The future of customer experience: Personalized, white-glove service for all

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård on August 28th, 2020 by admin

The future of customer service is already here. Laptops silently report impending performance issues, triggering a remote fix before the user even realizes there might be a problem. Vehicles send proactive maintenance notifications and communicate directly with manufacturers to speed up repair response when a problem occurs. The next horizon is for customer service to be completely customized to each individual: when a customer calls a contact center, the agent can pull up a profile detailing the customer’s every interaction with the company, from previous service calls to payment schedules to marketing segmentation.

Such personalized service can be compared to the “white-glove service” long associated with high-value customers and transactions. Characterized by attention to detail, convenience, speed, and emotional fulfillment, this high standard of service offers solutions, products, and services that are tailored to each customer’s specific and unique needs. It is central to a customer-first mindset and made possible by the availability of data and advanced analytics to track a customer’s individual journey in real time.

Yet very few organizations are providing this level of service today. There are two primary reasons for this. First, many believe it to be prohibitively expensive. Second, building a comprehensive customer profile requires a high level of cross-departmental visibility, which in turn necessitates enablers such as organizational structure changes and IT investments. To offer high-touch service to everyone, customer service can no longer be an isolated department; it must be tied into every business unit that interacts with the customer, including sales, marketing, product design, collections, and the front line.

The good news is that white-glove services offer a high return on investment. In fact, they present an opportunity for significant cost savings because they accelerate the resolution of contact center issues (or prevent issues altogether) and deepen customer trust and loyalty, thereby supporting retention and tailored cross-selling. And, while such services require technology investments and shifts in organizational structure, these investments and shifts will soon become mandatory as companies compete to meet customer expectations. All functions will benefit from the enterprise-wide visibility required to build comprehensive profiles of individual customers.

Implement organizational enablers

Building a mature customer service capability means building well-informed individual customer profiles—which, in turn, requires the customer service function to have visibility into the end-to-end customer journey and play a vital role in managing the customer relationship beyond simply resolving issues. To create the necessary transparency and capabilities, companies need a set of overarching, foundational interventions. Organizations can consider all these interventions from the start and pursue them at their own pace.

Facilitate cross-functional collaboration on customer data. Most organizations are unlikely to be able to meet the needs of customers in each of these three archetypes without increased collaboration and integration among the service, sales, and marketing functions, as well as significant IT support. To enable this collaboration, companies need to create feedback loops and break down silos in an effort to facilitate the transparency required to build comprehensive individual customer profiles and shepherd customers through touchpoints with the organization. For example, if customer service knows when a customer placed an order thanks to collaboration with sales, the company can reach out proactively to confirm order status and avoid shipping issues.

Build robust data and analytics capabilities. A major hurdle to building comprehensive customer profiles is establishing clean customer data. Historically, customer data is duplicated, conflicted, and fragmented across the systems and functions at most organizations. Data “sources of truth” are not always clear, and multiple systems may be able to update the same customer record. Furthermore, much customer data is unstructured and, thus, difficult to glean insight.

Building a customer-focused organization means not just implementing one system but stringing together an ecosystem of capabilities and integrating them with business processes. It requires closing the loop on the end-to-end customer journey using advanced customer relationship management (CRM) systems and continuous data curation. The maturity of the available technology, data integration, and organizational setup determines the level of personalization that an organization can provide as a starting point. And companies should establish continuous technology adoption, data-integration initiatives, and organizational restructuring to improve personalized services to customers.

When an issue does arise, functions can work together to determine the root cause of the issue and address it through process transformation and automation to ensure that the issue does not recur. For example, an insurance company was experiencing high call volumes from customers asking simple questions about account details. It used an analytics-driven root-cause analysis to determine the cause of the issue: the company was using a third-party vendor to handle its welcome packages, and customers were not receiving their welcome packets on time.

Proactive issue identification is not possible without data and analytics. Companies can use advanced analytics on available customer data to offer services or products based on the customer’s recent behavior. For example, a credit-card company may be able to use the shopping data of a customer who bought a plane ticket to provide need-based offers such as a lower foreign exchange rate on purchases in certain countries.

Implement change management. Driving company-wide change is never easy, so a change-management effort that is built around a shared purpose is crucial. Companies can start by identifying the right stakeholders, categorizing them by their level of influence and the change in their remit, and mapping them on a change-influence matrix to determine who to involve, who to engage, and who to keep in the loop. Companies need to understand the underlying mindsets that drive employee behavior to determine the right interventions, such as role-modeling and targeted capability development, and to reinforce desired behaviors. The goal is to go beyond compliance and engender true commitment to the customer experience and the organization’s ability to provide white-glove service to all.

A crucial component of change management is empowering frontline employees to resolve issues by making an appropriate offer or presenting a personalized solution. When frontline employees have the proper authority to take action based on an individual customer’s attributes, needs, and situation, they can take ownership of the interaction, determine the root cause of the issue, and equip customers with self-service tools to resolve similar issues in the future.

Customers increasingly expect every service organization to work tirelessly in the background, preventing issues before they arise; knowing when, where, and how to get in touch; and proactively reaching out where necessary. Mounting such a customer service function requires an understanding of customer needs and organizational enablers that facilitate data collection, analysis, and sharing. Organizations that get it right will continue to set the pace for peers across industries.

Source:, June 22, 2020
By Rohit Agarwal, Raelyn JacobsonPaul Kline, and Maurice Obeid

”Slakta heliga kor” – säljproffsets sex tips för att krissäkra affärerna

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales on May 8th, 2020 by admin

Krisens effekter på ekonomin är brutala, men för många företag finns fortsatt goda chanser att öka sin försäljning – trots att marknaden skakar.
Det hävdar entreprenören Johan Åberg, vd för företaget Next State som hjälper bolag att få fart på affärerna.
”Slakta heliga kor” och ”krisanpassa erbjudandet” är några av hans bästa strategier.

1. Testa nya kundsegment
Kristid är ett bra läge att dra igång utvecklingsarbete som inte hunnit prioriteras när verksamheten snurrade på för fullt – som att testa nya kundsegment, säger Johan Åberg, grundare av företaget Next State och författare till boken ”Megadeals” som Di skrev om förra året.

”Håll koll på vilka som köper och koncentrera resurserna annorlunda än tidigare – din marknad är troligtvis förändrad. Om du hör av dig till många potentiella kunder och adderar värde kommer du att få nya kunder, så enkelt är det.”

2. Krisanpassa erbjudandet
Med större osäkerhet ökar behovet av trygghet, riskminimering och av att skydda det man har. Den insikten kan bli avgörande för att fortsätta vara relevant för kunderna, säger han vidare.

