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CustomerCare News The Promenade at Coconut Creek

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Spring 2013


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Never Underestimate the Power of Word of Mouth page 14

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sapien, nec laoreet magna orci at ligula. CCN

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Best of Breed vs. All in One page 18




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CELLENCE RAM OF EX InMat magna eu odio aliquam condimentum at eu est. FIRST PROG CO T. RS FI ER CUSTOMER M CUSTO WWW.CCN 2013 VE X The Customer First R RIN E M MBE RE Program of Excellence ™ E GT M page 8 HE STO


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h t u m n e a nk U LT I M AT E C U

A Celebration Media Publication



Start Your Subscription Today Customer Care News magazine is dedicated to exploring the relationship between customer care, customer satisfaction and the bottom line. The more a company focuses on customer care, the more it reaps the rewards of higher customer satisfaction. Research shows that customer satisfaction is essential because of its impact on the many factors that affect a company’s bottom line. It generates higher customer loyalty, repeat business and increased revenue. Happy customers lead to a happy bottom line and happy stakeholders. This should be the call of every company in America. Subscribe to Customer Care News to receive the latest information on trends and issues in customer care with articles from industry leaders and more. Each issue highlights leading industry providers of education and resources that can assist companies in improving their customer satisfaction scores, and thus improve their bottom line. There is no charge to subscribe to the magazine’s digital edition. Simply go to

Associate Publisher’s Letter


. had an opportunity to speak at the Michigan Bankers Association (MBA) conference in Traverse City, Mich., in April. The topic, The Emergence of the Customer Experience:

Attracting and Retaining Customers, was well received. It was an enjoyable experience speaking to so many bankers from Michigan and around the Midwest. There were two areas of focus that stimulated a good deal of discussion from the participants. The first involved statistics from the book The Customer Experience Revolution: How Companies Like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever by Jeofrey Bean and Sean Van Tyne. Of particular interest were the statistics that Gary Tucker from J.D. Powers uncovered regarding how many companies really deliver the ultimate customer experience. It was found that: • 75% of companies do not believe that the customer experience is important • 20% of companies only pay “lip service” and remain uncommitted to the importance of the customer experience • Only 5% of companies recognize the value of the customer experience as a competitive edge The proverbial beehive was roused. I knew I stepped on some toes and waited for the possible attack. Fortunately, the audience was more intrigued than defensive. The more they understood how the customer experience is a significant differentiator that sets them apart from their competitors, the more internal reflection was observed. The ensuing discussion and energy filled the room. Toward the end of the presentation, I suggested that a critical skill in providing the ultimate customer experience is to manage relationships. Heads tilted and thought bubbles stemming from the participants’ heads appeared. It’s all about relationships, I asserted. The customer experience can be simplified by thinking in terms of managing relationships. It involves: • Exposure to the company’s brand prior to becoming a customer (all received messages) • The ease, friendliness and enjoyment of the company’s products and services • The everyday interaction with the company, processes, technology and its people This simple understanding seemed to resonate with the bankers. However, the real challenge is for organizations to adopt, embrace and commit to it. Only then does an organization have a chance of becoming a “customer experience company” — one of the 5%. This edition is complete with similar and relevant articles from various contributors. I want to take a moment to thank the people who took the time to submit articles. Your energy and thoughtfulness have contributed to the success of CCN.

Dr. Keith Levick Associate Publisher

Spring 2013


CustomerCare Table of Contents News Spring 2013 Publisher Dale Jaslove

Associate Publisher Keith Levick, Ph.D.

Editor-in-Chief Jamie Rawcliffe

ce n e r e ff i D Be the

Production Manager Chris Schramm

Operations Manager Jennifer Barth

Website Design Melissa Sherwood Contributing Writers Chris Attebery, Peter Case, John Lusk, Charlie Smith, Jason Wolcott Website Consultant Customer Care News 32000 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 128 Farmington Hills, MI 48334 Customer Care News is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. The publishers have taken all reasonable steps to verify the accuracy and completeness of information contained in Customer Care News. The publishers may not, however, be held responsible for any inaccuracies or omission of information in any article appearing in the Customer Care News.

Spring 2013

Entire contents copyright 2013 by Customer Care News. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial content in any manner without written permission is strictly prohibited.




A case study in excellent customer service




08 The Customer First

Helping you put your customers

Dr. Keith Levick, Jeofrey Bean and Sean Van Tyne discuss the implications of

technology on the customer experience







Fr ankenm

first every time

Customer Experience


muth Fr a nk en ry e Br eutw AN H, MICHIG

Program of Excellence™

10 Technology and the







Brewery, Brattleboro, Vermont


Editors/Writers Amy Pagett

05 Whetstone Station Restaurant and





Editorial & Materials Coordinator Anne Seebaldt


presented by e s Magazin Care New and Resources

ning CCN Lear

2 013


eM Experienc 14 Never Underestimate the Power of Word of Mouth

Creating the ultimate customer experience can provide some of your company’s best marketing opportunities


erien tomer Exp s u C te a ltim the U 16 Double-edged Sword livAerGood De  TM

Technology pushes companies to provide increasingly better customer service

17 5 Ways Brands Can Take Social to the Next Level

Social media expert offers tips for

companies to use social media to their advantage

18 Best of Breed vs. All in One

What is the best infrastructure solution for your call center?


Customer Care Glossary

Customer Care News

Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery, Brattleboro, Vermont A case study in excellent customer service

pinnacle of customer service, Whetstone Station

Restaurant and Brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont,

offers just that from the minute customers enter. David Hiler and his partners Tim and Amy Brady all had long histories


Spring 2013


onceived on a Harpoon Beer coaster to provide the

in the hospitality field (mainly running inns from the West

rant where customer service, great food and good times live.

and opening Whetstone Station, which is all about the beer, the

restaurant to get the atmosphere they were looking for, which

Coast to the East Coast), before finally digging in their heels food and making sure the customer is happy. The ideal location

Whetstone Station is perched over the Connecticut River

squarely on the Vermont side of the Vermont/New Hampshire

border, overlooking Mt. Wantastiquet in New Hampshire. A

restaurant with a locale such as this gives you an advantage as

an owner, but people will stop coming if the service isn’t there. At Whetstone Station that is not an issue.

David, Tim and Amy redesigned the entire interior of the

also meant reducing seating. But when customers walk through the door, they instantly feel a part of something special. The

industrial-themed brewpub and restaurant features a highceilinged dining room and outdoor dining on two decks. “The Whetstone Station is dedicated to providing patrons an outstanding dining experience like no other,” says Hiler. Great food, great beer…great service

What really sets Whetstone Station apart? A wonderful

The concept for Whetstone Station evolved over time.

selection of craft brews, one of the most welcoming and accom-

David and Tim found themselves lamenting as they visited

sirloin tips, fish tacos, Tim’s Awesome Burger (with peanut

During many trips out of town for hospitality conferences, both

other brewpubs that Brattleboro really didn’t offer anything

similar. They often thought of their current location (formerly known as the Riverside Cafe) as a perfect place to breathe life into this concept, so when the Riverview closed and the building became available they were finally able to see their many talks over various microbrews in different parts of the country

butter), and a variety of locally sourced menu items. With the country’s attention slowly drifting toward genetically modi-

fied food, Whetstone Station strives to use locally grown food

whenever possible — another plus. In addition, the restaurant’s top chef recently took home the gold in a food competition in Vermont’s largest city, Burlington.

The team at Whetstone Station is dedicated to making sure

Spring 2013

come true. But it became more than that — they built a restau-

modating staff in the area, and, of course, the food — grilled


Customer Care News

that every facet of your visit to their establishment is a positive

message when your table is ready — just don’t stray too far

policies on the planet — YES! That’s it, the word yes and, of

Using the technology to survey customers has also been

one. How do they do this? Perhaps one of the simplest service


course, everything that comes with it.

beneficial for Whetstone Station. Approximately one hour

involves training your employees to truly believe that the

their experience while it is still fresh in their minds, which

One of the first keys to providing great customer service

customer always comes first. In the restaurant business this is

not always an easy feat. So, staff training and meetings include teaching everyone how to deal with both happy and unhappy customers. And this is evident upon visiting the restaurant.

