Interview with Becky Carroll Author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers

09/07/2011

Becky Carroll_2 Traditionally customer service has been perceived as a necessary business function whose purpose is to appease unhappy customers.

Becky Carroll believes differently. She thinks customers rock and caring for your customer is one of the joys of doing businss. 

With the onset of social media, savvy companies like Dell, Zappos and your neighborhood food truck are learning servicing the customer can be a critical strategy; and sets you apart from your competiton.

That's what Becky's new book, The Hidden Power of Your Customers, is all about. 

In Brian Solis’ foreword to The Hidden Power of Your Customers, there is one line that especially resonated with me. “With the emergence of social media, we are given not just a right to engage but a rite of passage to earn relevance.” Relvancy and customer service .. a novel idea!

Becky Carroll kindly shares her innovative, but it makes sense, approach to building a “Customers Rock” focused company. 

Diva Marketing/Toby: I would imagine a Customer Rocks company takes coordination, alignment and team work that many organizations may not have in place. What would you tell those companies where departments are silo-ed or where employees may never have thought of their role as being part of customer service?

Becky Carroll: You are right, Toby, it does take quite a bit of coordination inside an organization to create an integrated approach to customers – whether that’s in customer service, marketing, sales, or any other customer-facing function. Company silos can create inconsistent messaging and treatment for and of customers.

To answer your question, I often recommend those companies create a customer experience map of their interactions with customers. Described in my book, this mapping of company transactions helps to do two things. 

First, since the map takes the customer’s perspective, it reveals how different internal organizations come together (or not) to impact the customer experience.

When cross-functional teams sit down and analyze this map, they usually find opportunities for process improvements, as well as areas of best practice, that will ultimately make the business more efficient, as well as more effective for the customer.

Second, a customer experience map can also help employees who are not “customer facing” to understand how their roles ultimately impact the customer experience. The map includes data and process inputs and outputs from different organizations, so employees can visually see where their outputs feed into customer interactions.

This understanding, along with cross-organizational metrics that help drive customer focus across all employees, can help everyone understand how they are a part of “taking care of customers”.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Becky, including multiple departments or business units in supporting customer service begs the question, “Who owns the service to the customer?”

Becky Carroll: As you can see from my answer above, I firmly believe that every employee participates and ultimately owns the service of the customer. Some employees interact directly with the customer to provide this service; others are serving fellow employees across departments, which empowers them to perform their customer-facing roles effectively – from the customer’s perspective.

Employee metrics focused on customer service will help make drive employee behaviors to support customer-focused initiatives.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The irony of social media is that we began this journey with a focus on bringing people together .. customers and the staff behind the brand.  However, frequently it seems the objective is not building relationships but in how many friends, likes, followers and now 1+ a brand can accumulate.

You turn the tables and advise us to be your customer’s fan (love it!). How do we get out of the "collecting numbers mindset?" 

Becky Carroll: Social media practitioners get into the habit of collecting numbers when they view social media as another place to run campaigns.

Social media is not a campaign – it is a strategy to build relationships.

When a company creates a social media strategy that is based on business goals, such as increasing customer share of wallet, as well as based on improving customer relationships (which can include prospects, too), rather then simply tracking “traffic” to social media properties (likes, followers, etc), we begin to move out of the campaign-mindset.

It also helps executives to better understand what we are doing with social media when we talk to them in terms of business goals and metrics as opposed to the much-touted social media “numbers”.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  I’ve used social media to call companies out and also to tell companies their service or product rocks. Sometimes I’ve been acknowledged and sometimes I have not. I must admit that when I don’t get a response, but notice that other people are getting special treatment I feel slighted. How does a company scale Customers Rock service?

Becky Carroll: Customer service via social media scales best when it is part of a customer-focused culture. This type of culture is created by company management as they model servant leadership towards their employees.

When employees, all employees, see how it looks to serve others in the organization, they learn how to serve customers.  Once everyone at the company understands how customer service is everyone’s job, and this is supported by management and metrics, employees will be empowered to treat all customers well – both in social media as well as in other customer-facing channels.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  I agree with you .. at the end of the day it is all about the people on both side of the equation: customers and employees. As our friend Sybil Stershic reminds us although most product and services can easily become commoditized relationships built on caring service are more difficult to duplicate. 

After you’ve listened (Chapter 1) and understand your customers’ need what is the first step to take in becoming a Customers Rock company?

Becky Carroll: The first step in becoming a Customers Rock company is to create a customer strategy. Companies have marketing strategies, social media strategies, and product strategies – but how many of them have a strategy for how they will treat their customers? This strategy needs to be thought-through carefully and embraced at all levels of the organization.

It should incorporate all four keys described in the book – Relevant Marketing, Orchestrated Customer Experience, Customer-Focused Culture, and Killer Customer Service – in order to create a strategy that can unlock the hidden power of your existing customers.

 Diva Marketing/Toby:  Becky, the Diva Marketing virtual stage is yours. Wrap it up any way you like.

Becky Carroll: I would just encourage organizations not to take their current customers for granted. They have more power than you think to help grow your business. And it’s not really hard – start with a thank you for being our customer!

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of Diva Marketing, Toby. You rock! Becky Carroll Hidden-Power2

Becky totally rocks too .. in fact she gave me a copy of The Hidden Power of Your Customer to give away.

If you want the book drop a comment and let me know why.

Becky will choose the comment that she thinks rocks it out!

Update: Contest deadline is midnight Friday 9 Sept 2011.

Continue the conversation with Becky!

Customers Rock

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The Hidden Power of Your Customers

Amazon.com

Update: Becky Carroll chose Aimee's comment as the winner. As an extra bonus for us ~ Aimee graciously agreed to tell us her 3 top customer rock tips .. skip over to this post! Thanks to everyone who participated!

 Bloggy disclaimer: Becky kindly comped me a copy of her book. 

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Comments

Hi Toby, I want the book because you and Becky rock!

Posted by: Tin on Sep 7, 2011 6:25:44 PM

Great Q&A that's whet my appetite to check out the book (which I'll do win or not ;) ). What really clicks for me is that success comes not only from excellent tactical service delivery but a purposeful strategy that also aligns marketing, culture and the overall experience. How you make the promises to the customer have to match how you deliver on those commitments which requires your people be on board. Then both you and the customer can rock!

Posted by: Aimee Lucas on Sep 7, 2011 9:04:29 PM

If you pick me, it won't just be me benefitting, it'll be all of my students, too!

Posted by: Karen Russell on Sep 9, 2011 2:29:30 PM

I agree with your insight about "Social media is not a campaign – it is a strategy to build relationships." Most people had focus so much on sounding too transactional but the real aim of social media is to connect with people and as well as to help them.
-http://socialmediasolutionsexpert.com/

Posted by: Eugene Tero on Sep 22, 2011 10:43:11 AM

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