”Om ni i högkonjunktur är som en förbättrande vitamin, bör ni nu ställa om till att vara en huvudvärkstablett som lindrar smärtan. Det gäller att förstå varför kunderna har ont och hitta en lösning. Det är en väg till att lyckas.”

3. Var närvarande i kundrelationerna
Även om företaget behöver få in nya kunder är det viktigt att inte ta de trogna kunderna, som fortfarande köper, för givet. Var närvarande och uppmärksam i de befintliga relationerna – det kommer att stärka försäljningen, säger Johan Åberg.

”Nu när risken gått upp baserar sig affärer ännu mer på förtroende och tillit. Där det redan finns ett förtroendekapital ökar hastigheten i försäljningen eftersom kunderna värderar stabilitet högre än nya erbjudanden från någon oprövad.”

4. Slakta heliga kor – prioritera kanaler som fungerar
Det är vanligt att jobba traditionellt när man säljer och marknadsför. För att klara nedgången gäller det att våga pröva nya metoder och kanaler – särskilt om de gamla, till exempel försäljning på mässor, inte längre fungerar, säger Johan Åberg.

”Jag har jobbat med kunder som kämpat med gravt förändringsobenägna säljavdelningar. Treårsplanen kan till exempel behöva ersättas av en kvartalsplan. Har man till exempel inte använt sig av ‘social selling’ eller ‘content marketing’ tidigare kan det vara läge att testa det. Den typen av marknadsföring blir ännu viktigare nu när man inte längre kan träffa kunderna fysiskt.”

5. Bygg emotionell styrka
Den största utmaningen, enligt Johan Åberg, är att peppa sig själv och medarbetarna till att testa nya metoder som man tidigare dragit sig för och till att jobba hårdare, men till ett sämre resultat.

”Du behöver en daglig ritual som hjälper dig och ditt team att bygga emotionell styrka”, säger han.

”Kolleger kan ha fått sparken eller vara permitterade och den attraktiva framtiden som man var peppad på är borta. Då behöver man bygga upp den igen – det gör man bland annat genom ordval och ton i språket.”

Hur då?
”Det är stor skillnad mellan att säga ‘jag ska försöka höra av mig till kunderna‘ och ‘jag ska se till att vi når vår budget’. Det ena signalerar att man inte ska ha för stora förhoppningar”, säger han.

”Har man fel inställning kan det vara kört. Därför vill jag utmana alla att tänka ut en möjlighet som kan göra företaget, eller Sverige, lite starkare varje gång man känner att det går åt helvete.”

6. Ta hjälp och undvik rabattfällan
I princip alla företagare som når stor framgång har någon form av mentor, rådgivare eller bollplank, menar Johan Åberg. När mycket står på spel är det viktigare än någonsin att inte vara ensam.

Vidare är han emot att ge bort tjänster gratis eller rabattera ned priset kraftigt i hopp om att kunderna ska betala fullpris när krisen är över.

”Risken är att man får in kunder som tycker gratis är gott. Då är det bättre att bjuda på något som ger extra värde när kunderna väl har bestämt sig och bevisat sin betalningsvilja.”

Källa:, 8 maj 2020

Connecting with customers in times of crisis

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on April 16th, 2020 by admin

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can strengthen relationships.

The COVID-19 global humanitarian and economic crisis has forced individuals and companies to rapidly change how they live and work. Many elements of business and life are being challenged; in some cases, the next normal may look very different as new ways of working are carried over into the future. Companies are doing their best to manage through this pandemic—from ensuring an effective crisis response, to managing supply-chain disruptions, to safeguarding the well-being of their employees by adjusting daily working practices.

Customer experience takes on a new meaning against this backdrop. Executives are typically approaching customer experience by creating seamless, convenient and engaging customer journeys; however, the needs of customers at the moment have shifted dramatically towards more essential concerns. A recent McKinsey survey of US consumers found that 64 percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks, and 39 percent stated that they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment.

Leading organizations are reorienting their customer-experience efforts to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as safety, security, and everyday convenience. These actions will inevitably speak louder than words in a world where companies are increasingly advertising a message of “we are here for you.” By consciously providing empathy and care during this crisis, companies can build a foundation of goodwill and long-lasting emotional connections with the communities they serve.

Seven actions to demonstrate empathy for customers

Over the past few months, companies have had to quickly adjust to COVID-19. The first step for many organizations was to stabilize operations and safeguard their own employees. From this position, companies can then find genuine, creative ways to show empathy and emotionally connect with their customers. Many have already begun to take seven actions related to individual safety, security and stability, convenience and ease of use, and emotional bonds and trust.

1. Minimize risk by reducing physical interaction

Society’s first responsibility during a pandemic of this scale is eliminating opportunities to spread the virus, especially among the most at-risk populations. Companies have been minimizing the risk of contagion when fulfilling essential tasks, particularly when they involve vulnerable groups.

Grocery retailers have responded by taking extra precautions, such as extending opening hours for the elderly and healthcare workers as well as free home-delivery for customers more than 65 years old. Many are limiting the number of people who can be inside the store at once and putting physical-distance stickers on the floor to aid compliance. E-commerce and online food-delivery companies around the world are offering new contactless delivery options to eliminate direct physical contact between customers and delivery drivers. Companies offering services that require customers to be in close proximity, such as airlines, are taking measures to reduce risk and ensure the health and safety of both their customers and employees. Of course, this approach requires more stringent standards for cleaning as well as new work processes, such as suspending drink refills or recycling to avoid touching passenger-handled items.

2. Actively contribute to safety by innovating the product portfolio

Companies should ask themselves two critical questions: Do we have a product the world needs right now? Or can we rapidly adapt our product portfolio to provide goods that are urgently needed? In pursuing this approach, companies can use their strengths to provide essential products, even if those goods are outside of their current product offering. For example, some distilleries are using their ethanol supplies to provide materials for hand sanitizers through partnerships with refineries.

Companies are also stepping up to meet the demand for more medical equipment and personal protective equipment. Apparel manufacturers are responding to a drop in sales by producing thousands of urgently needed face masks instead. Some automotive companies are shifting production to manufacture ventilators, for example, General Motors is partnering with a US-based medical device company to produce respiratory care products.

Companies beyond manufacturing are still able to innovate their product portfolio to contribute to safety initiatives. Rideshare companies are looking to use their network of drivers to transport medicine and basic goods, rather than passengers. This effort could provide lifesaving drugs to individuals who are not able to go out to purchase them because of the quarantine or other conditions.

In all of these cases, company leaders have demonstrated their commitment to customers and society. At the same time, they are creating alternatives so they can continue providing meaningful work for their employees despite substantial demand reductions in their core business.