If the internal customers aren’t happy (the waitstaff, bar-

after customers have dined they receive a text asking about

serves the restaurant well. Every experience might not always be the best, and the worst customer is one who stews on a bad

experience and never tells you. And if you don’t know, you can’t fix the problem.

tenders, hosts/hostesses, chefs), then the external customers

Experience pays

notch service will certainly feel that. So morale among the

being the host with the most. But anyone who has ever worked

at Whetstone Station, you’ll have the opportunity to fill out a

ally more of a firefighter constantly making sure your staff

who come in looking for a great meal accompanied by toprestaurant’s employees is another top priority. When you dine

customer comment card. These cards are reviewed daily and positive comments are read out loud during shift meetings prior to the restaurant opening. Negative comments are viewed

as a chance to improve and not berate so the mood among the staff stays upbeat, which translates to the customers and their experience.

“We’re just pleased to have a strong, happy staff that cares

as much about the restaurant and making customers happy as we do,” says Hiler.

In today’s world, however, a customer can have 10 good

Many owners open their restaurants with the notion of

in a restaurant knows there’s very little of that — you’re actu-

shows up, your cooks show up, the restaurant is presentable, the

floor is clean, the glassware is sparkling, the cutlery is aligned properly…. And at the end of the night you’re given 10 hours

before you have to do it all over again. Owning a restaurant is

really a love of the game, because it involves long hours where

a million different things can go wrong on any given day. So while an educational background in hospitality helps, practical

application is key, and David, Tim and Amy all have that onthe-job experience.

Having a successful business anywhere, in any field, requires

experiences in a row followed by one bad one that keeps them

an understanding of the customer — knowing and truly

as loyalty clubs to keep customers coming back. Since the res-

fronts. With restaurants there are literally hundreds of things

from returning. So Whetstone Station has created things such taurant is as much about a good craft beer as it is a great burger, it developed the Mug Club, which is a lighthearted way to keep

folks loyal. With its ever changing beer menu, it is entirely possible for them to have more than 100 different crafts brews

during a one-year time period. The Mug Club requires custom-

ers to try 99 different beers during the course of the year to

earn their mug. Once the mug is earned it is displayed for the

world to see and the customer can call it off the wall on every

visit. And if you are able to complete the challenge, you also

understanding their wants and needs and then delivering on all that can go wrong during the course of an evening, and as a

purveyor in the food industry you must constantly “keep calm and carry on.” But you’ve got to get the bus boy to understand

that too because customers can sense when something is wrong, and that can affect their experience when they’re out for a fun

evening. This is the very essence of what drives the Whetstone

Station team. The customer is always right, the customer is always first and the customer is always greeted with a smile.

How long does it take to develop such a strong presence

receive discounts on future food purchases, dinner for free on

as one of the best restaurants in town? In this instance, it only

more. The club is a fun way to draw the customer in, keep them

hospitality field, so they’ve seen how not to do it and how to

the anniversary date of your mug club entry, unlimited soda and happy and keep them coming back.

With everyone’s reliance on smart phones these days,

the owners of Whetstone Station have found a way to reservation, they receive a text message confirming it. Walk

in on a busy night and the wait is 30 minutes? No problem. Take a walk through downtown Brattleboro and receive a text

do it right. The three of them along with “the Best Damn Brew Crew, PERIOD,” have been able to capture the artsy commu-

nity of Brattleboro and the attention of the surrounding area and give people the best experience they can when they walk

Spring 2013

capitalize on that market as well. When customers make a

takes nine months! The three owners have backgrounds in the

through the door. CCN

Peter Case is a contributing writer based in Brattleboro, Vt.


The Customer First Program of Excellence™ Helping you put your customers first, every time


t has been said often these days how necessary it is to provide a great customer experience given the explosion of social media

outlets and the ease with which consumers can communicate with one another — sharing both good

and bad experiences. Something this important bears repeating. Keeping customers happy is one of the keys

to business success. Putting customers first and making their needs a priority is the first step.

With this in mind, Customer Care News teamed

up with CCN Learning Resources to establish a

program that will help businesses not only put their

customers first, but also let them know that. The

Spring 2013

Customer First Program of Excellence™ incorporates

the best practices, principles and strategies to empower

and engage staff and management to provide the best possible customer experience.


Customer Care News





Program, which is geared toward

small- and medium-size businesses, organizations have access to a host of materials that will demonstrate to

regardless of what the research shows. These tend to be commodity-driven businesses.

“By participating in the Customer

customers that they are committed

First Program, companies are taking the

ence time and again. “As publisher

ter,” says Dr. Levick. “It does not happen

to providing the best possible experi-

of Customer Care News magazine, I am pleased to help underwrite this program that is designed to help small

first step of many to become a 5 percen-

with simple slogans or rah-rah speeches. It starts with an awareness that this will

take a commitment — one that starts

businesses establish the ultimate customer experience by

from the top and extends across the entire company.” CCN

Customer Care News Publisher Dale Jaslove. “I believe the

To find out more information about the Customer First Program

are pleased to be a part of this program.”

888-438-9528 ext. 808 or go online to

getting their staff and managers on the same page,” says

Customer First Program of Excellence does just that. We Among the materials available to participants in the

program are custom-designed certificates, window decals, employee “lunchroom” posters and employee wristbands.

of Excellence and how your business can order materials, call

Be the Difference

In addition, an owner’s guide helps owners and managers

also generating new and loyal customers.







this initiative designed to improve customer retention while


implement the program, directing them as they establish

“The rationale for developing the program derives from

the philosophy that providing the finest care for customers

word or a fad. It is the lifeblood of every company that

requires continual improvement. It is with this in mind

that we set forth and created the Customer First Program of Excellence.”

The customer experience — defined as all the interac-

tions that consumers have with or about a company’s mes-

sages, processes, people, products or services — has replaced the more traditional role of customer service. According to

Levick, this requires companies to redefine how they con-













“Customer service (or care or experience) is not a ‘buzz’



says Customer First Program Director, Keith Levick, Ph.D.



is not a single event, but rather a never-ending process,”



Fr ankenmuth Brewery Fr ankenmutH, MICHIGAN

presented by Customer Care News Magazine and CCN Learning Resources

2 013

Experience Makers

duct business. The research shows:

• 5 % of companies really understand the value of cus-

tomer experience and embrace it. In these companies it is woven into their culture and fabric.

• 2 0% of companies understand the concept of the customer experience but only pay it lip service. These companies may have signs and slogans, but are not

rience matters. They do not see it as a differentiator


Deliver the Ultimate Customer Experience 9

Spring 2013

committed to it.

• 7 5% of companies do not believe that customer expe-

Technology and the Customer Experience


CN Associate Publisher Keith Levick, Ph.D., recently sat down with Jeofrey Bean and Sean

Van Tyne, co-authors of the new business lead-

ership book The Customer Experience Revolution - How Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever, published by Brigantine Media. The

three discussed the increasingly important role technology is playing in creating the ideal customer experi-

ence, and the pitfalls that can be found along the way. KL: When I got to the airport, that’s when the trouble began. First of all, I was late. I couldn’t get off the phone and I couldn’t

print my ticket, so I had to print it at the airport. I was at the

KL: I much prefer the human-to-human interface. I become

friendly. I just didn’t know what to do as my anxiety increased.

prompt until I finally get to a human. Do you think other people

The bottom line is that I almost missed my flight.

frustrated when sitting on the phone going from prompt to feel this way?

