Five Companies Who Have Lost thousands of Customer Payments

Large conglomerates are not immune to sophisticated cybercriminals who can find ‘loopholes’ and ‘vulnerabilities’ in a company’s cybersecurity defense systems to exploit customer payments. We normally assume that the corporate world with its enterprise software solutions and high-security firewalls are on standby 24×7. However cyber crime does not choose depending on the size of your business or demographic. It just sees an opportunity and potential weaknesses. The biggest weakness with any firm – big or small – is the lack of knowledge on the employee’s end.

Unwary employees

Employees just have to click on that big red button which says ‘download’ on it, or open up a seemingly trustworthy email that contains a .exe attachment which promises them an unlimited lifetime supply of money. Common phishing tactics that are normally avoided by more tech savvy employees are the root cause of most ransomware and malware attacks that have riddled Australian companies for years. Once inside your network, phishing emails can install various Trojans and key logging software to compromise your user’s credentials and then use it to thwart the overall customer experience by affecting customer paymentsIn 2011, Sony, a technology company renowned for being at the bleeding edge of technology, was hacked, exposing the data and user credentials of over 77 million PlayStation Network (PSN) users worldwide.

A lot of Aussies were also affected

1.5 million of this massive chunk of user information, belonged to Australians. This includes 280,000 credit card credentials that were ousted to cybercriminals. If these large corporates are not safe, then you probably aren’t either.  Business Email Compromise (BEC) has cost Australian businesses a cumulative loss of over $3 billion since January of 2015. Australian businesses are at risk and if bigger corporations could not avoid massive breaches to their security, then how can small and medium-sized companies without sophisticated cybersecurity systems and enterprise-grade firewalls cope? No one can afford to let their customer’s data get breached. You are required by the Privacy Act of 1998 to take all possible steps to guard your customer’s data – failing to do this can result in crippling fines and worst of all, reputational damage that will ensure that your company is never trusted with user data again. Sony recovered from this damage, and continues to explode in growth – the same can’t be said for your business if it fails to follow the necessary protocols. 

Below are 5 Companies Who Have Lost thousands of Customer Payments

1. Walmart

Walmart might be the go-to place for most shoppers who want to get their grocery done. But its popularity and fame has put a big red arrow on its face saying, “Free for the taking!” And that’s exactly what’s been happening.

A number of users have been reporting that their credit card details have been compromised and their bank balance is just going down the drain. Although we shouldn’t really be blaming Walmart for the breach, because digital payments were still in their cradle at the time; this was way back in the year 2005.

walmart brand logo

Someone installed L0phtrack into one of the thousands of servers leading to hackers stealing POS source code and executables including a detailed mapping of the company’s transaction processing network.  

2. Home Depot

Many people purchase relevant home improvement tools for their DIY project from Home Depot, but a data breach in 2014 cost the company a massive sum of $179 million. To add insult to injury, the giant retailer was forced to pay $27.25 million to financial institutions and other entities affected by the security breach. 

home depot building entrance

The lawsuit not only tarnished its reputation but cost it millions of dollars. While it is a billion dollar empire, such thrashing takes years to recover from, which Home Depot has yet to do.

3. Apple

The biggest oxymoron would be a tech giant such as Apple falling victim to hackers sitting in their grandma’s basement. Yet Apple’s security systems were breached in 2014, and the iCloud accounts of millions of users were compromised, leading to a number of celebrities having their ‘private’ photographs being leaked for the world to gawk at.

apple brand logo

4. Anthem

One of the largest health insurance companies in the US, Anthem is still reeling in from a massive data breach that occurred in 2015. The incident has come back to bite it for a whopping $115 million settlement because of a class action lawsuit. 80 million patient and employee records were exposed in the data breach, resulting in the loss of $8 to $16 billion.

5. Kmart

In October 1 of 2015, Kmart, which has its headquarters established in Australia, reported that a privacy breach had resulted in millions of customer’s data being stolen by ‘external’ attackers. Details such as their email address, billing address, phone numbers and product purchase details were compromised.

Top 10 Customer Experience Management Trends to Learn From

Customer experience has always been a complex topic because of technology’s accelerated growth. The myriad of channels through which your business can serve the query of a grievous customer has evolved beyond the simple phone call into an interwoven network of phone call centers, social media management, chatting and emailing. The customer is now used to prompt and quick response times, the result of which most large companies need to continually monitor their customer channels. Your business must continue to improve customer experience if it wants to survive – one could argue that it is the cornerstone of your company’s success. The only way to spearhead it towards newer heights is by keeping up with the ever-changing customer experience trends.