3. Provide pragmatic help to customers in financial distress

Once customers have secured their personal safety, their next concern is often financial. As companies are forced to decrease operations for an uncertain time period, individuals and millions of small business owners face massive income and liquidity issues.

Providing flexible solutions when dealing with financial challenges is now both a responsibility and a huge trust driver for companies. Financial institutions are not penalizing customers who cannot meet payment obligations for March. Telcos are not terminating service or enforcing late-payment fees for customers experiencing hardship for an extra 60 days. And energy companies are not shutting off power for nonpayment; in some cases, they are even reconnecting customers whose service had been turned off prior to the crisis.

In addition, companies are seeking to alleviate unexpected sources of financial stress as events unfold. Travel companies, including most major airlines, are waiving cancellation fees. Families who formerly relied on school lunches to feed their children can benefit from efforts such as those introduced by Burger King, which provides two free kids meals to Americans who make any purchase through the Burger King app.

4. Bring joy and support the emotional needs of customers ‘trapped at home’

Many people are forced to stay at home, and experience all the concerns that come along with having to do so. Companies are acting to make homelife more enjoyable and to also ensure the well-being of their customers.

Families have to entertain their children at home for weeks to come, making access to online content a truly fundamental need. Telcos are providing free unlimited data for the next 60 days to all mobile customers with data plans. Entertainment companies have released content ahead of schedule: the Walt Disney Company, for example, released the family-friendly blockbuster Frozen 2 on its streaming platform, Disney+, three months earlier than planned. New York’s Metropolitan Opera offered free digital shows to entertain virtual audiences, while Google Arts & Culture has paired with museums around the world to curate virtual tours.

Other companies are checking in with their customers to help relieve stress. Meditation and mindfulness providers, such as the Headspace app, will be providing free subscriptions to healthcare professionals and unlocking free content for consumers. Multiple organizations have launched online services that include food delivery and recipes, shared rides, online courses, and traditional financial services.

5. Actively shift customers to online channels

With so many directives around the world to remain at home, companies that previously relied on physical operations have had to direct customers to online offerings.

As an example, since many gyms have been directed to close all physical facilities, they are now offering hundreds of free online home workout courses to all members. Companies offering virtual capabilities, as with Cisco’s Webex, are assisting schools and universities as they transition to remote learning by offering free tools for teachers, parents, and students to support the development of online-learning plans. Italian banks are encouraging the use of digital channels while providing tutorials for online banking. Medical providers are providing care through digital services, such as telemedicine, with health insurers supporting the initiative by offering zero copays.

Companies without online services can find ways to establish and scale online offerings with substantial demand from customers as their needs increasingly turn digital. This shift to online and digital channels has the potential to dramatically increase online traffic post-recovery.

6. Stay reachable and treat customers with care in personal interactions

With physical channels such as bank branches and nongrocery retail stores closed, many customers are turning to other channels for questions and requests that require personal attention and care.

Service companies in telcos and banking are currently experiencing increased inbound call volumes in their contact centers while at the same time having to shift their customer-service centers to remote-working arrangements. For example, a leading European telco equipped 10,000 call-center agents with laptops and tool infrastructure within a week, enabling them to take calls from their homes. Companies that provide customers with additional guidance and support can maintain communication and engagement. Other companies have enhanced options for seeking information digitally; Erdos Group launched a WeChat program in China to offer virtual product consultations. Airlines facing traveler cancellations or trip changes are urging customers whose travel is not within 72 hours to address their needs through the company’s website.

While most companies must address reachability, some companies, such as those in the medical industry, face callers who have significantly different types of questions than they did prior to the pandemic. Another key priority is proactively responding to this shift by training call-center agents to effectively manage these new questions. Cigna has established a 24/7 customer-resource center specifically to help customers with claims related to the novel coronavirus. Companies should reevaluate how to prepare their agents to address these emerging needs.

7. Demonstrate care for the community through company values

Companies can stay true to their vision while showing that they genuinely care about their customers. Actions taken during crises can help build trust and reinforce brand values (see sidebar, “Forming a purpose-driven bond with customers”).

One of the most talked-about company initiatives in Germany came from McDonald’s and ALDI. The two companies initiated a staff sharing plan so that interested McDonald’s workers from temporarily closed branches can redeploy at ALDI stores to ensure that the retailer can meet the currently increased customer demand. Supporting local communities while linking these efforts back to company values is exemplified by companies delivering free, fresh meals to medical workers in the cities they serve. Similarly, sustainable-footwear company Allbirds is giving free shoes to healthcare workers, and pharmacies and drugstores are also gearing up to donate space in their parking lots for medical testing.

The Alibaba Foundation has donated medical supplies to 14 countries in Asia and the United States and will also be publishing a digital handbook to share learnings from the COVID-19 experience in China. Tableau Software has developed a free data resource hub using case data compiled by leading educational and government research organizations to help stakeholders see and understand coronavirus data in near-real time. LinkedIn, through employee referrals, is providing free access to its premium features for a designated period of time to help employees at small businesses cope with the economic downturn.

Public service announcements and other on-brand communication can be used to send messages of unity: for example, Coca-Cola’s marketing has been reminding customers that “staying apart is the best way to stay united.”

All these efforts show a clear care for customers and an obligation to serve on the part of companies, bringing local or international communities together with new knowledge and resources. Every action taken by a company should reinforce what customers already know—that companies care and are willing to invest in helping their community.

Forging lasting connections with customers

During times of crisis, leading companies are pivoting from marketing to helping and from fulfilling customer desires to meeting customer needs. Socially conscious organizations across sectors and geographies are finding ways to get involved and support their customers and communities.

The current COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis and an opportunity for leaders to support their customers and communities. Leading in a caring, empathetic manner during these difficult times has the potential to create real connections that will outlive the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. And large companies should consider it a duty to serve the communities in which they do business.

Source:, 16 April 2020
About the authors:
Fabricio Dore is an associate partner in McKinsey’s São Paulo office, Oliver Ehrlich is a partner in the Dusseldorf office, David Malfara is a specialist in the Miami office, and Kelly Ungerman is a senior partner in the Dallas office.

How to develop soft skills

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Customer care / Kundvård, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 5th, 2020 by admin
As automation and artificial intelligence dramatically change the nature of work, employees must fine tune the social and emotional abilities machines cannot master. To encourage this behavior, employers must adjust the ways they assess, educate, train and reward their workforce on soft skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
Our previous post demonstrated the value of developing and rewarding soft skills, considering the impact of automation and AI on the workplace of the future. But what exactly are soft skills, and how can organizations meet these needs?

