November 26, 2012
We’ve written about Zappos’ great social media efforts, but the online shoe retailer has other impressive qualities, too. In this week’s guest post, Software Advice’s Ashley Furness tells you how to create a Zappos-like culture of customer service using performance metrics.
It seems traditional marketing increasingly turns away customers in today’s Yelp and social media-obsessed world. Advertising, PR, and other promotional spending fall on deaf ears while bad messages travel further, faster.
This has prompted a sea-change in the way some companies approach their marketing budget. Could a Zappos-level of customer service provide a better return on investment?
“Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market,” Zappos Loyalty Manager Joseph Michelli explained to me recently. He authored a whole book on the concept, called The Zappos Experience. This has resulted in as much as 75 percent of their sales coming from return customers, who spend on average 2.5 times more than first-timers.
So how do you create this Zappos-like culture? It starts with the basics – performance metrics.
It’s About the Wow Moments
Making the customer feel appreciated is a priority for Zappos. They do this by grading calls on a 100-point scale they call the “Happiness Experience Form.” Every agent is expected to maintain a 50-point average or higher. This score is based on several factors, including:
• Whether or not the agent tried to create a personal emotional connection with the caller
• Whether or not the agent continued the conversation if the customer responded positively
• Whether or not the agent identified and responded to the customer’s unstated needs
• And whether or not the agent gave a “wow” experience or went above and beyond
“Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship as opposed to a top-of-mind impression through advertising,” Michelli said.
At the end of the month, management identifies agents with less than a 50-point average on the Happiness Experience Form. Those agents receive extra training. Top performers are rewarded with paid hours off and other incentives.
Zappos also monitors “abandonment time,” or periods when an agent has a chat session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat. The reason this is so important is two-fold:
One, idle chats are a symptom of chat avoidance – or the agent purposefully creating conditions so they don’t have to respond; and two, when agents aren’t responding, customers wait longer. The longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session.
This strategy zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity in the chat setting – idle chats – without deterring agents from expressing the values in the Happiness Experience Form.
Still Measuring Call Quantities?
Zappos’s longest call on record lasted more than eight hours, and guess what? This interaction was lauded by leadership as a stellar example of serving the customer.
“It’s more important that we make an emotional connection with the customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,” says Derek Carder, Customer Loyalty Operations Manager for Zappos.
Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of time an agent spends on the phone. Every agent is expected to spend 80 percent of their time on the phone, in chat, or in an email response. This metric is a way to empower the team and to utilize time in a way that best promotes customer loyalty.
Absenteeism can be a huge detractor from your customer service productivity. Zappos uses a program they call Panda to combat this trend. Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.
This decreases the days missed by employees, but also increases job satisfaction. What Zappos-level strategies does your company use to create a customer-centric culture? Let us know by commenting here.
Ashley Furness is a market analyst with Software Advice.
November 20, 2012
All it takes is one person to believe in you.
Organizations across America have believed in Brandemix to develop branded communications that attract, educate, and engage their target audiences.
During this time of year, we feel it’s important to give thanks for that trust and to give back as well. That’s why we make regular contributions to Kiva, a nonprofit organization that enables people like you and me to extend microloans over the web to low-income entrepreneurs in struggling communities, whether as far away as Africa or as close as Staten Island and New Jersey.
We chose Kiva out of many other microlending sites because eighty percent of its recipients are women, who are sometimes single-handedly supporting large families. As a certified woman-owned business enterprise, we believe in strengthening women around the world.
No matter how difficult our lives at the moment, people are suffering far more in many places – too many – across the world. Please take the time to visit www.kiva.org and give to the worthy cause of your choice. It’s not charity; it’s a loan, and more than 98% of Kiva recipients repay the loan with interest.
Lending through Kiva creates desperately needed capital in some of the poorest parts of the globe. It bypasses corrupt governments and predatory banks and ensures that the money goes directly to those who will use it. When the loan is repaid, you can give the money to another entrepreneur, donate it to Kiva’s general fund, or simply withdraw it. It’s a great way to give.
We hope you’ll join our efforts to fight poverty around the world and here in the US. From all of us here at Brandemix, happy Thanksgiving.
November 13, 2012
As Jobvite’s recent survey has shown us, social recruiting is here to stay, so we at Brandemix are constantly looking for the brands that are doing it innovative ways. This year, we’ve honored Zappos and State Farm, and now it’s time to recognize another Social Media Superstar: Taco Bell.