Top 10 Customer Experience Management Trends to Watch out for:

1. Personalized shopping trends by using data analytics

You are expected to know the tastes, likes and dislikes of each and every single one of your customers, whether they number in the millions or if they can be counted on your fingertips. Today’s shopping experience is heavily personalized, driven by data analytics which is powered by supercomputers operating in the cloud. Companies that understand the importance of personalization are now seeking more and more of the customer’s data so they can curate the product better around your tastes.

Successful companies such as Netflix and Uber are so good with data analytics that they can make accurate predictions for what their customer would want next in the future – and when that future comes, they’re more than prepared to handle their requests. Despite the importance of data analytics in the personalization of the customer’s overall shopping experience, 80% of companies don’t know their customer beyond the basic information such as purchase history and frequency of their purchase.

2. The low effort in purchases

Time is money as they say and today’s customer is more about saving time than money. They want their purchase to be over as soon as possible. Standing in long queues and then waiting for the clerk to pack up your goods is a relic of the past decade. Consumers don’t want more decisions and spend the time to decide what to buy. Gone if the generation of curious online consumers doing extensive research and deciding the best option after days of digging through websites, consumers want to know the right choice now.

3. Purchases of the phone

Yes – your business needs to have an app if it wants a wider reach. Almost everyone (unless they’re living under a rock) owns a smartphone with access to the internet these days. In fact, most people are now making 51% of their purchases online using their phones! Australian shoppers are becoming more tech-savvy and more than 84% of the population is now using smartphones. The phone has now more power than the TV, you could even say it is the ‘colour TV’ of our generation.

4. Targeting the millennials

Millennials are now increasingly critical of your business than ever before. They make efforts to research your product over the internet before making an informed decision, something that the older generation doesn’t tend to do very often. In fact, 40% of millennials conduct their research online. Targeting this ambitious group of young people requires the use of catchy slogans and turning your business into a brand more than anything else.

millenial group of friends on targeting customer experience

5. Catering to emotions

Emotion is now becoming a strong component of the overall customer experience. Think of the PS4 and Xbox One fanboys – how they rage at each other on the internet on forums discussing how their brand is the superior one. That’s emotion at play here.

6. Let the metrics do the talking

Collecting key customer metrics such as customer satisfaction, customer profitability and click through rate should lend you a better understanding of the kind of product which will net you the best results.

7. Integrating with other businesses

Partnering up with other businesses to provide a more streamlined shopping experience to the customer has been an evolving trend. Credit card companies such as MasterCard and Visa are a prime example of this. Their promo campaigns give you voucher cards for discounts if you go to a certain restaurant and use their credit card for making the purchase.

8. Avoid challenging the cognitive resources too much

While giving the customers a wide range of choice is considered to be good business as it allows them greater control over their purchases, it has also been shown that too many of many choices, especially ones with similar characteristics, labeling one product ‘brown’ and another ‘hazelnut’ can place a psychological burden on the customer. Successful businesses are learning to avoid this practice.

9. Augmented reality

Businesses are now looking to gain their customer’s confidence by installing augmented reality images next to their product to give them a more in-depth review of what they’re buying into.

10. Train your staff and agents

Your agents are the ones that engage with the customer on a regular basis, training them on best practices and identifying where their successes and failures lie can be the difference between your support staff being your Achilles heel or a valued service. This is especially true for agents that deal with customer support channels.

Consequences of Ineffective Management of Blended Channels

Better Customer Experience = More Business

The management of blended channels can sometimes become the Achilles’ heel for many businesses. Instead of providing them with good returns, bad management of blended channels will result in soured customer service and experience. It has been estimated that bad customer experience is costing $120 Billion dollars to Australian businesses each year. This staggering figure clearly suggests how important is to devise strategies for better customer experience. With more people using different social media platforms, businesses can’t provide optimal customer experience only through contact centers. To highlight,  7 in 10 Australians use Facebook and approximately half of the Australian population daily logs onto Facebook, how many businesses do you know respond to their customer service channels through FaceBook?

Unfamiliarity with Technology: Ineffective usage of blended channels + bad reputation of the business

Answering customer queries through inbound calling is fine but if your customer support agent is not familiar and efficient with the use of other interactive platforms (SMS, online chat, Twitter, Facebook), then your approach of blended channels can’t convert in better ROI. Generation Y is very agile and they are always in a hurry. Hence, they won’t like it when their queries are not answered quickly. Not only will they dump your services, but they will also only propagate the bad reputation of your business.

And it doesn’t stop just with bad mouthing. The same online tools which you have incorporated in your business will be used against you. They probably leave comment or review about their experience with you on social media platforms. A study suggests that more than 80% of people are influenced by online reviews when they reach any business through blended channels.

See also: Why is Multi-Channel Customer Service Important?

Counter-Productivity of Multitasking Means Leads Won’t Convert

There are many caveats attached to the concept of multitasking. A school of thought believes that it is a good strategy for increased productivity while others think it is counterproductive.

