customer satisfaction

4月 282014

At SAS, we’re proud to have customer satisfaction rates reaching up to 90 percent – that’s among the highest in the industry. But we didn’t get there by resting on our laurels.

Our customers expect the best from us, and we want to deliver. To that end, we’re making a big change: Five of our top customer-facing groups – Education, Publications, Technical Support, Professional Services, and Customer Loyalty – have been combined into ONE division: Customer Engagement and Support (CES).

If you’re a SAS customer, these are the groups you interact with the most. And now these five groups can more easily work together to create a seamless customer experience.

You talked, we listened
This change was in large part based on feedback from our customers. Customers want to know that no matter who they’re talking to at SAS, they’re talking to someone who really knows them and their business. So now, whether you’re signing up for a training course, ordering a book or implementing a software solution, CES can make sure that each piece will support all your business needs.

What can you expect from the new CES?

  • Streamlined experience. We’re streamlining legal and contractual processes. Instead of different contracts for different types of services, customers now just get one. We’re knocking down walls between groups to give us the flexibility to serve you better.
  • One point of contact. In the hotel rooms at SAS Global Forum 2014, the phones had a smiley face button for easy communication with the front desk. That’s a “we can handle anything button” and the person who answers on the other end can address any question or concern you have. The CES group will be that button for SAS customers – that’s where we want to be.
  • Quicker, more prescriptive responses. Our goal is to understand customers better so we can respond more quickly. If we can see the entire customer relationship, we can be more proactive about the kinds of services we offer.

For example, if you call CES with a problem, you might assume you need Professional Services, but your CES contact will be able to determine exactly what you need and take care of it for you.  In CES, we can get a complete view of the customer journey – and smooth out the road ahead. And we’ll do it by being adaptive.

You might see Professional Services folks teaching classes, or SAS trainers working on projects. Publications editors can see how their books support a real, live project in the field. We’ll now have the flexibility to make anything possible, as quickly as our customers need it.

All in all, we will get better at what we do by keeping the focus on why we do it – to help our customers do what they do – better.

Editor’s Note:  Fritz shares more about the CES Division and how SAS is bringing a more comprehensive level of service to customers in this SAS Global 2014 Live Report.  

tags: customer loyalty, customer satisfaction
1月 162013

The SAS booth at #NRF13 is a popular place.

One of the amazing things I’m finding about the National Retail Federation’s “BIG Show” is the incredible amount of experience and knowledge walking the halls. There are 10-, 20- and 30-year veterans of the retail world everywhere you turn. Two of those professionals – Office Depot’s Alan Adams and Kerem Tomak from – presented a Big !deas session in front of a packed house on Monday afternoon. They discussed one of the hottest topics at this year’s event – cross-channel campaign management.

Using a screen grab from the Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, Adams began by telling the audience the water represents a company’s customer data and the fish represent the various departments that exist.

“The fish in the bags are in the water…but not really,” he said. “Companies that aren’t sharing customer data are just floating like the fish in the bags. We need to take advantage of customer data by sharing it with all the departments, and then use it to swim around the same customer.”

Tomak’s take on the picture had a marketing spin (which I, of course, loved). He said retailers need to think about the various types of campaign events (sales, new product rollout, etc.) and look at the various marketing tactics that drive people to those events, such as email, direct mail and online search. “You achieve the biggest ROI when these tactics are used to expose your customers to your campaigns,” he said. “Otherwise, there’s a big disconnect when your customers arrive at the store expecting to find some correlation with your marketing, only to find there is none.”

The focus on the customer through cross-channel campaign management was a common theme in this session. “Cross-channel campaign management uses a deep understanding of your prospects and customer to deliver the right message, at the right time, at the right offering, through an ever growing list of vehicles that is desired by the individual at any given moment,” Adams said. Amazingly, less than five hands in the audience went up when Adams asked if anyone was having success achieving multi-channel marketing. However, there were lots of nods when asked if they are trying to achieve that goal.

True cross-channel campaign management requires two-way communication with your customers. With so many purchasing options, it requires retailers (and other industries) to understand how customers interact with their brands through multiple touch point, digital and offline, and then to use that insight to build a two-way communication channel, Tomak said.

The SAS booth at #NRF13 is also a colorful place.

So how can retailers change how they interact with customers? According to both experts, the key is to organize your structure around the customer experience. Engage how they wish to be engaged, breaking down walls so each interaction is a single interaction with the brand. If a customer can’t get what they are looking for in a short amount of time, they’ll go to a competitor. Adams even half-joked that every customer is just one click away from not being a customer anymore. "That's why it's imperative that customers are at the center of everything we do."

That can be difficult with silos and other political challenges. Tomak concluded the panel discussion with some wise take-home counsel. He said, “We need to be like a conductor of an orchestra and get all the parts playing at the same time to make beautiful music. Marry your marketing with merchandising. Utilize analytics to better understand your customers. Optimize better and focus more.”

