A Case Study in Loyalty: The Cabela’s CLUB

Cabela's Logo How do you create a world-class customer loyalty program? Focus less on providing best-in-class benefits and more on creating a great customer experience. That’s the advice of Sean Baker, the incoming CEO of Cabela’s World’s Foremost Bank and leader of the Cabela’s CLUB program.

I interviewed Sean to learn more about Cabela’s CLUB and its critical role in driving their customer experience. The lessons certainly apply to retailers as a class, but also have something to teach anybody wanting to create better relationships with customers.

CLUB Components

First, a quick background on the program. The Cabela’s CLUB is a loyalty program paired with a Visa card. It began as a partnership with a small regional bank as a way to give their best customers free gear, but in 2001 Cabela’s brought the program in-house. They are now one of only two retailers who entirely own their own bank to run their loyalty program (Nordstrom’s is the other). Read more

Market Research + Analytics Leads to Healthcare Success

All too often, companies separate their market research from their business analytics.  It can be difficult to combine the two, but when it’s done the impact can be incredible.  Last October the book Win with Advanced Business Analytics was released, including a case study discussing my work with a client a few years ago:

Win with Advanced Business Analytics“Jim Tincher, a customer experience consultant and blogger, combined analytics with market research interviews to gain deep customer insights for his client, on of the nation’s largest health savings account banks.  This bank works with thousands of companies who offer these HSAs to their employees.  Jim notes, “Unfortunately, a review of the data showed that even when employers offered to contribute hundreds of dollars into the HSA, 1 out of 7 employees failed to open the account, forfeiting the money.  The first step was to conduct an analytics review.  We found no impact of demographics of the participant on this behavior.  The single factor that drove the issue was the participant’s employer.  Simply put, at some companies nearly everybody followed through to pen the HSA, but at others, there were thousands of employees who missed out on up to $1,000 of the employer’s money, all because they did not take the time to open the HSA.” Read more

Join Jim at the HOBY Cheers Dinner

I’ve mentioned HOBY in a few posts – it’s the youth leadership non-profit that I’m passionate about.  At HOBY we bring the top sophomores from 70 Minnesota high schools to a weekend leadership conference, expose them to thought leaders, and challenge them to change their communities through giving at least 100 hours of community service.

On February 23 we will host our annual Cheers Dinner where we recognize those who truly go above and beyond.  It’s one of the highlights of the year – and this year I’ve been asked to give the keynote speech.  If you’re in Minnesota, please consider joining me at this wonderful event.  Details are below:

HOBY Minnesota Cheers! Dinner 2013: Share an Inspiration!

HOBY Logo

Please join us at the Fourth Annual HOBY Cheers! Dinner to recognize and celebrate OUTSTANDING youth leadership and spirit in our communities.

  • When:  Saturday, April 6, 2013, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Where:  Bethel University Underground

The Cheers! Dinner honors HOBY Youth Ambassadors who have achieved OUTSTANDING service in their communities, as well as recognizing inspiring individuals demonstrating commitment to youth and community development.

Dinner and event program are included with paid registrations!  Purchase tickets here.  I hope to see you there!

Jim

Ten Ways to Celebrate Customer Experience Heroes

In my last post I discussed the importance of creating customer experience heroes to reinforce efforts to make your customer experience great.  This follow-up post gives you ten ways to celebrate those customer experience heroes without promoting them. Just to be clear: Promoting a hero is fine if the situation calls for it.  But often promoting your hero takes her away from the role she loves. Use caution before promoting a hero out of the heroic role!

With that, here are ten ideas: Read more

Create Change Through Customer Experience Heroes

What gets measured may get managed, but what gets celebrated gets repeated.

Improving your customer experience requires you to use every tool at your disposal.  Voice of the Customer research is obviously critical.  Understanding your existing Customer Satisfaction Survey or Net Promoter Scores is also important.  But while they monitor your status, these alone will not create change.  You need to find those bright spots in your organization where your customer is being well-served and promote them as much as possible.  You need to create customer experience heroes.