Agents, when operating blended channels, are basically doing multitasking and there is a simple problem associated with that. Not every person is able to handle the challenge of multitasking demanded from the blended channel approach. Therefore, if you have huddled a team without assessing their multitasking capabilities, then there are strong chances that it will backfire.

barista multi tasking customer experience

People who fail to multitask can’t simultaneously concentrate on every interaction they are making on blended channels. Failing to provide 100% to every customer interaction means there will be less display of persuasion and convincing. We all know that with little persuasion you can’t successfully convert leads into customers.

Inefficient Management of Blended Calls and Increased Employee Turnover

Assigning agents that are not familiar with newer online platforms or who are not good at multitasking to the operations of blended channels also becomes problematic for your own employees.

With more workload and failing to manage multiple channels, their stress levels can shoot up. Apart from that, failure in converting leads and satisfying customers can also lead to frustration. Working under constant pressure can make many of your employees switch. Greater turnover rates are not good for the consistent performance of any business.

Unrelenting Mismanagement and Profit

If a business doesn’t mend its ways in managing the blended channels effectively, then the worst possible outcome will be decreased profits. With bad reputation, a business will have less lead generation, and with bad customer support even the loyal customers start to call it a day. The failure to acquire new customers and the inability to retain existing ones only means one thing: a significant dip in revenue.

It is an undisputed fact that devising multi-prong blended channels strategy is good for businesses but managing it effectively is the key to reap its benefits. If you are looking for better ways to improve customer engagement and offer better customer experience, get in touch.

Ways to Create a Customer Experience Strategy with Woveon

For any business to succeed in their niche industry, it’s essential to have a well-defined customer experience strategy – one that creates distinctive value for targeted customers. The creation of a definitive strategy in order to improve the consumer’s experience allows corporations to bring innovation and instill energy into the company’s growth. In the modern digitized era of today, there’s a greater focus on digital customer service capabilities. According to research, it has been found that corporations that invest their time, energy and effort into creating a much-needed balance in the customer services journey by addressing all the possible needs and requirements of a consumer, reap staggering amounts of benefits.

Request a FREE Woveon Conversational Software demo today.

Apart from the basic benefits such as increased customer satisfaction, increased revenue, decreased consumer backlash, organizations that skilfully mediate the customer services experience for consumers to provide a well-rounded transaction are also able to gain improved employee gratification such that it leads to improved company outcomes overall.

Here are 7 Ways to Create a Customer Experience Strategy

1. Create Intelligent Customer Engagement

While human interaction provides that empathetic factor in between customer-representative relationship – the fact remains that humans can only do so much. Strike the perfect balance by allowing Woveon to simplify customer services for your customers as well as employees. Woveon is a multi-faceted platform that combines the various elements of customer services under one umbrella so that neither the consumers nor the employees have to reach too far for valid solutions to customer problems.

intelligent customer conversations stream

2. Improve Customer Service Accessibility

One of the biggest reasons that organisations feel high levels of consumer churn is because the customers have to navigate a labyrinth of customer service representatives before they reach the individual actually responsible for providing a viable solution to their problem. By using Woveon, organizations eliminate the detours and hurdles to create a quick and easy pathway directly to the concerned personnel. Through Woveon, customers have the choice to communicate with the CS representative through multiple platforms such as in person, via phone, email or quick-chats – allowing them to choose one which suits them best.

3. Enhance Speed and Efficiency

Often times, the customer is left disappointed with the customer services because the representatives are unable to either address their present concerns or correlate with their past issues. Woveon eliminates this issue by allowing organizations to perfect their digital services to the point where they have instant access to all consumer details in one place at one glance.

4. Construct a Well-Rounded Management System

Customer service complaints arise most often when organizations are unable to address all the concerns and complaints of a consumer. Woveon simplifies that by having Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence programs in place, which collect and utilize essential consumer data to predict complaints, provide assessments and suggest simple responses in an efficient manner. By constructing a well-rounded management system, it takes the pressure off the customer services representative, allowing them to better address the consumer and their concerns.

5. Identify Consumers Priority

In the midst of an onslaught of complaints, concerns and requests by a large number of consumers, sometimes customers can get lost and buried under the masses. Woveon, based on the previous data collected, allows organizations to distinguish between the consumers on a priority basis such that no customer is left unattended.

6. Instill Flexibility

Customer churn is at its peak when consumers are provided with generic answers in response to their individualized queries. Organizations that place individual importance on each consumer by keeping a track of their specifications and personal requirements achieve far greater customer excellence and satisfaction than those who don’t. With Woveon, organizations can successfully instill flexibility in their customer strategy such that each representative is able to address the specific customer problems pertaining to their unique circumstance.