Here’s the restaurant’s employer branding statement: “At Taco Bell, we know what it’s like to blaze some trails, kick up some dirt, and take tacos to where they have never been before. We are a brand of firsts and we invite you to join our team. Inspire. Lead. Learn. Grow. Work here and Live Más.”
Lots of unique, differentiating phrases in there. And it includes the new consumer brand at the end.
Photos and Conversations on Facebook
The Facebook Page for Taco Bell Careers has 127,200 likes. The Page features 12 photo albums, with pictures ranging from clever employee events (the Peeps model contest is not to be missed) to celebrities who have stopped by the restaurant (most recently, Lance Bass). One image of Taco Bell products actually addresses the employees, asking, “What’s your favorite item to make?” That’s a bold move that could easily lead to embarrassing answers. But the pic has 34 comments and more than 200 likes. My favorite response: “I like making customers happy!”
Taco Bell’s Careers Facebook Page also features four videos and the BeKnown app with job listings, showing once again that some brands are fully recruiting on social channels. My only quibble with their Facebook effort is the underused Notes section, which has only one entry – for the chain’s college scholarship program.
Active Engagement on Twitter
Taco Bell Careers isn’t quite as popular on Twitter, with 1,339 followers. But what sets them apart is that they don’t wait for @mentions; when someone mentions interviewing at the company, Taco Bell wishes them luck. When someone announces they’ve been hired, Taco Bell welcomes them. When someone says they’re leaving, Taco Bell tells them goodbye. This shows attention to both employees and job-seekers, and that Taco Bell is rooting for its workers to succeed.
Authentic Employee Profiles on YouTube
As for YouTube – which, don’t forget, is the second-largest search engine in the world – Taco Bell has its own careers channel, with seven videos and more than 44,000 views. Four of the videos each focus on a single employee, from a 17-year-old team member to a franchise owner with 20 years of experience.
This may sound silly, but I also like that the videos clearly show the employees preparing and serving food. You’d be surprised how some brands seem to ignore what their workers actually do. Or maybe a career at McDonald’s involves sitting on steps?
Taco Bell is one of a growing number of brands that’s recruiting on Pinterest. Taco Bell Careers has more than 300 images on 24 boards on the site. Five boards are devoted to individual recruiters and include pictures of the their pets and hobbies, a great way to relate to candidates. A board of inspirational quotes is cleverly called “Food For Thought,” while another is devoted to “Leadership Development.”
|A few of Taco Bell Careers’ boards on Pinterest
You can see that Taco Bell reaches out to both current and future employees on four social channels. The chain’s fun attitude can be seen in its fast-paced videos, its whimsical employee event photos, and its active dialogue on Twitter. Taco Bell has also recognized the power of Pinterest and posts images that are both cool and useful.
For all these reasons, I declare Taco Bell Careers a Social Media Superstar!
Learn about more employer branding superstars at our free webinar, “Employer Brands Undercover: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Authentic Employer Brand in the Digital World.” Tuesday, November 27, at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm Eastern. Register here.
November 5, 2012
Brandemix is always ready to celebrate brands, but this week, I want to celebrate our own brand – and the brand that is New York City. Though many others faced much tougher challenges, we at Brandemix knew that, despite all the hardships caused by the storm, the calendar hadn’t changed.
Our clients throughout the country still had important, immovable deadlines. And while the city canceled the Halloween Parade and the NYC Marathon, we knew we had to keep our commitments to our clients.
Two of us live on Long Island and had to evacuate. One of us lives in Downtown NYC, and lost water, power, and gas. But all of us found a way to continue creating strategies and solutions for our clients.
|I took this photo of a fallen tree that’s leaning perilously on
power lines above Factory Pond Road in Locust Valley, NY.
In addition to our people, technology is a real star of the story. Through smart devices and software, servers and Starbucks, we were able to continue to work miracles together without missing a beat, a watt or an email (but yes, possibly a bath!).
We’re up and running and back at full strength. We hope you all fared as well.
At times like these, I’m grateful to be in the city of New York, particularly because I love New Yorkers. And I want to thank the Brandemix team, particularly Kathryn, Dana, Jason, Clarissa, and Mike, who did everything they could to make sure our service wasn’t interrupted despite all the devastation we faced.
Stay safe and stay strong.