What’s the CX buzz this week? (22nd Dec, 2014)

We all love shortcuts because they get us to where we want to go faster. But when it comes to customer experience, the thorough and methodical win the race. This week’s CX Buzz is all about companies that tried doing things the quick way, then realized that there is no substitute for truly knowing the customer – even if it takes time. Supply chain teams realize increased efficiency when they mine customer sentiment. American Eagle Outfitters saw its conversions soar after it implemented data-driven marketing. And call centers that focus on customer service, as opposed to average handling time, create loyal repeat customers.

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Can You Listen? [linkedin.com]

Author Lora Cecere recommends a resolution every company should make for the New Year.  Consumer sentiment, she says, can be found everywhere on the Internet: on blogs, ratings and reviews, Twitter and Facebook posts. Digital marketers are definitely paying attention to consumer sentiment, but unfortunately, supply chain teams almost never speak to the marketing department.

If a particular product suddenly sells like hot cakes, supply chain teams must quickly respond to customer demand – manufacturing, shipping and distributing a product as efficiently as possible. Supply chain teams tend to focus on being responsive, i.e. suddenly springing into action once an order comes. But what if they could anticipate product demand?

Cecene says that supply chain managers should mine unstructured text on the Internet to forecast which products will see a boost in sales. In this way, they can make sure to have fast-selling products in stock while not wasting valuable warehouse space for duds. The old fashioned way, waiting a week to two months to see which products sold well, is much slower than mining customer sentiment.  Less than 1 percent of companies do this, she says, but if they did, they’d realize huge efficiency gains.

Data-Driven Marketers Will Make Merry This Holiday [business2community.com]

Is your company dragging its feet when it comes to data-driven marketing? According to Lisa Arthur, a new study by Teradata has ended the debate on whether big data targeting will boost your company’s revenue. ‘When retailers use data-driven marketing,” she writes...revenues increase.” There is no question, she says, that data is quickly becoming the primary competitive differentiator in retail.

She cites American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) as an example.  Marketers at AEO integrate and analyze data across multiple channels—direct mail, email, SMS, social media, etc.  Then they use this data in their marketing campaigns. For instance, last year their mobile app integrated data analytics and geospatial coordinates. Customers who had downloaded the app saw a holiday offer as they neared an AEO store. This worked extremely well and conversion rates surged.

Arthur predicts that over the next few months, data-driven retailers will emerge as true leaders, both in forward-thinking marketing strategies and revenue.

Magic Johnson on the Power of Knowing Exactly What Customers Want [inc.com]

This article, by Laura Montini, illustrates the value of truly knowing your customer. In the early 2000’s, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, opened a Starbucks franchise store in an African-American neighborhood of Los Angeles. The conventional wisdom was that minorities would not pay $3.00 for a cup of coffee. But the conventional wisdom was wrong. Johnson eventually expanded his franchise to over 100 stores, which became the most profitable per capita in the entire Starbucks chain.

Johnson said it all began when he was driving around his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. "I saw a lot of Latinos and African Americans lined up at Starbucks," Johnson said. "So I jumped in that line and I started drinking that coffee, and I said no wonder everybody's in this line. The coffee was great."

But Johnson had to tweak his franchises for this market segment. "I had to take the scones out of [my] Starbucks and put in things that resonate with the urban consumer: sweet potato pie, pound cake, Sock-It-To-Me-Cake," he said.

Johnson’s cardinal rule is to know your customer. "A lot of people worry about, 'How am I going to market my business?'" Johnson said. "If you know your customer, if you know what they want, and then you can deliver that to them, they become your loyal customers and your brand ambassadors for life."

Why Call Center Management Should focus on the Customer Experience [tmcnet.com]

Call centers have come a long way in recent decades, writes Susan J. Campbell. There is so much technology to help improve outcomes and make life easier for management. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) allows customers to engage in self-service interactions; speech analytics makes quality monitoring much easier to accomplish; and automatic call distribution ensures the right agents get the right calls at the right time.

Why then, Campbell asks, aren’t call centers achieving perfect performance every time? The problem, she says, is not with technology but with goal-setting. Many call centers are still confused as to their purpose and function. Is it to complete the most calls, drive the most in sales or resolve the greatest number of issues?

No, she says, the goal of a call center should be to optimize the customer experience. Everything else is secondary. If you look at business leaders who have made an impact, people like Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Steve Jobs and even Bill Gates, you’ll realize that they all built empires by putting the customer at the center.

Your call center is one of the most important touch points in the customer experience. Only by seeing it that way can your company produce the kind of returns you need to dominate in the market.

What side of the quality assurance argument are you on? [metrics.net]

The author, Vicki Nihart, describes quality assurance programs in call centers as a debate, or argument, with two sides. On the one hand are the minimalists, who view quality assurance as something a call center should comply with but not spend too much time on. On the other side, are the folks who seek to optimize the quality of calls in a way that contributes to the company’s overall growth.

Nihart is on the side of the quality assurance maximizers – what she calls the “customer-centric” point of view. However, she points out that call center managers who agree with her may have an uphill battle convincing senior management.

Quality assurance minimalists often view lengthy conversations (higher average handling times or AHT) as expensive. This thinking is short-sighted, says Nihart, because customers who don’t get their issue resolved often call back, ultimately costing the call center more money.

But Nihart doesn’t ask readers to take her word for it. She runs through the numbers, thereby bolstering her argument. This article is worth reading if you’ve ever questioned the wisdom of rushing call center agents off the phone.

We hope you enjoyed our picks and bookmarked a few of these articles for future reference. Please don’t forget to share the buzz with other CX professionals.

Are there any other topics of CX that interest you? Tweet us, or comment below to let us know!

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