Why Customer Expectations Are Binary

Customer expectations are binary. You either exceed them, or you fall short. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Amazon, no longer a small online bookstore by any measure, knows this. Their objective isn’t to meet expectations. Rather, their objective is to exceed customer expectations such that customer expectations increase by way of the service they provide. Scot Wingo, Co-Founder of Channel Advisor, calls this increasing customer expectation the “Amazon Effect.

Data Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

The unprecedented expansion of markets into an online space has changed up the customer journey. That means that is has never been more important to connect with your potential customers on their terms– but for your sake, it should be done in a way that capitalizes on their established behaviors. Sound complicated? It’s not in today’s tech savvy world.

Why Apps Are the Perfect Marriage of Tech and Customer Service

Whatever your industry, excellent customer service is an essential element in gaining customers. You also need great customer service to retain those customers and improve your brand’s positioning in your industry. It’s no longer enough to just ensure that our staff members are well trained in technology, data, and general analytics. To be effective, your customer service must anticipate your customer’s needs and ultimately create an experience that is as valuable to them as the product or service you’re offering to them. It’s all part of what ensures a seamless customer journey.

Reducing Waiting in Customer Experience Through Technology and Analytics

This is the fifth blogpost in a nine post series (originally published by IBM) focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the Second R of responsiveness and the importance of reducing waiting.

Someone once said we spend 10% of our lives waiting. We’re certain it’s true because we once read it on the Internet. In all seriousness, waiting is a fact of life. It’s an irritating and annoying fact of being a customer. One of the most impactful ways companies are using technology is to help their customers wait less or, when waiting can’t be avoided, help the time pass more quickly.

Case Study: Applebee’s

Many companies are embracing the self-service trend. Julia Stewart, CEO of Applebee’s, says, “Customers have been telling us for some time—even myself … I don’t like to wait for the check. That was the first sort of pain point we heard of, and we had this unique opportunity with technology to make a real difference.”

Based on a successful pilot, Applebees bought 100,000 tablets for its restaurant tables. The results show 70% of tables using the tablets. Additionally, appetizer orders increased by 20% and dessert orders by 30%. Tables turned quicker and the kids can play games on the tablet while waiting for their food. This is a win-win scenario as customers are leaving faster, more satisfied and with a higher check total, which the restaurant chain profits from.

Looking to recent survey numbers, these results should come as no surprise. “Almost a quarter of all millennials use self-service kiosks to avoid any sort of interaction with cashiers,” according to Retale president Pat Dermody.

Case Study: First Tennessee Bank

Founded in 1864 and headquartered in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank (FTB) is a leading financial services company. Serving more than 460,000 households across the State, the bank offers a range of retail banking services including checking accounts, mortgages and insurance.

To achieve its goal of doubling annual sales of online accounts by 2019, FTB needed to reduce waiting and give customers a smoother journey through the account sign-up process. FTB implemented IBM Digital Analytics to capture, monitor and analyze real-world customer behavior on its website and mobile app, and identify opportunities for improving the user experience. More user-friendly online and mobile journeys drive more customers to complete the account sign-up process. Ongoing monitoring helps to continuously assess and improve the user experience.

Takeaway: The lesson is clear. Any investment that reduces the wait time will equal happier customers who will ultimately spend more and return time and time again. Don’t fall into the trap of the way you’ve always done things. While new technologies can cause growing pains, customers’ expectations are always increasing and you must use every tool in your arsenal to get ahead of the curve.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – According to Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part:

What Technological Advances Have Taught Us

The rate of innovation is ever increasing. What would seem like a giant leap fifty years ago appears more like a small step today. Second, these innovations are changing the average consumer. Going from the world where connected technology was mostly a dream to such ubiquity where more humans have mobile phones than access to working toilets is nothing short of impressive.

Amazing Technological Advances Part V

This is the final installment of amazing technological advances over the last sixty years. As you can see, our society (and the world) has come a very long way in just a short time. I, for one, am very excited to see what kind of tech advances will come to us down the road.