SVT: I had a very similar experience on my last travel. I was run-

JB: I think it depends on whether the technology is working

kiosk; the type of things it was asking for (like identification),

is flawed and it’s not doing the job effectively. In many cases, the

ning late, and I didn’t preprint like I normally do. I went to the I didn’t have. I got frustrated because it wasn’t going to give me

what I needed. I have a happier story than you because when I finally got to a human, they did take care of me and got me

Spring 2013

and you’ll need to talk to a person to take care of your needs.

kiosk trying to print my ticket and everything was going wrong. I didn’t understand what they were asking me; it wasn’t user

what I needed. And they got me on my way with a smile, and I didn’t miss my flight.


Let’s face it, sometimes the technology doesn’t fit your needs

and if it has been designed properly. It could be that the design development of these products did not involve the right people or they were rushed to market too quickly. In the end, people are left unhappy and frustrated.

We ran into a situation in the quick-serve restaurant market.

Customer Care News

They put kiosks in quick-serve restaurants and found that

SVT: There are a couple of interesting issues when you look

only want to interface with a machine. I don’t know if that’s

is the boomers. The boomers controlled our economy and will

people under the age of 35, when they are in a rush and hungry, as intense as when someone is late and they need to catch a plane.

SVT: The thing with a kiosk is that it reduces human error, and people’s orders are correct more often. If it isn’t, they can only blame themselves. The other interesting thing that Jeof and I learned is that customers tend to upsell themselves more

than if they were at the counter. Therefore, if a customer service representative was trying to upsell the customer, the customer is more likely to say no. But when interacting at a kiosk, one is more likely to say yes. Restaurants really love these things

because they are making more money faster by using the kiosks

at the different generations. The largest population by number continue to do so for a while. The next generation is Gen X — those born in the ’60s and ’70s. We’re a much smaller number

who tend to have some angst and are angry at the boomers —

not only because they experienced a better childhood, but also they left us with the bill. And then there’s Gen Y, also known as

the Millenials. It’s not surprising that the younger generations

are adapting much more quickly than the older generations. In fact, this is the first time in human history that younger

people know more about technology than older people. Now, when grandpa can’t figure out the VCR he hands it over to the grandkids.

and have happier customers.

KL: Do you see any social implications from that?

JB: When it comes to kiosks in restaurants, EMN8 provides

SVT: Oh absolutely. The other thing we see as a trend is the

technology is to account for the ever changing situations that

with its privacy. And the concern for privacy increases with age.

the appropriate technology. The challenge when developing human beings encounter. For example, rushing to catch a plane. Sean, do you think these things are considered?

SVT: They’re probably looking at it from the technology up standpoint rather than from a market-down. Instead of thinking

about what it does they need to look at what it solves — what user goals are you meeting. Jeof calls it the “do-fors.” Don’t think about what the technology does, think about what it does for your customer.

KL: With all the technology I utilize on a daily basis, I often wonder if developers actually do that or if the goal is to make it faster rather than consider what I’m experiencing.

JB: The ones that do it well consider their customers’ needs. Like Apple’s interface (iPhone iPod, iTunes) — they spent a great amount of time considering what the customer needs to accomplish.

younger generation (much like Europe) is far less concerned

Younger generations are less concerned about privacy due to Facebook, Twitter, instagram and tumblr. They are more wired

into the technology than the rest of us. Having said that, I do

want to add that the boomers are becoming more comfortable with technology. They are using Facebook and the Internet

more than ever before. Once they understand the benefits, they use it. They are just slower adapters and concerned more for their privacy.

KL: There is a hurricane of information


at the consumer

today. It sounds like what both of

you are saying is that technology is here to stay.

KL: Another issue you brought up is the generational issue,

SVT: Not only is

ogy. For the first time in the history of the United States, the

here to stay, but

when you mentioned that people under 35 enjoy using technol-

workplace has four generations (the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y). Clearly, the Gen X technology; it’s just part of who they are. How do you see the older generations using technology?


humans’ dependency on technology will only increase in time

and not decrease.

Sean Van Tyne, co-author of the new business leadership book The Customer Experience Revolution - How Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever


Spring 2013

and Gen Y employees are more tuned in and aligned with using


SVT: Statistically, whenever you can involve a human face, both

the friendliness and interaction go up. That is why you see pictures of faces on websites.

Another interesting use of technology is how stores like Wal-

Mart, Best Buy and others use it to identify the customer. With that information they track what is purchased and are able to

direct the customer to specific locations in the store. If you are in their loyalty program they remain connected with you. They Photos courtesy of BRIGANTINE MEDIA (WWW.BRIGANTINEMEDIA.COM )

remain fully engaged with the customer.

In my world, that means that the need for technology to be

ubiquitous or invisible is also going to become mandatory. That is the ultimate interface, one that is invisible. A classic example

is the thermostat; you set it and you don’t think about it again, especially if it’s automatic.

KL: If what you are saying is true, how will companies interface with customers? What can they do to provide the ultimate customer experience, so we’re not left frustrated?

JB: One size doesn’t fit all. A company needs to look at itself and determine its core competency. It needs to determine what it is

JB: No. Each company needs to decide what technology they

want to use and how it will provide a better customer experi-

ence. Some companies will have little use of high technology. However, if you serve a young, high-tech audience, you’ll want to offer them the latest and greatest social mobile experiences.

JB: Companies need to understand that at some point they need to have a human experience; even if you order something online it will get delivered to your house. You may want to call

someone for support, which would be an analog experience. I think that companies that really understand their market

and understand where to set the digital and analog experience will be much farther along than a company that runs fully automated.

KL: It may be that it all comes down to the relationship the customer has with the technology. At times it could be an

exceptional relationship or it could be a disaster. What sug-

gestions or recommendations do you have for organizations or companies providing technology?

SVT: I think Jeof and I would say the same thing — it requires the three Ds: Determining, Developing and Delivering the

proper technology, and we discuss that in our book, The

Customer Experience Revolution. First the company needs to

KL: I understand that technology is here to stay and that

then deliver it. And always make sure it delivers on the prom-

However, technology does not offer the human touch. When

determine what it wants to be, then begin development, and ises made as well as monitor the results.

I walk up to a human interface at a store or a bank I want the

JB: Additionally, as Keith mentioned earlier, there is so much

drives the motivation to come back and do business with that

tivity and access to information anytime, the big challenge is

smile, which gives me the feeling that “I’m important” and

Spring 2013

we’re coming to?

and what it is not. Technology needs to be part of that strategy.

companies use it to differentiate themselves from competitors.

company again.


KL: Are humans going to be replaced by robots? Is this what

information readily available. Today, with all the interconnec-

to qualify information. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t

Customer Care News

make it true or even realistic. Companies designing technology

example, they expect the same service with other companies.

quality information that does what it says it does, I think they’ll

will be lost to a competitor. Gina says when a company sets

for people need to understand that if they can help people get

be further ahead. Using the three Ds to determine what the customer needs before they make huge investments in technol-

ogy will save companies money and grief. And never losing site of the importance of engaging people.

If they don’t receive it, there is a good chance the customer the standard in one area of customer service, it sets the bar for all industries. That’s why it’s important to benchmark out-

side your respective industry. That’s where people form their impressions.

KL: Once again, it’s relating to what the end user needs. In this

KL: That expectation of the customer is critically important.

to utilize.

was exceptional. Two days later, the service I experienced with

case, it’s compiling data and making it easy for the customer

SVT: I look at it as a business opportunity and a differentiator. What are the conditions that people are using your technology? If I really understand what information people need

I recently returned a pair of shoes at Zappos. The experience another company fell short in comparison to my experience with Zappos. I actually remember comparing the two experiences in my head.

because of what they want to do with that technology, I will

JB: You bring up a really good point, Keith. There are many

for an extra piece of information.

economy right now. Work is no longer about a service economy.

realize that a noisy airport may not be the best time to ask them

I will refer back to the conversation Jeof and I had with

Gina Pingitore, the chief research officer at JD Power and

companies that don’t realize that we are in the experience If your company isn’t thinking about the experience it is delivering, it will become irrelevant in the marketplace.