Customer Experience Hero

Heroes define a company, showing what is important.  When a company celebrates sales, they sell more – but perhaps at the expense of delivery issues.  When it celebrates product management, new products come out quickly – including those without customer demand.  But companies with great customer satisfaction use the Voice of the Customer data to understand their level of customer satisfaction, and then celebrates those who engage customers at a superior level. Read more

Guest Post: Personal Touches Make Great Online Customer Experiences

Today we have a guest post by Andrew, the Marketing Manager at GoInstant:

For all the great stuff that the internet can do, building a personal connection is much easier in person. Go to a shoe store, a car dealership, or even a McDonald’s, and you’ll notice that the human touch matters. To create great customer experiences, offline stores have learned how to cultivate strong personal connections with their customers. It’s how they provide value in a world where they can’t compete with Amazon on price. Whether it’s a smile at the cash register, or a calendar from your real estate agent, they know that great customer experiences need a bit of wonder in them. If they can provide that bit of wonder through a personal connection, loyal customers will keep coming back.

A new generation of e-commerce companies is realizing that they can also make strong personal connections with their customers. By using those connections to build unforgettable customer experiences – ones that only offline businesses had been capable of in the past – they’re competing with much more established e-commerce companies, like Amazon and Zappos, who haven’t seized on the importance of building personal connections. In other words, incredible customer service isn’t enough today. You need a more personal, human connection with your customer in order to really make their experience a great one. Read more

Customer Experience Irony

I attended a webinar today titled Understanding the Voice of the Customer: How to Effectively Gather and Leverage Customer Insight from Multiple Channels to Enhance the Customer Experience. I’m obviously all about both Voice of the Customer and the Customer Experience. But they immediately lost me when the presentation began with:

UnderstandingVOC-FirstPage Read more

Does your satisfaction survey show disrespect for customers

Note: This article was originally posted in 2012. Best Buy no longer uses this survey, but this poor design is still used by companies who insist on extra-long surveys.

How do you know when a company’s on the ropes?  Some observers watch cash flow.  Others look at turnover.  Me?  I look at how a company treats its customers.  When a company’s customer experience starts to drop, it’s time to sell the stock. I’m afraid that may have happened at Best Buy, especially when I look at their new customer satisfaction survey.

Customer satisfaction surveys are critical for creating your customer experience.  A great survey puts your customer at the center of your customer experience design, allowing you to learn and improve as you go.  But this only works when you design the survey from a perspective of customer respect.  When your customer satisfaction survey design assumes your customers aren’t paying attention to the survey, then why bother?  In the past, Best Buy’s culture was centered on the customer experience. But their recent update to their customer satisfaction survey shows that at least one group thinks their customers are unworthy of respect. Read more

Excerpts from “From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement”

Last month I had the opportunity to give the keynote speech at MindSurfFrom People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement.  This 4-minute video gives some of the highlights.  Read below for more information.

httpv://youtu.be/f6i7ky0mWNM

The description:  Employee Engagement is not just a feel-good program. Companies are seeing significant productivity and profitability gains through building a culture of engaged employees, as reported by Gallup, Towers-Perrin, Hay Group and others. The worst economic downturn in decades left many employees afraid to leave their jobs. Now that the economy is loosening up, experts warn we may see increasing turnover as employees leave for greener pastures. How will you keep your best people? This session will focus on best practices to engage employees, including the ROI of engagement and how you can get started at your company tomorrow.

The Three Keys to Great Employee Engagement:

  1. Point to a clear direction
  2. Develop your coaches
  3. Let your employees find the way

Learn more in, “From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement!”  Contact Jim at Heart of the Customer to learn more about how he can help you improve your employee engagement.  Or visit here to see another sample video and more speaker information.

Your Customer Experience Infrastructure is Crumbling

We are facing a management crisis.  And our customers and employees are paying the price.

The mantra over the last 20 years, but particularly during the Great Recession, has been “Do More with Less.”  Financial pressures have led to gutting anything that doesn’t show a direct return, from business investments to labor in retail stores.  But as documented in my white paper, what looks good for 3 months ends up with long-term consequences.

Management is another casualty.  Reorganizations and management shake-ups are a regular occurrence.  The role of a professional manager who has the time to develop her people is a relic of the past.  And that’s negatively impacting both our employees and our customers.

Read more