Harte-Hanks - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
In a recent interview with Quark’s Media, Nancy Vogt, VP of Customer Experience with Zions Bancorporation, discussed the implications of an important factor in market research: survey fatigue.
She explained, “In recent years, as we’ve become ever more cognizant of survey fatigue, we’ve had to think long and hard about our priorities when designing a survey, considering each question to decide whether it is just ‘nice to know’ or whether the response will be actionable.”
It is important to recognize that we do need actionable data to improve the customer experience, but survey fatigue is real and plagues our customers. It is therefore important to incorporate other less intrusive ways to collect data, optimize the customer experience and ensure customer satisfaction to maintain a customer-centric approach. Here are a few places to start.
Recognize the Data You Already Have
1. Interaction History
Personally, I greatly dislike talking on the phone, which should be obvious since I have only ever interacted with my bank digitally (I will do anything I can to avoid talking to a real person—any extent of Google searching, emailing, webchat, etc.). My parents, however, call their branch directly when they have concerns or questions. This type of interaction history should inform how our banks communicate with us.
For example, I really appreciate that my credit card company has analyzed my spending and communication habits and denies unusually large purchases—while immediately sending a notification text to confirm or deny the validity of such a purchase. I can easily respond via text without having to answer or make a phone call. My parents, however, should get a phone call to communicate with them in the channel of their preference and optimize their experience.
Now more than ever, customers are interacting with banks digitally—via social, for example. Data from effective social support programs can be used to identify points of customer dissatisfaction, as well as trending support issues. Proactively mining this data can help banks to identify common problems and address rising concerns promptly, limiting negative impact and satisfying social customers.
@ChaseSupport does a great job at supporting customers on social. From difficulties with credit card applications to opinions about ATM locations, Chase customers are letting the bank know how they feel. And Chase responds! My colleague recently tweeted to @ChaseSupport about a problem with her mortgage held by Chase. @ChaseSupport looked up her account, reviewed the history and conversations with phone support, and added the social conversation to her customer profile. They weren’t immediately able to solve her problem, but they did assure her that it had been escalated appropriately.
By using social channels to engage with customers, banks are able to receive candid and real-time feedback—no survey necessary. They’re also able to improve the overall customer experience for those that prefer to interact on social media. Note: it is crucial that these interactions be associated with the individual’s customer profile to ensure a seamless experience across interaction channels (e.g. make sure the customer service agents answering the phones also have the social conversation handy for reference).
3. In-Branch Technology
Another option is to mine satisfaction data from non-intrusive technologies that also facilitate customer experience improvements. This article from The Financial Brand explains how credit unions have implemented technology like lobby trackers that allow them to track wait times, desired services, transaction times and more. This data provides insight into the customer experience and allows banks to optimize the experience they provide to their customers through efforts like increasing staffing during peak times. In addition, banks are deploying service kiosks that invite members to easily provide feedback by clicking a range of happy, neutral, or sad face icons, which members happily interact with (about 4,000 responses per month).
Take Meaningful Action on the Data You Collect
Your customers are trusting you with all of this data they’re giving to you. A good way to break that trust is by failing to use it effectively and continuing to bombard them with requests for feedback. For example, if a customer signs in with your lobby tracker upon each branch visit, yet consistently has to wait over 10 minutes for service, he’ll start to wonder why he has to bother with the lobby tracker—it’s not providing any improvement in his experience. When you approach this customer with a survey, he will probably ignore it, believing that it also will have no effect on his experience.
To avoid what can feel like a one-sided relationship, customers need to see value in providing data or participating in surveys when they are necessary. Recognize and make use of the data you are already getting from your customer interactions and customer journey, and these customers will be happier to respond to your occasional survey.
You may also want to check out: MetLife Marketing is Focused on Providing Value—You Should Be, Too
Publish Date: March 27, 2017 5:00 AM
In a continuing effort to improve their customers’ experience, Apple recently began releasing iOS 10 and will continue throughout the fall. The release includes features and issues that will have a direct impact on email marketers. Most importantly:
- Simple unsubscribe option
- Less real estate in the pre-header section
- Spotty support for image scaling
- Ability to delete the default iOS inbox on phone
Here is what you need to know.
