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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hidden Power of Your Customers, Becky Carroll Interview

Becky Carroll, Author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers
Becky Carroll from Customers Rock! has great news to share! She has just published The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers, her first book! It celebrates the 'customers rock!' attitude which is all about customer centricity and realizing that customers represent valuable company assets.

Becky has shared her passion with us several times, most recently in Customer Loyalty & Social Media: Customers Rock Video Series and in Becky Carroll On Bridging New & Old: Social Media Series. She's also an original Bathroom Blogfest participant!

In honor of her book, not only do I have an interview with Becky Carroll to share with you, but... Becky has sent me a copy to give away to a Flooring The Consumer reader! Very cool.
Be the third person to comment on Flooring The Consumer; share a story and let me know your thoughts about how to delight and retain customers, and I will send you a copy of Becky's book. [Note: anonymous or spam comments do not count :-).]
And, now, my interview with Becky Carroll, author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers!

C.B.: Becky, congratulations on your new book! Tell us about your background and work experiences and how those led to your passion for customers and your amazing Customers Rock! attitude? 

BC: I have been customer-focused for most of my 20+ year career. It started with nearly 14 years at HP, where I was in charge of the worldwide customer loyalty program for HP Services. My passion for customers continued as I worked with Don Peppers and Dr. Martha Rogers at Peppers & Rogers Group as a senior consultant for companies such as Ford, HP, and Electronic Arts. I have had my own company, Petra Consulting Group, for nearly 6 years helping companies focus on the customer experience and how to improve customer relationships with social media (and other methods).

I really think, though, that my biggest influence on my Customers Rock! attitude was probably HP’s founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. I was fortunate enough to work at HP when they were both wandering the halls of the company and showing us what it meant to care about others – employees first, then customers. That is why I started my Customers Rock! blog back in 2006, to share the positive strategies companies are using to delight their customers and create rockin’ customer experiences.

The Hidden Power of Your CustomersC.B.: What is most critical about growing your business through customers?

BC: The most critical thing is not taking your existing customers for granted. Today’s companies are so busy trying to woo new customers with deals that don’t apply to the current customer base, or are striving to gain new social media followers that they have forgotten to let their customers know how much they appreciate them. In fact, based on their company’s business metrics, they probably don’t appreciate them. This may seem like a no-brainer (you know, a bird in the hand and all that), but there are still so many companies that are not applying the principles found in the four keys in my book. It isn’t really hard – it just takes a deliberate plan to make it happen!
Why don’t all companies get this?

Not all companies get this partly because they ignore their current customers, as mentioned above. Additionally, many think that “great customer service” is enough to retain customers. It isn’t. Anyone can provide great customer service. From interviewing executive of top-performing companies for my book, I found consistencies across them all. Companies that have a Customers Rock! attitude all have customers “in their DNA”. They speak to customers via the method they prefer, they carefully consider each interaction in the customer’s experience with their business, they create a customer-focused culture, AND they have killer customer service. All of this is part of the strategy to unlock the hidden power of their customers – and it works.

C.B.: You weave social media throughout the book – as it should be throughout a company’s marketing and customer service strategies. What prevents companies from doing so?

BC: Many companies look at social media as only another place to run PR and marketing campaigns. In so doing, they are missing out on the sweet spot for social media – customer retention and loyalty. Social media isn’t just about listening to social media chatter or “being part of the conversation”. It is more than a way to reactively respond to customer issues voiced in this channel. It is a way to learn about your customers and their needs, then apply those insights to helping to meet those needs and growing customer relationships.

C.B.: What’s ahead for launching & promoting The Hidden Power of Your Customers?

BC: I will be speaking at several customer-focused events this fall as part of my book tour. I would be happy to consider expanding my book tour if any of your readers are interested in bringing me to their part of the country/world!

In addition, I have been working with several influential bloggers (such as you, CB!) and have given them each a copy of the book for themselves, as well as one to give away to their readers to help build buzz. Of course, I am sharing about the book in my Customers Rock! blog and with my UC San Diego students, as both of these groups of people helped encourage me to write the book as Wiley approached me about it.

Social media is definitely the main promotion engine for this book!

C.B.: Becky, how can people connect with you?

