Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vendor Stakeholder

Nearly every company in the world pumps in millions of dollars into serving their customers better and even further millions to repair the wrongs committed on them. But very few seem to have the same attitude towards their vendors. So when a company has one strategy to bring in customers and a completely counter-productive strategy towards its vendors, the question really is – Who is winning?

Companies take great effort in understanding the needs of a customer, learn to talk their language and help deliver a product which in turn will bring them revenues. Why can’t they do the same for a vendor too? After all a vendor also helps in bringing in revenues. In fact better relations with a vendor can result in more leads, better support, greater engagement, protection in key accounts, and recognition that can help a company generate more business.

Consequently companies should look at ways and means of building strategies to maintain relationships with vendors as they would with customers. A simple strategy would be to just replicate your customer sales cycle with your vendors and in the process make your vendor, a stakeholder. Such a strategy can only help forge a relationship of mutual benefit that in turn can be routed back to a customer in terms of price, product features and overall service.

And in the process, everyone wins!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creating a First Day Experience

Chris Brogan, a prolific blogger on the use of new media in marketing indulges us with a very interesting thought. A customer experience idea that seems to have evaded most of us. In his own words:

‘How often do we build experiences such that we’re welcoming of new people? Do we work enough on that? Do we help people get connected and involved? Do we make them feel like we realize it’s their first time and we’re here to guide them?’

Through this he introduces us to the idea of creating a ‘first day experience’ for new customers. New customers join a company somewhere in between the evolution of a company. Customers need to be invited on board with a story that helps them understand the company and feel a part of it at the same time. 

Even though Brogan talks of this idea in an online context (Read more here: Every Day is Someone’s First Day) the power of this idea can truly be tested if it can be replicated in a brick and mortar situation. New customers walk into a store everyday and identifying them no doubt is an improbable task. But if retail stores can find a method to the madness it can create loyalty and in an increasingly congested market, differentiation. 

Stores can explore ideas of putting up the story of their birth, pictures of how the store evolved or even have a ‘First Day’ officer who can help customers with a few additional services. Stores need to figure out what lengths they can go to and the bandwidth available to them. But an endeavor in this direction can be invaluable.

So how would you create a First Day experience for your customers? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Signing On

A company’s signature experience is what it does especially well. It’s the odd or unique process that makes your company stand out in people's minds ( (Read this HBR article). Most companies, in time, always end up providing a signature experience. They may either not know about it or may know and use them as foundation to their positioning. Either way it’s something that needs to be harnessed because in that special moment of delivering something different may lie the key to attracting and retaining customers.

Companies need to search their organization and look across their customer delivery structure at possible signatures they are leaving on their customers. If companies can pick three such experiences and package them and sell it consistently, they may have a winner on their hands. Linking these experiences to its brand can help reinforce their brand image. For example it will give more tangibles to customers to associate with the brand promise.

Most successful brands have distinct signature experiences that they leave behind in a customer’s mind; it is these experiences that are spoken about to other customers. Bringing together these voices under the banner of your brand as a signature experience could be your next brand building move.

Tell us about some signature experiences you have come across with the companies you interact with.

Friday, December 2, 2011

With great power comes great responsibility

A good day in the office for most of us involves meeting targets, cracking that tough code or just making sure your boss is happy. But what if your job description involves bringing a smile on a customer’s face?

Imagine walking into your favorite breakfast place in the morning and encountering a smiling staff who responds to your requests, proactively helps you and gives you top class service. On occasions such as these even the quality of the food can be overlooked to an extent. This can set the mood for the rest of your day. At the same time, I’m sure you can imagine the opposite. Not a pretty picture at all, therefore I shall not paint it.

Customer Service representatives need to realise that they have great power in their hands to lighten up a customer’s day (As seen in this video)  By doing this they can ensure loyalty to not just a tangible i.e. the product but also an intangible which is the service. Companies need to understand how strong a differentiator this can be and devise ways and means of getting their employees involved.
How can companies help set the tone for the day for a customer?