What are soft skills?
Soft skills, which are commonly defined as non-technical skills that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with others, are vital to organizations and can impact culture, mindsets, leadership, attitudes and behaviors. These skills fall into the following categories:

  1. Advanced communication and negotiation skills
  2. Interpersonal skills and empathy
  3. Leadership and management skills
  4. Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking
  5. Adaptability and continuous learning skills
  6. Teaching and training skills

A key difference among today’s large-scale skill shift and those in the past—including the transformative transition from agriculture to manufacturing—is the urgency for workers who exhibit these capabilities.

Reskilling at scale is a concern and priority for 80 percent of C-suite executives worldwide, according to a McKinsey survey. Reskilling significant portions of the workforce within the next 5-10 years will be required—tens of millions of mid-career, middle-age workers, particularly in advanced economies—with the development of soft skills a key element.

How can organizations facilitate reskilling?
Developing required soft skills and ensuring employees, and in turn organizations, are set up for success isn’t as simple as popping in a training video. Instead, companies must change their employees’ processes and behaviors—a much harder task.

Assessment is an important first step. Sizing the soft skill gap proves particularly challenging, since they typically lack systematic evaluation and certification mechanisms. HR departments must be equipped with a framework that codifies soft skills and defines their respective evaluation criteria.

For example, several European firms are employing “stepping stone” initiatives to build a digital platform to help workers evaluate their soft skills, know their strengths and development needs, gain access to specific trainings, and get certified.

Effective reskilling requires blended learning journeys that mix traditional learning, including training, digital courses and job aids, with nontraditional methods, such as peer coaching. One retail giant has distributed over 17,000 virtual reality headsets that immerse employees in unfamiliar situations, such as their first Black Friday sales day, and is training them in new tech, soft skills and compliance.

People naturally operate based on incentives—they do what is rewarded. To encourage people to not only begin their soft skill learning journey but to continue with it, rewards and incentives are critical. One large advisory firm has recently implemented a series of digital badges to reward people who complete certain training sessions. Much like the progression of belts provided to martial artists, these badges serve as public recognition for others that the trainee is becoming an expert in a certain topic, thereby encouraging employees to further invest in key skills.

Given the critical need for soft skills now and in the future, training current employees is not enough. It is also crucial to ensure that new talent coming in the door is ready with the most critical skills on day one. Recruiting for soft skills can be tricky, but it generally involves structured interviews which elicit responses that include details about one’s past work and life experiences that contribute to who they are today, or situational judgment tests whereby the interviewer puts the candidate in a specific hypothetical scenario and asks how he or she would deal with it.

Employers providing soft skills training report positive impacts on their workforce, including higher productivity and improved results. As today’s skill shift accelerates, it is essential that organizations enhance and expand development initiatives for business longevity.


SL – Kronans Apotek = 1-0

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård on October 15th, 2019 by admin

Alla ni som följt mina kundupplevelser från Kronans Apotek och SL (se mer nedan) får här ytterligare ett bevis på hur begreppet “kundservice” genomsyrar en organisation och helt saknas i den andra (Kronans Apotek).

När jag tillskrev kundtjänsten på Kronans Apotek fick jag veta att det inte var deras uppgift att förmedla min återkoppling till det aktuella apoteket. Det får jag göra själv! Inget intresse alls av att “se och lära” av sitt dåliga kundbemötande och en kund som faktiskt tar sig tid att ge en saklig återkoppling.

SL, däremot, svarade inom några minuter på följande sätt:
Hej Johan!
Tack för att du hör av dig.
Vad trevligt att få läsa om din positiva upplevelse av förarens bemötande. Jag kommer att framföra din redogörelse till dennes arbetsgivare vilket kommer innebära att han får återkoppling med ditt beröm från sin arbetsledare.
Jag skulle dock vilja fråga dig om den tid du angett i ärendet: Var 09:20 den tid som bussen ankom till eller avgick från de hållplatser du reste mellan?
Jag hoppas att dina framtida kontakter med oss som representerar SL fortsätter vara lika positiva samt att din axel läker bra och snabbt!
Vänliga hälsningar,
SL Kundtjänst

Vilket bemötande upplever Du, som kund, som mest engagerat och proffsigt?

Positiv kundupplevelse

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård on October 14th, 2019 by admin

Efter min senaste upplevelse av kunservice på bottennivå (Kronans Apotek, läs mer nedan) känns det bra att få berätta om dagens upplevelse som speglar motsatsen till Kronans Apotek. Dessutom visar den hur kundservice inte alls behöver handla om CRM-system och strukturer. Istället handlar det om varje enskilds medarbetares inställning och beteende. Varje dag!

Står i ösregnet, med min nyopererade axel i ett axellås, och väntar på bussen till sjukgymnasten. Blött, kallt och allmänt eländigt.
Dörren öppnas och chauffören säger genast: ”ta den tid du behöver att sätta dig innan jag startar bussen” (så farbror inte trillar med sin sargade axel:) )
När det sedan, några hållplatser senare, är dags att kliva av vänder han sig om mot mig och frågar om jag behöver hjälp. Jag svarar att det går bra utan hjälp men tackar honom för vänligheten.
”Det är det vi är till för mannen” svarar han!

Snyggt SL! Hoppas på fler positiva kundupplevelser framöver.

KRONANS Apotek – Märklig syn på kunden

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on September 19th, 2019 by admin

Ibland funderar man på hur företag verkligen överlever i dagens stentuffa konkurrenssituation.

När jag växte upp fanns det e t t apotek. Man gick helt enkelt till Apoteket! Situationen var, som i många andra branscher, den att konkurrensen var obefintlig. Följaktligen spelade det ingen större roll hur man tog hand om kunderna. De kom ändå. Det fanns ju inga andra alternativ.

Idag finns det, tack och lov, ett flertal möjligheter (t.ex. Apoteket, Kronans Apotek, Apotek Hjärtat, Fox Farmacia, Apoteksgruppen, Lloyds, Swevet). Alla med bra affärslägen, generösa öppettider och inte minst service på nätet. Och massor av produkter. Och produkterna är i stort sett desamma. Och, i alla fall vad gäller läkemedel, är kvaliteten likvärdig. Detta sörjer Läkemedelsverket för.

Med så mycket och så bra, hur ska man då konkurrera? Jo, man kan ju sänka sina priser. Men vem vill göra det?
Med allt annat lika kvarstår då möjligheten att säkerställa ett bemötande som är bättre för mig som kund än hos de övriga aktörerna. Känner ni igen situationen? Genom att ta hand om sina kunder (nya och befintliga) på ett bra sätt (och bättre än andra aktörer) skapar man nöjda och återkommande kunder. Och stärker sin konkurrenskraft. Låter enkelt, eller hur? Men det har visat sig svårt. Och nästa omöjligt för vissa.