BC: They can connect through my blog Customers Rock!, Twitter @bcarroll7 and Facebook on The Hidden Power of Your Customers Fan Page.

I've also created a page on my blog for The Hidden Power of Your Customers.

To purchase Becky's book, click on The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers.

Thank you, Becky! 

I'm also honored that you mention me in the Acknowledgements. Thank you.

Readers, let me know in the comments what comes to mind when you think about the hidden power of your customers!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Retail Experience in the News - 8/26/11

Wordle: #retailexp Here is the 8/26/11 issue of Retail Experience in the News...  recapping the latest articles and links shared on Twitter with the #retailexp hashtag this past week.

Retail Experience and Customer Service

  • How retailers can win over consumers: http://ow.ly/68mV9 Note focus on people, simple product choices and access #retailexp 
  • Little details: how Southwest is quietly introducing itself to Atlanta marketplace http://ow.ly/68mRn #retailexp 
  • Nordstrom proves that focus on Customer Service leads to success http://ow.ly/68u5C #retailexp 

Retail Experience Ideas

  • Interesting way to try new #retailexp concept: Nordstrom in NYC w alias store, profits committed to charity http://ow.ly/68uho
  • It's promising to be an interesting NYC Holiday Windows season w/ Lady Gaga at Barneys! http://ow.ly/68uuy #retailexp 
  • Walmart learning that it's not as easy to compete on price http://ow.ly/68uyB #retailexp  
  •  Interesting that specialty smaller grocery stores w/ less choice are so successful http://ow.ly/68ucQ #retailexp

Integrating Online with Offline

  • Only 6% of US mobile audience uses QR Codes, mostly men: http://ow.ly/68mYD #retailexp So relevant! 
  • Retailers, smartphones aren't going away. Time to adapt your #retailexp, no? http://ow.ly/68npW

For previous issues of Retail Experience In The News, see Retail Experience News.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to Flooring The Consumer via email or RSS.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Customer Service Reality Check: Arthur Corbin Responds

Customer Service Reality Check: Arthur Corbin Responds
My recent post - Customer Service Reality Check: Best Quality or Not? struck a chord with Arthur Corbin, retail and lighting wizard. Here is his response. [See Arthur's previous posts.]



This company has been looking at what they do to provide goods as a negative and as a nuisance instead of an essential part of the goods and services they should provide with a smile.

This is a company I would not do business with.

Today's consumer is in the driver's seat with multiple sources for similar or identical products.

The keys to happy consumers are service, responsiveness, flexibility, and a smile. Purchasing must be easy. Delivery must be convenient for the consumer. Delivery people must be clean, courteous, careful when in the customer's home or business, and engaging.

Every person working for the supplier is an ambassador for the company and must act accordingly.

I think of Ironware International owned by Karin Eaton (history and background on the site). She is remarkable, poised, and engaging.

Here is the ordering page link http://www.ironwareinternational.com/content/orderingpolicies. Neutral language in clear sections cover all contingencies.

The key is the showroom that works with the designer and creates the order. The local showroom is Sloan Miyasato. The person working with Ironware is Patrice and she is exceptional.

Ironware realized that delivery times are shrinking as the clients of designers ask for interior design work to be completed in weeks not months. Karin responded by analyzing her sales and selecting 34 items that she guarantees to ship in 2 to 4 weeks. One finish and one style of each item is available for quick ship but this is what most orders have been for. Quick ship has been a big success for Karin and is typical of the changes in what had been a slow moving supply chain with long lead times.

I now work at a major department store in the home department. Consumers are short tempered, and they want the lowest price (they are aggressive with coupons, price adjustments, and telling you what price they want to pay).

This retailer has merged online and location ordering systems into one system. This system can be used to locate an item and can then ship the item (free shipping if order is $50.00 or more). The on line and location pricing does not always match and the store internet system is often not working. I often use customer's smart phones to check the web site to confirm a lower price.

Example: a $150- item was on clearance at $16.00 from the warehouse plus $6.00 shipping. The customer objected to the $6.00 shipping charge and to my failure to apply a posted 10% additional discount (that was the next screen in the ordering process). I politely reminded her that she was buying a $150.00 item for less than $20.00 and she backed off. This happens thousands of times daily in 800 stores and this is one retailer.