7. Sell Knowledgeably

Last but not least, one of the most essential ways to create a customer experience strategy is to have a customer services team that is knowledgeable, educated and aware. Vague responses such as ‘company policy’ or other generic replies only help in ensuring that the customer never returns to engage with the corporation again. If the customer services representative can make personalised suggestions and recommendations of newer services or products to address the consumer problems, it successfully depicts a more helpful and concerned service. Moreover, it ultimately provides increased value to the consumer-representative relationship, thus allowing for the achievement of improved results.

4 Terribly Executed Customer Strategies that People Use

Having a good customer service strategy is really important if you want your business to run smoothly. One wrong experience for a customer and it can create a snowball effect for the company and can ruin your brand image.

Unfortunately, bad customer experience is inevitable and there will come a point in time where you will have to deal with some dissatisfied customers. This is a good way to see any cracks in the management and service of your company and you can learn from the experience.

How you respond and react to your customers sets the tone for good damage control. No matter what the trends of marketing strategy for a business may be, one thing remains true that the customer is king. The customer might not always be right but you don’t have to let them know this. Your mission should always be to deliver the best, in any way possible, without causing any further problems for the people who help you run your business, a.k.a. the customers.

4 Ways of NOT Carrying out a Customer-Driven Strategy

1. Not following the market trends

Times have changed drastically since the advent of the internet. Marketing strategies have evolved over time and most of the ad campaigns rely heavily on online strategies to target customers.  Online marketing tools are in fact, so important for any business that it is almost impossible to survive. Even mom and pop run businesses need some online marketing tools these days to attract more customers.

Using SEO based strategies to come up in the search results is just one of the many examples of how you can create a more customer-focused strategy. Cookies that follow online users and Adwords are also crucial to the online marketing mix.

See also:Customer Experience Strategy

2. Not including social media

These days, companies have at least one social media page even before they have a website. There is also a flipside to it; businesses that already have websites are now creating their own social media pages and strategies to target their customers.

Thus today, social media is like an extension of your business. A customer might not sit down specifically to send you an email or feedback for the product or service you are selling. But if you have a social media account that they follow and regularly use, there are higher chances of them coming to your page and leaving feedback. Your social media posts would be on their timeline or feed frequently and they will almost always respond or comment on it.

Social media for customer driven strategy

3. Not following up

Customer satisfaction and feedback are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes you have to nudge the customers a little to know what their opinion is and ask for their suggestions. A little bit of tweaking and change can go such a long way and in doing so, you will also gain their trust by showing that you genuinely care about their opinions.

Reach out to your customers by any means necessary after providing them with any service or product. You can have a questionnaire or online feedback form filled or send them an email. Having a rating and review feature like Amazon is a good example.

4. Not seeing things from the customers’ perspective

Many businesses just view their customer base as a bunch of numbers or a portion of the pie that they wish to devour. They should realize that at the end of the day, they are dealing with a large group of unique individuals that have to be catered to, according to their needs. Using the same cookie-cutter approach doesn’t do well all the time. Customers now know that when their rights are being stepped over. Even if the customer is wrong in a situation, businesses should never point it out in a way that would make them leave for good.

Connecting with the customers on a personal level and making them realize that they are dealing with people who care, is the best customer-centered approach any business can use.

What are the Components of Customers Data that Have to be Secured?

The level of security provided to the sensitive information of a business or an individual determines their privacy. With the digital age progressing fast with every passing second, the concerns on the privacy of data are mounting as well. Whenever and wherever the data is provided, collected, and stored, there is a high risk of its being misused, lost, or being accessed by unauthorized people when left unprotected.

Therefore, the Privacy Act 1988 was set in place to make the entities take essential steps for the protection of customer’s data and prevent it from being misused in any way. Moreover, this step ensured that the concerned authorities collecting the data would either destroy or at least de-identify the customer’s data once it is not needed anymore.

While the Privacy Act is subjected to a number of organizations, credit providers, agencies, and credit reporting bodies, the entities that do not come under this, should try to follow these rules as well. This will ensure improved security of the personal information of their customers.

Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) Guide

The Australian government has also released a guide that will help the organization secure private information in the best way possible. This guide is not legally binding. However, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) refers to it whenever it is undertaking any Privacy Act functions. Further information on the regulatory powers that are to be exercised can be found in the Privacy Regulatory Action Policy.

The data of customers are subjected to easy attack from the criminals of the cyber world in several ways. Thanks to the ambiguous nature that a connected world offers, the security concerns have increased tremendously. Mobile networks, BYOD, bringing your own devices in public areas, and IP addresses set to public setting provide environments that are unprotected and are not the best way to access sensitive data.  