Associates. We were talking about where people get their ideas

JB: We don’t sort by industry, we sort by experience. Whether

to pay attention to where they get their experiences with tech-

ence with Zappos, you’re going to compare the combination,

of the kinds of experiences people should have. This is the time

nology outside their industry. People don’t sort the experience

by industry. If a person experiences great service at Amazon, for

it was interacting with a person over the phone or your experiwhich was technology and analog.

KL: It also involves the emotional experience the customer has with a product or service that is important. The research shows that people buy or don’t buy based on their emotions. When I

feel good with the experience, I want to feel good again; I don’t want to be frustrated. I think the emotional side of what the customer experiences is critically important. Your thoughts?

SVT: Jeof and I also agree. We have a chapter in our book

dedicated to the emotional connection, and we talk about the science behind it.

KL: At the end of the day technology has to create an overall positive experience for the customer.

JB: Yes. If not, a company will soon become irrelevant, which is a polite way to say they’ll go out of business. They get mar-

ginalized and then they try to adjust. At which point it is too late. We’re seeing that when someone gets the experience right

and others don’t get it, the irrelevancy can happen very quickly.

Spring 2013

Jeofrey Bean, co-author of the new business leadership book The Customer Experience Revolution - How Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever

When they get it right they will be in business for years to come. CCN


Never Underestimate the Power of Word of Mouth Creating the ultimate customer experience can provide some of your company’s best marketing opportunities


ike most start-up CEOs, I’m always concerned

easy? Not really. But there are some basic underlying principles

that finding new customers fuels a company’s

help grow your company through WOM.

about how to acquire new customers. We all know

growth — but it’s what you spend to find them that can ultimately define the suc-

1. Know Thy Customer: It all starts with actually knowing

certainly no lack of dials to turn or levers

receive information and how they like to interact. It’s not

cess or failure of a company. And there’s

to pull. Whether it’s investing in online marketing channels such as search engine

optimization (SEO), search engine mar-

keting (SEM) and social media; exploring new segments; or even looking offline with a billboard on highway 101, every business

owner is manically focused on how to grow his or her company.

As most of us know, there is no bet-

ter source of finding new customers than through word of mouth (WOM). The

enough to simply spit out the demographic and firmo-

graphic basics about your customers. You have to get to

know them, kind of like getting to know your best friend or spouse, and truly understand what motivates and inspires your customers. And to obtain this information, you’re

going to have to put in the effort to constantly speak to

and interact with customers. Interview customers, conduct

focus groups, distribute surveys, engage in sales calls — you and everyone at your company must focus on getting to know your customer as much as you possibly can.

2. Differentiate Your Touchpoints: Providing an exceptional

vice is can do wonders for a company. And,

the various touchpoints with each and every customer.

WOM doesn’t require a huge marketing

investment; it’s got potential to scale big time (think social media and house par-

ties), and ultimately can become your most

effective marketing channel (we all trust our friends, right?). The idea that existing

customers can serve as “free” mouthpieces

to market your company to the rest of the world is incredibly

enticing, but it also requires a committed investment in your customer experience.

experience requires delivering the unexpected across all Whether it’s the small details in the packaging, the heartwarming customer care, or even a personal call from the

CEO to ensure satisfaction with each customer — every

touchpoint is an opportunity for the company to deliver

that unexpected delight that will lead to WOM. Start by identifying every possible way an average customer might interact with your company and list all the different things you can do to “surprise and delight” customers at each of those interactions.

Emotionally motivating existing customers to the point

3.  Personalize the Experience: Everybody is talking about

chance. It requires a deep commitment to your customer and

few companies are truly making an attempt to personalize

where they serve as these “free” mouthpieces doesn’t happen by

an “all-in” investment in their experience with your company. In

order to deliver a phenomenal experience, companies must be

Spring 2013

who your customers are, what they like, how they like to

power of one customer telling other potential customers how great a product or ser-

laser focused on knowing their customers and must be convinced that the company exists in order to serve their customers. Sound


that you can focus on to deliver an exceptional experience and

personalization, especially in the e-commerce world, but the entire customer experience. By utilizing existing customer data, constantly researching how customers interact

with your company and by taking the time to actually listen

and engage with your customers (and yeah, this may mean

Customer Care News

actually taking time to get to know your customers), you’ll

7. Hire the Right People: This is a pretty obvious principle

experience. The key here is making sure that you maintain

answer. But when I’m interviewing candidates, I ask a ton

naturally start to identify how you can personalize the

flexibility and empower employees with the ability to make decisions.

4. Measure Effectiveness: It’s hard to make changes to the customer experience if you really have no idea what is or is

not working. Before you start beefing up your focus on the

customer experience, make sure that you’ve built in process-

es to effectively measure the impact of what you’re doing. Whether that’s conducting a Net Promoter Score (NPS)

survey every quarter (by the way, I highly recommend

that is part of every “what’s critical to your success” type of

of questions that measure their aptitude to serve others and to truly want to help not only other employees, but every

customer and potential customer as well. Employees who only look out for themselves or put themselves ahead of their team or customers, aren’t going to be a great fit. If you

are truly committed to delivering a phenomenal customer experience and driving WOM, you must hire the right people who can thrive in your customer-focused culture.

It’s absolutely mind boggling how many marketing chan-

measuring NPS), following up with customers individually

nels exist today. Seriously. And trying to prioritize every single

services such as Salesforce or Uservoice (a great tool for

for even the most well funded startups or profitable busi-

to garner insights, or conducting analysis of feedback using analyzing feedback gathered from your website), you must build in processes to measure your customer experience efforts. With this knowledge and a better understanding of

your customer experience, you’ll know what actions to take to improve and innovate moving forward.

5. Monitor your Competitors: I know we all monitor our

competitors; we’re always keeping tabs on what our biggest competitors and rivals are doing. But are you focusing on what they’re doing with their customers? Are you ordering

from your biggest competitors (when possible) and seeing how they’ve changed their experience? Are you submit-

ting Help requests, calling their customer service reps and sending emails to “help@” to get a sense of how your com-

marketing channel is next to impossible, and not recommended, nesses. If you’re going to focus on absolute-

ly crushing a single marketing tactic, I suggest focusing on delivering the best experience for your

customers. By focus-

ing on a phenomenal

customer experience,

you’ll not only get to know, and learn from, your customers, you’ll also stand proudly as your customers choose to voluntarily market, sell and promote your company to others.

Today’s customer acquisition practices, particularly for

petitors are responding to customers? If not, then you’re

e-commerce companies, have evolved — or devolved — back

sounds like a huge pain, but I can assure you that this effort

chat interface or extending an offer for free shipping. It’s “ser-

really not keeping good tabs on your competitors. I know it

alone will provide some amazing insights into what you can do better or differently.

6. Customer Service as a Strategic Asset: Every CEO I know emphasizes the importance of customer service on the

overall experience. But very few treat customer service as

a strategic asset to the company. In fact, most CEOs view

to the basics. It’s no longer just about providing a customer

vice with a smile” and a personal touch that customers want — but don’t always find when they’re staring at the computer

screen. Breaking through that barrier and reaching through the screen to personalize the experience is not easy or impossible —

but it is becoming more and more important for those companies looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors. CCN

customer service as a cost-center rather than a function

John Lusk is a serial entrepreneur; the author of the best-

customer service to truly add value and differentiate the

Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs; and a

that can drive new customers and revenue. In order for

entire experience, a company must adopt a “customer-first” customers, not simply transacting with them, has to be a priority and must be instilled in every employee.

graduate of The Wharton School. He is currently the Founder

and CEO of Rivet & Sway, an e-commerce company that

Spring 2013

philosophy as part of its core DNA. A passion for serving

selling book, The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-

sells designer eyeglasses to women. Lusk can be reached at or 888-900-4522.


