Category: Loyalty Management

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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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

Misusing CRM : How to understand / avoid this

How many times have you seen a person trying to use a hammer while fixing a car’s engine, despite knowing the fact that he will not succeed? Or may be somebody trying to drive a nail from the rubberized side of a screwdriver, which is equally useless. We all know that every tool has a purpose, but still there are some always looking for an opportunity to use a tool for a reason other than what it is designed for. Same is the case with CRM.

Some businesses often make the mistake of taking Customer Relationship Management as software where all the data can be populated and problems will be solved magically. However, the truth is, CRM works like a discipline, where CRM software can be used to upgrade the discipline and automate its data management features. It is a tool and only using it right can facilitate you in finding success. Its applications do not create a problem, but the pesky users who work with it make it happen. Let’s have a look at common misuses of CRM.

CRM Systems & Sales Managers

With one of the toughest job profiles in an organization, sales managers are always fully loaded with the responsibility of motivating and communicating with group of people regarding byzantine information, be it lead changes, new collateral, sales contests and so on. Therefore, sales managers get an automated insight into sales pipeline through Customer Relationship Management software via how quickly sales staff enters the data into CRM. Though blunt words from managers, at times, can prove helpful for salespeople, but overdoing it may cause a drop in usage of CRM system. And due to the unpleasant behavior of the manager, sales staff will quickly catch on to the source of his anger and will gradually stop using CRM system, thinking that why load the system with data that will ultimately drive manager to turn around and use the data against them. So, if sales managers do not want to get into a situation where they will have only a partial idea of how the pipeline looks like, they should be careful while using info from CRM system.

CRM : A Silo Or Tool for Breaking Silos?

CRM is very good at collecting data, be it comprehensive reports or customer records, but these are just a way to increase the office paper costs, particularly if not put to some use. This is a common problem, because many organizations make sure that data is flowing into the system and is keeping sales organized, but actually fail to connect with the rest of the organization. The data that was equally helpful for support, marketing and R&D team may not be able to make it to other constituents, just because there is no pathway. Now, this is an organizational issue that should be tackled at the outset of CRM strategy development. So, it is always advisable to use CRM system in a way that it breaks down silos, rather of becoming a silo itself.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Support Without Scripts

Currently reading a book called “Delivering Happiness”. This is written by Tony Hsieh and it tells the story of Zappos.com, famous online shoe store which was acquired by Amazon sometime back.

Even though this book is supposed to be a business history, it gives so many examples of how an exceptional customer service should be. I recommend this book for anyone interested in knowing how to wow their customers. Eventhough it may sound like lot of work / unnecessary cost in the short term, it will help you in the long run. That’s what CRM is all about!

For example, take Zappos customer support. Typically call center people are given ‘scripts’ for various situations and trained on how to use them. Whenever a call is recieved, they select one of these scripts and strictly go by the books. This is the most effective way of handling repeated customer queries. It is fast, and hence cheap.

But what about Customer Satisfaction?

Ha, who cares?

Fortunately, Zappos cares. They doesn’t believe in call scripts. Their call center agents are trained to help customers, no matter what the issue is, and they don’t use any templatized answers. They don’t hesitate to go out of their way and assist in solving the customer’s (or prospect’s) current issue. Even if it means they don’t get any sales out of that particular call, they are not worried. Because they look at the experience that the person gets by contacting Zappos, not just the profit made in that call. Tony Hsieh explains this with a cute (and real) story:

Once, a lady from california called Zappos in very late hours, and this is what she told their call center agent: ‘I am staying in a Santa Monica hotel and very hungry. I want to eat a pepperoni pizza now, but my hotel’s room service is closed. I want to know if there is anything you could do to help me.’

Obviously, this is a strange request. Zappos is a shoe selling online retailer, not a pizza joint.

But fortunately, that call center agent didn’t get irritated or disconnect the call. She took couple of minutes to research on places around Santa Monica who deliver pizzas 24*7, and gave that lady not one, but five addresses.

Tony Hsieh concludes this story with a superb lesson: This is the benefit of having no call scripts, Just provide exceptional support, no matter what the client issue is, and they will be your customers for life.

Naga Chokkanathan,

Director, Innovation & Presales, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/why-not-support-without-scripts/

Loyalty Programs : Do they really work?

Do loyalty programs really work? What can be done to make them work? An article by CRMIT’s Senior Director Naga Chokkanathan:

Loyalty management is a big CRM topic. Every company wants their customers to remain loyal and give continuous business and share of their wallet. They introduce schemes like loyalty cards, points, gifts etc., to attract them.

But in reality, most of these schemes don’t work. I would have registered for at least 20+ loyalty programs and got my fancy cards. But I can’t carry all of them wherever I go, most of the times I keep that card in some book shelf and forget all about that, It doesn’t make me return to the same establishment again, unless and until the benefits are very good and real.

When I say “Benefits”, I don’t really mean cash back, discounts etc., they are important motivators, but for a loyalty program to succeed, the company has to think of something unique and a real value add.

For example, we buy our monthly groceries and other goods from a super market. Last year, they gave me a loyalty card and told me that I will get 1 point for every 200 rupees spent on that shop, and later I can convert those points to gifts.

I did a mental math, my reward is, 1 rupee for every 200 rupees. Means 0.5%, Boy, this scheme is junk, I don’t want silly 0.5% discount for my purchases, forget it!

But guess what, those store people were smart. They recorded my mobile number, and tied it to my Loyalty card. Every time I bought anything from them, they asked for my loyalty card, when I said “I don’t have it with me now”, they asked my mobile number, and added loyalty points to me, even without the card.

Yesterday, I got a mail from them, which gave a nice pie chart with this snapshot:

Your Purchases last year:

  • 38% Fruits and Vegetables
  • 22% Pulses and cooking oil
  • 16% Dairy Products
  • 8% Snacks
  • 16% Others

Wow, I never knew this. When I clicked on the pie chart, it gave me details on my purchases every month and how they changed over the 12 months period. Amazing insight on my spending habits, which I can’t get anywhere else!

Now, I am motivated to carry their loyalty card and produce it for any purchase, I know I am going to get some useful data out of this, in addition to that 0.5% discount, I will buy more and more from them because others don’t give me this value add.

Moral of the story? If Loyalty is a one way street (I want people to buy more from me), it is never going to work. Any Loyalty program will work only if there are visible benefits to the customers too.

http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/