While the consumers are concerned that their data might be stolen, the government identities and businesses are always on the lookout for protection against malicious cyber attacks on a number of fronts, including even their own organizations.

See also: Customer Service: Its Importance and Value

Components of a Customer’s Data that needs Protection

This means that there is a great need to understand which type of customer’s data needs to be protected on a priority basis.

customer data protection

In order to make it easier for you to identify the data that should be protected, we have compiled a list of components of customers’ data that should be protected:

  1. Biometric Information: This is used for identifying an individual on the basis of one of their distinguishing biological trait. Such traits include fingerprints, iris and retina patterns, signatures, and DNA. This information comes under the personal identification type and can create many issues if it reaches the wrong person.  
  2. License Number: Personally identifiable information is the licensee number since it is unique and can easily be traced to that individual.
  3. Medical Information: Another important type of data that needs protection is an individual’s medical information. It can allow a criminal to commit identity theft.
  4. Date of Birth: Perhaps no other information requires a higher level of protection than an individual’s date of birth as it is the most commonly asked question when checking anything for security purposes.
  5. Employee ID: In the wrong hands, an employee ID can create a lot of problems for the person. If the data becomes insecure the thief can use the information for stealing other more important types of data.
  6. Social Security Numbers such as Citizen Visa code: Stealing someone’s citizen visa code is the most common form of robbery. This allows the culprits to steal IDs and conduct illegal activities through it.
  7. Patents: These allow a person to have legal ownership of their product.
  8. Copyright: Anything that is copyrighted for an individual should be properly protected. Theft in this case means that you would be losing your intellectual property.
  9. Industrial Designs: A company’s industrial design should also be well protected as well since they are responsible for giving them an economic advantage over other competitive businesses.
  10. Trademark: What is more unfortunate than losing your original trademark? The logo of a company is their identification mark and losing it means losing a lot of clientele as well.
  11. Data on new business Ideas
  12. Passwords for forums where the customers market their businesses such as social media
  13. Legal Documents numbers
  14. Credit Cards: These should be protected for the safeguard of your hard earned money
  15. ACH Numbers needs protection as well
  16. Bank Account Information
  17. Loan Information
  18. Payroll Information: This can lead to financial losses
  19. Non-salary Information (expenses, fringe benefits, pension, etc.)
  20. Investment Information (Stock, 401K, Trade, etc.)
  21. Any of the unique identification system that is created by the customer

4 Handy Tips for Busy CIO

Customer experience has evolved unconditionally and exponentially within the last decade, and it’s expected to continually evolve in the coming years to a point where we might not even recognize what it looks like today.

The Essence of Customer Experience Management

Customer experience or CX could clinically be described as the product of the basic interaction between one organization and its consumer over the course of time. However, customer experience and by that connection, customer experience management is so much more than that today.

It’s the personalization of a fast, economical and interactive communication between an organization and every single one of its consumers. It’s the simplicity and ease of navigation, the awareness and advocacy of brand, it’s the integration of the purchase experience with the provided support and most importantly, it is the cultivation of the business relationship to result in a loyal and long-standing consumer.

Here are some handy tips for the busy CIO

1. Use of Established Technologies and Metrics

Customer experience management reduces down to only half the battle when there are established technologies and analyzing metrics in play. For CIOs to ease the management experience, not only should they weigh in and establish the pros and the cons of a customer experience strategy in order to separate the positive possibilities from the negative, but they should also utilize a dedicated CEM platform, personalization technologies, and management tools from the get-go to facilitate the processes.

busy CIO establishing an effective customer experience management

2. Bridging the Online/Offline Chasm

The technology driven CIO’s that are focused on running and managing the IT aspect of customer experience management strategy often fail to take into account the human aspect of customer experience. For successful management therein needs to be the creation of a seamless balance between the online and offline management.

While people are naturally inclined toward the digital involvement of customer service, CIOs should ensure that the digitized support is directing the online traffic into offline traffic by encouraging them to physically engage with the brand.

This brings us to the next point.

3. Create Collaborative Support

Collaborative support is exactly what it sounds like. No one tech executive can be expected to handle the onslaught of customer experience management concerns on their own without the input of external representative. Not only does this hold true for the collaboration necessary between the online and offline elements, but it’s also equally as important for other organizations aspects as well.

By bringing other technicians and experienced individuals on board or by delegating the menial tasks to one of the lower tier advisors, the higher-ups can focus on the more critical problems faced by the company – in every regard – customer experience management related or otherwise.

There’s also another added benefit to creating collaborative support – apart from maintaining the CIOs sanity – and that is saving money.

