Archive for Ann Michaels & Associates

3 Ways to Manage Customer Expectations

Let’s face it- if we knew our customers’ expectations every second of every day, we would work hard to meet them. In today’s diverse, ever changing world, it is nearly impossible to know that. Consumers today have so many choices that it becomes difficult to stand out from competitors.

What do your customers expect?

Service is praised or criticized because of expectations.”

Neil Patel

Steps to Start Today to Understand Customer Expectations

  1. Listen: It sounds so easy to say, but harder to do. How do you listen to your customers? Is it by survey? Mystery shopping? Social Listening? I once spoke to a leading retailer’s VP of Operations about creating a mystery shopping program for their stores. They knew they needed it because their district managers were being pulled in too many directions and didn’t have the time to devote to each store in their district. They never started it. The reason? They were trying to figure out who their customer was. A few years later, they were out of business. They were never able to keep up with their customers’ expectations because they never knew who their customers were. They never learned how to listen.
  2. Get Feedback From Customers: Customer Experience for Dummies said it best. “When it comes to getting feedback from customers, annual surveys are out, and constant listening and providing real-time dialogue is in. That means you need to inventory where you are listening effectively today, prioritizing your highest-value listening and dialogue touchpoints, and creating a governance model for managing and responding to customer feedback. The end game here is to be able to converse with your customers in near real-time and to respond to customer concerns, problems, and suggestions as they are happening.” Omni-channel listening is key.
  3. Demonstrate to Customers Your Level of Commitment to Them: The chart above is from Neil Patel’s “Why Understanding Expectations is Crucial for Customer Experience.” Great article about backing up the bus to first and foremost understand what your customers need from you and then determine how you and your team will meet those needs. Neil writes, “Service is praised or criticized because of expectations.” Making sure you are delivering top notch customer service has never been more important. Years ago Zappos helped a customer who called them by mistake order a pizza. This became an infamous story of the day and everyone wanted to deliver service like Zappos. Zappos began to develop an entire philosophy around this by expanding it in their social media marketing. Help the customer with whatever they need. What does it take? An extra few minutes? They will sing your praises. Always try to under promise and over deliver whenever you can, especially in social media.

Ann Michaels & Assoc. provides you the resources to make data driven decisions associated with your customers and branding. Give us the opportunity to help you grow margins and revenues.

Social Media and Customer Service

Customer Service

The secret is out in living color on the cover of Consumer Reports – how to use social media as the last chance way to get some attention when unhappy with a product or service. This issue shares secrets to great customer service, and social media use is one of them.
Consumer Reports states that 84% of consumers who posted complaints to social media used Facebook.
The report goes on to suggest that social media can be a highly effective way to resolve customer complaints, even when other approaches fail.


JCPenney is one retailer that was cited as having great customer service via Twitter.


When a customer reached out by phone and learned of the hold times, she quickly went to the company’s Twitter page. She said that their phone wait times were “nuts” and within minutes a representative quickly tweeted a reply. After a bit of back and forth, the issue was resolved.


As the chart indicates, the under 25 demographic shows an indication that they will be the ones who will expect this type of service moving forward, so making sure those wait times are on target will be well worth the effort.

Ann Michaels & Associates, a leader in Customer Experience and Social Media Management, conducted a study on this very topic

How long is too long when it comes to receiving an answer to a product or service question in social media?As the Consumer Reports article shows a consumer expectation, Ann Michaels & Associates set out to look at the disparity between what consumers expect as far as wait time for brands to respond to consumer concerns vs what is actually happening.on social.
The study was initiated when it was evident social would serve as a customer service channel – take a look at consumer expectations vs brand response and learn how response time on social shifted over a three year period.
Click here to find out the results

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.

eggs in one basket

Why not?

If you carry them carefully they may not break. But one little bump in the road could ruin everything.

We use this expression for multiple reasons. Perhaps your stock broker has used it as a pitch for the importance of financial diversification . Financial Diversification is explained this way

In finance, diversification is the process of allocating capital in a way that reduces the exposure to any one particular asset or risk. A common path towards diversification is to reduce risk or volatility by investing in a variety of assets. Wikipedia

That sounds like solid advice and it is. It is the “just in case” things go sour reasoning. Shouldn’t this advice be used in other areas of our business life?

When it comes to business, we sometimes fall short. Sometimes it is because of budget, sometimes it is just lack of trust, and sometimes it is not wanting to leap out of the comfort zone. You know, the one we all feel is tried and true. When it comes to marketing and market research we like to stick with what we know will work. We know what we can expect, and that brings us comfort. B2B email marketing may get a solid 15% open rate every time. We like that and so does the boss. So we use it but won’t necessarily keep up with a social media platform because the “likes” don’t add up fast enough.

Do we ever wonder, “what if?” What if we did something different? I am not talking about placing all of our efforts and resources to one new thing. Rather, try it enough to test it. As much as I love the research industry and marketing, this is perhaps one of my challenges. Let’s use some real examples of what I am talking about.

Facebook

When I opened my profile this morning, this was right at the top of my news feed. It surprised me, actually. Isn’t all the data in the world held right within the walls of this social platform? (kidding) Why would they ask for my opinion in a short survey? There may be multiple answers that we will never know. Here is my theory:

  1. With all of this AI and algorithm capability they own, they still need to reach out to the human behind the data.
  2. They know not to place all their eggs in one basket.
  3. Research of all kinds should always be used whenever possible. Each discipline tells you something different and when you put it all together, it often times reveals things management were un aware of.
  4. People are becoming tired of “liking” everything. Many are becoming much more selective. They still read the posts, but don’t always click that like button. This is exactly what the survey was about. It went through post by post (just a few) that was recently in my news feed. Next the survey asked if I saw it in my feed and how much did I find it useful or important. Most were posts that I didn’t hit the like button for.

Feedback Surveys

Years ago, feedback surveys replaced a lot of mystery shopping as a way to gauge the customer experience. Many even went as far as to develop their own surveys through free online platforms.

Now, almost a decade later, some brands are returning to mystery shopping because people have become unresponsive to all the surveys out there. There is either little to no data or the data is on one side of the scale (customers who love everything about your brand) to the other (very unhappy customers). Most customers fall in between.

Smart retailers are looking to evaluate what the customer experiences when they come into one of their locations. They are turning back to mystery shopping again. District Managers are exhausted trying to get to every location and are many times spread too thin. Things may happen differently at a store when they are present. So, the question is being asked once again, “How do we know what is happening at the store level when managers are not present?”

Additionally, incorporating online reviews into the mix, by location ,would be a great addition. Technology is now in place to do just that and to include it all in one reporting dashboard.

In conclusion, as Marketers and Researchers, we need to always stay fresh and be open to new methodologies when diving into consumer data. Try adding one new tactic to your marketing strategy this year. This may be a great 2020 resolution for us all!