A Good Double-edged Sword Technology pushes companies to provide increasingly better customer service



of calls on the first ring is a main function of IVR.



way. We’d rather just get our account balance (or whatever

easier, faster, immediately

our lives. It’s only the most complicated issues, like a billing


every year — we want it if possible. That rise correlates to an increased use

of technology in customer service. Both in cause and effect.

In the customer service

Most of us are too busy to want to talk to an agent, any-

information or assistance we are seeking) and move on with

dispute, that gets us on with an agent — and the inevitable

polite chitchat and overview of new features or offerings, extending the call. We don’t have time for that. The mod-

ern world moves too fast. But the question is whether the chicken or the egg came first.

Take a typical customer call before IVR came along. In

world, interactive voice

many, many cases we could expect to wait on hold for a half

the staples. We’ve watched

still expect a long wait for an agent today, depending on

response (IVR) is one of it go from hard-to-use

newbie to awkward teen-

ager to competent veteran. Along the way, it’s changed customer expectations.

In the early years of

hour or more to get an agent on the line (actually, we can

how many agents there are and how busy they are). Then IVR came along and, even in the early days, reduced

the time we had to wait to talk to someone (be that a person or a robotic, awkward, disembodied voice). With the new technology, we came to expect a shorter wait.

Fast-forward to today, with high processing speed mak-

IVR — let’s be frank — the technology was a little rough.

ing IVRs nearly as capable as live agents and making most

live agent option unless we hacked the code right through

a balance, etc. So now we expect immediate pickup and a

It wouldn’t necessarily understand us and wouldn’t give us a the phone, Matrix-style (not possible).

While some IVR systems

today are deficient in the use category (i.e. the designer

calls much faster — as quick as a minute or two to check shorter overall time for calls.

The modern world moves too fast. But the question is whether the chicken or the egg came first.

gave it a bad call menu that

confuses and annoys callers),

most have up-to-date technology behind them, including VoiceXML programming. (VoiceXML is kind of the

HTML of voice applications.) And in the past decade,







service. Add technology to tions: raise expectations. Add




Either way, consumer expectations are going up. Which

is, again, a double-edged sword. It keeps organizations


service. CCN

In the past, IVRs didn’t communicate with us all that

sweating but also pushes them to improve their customer

well because they didn’t have the processing speed for accu-

Charlie Smith has written about technology and life for almost

sounding speech of their own. Today, they do.

foists his ideas onto the world as the Marketing Communications

rate interpretation of our complicated speech or natural-

Faster, better IVRs have become the quick alternative to

Spring 2013


expectations again.


sword for any organiza-

meet tech


computer-processing speed has gotten faster and faster, enabling huge advances in IVR (along with plenty of other

speaking with a live agent. We don’t even have to wait in a

call queue for an agent — answering an unlimited number


It ’s

20 years as a reporter, technical writer and blogger. He currently

Director for Plum Voice, an IVR-industry leader, through Plum’s

IVR Deconstructed blog. Smith has a B.A. from James Madison University, and can be reached at 303-433-3755.

Customer Care News

5 Ways Brands Can Take Social to the Next Level


he influence of social media needs no introduction.

2.  Evaluate the discussion: Beyond focusing on brand

acknowledged and resolved quickly. In fact, most

that include complaints, compliments, sales inquiries and

Consumers now demand that their complaints be

consumers would rather solve an issue online than through tradi-

mentions, start pinpointing engagement opportunities questions.

tional methods. The shift to social media for these practices is the

3.  Participate in the conversation: Don’t just watch the

Businesses are turning to social media as the go-to medium

with your customers and prospects. Let them know you’re

basis of social customer relationship management.

for building relationships with their customers. Despite the

conversation unfold from the sidelines. Start engaging listening to their feedback and are there to help.

acceptance of social media as a viable business channel, and the

4. Be proactive and time-

in the 2012 Customer Experience Benchmarking Study are

pens in a flurry. Feeds,

rising need for social customer care, the following statistics cited alarming:

• 70 percent of companies have an active social media program, but only half proactively listen and respond to brand conversations

• One in four companies is still determining its approach toward social media

• 53 percent of companies with social media teams have not developed social media training

• Only 37 percent of companies are using daily monitoring programs to see what their customers are saying

• 43 percent of executives feel as if they don’t have the proper resources to tackle social media

It’s clear that companies have a ways to go in developing

a social media presence that will support them in developing a customer-centric brand. Five ways that brands can start delivering a positive customer through social include:

1. Start monitoring the online conversation: By listening to

what your customers are saying online, you’ll be able to join ing social networking sites as well as blogs and forums. Find out where your customers are sounding off online.




comments are con-

tinuous. Things move

fast on the Internet. Timeliness is essen-

tial in being proactive, helpful, effective and

relevant. Make sure to

Jason Wolcott

seize the moment as it comes.

5. Track your success: Keep a record of your engagements and how they were received. You’ll be able to optimize

your response methods and even create a case for why social media and social customer care bring value to your business. CCN

Jason Wolcott is the Founder and CEO of Digital Roots, a social CRM vendor. If you’re interested in learning more about social

media in the contact center, or how a social customer care program can positively impact your company’s bottom line and reputa-

Spring 2013

the conversation and help move it forward. Start monitor-

ly: Social media hap-

tion, contact Jason at or follow him on Twitter @JayWolcott.


Best of Breed vs. All in One


or years call centers have been plagued by wellintentioned agents with marginal training who

spend their days in poor workspaces in front of

dated technology providing a mediocre or worse customer experience.

The latest marketing data indicates that a merely “satisfied”

customer is of little more value than an “unsatisfied” one. Yet, in

today’s multichannel contact center environment, providing a truly exceptional integrated customer experience moves a “satisfied” customer to a new level. There, they will be evangelists and

loyal supporters of your brand, representing significantly more lifetime value.

What’s driving the move to the “cloud?”

According to the American Marketing Association, the

average yearly cost of running a 200-agent call center approaches nearly $10 million.

We all know the advantage of taking your contact center to

the cloud: no cap ex, most current hardware and software, ability

to rapidly deploy new apps, and the ability to respond to change. But too often the cloud means settling for one vendor’s bundled

offering. No single vendor offers a complete quality solution, regardless of its claims. Using one “jack of all trades” vendor for

all your software locks you in to one technology system, which may be good in some areas, yet poor in others. Many arguments

have been made regarding the decision to purchase software

from best-of-breed versus end-to-end vendors. Many times the drawbacks of the end-to-end solution may be invisible until after the installation is complete.

The average yearly cost of running a 200-agent call center approaches nearly $10 million.

Contact centers with 200 to 2,000 seats are starting to

adopt and/or consider cloud-based contact center infrastructure

ning a vacation. Should you go

complex environments, vendors are forced to support integra-

structure vendor is a bit like plan-

for the “packaged tour” with an integrated system from one ven-

— the so-called “best-of-breed” approach?

If you’re looking for the optimal solution in each area, the

solutions. As these solutions are installed in larger and more

tion with back-office and third-party applications, i.e. thirdparty customer relationship management (CRM), workforce management (WFM), recording, QA, knowledge management (KM), etc.

The vendors are responding to the increasing demands of

best-of-breed option provides richer functionality. But conve-

their clients. Many times these are requirements and advanced

appealing. Until you discover the compromises.

Vendors make compelling claims about return on investment,

nience and cost can make the all-in-one packaged approach very

All-in-one systems provide multiple applications with a

common look and feel. The downside is that some applications may have anemic functionality that frustrates users and may

Spring 2013

interfaces with other systems.

Selecting a call center infra-

dor or plan your own itinerary

functionality that only a best-of-breed system can provide. but the best place to judge the ROI of any system is in your environment. CCN

cause missed market opportunities.