Some of this customer aggressiveness can be attributed to this retailer's bewildering number of coupons and offers, rebates, and cash back programs. Consumers are annoyed at the retailer and thus at me for items that do not qualify for a discount, at coupons that have expired, and at coupons with lots of small type (all of them). Yet, coupons, rebates, and special offers pack the stores with buyers.

Service with a positive attitude, easy and free delivery, short or no delivery lead time, and a competitive price are what consumers are looking for. Multiple ordering channels are a must. 24 hour ordering is a must.
  • Services are disappearing. Gift wrap is gone. Local stock of high end goods (fine china as an example) is mostly gone.
  • Trained sales people with product knowledge is the exception and low pay is one of many reasons.
  • Many consumer goods are the same or similar from retail store to retail store. Excitement and enchantment is mostly gone from retail.
That's the report and response from California.

Best wishes,

In a followup message, Arthur refers us to Now what? UPS threatens to return my shipment, won’t let me correct address - a preposterous, real life story affecting a customer's service experience.

Thank you, Arthur.

What's your reaction to Customer Service Reality Check? How do you balance supplier and customer pressures in today's marketplace? What are you doing differently to deliver memorable customer service and customer experiences?

Let me know in the comments.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Retail Experience in the News - 8/19/11

Wordle: #retailexp The 8/19/11 issue of Retail Experience in the News...  recapping the latest articles and links shared on Twitter with the #retailexp hashtag this past week is ready for you!

Retail Related Customer Data

Retail Experience and Customer Service

  • Beware of giving bad service! 2x many peeps tell others about it via @retexperience http://ow.ly/62Vsi #retailexp 
  • Jos A Bank: interesting #retailexp success story: http://ow.ly/62TGm "we let the customer tell us" - Do You? 
  • Car sites turn to social media: http://ow.ly/62VGp Doesn't sound like the #retailexp had been reinvented tho.  

Retail Experience Ideas

  • Brilliant! 5 ways museums R reaching digital audiences [& changing #retailexp] http://ow.ly/62VxO #practicalmktr 
  • 3 terrific suggestions for trends about the future: http://ow.ly/62TnL fr Small Business Labs, also good trends source #retailexp 
  • Simplicity the key to success for back 2 school mobile #retailexp: http://ow.ly/62U7z Note impo of having a strategy. 
  • Nice #retailexp real-life comparison of Apple vs. Micrsoft Stores at Mall of America http://ow.ly/62rDL via @retexperience 

Integrating Online with Offline

  • Have you read this FastCo story about Ralph Lauren's digital evolution? Fascinating #retailexp http://ow.ly/62VNu
  • @AmiMartin: @WhiteHorsepdx visionary @willreese feature in #fastcompany- Wise Up, Retailers: Smartphones Aren't Going Away http://ow.ly/66IAI #retailexp 

For previous issues of Retail Experience In The News, see Retail Experience News.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Customer Service Reality Check: Best Quality or Not?

Customer Service Reality Check: Best Quality or Not?
How do you define "Best Quality Customer Service"? It's a question that Nufloors' Cynthia Dean and I explored recently in response to a letter she had received from a supplier. We'd love your reactions to this 'customer service reality check'.

Here's the letter. For the sake of discussion, I've removed mention of the supplier in question.
In order to assist in improving inventory efficiencies & "The Best Quality Customer Service" we will be embarking on the following "shipping policies" effective July 5, 2011.
1. All order placed require a delivery or pick up date. Without a firm required date, stock can only be held for 24 hours. Any changes to the "required date" must be communicated to a --- Customer Service Representative.
2. If no date is given then the "Arrival Date" at the local --- branch will become the date required.
3. All orders must be either shipped or picked up on the "required date" given at the time of order placement. Below exceptions are subject to management approval only.
  • 45 days on all New Housing orders from above noted Customer Required Date.
  • 45 days on all Commercial products from above noted Customer Required Date.
  • Your --- sales representative will be working closely on all large on-going projects and/or draw orders to estimate the timing of inventory requirements over the life of the project. We may request multiple purchase orders that match the estimated draw of inventory.
4. Non-stock material must be taken as ordered. We are unable to accept returns and all inventories must be either picked up or shipped within the periods stated above.
Failure to do so will result in the inventory being shipped and invoiced.
5. An order confirmation will be sent confirming the details of all orders/order changes - if a special quotation was given please note the "Quote #" or "Quote Details" at time of order.
6. All promotional, convention, discontinued, remnants or non-stock materials will be shipped upon arrival.
We appreciate your understanding of the above and will continue to look for ways to provide "The Best Quality Service" you, our customers, deserve.

