Communications: The Overlooked Silver Bullet in Driving Customer Experience Management

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“You’re not differentiated if you’re just like everyone else, are you? Brand your competitive advantage, and drive revenue and profits, by communicating your customer satisfaction and loyalty to all stakeholders. A CEM communications program is your silver bullet."


CEM Communications: Your Silver Bullet

Within most businesses, the services organization owns the customer relationship. Sales and marketing may claim otherwise, but once a customer begins actively using a company’s products and services, the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty is a direct result of the quality of service and support the customer receives from the company’s services organization.

Your company probably has a fairly extensive customer survey process that measures customer satisfaction and loyalty on a continual basis. However, the results of these surveys often tend to remain within the services organization, unshared with other departments and business units. After all, it’s the services organization’s budget that supports the survey process, and that organization owns the customer relationship.

But that’s a short-sighted view of the tremendous strategic and tactical value that customer survey findings can hold for a company. Why? Because customers—not products and services—are the source of all revenue and profits. So if your services organization is not sharing insights gained through customer surveys with groups like sales, marketing, engineering and finance—not to mention the C-suite—then you’re not the customer-centric company you may think you are.

By now, you know where I’m going. Communications needs to be a critical component of any customer experience management (CEM) initiative within your company. CEM communications starts with internal stakeholders: management at all levels, as well as rank-and-file employees. But it also must include external stakeholders: customers, partners, suppliers, investors, trade/business media, and even prospects.

This requires making CEM part of your corporate communications strategy so that you can capitalize on your most valuable asset: best-in-class customer satisfaction and loyalty. Yet the primary focus of most company's marketing is how their product/service capabilities are better than everyone else's. All well and good, but with every company singing this same “we are best” mantra, customers and prospects have a hard time deciding whose products or services really are the best.

My firm’s research shows that, while product and price are important in making the initial sale, the most decisive factor in customer retention, growth, and long-term loyalty is the quality of service and support customers receive over time and on a consistent basis. In other words, today’s businesses must make customer experience management (CEM) part of their corporate DNA in order to be successful year after year.

Businesses can tell this side of their story through a comprehensive CEM stakeholder communications program. This program leverages a number of strategies and tactics to provide a professional and consistent vehicle that combines creativity with technological innovation, so you can customize your CEM strategy messages to your key external and internal stakeholders.

A CEM communications program should include the following components. Taken together, these assets allow you to brand your CEM commitment within the marketplace while allowing your customers and other stakeholders to sing your praises in their own words.

  • Voice-of-the-customer videos showcase your commitment to customer service using the power of video. Videos are perfect for web posting and social media.
  • A customer satisfaction annual report has the impact of a regular company annual report, but focuses on your CEM strategy and results. My firm has found that this is, hands down, the most valuable marketing asset for the salesforce.
  • Case studies about your customers are living proof of the success of your CEM strategy and goals. Such marketing pieces have instant credibility with prospects.
  • Feedback information systems feature dynamic multimedia LED dashboards that can include customer comments, survey results, videos, employee recognition, and the like. They’re ideal for meeting rooms, call centers, cafeterias, and other high-traffic areas.
  • Public relations campaigns include news releases, newsletters, white papers, and more that will allow you to establish a fact-based two-way dialog with the business and trade media who cover your industry—and reach your customers, prospects, partners, and suppliers. It’s the best marketing money can’t buy.
  • Social media/online communities have become critical channels to shape the perception of your company and engage with a growing number of informed groups, who include your customers and prospects. Make sure your CEM success is reflected in your social media conversations.
  • Customer events like user group meetings and departmental kickoffs should not be boring! Deliver your key messages with powerful, creative, and entertaining impact.

As a services executive, you must take the first step by making sure your CEM results are communicated company-wide as part of your overall operational planning. Then encourage your corporate communications department to incorporate your CEM success in your overall marketing strategy. This will brand you as a customer-driven company, and not just a product- or technology-driven company.

You’re not differentiated if you’re like everyone else, are you? What better way to brand your competitive advantage, and drive revenue and profits, than by communicating your customer satisfaction and loyalty aggressively to all stakeholders? The CEM communications components I’ve outlined are proven to work in any industry. Start spreading the word by leveraging on this overlooked silver bullet.

About the Author...

Dennis Gershowitz is the founder and president of DG Associates, which specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. Contact Dennis at dennisg@dgassociates.net.
 

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Topics: customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, customer experience management, customer relationship management (CRM), TSIA Partners

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