IN THIS ISSUE: HOW TO BE MORE CUSTOMER-CENTRED IN 2008

1. Stop talking to customers
2. Start listening to customers
3. Have serious fun
4. Learn the rules of loyalty
5. Get a ‘Win-back’ strategy
6. Stop getting people to try harder
7. Realise that the frontline is now the bottom line
8. Read New Fast Guides, Articles & the New ECMW Blog
9. A reader writes: the Santa Claus story was wrong!
And, finally…
10. The Ten Second Funny: ten puns to start your 2008 with a bang…or a whimper.

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HOW GOOD ARE YOU? FIND OUT FOR 2008

Don’t forget that when you renew your CSN membership you are eligible for a free assessment across five categories of service excellence. CSN also run specialist benchmarking projects for members. See here for more.
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1. STOP TALKING TO CUSTOMERS

Reduce unnecessary contact, in other words. Customers who contact you to seek clarification because you have confused them, or because something’s gone wrong and they want you to fix it, or something’s not turned up and they want to know where it is…these are all examples of unnecessary, expensive contacts that waste the customer’s time and yours. There’s a book coming out in April called ‘The Best Service is No Service’ by Bill Price, Amazon’s first Global Customer Service Director and a past speaker at ECMW. You can ask Peter Massey, one of Bill’s Limebridge Alliance partners, about it at ECMW 2008. We’ll do a book review for you when it is out in a couple of months.

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2. START LISTENING TO CUSTOMERS

"The key to communication is listening. We are all taught for years to read, write and talk. But no-one teaches us to listen. In particular to listen in the frame of reference of the other person is a very rare skill. What air is to breath, to be understood is to the heart." – Stephen Covey

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3. HAVE SERIOUS FUN

My favourite IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menu is from the IT support company The Geek Squad. I called their 1-800 number in the US and heard it for myself. It starts with the usual:

"Press 1 for…Press 2 for…Press 3 for…", but then you get something like this…"Frustrated at your dead PC? Press 7 to hear the satisfying sound of a dead PC being launched into the air and landing with a splash in a nearby river full of hungry piranhas." When you press ‘7’ you do indeed hear a recording that sounds like a PC being catapulted into a river."

Now The Geek Squad operate in the UK, thanks to an alliance with Carphone Warehouse, I am looking forward to interviewing Geek Squad founder and ‘Chief Inspector’ Robert Stephens in the Leadership Track of ECMW in May. I met him briefly at the same event last year and enjoyed chairing his session.

Stephens knew instinctively that as more technology support was needed in the home, the existing IT service & support sector wasn’t geared up to service it. The sector needed to change from a dour B2B box-fixing engineer model to a consumer-facing one with personality and brand values. Hence The Geek Squad. "It’s about the Customer Experience, stupid", to misquote former President Clinton. There’s a new definition of ‘professionalism’ emerging. You no longer have to be po-faced and serious. Consumers expect you to wear your professionalism lightly. No matter what sector you are in, you can learn about how to stand out from your competition through serious fun from The Geek Squad.

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4. LEARN THE RULES OF LOYALTY

‘The idea that there has been a change in customer psychology leading to a chaotic world of churn that we have to learn to live with is, quite frankly, bunk. The state of churn in many industries is due to companies abusing their customers and customers searching for what they have always wanted: a supplier they can trust who will fix it if they screw up. There are loyalty rules. You just have to learn them."

Bain & Co fellow Frederick Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect, Loyalty Rules and The Ultimate Question, talking to Phil Dourado.

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5. GET A ‘WIN-BACK’ STRATEGY

"The average company loses 20-40% of its customers every year. Most just let them go. But, a lost customer isn’t a lost cause. You have a strategy for winning new customers. If you’re good, you have one for retaining them. The third leg of the tripod is to put in place a ‘win-back’ strategy for the ones you have invested in but lost.’

Jill Griffin, US loyalty expert and author of the best-sellers Customer Loyalty: How to earn it, how to keep it & Customer Winback

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6. STOP GETTING PEOPLE TO TRY HARDER

…and instead make it easier for them to do their job properly.

"’Attitude is 90%’ is nonsense. The ultimate customer solution does not come from ‘try harder’ or ‘ get a more positive attitude’. It comes from the whole culture, not just with one person serving another person." Stephen Covey

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7. REALISE THAT THE FRONTLINE IS NOW THE BOTTOM LINE

"The frontline now produces the bottom line. That’s where leadership needs to be, at the front line. Stop telling the front line what to do and let them be leaders." Stephen Covey

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8. READ THE NEW FAST GUIDES, ARTICLES AND THE ECMW BLOG

New Fast Guides, articles and book reviews on the link.
And join in with the new ECMW Blog: share your insights on customer management, service, CRM, by commenting on what the regular ECMW blogging panel contributes. It’s here.

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9. A READER WRITES: THE SANTA CLAUS STORY WAS WRONG!

Oops, I got it wrong with that story last issue about Santa Claus dressing in red just because of Coca-Cola.

Jason Sjodin at Conagra Foods writes:

"I appreciate and enjoy the monthly emails. The topics are always of interest and of course the 10-second funny. But I must reply to the story of Santa Clause and Coca Cola…it is a false legend and details can be found here.

Thanks and keep up the great work!"

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10. AND, FINALLY…THE TEN SECOND FUNNY. TEN PUNS FOR 2008

Okay, as this is the most popular feature in the Start The Month email, here are ten ‘ten second funnies’ to gorge on get your 2008 off to a lively start.

1. Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.

3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.

4. A three-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He slides up to the bar and announces: "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."

5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? He wanted to transcend dental medication.

6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7. A poor mother and father in Argentina who have twins see them off on their separate life journeys. One of them, Amal, goes to start family in Egypt. The other, Juan, goes to start a family in Spain. Many years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal."

8. Some friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to move out of town, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to move away. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTagart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to move. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, proving that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him what? (Get ready: this is so bad, it's good) A super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

10. And finally, there was the ECMW punster who sent ten different puns in an email, with the hope that at least one of the puns would start 2008 with a laugh. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

Source: Phil Dourado
ICBI, 29 Bressenden Place,
London, SW1E 5DR,
United Kingdom

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