Chris Attebery is the Director of Relationship Marketing

excel in just one or a few applications, and can also pose chal-

Typical best-of-breed systems are designed specifically to


lenges such as increased training and support and complex


NexxLinx/NexxPhase. Chris





Customer Care News

Customer Care Glossary

Blog: A blog is an online journal that’s updated on a regular basis with entries that appear in reverse chronological order. Blogs can be about any subject. They typically contain comments by other readers, links to other sites and permalinks. See SOCAP’s blog at BOS: Business Operating System — An environment that represents the vast warehouses of knowledge of an organization-the way a business is run, the way


API: An API (a technical term for application pro-

people and information come together to add value to

Abandoned Call: The caller hangs up before reaching

gramming interface) allows users to get a data feed

a business process. A BOS is a repository composed of

an agent. (Also called a lost call.)

directly into their own sites, providing continually

a common operating environment, a business process

Access Provider: An organization that provides

updated, streaming data — text, images, video — for

library and enterprise workflow.

access to the Internet. (Also called an Internet Service

display. For example, Flickr’s API might allow you to

Brand Equity: The level of awareness and consumer

Provider [ISP].)

display photos from the site on your blog. When sites

goodwill generated by a company’s brands and/or

ACD: Automatic Call Distributor automatically

like Twitter and Facebook “open up” their APIs, it


answers calls, queues calls, distributes calls to agents,

means that developers can build applications that build

Business Process Improvement (BPI): Betterment of

plays delay announcements and provides real-time and

new functionality on top of the underlying service.

an organization’s business practices through the analysis

historical reports on these activities.

Application Based Routing and Reporting: The ACD

of activities to reduce or eliminate non-value-added

ACS: Automatic Call Sequencer automatically answers

capability to route and track transactions by type of

activities or costs, while maintaining or improving qual-

and sequences calls on a first-in/first-out basis.


ity, productivity, timeliness or other strategic or business

ACTUAL VALUE: The net present value of future

ARU: Audio Response Unit; automated attendants that

objectives as evidenced by performance measures.

financial contributions from the designated customer,

route calls based on digits callers enter on touch-tone

Business Process Re-engineering: A structured

behaving in the way he is expected to behave, knowing

phones. It responds to caller-entered digits or speech

approach by all or part of an enterprise to improve

what we know now, with no significant unanticipated

recognition in much the same way that a conventional

the value of its products and services while reducing

change in the customer’s needs, in the competitive

computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse.

resource requirements.

landscape, or in the company’s planned strategy. Same

(Also called IVR, VRU)

as lifetime value (LTV).

ASA: Average Speed of Answer

ACW: After-Call Work. Work that is necessitated by

Average Time to Abandonment: The average time that

and immediately follows an inbound transaction (Also

callers wait in queue before abandoning.

called Wrap-up and Post Call Processing.) Aggregation: Combining data in a way that creates new information. For example, adding the dollar values



Call Blending: Combining traditionally separate inbound and outbound agent groups into one group of agents responsible for handling both inbound and outbound contacts.

Baseline Market Segmentation Study: The first mar-

Call by Call Routing: The process of routing each call

of all of a customer’s transactions together to create a

ket segmentation study conducted by an organization.

to the optimum destination according to real-time

new field that reflects total purchases.

BELOW ZEROs (BZs): The customers who cost more


AHT: Average Handling Time; the sum of average talk

to serve than they will ever return in value. Examples: A

Call Center: Term used to include reservation cen-

time and average after-call work for a specified time

Below Zero might be somebody who takes a lot of free

ters, help desks, information lines or customer service

period. OR Average Hold Time.

services, but doesn’t return much revenue. It could be

centers. The term contact center is being used more

AI: Artificial Intelligence is computers that act in a way

a complainer whose complaint was never resolved and

frequently, as calls are just one type of transaction tak-

analogous to intelligent human behavior.

therefore no longer does business with you. Not only

ing place. It is the part of an organization that handles

AMIS: Audio Messaging Interchange Specification; a

is that person worth zero on that account, but actually

inbound/outbound communications with customers.

standard that permits networking of voice mail systems

has below-zero value because he or she will tarnish your

Calls in Queue: The number of calls received that the

from different manufacturers.

reputation in speaking to other customers.

ACD system has received but that haven’t connected to an agent. services are rendered to end-use customers. Car dealers, retailers, computer resellers, grocery wholesalers are all examples of channel members.


Spring 2013

Channel: An avenue through which products and

Spring 2013


Churn: A term that describes customer attrition or

Customer Capital: It refers to the value, usually not

customer defection. A high churn rate implies high

reflected in accounting systems other than as goodwill,

customer disloyalty.

which results from the relationships an organization has

demands of marketers and service providers for cus-

Cloud Computing: Cloud computing (also called “the

built with its customers.

tomer information begin to clash with privacy concerns,

cloud”) refers to the growing phenomenon of users who

Customer Differentiation: The second step in the one-

new entities called Data Aggregation Agents (DAAs)

can access their data from anywhere rather than being

to-one strategy labeled “IDIC” is to differentiate cus-

emerge. By consolidating and controlling outside access

tied to a particular machine.

tomers. Customers are different in two ways: they have

to a customer’s personal data, DAAs will help business-

Conditional Routing: The capability of the ACD to

different value to the enterprise, and they need different

es provide the customer with relevant and timely offers

route calls based on current conditions. It is based on

things from the enterprise. Customer differentiation is

while protecting individual privacy. The basic function

“if-then” programming statements.

vital to pursuing Learning Relationships.

of a DAA would be to act as a central, online storehouse

Consumer Direct: Also known as Direct-to-Consumer,

Customer Experience Development: The process of

for a consumer’s personal information. In a wide-open,

it’s the channel that includes all products and services

overseeing and influencing the totality of a customer’s

wireless world, customers will require their DAAs to

delivered directly to the home through catalogs, tele-

experiences with a brand, product or service, spanning

shield them from mobile “spam,” while sending through

marketing, TV shopping, kiosks, web sites, and the

all interactions and transactions.

messages that truly respond to their needs.

newly emerging automatic grocery-replenishment ser-

Customer Loyalty: The degree to which customers

Data Mart: A special-purpose, usually smaller, data

vices. Consumer Direct describes the process involved

are predisposed to stay with your company and resist

warehouse created and managed for specific business

when a manufacturer sends goods directly to a con-

competitive offers.

units. Almost always, marketing or finance are the first

sumer via the Internet (such as providing music or

Customer Portfolio Management: An organization-

data mart users in the enterprise. It’s much easier and

video) with no intermediaries, but the term also refers

al structure placing line responsibility for improv-

faster to deploy than a data warehouse.

to direct-mail and catalog channels.

ing Return on Customer in the hands of portfolio

Data Mining: Originally a term used to describe the

Consumer Unit: All related members of a particular


recognition of previously undiscovered patterns in a


Customer Relationship Management (CRM): CRM

database. Now it’s used to add sales value to almost

Contextual Commerce: When the advertisement on

is the same as one-to-one marketing. This customer-

any kind of data analysis tool. It’s one of the top 10

the web site directly pertains to the kind of information

focused business model also goes by the names relation-

buzzwords in present language. Data mining is crucial

a person is viewing, and changes with each visitor, and

ship marketing, real-time marketing, customer intimacy,

in CRM strategies, particularly in e-commerce.

with each drill down

and a variety of other terms. But the idea is the same:

Data Warehouse: A data repository created by extract-

Continuous Process Improvement: A policy that

establish relationships with customers on an individual

ing data elements from operational and OLTP systems.

encourages, mandates, and/or empowers employees to

basis and then use the information you gather to treat

Its main purpose is to provide a dataset that users can

find ways to improve process and product performance

different customers differently. The exchange between a

access without affecting the performance of the online

measures on an ongoing basis.

customer and a company becomes mutually beneficial,


Co-opetition: Partnering with your competition.

as customers give information in return for personal-

Database Management Software: Computer pro-

Cost of Poor Quality: The costs associated with pro-

ized service that meets their individual needs.

grams in which data are captured on the computer,

viding poor-quality products or services.

