How Not to Pull a ‘Corporate Thelma and Louise’ Over the Fiscal Cliff


There is plenty of intrinsic uncertainty in business, and with an intractably grid locked Congress driving the nation towards a “fiscal cliff”, and Europe unsteadily struggling with massive economic reforms and austerity measures, the business climate faces the potential for massive volatility in the near future. However, according to  Jim Rohrer, President of Customer Care Partners:

“When the economy slows down, your business doesn’t have to. Businesses can still succeed and grow even now, in one of the most challenging economies we’ve had since the 1970’s. The secret involves improving client loyalty, the only element proven to cause growth.”

The more your company engages and partners with your customers the more loyal they will be to you. The more you can help them achieve their goals, the more essential you become to their success and they would never think of choosing another vendor (partner).

Surprisingly, even in this economy, many companies remain exclusively sales driven to achieve growth and have given very little attention to introducing innovation into their customer care modalities. The result for many of these companies has been a hapless struggle against accelerating churn rates by doubling down on marketing and sales investments.

In companies failing to focus on their existing customers, churn is frequently treated like the common cold: management presumes the root causes of the problem can’t be cured and think that the very best that can hoped for is to alleviate the symptoms. But bear in mind, in much the same way that pharmaceutical advancements make it possible for healthcare professionals to attack viral strains directly, enterprises are able to diagnose and cure the underlying causes of customer departures and disenchantment. Simply put, churn is curable.

The outcome of investing in customer experience tools almost never has a negative impact on revenue and it’s easy to understand how any churn prevention initiative is likely have a positive effect on other parts of the company because the most-effective churn reduction methods are bolstered by unambiguous and legitimate assemblies of information and data from all channels in the company. A look below at the most common drivers of churn, identified by the Institute for Customer Service, illustrates this:

  • Unethical practices and overstated capabilities at the point of sale.
  • Sign-up, activation, and new user challenges.
  • Fulfillment glitches.
  • Service, support and documentation inadequacies.
  • Unpredictable billing practices and poor payment capacities.
  • Misaligned and/or inconsistently applied policies.
  • Difficulty with product and/or package features—or the lack thereof.

Note that 4 of these 7 are closely linked to your product and support channels. This means improvement of the customer experience in these areas is an essential keystone in your over-arching customer loyalty strategy.

Before the Going Gets Tough, Make Customer Experience and Loyalty a Priority

MindTouch has learned through its long history in providing product help solutions that about 50% of business leaders pinpoint customer churn as the topmost threat to their company. Given that customer retention will be crucial to your business’ capacity to thrive; you simply must focus on it as a central business goal. Position your people, operations and strategy towards creating a fantastic customer experience and make absolutely certain it will be embedded in all parts of the company.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Softer

Cost cutting on customer care and technical support is generally a false economy. Rather, carefully consider both the ‘soft’ – intangible or emotional – as well as monetary returns of customer relationships and invest in strengthening the stickiness of your product or service by using essential tools to make your product easier to use and easier to understand through engaging and socially enabled product help.

When the Going Gets Tough, Don’t Swing the Axe at Customer Care

Nearly one third (31%) of business leaders point out their quality of service has been weakened due largely to a short-term focus on cost-cutting and profits. Fair price combined with a valuable product are the foundations of an exceptional customer experience. Start building on this with real value-added, customer focused and publically facing customer care and support investments.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Customer Will Always Be Right

Acquiring and holding onto loyal customers will undoubtedly be crucial as, according to Consumer Studies Research out of Rutgers University, almost fifty percent (47%) of consumers  and B2B buyers describe themselves in this economic climate as more prone to switch companies or vendors in the foreseeable future as their budgets tighten. To counteract this, carefully consider ways in which your business strategy, as well as operating approach, reflects what today’s customer and buyer truly expects from your product and your company.

When the Going Gets Tough, Your Customer Care Team Will Save the Day

Customer care is a legitimate and essential profession that has all too often been outsourced into the hands of persons without a stake in the outcomes of their performance and function with very loose accountability. Therefore, strive to equip and coach your own staff to offer the very best customer care and technical support possible and most importantly invest in a proven technology, like that offered by MindTouch to effectively promote self-service support. Furthermore, empower, stimulate and cultivate customer care skill sets in all your employees – clients will certainly benefit and so will your staff.

Before the Going Gets Tough, Engage and Empathize

The softer elements of the customer experience and engagement are in many cases neglected. Clients favor being taken care of as people, not account numbers. Engage your client at every opportunity, communicate that you understand, and deliver consistency, trustworthiness, reliability every time. This will help ensure that your clients become your advocates. One of the most neglected customer engagement points is, amazingly, when an where customers look for help with a product. This is perhaps the most critical point to maximize engagement…when the customer (or user) is having a problem and looking for answers on Google or your web site. Its critical to know when when and where your customer is looking for help on-line, and to know whether or not they’re finding the information they need.

Wall Flowers Never Grow-Get Social and Listen

Social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, etc.,  gives you and your customers a medium for feedback as well as mutual sharing and engagement. Harness the variety of applications designed to both monitor customer reactions and comments and engage with them to enhance the total product, customer care and product support experience. Companies like HTC, SuccessFactors and SAP have even taken the extra step of integrating their MindTouch powered product help with their CRM and ticketing platforms and social network accounts to provide rapid solutions to customers looking for help across multiple channels.

An Ounce of Prevention is Better than a Pound of Churn

Customer problems and grievances cost time and money but a workable, easy to use and scalable system will allow you too efficiently and cost effectively pinpoint weaknesses. Monitor customer feedback and adopt streamlined engagement and monitoring applications, for instance MindTouch, a socially enabled product help system, enables you to address customer problems with your product and its documentation before they catch fire.

Think Strategically and Gather Intelligence

Customer care and technical support is a significant driver of bottom-line performance and will be the decisive battlefield in the blistering struggle through economic downturns for new buyers. Keep coming back customer care strategy routinely, evaluating the ways in which your clients as well as  your staff  regard it, not to mention the ways in which it stacks up to competitors’ approaches.

Drive Customer and Buyer Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Off the Cliff Instead

83% of executives, interviewed by a Rutgers University research team, specified that the caliber of customer care and product support is a greater determining factor as weighted against price in determining their ongoing loyalty as a client. So, lastly, differentiate, as well as market yourself on the excellence of your customer and technical support as well as your product, ensuring that clients continue to keep coming back and to lend stability against fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of potential buyers.