Or as Nemo so eloquently exclaimed as he worked with a school of fish to escape a dangerous fishing net, “Just keep swimming!”

tags: customer satisfaction, Macy's, nrf, office depot, retail
1月 032013

As we turn the calendar to a new year, we tend to take a look at our lives and make some goals for improvement. Maybe it involves fitting in our favorite pair of jeans again or finally starting the next great American novel. Change and improvement are second nature in our personal lives. But how about our customer strategies?

Most marketing professionals would agree they’d like to reach their customers in memorable and effective ways. They’d like to produce more effective campaigns or deliverables. And they’d like to do everything faster. However, the hurdles to achieving these goals can be daunting. It requires a new way of thinking and a new level of teamwork. The easy solution is to color within the lines, not make waves and keep doing what you’ve been doing. But is that really the best way? Not according to motivational guru, Tony Robbins:

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

I think there are two distinct, but related, paths to follow as you go about achieving your goal of betterment – exponential change and incremental improvement. Either path will help your organization, but only one has the potential to take it to a new level.

Baby steps or giant leaps?

I love the story of the Nashville location of a high-end hotel chain that wanted to improve its overall customer satisfaction rate. One of the metrics that was holding it back was the average time it took to deliver guest’s luggage to the room after check-in – a whopping 122 minutes! A challenge was extended to the bellhop staff: Find a way to get that key metric down to 15 minutes, with no new hires.

The bellhop staff could have found small ways to incrementally drive the time to 115 minutes, then 105 and even 90 minutes – more than a 25 percent increase. But that’s still an hour and a half of you waiting in your room for your bags to arrive. And that’s probably not going to drastically change the customer satisfaction rate.

Instead, the bellhops scrapped the way bags were being delivered and devised a new plan to better utilize service elevators and spread out staff to receive bags on each floor of the hotel. It was a plan that had never been tried at the hotel, but led to an exponential change – and an amazing time improvement. After a little bit of fine-tuning, the average bags-to-room delivery time shrunk to 15 minutes!

What’s the lesson here? In order to cause a monumental change in the way things are done, you sometimes have to make an exponential shift. A new way of approaching a problem can lead to new ideas and a drastic improvement. Maybe it’s something you whiteboarded in a moment of fleeting inspiration. Take the time to examine those ideas in 2013 and take a chance on a new idea!

Don’t forget about continual improvement

Some will ask, “But shouldn’t we always try to improve, even if it’s just a little bit?” The answer is a resounding “yes,” but don’t let a little improvement stand in the way of your exponential change. Instead, make the change and then look for ways to get a little better.

In the world of manufacturing, there is a common phrase called “Kaizen.” It’s a Japanese term meaning “improvement” or “change for the better.” It’s a concept that’s also been used in other areas of business and involves the whole organization to improve processes or business practices. I once worked for a manufacturer that scheduled regular “Kaizen events” to examine how to become more efficient at a certain process. Sometimes it involved moving key components closer to the assembly area. Other times the goal was to assure there were no hiccups in production by looking at the amount of on-hand, in-stock items. The plant manager and workers alike would be involved in the event. It was a team effort to squeeze every last ounce of efficiency into the process.

After you have made your exponential change, look for opportunities to tweak things to become even more efficient. You could even schedule your own Kaizen event. Just make sure the evidence doesn’t show up on Facebook. And if you have doubts, let’s give the final word to Mr. Robbins:

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.”

tags: change, change management, customer satisfaction, improvement, marketing strategy
2月 242012
How are you determining customer satisfaction? How do you move the needle? This SAS user mines the unstructured data in patient surveys with SAS Text Miner. This technique can be applied across industries to gather insights from customer behaviors. You can even understand customer emotions and sentiment. Kathy Lange and Saratendu Sethi, from SAS, presented a [...]
8月 272011
Bengt Persson, the Senior Vice President of Quality and Tech Support, presented a session about driving quality across the globe during the 2011 Premier Business Leadership Series in Singapore. Persson told the story of how Volvo Trucks uses analytics and data flow to standardize and optimize warranty claims across Volvo’s [...]
6月 102011
Do You Wow Your Customers or Give Them Woe?

That was the question addressed during a SAS sponsored presentation at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in San Francisco.

In this video, Retha Keyser, Business Development Manager for the SAS Customer Intelligence Global Practice, talks about using customer analytics to solve the complex challenges of high-velocity, multichannel marketing. Peter Kear, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for IS Solutions, a leader in online managed services, joined the discussion to provid real-world examples of the results seen when these technologies are put into action.

Enjoy the below video.

And feel free to download the free whitepaper titled, How To Stop Annoying Your Customers, to learn how customer analytics can turn your business around by doing the key things that fuel customer loyalty.

2月 022011
SAS’ Contact Center has been an integral part of our company for over ten years. Composed of fifteen employees, our team services both internal and external customers. Internally we work with our marketing department to provide outbound call support for campaigns and with our sales organization to qualify and route inbound inquiries from customers and prospects. Externally we help customers stay abreast of important events and technology offerings and direct them to the right places for follow-up and next steps.