Simple Unsubscribe Option
Remember, the inbox is about the end user and not the people marketing to them. In order to make it easier to unsubscribe from lists, Apple is following in Gmail’s footsteps to add list unsubscribe to their emails. List unsubscribe automatically adds the option to unsubscribe to the header of the email.
You will probably see an increase the number of unsubscribes from your email lists. However, if you are delivering timely and relevant emails, the impact should be negligible. The one positive aspect of this is that we have noticed, over time, that the SPAM button was becoming a “proxy” for unsubscribe and therefore impacting deliverability rates. Hopefully with this move, more consumers will choose to unsubscribe rather than “report as spam,” improving deliverability.
- Keep an eye on unsubscribe rates after the IOS 10 release.
- Consider auditing your emails for relevancy or come up with more tirgger strategies to ensure your emails are engaging.
Less Real Estate in the Pre-header Section
To make way for the unsubscribe option, content will be pushed further down the page.
Viewing on smaller mobile screens will make real estate a premium. Marketers will need to make sure they are making the most of this limited space with pre-header, headlines, creative and calls to action.
- Compare your creative pre-release vs. post-release and consider changes as necessary.
- Test your emails to optimize performance with the new header.
Spotty Support for Image Scaling
iOS 10 in BETA has been offering spotty support of automatically scaling large images. While later versions of the iOS 10 BETA seem to be correcting the issue, some are still not fully scaling.
Marketers using large images without responsive email design may see some scaling or rendering issues.
- Make sure production teams bake in extra QA time to ensure optimal viewing on iOS devices.
- Consider creating and using mobile responsive email templates.
Ability to Delete the Default iOS Inbox on Phone
For the first time, iOS 10 users will have the option to delete the default iOS inbox that was pre-installed on their phones.
This may or may not be significant. It will be interesting to see if there is a shift in market share from the iOS inbox to additional apps (Gmail, etc.). Do users use iOS because they love it or because it’s there and cannot be deleted? If we do see a shift, marketers will want to monitor their email list to see who is opening on which devices. Support varies from inbox to inbox so email design approaches may need to be modified.
- Determine which email environments your customers are currently using to open your emails.
- Consider how a shift may impact your design approach as design support varies in different inboxes.
Publish Date: September 15, 2016 5:00 AM
On April 12 virtual reality trailblazers from across the globe descended on Bristol for VR World Congress. As you’d expect, many attendees were gaming professionals. But some speakers and exhibitors explored VR in relation to wider areas such as data visualisation, engineering, medicine and education.
VR is clearly beginning to make inroads to the corporate world. But even the most experienced enthusiasts concede that it’s an emerging technology. The way it’s created and consumed is still evolving, and nobody knows exactly where the industry will go next.
Is your brand VR-ready?
There is a lot of excitement about VR. And there is also some scepticism. Critics argue that it is over-hyped and gimmicky. However, there are some compelling business cases of VR delivering tangible benefits across sectors ranging from fashion to automotive and construction to medical.
Early signs indicate VR can add value in many potential applications. It could unlock whole new worlds of possibility for brand marketers. But how and when should you make a move into VR?
Here are three takeaways from the Congress that might help you make up your mind:
Everyone’s a pioneer
If you want a definitive rulebook on VR, you’ll be disappointed. Nobody has all the answers yet. However, if you want to build a reputation as an innovator or an early adopter, the VR world is your oyster.
As with all pioneering activity, there are risks as well as rewards. Whatever you set out to achieve, there will inevitably be an element of compromise and sacrifice. Paul Deane, Digital Development Lead at BBC Natural History Unit, shared his experiences creating David Attenborough’s Walk with the World’s Biggest Dinosaur. He said the project posed challenges as virtual reality has so many unknowns. Basic production decisions – such as which point of view to use and whether the camera should move – have more implications than with a linear film. Because the medium is in its infancy, there isn’t a set way to produce content.
