Customer Care Article

Barnaby Lewis’s picture

By: Barnaby Lewis

Put in the terms of this article’s title, most of us would run a mile, whatever the proposition. But the popularity of online reviews, and the trust we place in persons unknown when making major decisions about where to stay, what to eat, and how to get the most from a trip, tells a different story.

Online communities have always been a place where people connect with peers: people like us, sharing something in common. Accessible anywhere and generally free to participate, it’s little wonder that news groups, forums, and chat rooms flourished from the beginning of the internet and prepared the ground for the late 2000’s social media explosion.

It’s hard to imagine a world without these connections. They’ve become part of the fabric of our daily lives. They’ve changed not only the way we socialize and define our friends, but also our relationship to information and how we form, and express, our opinions. They’ve also influenced the way we make our vacationing decisions; many of us now move from idea through research to booking entirely on screen.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

A recent family biking vacation in the Dolomites region of Italy had my family and I all swept up in the charms of Northern Italy. Snow-capped peaks near the Austrian border, endless apple orchards, award-winning Chenin Blanc, and quaint Italian villages with healthy doses of affogato (strong espresso coffee meeting with gelato is sheer genius) made the 250 km fly by.

By the time we ended our trip in Riva del Garda, we were mentally separated from the harsh Minnesota winter and ready for the summer. We couldn’t stop talking about the outfitter (Scottsdale, Arizona-based Pure Adventures) that arranged this active vacation. However, when my wife got an email with a $500 referral incentive from them, she was reluctant to exercise it, despite many colleagues expressly asking us about the company that arranged this trip. She did not feel comfortable getting a substantial reward for something her friend or colleague did.

Therein, lies the conundrum of getting referral marketing to work. To be clear, Pure Adventures had the right idea to try to use existing, ostensibly delighted, customers to acquire new customers. The nuance lies in how to activate and even accelerate this process using financial incentives, when at its core, it is primarily an intrinsically motivated action.

David Dubois’s picture

By: David Dubois

Faced with a growing range of tech solutions in marketing, from AI to big data to blockchain, business-to-business (B2B) companies too often choose the status quo. Recent evidence suggests the divide between success and failure is not about how much companies spend, but how well they integrate technological solutions that create value.

In other words, a company’s digital investment does not necessarily translate into marketing return on investment (ROI). For that to happen the firm needs to build a digital marketing organization—data-driven marketing capabilities around the customer. 

A pivotal and enduring dimension of success in B2B markets lies in the relationship a company has with its clients. Thus, identifying the type of relationships that you have or would like to have with your customers is an excellent starting point to select and embed digital technology into your strategy. And this process is increasingly important for B2B companies if they are to maintain growth even as digital disruption accelerates the shift from B2BigB to B2SmallB.  

Alex Bekker’s picture

By: Alex Bekker

Do you know what a retailer and a tightrope walker have in common? They both have to balance. For the tightrope walker, the logic is clear. But what’s the balance that a retailer is looking for?

A typical dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs

Although the dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs is applicable to any product category, it’s much more painful with perishables. If their quantity can’t meet the demand, retailers should be ready to see a frown from an unhappy customer who didn’t find her favorite dairy, fruit, or vegetable on the shelves.

However, staying on the safe side by ordering more perishables is hardly a cost-effective solution. Perishable products require special storage conditions, and their shelf life seldom exceeds a couple of days, which means retailers must address disposal issues. So, it’s easy to understand why retailers, by all means possible, try to find the optimal balance between storing too much and too little.

A way of handling this dilemma with data science

There is a way to handle the storage/shortage dilemma efficiently: It’s via a deep neural network (a DNN), the most advanced data science approach.

Bill Laverty’s picture

By: Bill Laverty

Operations management plays an important role in the manufacturing process, but similar to a stage crew at a theater, operations managers do all their best work behind the scenes. The best operations managers strive to go unnoticed, and why shouldn’t they? A seamless supply-chain process should require little to no attention from customers.

But recent tariffs are jolting operations. NAFTA changes, along with tariffs on Chinese imports, are forcing operations managers to step out on center stage. New tariffs on materials like steel and aluminum as well as electronic components could mean disruption in the supply chain process, and operations managers have to work diligently to mitigate any hiccups that crop up for the company and its customers alike. Certainly costs are going to increase somewhere, so companies have to decide whether they’re going to absorb them or pass them along to their customers, both of which are less than ideal options.

