Over the last few years we have been lucky enough to help manage or build the Direct to Consumer (DTC) online sales operations for Dell, Sony, Philips, and have many ex-colleagues in other companies like Apple, Adobe, Canon, Nike. As a result we have a small community of DTC executives, and we try to share best practice among our peers.
CustomerGauge was born from that experience, and we are able to already identify some “must-do’s” from the results. We are pleased to announce our informal industry round table event:
Magical Customer Experiences
from Manufacturers Direct to Consumer (DTC) Sales
Wednesday 24 September 2008
10h – 14h
How can manufacturers best sell to consumers directly? Learn from colleagues at other major vendors. How do they overcome challenges like providing good value, customer service, channel conflict, discounted internet offers…
Please join us for a round table discussion with executives responsible for DTC sales at major manufacturers.
There will be presentations by senior executives on how they are creating value-added sales by focusing on customer experiences, and some sharing of Net Promoter Score(R) best practices.
- Vice President. Philips Electronics online shop
- General Manager, SonyStyle (direct to consumer online sales division of Sony Europe)
Attendees are expected from Canon, LG, Bose, Dell, Nike, BoschSeimens and others. The event is strictly invitation only to around 20 influencers working at major organisations who sell DTC. If you feel you should be on the list, and we have not invited you yet, please contact us by email.
Are you able to hear what they are saying out in Customerland? What did your company learn from your customers this month? Or are you choosing not to listen?
Over the course of a long career I have found that many companies are not ready to listen to what their customers are saying, or sometimes shouting at them. Causes vary – sometimes it’s cultural: “We know best”. Or structural: “We don’t have the tools”. Organisations are bombarded by customer feedback every day – in the form of complaints or praise, but few companies have an integrated view of customer sentiment. Therefore, no means of organising or archiving comments.
A new discipline of Enterprise Feedback Management is being grown up around this, and software vendors are rushing to help companies understand a holistic view of the client base. CustomerGauge has had feedback management built in from the start, and we have been helping our client companies improve by simply routing customer comments through to the correct people, and categorising them in ways that help them prioritise changes.
I thought I would share a sample of real (anonymised) customer comments to show this in action. These are some comments from the last week I picked at random. These are tagged to help understand major issues, but the main strength is the verbatim response from customers. Would this work to help your organisation?
Positive Comments (use as testimonials)
“Fantastic piece of equipment! I am fascinated by the creativity & cleverness of the design. I get a lot of use out of it & am proud to show it off! thank you!”
“This is one of the best online shopping experiences I have had in a long time. The price of the product was the best I could fine and the order process and delivery was flawless.”
“Very easy to use site with fast delivery. well packed goods. Excellent.”
Constructive Criticism (use to help tune up services):
“Purchased [XXX Product]. To fit the connecting lead into the power box was very difficult, resulting in me having to contact customer support. They were very helpful and the problem was sorted.”
“Delivery company required a signature for a relatively low value item. i work six days/week and had to take time of work to collect item.”
“I don’t understand why the outside packaging (plain cardboard box) was so big.”
“The [Product MMM] was much harder to load photos on, then expected and the up/down arrows make navigation on the system difficult even for a seasoned geek head.”
“Web page needs to be much more user friendly and order status needs to be improved.”
“Your purchase/online system seemed to stop and I wasn’t sure that it had taken the order or not, somewhat disconcerting.”
“I left a telephone message but no-one replied.”
“When I called for support, I was on hold an extremely long time before I got to talk to someone.”
Suggestions (use for improvements)
“The service provided was excellent. The only improvements which could be made are: (i) The ability to specify a different delivery date to the address registered with the Credit Card Used, and (ii) an option to extend the warranty would be useful.”
” recently bought from your website your new [Product XYZ] which are great. But, it would have been very useful to have had a bag or container to put every thing in for storage.”
“Would like to be given an option for faster shipping.”
“Still too many steps (clicks) to complete tasks such as updates.”
Of course, you need to do something about the comments if you want to improve performance. Here’s a graph from a company that classified feedback in CustomerGauge, and prioritised what to fix. The chart illustrates the trend over a year period, showing how some issues were more important to customers over time.
In this time, the Net Promoter Score rose each month, showing the changes were having a positive effect.
France-based Avanquest Software has purchased CustomerGauge software to help measure customer loyalty, understand experiences through online purchases, and with products after installation. Customers are surveyed automatically with the Amsterdam-based CustomerGauge hosted solution to measure their loyalty and gain feedback. Results are fully compatible with Net Promoter® Score* (NPS), acknowledged as the industry standard for loyalty measurement.
CustomerGauge has been integrated with the Avanquest Software online store to improve customer experience in the Online Shop by measuring every single transaction, surveying customers in the US and Europe in five languages. CustomerGauge allows Avanquest to quantify and classify comments, convert free text comments into statistical data, and summarize the “Voice of the Customer” to executives.
“CustomerGauge allows us to monitor customer feedback to the question ‘how did we do?‘ ” says Bob McNinch, Managing Director, Web Division, Avanquest. “We have found that through the use of this structured process we have received great feedback from our customers, and this has helped our marketing team to improve communications and provide ideas for our developers for future products. We have already identified some customer service items to enhance.”
Adam Dorrell, Managing Director of Directness says: “We are delighted to work with Avanquest as part of their commitment to customer experience, and help them to measure customer loyalty”.
Amsterdam 7 July 2008.
About Avanquest Software
Avanquest Software is one of the world’s leading software publishers, marketing up to 1,500 software titles developed in-house or by developer partners via multiple sales channels on three continents – North America, Europe and Asia. Avanquest Software addresses the general public through its Retail, Online and Direct-to-Consumer channels; businesses through the Corporate channel; and key players in mobile telephony and IT through OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) licenses.
With 650 employees and approximately 200 engineers in Research and Development distributed between France, China and the United States, the company is committed to constant innovation. Listed on Euronext (ISIN FR0004026714) since December 1996, Avanquest Software is part of Eurolist, SBF index 250. Additional information is available at http://www.avanquest.com or http://about.avanquest.com .
CustomerGauge measures loyalty and collects feedback to help companies to understand customer sentiment. It is optimized for e-commerce and can be rapidly deployed anywhere in an organization, without investment in capital equipment or IT assistance.
A flash-based tour and self-guided demonstration is available on www.customergauge.com.
Directness BV is a software and consulting company based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Formed in 2006 by former directors of Sony and Dell, Directness assists major brands to listen, market and sell directly to consumers. For news, product and company information visit www.directness.net or call +31 (0)20 3312425.
Note for non-English editors: “Gauge” (pronounced like en-gage) is an instrument for measuring or indicating quantity.
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*Net Promoter is a registered trademark of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.
We sweated long hours over the last few hot days on our latest CustomerGauge dashboard and when we finished we treated ourselves to a few drinks. “What shall we call it?” asked Roy. “No idea” I said as I twirled a 6-pack of beers in my hand. “Wait a minute,” said Roy…
Our new executive dashboard has six boxes of information, created in response to a client suggestion that we present customer data in a way that country Managing Director would understand, without necessarily knowing too much about loyalty metrics.
When a country manager logs in – this is the first screen he/she sees. Laid out in front is a customer loyalty score (of course compatible with Net Promoter Score). He can see a trend and the causes of the score. So in a glance he visualises what’s going on in the last 7 days; if the trend is up or down; what’s causing it. The country scores are compared to the “all country” average.
Underneath, we show most recent customer comments (positive and negative) plus any actions needed to be taken to fix issues.
So the manager can work out in a glance: What is current NPS? What is trend? What is causing it? What are customers telling me? Are we answering their issues?
We also send out an alert to managers every Monday morning to guide them to this dashboard. And then we provided a neat utility that prints out a page containing the week’s comments from Promoters, Passives and Detractors, mainly to allow MDs to beat up (or praise) staff members!
For a company that wants to react fast to customers, we think that’s as refreshing as a six-pack of lager on a hot day. Contact us for details of how it would work in your organisation.
ING Direct USA have no CRM system, do not segment customers or analyse profitability. They just want to win respect with repeated transactions – not a “relationship”. With only a website, a call centre, consistent marketing and a simple value proposition they have grown to 7,000,000 customers in seven years.
But they practice tough love: Apparently ING Direct will close your account if you make a fuss or want special treatment. They sack 5000 customers a month.
Despite this (or perhaps because of the clarity of this simple model) has a 60% Net Promoter Score. Surely a record in this sector?
It shows that if you set expectations up front to customers and deliver on promises you can score highly. Interesting personally for me as our business account is with ING, and my personal banking is with the Dutch “peoples bank” PostBank (which was taken over by ING in the last couple of years). As it happens, the PostBank is pretty good, but customers are already grumbling that ING will close branches and run services down… so we’ll see what happens in this space.