4. Communication Consistency

Often times, it’s the smallest of inconsistencies which can cause the biggest downfall of an organization. A majority of the time CIO’s overlook the importance of creating a seamless consistency between the consumer and its communicative approach to the parent organization. The connective modalities are unstructured or lack fluency creates a further divide between the two making the jobs of the employees considerably difficult – at every level.

CIOs should ensure that the consumer is able to easily access the required assistance across all channels by the provision of the option of quick movements between the smart customer service solutions. This includes being able to jump from phone calls, to text or chat messages, all the way to emails or social media interactions – along with automated technology and support that enables for efficient, effective responses and thus a fluent customer service experience.

Know Your Customer, Like You Know Your Friends

Guest Post by Parker Hathaway

customer service friend

I was in a conversation with friend this week. He’s an avid murder mystery and investigative reporting fan. He loves shows like Making of a Murderer60 Minutes20/20, and True Detective. I asked him if he was a podcast fan. He said he wasn’t. With a grin, I leaned in and said, “I’m about to change your month. Have you heard of Serial?”

We need to know our customers like we know our friends.

Serial revolutionized podcasting, coming in with over 40 million downloads in its first season as it followed a murder mystery story week by week. My buddy devoured all 12 episodes and spent countless hours reading on the web about possible theories.

And I had no doubt he would.

We need to know our customers like we know our friends. The question is, how?

Peter McCarthy, founder of The Logical Marketing Agency, has laid the groundwork for us. He describes three buckets that help you identify your customer: (1) Demographics, (2) Psychographics, and (3) Behaviors. You can read more of his work here. For the exercise, take your customer and create the below three buckets and then start asking questions. Here’s a start:

Demographics:

Where do your customers live? What’s their age? occupation? income? political affiliation? urban or rural? gender? ethnicity? These are general questions that you might find on a census. However, you must dig deep. It’s laborious, but it will serve you in the long run. At the end of this exercise you should be able to picture your customer when he/she walks through the door, and that’s huge.

Psychographics:

How do your customers think? What do they believe in? What are their attitudes towards this or that? What are their preferences? What do they love? hate? crave? What are their emotions towards a given topic? What do they value? What gets them excited?! Make a list of emotions and attach a description of your customer to each. Use what you learn to write better copy or apply it to the design of your website or, better yet, your product! When we say “we feel,” we attribute a cognitive value. Learn what your customer feels.

Behaviors:

This is where things get exciting, especially if you have access to a large data depository. What does your customer do? What do they purchase? read? use? crave? search? How do they engage with social media? Instagram more than Facebook? Twitter more than Snapchat? What are patterns that you find with your customers? Why do they drop out at point of purchase? Use A/B testing as a tool to discover behaviors.

Next time: Identifying your customer can be laborious, but it’s crucial for risk mitigation and customer growth. I’m going to introduce you to tools that will help you to identify your customer in 30 minutes. These tools are free and fun to use!

‘Hire’ This Article About Milkshakes If You’re Struggling To Understand Customer Needs

Guest Post by Gaston Viau

How the Job-To-Be-Done theory can help you understand consumer behaviors and provide you an innovation compass

There are zillions of words written about how customer centricity leads companies to success.

However, the “customer-centric” term is sometimes misused as a catchall for customer feedback or customer satisfaction results, but making people happy is not enough. To have sustained success, companies must genuinely understand what the customer wants and needs, and implement the right internal and customer-facing processes, strategies and marketing actions to satisfy them.

Hands down, the best example of customer centricity is Amazon, whose mission says it all: “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon

Last month, when struggling to define our customer personas at Virtual Lab better, Fede Boero recommended me to read Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen. This read introduced me to “Jobs-To-Be-Done” Theory, a way of looking at customers with a completely different lens which shed a lot of light on my discovery process.

Jobs Theory

“Job-to-be-done” involves a mindset change since it forces you to look at our product the way customers do. Clayton Christensen described this concept back in 2006, in this paper he wrote together with Intuit founder Scott Cook.
The theory just asks, “What job your product is hired to do?”.

People buy services and products to get specific jobs done; and while products come and go, the underlying JTBD doesn’t go away. A commonly used example is that people do not want a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter inch hole.

JTBD theory is a change in the lens we use to understand customer needs. The Job, not the consumer, is the fundamental unit of analysis.

To understand what’s the Job our product is hired to do, we need to find which progress the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance — what the customer hopes to accomplish. This growth or accomplishment is the job-to-be-done.

All of us have endless jobs to be done in our lives. Some are small (pass the time while waiting in the supermarket line); others are big (seek a more fulfilling job). Some are regular (pack some lunch early in the morning before leaving to work); some show up unpredictably (find a nearby auto repair shop after our car broke up during a trip). When buying a product, we’re mainly “hiring” it to help us do a certain job. If the product does the job well, we tend to hire that product over again when we confront the same job. On the other hand, if it does a crappy job, we “fire” it and look for a replacement.