En del i att utveckla marknadens bästa kundbemötande (och de stora konkurrensfördelar det ger) är att hela tiden vara lyhörd för hur kunden ser på vårt erbjudande och vårt beteende. Det är idag så viktigt att det är en stående punkt på agendan för de flesta styrelser.

Och precis som vi ger återkoppling till våra barn dagligen (för att de skall kunna utvecklas som individer) är det av största vikt att företagets anställd löpande får information om vad kunderna tycker om oss. Vad gör vi bra? Och vad vill kunderna att vi utvecklar ytterligare? Både vad gäller vårt produkterbjudande och hur vi bemöter våra kunder.

Nu till min egen upplevelse av hur detta fungerar (eller snarare, inte fungerade alls) hos Kronans Apotek:
Jag besöker Kronans Apotek på Odengatan i Stockholm. Ljust, fint och massor av produkter. Men det är ju precis som hos alla andra apotek. Det vill säga – detta skapar ingen konkurrensfördel över huvud taget.
Just mängden produkter gör att jag har svårt att se skillnaden på olika alternativ. Följaktligen ber jag om hjälp, beskriver mitt behov och blir rekommenderad en produkt. Tackar och betalar. Gott så!
Väl hemma igen Googlar jag på produkten och finner at det här inte alls är det jag behöver. Och de angivna biverkningarna är dessutom direkt olämpliga för just min situation.
Nåväl, Kronans Apotek ligger ju bara ett stenkast hemifrån. Nästa dag promenerar jag över till dem och träffar nu en annan expedit än den som expedierade mig igår. När jag beskriver mitt behov (på samma sätt som för hennes kollega dagen innan) skakar hon på huvudet och utbrister att ”då ska du verkligen i n t e använda denna produkt”! Hon plockar snabbt fram en ny produkt utan de olämpliga biverkningar som fanns i produkten från igår.

Nu dyker gårdagens expedit upp. Hon kommer fram, minns mig från igår och börjar genast försvara sin rekommendation. Felet till att jag fick en direkt olämplig produkt igår är kundens! Kunden (jag) har inte alls beskrivit behovet på rätt sätt. Jag behöver inte höra detta utan ber att helt enkelt få byta produkten från igår mot den jag just rekommenderats av hennes kollega. Trots att gårdagsprodukten är betydligt dyrare, och jag berättar att det inte spelar någon roll och att jag inte behöver få mellanskillnaden tillbaka, går detta inte att genomföra utan uppvisande av kvitto. ”Hur ska man annars veta att produkten är köpt här”? Men vi har ju just stått här, ansikte mot ansikte, och talat om vårt möte igår!!! Jag lämnar nu Kronans Apotek utan vare sig den första eller andra produkten eller några pengar. Jag har inte mitt liv till diskussioner som denna! Dessutom ligger Apoteket bara ett stenkast bort och här kan jag handla det jag nu vet att jag behöver.

Kan dock inte släppa tanken på hur illa det uppenbart fungerar på just detta apotek. Väl medveten om att just denna situation inte behöver spegla kundbemötandet i alla Kronans Apoteks butiker i Sverige.
Men visst vore det väl ändå värdefullt för Kronans Apotek på Odengatan att få information om hur kunden (jag) upplevde bemötandet. Kanske kan man lära sig något av situationen för att undvika en sur kund framöver? Jag väljer (vilket jag tror att ytterst få missnöjda kunder gör) skriva till Kronans Apotek och förklara min upplevda situation.

Svaret jag får är från en central kundservicefunktion. Man berättar att det naturligtvis inte går att byta produkten (trots obruten förpackning) utan ett kvitto. Och för att ytterligare understryka detta hänvisar man till att ”det är vår policy”. Punkt!
Hur ska man t.ex. veta att den aktuella produkten är köpt just i det aktuella apoteket?
”Men expediten, hennes kollega och jag talade ju om hennes rekommendation och mitt uppföljande köp. Och hon minns ju mycket väl mitt besök” förklarar jag.

Nåväl. Jag ska inte trötta Dig mer med den fortsatta skriftväxlingen med Kronans Apoteks kundservice. Låt mig istället gå till slutet av vår mailväxling. Jag avslutar med att skriva ” Jag utgår från att apotekschefen på Kronans Apotek, Odengatan 54, får ta del av vår dialog och att hen tar en kontakt med mig om hen ser ett värde i detta”.
Nu uppkommer det märkligaste i hela situationen! Jag häpnar när jag läser detta!
Man kan nämligen i n t e förmedla detta till den som är ansvarig på detta apotek. Istället uppmanas jag att söka en personlig kontakt på plats med den ansvarige platschefen!
Varför man inte kan förmedla denna kundåterkoppling från sin centrala funktion ”kundservice” till det berörda apoteket framgår inte. Vad som dock framgår med oönskad tydlighet är att Kronans Apotek inte ser ett värde i att utveckla sitt kundbemötande baserat på faktisk kundåterkoppling.
Rent tekniskt går det ju att i alla fall (även om det skulle te en dryg minut) kopiera texten från vår maildiskussion i ett mail till den berörda apotekschefen. Men det är inte problemet. Problemet är istället att Kronans Apotek uppenbarligen inte har en kultur som uppmuntrar sina anställda att vara lyhörda för kundernas synpunkter! Och det är ytterst en ledningsfråga!

Till aktörer som Kronans Apotek kan man bara säga: Lycka till! Det kommer att behövas …

Läs gärna mer om kundvård här.

Utmaningen handlar om nya krav från kunderna

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Customer care / Kundvård, Fact Based Management on January 3rd, 2019 by admin

Tiffani Bova är i Sverige för att lansera sin senaste bok ”Growth IQ: The Ten Paths To Growth”.
Utmaningen med den nya tekniken handlar inte alls om teknik – utan om att omdefiniera sin affär och hålla jämna steg med kundernas förväntningar.
Det menar tidigare Gartneranalytikern och molnstrategen Tiffani Bova.

Digitaliseringen rymmer så många möjligheter att det är svårt att veta var man ska börja. För Tiffani Bova – Innovation Evangelist på världens största mjukvaruföretag inom kundvård – är svaret enkelt:

– Utmaningen i dag handlar inte alls om teknik, utan om kundernas förväntningar och krav. De har förändrats mycket snabbare än de flesta företag inser och det är människorna som är den disruptiva, eller omstörtande, kraften i den tekniktransformation som vi nu genomgår, säger hon.