Many of our engagements with customers are initiated online, through our reactive, or click-to-chat, feature on This click-to-chat option has been available on a limited basis for 3 years now, and it has been very successful. During the first 9 months of 2010, we received about 800 inquiries from this channel. In October, to better serve visitors to our website, we implemented a proactive chat feature. This feature automatically sends a chat invitation to visitors who trigger established business rules. Visitors who accept chat invitations are routed to our Contact Center staff for help and support for their questions. Our initial proactive chat implementation has exceeded expectations. As we move into our fourth month, I’m taking an opportunity to pause and reflect on some of my observations so far: visitors love to chat with us. And, they like to chat about almost anything. We’ve received requests for programming assistance, training, software downloads, product recommendations, pricing, technical support, job search assistance, event registration assistance, free trials, clarification on what SAS does and what S-A-S stands for. We’ve even had a few requests for help changing a flight reservation or assistance ordering shoes…

Chat is a great source of sales leads too. In the most recent three month period we supported nearly 2000 chats and passed 263 leads to sales. Our ability to quickly connect visitors, who are researching software options or looking for product recommendations, with our sales representatives has been well received by everyone involved. Customers are able to get fast answers to questions, and our sales reps, having the benefit of seeing the chat transcript, can react quickly and provide outstanding support.

We’re keeping a close eye on the comments from our proactive chat sessions. Luckily, the overwhelming majority are extremely positive. Here are a few examples:

“Thanks. Multi-media customer service is really cool.”

“Keep it up”

“I am just gathering info and this service made it much easier to do.”

“Just charge enough to keep your exceptional level of service.”

“You did excellent customer support. please keep up the good work.”

“It’s good and helpful”

“Finding online chat available for help was a very pleasant surprise - and service rep was very courteous.”

“Agent was kind enough to send me details to my email id!”

“Didn't realize that I needed to apply for a code for a discount. Shannon was great. She notified the person that I would submitting a request for a discount code. Shannon was very helpful! Thanks Shannon!”

“[Proactive chat] was a great experience. Got the info I needed quickly and efficiently.”

“This is a very innovative resource!”

“Very helpful!”

“This chat feature is wonderful.”

And, my all-time favorite, in response to our request for feedback or suggestions for how we can serve you better: “It was excellent. I can’t better excellent.”
12月 162010
I’m excited to publish a new segment of our “Nuts & Bolts of Social Media” video series. In this interview, SAS’ Lori Schafer talks briefly with Michelle Thomas and Jaimee Newberry from Zappos. Michelle, a Senior Brand Marketing Manager, and Jaimee, a Product Manager & UI Designer, both offer up unique insights as they discuss:
  • The revered Zappos culture, including the concept of their “culture book”
  • What the Zappos ‘wow factor’ means for customer service
  • What makes them so successful in social media
  • The new Zappos iPad application (with 10,000 downloads in the first week!)
  • The fun things Zappos does as a company
  • And more…
Michelle has a quote in this video that I really love. While talking about building open and honest relationships with customers, she says “Be real, and you have nothing to fear.” I couldn’t agree more.

As a side note, Lori Schafer and Bernie Brennan co-authored Branded! How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility. Branded! reviews a number of retailers, including Zappos, who have embraced the "culture to consumer" approach to their business and fully leveraged the potential of social media and mobility. If you like these stories – be sure to check out the book.

We hope you enjoy the video!

10月 082010
I recently had the pleasure to sit in on one of our customer presentations at the CRM Evolution Conference in New York. Sean Lowe, the Managing Director of Endless Vacation Rentals and Revenue Management for Wyndham Exchange & Rentals, gave a presentation about how his company manages the demand forecasting process for the RCI operating unit.

Sounds like it might be a dry topic, right? Not at all. It turned out to be a fascinating story about how they were able to focus on solving a business problem, and how they turned it into a strategic advantage that drives customer satisfaction.

RCI stands for Resort Condominiums International, which pioneered vacation ownership exchange in 1974 and strives to create flexibility for two key markets - resort developers and vacation owners. Among the vacation owners, at any given time the property owners may also be property seekers, hence the concept of the exchange. RCI is the industry leader, having facilitated 2 million exchange vacations last year – three times more than its nearest competitor. As Sean proceeded to explain why they engage in demand forecasting, the beautiful symmetry of it all became apparent.

Every time a timeshare owner successfully finds another property they want to try, RCI earns a fee. The property seeker is happy when they get the property they want at the time they need it. The property owner is happy when they get the best exchange value they could get for their property at the time of the transaction. And RCI helps ensure a source of future revenue by making both the property owners and property seekers happy. And with an efficient exchange market, it provides an incentive for resort developers to participate in the RCI network as a key benefit to their customers, who buy into the properties to begin with. So all that happens smoothly as a result of accurately forecasting demand and setting prices accordingly.

When you’re able to make multiple stakeholders happy, while helping to drive future revenues and grow your business, that’s a value proposition that translates to success in any business. Sean started out by jokingly assuring us he would not try to talk us into a timeshare in Marbella or Miami, but after hearing his story, I’ll bet he might have had a few takers by the time he finished.