The Milkshake Example

The canonical example used by Christensen to explain Jobs Theory is a milkshake.

Some years ago, McDonald’s was trying to increase the sales of their milkshakes. So, they would interview milkshake customers and explain to them that they were trying to improve the milkshakes to increase the sales. They would ask them if they would like bigger milkshakes, or new flavors (like root beer or orange), chocolatier or thicker milkshakes . However, after improving the milkshakes with the interviews results, they found that customers didn’t buy more milkshakes.

Christensen was hired as a consultant to help McDonald’s to nail this problem, and he applied his brand new Jobs Theory to solve it. To understand which job arose in the lives of some customers that caused them sometimes to hire a milkshake, Christensen studied a McDonald’s restaurant for 18 hours one day. It turned out that about half of the milkshakes were sold before 8:30 in the morning. It was the only thing the customer bought, they were alone, and they always got in the car and drove off with it.

To figure out what was that job, Christensen went back the next morning and positioned himself outside the restaurant so to confront these milkshake customers as they came out. He asked them: “What job are you trying to get done that cause you to come to McDonald’s to hire a milkshake at 6:30 in the morning?”

It turned out that they all had the same job to do. That is, they had a long and tedious drive to work. And they just needed something to have while driving to stay engaged with life and not fall asleep. The customer wasn’t hungry yet, but they knew they’d be hungry an hour later. So they needed something they could hold with their right hand while driving, and keep it for the whole commute.

This analysis showed that McDonald’s milkshakes were not competing against Burger King’s milkshakes. They were competing against bananas, snickers, donuts or even bagels to do the same job. However, milkshakes were much more convenient than their competitors since they were easier to consume, only one hand was needed, and they were so viscous that it would take them the whole commute to finish them up with that thin straw.

Customers didn’t care about the ingredients. All they cared about was to be still full at 10 am and have something to entertain them throughout their trip.

Unveiling what the job was, put McDonald’s on a very different trajectory. It explained the reason why there were no results after improving the milkshake on dimensions of performance that was irrelevant to the job-to-be-done

To improve the milkshake for the morning JTBD, McDonald’s moved the milkshake from behind the counter to the front. To help them not to be late for work, they also gave people a prepaid swipe card so they could just dash in, gas up, and go without being caught behind a line. They also made milkshakes thicker to take longer to suck them up, and so on.

When McDonald’s understood that they were competing against bananas, the sales of the milkshakes increased by 7x.

Four Takeaways

JTBD theory tells us how managers should think about customers, strategy, products, growth, and innovation. Here’re some pieces of advice:

1. Design a business around a JTBD

Products become obsolete, and this is why companies should instead create a business around the JTBD, which will lead them to sustainable success. This is why Ford moved from an auto company to a mobility & transportation company, opening the doors to markets such us ride-sharing.

2. Let customers get their entire job done

People do not want to have to put together diverse services or products to achieve their needs. They want only one service/product that helps them get the entire job done.

3. Target those customers who will pay the most to get the job done best

When a market is highly underserved, the fastest way to profits is first to target the people who will pay out the most to get that job done the best.

4. Let Jobs Theory guide the future of your company

The only products that will win the future are those that help customers get the job done better. Understanding where customers struggle today to execute the JTBD indicates what a particular product needs to do in the future to win in that market.

What are the Best Strategies to Ace Customer Engagement

Guest Post by Shane Barker

No matter what field you work in, customer engagement is just as essential as lead acquisition. In fact, 68% of marketers today say that their companies compete on the basis of customer experience.

However, many marketers still struggle with figuring out the best ways to keep their customers engaged; holding the attention of customers long enough to make an impact can be hard, time-consuming work. While old-school newsletters still have their place, they alone can’t cut it anymore in today’s competitive environment.

Request a FREE Conversational Software demo and learn effective customer conversation management.

So, what can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition and keep your customers coming back for more? Let’s take a quick look at a few options that you can consider. Not all of these are easy and some may not suit the kind of business you run, so pick what works for you. While some options may not be cheap, losing loyal customers will be far more expensive in the long run.

Here are the Best Strategies to Ace Customer Engagement

1. Start an Employee Advocacy Program

Your employees are the face of your brand, and their interactions with your customers can go a long way in retaining them. If they’re excited by your brand and believe in the products you have to offer, the customers they talk to will feel that. Conversely, if they are demotivated or unhappy, your customers are definitely going to pick up on that negativity.

An employee advocacy program can help shape your company’s reputation and culture online. By having your employees share snippets of their work life on social media, they can help to build your company’s image as a great workplace with an honest, hard-working team. Not only that — you can even leverage the knowledge of your subject matter experts to create content that has depth and authority.