Ordet disruption finns egentligen inte på svenska, men används desto flitigare för att beteckna den svindlande omstöpning av hela branscher som vi ser. Kreativ förstörelse, menar Tiffani Bova, som jobbade som analytiker vid Gartner Group i tio år innan hon kom till Salesforce. Nu är hon i Sverige för att lansera sin senaste bok ”Growth IQ: The Ten Paths To Growth”.

Nya krav från kunder
AI, molntjänster, Internet of Things… det är lätt att tro att utmaningen handlar om själva tekniken. Det gör den inte, menar Tiffani Bova, utan om att kunderna nu blivit så bekväma med digital teknik att de kräver helt nya saker av företagen.

– Medarbetare och processer behöver förändras, annars kommer vi aldrig att utnyttja potentialen som den nya tekniken rymmer fullt ut. Många är skeptiska inför vad den nya tekniken kan göra, vilket är synd. Tekniken låter oss utföra allt det vi vill att den ska göra, från AI och maskininlärning till säkrare prognoser… Men förändring är bland det tuffaste för många, säger Tiffani Bova.”

Ny digital teknik används ofta till att automatisera och digitalisera befintliga processer. Det ser Tiffani Bova som slöseri med potential, om det är så att processerna i sig borde bytas ut för att spegla en ny tids affärsmodell. Men var ska ett företag börja?

– Reimagine, återskapa eller snarare nyskapa din affär och det sätt på vilket du tillför värde till människor. Skrota alla silos och se till att alla inom företaget har tillgång till all data om kunden. Låt försäljning flytta ihop med kundservice som ett sätt fördjupa kundrelationen och sälja mer.

Hur går det till att nyskapa?

– Det beror helt på kontexten – kunderna och marknaden. Men benchmarka dig inte mot konkurrenterna. Prata istället med kunderna och fråga vad de vill ha.

Men, vet kunderna verkligen vad den nya tekniken kan möjliggöra?

– Nej, men de vet hur de vill att en optimal köpupplevelse ska se ut – och vad de inte vill ha. Sen är det upp till dig att använda tekniken för att leverera den. Och skräddarsy en köpresa som verkligen går hem hos dem. Kanske ser den helt annorlunda ut än innan digitaliseringen. Men om du håller fast vid en leverans som bottnar i att ni sitter fast i system och tänkande som går decennier tillbaka i tiden, då kommer du inte att lyckas.”

Behov av fler säljare
Många hävdar att AI hotar jobben. Rätt använd blir effekten den rakt motsatta, menar Tiffani Bova.

– Vad gäller säljare märker vi på Salesforce hur användningen av AI faktiskt leder till ett ökat behov av fler säljare, inte färre. Ju smartare ett företag blir, desto mer potential finns det att faktiskt sälja mer.

För att styrka vikten av kundupplevelsen citerar hon fakta från Salesforces studier:

”80 procent av dagens kunder är beredda att byta leverantör och två av tre är beredda att betala mer för en bättre köpupplevelse. 51 procent av gångerna möts inte kundernas krav vid köpet.”

Hur skiljer sig kundens upplevelse av ett varumärke, eller ett företag, i dag jämfört med tiden innan digitaliseringen?

– Det handlar om två helt olika saker och har inget med varandra att göra. Förväntningarna är så mycket högre i dag. Även hos en äldre generation, som i dag är helt med på smartphonetåget.

Ny teknik och nytt kundtänk kräver ibland nya kompetenser. Hur ska företagen se till att medarbetarna har rätt kunskap?

– Lista de kompetenser som ni behöver i framtiden och låt medarbetarna veta vilka de är. Identifiera människors styrkor och vad de vill jobba med i framtiden. Dina kunder kommer att vara ungefär lika nöjda som dina medarbetare är. Ditt företag kommer inte att vara mer innovativt än vad dina medarbetare är.

Fortbildning – en del av kulturen
Det är ingen slump, menar Tiffani Bova, att Salesforce utsetts till ett av världens mest uppskattade företag att jobba för och samtidigt en av de mest innovativa.

– Vi pushar för ständig fortbildning, det är en del av kulturen.

Till sist, varför är CRM mer aktuellt än någonsin?

– Därför att kunderna kräver så mycket mer i dag, vilket ställer större krav på kundrelationshantering.

Detta är Salesforce
Salesforce är världsledande inom customer relationship management, CRM, tack vare en plattform som utnyttjar den senaste teknologin inom molntjänster, sociala medier, mobil kommunikation, sakernas internet (IoT) och artificiell intelligens (AI). Med den kan företag av alla storlekar i alla branscher kommunicera med sina kunder på ett helt nytt sätt.

Salesforce rankas som nummer ett på Forbes lista över världens bästa arbetsgivare.

Tidningen har också åtta år i rad utsett Salesforce till ett av världens mest innovativa företag.

Källa:, 3 januari 2019

Want happy customers? Focus on happy employees

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales on October 6th, 2018 by admin

It was 5:18 a.m. – after a five-hour, red-eye flight – when I arrived at the tony Vineyard Resort, where in three hours, I would face 15 participants in a two-day leadership training program. But the receptionist couldn’t find my reservation and didn’t seem to care much. When I got to my room 90 minutes later, a note of greeting read: “Hospitality and service as a way of life.” Oh, the irony!

The incident spotlights that being customer-centric requires a culture where employees must live the inspirational quotes espoused. A decade ago, McKinsey and Egon Zehnder studied the relationship between managerial quality and revenue growth. The analysis found that customer impact – the capacity to grasp the evolving needs of customers – led all leadership competencies.
The degree of customer impact also correlated with a company’s revenue growth and the effectiveness of its top executives across all growth situations, as well as with the senior teams and managers below them. It helps define a customer-centric culture where employees individually and collectively prioritize customer needs in everything they do.

Why are some organizations better than others at creating leaders focused on customer impact? How do you recognize a customer-centric culture? Invariably, a customer-centric organization displays:
– A clear vision that customer experience is a priority.
– Formal mechanisms to co-create that experience with customers and complementary partners.
– Accountability created among employees.

In such organizations, employees at all levels possess the freedom to drive customer service excellence. Customer experience and outcomes are measured, shared and tied to individual performance assessment. These organizations recognize and reward internal cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing because they understand how to serve customers better. The employee experience reflects the customer care the organization seeks to create.

Consider Southwest Airlines, a recognized leader in customer experience. It consistently scores in the mid-sixties in public NPS (Net Promoter Score) benchmarks that measure customers’ willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others, a score that is higher than any airline and one of the leaders in any industry.
Many travelers are familiar with Southwest crew members delivering safety announcements with humor, thereby personalizing that obligatory inflight duty and making it more enjoyable for passengers. And it goes beyond the safety spiel. Employees are routinely asked to submit ideas for improving safety and hospitality and for paring costs.