Tara García Mathewson’s picture

By: Tara García Mathewson

Once students learn how to sound out words, reading is easy. They can speak the words they see. But whether they understand them is a different question entirely. Reading comprehension is complicated. Teachers, though, can help students learn concrete skills to become better readers. One way is by teaching them how to think as they read.

Marianne Stewart teaches eighth grade English at Lexington Junior High near Anaheim, California. She recently asked her students to gather in groups to discuss books where characters face difficulties. Students could choose from 11 different books, but in each group one student took on the role of “discussion director,” whose task was to create questions for the group to discuss together. Stewart created prompts to help them come up with questions that require deep reading.

This process of questioning while reading is one of a number of “cognitive strategies” Stewart teaches her students. The strategies focus on what research has shown to be the thought processes of good readers. Others include planning and goal-setting, tapping prior knowledge, making connections, visualizing, and forming interpretations. By mastering these strategies explicitly, students learn that reading is an active process, not one in which they simply sound out words in their heads.

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

By: Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Parking lot. We use it in the meeting-management world to mean agenda items that are tabled for later discussion. These are generally posted on a sheet of flip-chart paper, taped on the meeting wall, and then placed on the agenda of the next meeting so they are not forgotten as topics for discussion.

I was working with a large B2B company and sat in on its weekly senior leadership staff meeting. The attendees all agreed they needed to spend a considerable amount of time talking about the negative impact of their customers’ experiences of their company. Survey results verbatim and customer complaints repeatedly contained comments on the company’s great products but its lousy customer service. Their customer churn rate was up; customer-contact employees’ morale was low. But this particular meeting was already full of higher priority issues. So, customer experience was put on the parking lot flip chart.

Pierre Chandon’s picture

By: Pierre Chandon

Whether you love or hate his work, Andy Warhol eating a Whopper for 45 seconds during one of the most expensive ad slots in television this year was astonishing.

Super Bowl Sunday—the most macho of American sporting events—coupled with the quintessential pop artist had people talking the morning after. Some were profoundly confused about what they had just watched; others were amazed by Burger King’s latest demonstration of its fearless approach to brand building.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

For centuries, medical procedures, prescriptions, and other medical interventions have been based largely on experience—what is known about a set of symptoms. The doctor looks at those symptoms, tests you in various ways (blood tests, X-rays, MRIs), and interprets the results based on experience with past patients or what is widely known in the medical community. Then she prescribes a treatment. There are two problems with this.

First, diagnosis relies on the doctor’s or medical profession’s interpretation of an examination and test results. Second, treatments themselves target populations, not people: This is the treatment that worked for most people in the past, so this treatment should work for you.

This isn’t to bad-mouth the medical or pharma community. But medicine has been, and still is, essentially statistical in nature. It’s based on populations, not individuals. That has been the most cost-effective way to treat the most people in the most efficient way possible. It hasn’t been possible, either technologically or, more important in terms of time, to test every patient for every possible pathogen that he might ever have been exposed to, or personally interview every family member to understand the patient’s family health history.

Multiple Authors
By: Nicole Radziwill, Graham Freeman

In 2013, thousands of consumers in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland bought, prepared—and ate—beef lasagna, hamburgers, and frozen dinners. What they didn’t know is what they were actually putting in their mouths.

Although a burger is only required by law in that region to contain 47-percent beef, some meat products contained up to 80-percent horsemeat, and 85 percent of products contained traces of pork.1 In addition to potential health incidents due to allergic reactions, religious dietary guidelines and restrictions may also be violated when labels are incorrect.2 The bottom line is this: People should be provided with accurate information so that they can decide for themselves what, and what not, to eat.

A crisis like this can have far-reaching impact. In addition to product recalls, safety alerts, and expensive market withdrawals, there can be loss of reputation among consumers as well as the general public. And since the food supply chain is extensive, global, and highly interconnected, a failure introduced by one supply chain partner can lead to adverse effects on a company that isn’t even directly responsible for the problems.3

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