“Taken for granted” is not the new customer service norm – Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

It’s been an extremely rough 30 days for three of the US airline industry’s largest carriers – United, American and Delta – whose rude and brutish treatment of customers was captured in smart phone videos that not surprisingly went viral.

In United’s case, the damage control was anything but as CEO Oscar Munoz immediately delivered a tone deaf, blame-the-victim response. His belated apology for United’s execrable behavior was of little help.

Friendly skies? Not so much.

The three high-profile airline debacles are stark examples of ham-fisted customer disregard and have given rise to the question: In an increasingly automated and technology-driven world, is being taken for granted the new customer-service norm?

Emphatically, no.  In fact, there’s ample evidence that it’s quite the opposite.

Savvy companies – global industry brands around the world – are investing in, listening to, and learning from customers because they realize that a relentless focus on their customers drives success and growth.

There are many excellent examples of companies that are putting a premium on delivering a consistently great customer experience to increase both revenue and customer loyalty.

Good examples of businesses that are both highly successful and customer-experience focused include Amazon, Netflix, UPS, Trader Joe’s, and the giant insurance provider USAA.

These thriving enterprises are in highly competitive markets and all of them are using customer service as a differentiator.

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Retaining or losing customers as they "churn" — Professor devises new competing risk model

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Michael Braun

Businesses often spend a lot of money trying to retain customers. Many direct their retention activities toward all of their customers and hope that enough respond for the effort to pay off. But some customers leave anyway.  A more effective approach recognizes that customers are different and their likelihood of departing—a phenomenon known as churn in the business world—varies among individuals and over time.

Some customers churn for reasons a business can control. These customers may be unhappy with the price or product, or they may prefer a competitor. Others churn because they move away or die or go bankrupt—matters a business can’t control. An efficient strategy targets those customers likely to churn for controllable reasons and does not overspend on customers likely to leave for uncontrollable reasons. And when evaluating the success or failure of retention marketing activities, managers should take the incidence of uncontrollable churn into account.

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