On the flipside of this, many people experiencing VR are also new to the technology. In their enjoyment of the immersive, interactive elements they are likely to be more forgiving of imperfections. Walk with the World’s Biggest Dinosaur has been hugely successful despite the compromises made. Since it was launched in February it’s had more than 5million views and a dwell time between two and three times that of linear online videos produced by the BBC.
360-degree video could be a first step into immersive content
It’s important to differentiate between true VR and 360-degree video content. Generally, 360-degree video involves an immersive real-world view. You might use it to give consumers a front row seat at an exclusive celebrity event, or to enhance a video of your product in action. First Lady Michelle Obama recently took part in a 360-degree video interview surrounding her use of social media. And the New York Times has launched NYTVR enabling people to immerse themselves in 360-degree content associated with certain news items. While the viewing experience is greatly enhanced with a VR headset, it can be accessed on a regular PC or mobile device.
VR transcends 360-degree video to provide a virtual experience that wouldn’t be possible in real-life. Brand-led examples to date range from Patrón Tequila’s ‘bee’s eye view’ of production to Nescafe’s virtual reality coffee experience. Viewers need a VR headset of some kind, whether it’s the consumer-level Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR; or something more sophisticated like Oculus Rift. Some brands are helping customers take their first steps into VR by providing headsets, such as the McDonald’s Happy Goggles fashioned from a Happy Meal Box.
360-degree video is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. If you already work with video, it could represent a safer platform from which to start exploring immersive brand content. It’s more accessible to the masses, as well as being simpler and cheaper to produce. However, it is possible to blend elements of VR with 360-degree video to create a ‘mixed reality’ format as the BBC achieved in Walk with the World’s Biggest Dinosaur.
Ultimately it comes down to your objectives and resources as well as your audience and the business goals you aim to fulfil.
Educate internal stakeholders
Obtaining final approval on creative assets can be frustrating at the best of times for marketers. With a medium like VR such challenges are amplified. There is no frame of reference in this new territory, so it can be difficult for stakeholders to give a constructive, rational critique of the end result.
If you’re managing a VR project, this risk needs to anticipated and mitigated from the outset.
Establish firm ground rules surrounding the approval process, agree who will be responsible for decision making, and make sure that all approvers are VR users.
Laying strong foundations will be hugely beneficial since addressing problems at a late stage in the production process is more costly and complex than with other media. Everybody who will be involved needs to be fully on board with the scope, goals and limitations of the activity. Stakeholders who have limited experience of VR should be educated before production gets underway. Expose them to examples of content so they can build an understanding of the medium. It may be worth creating a test VR asset using familiar items, so they can explore the functionality of the medium in comfort.
Nobody can be sure when VR will reach tipping point, but all the signs point towards it becoming a very valuable medium for fully immersive brand engagement. While it is still largely associated with the gaming community, there is nothing to prevent brand marketers from developing its commercial potential.
If you are about to take the plunge, don’t do it in isolation. Talk to people who’ve already had a go, so you can benefit from their learnings and share experiences. Be realistic about what you can achieve with such a fledgling technology and accept that you may have to compromise on some elements. But feel assured that your early steps could put you at a distinct advantage in the future as you pave the way for effective use of VR in your organisation.
Even if your brand isn’t ready for VR, you can’t afford to ignore it. Take the initiative. Explore 360-degree video on Facebook and YouTube, and get an entry level VR headset. Not every brand is cut out to be a trailblazer, and VR might not be relevant to your industry or your offering at the moment. But you can’t make an informed decision unless you educate yourself.
David Chandler is Director, Strategic Accounts at Harte Hanks. He’s co-presenting a webinar exploring the potential of VR for B2B brands on 5 May 2016. Book your seat here.