Southwest gives employees the autonomy to deliver a premium customer experience and to continuously improve it. When the airline decided new uniforms were needed to match its new logo and image, they asked their employees to design them. Thousands volunteered, and 43 employees were chosen to collaborate. They designed a fashionable, yet functional uniform (even machine washable, a rarity) that employees say represents Southwest’s personality.
Forbes named Southwest No. 12 on its list of America’s Best Employers in 2016. CEO Gary Kelly attributed the ranking to “the passion [employees] show every day for offering the best in hospitality to our customers and to each other.”
This is an example of customer service done well, where employees are empowered to be engaged and passionate about the customer experience.
My reservation at the Vineyard Resort was not in the system; something had gone wrong in the back office. That happens. The next day, resort managers apologized many times. Still, in the end, the receptionist likely was not empowered to go above and beyond. He likely did not feel safe to take a risk and give me a room without following protocol. That single incident left an indelible memory – and it wasn’t favorable.

Source:, 10 September 2018
By: Gila Vadnai-Tolub

The secret to making it in the digital sales world: The human touch

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård on June 4th, 2018 by admin

Successful B2B sales teams strike the human-digital balance customers want in three core areas: speed, transparency, and expertise.
The CEO of a large industrial company recently posed a question: “My face-to-face sales force thinks everything should be analog. For years, they’ve successfully driven consultative sales relationships based on face-to-face conversations, and they think they should carry on. Meanwhile, my e-commerce business unit thinks we should convert everything to digital because that’s where the growth is. Who’s right?”

The short answer is, “Both.” The realities on the ground, however, make it hard for sales leaders to understand what they actually need to do, especially when different parts of the organization have a vested interest in pushing different sides of the human-vs.-digital debate.
There’s no doubt that digital is rocket fuel for sales organizations. B2B sales leaders using digital effectively enjoy five times the growth of their peers who are not at the cutting edge of digital adoption. But a recent McKinsey survey of B2B customers highlighted a more nuanced reality. What customers most desire is great digital interactions and the human touch.
The implication is that B2B sales companies have to use technology to power and optimize both digital and human interactions. Companies that add the human touch to digital sales consistently outperform their peers. They achieve five times more revenue, eight times more operating profit, and, for public companies, twice the return to shareholders. That data holds true over a four- to five-year period.
Many sales organizations, however, have trouble putting this human-digital program into practice. The truth is that there are no tried-and-true methods. Companies need to create the human-digital blend that is most appropriate for their business and their customers. This should not be a random process of trial-and-error testing. What is needed is a systematic way to evaluate the optimal human-digital balance (see sidebar, “Sales channels have evolved”).

Sales channels have evolved
Twenty years ago—let’s call it the monochannel era—B2B sellers typically had one channel for all their customers. It might have been a face-to-face sales force or a call center, or they might have sold solely through resellers or distributors. As businesses grew and connectivity increased, these companies might have added a new channel; customers would have been clearly assigned to one or the other based on their segmentation.

Then the Internet changed everything. Multiple channels were available to customers in any segment. Monochannel became multichannel, and now we have omnichannel—a “multitouch” world. Today’s customers, regardless of segment, expect to engage with companies using the channel of their choice at any given moment in time and at all the different stages of the buying process.

It’s not who, it’s when
The majority of B2B companies want both human and digital interactions on their buying journey, according to a recent McKinsey survey. Their specific preference at any given time is primarily correlated with the stage of the buying journey.
When customers are researching a new product or a service, for example, two-thirds of those who lean more towards digital still want human interaction. As customers move into the evaluation and active-consideration stages, digital tools that provide information, such as a comparison tool or online configurator, come into their own, especially when combined with a highly skilled sales force.

After the purchase, when discussions are about renewal, cross-selling, and upselling, the tables are turned completely, and 85 percent of those who lean overall towards human interaction now prefer digital. Yet most B2B companies still reward reps more for spending time keeping customers loyal and repurchasing than for uncovering new customer needs or driving demand, which is exactly where customers say they want face-to-face expertise. The key message for sellers is that context matters more than customer type and much more than industry. Companies that are digital from start to finish today could see even higher growth if they reintroduce the human touch to the start of the buying journey. Conversely, if companies are firmly holding customers’ hands via key-account managers or value-added resellers, they should be aware that customers are saying loudly and clearly that they don’t value that close personal attention after the sale.

What do customers want?
Customers want a great digital experience and a great human experience. Be careful, though. We asked customers “What annoys you most?” and gave them a large number of possible answers, including price. A third said “Too much contact”—by far the single biggest answer.
The trick is to understand where human interaction is most wanted and invest there—be it in expertise available via a web chat, ensuring a speedy response to customer-service queries, or simply having a person pick up the phone when a potential customer rings.
Companies also need to invest in digital, but those investments should focus on two places. First, where digital is most valued by customers: enabling speedy purchases and repurchases, delivering online tools for customer service, or offering real-time pricing with product configurators. Second, where digital can enable humans to do a better job of interacting with customers when the human touch is required.
Since many B2B customers still want human interaction at some stage of their customer journey, sellers need to offer multiple routes to market with both human and digital resources available at all stages at varying degrees of intensity. The challenge is ensuring seamless transitions and handoffs from one stage to the next so that customers are neither repeating themselves nor frustrated at delays.

The implications for employees are substantial. Sales reps need to focus their efforts on expertise, on being more consultative, and on responding quickly. Compensation structures may well have to change, too. If reps become less important at the point of purchase, then the commission model will need to evolve.
From our research and experience, three traits have emerged that should be core ingredients of every company’s optimal human-digital blend: speed, transparency, and expertise.

The need for speed
Slow turnaround times are frustrating, and slow means more than 24 hours, even for B2B customers. Companies need to think about having 24-hour expertise available on call, with superexperts, who can answer customer questions in real time, sitting with the sales or customer-service team. Digitally enabled tools can help enormously, for example by connecting customers with experts via a web chat.