2004 – 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg launches thefacebook.com in his dorm room as a Harvard sophomore.

2005 – YouTube is founded by former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The idea was born at a dinner party in San Francisco the year before, inspired by two key events that year: Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl and a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Amazing Technological Advances Part IV

The series continues! There have been some amazing technological advances over the last sixty years. Today, we take a look at some of the biggest tech advances since 1995.

1995 – Google begins as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both are Ph.D. students at Stanford University.

1999 – Kevin Ashton coins the term “the Internet of Things” (IoT) while working at Auto-ID Labs.Oracle executive Marc Benioff invites three friends to his San Francisco apartment. His business idea gets a lukewarm response. Cofounder Dave Moellenhoff doesn’t sugarcoat it, “You’re an idiot. That’s the stupidest thing. This is never going to work.” The group presses forward and launches Salesforce, one of the first enterprise cloud software services in the world. The company pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website.

Customer Service: Improving Your Online Reputation

It’s no secret that customers appreciate good service. Naturally, in order to get them through your doors, you first have to market to them. There are the traditional channels, of course– television, online, and even printed ads may do the trick. Of course, the latest trend is marketing a business doesn’t rely much on marketing that we the business owners create–it relies on customers who have given us a chance to impress them.

Influencing Behavior and Improving Customer Experience Through Personal Data

This is the third blog post in a nine post series for IBM by Evan Carroll and I focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the First R of relationship and the concept of personal data and its impact on behavior change.

Some might argue that technology is making us less human. Others would argue just the opposite. No matter which opinion you share, you can’t dispute the rising trend of personal data collection and its effect on behavior change.

TrendWatching.com coined the term ‘data myning’ in 2010 and included it in their 2013 trend report. The intentional misspelling highlighted how individuals, not just companies, are impacted by the awareness and ownership of their own data.

Data myning, as it pertains to customer experience, is about empowerment. Companies who use personal data to empower their customers have the opportunity to create transformative change for those customers.

Case Study: Dollar Bank

Dollar Bank is the largest mutual savings bank in the United States. Today, the bank delivers a comprehensive range of retail and commercial banking services to customers across Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The challenge: With the popularity of its digital services booming, Dollar Bank wanted to drive customer retention and acquisition by ensuring seamless customer journeys online.

The solution: The bank implemented IBM Customer Experience Analytics solutions, enabling its contact center to replay digital customer journeys, identify any sticking points and resolve customer queries quickly and effectively.

The benefits: The bank can now identify and implement experience improvements online – boosting first-call resolution by 30 percent and lifting customer satisfaction.

Blue Goldfish Case Study: Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison saw the opportunity to provide customers with additional insight into their utility bills following their rollout of smart meters. In one test, the company identified 30,000 customers whose bills were on track to be significantly higher than expected. Ten days into the billing cycle, the system sent an email with the header, “Your bill is going to be higher than you expect and we’re concerned.” More than 50 percent of customers opened the email. Compared to a control group, satisfaction rose by double digits, energy usage fell and customer calls decreased.

Takeaway: The lesson here is that customers love to learn more about themselves and especially through data. This empowers them to change behaviors that may be costing them money or making them less healthy. Companies who offer this type of empowerment are in a great position to improve customer satisfaction and their bottom line.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Check out this slideshare on the concept of the Blue Goldfish:

Amazing Technological Advances Part III

Today offers us a lot of technology. Of course, before today’s tech existed, there were an awful lot of technological advances that had to be made. Here are some of the more prominent ones from the last forty years.

1983 – Motorola releases its first commercial mobile phone, known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. The handset offered 30 minutes of talk-time, six hours standby, and could store 30 phone numbers. It cost nearly $4,000.10

1989 – Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invents the World Wide Web. The Web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world. The first website at CERN – was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer. The website described the basic features of the Web; how to access other people’s documents and how to set up your own server.