Customer Satisfaction Research: Research conducted

updated, maintained and organized for effective use and

Cross Functional Process Improvement: Business

to measure overall satisfaction with a product or service

manipulation of data.

process re-engineering with the goal of eliminating

and satisfaction with specific elements of the product

Database: Any collection of information — from a

stove pipe operations.

or service.

simple shopping list to a complex collection of custom-

Cross-Selling: Selling related goods and services to a

Customer Valuation: The value of a customer to an

er information — is technically a customer database.

consumer. This process is only one way to increase your

enterprise, composed of two elements. Actual valuation

However, the term is usually applied to computerized

Share of Customer.

is the customer’s current Lifetime Value, and strategic

records of information.

Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing

valuation is the customer’s potential value, if the cus-

Design for Manufacturability: Designing or redesign-

the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organiza-

tomer could be grown to his or her maximum potential.

ing the production process of a product so that it can

tion who are prepared to volunteer their time contribut-

(See also Share of Customer).

be manufactured with the least amount of parts in the

ing content or skills and solving problems.

Customer-Centric: Putting the customer at the center

shortest amount of time, using standard as opposed to

CSR: Customer Service Representative. ALSO

of the marketing effort. For example, measuring cus-

custom parts. (The concept originated in Japan in the

Corporate Social Responsibility, a concept whereby

tomer value, not product sales.

early 80s.)

Data Aggregation Agent (DAA): As the increasing

businesses and organizations perform a social good or

Design Interface: The mechanism by which a customer

take responsibility for the impact of their activities.

specifies exactly what he or she needs. An important aspect of mass customization.


Customer Care News

Customer Care Glossary

Lifetime Value: Also known as LTV, Lifetime Value is the “run rate” of a customer’s actual value. LTV: see Lifetime Value.

DNIS: Dialed Number Information Service; a string of

Hashtag: A hashtag (or hash tag) is a community-

digits that the telephone network passes to the ACD,

driven convention for adding additional context and

VRU or other device to indicate which number the

metadata to your tweets. Similar to tags on Flickr, you

caller dialed.

add them in-line to your Twitter posts by prefixing a

sales that a company holds.

Drip Irrigation: Gathering customer information

word with a hash symbol (or number sign). Twitter

Marketing Mix: The unique blend of product pricing,

slowly over time, rather than overwhelming customers,

users often use a hashtag like #followfriday to aggre-

promotion, offerings and distribution designed to meet

prospects and visitors with long surveys they might be

gate, organize and discover relevant posts.

the needs of a specific group of customers.

inclined not to fill out, and using each piece to build on every interaction.



Market Share: The percentage of an industry’s total

Marketing Research: The planning, collection and analysis of data relevant to marketing decision making,

IDIC: The four-step methodology for implementing

and the communication of the results of this analysis

one-to-one relations with customers. IDIC stands for

to management.

Enterprise Application Integration: A generic term

identify customers, differentiate them, interact with

Marketing Strategy: Guiding the long-term use of

for software that integrates legacy and disparate

them and customize.

the firm’s resources based on its existing and projected


Insourcing: The opposite of outsourcing. A service

capabilities and on projected changes in the external

Enterprise Resource Planning: Back-end processes

performed in-house.


and systems; i.e., inventory management and billing.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network; a set of

Mass Customization: Shorthand for high variability

Tying your back-end systems with your front-end or

international standards for telephone transmission.

in marketing. It uses the power of the database to vary

customer facing systems is what allows customers to be

ISO 9000: A series of quality assurance standards com-

the marketing message — or the actual product — to

able to check the status of their order, and check stock

piled by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International

fit the characteristics of an individual customer or pros-

availability on an item. Without front/back integration,

Standardization Organization. In the United States,

pect. It is the cost-efficient mass production of goods

customers couldn’t do this.

ISO is represented by the American National Standards

and services in lot sizes of one or just a few at a time.

Error Rate: Either the number of defective transactions

Institute, based in Washington.

Mass customization is not the same as customization.

or the number of defective steps in a transaction.

IVR: Interactive Voice Response; automated atten-

Customization involves the production of a product

Explicit Bargain: The “deal” that an enterprise makes

dants that route calls based on digits callers enter on

from scratch to a customized specification, whereas

with an individual in order to secure the individual’s

touch-tone phones. It responds to caller-entered digits

mass customization is really the assembly of a product

time, attention or feedback. See also implicit bargain.

or speech recognition in much the same way that a

or the rendering of a service from pre-configured mod-

conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks

ules or components.

of a mouse. (Also called ARU, VRU)

Metadata: Data about data. For example, a table



Fulfillment: The physical handling of an order, information request, premium or refund.


that tells the system how to translate database codes into words that make a data field easier for users to

Knowledge Management: The leveraging of collective


wisdom to increase responsiveness and innovation.

Microblogging: Microblogging is the act of broadcast-

Geotagging: Geotagging is the process of adding

Knowledge Mapping: A process that provides an

ing short messages to other subscribers of a web ser-

location-based metadata to media such as photos, video

organization with a picture of the specific knowledge it

vice. On Twitter, entries are limited to 140 characters,

or online maps. Geotagging can help users find a wide

requires to support its business processes.

and applications like Plurk and Jaiku take a similar


variety of businesses and services based on location. Globalization: The trend in which businesses cross


approach with sharing bite-size media. Probably a more apt term for this activity is “microsharing.” Microsite: A mini-site within a site, usually for a

tem or application program that continues to be used

partner brand.

because of the exorbitant cost of replacing or reengi-

Middleware: Software that mediates between different

Handling Time: The time an agent spends in talk time

neering it. Often such systems offer little competitive-

types of hardware and software on a network so they

and after-call work, handling a transaction.

ness and compatibility with modern equivalents. Legacy

can function together.


Spring 2013

Legacy System: An older or outdated computer sys-

international boundaries.

systems are frequently large, monolithic and difficult to modify, and scrapping a legacy system often requires reengineering a firm’s business processes as well.


MIS: Marketing Information Systems create rather

One-to-One Marketing: Treating each customer in

Permission Marketing: Obtaining customers’ permis-

than simplify manipulated data, presenting data in

the way he or she wants to be treated. Focused on the

sion to market products or services to them. It is a mar-

a form useful to a variety of people within the

individual customer, one-to-one marketing is based on

keting method whereby companies get their customers’


the idea of an enterprise knowing its customer. Through

permission to market products or services to them.

Mobility: The subject of mobile/wireless.

interactions with that customer the enterprise can learn

By talking only to volunteers, permission marketing

Monitoring: Listening to agents’ phone calls for quality

how he or she wants to be treated. The enterprise is

guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the

control purposes.

then able to treat this customer differently than other

marketing message. The term was coined by author

Most Growable Customers (MGC): Those customers

customers. However, one-to-one marketing does not

Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing. See

for whom the Strategic Value, that is the potential value

mean that every single customer needs to be treated

also Explicit Bargain.

of the customer, most exceeds the customer’s current

uniquely; rather, it means that each customer has a

Podcast: A podcast is a digital file (usually audio but

Actual Value. These are the customers who have the

direct input into the way the enterprise behaves with

sometimes video) made available for download to a

most growth potential — growth that can be realized

respect to him or her.

portable device or personal computer for later playback.

through cross selling; through keeping the customer for

OpenID: OpenID is a single sign-on system that

A podcast also refers to the show that comprises several

a longer period; or perhaps by changing a customer’s

allows Internet users to log on to many different sites

episodes. A podcast uses a feed that lets you subscribe

behavior and getting them to operate in a way that costs

using a single digital identity, eliminating the need for a

to it so that when a new audio clip is published online,

the enterprise less money. Most Growable Customers

different user name and password for each site.

it arrives on your digital doorstep right away.

are also known as second-tier customers (STCs).