Cynthia included the following message when she forwarded this momentous memo:

Hello Christine:

 I am sending you the attached as an example of what not to do.

This is a letter we received from one of our suppliers this week.

Under the guise of ‘The Best Quality Customer Service’, they have implemented a long list of rules that we the customer now have to abide by ‘or else’.

Lynn, our person who does product ordering asks the question ‘How come whenever the suppliers are making us do even more work to make their lives easier, they call it ‘Improving Customer Service’.

I thought you would find this amusing (and maybe even a bit sad). The flooring industry is so far behind the times it is staggering.


Cynthia and I discussed the letter - she and I have been brainstorming around Surfaces 2012 presentation ideas - and came up with so many different and better approaches to implement and communicate messages such as this. Imagine the opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships if you asked them questions about how they process your products, what work is involved, what services provided they value most... Imagine not antagonizing your customer with a description of "best quality customer service" when you deliver the exact opposite...

Enough from me, what is your take on this letter? How would you react? If you had to send out a similar communication, what would you do differently? How would you turn this message from bad medicine to truly best quality customer service?

Let me know in the comments.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Retail Experience in the News - 8/12/11

Wordle: #retailexpThe 8/12/11 issue of Retail Experience in the News...  recapping the latest articles and links shared on Twitter with the #retailexp hashtag this past week is ready for you!

Retail Experience and Customer Service

Retail Experience Ideas

  • What do you think of this unusual way to add exclusivity to Banana Republic, Mad Men + Gilt Group? http://ow.ly/5WX6b #retailexp
  • RT @amimartin: Love this deck about the future of in-store technology. Check out the Bloomingdale fit pods: http://t.co/iurlcB2 #retailexp
  • Very cool! Lord & Taylor makes the #retailexp green! http://ow.ly/5WXec What are you doing?
  • What interesting #retailexp examples have you come across in malls around you? http://ow.ly/5WXyu
  • What are you noticing in your markets re: smaller #retailexp and restaurants? http://ow.ly/5WXzQ

Integrating Online with Offline

  • Fascinating! How site search fits into the online #retailexp. Lots insights to be gained! http://ow.ly/5WX8H
  • Retailers, are you thinking how to include tablets into your #retailexp? It's the future! http://ow.ly/5WXap
  • How Conagra's brands build online communities http://ow.ly/5WXgw #retailexp #practicalmktr
  • Integrating the ipad into the #retailexp: http://ow.ly/5WXCv What examples have you come across?

For previous issues of Retail Experience In The News, see Retail Experience News.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to Flooring The Consumer via email or

Monday, August 08, 2011

PSFK's Future of Retail Report 2011 Details Evolving Retail Experience

PSFK's Future of Retail Report 2011 Details Evolving Retail Experience
Have you see PSFK's Future of Retail Report 2011? It details the evolving retail experience and offers ideas you should be considering.

I find the retail experience fascinating: it's the closest we can get to observing a marketplace in action. The retail environment allows us - regardless of the industries we work in - to experience firsthand customer transactions and interactions, witness successes and failures and watch technology evolve as it integrates the online experience with in-store. The result is valuable business lessons applicable to both B2C and B2B environments.

[For additional perspective, see Retail is the dipstick of social change.]

PSFK tracks trends and innovation around the world.  It produces reports on the future of several categories [including the future of health] and a daily newsletter that is worth subscribing to.

You can experience a preview of the full Future of Retail Report 2011 via the Slideshare embedded below. It's worth exploring multiple times to fully assimilate the ideas and implications for retail environments. [PSFK also sells a detailed version of the Future of Retail Report 2011.]

