Happy customers + happy employees = more business, say FMG keynoters

LAS VEGAS — A pair of keynote speakers at the Furniture Marketing Group’s annual Symposium at Caesar’s Palace here spoke about how creating happiness and satisfaction both inside and outside the organization can lead to better business.

Joey Coleman, author of “Never Lose a Customer Again,” spoke on the value of the first 100 days after a transaction with six tools and eight phases to optimize the customer experience. Annette Franz later discussed how to transform the customer experience from the inside out, paying attention to the employee experience.

Coleman started his discussion noting that he went on Amazon books and searched keywords marketing and sales, which showed 1.3 million books written on those topics. He then refined the search and searched customer experience, customer service, customer satisfaction and other related topics and found 30,198 books.

“What does that tell us?” Coleman asked. “At least in the area of books, we have to have 47 books about getting a customer before we get to one written about how to keep a customer.”

He said there’s a reason why there’s more material on getting customers vs. keeping them. “We’re much more excited as human beings to chase new business than talk to people who have already given us their business.”

So why is the first 100 days after a transaction so valuable in creating a repeat customer?

“If you get the first 100 days right, the typical customer will stay with you for five years and will continue making purchases with you during those five years,” Coleman said. “Across a wide range of industries, a 5% improvement in customer retention will yield a 25% to 100% increase in profits.”

To ensure best results, Coleman said there are six communication tools a business can use to ensure its customers keep coming back: in person interactions, email communication, personalized mail, phone calls, videos and gifts (and if it has your logo on it, it’s not a gift).

He said the customer journey can be broken down into eight phases, and brands that get it right here can expect those customers to keep coming back. The phases are assess (the prospect decides to do business), admit (the prospect admits to a need), affirm (the buyer’s remorse stage in which the customer needs reassurance), activate (when the furniture arrives), acclimate (the customer gets used to the new items or your brand’s way of doing business), accomplish (the customer achieves the goal or the new furniture is now 100% part of the home), adopt (brand loyalty) and advocate (the customer becomes a raving fan).

“If we do this right, it’s like the old shampoo commercials: We get to rinse and repeat and do it again and again,” he said.

Franz started her presentation noting that, in the U.S., 88% of the workforce goes home each day feeling like they’re not listened to or cared for. “When we fix what’s happening on the inside with our employees and culture and leaders, we fix 90% of the customer experience as well,” she said.

She cited the recent catastrophic injury to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin. She said once Hamlin had been stabilized and taken to the hospital, the NFL told the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals to take five minutes and get ready to continue the game (which was ultimately canceled) and the response it generated.

“Daron Roberts said how the NFL handled the situation is an example of why a lot of Americans don’t give a damn about their employer,” she said.

So how does a business show it cares? Franz said it’s a combination of culture, leadership commitment and alignment, and putting employees first.

She said culture is the foundation of the business, strategy, customer experience and employee experience.

“If we have a strong, healthy culture and strong committed leadership, and we’re doing all the things we do to create a great place for employees, they feel valued and heard, they’re aligned,” Franz said. “They want the business to succeed. They stay and tell others why they stay. That creates great outcomes for your customers.”

Leadership commitment and alignment means everybody in leadership pulling in the same direction because what leaders talk about, employees deem as important, and those actions drive how employees will behave.

“There are two ways they need to be committed,” she said. “They need to be committed to the culture of putting people first and then committed to the resources needed to make it work. We also need leadership alignment. We can’t move forward with a customer-centric culture if only some leaders are on board.”

Franz said only 80% of executives agree that the employee experience is important, and 22% say their company excels at building an employee-first culture. “It’s not ping pong tables or beer Fridays. That’s all fun and employees appreciate that, but if you think that’s what gets them to stay, it’s not,” she said.

She said the employee experience starts with the candidate experience and why a candidate should choose to work for a particular company. From there, it’s all about nailing the soft stuff: growth and development, feedback and coaching, recognition and appreciation; and the hard stuff: tools, training, resources, policies, processes, workspace, etc.

“Why does this matter? There’s this thing called the spillover effect. It’s the tendency of people’s emotions or feelings affecting the emotions or feelings of people around them,” Franz said. “Happy employees create happy customers who create happy shareholders.”

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