Category: Brand

Guest Post : AmEXperience

There are three organizations I can happily write books on: American Express, Nordstrom and Apple. Amex first.

I started using American Express (Amex) credit card in 2002 and since then, their services have always made my experience better. But there are few instances that are worth sharing.

Episode 1: I purchased an Apple mouse with Amex for $69. The mouse had a warranty period of 1 year and it worked absolutely fine for an year-and-a-half, but after some time, it stopped working. So, I decided that I will pick up a new one. While billing, the person on the counter asked me whether I had already purchased an Apple mouse with Amex. As, I told him that I purchased my first Apple mouse around one and a half year back using American Express card, the person asked me to call Amex’s customer service.

I was confused thinking that how would Amex help me with this, but still went ahead and called them. To my surprise, Amex heard that my mouse died within an year after the manufacturer’s warranty died. Amex said “Sorry for the trouble” (huh?) and paid $69 for my new Apple mouse. Why did Amex pay? Amex adds to the manufacturer’s warranty period by 1 year and that actually enhanced my experience with them. This encouraged me to start using American Express for every single purchase.

Episode 2: Circa 2008, I went on a trip to the United States and purchased a computer for $1200.00. On the total price, there was 1% cash back, which I was supposed to receive, but by that time I had returned back to India. Amex found out my address inIndia and mailed me a $12.00 cheque, which I still have. Momento, I think.

Episode 3: Of all, this is what I savor. I wanted to purchase a motoscooter from a dealer in India; I was told that there would be a 2% transaction fee on MRP (Maximum Retail Price), which seemed dissatisfactory to me. So, I called Amex. A couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from the same dealer. At the top of his voice, he called names at me for complaining about his business practice to Amex. Apparently, it ain’t exactly legal to charge x% on MRP and Amex is stringent; it had initiated action against the dealer. (x% on negotiated price is common, but that couldn’t be charged on MRP.)

Though I had to weigh if the called ‘names’ were appropriate, Amex springing in on my behalf gives me immense pleasure. Isn’t that what every customer is looking for, with the organization that provides him service?

Gokul

A commoner. ‘A fool’, my parents say; ‘a simpleton’, my wife says. Proud father of two wonderful kids, humble husband of one super woman. I tell stories for a living at Effect Works, while my extended family thinks that am on twitter 24×7. Write to me on twitter (@rgokul), easy to catch me there.

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CEM : Customer Experience Management

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

Few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a super market, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about few of those models, and asked the sales person.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any question my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forget machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store’, she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain her how retail industry works. ‘This super market deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products, it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division which looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division which makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions which take care of the selling process and Support division to take care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions have their own problems / solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your twitter page / facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touch points can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management, that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/why-not-manage-experiences/

Sports and CRM

Sports & CRM Applications : This Works Great

Don’t feel surprised if an organization suddenly seems much more familiar with your tastes and preferences.

Yes, this is actually grabbing attention these days. Recently, a well-known professional baseball team from Boston deployed a Sports CRM app. It rolled out the application in luxury sales only, which resulted in 20% more conversions and the senior operations analysts believe that it will increase much further this year now that they have become more familiar with the system.

Features in the Sports CRM applications incorporate usual range of functionality, which can be oriented as per the needs of a sports team. It not only provides customer service in a single system but also allows users to track and manage different information including finance and sales.

For instance, the team can now easily access the inventory management module like premium seating and event venues. With the help of better customer data and predictive analysis, developing promotional material and marketing programs has become very easy for them and they can effectively target specific customer groups as per their gaming and seating preferences.

Prior to deployment of the CRM system, the team was dependent on its own home-grown databases that included excel files, but post deployment, the system gave them a better view of what could be booked when certain seats were available. But the best part is in terms of customer knowledge that allowed the team to know about the preferences of the customers. CRM systems not only make it easy to manage your customer data, but you can also maximize the amount of data that can be put in the CRM system to make it comfortable for your customers, as well.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

What To Monitor In A Tweet?

One out of every three Twitter users talk about brands in their tweets and that’s a fact. This is a good way to keep an eye on your brand. A tweet may look very small and even insignificant, but actually there are so many things that you can monitor in a single tweet. There is lot of business information that can be driven from this amazing social media tool. You can know a lot about your customer and their feelings by just carefully observing the tweets they write. Check out this picture, which talks about various things you can track from a single tweet.

There are various factors that can be considered while looking into a tweet of one of your customers or prospects and this can be mapped to your CRM data, as well. While Twitter not only works as an opinion poll, it also helps people to build an instant “backchannel”. And if your prospects are online most of the time, monitoring the tweets and responding to them promptly, can immensely help with business development and augmenting customer service.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Subtle Marketing

Today I was reading an eBook. It is released by a marketing company, specializing in Social Media. They have different monitoring tools to listen to what people are talking about you in various Social Channels, and act accordingly.

However, this eBook had nothing to do with Monitoring. Instead the book talks about how Pinterest, the newest ‘Social’ darling can be utilized by businesses. They were showing samples on how various companies are enjoying added traffic / eye balls because they decided to join Pinterest, or provide a way for their readers to ‘Pin’ their articles.

To prove that Pinterest is really useful, this eBook had lots and lots of screenshots. Very useful for someone new to this. I liked it.

But the best part is, all those screenshots had a text description like this : “This is a screenshot from our <<<>>>> monitoring tool”.

What a nice, simple, subtle, yet powerful way of marketing your product! The reader wants to know if Pinterest is really going to help them, the book provides proof that it is the case, at the same time also conveys an indirect message ‘If you want to confirm Pinterest is really working for you, go for our Monitoring tool. It works, here is the proof!’

Naga Chokkanathan

Director, Presales & Innovation, CRMIT

Be careful when you buy content for your website

I saw this interesting picture today in web. It shows how two insurance companies which are competitors to each other are using the same picture in their website. It is a small mistake, but looks ugly from an end user point of view and affects your online image.

(Image Courtesy: http://twitpic.com/8kzj03/full)

This is an important tip to remember, when you are choosing content for your website:

  • If you are buying photographs from a person or an agency, make sure they are not selling it to somebody else, especially your competitor
  • This may mean you are paying something extra for exclusive rights to use that picture, go ahead and pay it, this is a small price for your online image