Publish Date: April 26, 2016 5:00 AM
Most of the companies we work with have a difficult time executing against a unified customer experience as different groups within the organization have different definitions and perceptions of what that experience should be. Customer Service tends to have a reactive approach, measuring performance through CSAT, response time, and reaction to market “noise”. On the other hand, Sales and Marketing may offer a different point of view of the customer experience, focusing more on the vision of what the buying experience should be. But rarely is this vision effectively operationalized across the organization consistently.
This lack of consistency across an organization can lead to conflicting goals and actions that create unintentional barriers to the customer experience, for example:
- Difficult online order processes
- Unfriendly return policies
- Unusable or unsuitable IVR systems
- Insufficient customer support representative staffing/management
- Cumbersome promotions that do not consider customer effort
- Loyalty programs built without considerations of support needed
- Marketing campaigns that focus on product features rather than customer benefit
When working with customers, we follow a three step process to create and execute a cohesive customer experience across your organization.
1) Map your customer journey
Fortunately, we now have a wealth of information and data that can be used to develop a roadmap of our customer journey and the effectiveness of each touch point within that journey. Customer experience is about interactions, and those interactions usually leave a trail of data that can be analyzed, understood and modeled. These interactions can include:
- Product awareness: ease of access to information needed to make purchase decision through traditional, web and social channels
- Purchasing process: CRM data analysis, IVR mapping, website content and traffic patterns
- Expectations of support: self-help, traditional support, social support, web-based content, videos
- Customer feedback: what mechanisms are in place, what is the process to address customer problems
In addition to analyzing data, you should spend some time being the customer of your own company and understanding how your organization presents itself to your customers (think “Undercover Boss”).
2) Identify the customer pain points
Understand that this can be an uncomfortable exercise. The issues you identify can be frustrating and often require you to admit that your current process isn’t working from the customer’s perspective…..even though they may seem well intended.
Using the data compiled in the previous step, identify the major points in your customer journey that are distracting from the customer experience. You may identify pages on your website that have high drop-off rates, low opportunity conversion rates for specific staff members, or specific promotions that do not generate repeat business.
Find and map these customer termination points against your customer journey, and then work to engage all groups that affect customer experience to help implement improvements, including customer support, sales, marketing, service, technology, and human resources.
3) Evangelize a unified customer experience vision
Once you’ve implemented resolutions to your customer pain points, you can start the process of engaging the entire organization and rallying around a single customer experience vision. Executive level sponsorship and commitment is critical to the success of this process. The executive team needs to make it known to all departments that customer experience is the top priority, and that resources should be focused on that single goal of customer experience.
Create and evangelize a set of universal tenants that embody the vision and commitment that should govern all customer interactions, for example:
- Interactions should be easy, fast and personal (when possible)
- Support personnel should be informed and empowered to resolve problems
- Content should be available in many forms and naturally consumed (knowledgebase articles, how-to videos, etc.)
- Tone should be consistent and speak the language of the customer
If you implement these three steps, you will have gone a long way in enhancing your customer experience and rallying your organization around supporting that journey. Ultimately it’s all about how you define and express your culture, and how well your culture matches your customers’ expectations. And most importantly, approach it as an ongoing process, continuing to identify areas of improvement and opportunity.
Rusty Langford is Vice President Client Services, Harte Hanks Contact Centers. Have you championed a customer experience vision at your organization? Share your experience with us on Twitter @hartehanks.
Publish Date: April 15, 2016 5:00 AM
How to get over what is keeping you up at night
And, I don’t just mean those crazy neighbors next door. In your competitive market, how can you keep pace with customer needs? How can you be certain that you are investing in the right channels to acquire more customers? What if you were told you had to decrease your budget – where would you first look to cut?
All of these are big questions that we face constantly and can lead to internal strife across departments:
- Are Sales and Marketing doing what they can?
- Are our dealers servicing our customers the best way they can?
- Are our customers getting the education they need from our online properties or call center?
How does your brand ensure that it is investing correctly in every individual customer it has today? Whoa… the answer to that last question, though your boss likely won’t want to hear it, is – you can’t! What you can do is understand whether the value that you expect to receive in the future from each customer is more than what you are currently spending to acquire or retain them.