The Future of Retail Report 2011 details 10 key retail trends that sit within 3 broad themes as follows:

Online Expectations, Offline Experience includes:
  • Digitally empowered staff
  • In-stores
  • Scanned Shoppers
  • Gesture-based browsing

Shopper Know-How includes:
  • On my block deals
  • Social currency
  • What's in-store

Redefined Retail Cartography includes:
  • Fitting Room Redress
  • Store within a store
  • Instant try-on

Subscribers, click on this link: PSFK Future Of Retail Report 2011 [Preview] to experience the full preview report.

View more presentations from PSFK

I'd love to hear your reactions. Which trends do you see being most successful in your retail environment? Which apps do you find most relevant to your retail category? Which seem more useful to you as a consumer?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Retail Experience in the News - 8/5/11

Wordle: #retailexpHere is the 8/5/11 issue of Retail Experience in the News...  recapping the latest articles and links shared on Twitter with the #retailexp hashtag this past week.

Retail Experience and Customer Service

  • How boutiques pamper top customers: http://ow.ly/5RfDk Fabulous #retailexp focused on customers ~"hug your customers"
  • RT @hyken: 5 Ways To Beef Up Customer Service On Facebook http://t.co/6VEaQau CB: gr8 suggestions! #retailexp
  • I like this too! RT @hyken: Customer Service Tips: Gaining The Competitive Edge http://t.co/gW4HIEO #retailexp
  • Treating employees like stakeholders & improving overall #retailexp http://ow.ly/5RjUE
  • Beware automated tweets & flooring guys who constantly push product. That's not adding value! http://ow.ly/5RB3U #retailexp

Retail Experience Ideas

  • Reinventing JCPenney: from Target & Apple new CEO has big job ahead redefining #retailexp http://ow.ly/5RjXv
  • RT @fcnewsmag: Exclusivity and sampling: Use big swatches http://bit.ly/mYGVGb #flooring #retailexp
  • Where Facebook can shine for global brands: connecting at local level: http://ow.ly/5RBga #practicalmktr #retailexp
  • From NRF, Deloitte report on Consumer 2020: reading the signs. What to expect for next 10 years. http://ow.ly/5M4py #retailexp
  • RT @fcnewsmag What the fall of #AtlanticCity has to do with #retail http://bit.ly/ps5Pzf #retailexp

Integrating Online with Offline

  • Interesting how Michaels is using mobile apps to drive traffic in-store http://ow.ly/5Rk69 #retailexp
  • How absolutely refreshing! Domino's posts online order comments on NYC Times Square billboard http://ow.ly/5RjPY #retailexp
  • Overcoming #retailexp challenge by connecting with customers via social media: Haralee.com sleepwear http://ow.ly/5RjSX
For previous issues of Retail Experience In The News, see Retail Experience News.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to Flooring The Consumer via email or

Monday, August 01, 2011

Retaining Flooring Customers Through Feedback

Retaining Flooring Customers Through Feedback
If you feel strongly about retaining your existing flooring customers, you will appreciate this article titled Keep your customers, grow your business by Dennis Furlan. It appeared in the March 2011 issue of Coverings, Canada's floorcovering magazine and features two friends, Matt Selbie and Cynthia Dean. [Oh, and I'm quoted, too :-).]

Matt Selbie is founder and president of Oberon3, a customer feedback firm located in Portland, Oregon. You may remember him from Meet Opiniator's Matt Selbie and The Opiniator 6 Laws of Customer Feedback.

Cynthia Dean is general manager of  from Canada Nufloors in Coquitlam, BC. She shared some of her wisdom in this post titled Connecting With Customers: Nufloors Advice.

The article makes several points worth paying attention to.

1. "Ignoring the customer after the fact is one of the most costly mistakes that a business can make."

2. Asking about a customer's experience in your store, with sales representatives and with installation helps you identify what problems she might have had, address them and make the customer feel that you are listening to her.

3. Be sure to "ask questions that will give you honest feedback from your customers" rather than "answers you want to hear".

4. "Companies have to be able to act on the results of the surveys." In other words, make sure you do something about what you hear from your customers.

By the way, if you interact with complaining customers, be sure to absorb Guy Winch's wisdom from this post titled How To Build WOM From Complaining Customers - MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2011!

Do you survey your customers? What have you learned? What have you implemented? How have you taken what your learned to transform your organization? I'd love to hear in the comments.


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