To encourage participation, you can maintain leaderboards and offer incentives to employees who post the most or get the most engagement. Shoe retailer, Zappos, is well known for their employee advocacy program — snippets of which you can see on the official Zappos Culture Twitter.

2. Keep Customers Emotionally Connected

The best way to keep a customer engaged is to find ways for them to interact with your brand, even when they aren’t necessarily interested in buying one of your products. You can do this in a number of ways.

Build a Community

Build a sense of community around your product or service using free tools, such as a designated Twitter handle, Facebook Group, or other online forums where people can meet and exchange ideas.

The idea is to draw your customers into a social circle that is based on the love for your brand or products. Not only are people in these groups more likely to continue buying your products because others are passionately sharing about them, but they’re also likely to recommend them to their other social circles. Their involvement in the community will ensure that they are fully aware of your latest offerings with little marketing effort needed from you.

As an example, BMW manages official “Owners’ clubs” that help their customers connect and learn from one another. Their clubs have grown a big reputation for offering exclusive content, advice, and rewards for car lovers who buy from their brand.

Host Live Events

Hosting events,conferences, or webinars that will be of interest to your customers is a great way to engage them in a non-transactional setting. Many gaming studios take advantage of in-person events to meet and get feedback from some of their most loyal fans. For customers, it’s an opportunity to see what the company is working on, meet like-minded individuals, have their voices heard by game developers, or play demo builds of upcoming games.

BlizzCon by Blizzard-Activision and QuakeCon by Zenimax Media both draw in thousands of attendees each year. And tens of thousands more people watch the live-streams of the events online. Attending larger conventions is also an effective (and much cheaper) way to engage with your fans. However, hosting your own event is a great way to keep the focus entirely on you and your products.

3. Gamify the Customer Experience

While gamification of a customer experience can be difficult, it allows you to engage customers using the sense of instant gratification.

Digital contests and giveaways are great ways to spur customer engagement for mutually beneficial results. For instance, hair accessories company Whirl-a-Style hosted a web contest asking customers to share their #WhirlMyStyle hairdos for a cash prize. The company earned tons of customer testimonials and marketing UGC at a very low cost.

Similarly, you can introduce badges or achievements for customers who’ve hit a certain milestone or completed a particular task while using your products. This is incredibly useful when it comes to making sure they use your product or services often.

Gaming is already well known for the concept of unlocking achievements. Companies like Fitbit and other fitness tracker makers have had good results by introducing similar aspects to their products.

4. Target “Whales” for Customized Services

Loyalty programs are a great way to help keep customers engaged with your brand. But you can take it one step further with a tiered loyalty program. Identify customers who spend significantly more than average on your products and consider giving them some sort of V.I.P. status.

While more loyalty points or discounts are nice, customized services are even better. For example, access to a personal stylist at a clothing retailer who offers expert advice in styles suiting body types and personalities.

A personal touch is extremely valuable when it comes to instilling a sense of loyalty in your customers. While you may not be able to offer that to all your customers, make sure your “high-rollers” feel like they’re getting V.I.P. treatment.

5. Be Socially Responsible

Often maligned by older generations, millennials tend to be more environmentally and socially conscious than any other generation. (And considering that millennials are already the largest generation in the labor force, their loyalty will soon determine whether your business lives or dies.)

Millennials are far more likely to support brands that not only offer valuable products but also support social or environmental causes.

Consider picking a cause that you are interested in and promoting it regularly in your marketing efforts. It can be anything you want as long as you care deeply and sincerely about it. The sincerity is important because millennials are better than previous generations at spotting disingenuous marketing.

For example, Leesa donates a mattress to a homeless shelter for every tenth mattress sold. They even plant a tree for every order received.

6. Streamline Your Customer Experience

This option probably takes the most effort to put in place. Depending on how your business operates, it could require small changes or a total overhaul. The key here is to reduce the number of steps needed to complete a transaction. This applies to both physical and online stores.

Every step required to complete a purchase increases the likelihood of customers walking away from a purchase. In stores, these could be long lines, a slow checkout process, or lack of assistance to help make choices.

Fast food giants like McDonalds have attempted to improve the experiences of their customers with the addition of self-service kiosks. These help to drastically cut wait-times without needing to increase staffing requirements.

Online, Amazon introduced 1-click ordering, allowing existing customers to purchase items with a single click. This uses billing, delivery, and payment information that’s already linked to their account.

Another great way of improving your customer experience and managing excellent relationships is to use a CRM tool. Tools like Salesmate allow you to keep all of your customers’ contact information in one place. You can use it to run email campaigns that include informative and highly-targeted content. You can even do timely follow-ups for any sales queries or interest they may have shown.

Orginally published on Zoomph.

About the Author

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.