Operational Entanglement: Enmeshing the opera-

Portal: A gateway to the Internet that provides not only

Most Valuable Customers (MVC): Those customers

tions of the enterprise with those of the customer.

email, calendars, bulletin boards and chatrooms to visi-

with the highest actual value to the enterprise — the

Providing tools so the customer can perform some of

tors or customers, but also customer-oriented service. A

ones who do the most business, yield the highest

the functions that otherwise would have been per-

good portal solves problems for its visitors or customers.

margins, are most willing to collaborate, and tend to

formed by the enterprise, usually so the customer can

Companies should use them as access points to improve

be the most loyal. MVCs are those with whom the

assume more control over the service being rendered.

customer service.

company probably has the greatest Share of Customer.

Outsourcing: Contracting some or all of a depart-

Potential Value: The net present value of the maximum

The objective of an enterprise with respect to its MVCs

ment’s services to an outside company.

reasonable future financial contributions from the des-

is retention. See also Below Zeros, Most Growable Customers.

ignated customer, if the company were to succeed in applying an optimum proactive strategy for changing

Pareto Principle: Named after Vilfredo Pareto, the

that customer’s otherwise expected behavior.

19th-century economist and sociologist, the Pareto

Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML): A

Natural Language Processing: Allows the computer

Principle is also known as “the 80:20 rule.” It says that 80

new industry standard created by IBM and Oracle that

to understand phrases that are only meaningful in the

percent of an enterprise’s revenue comes from 20 percent

allows models to move from system to system.

context of an ongoing conversation.

of its customers. In practical terms, though, it might be

Product Service Bundle: The services and features that

Needs-based Differentiation: How customers are dif-

90 percent of the revenue coming from 5 percent of

surround the core product, such as invoicing, delivery,

ferent, based on what they need from the enterprise.

the customers, or 60 percent coming from 30 percent

financing, packaging and palletization, promotion, and

Two customers may buy the same product or service for

of customers, depending on the firm’s Valuation Skew

so forth.

two dramatically different reasons. The customer’s needs

of its customer base.

Profiling: Using a series of distributions to describe

refer to why the customer buys, not what he buys.

Penetration Analysis: Measuring how well a com-

customers or prospects in a variety of ways, such as

Niche Marketing: A marketing segmentation strategy

pany has penetrated its potential market by finding

demographically or behaviorally.

in which the firm focuses on serving one segment of the

and reporting on the number of people who look like

market. Niche marketing is very much like segmented

customers, but have not yet bought. (Also called market

marketing, only the segments are smaller — a niche is

share analysis.)


Spring 2013



Real Time Marketing: Regis McKenna’s term for rela-

a small, distinguishable segment that can be uniquely

tionship marketing or CRM. Refers to the utmost level


of timeliness regarding the transmission, processing,


and/or use of information. A firm that collects and uses customer data in real time can manage relationships

Occupancy: The amount of time agents handle calls

with individual customers much more effectively. See

as opposed to waiting for calls. (Also called agent

also Zero Latency. The term referred to in his book,


Real Time: Preparing for the Age of the Never Satisfied Customer.


Customer Care News

Customer Care Glossary


UCD: Uniform Call Distributor; a simple system that distributes calls to a group of agents and provides some Relationship Marketing: see Customer Relationship

Skill-Based Routing: An ACD capability that matches

reports. It is not as sophisticated as an ACD.


a caller’s specific needs with an agent who has the skills

Unified Queuing: Combines all incoming traffic

Response Rate: The percentage of responses received

to handle that call.

(e-mails, text chat, co-browsing, etc.) into a single

from a given promotional effort.


ROI: Return on Investment; a term describing the cal-

Optimization (SMO) is a set of practices for generat-

Unrealized Potential Value: The difference between

culation of the financial return on a business policy or

ing publicity through social media, online communities

Potential Value and Actual Value.

initiative that incurs some cost. ROI may be measured

and social networks. The focus is on driving traffic from

Up-Selling: Selling upgrades, add-ons or enhance-

in terms of a payback period for the investment, or as a

sources other than search engines, though improved

ments to a particular product or service.

percentage return on a cash outlay, or as the discounted

search ranking is also a benefit of successful SMO.

net present value of free cash flows of an investment;

Speech Recognition: The capability of a voice process-

there are many different ways to calculate it.

ing system to decipher spoken words and phrases.

RSS: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) — sometimes

STC (Second-Tier Customer): See Most Growable

customer base is concentrated in a small percentage

called web feeds — is a web standard for the delivery of


of customers. A steep valuation skew would be one in

content — blog entries, news stories, headlines, images,

Sticky Application: A portion of a web site designed to

which a tiny percentage of customers account for the

video — enabling readers to stay current with favorite

interact with customers, requiring customers to provide

majority of the value of the customer base. A shallow

publications or producers without having to browse

input and grow “smarter” over time about how to meet

valuation skew would be one where the valuation of

from site to site. All blogs, podcasts and videoblogs

individual customer needs. The “application” becomes

customers is more evenly distributed across the whole

contain an RSS feed, which lets users subscribe to

“sticky” as customers gain a stake in the service and

customer base.

content automatically and read or listen to the material

grow reluctant to take their business elsewhere. See also

Valuation: What a customer is worth to an enterprise;

on a computer or a portable device. Most people use

Learning Relationships.

see Customer Valuation.

an RSS reader, or news aggregator, to monitor updates.

Stove Pipe: Term commonly used to reflect that a

Value of Future Customer: The net present value of a

Socialbrite founder JD Lasica coined the term “news

business function operates in a vertically integrated

future customer’s lifetime value (LTV).

that comes to you” to refer to RSS.

manner, but does not interact efficiently or effectively

VoIP: Voice over IP; combines voice and data on a

with related functions.

single network.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a








Valuation Skew: The degree to which the value of a

Vortal: These are targeted vertical portals, sometimes called “vortals,” “vertiports,” or “affinity portals.” They

Touch Points: The priority areas for the application of

are aimed at specific interest groups and focus on pro-

search engine’s “natural” or unpaid (“organic” or “algo-

Knowledge Management, typically: interactions with

viding consumers with a gateway to unbiased informa-

rithmic”) search results.

customers, interactions with suppliers and interactions

tion from other sources. A good vortal solves problems

Segment: A group of customers related either by simi-

with employees. Each touch point represents an area of

for its visitors or customers.

lar needs and/or values, or by outward characteristics

potential process or quality improvement and competi-

VRU: Voice Response Unit; automated attendants that

(demographics, postal code, etc). Different from a

tive advantage.

route calls based on digits callers enter on touch-tone

portfolio in that customers in a segment are usually not

Triple Bottom Line: The triple bottom line (sometimes

phones. It responds to caller-entered digits or speech

individually identified, and customers can be members

abbreviated as “TBL” or “3BL”) is rapidly gaining

recognition in much the same way that a conventional

of more than one segment.

recognition as a framework for measuring business

computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse.

Segmentation: Grouping the individuals in a database

performance. It captures the values that some organiza-

(Also called IVR, ARU)

into segments based on combinations of demographics,

tions embrace: people, planet, profit — that is, social,

response, purchase behavior or other criteria.

environmental and economic factors.

Share of Customer: In contrast to Market Share, share

Trusted Agent: An enterprise that treats customers’

of customer refers to the percentage of a particular

interests as paramount and speaks on the customer’s

mation system in which there is no or little time passing

customer’s business a firm gets over that customer’s

behalf in all its dealings. With most organizations this

between the updating of an information record and its

lifetime of patronage. The ratio of a customer’s Actual

is a very difficult philosophy to implement, because in

availability elsewhere in the system.

Valuation to Strategic Valuation.

many cases the interests of the customer and enterprise


Zero Latency: A computer term describing an infor-

Spring 2013

don’t coincide. Only in Collaborative relationships do the true interests of the customer and enterprise match.

Glossary of terms provided by SOCAP International.


CustomerCare News

Customer Care News - Spring 2013  
Customer Care News - Spring 2013