Even when customers are doing extensive online research, there usually comes a point when they want a question answered quickly. This could be online, through the company website’s FAQs or product pages, or through contact with a real person. Yet most B2B companies have yet to perfect their online content to answer all questions, and even fewer have reconfigured their traditional inside sales channels or web-chat tools to deliver highly technical expertise on demand.
Once customers are set on making a purchase, they want to do it fast. One-click purchases or shortcuts for repeat orders (even for large capital purchases) can speed up the process tremendously. If customers are on a company’s website but have to buy from a distributor, they need to be able to reach the appropriate page on the distributor’s website quickly and smoothly. If there are changes to the RFP, customers expect an almost instantaneous turnaround or, better still, an online space where buyer and seller can solve the problems in real time. Customers we spoke to complained a lot about being unable to make a quick change, whether they were buying in person or digitally.
Finally, speed is vital in repurchase and postpurchase troubleshooting. Four times as many B2B buyers would buy directly from suppliers’ websites if that option were available (and fast). They are especially keen on it for repeat purchases.

For postpurchase needs, speed can come from something as simple as having better FAQs, or from a well-run forum where customers can solve one another’s problems online. Increasingly, it means using chat bots, which can often answer a lot of customers’ queries, or at least ensure they are directed to the best place or person as quickly as possible.
One B2B retailer changed how it offers online support by crowdsourcing improvements to its FAQs and offering a small reward as an incentive to engage. It also interviewed customer-facing staff to prioritize customers’ pain points. It then updated the FAQs based on this feedback and cross-referenced the answers with the service calls that had the highest-rated resolutions to ensure the content was correct. Finally, and perhaps most simply of all, the company moved the FAQs to a more prominent place on its e-commerce site.
These relatively inexpensive and straightforward changes reduced the volume of calls and messages to its customer care center by a staggering 90 percent, since customers could now quickly find the answers to their problems. This success allowed the retailer to shift support capacity to work with the key-account teams on strategic accounts.

Transparency matters
Customers want transparency. They want to know at a glance the difference between what they have today and what they could have tomorrow, and they want to know what the total cost is. Digital tools make product comparison and price transparency easy and can be used both by customers directly and by sales reps working with clients, blending the digital and human. For example, in more transactional situations or for general comparison and evaluation, customers want to be able to look online for pricing or use configurators to generate pricing for comparisons. In more complex or consultative situations, face-to-face or inside sales reps might access online configurators or pricing tools in collaboration with a customer.
The importance of transparency extends to resellers. Our research shows that customers still judge companies on pricing transparency at their resellers. If the reseller lacks a good product-comparison engine, a good configurator, easy-to-understand pricing, or easy-to-build quotations, then in the customer’s mind it’s the same as if the company was managing the sales process itself. One option is to let customers use your site to do their comparisons; the other is to find out where customers struggle on the reseller’s site and invest in helping the reseller overcome the problem.

Whatever the specific situation, it is critical to control as much of the process as you can, and to influence what you cannot directly control. One software company realized it wasn’t converting small- and medium-sized business customers from consideration to purchase. Its one-size-fits-all approach to product recommendations meant that SMB customers saw the same offers as enterprise-level customers and thus had no clarity on which elements might be priced differently if applied to them. So they took their business elsewhere. It was time for a change.
The company set up a “trial and buy” website specifically geared to small- and medium-size businesses. It asked customers to fill in a brief form to assess their needs and made offers based on their answers, with clear pricing for each package and a clear explanation of how each package was different. This approach helped the company open up a whole new segment. Within three months, 90 percent of SMB buyers were first-time customers. Those customers whose needs were seemingly too complex for an off-the-shelf package were routed to a team of inside sales experts who were able either to direct them to the right standard package or to configure a solution to meet their needs. This ability to “triage” customers into those who need more human help versus those who can be well served with digital tools can significantly improve customer experience and conversion.

Digital to support your experts
Today’s account managers need to be experts, and digital tools can help them provide their expertise to their customers. The human conversation facilitates and drives the customization, while the digital tools bring the quick visualization and specifications—including pricing tradeoffs—into sharp relief. Neither works without the other.
A senior account manager at an audiovisual company was sitting down with a customer’s team. On her tablet was a product configurator, and during a three-hour meeting, she was able to use the live configurator to redesign the product in line with the customer’s evolving requirements. The pricing updated in real time, the ancillary products and services that would complement the new system were included, and everyone around the table could talk about what they were seeing on the tablet. Such an exchange might have taken two to three weeks just a few years ago.
At a medical-products company, sales reps brought their expertise to surgeons, helped by a complex configurator and visualization tool. They were able to help the surgeons pick precisely the right product for particular patient segments (based on demographics and diagnosis) and show them a video game that demonstrated connecting the device to the patient. This experience boosted surgeon satisfaction with the company by 10 percent, and sales by 12 percent. Moreover, the surgeons rated the reps’ expertise as 30 percent better than that of a control group armed with just brochures and PowerPoint.

The hat trick
Successfully bringing speed, transparency and expertise into the digital/human blend delights customers and grows sales. Recent moves by Grainger are a classic example of a response to all three customer needs simultaneously.
Grainger is one of the world’s largest providers of maintenance and repair supplies and was one of the first companies in its sector to seize upon digital as a tool for achieving both customer intimacy and growth. As far back as 1991, when they provided an e-catalog on CD-ROM, Grainger has been at the forefront of embracing digital alongside its core “human” branches and sales reps. Fast-forward to today, when 69 percent of Grainger orders originate via a digitally enabled channel (such as website, TakeStock, and EDI). But sales and service representatives, along with local branches, remain integral to the customer experience.
As their ecosystem evolves, Grainger continues to innovate, launching two businesses that are fully online only. Monotaro, serving SMBs in the Japan market, and Zoro Tools, serving SMBs in the United States, are both single-channel online stores. Both offer only products that are meaningful for this segment, which meant whittling down tens of thousands of SKUs, simplifying the assortment available, and increasing the speed at which customers find what they need. Pricing is transparent, and the purchase process is fast: simply click to buy.
The benefits for Grainger have been significant. Both Monotaro and Zoro have experienced double-digit growth as the result of a speedy, transparent, and informative process (22 percent and 18 percent respectively, 2017 over 2016). Simultaneously, customers continue to engage in analog experiences, with 32 percent picking up orders either at a branch or via an onsite locker system.1The human touch and experience remain very relevant.

Perhaps the single biggest lesson from this research is the benefit of asking customers what they want. We asked them, “What’s the one thing a salesperson could do that you would really appreciate in terms of how you interact?” Their answer: “Ask me.”
Is it time to ask your customers whether the monthly meetings you have with them are valuable? Would they prefer a quick text or email rather than a phone call? Are they aware of the product wiki you have online? Get the customer involved to find out when to use digital tools and when they want the human touch.

Source: McKinsey. com, May 2018
By Christopher Angevine, Candace Lun Plotkin, and Jennifer Stanley
About the authors: Christopher Angevine is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Atlanta office, and Candace Lun Plotkin is a senior expert in the Boston office, where Jennifer Stanley is an partner.