisfied is to meet their expectations for improvements to your products and services. Some companies do focus groups, or gather data about what their competitors are doing and industry trends, and then decide what products, or improved features in a product or service should be developed. One of the best practices is to gather product requirements from your customers. Google is doing just that with their Google Places for business offering. There have opened the opportunity for their community to ask questions and provide ideas. They make no commitments but it is interesting to see how a large powerful organization like Google is using a customer satisfaction best practice as it develops its new products.
The customer is always right has been preached as the secret to customer satisfaction for many years. It many cases it is true and many companies need to swing the pendulum from their attitude of indifference or arrogance to be more compassionate and customer centric. But there are limits. Here are eight examples:
A business acquaintance of mine decided to bring in some of his customers to provide testimonials and learn from their feedback. He was quite surprised at the reasons customers gave for their satisfaction. Yes the customers were satisfied with the service provided by the business. It met specifications. What surprised him was the comments from the customers about the caring they received and the follow up.There is more to measuring customer satisfaction than just meeting expectations. The human side touches the emotions and that sometimes has a huge impact on customer satisfaction.
Location based apps can be used as a customer service tool, if you broaden what the term customer service means. Examples from Pepsi, Kraft Foods, Meijer, Mall Maps, Real Estate and Weather channel are covered in this post. Read the book The Third Screen by Chuck Martin for more examples.
One of my favorite authors is Seth Godin, who has written multiple books on how the world is changing as a result of the web and mobile phones. He recently wrote a blog post titled: The obligation of the adjustable display on the need for companies who manufacture or sell products and services to spend more time on the documentation that comes with the product, whether it is printed, online, or as part of a help screen. It his his contention that it costs less to invest in explaining how to use things than to take the service call afterward.