Whether you are trying to determine who should get the richer offers in your sales events, who to include in the higher level of your service plan, who deserves call resolution escalation rather than being routed to your online community FAQ, etc., it has to be done within a finite budget where not all customers can be treated the same. The experience they receive should match to or exceed the value they are providing, or really their potential value. Through customer lifetime value (CLV) based segmentation, investment can be prioritized to balance delivering a meaningful experience to your customers (i.e. so that they are likely to return), while generating the greatest ROI back to the organization.
Transforming to a Customer-Centric Landscape
In an October 2014 Forbes Insights Study which surveyed 312 senior executives across North America in a broad range of industries, 77% of respondents say CLV is a highly or extremely valuable indicator, but only 58% regularly calculate average CLV*.
There are many ways to calculate lifetime value that can be effective in informing how an organization invests in its customers. The approach is dictated by the data that you have and the understanding of what metrics are foundational to an organization’s success. There must be a vision of continuous improvement that can lead to a more robust solution in later phases. But, there is no reason to wait for the “perfect data” to become available to get started. So let’s get to work!
How to Get Started
- Data Assessment: What data is readily available today and what is its quality? Are you confident in the results you have seen in the existing reporting and KPIs you are tracking? At this point, you can make assumptions if necessary. For example, if retailers are not sharing specific cost-of-sale data you can estimate a value.
- Resources: Each data point relates to a customer experience that can aid in predicting for future value. Gathering the data points across your organization, if not already centralized, is a time investment and will likely conflict with the day-to-day priorities your team has already. You may opt to bring on an analytics partner that can receive multiple data files and has expertise in blending that data together.
- Project Objectives: Since customer lifetime value can and should influence customer experiences across the organization, you will want buy-in from senior management before getting started. What use cases are needed to justify the integration of using this solution? Who will you need to collaborate with early to develop internal partnership that will justify your needs (hint: get to know your Finance person REALLY well)?
Applications of Customer Lifetime Value in Automotive
It is not uncommon to forget that CLV has applications across all areas of your organization.
Build a Loyalty Program that works. In a research study conducted by the International Institute for Analytics and SAS, it was found that companies that had self-rated highly effective programs place a greater value on analytics as a core component of that program. In fact, they are more than twice as likely to view analytics as “very important” (65% vs. 30%)**. Take a moment to be sure your loyalty program is set up in a way that it is generating higher value from your retained customer base. Achieving a higher NPS is good news, but is it leading to a more profitable relationship with your customers? With a CLV foundation, programs and sales or service plan levels can be established that will accelerate your retention rates.
Identify the right channels to invest in. Let’s assume that you are acquiring a significant volume of leads, even qualified leads that have asked for a quote, but your conversion rates are 20% lower than your competitors. Should volume be your sole metric for success? CLV allows you to validate that your acquisition channels are attracting the right customer, with the right conversion rates, which can lead to more efficient acquisition and more loyal customers than your competitors. Cultivating growth in customer value over time starts by acquiring the right customer and then investing in them based on their likelihood to become and remain loyal to your brand.
Remember, CLV goes beyond attributing response or purchase to your collective channel network accurately, but rather it uses that logic to help predict customer value in the future. At the end of the day, don’t worry so much about whom your competitors are converting and you’re not… you have more to be concerned about what you are spending today to acquire the customers you do have.
Harte Hanks has a team of Analysts, Data Scientists and Strategists to help you begin to develop this framework and plan and effectively execute your marketing programs. Is your company fully utilizing Analytic driven insights to better inform customer retention and profitability? Tweet us at @HarteHanks and share your experience.
* “Customers for Life: Technology Strategies for Attracting and Keeping Customers” a Forbes Insights study in association with Sitecore.
** “Successful Loyalty Through Analytics” commissioned by SAS and performed by the International Institute for Analytics.
Publish Date: March 31, 2016 5:00 AM