The New Game Of Telephone!

It has never been more important than now to have a very well planned and executed Customer Loyalty Program. Customer Loyalty has always been important because we naturally want to share our stories and experiences with one another… it goes back to that fundamental desire for us to be known by others.

We have more and more ways to communicate and share our stories with others. It is no longer a select few people who have a voice beyond just their family and friends… now the whole world has access to our stories in many cases.

I am “relatively new” to the social media space over the last five years and I personally have:

  • 565 friends on Facebook
  • 600+ Connections on LinkedIn
  • 184 followers on Twitter
  • … and a couple of hundred subscribers on each of my two blogs

That is nearly 1800 “quantifiable” people who I have access to hear my stories about the good and bad experiences I am having with products, services, and companies… but anyone can read my tweets and read my blogs so it is actually much larger than that!

So, in a world that is more and more interconnected we never know who we are making loyal or disloyal. The lowly system administrator (so says the former technical geek) may also be a very successful social media guru and have over a million people they can reach with their stories. If you are not creating a place for EVERYONE to share broadly about why they are loyal or disloyal to your company…you are running a high risk of missing a vital opportunity to turn around those disloyal customers.

Loyalty study objectives should be:

  • Give every single customer a voice
  • Measure loyalty (statistical and anecdotal)
  • Find out what things to improve/change to increase customer loyalty (continuous improvement)
  • Leverage extremely loyal customers (references, etc)
  • Turn experiences around for disloyal customers

Customer Loyalty… It’s More Than Statistics!

I was recently having a conversation with some of my industry friends about Customer Loyalty and a growing trend of compromise we are seeing in the industry. Customer Loyalty Programs are still “fairly new” in the marketplace and therefore the adoption rates continue to increase rapidly, however the early adopter stage has long passed and now we are starting to see some compromises being introduced into some of these programs.

The trend we have been noticing and others have seen as well Is what I like to call “Statistical Sanitization”. This is where for various reasons programs start to be slanted in a way that the statistics tell the story that you want them to tell, rather than analyzing the statistics and then developing the story… the truth! When you start to segment, departmentalize, and distribute only the data you are most interested in… it can become borderline gaming the system.

Customer Loyalty Program are only holistic if they have the following characteristics:
1) The invitation to participate is 100% inclusive of your entire customer base
2) The survey is detailed and tells you what your customers REALLY think
3) It allows you enough deep dive information to drive continuous improvements in your business
4) It acts like an early warning system and allows you to identify brush fires before they become forest fires
5) It includes closed loop follow-up conversations directly with your customers
6) Although It is very important to be able to segment, departmentalize, and distribute the data… you need to start with the entire sample first.

A few goals I always have in Customer Loyalty Programs:
1) You need a single customer loyalty metric. (NPS, OSAT, Index, etc)
2) You need to understand how each product and functional area effects your Company Loyalty
a. You need actionable feedback/data that correlates to loyalty for each product you have and each functional areas of your business
3) The goal is to drive continuous improvement actions at all levels of your business
4) Continuous Improvements should be tracked and positively influence the Company Loyalty over time

There are three kinds of lies…

The phrase “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli… I actually heard it from one of my lifetime buddies Ben Hamilton who is probably one of the biggest geeks I know :)

Regardless of who the original author was of this quote, it is 100% true! I run multiple Satisfaction and Loyalty/Relationship Surveys for my corporation and we are always looking for new ways to slice and dice the data in-order to get to the most meaningful and actionable data. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great practice for sure, but I do find myself searching sometimes for what the REAL answer is in all of the data… if there were just ONE lever I could pull in our business to increase our loyalty… what would it be? Yes we can do multiple regression analysis, trends charting, correlation analysis, etc… but what does it all mean as a bottom line?

The data is really good, but I find the most powerful and meaningful data we get from our surveys is in the comments analysis and categorizations, closed loop calls, & customer interviews. These interactions provide us the raw, uncensored words of one of our customers. If we read and/or listen to the comments… and then look at the scores… it makes the entire survey come alive with so much more foundation/context because it adds a “human connection” aspect that is otherwise sanitized by data.

Yes, let’s keep surveying our customers and looking at the data in great detail, but let’s make sure we “listen to our customers and make sure we are connected with their voice… after all… it is called “Voice of the Customer”!

Quote Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics)