Customer Returns Consulting

As our name indicates, there are two aspects to CRC. The first is understanding when, why, and under what circumstances your customer returns. The second, is to measure what sort of returns you are receiving from your customer base by identifying your loyalists and your detractors. By keeping your finger on the pulse of your customer, you will undoubtedly improve the efficiency of your operations, increase your customers' loyalty, and be rewarded by higher revenue and profits!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

customer loyalty: do you like me? circle one.

so, with all my technical background and experience on the web, I must admit this is my first time posing as a blogger. so here goes....

i spend countless hours of my day building and maintaining customer loyalty programs for mid-size through f500 companies. this involves many fancy terms, advanced analytics that will make any geek too excited for sleep, and, admittedly, sometimes outright over-complication of a very simple concept. granted, the latest and greatest feedback technology definitely has a place in our world of business, and provides measurements of a formerly abstract element: our customers and what they think about us. i say abstract because it's attempting to measure something that involves more variables than we can imagine: human behavior.

life was so much more simple in the fourth grade, when we sent our best friend to a prospect of the opposite sex with a note that said, "do you like me? circle one. yes...no...maybe..."

it truly is this simple.

i am your best friend that you send to your prospect, and i present the note. i then take their note, and, of course, i run directly to the bathroom to take a sneak peak at their answer even though they folded and scotch taped it tightly. i take the sheet of wide-line notebook paper, which is by this time crumpled and smeared, back to you and let you see the result. now, even though i know what the note says, i let you unfold it, and observe as you are either pleasantly surprised, confused, or you are faced with the idea that perhaps your offerings weren't quite everything you thought they were. when it's my note, i tend to think, "who wouldn't circle yes?"

the next step, good or bad, is for me to wait patiently for the flood of questions that will undoubtedly ensue. was the prospect smiling? do they like me but they might have a crush on someone else? is there a chance they might like me next week? i mean, fourth graders are fickle, this could change, right? is there something i could improve on to change this maybe to a yes, and this no to a maybe? (at this point boys are considering the whole gym thing, and girls are getting curious about makeup.)

this is where the messenger proves to be a valuable asset to winning your true love of the week. i can relate to you more than what the simple answer says. of course i will do it tactfully, but i will be sure to tell you if the prospect cringed when they saw the note, circled something in a hurry, and walked off in a somewhat embarrassed huff. or, i can let you know how they flashed an interested, flattered smile, thought carefully a few seconds, put their undecided pen to the paper more than once, and then circled maybe for lack of a better answer. in a perfect world, they would all circle yes, but most prospects have more than one note in their hand.

they are only going to say yes to the best, and maybe or no to the rest.

this is where the work starts. it's simple work, but not necessarily easy. if they circled no, we find out why by asking the messenger. did they say they didn't like my new bowl cut? did they not like getting their hair pulled on the playground? so, after evaluation, we make some changes. we go get the flat top hair cut instead. we try complimenting their new pencil topper instead of pelting them in the face with the dodgeball. and we go back and ask again. trial and error on a continuous basis.

if they say maybe, we once again find out the circumstances. they are interested enough to give us some feedback, so we ask them what would turn the maybe into a yes, and then we do that. we just improve our operations.

and if they say yes, we go back and tell everyone who helped us get where we are thanks by giving them one of our laffy-taffies, their choice of flavor (in our world this is called employee incentives).

and then we do the whole process over again. simple, is it not?

i find myself often so caught up in the amazing technology and the analytics that i forget the foundation on which this all begins.

do my customers like me? yes, no, or maybe.

find out why. change the no's to maybe's, the maybe's to yes's, and reward the people who helped us get the yes's. repeat.

if you're looking for a best friend to deliver the note and analyze results, i'm your huckleberry.

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